An old African tale relates how to take care of the wellbeing of elephants. ((1) As told to me by Dr. Don Beck). It seems a herd of elephants became very sick.


The villagers consulted with the big city veterinarian who came to diagnose the ailment. But he could do nothing. Then the villagers consulted with a global pharmaceutical expert. He came and was also stumped. Next the villagers asked their local shaman to perform traditional rituals. But the health of the elephants only got worse. Finally in desperation, the villagers went to a wise elder. The elder visited the elephants and he looked at their enclosure. Then he toured the elephants’ usual natural territory. And he could see that the grasslands and the trees and the whole environment was withering and dying from lack of care. The wise elder said to the villagers, “There is nothing the matter with your elephants, that taking care of their natural homeland will not cure. Go out and take care of the habitat of these elephants and the elephants will take care of themselves.” The villagers listened and followed his instructions. In no time, the habitat was thriving and the elephants took care of themselves and became well.

The Civic Managers of Ekurhuleni, South Africa set out to create a plan for Ekurhuleni 2055. The City Planner engaged professional planner Shahid Solomon they set out to imagine the future, using lenses informed by Integral City.

The City looked into the future of all the key capitals that would contributed to its wellbeing – economic, social, natural and infrastructural capital. Further impacts from global experts were researched relating to workforce, technology, energy and financing.  Lying at the heart of this strategy were the rights and values of people as expressed in its governance system.

The Global Development Strategy Team brought together geo-spatial-cultural-social overviews of the city from key time periods. This revealed the waves of development that had enabled Ekurhuleni to grow from inception in 1905 to the current day. Then with the research in hand, future projections were made based on the mega-trends from the global habitat and the more local trends from the regional habitat. This gave the Civic Managers some probability scenarios for the future decades of 2020, 2030 and 2050+.

With the future scenarios plotted out, the Civic Managers then took their research to the citizens, civil society and businesses of Ekurhuleni to obtain feedback on the most desirable future outcomes.  This then allowed them to back cast activities that needed to start today in order to achieve the desired future outcomes.

Thus the Civic Managers, working as internal and external teams in Ekurhuleni, set out the conditions for nurturing the health of the habitat of the city. They offered their expert resources to explore and define wellbeing of the city in terms of both internal and external habitat. Now Civic Managers can guide and facilitate the other 3 Voices of the City to work together to create and maintain the health of the city as the habitat that nourishes all of them.


(1)     This story was learned from Dr. Don Beck who has travelled with his Spiral Dynamics integral expertise,  to South Africa 64 times in service to the wellbeing of the country

(2)     4 Voices of the City: Citizens, Civil Society, Civic Managers, Business