Integral City, Climate Change Inquiry, Action & Impact

Jeannie Carlisle of Integral Publishers & Integral Leadership Review interviewed Marilyn Hamilton about her views on Climate Change and how the second book in the Integral City series, Integral City Inquiry & Impact: Designing Impact for the Human Hive could contribute to engaging the 4 +1 Voices of the City.

JC: Could the exercise of taking a city’s “vital signs” lead to a mitigation of climate change related crises arising in the future? How would that work?

MH: Taking Vital Signs could give feedback on the indicators selected to watch for climate change. However, the trick is that people must think/act/relate/work at a level of complexity that motivates them to respond.

For instance, what happens if cities don’t get EPA data that they used to depend on? Will they have to collect all their own data and hire their own scientists?

Climate change is a complex challenge that requires experts, the wisdom of crowds and individual bio/psycho/cultural/social development. It certainly demands that we integrate the 4 Voices of any given city and listen to the 5th voice of other cities. The solutions will only arise by working together.

I talk about how to assess the Vital Signs of the city as a vital aspect of Placecaring in the first half of Book 2

JC: In terms of a city’s vital signs, does one of the elements of its wellbeing relate to city dwellers/planners adjusting to an environment already negatively effected by climate change?

MH: In terms of vital signs city dwellers/planners need to know how their city and eco-region ​​respond to ecological, emergent, complex living conditions. e.g. Can city dwellers/planners reduce​ the amount of energy and/or water that they consume from the eco-regional area? They need to learn what indicators are critical for them to track. e.g. the level of the Ogallala aquifer and the rate at which it is declining/replenishing. Perhaps one of the most convincing civic engagements that can happen related to this is for the 4-5 generations who are co-existing in cities to listen to the different wisdoms they can bring to noticing what is important to notice. In my first book, I referred to this as “Living Intelligences”. In this second book, I describe how to bring all generations to the table as an act of Placemaking.

JC: Would a city whose members are creating ways to mediate or resolve ongoing environmental problems from climate change be considered healthy even though environment damages are not fully resolved?

MH: You have to ​be mindful how you define health. I usually reference the World Health Organization [1], who relates health to making decisions about the mental, emotional, physical and cultural wellbeing of people so that the decision horizon ensures the wellbeing of the next generation. However, the First Nations say that decisions should be made unto the 7th generation from now. For Integral City, I define wellbeing in terms of the 4 quadrants (intentions, behaviours, relationships/cultures, systems/structures) in context to the life conditions of the holarchy of city systems – individuals, families/groups, organizations, communities, city, eco-region, planet.

The bottom line I would use relates to the Master Code, which says Wellbeing arises when we simultaneously care for our Self, each Other, our Place and our Planet. It is the first time in history that we can do this not only by tracking the Vital Signs (see the Appendix G in Book 2) but mindfully, behaviorally, culturally and systemically. In Book 2, Embracing the Master Code is explored in 2 chapters of the section on Placecaring.

[1] WHO’s definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity​. ​

JC: Could establishing a group, task force, etc., to envision and pre-empt future threats from climate changes be an element of wellbeing?

MH: Absolutely establishing a group or task force to envision threats from climate change is a good thing. Especially since we are apparently hardwired to not think of threats so we have to discipline ourselves to do so, without being overcome by the implications (and thereby rendered incapable of acting).  Conceptually we can identify the threats and even a range of mitigation measures – but it may be the emotional, mindful aspects of our awareness that needs more attention than simple intellectual understanding. I mean that we need to be able to agree intersubjectively and interobjectively on ways to interpret what the evidence says and interact in ways that are aligned to achieve any goals we set.

We will have to use everything we know about how we learn, develop and evolve so that we can change ourselves before we change the world of changing climate – which I personally believe is arising from conditions beyond human causes, as well as because of human cause. This may be the greatest dissonance human kind has ever had to survive, so it may also be the cause of our greatest evolutionary leap ever!!

And I doubt if we can accomplish this if we don’t live the Master Code and act as Gaia’s Reflective Organ :-). That is one of the reasons that the second book in the series of Integral City books focuses both on Placecaring – which we do intersubjectively in relationship –  and Placemaking – which we do interobjectively through creating structures, infrastructures and systems. I was inspired by Howard Bloom and James Lovelock to think of cities as Human Hives and as such are living, complex, integral organs (of reflection) for our Planet. Because of this evolutionary “calling”, it is our job to contemplate the future threats of climate change and act as catalysts of wellbeing for all life on our Planet.


This blog celebrates the launch of Book 2 in the Integral City Book Series: Integral City Inquiry & Action: Designing Impact for the Human Hive and what it can contribute to the discussion of Climate Change.

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

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