This newsletter is published quarterly using a cycle of perspectives on the Integral City viewed from: Planet, People, Place and Power. The theme of this issue is Planet.
The design for this Integral City prototype [of sustainable community development] places emphasis on the development of the people skills in sustainable communities because this approach can design in multiple experiences of team building, learning in community, and actually working for a real Community of Interest. This kind of prototyping uses aspects of action learning to offer dynamic, evolutionary, intelligent practices, tools, and frameworks that develop practitioners who can gain the capacities to build a prototype and then apply the lessons learned to build resilient communities.
Hamilton, M. (2017). Integral City Inquiry & Action: Designing Impact for the Human Hive. Phoenix, AZ: Integral Publishers, p. 216
Integral City Prototypes for a Planet in Transition
People often ask me what is an Integral City or which cities are Integral Cities? My answer often seems to disappoint them, in that I say “Integral” is not an ideal for a city, but rather a framework for understanding the city as a human system in service to the wellbeing of the planet – for the purposes of evolving the city as the most complex human system yet created on our planet.
To validate the Integral City framework, we have sought opportunities for field testing. Two very different (and even unlikely) locations have emerged, who have demonstrated the intention necessary to prototype an Integral City: Durant, Oklahoma and Findhorn Foundation, Scotland.
Durant: Prototype 1
In the last 4 years, I have been working with the 4 Voices of the City of Durant, Oklahoma (Citizens, Civic Managers, Business and Civil Society) who have been prototyping the action research / action learning processes that I have outlined in my second book (see below). Durant’s entry into Integral City emergence was precipitated by two city leaders who invested in the development of their own leadership and organizational development using integrally-informed practices, tools and programs.
When integrally-informed leaders and organizations can make a difference in the world, a logical question, might become, “What would happen if we applied integrally-designed resources and processes to the community scale that contains individuals, families, and organizational work places? Is it possible to pay forward to our communities the value of integral thinking, actions, relationships and systems?” From 2013, Imagine Durant, was formed as an NGO to pursue those questions with the design team of Integral City Meshworks. Four years later, intense dialogue with the 4 Voices of the City has identified the visionary DNA that can translate into flexible strategies and designs for Durant’s future generations.
In Integral City circles, we imagine that when someone moves from the intention of scaling the scaffold of individual development to organizational development, the intention and its consequences can create a contagious activating effect. That effect influences the spheres of influence touched by individuals investing in their horizontal and vertical development. When the leadership of individuals and organizations succeeds, inevitably witnesses to the process are inspired and they want the keys to the visible and impressive changes that they can see happening before their eyes.
Durant knows (from the Integral City Discovery Assessment) that it needs to build on its strong Individual and Collective Intelligences, and improve its Contexting, Strategic and Evolutionary Intelligences.
In Durant, the intentions of the first two leaders (Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation and Greg Massey, President of First United Bank) now influence the Mayor, City Hall, School Board, Health Authorities, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Authority, Arts Associations, Boys and Girls Club, Faith Community and a wide variety of citizens. The prototype of engaging and empowering the 4 Voices of Durant to co-create a shared vision has enabled the potential for an organic resilience resulting from people growing their city together.
Findhorn: Prototype 2
In the last few weeks, I have visited the Findhorn Foundation, one of the world’s first and best known eco-villages, located in northern Scotland. The Findhorn Foundation (and its related communities of Findhorn Spiritual Community, and Eco-Village at the Park), may offer a second prototype for an Integral City – following a very different path than Durant – but perhaps arriving at a similar destination. The history of the Findhorn Foundation stems from the intentions of three co-founders (Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy MacLean) who found themselves unexpectedly “homeless and jobless” in a caravan on the dunes of Findhorn bay in the early 1960’s. With a combination of practical, organizational and spiritual prowess, the co-founders developed food-producing gardens from the sandy desert, visions of how to work with the energies of air, soil, water and life-forms and ecological practices that resonated with people, place and planet.
