Building on the Russian translation of Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive Team ARGO team in Izhevsk, Russia created Russia’s first citizen initiated and produced urban conference. Accomplishing “lift-off” in the first half of 2014 and subsequent dissemination of the best practices through 360 degree communications, Team ARGO are the natural winners of the Meshworkers of the Year Award, 2014.
The practice of Meshworking is usually considered to be an advanced alignment of stakeholders, objectives, goals and activities in service to a superordinate goal.
Meshworking intelligence creates a “meshwork” by weaving together the best of two operating systems — one that self-organizes, and one that replicates hierarchical structures. The resulting meshwork creates and aligns complex responsive structures and systems that flex and flow.
ARGO – which stands for “Association of City Development” – is located in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, Russia. It started with a team of energized and visionary entrepreneurs, administrators, business executives and citizens that together define the vision for the city, key issues to be tackled and runs a broad variety of projects to develop the city on various levels – values, ideas, people, technologies, systems, infrastructure and resources.
The story of UrbanFest began a year ago when ARGO received the National Award “Silver Archer” as the best project for the development and promotion of the territories in Russia. Lev Gordon, one of ARGO’s founders invited all the participants at the ceremony to Izhevsk to UrbanFest, the first festival of living cities.
The Silver Archer Award was the first recognition ARGO – as a social technology for the organization of integral urban development. This technology could and should be replicated. And for this ARGO created a vehicle for future development today.
In addition, Izhevsk city has come to see that the “technology of urban development” may be a key export product of the city, giving it a core brand. So they set out to create a branding vehicle.
At the same time, ARGO found many informal urban teams in Russia and discovered that their number was growing. They had a lot of interesting practices, which could also be replicated. Thus, from the initial exporting technology, Izhevsk has become interested in importing Best Practices that could become “components” of the final urban development product. Furthermore, with the idea of combining urban teams in a kind of “think tank”, the participation of experts will help to improve individual urban practices and technology in general. So ARGO has developed the objective to create a tool kit, importing replicable urban practices and meshworking or aligning them for use by others.
Finally, with the objective that Izhevsk becomes the new center of urban development for the entire country and beyond, ARGO conducted an internal search and recruitment of resources – human systems, community and city systems and knowledge bases. In other words ARGO set out to expand the scope of activities within the city.
The framework for this integrated mesh of city capacities is Integral City – an integrated system that aligns and meshworks solutions for problems that have been identified. With the success of 2014 under their belt, Team ARGO is working towards spreading the ARGO technology of Integral City development throughout the country and beyond, creating the ability to design, adapt, and develop cities that meshwork the infrastructures that administrations can guide and the self-organize creativity that citizens can bring.
In the formative stages of the UrbanFest Forum well-known Russian experts Denis Vizgalov, creator of Living City and Sergey Gradirovsky provided their wisdom and energy. They essentially defined the image of the Forum and offered the framework of city teams changing the city and challenging each other between cities.
The Izhevsk initiative was supported by the Council for Civil Society Development under the President of the Russian Federation, and the personal adviser to the President of the Russian Federation Mikhail Fedotov, which showed the importance of this meaningful and federal-level initiative.
In addition, partners included: Higher School of Economics, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, National Agency for Strategic Initiatives, AGT Communications, President’s Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the Union of Russian cities, the International Association of Capitals and Cities, Rosturism, Ministry of Culture and more than 70 other organizations and 44 cities from across Russia.
The UrbanFest Forum became an example of real cooperation between the four voices of the city: urban communities and organizations, citizens, business and government. This is an example for the entire country.
Out of these collaborations, emerged a true “national” forum, attracting dozens of leading experts and dozens of sponsors from Sevastopol to Vladivostok, resulting in attracting sufficient financing for the conference.
One of the key outcomes of the UrbanFest Forum was support for a common vision:
Our team of experts and practitioners from across the country want to create 1000 living cities by 2030, the foundation for a modern prosperous Russia.
Team ARGO’s next project is the 2nd Forum in May 2015 – the next big step towards fulfilling this mission. At this time, the team includes new strong federal and international partners. Team ARGO believes that cities themselves are building our future. Team ARGO waits – actively – for the return of city partners to Izhevsk!
To date ARGO can measure its accomplishments with these impressive metrics.
- Marketing and promotion:
– 1000 cities were invited to attend Forum
– 6000 calls from a call center
– 300 posts and more than 5,000 reposts in social networks
- Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing
– Crowdfunding. Collected 4 million rubles. 0 rubles from the budget.
