Long Now Boston 02020 Survey Results

Our goal at Long Now Boston is to build a community of people who are passionate about long-term thinking and building toward a sustainable future. In November 02020, we released a survey to gain a better understanding of what you, our members, are interested in so that we can more effectively bring long-term thinking to the Greater Boston Area.

We asked several questions in this survey, including asking how you heard of Long Now Boston, when you would like to meet, themes you are most interested in us focusing on, and which meeting formats are preferable.

Forty percent of respondents first learned of Long Now Boston through a friend or colleague. Please continue spreading the word! Also, thanks to your input, our 02021 Conversation Series will typically be held on the first Monday of each month at 7:30pm. Keep your eyes out for special events too; they may be offered on different dates and may occur at a different time.

Science and Technology topics were the most requested themes, followed by topics on Purpose, Culture and Governance, Long Term Threats, and Thinking about Time, the Future and Prediction (Figure 1). “Other” responses for suggested themes were quite varied with ideas ranging from the Deep Past to generational health to methods for synthesizing knowledge form different fields to discussions on climate and environment. Such suggestions are helpful in informing our program content for 02021.

Membership survey bar graph 02020. Sci & Tech was the top response at over 70%. Purpose, culture and governance and Long term threats tie around 50%. Time, the future, and prediction was next, just under 50%. Urbanism around 30%. Long Now projects around 25%. Boston-specific items around 20%. Transhumanism around 15%. Off planet around 10%. Other about 15%.
Science & Technology topics are most popular among our membership

There are lots of wonderful options for event formats. Most respondents were very interested in hearing from people who are knowledgeable in a specific area (Table 1). We also received some great alternative suggestions for conversation-style formats for events, including combining guest lectures with audience participation, panel-based exploration of a specific topic, and a dedicated forum for online discussion. We are considering platforms for this: should it be Slack? Discord? Reddit? Something else? Please offer ideas for great interaction platforms you’ve used.

Speakers who are less well known but have something interesting to say was 88%. Speakers with high media profile 60%. Ongoing project based activities 38%. Audience discussion based 35%. Social events (when safe to do): 33%. Workshops 30%. Field trips 25%. Open mic flash talks 23%. Book club 15%. Other 10%.
Table 1. Responses for “What format of event do you prefer for Long Now Boston events? Please choose your top 4” from the Long Now Boston 02020 survey.

Finally, in answer to “How do you prefer to interact with other Long Now Boston members?” we found that over 70% of respondents preferred in-person events. We get it…we like to interact face-to-face too. Until we can get back to gathering safely in person, we welcome you to continue participating in our virtual events on Zoom.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to write in suggestions and comments for ways to improve our content and expand our outreach efforts. Your input is valuable and important to us. Is there anything you would like to add? We are always interested in hearing what our community has to say. Please connect with us!  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, and Instagram or visit our website and write to us directly. If you miss any events, you can also catch our Podcasts.

Post written by Jennifer Clifford


Long Now Boston has started a podcast series, created from our conversation series. We’ve started with the conversations from our 02019-02020 series. Now you can listen to Long Now Boston conversations wherever you are! See below, or search for “Long Now Boston” wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent Events with Podcasts

For a deep dive into our world of ideas, you can also watch all the videos from our recent conversations.

Inspiring Climate Change Action

On June 1, 02020, Long Now Boston welcomed climate activist Curt Newton, who led an interactive virtual workshop on climate change. Curt introduced our audience to En-ROADS, a science-based tool that simulates various environmental parameters, resulting in potential climate change solutions. By manipulating these parameters using the En-ROADS simulator, Curt demonstrated the connectivity of these parameters and the contribution that each has on potentially stabilizing global temperature and sea-level rise over the coming decades. En-ROADS is an educational tool that can help individuals and institutions think long-term about climate change and the policy options that can make a difference.

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Perspectives on the Pandemic

A Long Now Boston Virtual Conversation

Long Now Boston has held two virtual conversations in the past month to identify how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting human society and culture and what the implications may be for us in the long term. The first conversation, with Long Now Boston volunteers, was held April 6. The second, open to Charter Members, was convened on May 11. While the perspectives are varied and the future trajectory of the virus and its impacts are highly uncertain, one thing seems clear:  The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the most significant global disruption since the mid 20th century. How we collectively respond to it will shape the history of the 21st century.  

CDC Image of the COVID-19 Virus

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Long Now Boston City Nature Celebration 02020: Observing the Urban Environment

April was Global Citizen Science month. To celebrate, people around the world took part in various citizen projects, from observing the night sky to measuring rainfall. Long Now Boston joined in by participating in the City Nature Challenge. The City Nature Challenge was founded and is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. It is an international celebration of biodiversity observed and documented in and around urban areas. 

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Long Now Boston Calendar Update

Hello friends!

These are difficult times.

Consistent with the broader efforts to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, Long Now Boston has suspended its public live events until further notice.

With regrets we had to cancel “Craft a Superhero” on April 18 and “Dear Tomorrow” on April 21, our two events planned as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

We plan to resume live events as soon as possible and are looking at options for hosting online community conversations. In the meantime, we’d love to stay connected. Go to our website where you can sign up for our mailing list, find summaries and videos of our past events on the blog, and learn how to become a Long Now Boston member.

Please also follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

The need for long term thinking is greater now than ever before, and the current pandemic is a powerful reminder of that.

Stay safe, everyone. We’ll see you again soon.

Rx for a Better Future: Wisdom Over Recklessness

A Long Now Boston conversation with Bina Venkataraman, March 2, 02020, Cambridge MA. 

In a world dominated by short-term thinking, it is easy to become cynical or jaded about human behavior and the long-term prospects for humanity. Bina Venkataraman has a solution – the pursuit of “wisdom over recklessness.”  Wisdom (“experience, knowledge, and good judgment”) can overcome recklessness (“lack of regard for the danger or consequences of one’s actions”), but it requires a different approach to what we measure, what we reward and what we imagine. Bringing this wisdom to bear on our individual and collective choices requires change and new tools at the individual, cultural and institutional levels, which Bina has documented in her book The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age. She offered great advice to a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Long Now Boston Conversation event on Monday March 2, 02020, at the CIC in Cambridge, with the help of moderator William Powers.



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Summary by George Gantz for Long Now Boston

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A Conscious Solution to Corporate Short Termism

The way we organize our work has a profound effect on our lives. Raj Sisodia has spent much of his life investigating, describing, and advocating for one particular way of organizing work, which he calls “Conscious Capitalism.” For Long Now Boston’s February gathering, he presented some of his latest thinking on this topic.



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Pathways to Human and Planetary Thriving

Long Now Boston FLASH TALKS 2020.

On January 6, 02020, five Long Now Boston members shared their ideas for improving the long term future for planet earth and the human civilization that inhabits it.  In one way or another, all five speakers touched on the importance of working together towards outcomes that better match our human values and aspirations.   The top vote-getter for the night was Ye Tao of Harvard’s Rowland Institute for his presentation on Mirrors for Earth’s Energy Rebalancing (MEER:ReflEction).  Long Now Boston Board Member George Gantz (ineligible for votes) concluded the event with a presentation on Empathy: The Secret Sauce for Human Thriving.

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Life Among the Stars

Avi Loeb is confident in the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, and optimistic that confirmation, when achieved, will fundamentally transform the human perspective, just as the Copernican revolution, based on increasingly detailed astronomical observations, did a half-millenium ago.  With the rapid increase in relevant data from more advanced observations and increasingly sophisticated space missions, that confirmation may come soon.

“Our civilization will mature only by leaving home to the cosmic street and meeting others.”  Avi Loeb



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