Futurescape City Tours (FCT) is an innovative approach to including more public voices in community development. Their method centers around bringing participants on city walking tours with prompts to think about the past, present, and future of their cities. FCT began as a National Science Foundation-funded project at Arizona State University's (ASU) Institute for the Future of Innovation in Society, with the pilot FCT taking place in Phoenix in 2012. In 2013, the grant expanded to include five additional cities: Portland, Oregon; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Springfield, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The FCT process includes three main sessions: 1) orientation, which is a guided discussion with participants on the concerns and curiosities regarding the future of their city or community; 2) a walking tour, which is designed to focus on the concerns discussed in the orientation; and 3) deliberation, during which participants have a guided discussion about what was seen on the tour and considering the past, present, and future of their city or community. To aid in these exercises, participants also take photos to visually represent their ideas and experiences of their city. This prompts participants to think differently, reflect, and helps to eliminate language barriers.
FCT’s design is intended to be inclusive and sustainable, foster a more democratic society, and actively involve communities in the future of their cities. The city tour takes a different approach than forums, public hearings, and other types of focus groups, which are often dominated by only a handful of voices and opinions and do not always facilitate creativity. FCT seeks to address these issues by allowing citizens to drive the research and discussion agenda so that community values are brought to the forefront of their work. For organizers or groups interested in conducting an FCT in their own cities, ASU published a guidebook for the FCT tours conducted during the NSF grant.