Integral City: Enlivening City Maps with Rhythm & Dynamics

Integral City how do we map the rhythms and dynamics of your life?

Integral City International Faces

In the last five posts we have explored the five Maps of Integral City. Each reveals new territory.

I have described the merits of Maps 1,2,3 and 4 (borrowing from the organizational icons in the book Spiral Dynamics) in the audio (and printed) book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences in the Human Hive. I also discussed it with Ken Wilber during our Integral City 2.0 Online Conference (and Integral Life) Interview. Map 5 has been explored in a published article. Taken as a set,  the five maps reveal the 12 Evolutionary Intelligences of the city as city-scale patterns.

And of course we fully acknowledge that none of the maps IS the territory. But we believe each offers a kind of blueprint for seeing the city in its many expressions of  aliveness. We could even suggest that together the five maps provide a Meta-Map for the voices of the Human Hive.

Map 1 is a Meta of the voices of City-zens

Map 2 is a Meta of the voices of Civil Society

Map 3 is a Meta of the voices of Innovators/Private Sector

Map 4 is a Meta of the voices of City Managers

Map 5 is a Meta of the voice of the City Soul

As two-dimensional maps these are freeze-frame Meta’s whose value would be enormously increased if we could see them in three or four dimensions as moving, dynamic, rhythmic holographic videos. In the not too distant future, those will come. In the mean time, we want to borrow from Pattern Dynamics(TM) (PD) to show how the Patterns of Rhythm and Dynamics allow us to create a storyboard of the city in motion.

As noted in earlier blogs, the Integral City demonstrates strong patterns that relate to the 7 primary sets of natural designs in Tim Winton’s Pattern Dynamics (TM) . Two of these patterns describe the qualities of change in our five maps of the city: the Pattern of Rhythm and the Pattern of Dynamics.

PD Rhythm

The Pattern of Rhythm reflects temporal change at the holonic scale. Rhythmic qualities convey change that is basic, ordered and seemingly simple. If we looked at the rhythm of life at the microscopic scale we’d be impressed by the miracle of life that the dance of stillness and motion produce. When we zoom out to the scale of the city we can appreciate how Rhythm regulates flow and form, as foundational to the patterns of the whole PD language.

The Pattern of Rhythm in the city shows us how human systems develop the first order dance steps that evolve into a whole choreography of Dynamics in the city. The Pattern of Dynamics represents second order change where the Rhythm of Rhythms moves through chaos on the way to becoming more complex and syncopated.

First let’s explore  the Rhythm Pattern.  At its core it gives city systems the pulses of life that regulates its use of energy, information and matter. Temporal patterns give the city the vibration of regularity – like the heartbeat of waking and sleeping cycles; or the ring of city streetcars; or the dependability of the call to prayer throughout the day.

The Pattern of Rhythm gives the city a distinctive “music” that is marked by seven qualities.

Repetition: All patterns in the city depend on the Repetition of behaviours, thoughts, meetings and outcomes. Every aspect of life starts with one activity or motion – but unless it is repeated, the intelligence in the system will not lock in. Repetition indicates that resources are worth expending – until life conditions prove otherwise. Just like a baby who learns to walk and talk through repeating what it sees and hears, repetition at the city scale, provides both playful trial and error and eventually dependable performance – like the free cycling jitney as well as the subway schedule. Repetition is what sets up the patterns of Map 3.

Swing: The city is full of many pendulums that swing back and forth with the regularity of day and night. The swings come from the natural systems developing and maintaining homeostases – like the temperature of the train station self-regulating as people stream through its halls. Swings arise from the system testing its boundaries and regularities to find the value of self-corrections that remain in the zone of available resources. Every city has its metaphorical version(s) of El Nino and La Nina that set the norms of public conduct (loud voices or soft?); generational variations (short hair or long?); and election results (politicians of the left or the right?). Swing is what emerges the holarchies in Map 2.

