For millennia, across cultures and continents, we have looked to the stars to navigate when we are lost. In this era of transformation, in which everything is in flux, we are locked onto old stars that are pulling us in a perilous direction. We need to discover new possibilities, and reset our course.
New Constellations exists to help people imagine and create better, more beautiful futures; futures in which humanity and the planet flourish together.
We created New Constellations to hold and grow new, experimental spaces for people to examine the moment of upheaval we are living through, and to imagine and begin shaping the better futures we believe can emerge from it.
We take people and communities on immersive journeys of reflection and discovery, to examine the reality of the status quo, explore expansive possibilities for the future, and consider what true transformation will take at the levels of self, group and system.
We work with communities of place (for example recently in Sheffield and Barrow-in-Furness), with communities of shared interest, with organisations and companies, and with thinkers, makers and doers at the cutting edge of their field (for example with the Yale World Fellows and our Bold Dreams for Our Future cohort of transformational leaders across the UK).
Our research finds and maps new constellations of hope and possibility – ideas, people and communities that shine light on the way ahead – and illuminates them through audio, writing, and other creative content and experiences. We are working to build and nurture our growing community, and to connect people within it.
New Constellations is a non-profit company limited by guarantee. We are located across the UK but working beyond our borders, and actively exploring new forms of organisation and governance. We are not seeking to build a new institution; we see this as a time-bound initiative, stepping in at this moment, and ready to step out when we are no longer needed.
We are a small team with a background in running organisations with a social purpose. We work with a constellation of many other people and networks who inform and inspire our thinking and practice.
Gemma Mortensen connects people, ideas and possibilities to meet the challenges of our times. An award winning social entrepreneur, she has a track record of making big ideas happen, and draws on her experience in media, international politics, civic participation and technology to stretch established thinking. Holder of our vision and strategy at New Constellations, Gemma is also co-founder and vice-chair of More In Common and sits on the global advisory boards of Yale University’s International Leadership Centre and the Apolitical foundation. She was previously Chief Global Officer at Change.org and CEO of Crisis Action (which won the MacArthur Award and Skoll Award for its innovative systems model) and co-chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on systems leadership. She lives on Dartmoor which she loves exploring with her young family.
Hadeel Elshak is passionate about work that tackles social injustices by supporting marginalised communities to have their voices heard. She is a producer, former youth worker, journalist and community organiser who has worked with the Jo Cox Foundation, National Science Museum, BBC and ITV. At New Constellations she supports research, operations and creative, while also working part time at Theatre503, a home for new writers and the artists who bring their words to life.
Iris Andrews weaves strategy, creativity and the sacred to build hope and action for a better world. Her work draws on over 15 years as a campaigner, cultural strategist and facilitator working on major global challenges (mainly the climate crisis) with a diversity of international NGOs and businesses, high profile artists and influencers, and grassroots groups. Directing New Constellations’ creative strategy and shaping and holding our journeys, Iris creates spaces and stories that engage heads, hearts and bodies to grapple with the big questions of our time. She previously worked with organisations from Greenpeace and Purpose to Participant Media and Virgin, and helped incubate and launch the European Climate Foundation, The Elders, and Meat Free Monday with the McCartney family. Iris is also an experienced yoga teacher and nature connection facilitator.
Jo Barratt works with sound pushing the boundaries of how it can be used to create spaces for reflection and social change. Jo conceives, directs and produces our audio research and experiments at New Constellations, including our audio encounters and how we weave audio into journeys and experiences. He is the co-founder of Farmerama Radio and a creative producer whose work includes radio, podcasts, audio content and sound design for exhibitions. He also has a background in working with governments and organisations using technology, education and advocacy to promote open data, open knowledge, data literacy and open science.
Lily Piachaud builds meaningful and creative connections between people to unlock positive change. She focuses on the practical, developing systems and processes rooted in care and trust that create the conditions for new possibilities to emerge. At New Constellations Lily runs day-to-day operations, tends to our community, and explores new forms of organisation and governance, drawing on her background in partnerships, operations and campaigns in the international development sector. Lily previously oversaw and managed partnerships at the international NGO Girl Effect working alongside governments, NGOs and civil society organisations across the globe. Before that she was a core part of the small team that established and ran the Jo Cox Foundation, and a Campaigns and Research Assistant at Crisis Action.
