I spent last week at Royal Roads University delivering the first Residency of the Sustainability Graduate Certificate. Ten students from across Canada provided a rigorous proving ground for the Integral City approach to sustainability.

Using the Integral City Compass to prove the design with three leverage points, here is what we did.

Integral City Compass  

Starting from the centre, we took an Evolutionary perspective on sustainability, change and transformation for the city. What makes a city sustainable changes over time.

In the second circle of the compass, we painted the floor with the Integral quadrants: I, We, It, Its. We used the quadrants to situate our exploration of all the selves in the room: for example using MBTI for the Upper Left Inner I and the Eco-Footprints for the Upper Right Outer It. We used the Integral City MeshScanLite to explore the Cultural We and the Social/Structural Its quadrants, creating a virtual “pseudo-community” called SCDVille (pronounced “seedville”). In this way we discovered who was in the room from the perspectives of our personality profiles, what actions we were taking that contributed to sustainability (or not) and what quality of life our cultures and systems afforded us – and how did they affect our mental models.

In the third circle of the compass, we experimented with a number of Strategies that contributed to our Inquiry (such as Open Space and Interview Matrix), Navigation (examining the Climate Action Plan data for our Community of Interest, Colwood) and Meshworking (Conversation Cafe).

In the outer circle of the compass, we explored the Contexting frames for examining sustainability for the City of Colwood, BC. How its Stakeholders and its Official Community Plan mapped into the Integral Framework. How the Living cycles of generations were changing the experience of the city – including the Mayor whose own family had experienced change as fishers, loggers and car sales retailers. How the Ecology of Colwood – being located on the Esquimalt Lagoon with an urban forest heat-synch in its very midst on the Royal Roads University campus. And how Emergent conditions were creating opportunities for Colwood to become solar through a federally supported initiative called Solar Colwood – a project where human structures (solar roofs) will contribute to positive energy production and reduction of GHG.

The classroom test of any approach to studying an issue, discipline or reality is to see if students, instructors and in Case Studies ( like the city of Colwood) can reveal a platform that enables learning, creativity, integration and practise.  When the Mayor of Colwood pointed to the I/We/It inclusiveness of the stakeholders of Colwood as an indication of an effective plan — that seemed to be a seminal moment when the Integral City approach translated from theory to classroom to city, key concepts for both the study of sustainability and the growth of sustainability practices.

I must say it was a deeply moving experience where I saw the Integral City Master Intelligence in practice: Students, Instructors and Community taking care of themselves, taking care of each other and taking care of a particular place, Colwood – that represents the value of all precious world places. I am deeply grateful.