The four quadrant perspectival map of reality (bio-psycho-cultural-social) can be shape-shifted into a nested holarchy of city holons.

This scalar fractal map shows the relationship amongst the micro, meso and macro human systems at multiple levels of scale from the individual to the family/group, organization, sector, community, city, eco-region and the world. Integral intelligence looks at the city, as a whole system, in the context of its eco-region. So we can see cities in their natural environment (whether that be mountain, sea, prairie, desert, lakeland or any of the other 12 geographies of the world). As Jared Diamond reminds us, human systems must pay attention to their climate, geography and natural ecology in order to make sustainable decisions for survival and connecting with other cities in economic, social, cultural or environmental exchange.

Cities must also develop resilience against attacks from internal invaders (like conflicting values systems) and external predators (like hostile economies that extract financial, human or natural resources without replacing them in a reciprocal exchange). An Integral City is dynamic, adaptive and responsive to both its internal life conditions and external life conditions. The holarchy of nested human systems can be used as mindfulness lenses to help us differentiate perspectives that remind us about different views and different scales. They show us another way that the fractal and holonic existences of human systems and sub-systems interact with one another. When the holarchical map is combined with the four quadrant Integral map of the city, they offer a new organizing principle to interpret information from Global Information Systems (GIS) maps.

An Integral City goes beyond the sustainability of the human systems which it contains and actually adds value to the bio-region in which it is located and/or to the bio-regions to which it is connected. Ultimately this means that an Integral City would be governed by its capacity to develop, maintain and regenerate life-giving resources. Such a city’s health would be measured in the context of the bio-region’s health and the planet’s health.

The Integral maps give us insight into the vibrancy of wholeness of the city and help us to detect when that wholeness is  disconnected and out of synch. They help us understand how the city as a whole functions internally, while seeing the commonalities in the patterns of human systems that link them externally to other cities facing the same affronts to their integralness and thus their capacity for integration and integrity. This map gives us a way to live into the maxim (oft repeated by Meg Wheatley): “If you want to improve the health of a system, connect it to more of itself”.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.