We are living through an era of extraordinary change and complexity which asks huge questions about what will become of us. We know transformation is needed, but will not be enabled by the existing structures alone, many of which feel dysfunctional and obsolete.
We share a sincere belief in the possibility of a better, more beautiful future emerging from this moment of huge change: an era of human and planetary wellbeing. We created New Constellations to hold and grow space for people to imagine and begin shaping such a future, and to find and illuminate new constellations of hope and possibility we can orient our lives towards as we explore what true transformation will take.
We see a more beautiful future already emerging, through the darkness. It glimmers in new economic and political models, new forms of community and ownership, new systems for decision making and value exchange, people learning from nature and returning to Indigenous wisdom, young people upending systems that don’t serve them, and so much more. New Constellations finds these glimmers and connects them together – the act of patterning hope. The more we illuminate these patterns, the more people will see them and be ready to turn towards them, away from the dystopian narratives so pervasive in our culture.
We have seen how change starts with new stories of possibility, and how transformation is sparked when powerful ideas, visceral experiences of connection and concrete opportunities to make change are combined. This is why we create and hold immersive journeys for groups, to help people understand the present moment, reflect on the past, open up to new possibilities and discover bold new visions for the future together.
This is new and experimental and we know we don’t yet have the answers – so will never tell you what to think. We hope to explore and learn with you as we make sense of this together. Over time, together, we hope to tell the story that emerges from these new constellations, of the brighter future that lies ahead.
We dedicate this work to the highest possibility of human and planetary flourishing, for the benefit of many generations to come.
We believe the time is now and our responsibility is great.
We seek deep and true transformation, within and without.
We see that this is bigger than each of us and also made up of something we bring.
We commit to bringing about new ways of being and doing.
We take responsibility for future generations and becoming good ancestors.
We will create new alliances, work across generations and with people who are different from us.
We believe technology should be built to enable human and planetary flourishing.
We believe we have more in common than that which divides us; so should focus on the biggest challenges of our time rather than the arguments and grievances of today.
We want to work through fear, grief and anger to share hope, beauty, exhilaration, and possibility.
The inspiration behind New Constellations is itself a constellation of wonderful people who have helped this project emerge and continue to shape our thinking.
Thank you to all who have done so, including…
Aaron Dworkin, adrienne maree brown, Alaric Mostyn, Alec Proffitt, Alice Jay, Alvin Carpio, Andrea Barron, Andrew Naylor, Angel Acosta, Anna Murray, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Anthea Lawson, Audrey Tang, Baljeet Sandhu, Becky Burchell, Bel Lyon, Benjamin Davis, Beth Kirkby, Bill Sharpe, Bo Davis, Candy Chang, Caroline McGinn, Casper ter Kuile, Cassie Robinson, Charles Foster, Coleen Waldron, Cosima Barratt, Dean McSkimmings, Emma Sky, Felicitas von Peter, Fiona Napier, Gemma McKell, Geraldine Chin Moody, Geoff Mulgan, Giles Hutchins, Hardin Tibbs, Harry Morgan, Hilary Cottam, Hope Turner, our friends at House of Beautiful Business, Hrund Gunnsteinsdottir, Iona Lawrence, James Mallinson, James Turner, Jane Hera, Jane Riddiford, Jaron Lanier, Jay Zaccarini, Jessie Teggin, Jim Godfrey, Jo Cox, John Murphy, Karen Mahaffy, Kat Segal, Kate Raworth, Laura Storm, Lauren Bryan, Lilian Carpenter, Liz Slade, Lonnie Bunch, Louis Davis, Lucy Powell, Mabel van Oranje, Maddi Nicholson, Margaret Levi, Martin McLeavy, Mathieu Lefevre, Natalie Chapples, Nick Grono, Pat McCabe, Phoebe Greenwood, Polly Mackey, Poppy Mardall, Rob Hopkins, Rod Sugden, Roman Krznaric, Ruth Ibegbuna, Sally Osberg, Sam Plum, Sarah Arun, Sarah Hunter, Sarah Jackson, Sharon Mullen, Shauneen Lambe, Sophie Howarth, Theodore Zeldin, Tim Dixon, Tom Lowes, Tom Pravda, Tristram Stuart, our friends at UTILE, Yo-Yo Ma.