Cadence: From Repetitions and Swings,  Cadence can emerge – that marks the beat of the city. Every city has an audible cadence from its transportation systems moving people and goods throughout its arteries. You can close your eyes and hear the cadence of New York (steady heartbeat); or Hong Kong (super-fast escalators); or London (the whoosh of the tube). Cadence is almost a felt sense of rhythm that resonates with our own internal beats (of heart, breath, walking). Cadence is what flows through the structures of Map 4 and keeps them aligned.

Pulse: With Cadence and Swing, the city develops a Pulse that is not only palpable, but regulating. Once repetition, and cadence emerge, the pulse of living cycles moves through the city in many ways. It could be the rush hours in morning or evening: or the lineups on payday at the bank; or the parking lot battles at the mall during Christmas shopping. When the city’s pulse emerges, dependability and predictability contribute to decision-making and anticipation. Maps 2, 3 and 4 all contain the pulses of human interaction.

Synchronization: As the preceding characteristics of Rhythm emerge, the magic of synchronization arises. In the city, this enables human systems at all scales to start to notice the metabolic patterns that link them and bring about fortuitous exchanges. Strangers discover common ancestors. Co-workers discover they live on the same street. Politicians with apparently opposing views discover common ground. Synchronization is implicit in all the maps of the city – as it contributes to the emergence of meta-patterns that set up new levels of coordination.

Enantiodromia: This is a Greek word, meaning how opposites turn into each other. It’s most recognizable symbol is the Yin/Yang cycle with the drop of the dark energy in the centre of  the white energy and vice versa. In the city opposites turn into each other as the quality of exchanges between actors in the city increase. Then it becomes possible to see the Schoolboard Representative who argued for conservative spending, become more generous when she votes for funds to support student art courses. Or the artist become an activist for commercial business that funds installation artworks on city streets. When opposites turn into each other, it becomes a sign of differences making room for difference that makes a difference.

Resonance: Finally the quality of Resonance emerges in the city when all the other qualities are dynamically arising together with outcomes that sound like melodies instead of chaos or din. Cities in their prime exude this quality of Resonance and it can last for many decades when the city’s economic, environmental, social and cultural realities are all sustainable. But the resonance can be vulnerable to sudden and severe blows (like the 2008 prime mortgage shock to the system). Resonance aligns with the Harmony of Dynamics that we discuss below and the elegance, flow, and fields explored in Maps 2, 3 and 4.

PD Dynamics

As noted above, the Pattern of Dynamics reflects motion and change in the city at a more complex level than the Rhythm Patterns . The Pattern of Dynamics in the city shows us how human systems as social holons can interact intentionally and produce desired outcomes.  It also reveals how social holons interact unintentionally through the power of feedback and emerge surprises and unexpected results.  At its core the Dynamics Pattern gives city systems the complexity of all patterns working together for emergent resilience at the systems level.

The Pattern of Dynamics has seven qualities that relate closely to the seven Rhythm Patterns, but are like chords at a higher octave:

Iteration: A system that iterates, not only repeats behaviour on the spot, it repeats the behaviour and moves in a cyclical direction at the same time. Thus the iteration moves the system into new relationship with its environment. In the city, the iteration of weekly and seasonal schedules show up in everything from school terms; to the season of sports tournaments; to the long iterations of generational cycles, where the grandparents, parents, youth and children co-create the conditions for each succeeding life-cycle. As we become aware of the iterations of very long-term climate change, we get glimpses of how iterations across time co-create internal and external life conditions for the city. This shows up in Map 2.

Agency/Communion: The greater complexity of the relationship between agency and communion, than between the simple swing of a pendulum, reveals that a single person or system can iterate between these two states of individual action and collective connections. In the city a person can live or work alone in an agentic manner, and then attend church where the fellowship and communion with others amplifies their agentic qualities in service to a greater whole. The holarchical nature of Map 2 conveys this, as does the developmental nature of Map 3. The many opportunities for a single person or a single organization to have experiences of both agency and communion in the city, is one of the sources of the city’s power and potential.