– Crowdsourcing. Attracted more than 100 volunteer organizers and 80 partners who together made Forum possible
- The main points of the program, included:
– Conference of Cities of the 21st century. The State Council of SD
– Nobel Award for best urban practices. 17 cities presented their best urban practices
– Large Urban game. 7 strategic directions for cities’ development
– Solving cases. 8 practical case studies
– Communications with 25 experts from 7 countries
– New relationships and inspiration for further development
– More than 300 reports/materials in the federal and local media
– More than 3000 references of Izhevsk in social networks
– The creation of the portal on best urban practices urbanab.ru
– School of Living Cities conducted in several cities
– Replication of practices and joint projects
– Consolidation of active urban community in Izhevsk
– Izhevsk agreement charter on principles of cities’ development in the 21 century
– 1000 cities receive access to materials from Forum
– Experts evaluated forum as “№1 best forum on urban development in the country”
Already ARGO has made progress on all four tasks.
- Export of technology:
– Included in the list of recommended practices by Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) and the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation
– School of Living Cities took place in 4 cities
– Creation of ARGO in Dimitrovgrad, active negotiations on replication with several cities, including Nizhny Novgorod
- Branding area
– In addition to the direct measurable results like 300 publications in the media and several thousand references in social networks, Izhevsk is increasingly referred to by the majority of experts and specialists in urban planning and urban development, as one of the leaders. The UrbanFest forum itself is one of the great anticipated events in the Russian calendar of urban events. Today, the project team includes experts and practitioners from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Novokuznetsk, Holland, Germany, Canada, and France … And this platform in Izhevsk is referred to as the Izhevsk Forum. It has much potential to become more and more attractive and prestigious.
– In March 2015 ARGO team was a partner and a key speaker at the Davos World Communications Forum, where the experience and technologies of ARGO were greeted with enormous enthusiasm by representatives of over 30 countries. Many participants learned there about ARGO Integral City development approach and plan to implement it in their home cities while planning to attend next UrbanFest in Izhevsk.
- Import practices:
– Izhevsk is becoming a pilot area for the implementation of best-in-class urban practices from ASI
– ARGO reached an agreement on joint projects with the Strelka Institute of media, design and architecture
– Some practices of the “Nobel Award” nominees accepted and implemented in Izhevsk
- Internal mobilization:
– The number of members of the ARGO Coordinating Council increased, reaching over 100 people
– ARGO recognized at the level of local and regional authorities and is perceived as a key partner in most development-related processes.
– ARGO fundraising results doubled. Over the past year ARGO managed to collect about 10 million rubles for projects. Already at the beginning of 2015, we understand that this target will be repeated.
– Urban community has learned how to organize large-scale events. The fact that at the end of the year, in partnership with ARGO event agencies were able to jointly organize a charity project – the Largest Christmas Tree of Udmurtia (which was visited by 7,500 children and demonstrated the willingness of the urban community to set and achieve new ambitious goals).
It remains only to invite all Readers to the second Forum of Living Cities, which will be held in Izhevsk on May 20-23, 2015.
Why Team ARGO for Meshworker of the Year 2014?
It seems that Team ARGO has been able to pivot on the dissonances in their usual urban environment – not only in the home base of Izhevsk but reaching out to all of Russia. Their meshworking intelligences have not been stopped by dissonance – but rather triggered to creative action by dissonance (and constraints) in the environment. They are releasing new potentials that emerge new values systems and new capacities in cities. At the same time they are skillfully utilizing hierarchical structures and capacities to create sorting and selecting mechanisms that enable new options and strategies. As new living city values emerge, Team ARGO are creating the conditions for a more complex level to develop where members of their community of living city practice can meshwork hierarchies and in turn make hierarchies out of meshworks.
Team ARGO is demonstrating initiative in cities can include learning on local, national and international scales, financing, event production and disseminating Best Practices. They model the vital role of imagination, taking courage and utilizing powers of attraction. ARGO’s brand of intelligence is designing along with the diversities in people and thereby is releasing and reorganizing new intelligences that have been locked and blocked in silos of sameness.
Team ARGO’s meshworking is effectively catalyzing a shift in many city systems, so that new – living city – capacities are emerging. Effectively the city systems appear to be reorganizing themselves into something more internally resonant to their urban fabrics and externally coherent with (even turbulent) life conditions. (This is a very different story than what we hear about Russia in the western news/media.)
Team ARGO has shown that Russian communities and cities, as emergents and artefacts of human life, are vibrant, creative outcomes of the distinctive Russian brains that have created them. We can see how Team ARGO are enabling Russian cities to work and evolve by recognizing local champions, and supporting Best Practices to evolve. These meshworks in cities have the potential to become fractal patterns that may change all scales of human systems across the country.
As Team ARGO has reached out to the four voices of the city, it is obvious that an enormous value of meshworking is that it embraces both the realms of the objective and interobjective space of physical people and built structures, and calls forth the capacities that lie in the subjective and intersubjective zones of Russian cities from East to West. Team ARGO seems to have tapped into the inner domains of intention, purpose and culture in all four city voices.
Team ARGO’s meshworking intelligences are actively contributing to research, planning and management in cities across Russia with a vital center in Izhevsk. Integral City is proud to award Team ARGO the Meshworker of the Year Award, 2014.