Integral City how do I create thee?   Perhaps Map 2 can reveal how …

There are points of time, of distant memory, 
when the soul unites 
within the pattern of the universe.  
That union brings forth the understanding of life’s harmony.  
So it should be within the 
[city] garden …

Author Unknown

Integral City Map 2: The Nested Holarchy of City Systems

Integral City Map 2: The Nested Holarchy of City Systems

Every relationship we belong to in the city, offers us a new garden of possibilities for discovering, growing and expanding our sense of wholeness in the city. And because we live in an era when the rate of emergence (in all earth systems) is increasing, our survival depends on our agility to be inspired by the abundance of creative potential in all these gardens.

Integral City Map 2, shows how the human systems in the city nest into a series of “relationship gardens” – or pools – that cascade into one another (that we call a natural holarchy of complexity).  This series of gardens – or pools –  includes a landscape of relationships that is more complex than the one before. The landscape of the whole city creates the habitat for the cascading gardens of communities, organizations, groups, families and individuals.

From a design perspective, each one of these gardens, calls forth a centre that creates strength for all the other gardens connected to it. Architect Christopher Alexander observed that all living systems have strong centres that interconnect and support one another (as we discussed in Map 1). In this way a kind of symbiosis evolves where multiple centres of different sizes actually serve each other in a complementary way, creating natural ecosystems that support wellbeing in each garden at the same time as they create wellbeing in the whole cascade of relationships in the cit.y

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 2 as a whole captures the Contexting Intelligences of the city: Evolutionary, Living and Ecosphere (with strong links to Individual, Collective and Structural Intelligences).

Map 2 in the Integral City demonstrates strong patterns that relate to the natural designs in Tim Winton’s Pattern Dynamics (TM) Structure and Exchange Patterns. But the Pattern of Creativity seems to capture best the elegance of evolutionary, living eco-systems inherent in Map 2. The Creativity Pattern in the city shows us how adaptation and novelty in the city arise from the the natural emergence of life, like an apple seed growing into a sapling, that becomes part of an orchard, that evolves a whole new species of apple.

Map 2 captures the patterns of the city as they relate to key conditions for innovation and creativity. They reflect how, like a garden, innovation in the city is planted, matures, cross pollinates and adaptively responds to life conditions.

Map 2 reveals aspects of the Pattern of Creativity because it reveals seven qualities identified by the language of Pattern Dynamics (TM):

  1. Seed: Map 2 starts with the individual as the core seed of intelligence in the city. In the modern city the seeds come from many cultures (like species) so that the family gardens from say the Punjab culture are distinctively the Dutch culture.
  2. Bifurcation: Map 2 does not explicitly show bifurcation – or branching in two directions from one initial path – but it has this choice implicit in it; for instance, when children who play together are directed to attend different schools; or when one family member breaks away from the church they grew up in, to attend another one: or when neighbours on the same street belong to different recreational activities or drive to different work places.
  3. Adaptation: Map 2 reveals the variety of habitats to which individuals, families and groups must adapt as they interact in the city. For people used to traditional ways, the number of choices on daily offer, is often overwhelming because they demand constant (and often stressing) adaptation to new situations outside their worldviews. For students schooled in high technology applications and entertainment, adaptation in the city is both a game and an expected life condition.
  4. Growth: Map 2 conveys the natural holarchy of nested systems in the city through which an individual can grow over a lifetime. Each system represents a “garden of experience” that expands the habitat of relationships for the individual. Each expansion offers the opportunity for more exchanges between individuals and collectives – with possibilities for innovative production, financing and integration of services.
  5. Emergence: Map 2 suggests that the interaction and interconnections amongst the different wholes (or holons) of the city will cause emergence – i.e., the creation of something new that has not existed before. (This is also powerfully conveyed in Map 3, which we will discuss in a subsequent blog.)
  6. Evolution: Map 2 clearly reflects the evolutionary complexity of the human systems in the city, as the holarchy of nested relationships becomes more complex. Map 2 shows how evolution of a city ecology depends on the transcending and including of all the less complex sets of relationships in the city. For instance, the neighbourhood, like a garden, includes all the organizations, recreational zones, schools family homes and individual comings and goings. Every neighbourhood evolves differently than others because of the variety that makes up its nested holarchy of city systems. This is why they have such distinctive patterns – just like a Japanese garden has very different features than a classical Italian garden.
  7. Elegance: Map 2 conveys the simple elegance of a classical natural form – like a conch shell, or a spiralling galaxy, or Venice’s St. Mark’s Square (a favourite example of Christopher Alexander to illustrate the evolutionary nature of creativity and beauty).

Integral City how do I create thee? Map 2 suggests that the simple unfolding of the pattern of relationships that naturally emerge across a life time in the city,  will create the complex adaptive conditions for creativity. As we have explored with Integral Architect Mark DeKay, the vibrancy of life in the city depends on creating the conditions for humans to emerge solutions that improve the wellbeing of self, culture and nature in the whole city.

In future blogs we continue the exploration of Integral City Maps 3, 4 and 5 and show how each adds further depth to Maps 1 and 2.