What good is hope?

As the world we knew cracks apart, it’s easy to despair. But Dr Duckie is here to make the case for hope as a pragmatic technology of civic change.

Better worlds are possible, even for those at the sharp end of injustice and inequality. And we can all make them together – one deed, one day, one dance at a time.

It’s about collective care and support, the value of mutation and the power of fun.

Following years of doctoral research with legendary queer performance collective Duckie, and first-hand immersion in their unique community projects, Ben Walters – aka Dr Duckie – had a brainwave.

It's all about homemade mutant hope machines.

Emergent, autonomous and adaptive forms and processes that routinely generate hope in the possibility of better worlds for people on the margins.

They start at home and adapt to changing conditions.

They work toward their own goals on their own terms.

And they prove that, when you routinely behave as if better worlds are possible, those worlds start to appear.

Homemade mutant hope machines come in all shapes and sizes.

They’re habits, hobbies, groups and projects – from the journal under your bed to the global Ballroom community.

They can be turbocharged by harnessing participatory performance (which builds community and agency), queer family (which enables material support and intergenerational connection) and queer fun (which can intervene in existing power structures and create new ones).

Duckie’s homemade mutant hope machines include…

The Posh Club, an exquisite and outrageous afternoon cabaret for older people without many friends or family

D.H.S.S, a summer school for young LGBTQ+ artists finding a new way in the world

The Slaughterhouse Club, a drop-in project that treats people living with homelessness and addiction as artists

and the 'vintage clubbing' events, nightlife spectaculars that bring lost party scenes from London's queer past back to life.

They work wonders, activating hidden histories, unleashing glamorous great-grannies and outrageous camping trips, and forging tools to demand dignity against the odds.

But it’s not just about Duckie.

Homemade mutant hope machines are everywhere.

What’s yours?

‘Hope-machine thinking’ can offer pragmatic world-building ideas for grassroots activists, community artists, researchers, third-sector types – and anyone with a sneaking suspicion things could be less shit.

So get stuck in. The future is up for grabs – and utopia ain’t gonna build itself.

Wanna know more?

Read the PhD

Watch the Talk

Your Hope Machines

About Dr Duckie