From an unlikely beginning, the Findhorn founders attracted a community who shared their commitment to live in a manner that contributed to the wellbeing of the planet. Their intentions and efforts were rewarded with garden bounty, expanding infrastructure, new forests and recognition that they had tapped into something called “Findhorn magic” that impacted residents and visitors alike. In the last forty years, Findhorn has developed educational programs, workshops and events that share their experience, practices and values for living a spiritual life in an intentional community. Thousands of residential participants attend from around the world annually and often stay for lengthy periods and/or become permanent Findhorn residents themselves.
Outliving its roots in the sixties with influences from the freedom of the hippy movement that was balanced with disciplines of a spirituality that aimed at planetary wellbeing, the Findhorn Foundation and Community matured its environmental practices with the installation of a wind turbine in the 1980’s, which was joined by three more turbines in the 2000’s. These (atypical technologies for environmental activists) enable this eco-village to not only produce its own electrical needs, but contribute energy to the grid.
The Findhorn Foundation has effectively outlived its co-founders (although Dorothy MacLean is enjoying her 97th year back in residence). It offers an ecology of residential options from community living to townhouses, private homes and holiday caravans. It also offers work that supports a local economy in ever-expanding ways. The Findhorn Foundation and community has a global reputation for sustainable community development, environmental activism and ecological restoration.
In my experience at a Findhorn Foundation workshop (Eldest Daughter Effect – see below) I learned how the residential programs contribute to managing the facility and provide expertly designed education. I enjoyed entertainments from Pantomime to hot tubs, from Universal Hall Celebration of Founder Peter Caddy 100 birthday to Taizé singing , group meditation and beach walks, and I met many long-time residents. I learned that the Findhorn Foundation is experiencing a transition that is predictable after 50+ years of living differently from much of the rest of the world. In an informal discovery process, using Integral City’s 12 Intelligences I found that the Foundation has strong Contexting, Collective and Evolutionary Intelligences but is ready to make changes in its Individual Intelligences and Strategic Intelligences.
High and Low Roads to Prototyping
While Durant was seeking transitions that would help it grow from strong Purple (family) and Blue (order and control) capacities and early Orange (entrepreneurial) capacities into mature Orange and Green (strategic, inclusiveness and environmental) capacities, the Findhorn Foundation may be ready to transition from Green (inclusive) into Yellow (systemic) capacities, by first recalibrating Blue and Orange (ordering, structural and strategic) capacities to align with its innate Green and Purple (spiritual family) nature.
The bottom line for the Planet, is that both these prototypes offer us different starting points in smaller locations to show how the qualities of an Integral City – integral, evolutionary and living systems – expressed in the Intelligences and the Master Code – can catalyze change for the planet. Both Durant and the Findhorn Foundation are seed beds for taking care of self, others, place and planet. It is interesting to compare their histories and futures through the lenses of Integral City and see how they both have potential for expanding their Intelligences, aligning their energies and cohering their capacities.
As the old Scottish ballad suggests: “Ye take the high road, and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll get to Integral City ‘afore you!” But whether we take a spiritual “high” road (like the Findhorn Foundation has attempted against the odds for a half a century) or take the entrepreneurial “low” road (like Durant is formulating now), these two lively prototypes show us that the intention of early initiators can create more than one sphere of influence that opens the doors of community to living as an Integral City.
Weak Signals = Strong Warning for Wellbeing of Planet
In the last month, 2 news reports reveal what complexity science refers to as “weak signals”. They are early warning signs that Gaia, the planet as we know her, is changing around us.
Climate change deniers and climate change activists have long pointed to receding glaciers as indicators (or not) of climate warming. While statistics vary from year to year, trends are often hard to document. But seeing many glaciers across the world in then and now photos can make a convincing case that glaciers are indeed contracting at a relentless rate. Glacier retreat appears to mark the onset of a self-accelerating cycle, where first causes (climate change) can become part of an endless loop of change (where receding glaciers accelerate the climate change itself). For a visual record, check out this photo documentary here: Glaciers in Retreat .