Synergy: At the heart of healthy systems is the capacity to synthesize the energies of many sub-systems and create new relationships that optimize the use of energy, information and matter for the greater good of all. Synergy and symbiosis are closely connected, where the needs of the individual are met at the same time as the needs of the greater whole. In the city, synergy emerges from the metabolic economy of the exchange of goods and services. Theoretically, if this were balanced in a sustainable way with the eco-region of the city, this would result in a synergistic cycle of mutual benefit – like the synergy the honey-bees have created through pollination of renewable energy sources in their eco-region. This synergy is most deeply reflected at the spiritual level in Map 5, but it is also implicit in Maps 3 and 4.

Feedback: The iterative exchange of information, energy and matter in any system creates feedback indicators that tells the system it can sustain itself by continuing the same activity; or that it is endangered if it continues and therefore it must take corrective action. Positive and negative feedback are operating continuously in the city, particularly in the marketplace, where suppliers and purchasers “speak with their money”. But the feedback also occurs during unconscious and embodied states that show up as intuition for individuals and collective consciousness for groups.  Feedback is evident from the exchanges occurring in Map 3 and the awareness of gross, subtle and causal states in Map 5.

Spontaneity: In Dynamic Patterns, spontaneity occurs “in the moment” as a creative impulse. It arises in more complex form than the more simple pattern of Synchronization in the Rhythm Pattern. But often because Synchronization has occurred, the conditions for Spontaneity arise. Spontaneity arises from the trust to openness and exudes freedom and flow with the zest of excitement. It transcends the Past,  springboards from the Present and propels the system into the Future. In the city because there are so many opportunities for Synchronization and Emergence Patterns, the potential for Spontaneity is ever-present. For many people coming from more traditional structures (as mapped in Map 4) the Spontaneity of the city, is (almost) like an addicting state of creative arousal.

System: Every holon or social holon is a system in itself. But in a living system like the city, what characterizes the system is its ability to survive, adapt to its environment and re-generate. The city, as the most complex human system, includes the whole holarchy of systems from Map 2. Map 1 represents the fractal nature of all the survival scales of human systems in the city.  Map 3 reveals the adaptive interchanges of the city’s many systems and Map 4 traces the complex adaptiveness and regeneration of organizational systems in the city.  From the “God’s-eye” view of Map 2 and 4 we can see the Planet of Cities from space, as a living system (first described as the Gaian system by James Lovelock). Map 5 shows us the city as a Spiritual system. Thus the System Pattern captures the metabolic cycle of all life at all scales in the city.

Harmony: While the System Pattern is so quintessential to appreciating the city, the Harmony Pattern may seem to be the most elusive one. For with the unceasing Dynamics of the city, Harmony is often overlooked or obscured. But we can appreciate the very (Map 1) fractalness of city Patterns as a form of Harmony in and of itself. As a pattern in the city, Harmony may be a potential that city evolutionists can explore from the perspective of the city’s purpose. If Harmony were captured by the experience of coherence – perhaps the Harmony or Coherence of the Human Hive would arise if we found the answer to the question that the honey-bees have discovered. Harmony may arise, in answering the question, “What is the equivalent for the Human Hive, of the beehive’s thrival goal of producing 40 pounds of honey annually?” (In effect this probably looks and sounds a lot like the symbiosis of the Master Code.) In seeking the answer we must work together, and that process in itself will move us from chaos into the freedom of harmonious order.

Integral City how do we map the rhythms and dynamics of your life? With the exploration of the Dynamics and Rhythm Patterns, we appreciate how you are always reflecting simple and complex changes going on around us, with us and as us.  Noticing the sounds, tones and music of change opens us to how Rhythm underlies all patterns and Dynamics emerges from them and feeds back into them. Is it possible to capture the Alpha Rhythm and the Omega Dynamics of the Spiral of City life? Only if we move and evolve with and as these patterns.

About the Author:

HI I am the Founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and Chief Blogger. Working with cities and eco-regions, I ‘meshwork’ or weave people, purpose, priorities, profits, programs and processes to align contexts, grow capacity and develop strategies for sustainability and resilience in the Integral City. You can read more details about me here http://integralcity.com/about/about-the-founder/

3 Comments

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