Future Cartographic is a journal and community for creative writing. Especially writing that relates to art, place, and time (as most all writing does).
I’m Erik Moe, Founder and Chief of Expeditions here. I have two simple goals for Future Cartographic going forward:
- to build a community around creative writing, and
- to write in public.
If you’re working on writing, or have been curious about writing but aren’t sure how to start, let’s talk! This is a community of support that will strengthen your practice. Art—especially writing—craves dialogue. Dialogue strengthens writing.
As far as this website goes, the writing here is sure to evolve. Initially, and perhaps for quite a while, I’ll use this space to practice what I preach. Namely, writing in public to find your people and strengthen your practice. Some of that writing will touch on the themes of Future Cartographic’s past projects exploring art, place and time. I expect much of it will be new territory. And as Future Cartographic’s creative writing programs grow, I would like to include the voices of participants and fellow explorers.
Origins of Future Cartographic
Future Cartographic began in 2015 as a project exploring the future of neighborhoods in D.C. (and in cities everywhere). The central logic went like this:
- Environments shape humans both psychologically and physically.
- We are changing our environment—locally through development (and neglect), and globally through climate change)—and therefore are shaping new humans.
- Who do we want those humans to be?
This structure flipped the question we’re typically asked about big developments and gentrification. Instead of posing yes-or-no questions about a new Wal-Mart or apartment tower, why not ask start with the psycho-geographic attributes that might bring happiness to the people who will live over the next century or two with whatever we build today? Long-term thinking about short-term change.
These explorations on foot and in conversation led to a series of walks, conversations and art installations you can read about in the Projects section of this website. Many of these involved the creation of distant hyperlocal utopias—speculative fiction about familiar places.
Writing and Community
These projects yielded a huge amount of material I needed to organize in narrative form if it were to make any sense at all. And so I sat down to write. And write. And write. As of June 2019, I had written 208,790 words over the past few years according to the app I now use to track it all (not counting free-writing and journals). Much of that writing is a mess. Some of it has earned generous encouragement, and a few grants and opportunities.
But the writing process has been a quiet one. Less social. Less about community and friends and exploring the physical world than the early Future Cartographic work. More time in front of a computer.
One of art critic Jerry Saltz’ rules for artists speaks to the need for creative community we all share as artists:
Artists must commune with their own kind all the time. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you live “out in the woods.” Preferably commune in person, but online is more than fine. It doesn’t matter where you live: big city, small city, little town. You will fight and love together; you will develop new languages together and give each other comfort, conversation, and the strength to carry on. This is how you will change the world — and your art.
This is the kind of writing community I envision building with you at the new Future Cartographic.
How do we get there? We’ll figure that out together. My ideas include:
- writing workshops
- one-on-one critiques
- providing editing assistance
- collaborations on ideas and issues that matter
- experiments on ideas that might not matter at all
- publishing zines, pamphlets, books and blogs together
- coordinating informal writing residencies out of town
The goal is to make this often solitary practice a constructively social and socially engaged one.
For starters, let’s talk. Drop me a line at email@example.com.