Integral City how do I map thee? Let me count the ways … starting with Map 1.

Map 1: 4 quadrant 8 level map of the city

Map 1: 4 quadrant 8 level map of the city

When I started to explore the Integral framework for cities I was influenced both by the work of Ken Wilber and Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics model. Meshing the insights from both, I settled on what is now called Map 1 because it gives a comprehensive whole-systems view of the city.

I have described the merits of this map in the audio (and printed) book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences in the Human Hive. I also discussed it with Ken Wilber during our Integral City 2.0 Online Conference (and Integral Life) Interview. Map 1 as a whole captures the Integral Intelligences of the city. It also frames the context of each of the intelligences in the four quadrants: Upper Left / Inner, Upper Right / Outer, Lower Left / Cultural- Storytelling and Lower Right / Systems-Structural. (I have blogged extensively about all these intelligences elsewhere – just follow the links if you want the details.)

Today, let me explore this 4 quadrant, 8 level Map 1, with the language of Pattern Dynamics (TM), developed by Tim Winton. Map 1 could easily be related to several of Winton’s Patterns. Because it is by definition a whole systems map, it integrates many elements in one Map – so it could relate to the Dynamics Pattern. And it is also has an appearance of a strong Structure Pattern. And in the very centre of Map 1 is the evolutionary spiral – so it relates to the meta-pattern of Source.

But what fascinates me most about this Map 1 is that it depicts the many Polarity Patterns in the city and reveals how the interplay of opposites in the city naturally creates energies that arise from the tensions between the poles.

PD Polarity

Polarity Pattern Dynamics ™


The Polarities in the city that can be traced in Map 1 follow spectrums with directions that can be anchored horizontally, vertically and diagonally. They represent Perspectives, Realities and Worldviews. Here is just one way we can simply name them, just experimenting with one directional anchor for each set.

Perspectives (vertical)

  • I vs WE
  • IT vs ITS

Realities (horizontal)

  • Intentional vs Bio-physical
  • Cultural vs Social

Worldviews/Values Systems (diagonal – 8 Levels in each quadrant)

  • Objective Integral vs Intersubjective Integral
  • Subjective Post-Post Modern vs Interobjective Post-Post Modern

Map 1 reveals aspects of the Pattern of Polarity because it reveals seven qualities identified by the language of Pattern Dynamics (TM):

1. Expansion/Contraction: Map 1 is a fractal pattern that can be applied to human systems in the city at multiple scales: an individual life, a group of people, an organization, a community or a city.

2. Concentration/Diffusion: Map 1 has both a center and a boundary that captures the concentration of the energy of individual humans, and special interest groups (e.g. recreational teams, reading clubs or professional associations)  and the diffusion of this energy across the many groups of humans in the city such as families, work places and neighbourhoods. (We will talk more about this in another blog, when we discuss Map 2.)

3. Input/Output: The Polarity pattern suggests that there is a directionality and/or tension from the input of the centre of one pole/quadrant to the perimeter of that pole/quadrant in the city; e.g. this might show up in business supply chains where more complex integral worldviews (of say, advanced IT systems) transcend and include less complex post-modern, modern and pre-modern worldviews.

4. Flows/Stores: One pole/quadrant can act as a store from which others emerge: e.g. collective values systems contain and influence individual values systems.

5. Order/Chaos: The self-organizing quality of chaos in Map 1 is not so readily apparent. Map 1 appears very ordered and one has to assume that chaos is ever-present as an invisible quality of this map (and be comforted by the discovery in complexity theory, that we “get order for free” as systems do self-organize). We will discuss this quality more easily when we look at Map 3 (in subsequent blogs).

6. Competition/Cooperation: This quality as it is embedded in Map 1 is usually associated with the tensions between worldviews (particularly the competitive I-Me-Mine levels of complexity and the cooperative We-Us-Our levels of complexity). Clare Graves had the insight that the human species had evolved a survival strategy, that kept it alternately, swinging between the individuated “Express Self” poles (where innovation often occurs) and the collective “Sacrifice Self” poles (where shared governance can emerge).

7. Masculine/Feminine: This gendered aspect of polarity is not readily apparent from Map 1. But with interpretation from research on masculine/feminine qualities, many studies indicate that the masculine is more commonly attracted to the objective (action) and interobjective (systems) poles, while the feminine is more commonly attracted to the subjective (emotional) and intersubjective (relationship) poles.

Integral City how do I map thee? Map 1 reveals a richly polarized system where opposites both require one another to strengthen their own anchor of expression and also constantly change one another in order for the whole city system to survive. If you love the possibilities that emerge from the polarities of the city, Map 1 shows the evolutionarily adaptable opposites that give a whole new meaning to “pole dance” at a city scale.

In future blogs we explore other ways to map the whole city system through the Integral City Maps identified as Maps 2, 3, 4, and 5.