This 2-Part Interview with Marilyn Hamilton, Founder of Integral City, was shared with Living Cities Russia as they prepare for their fifth Living Cities Forum in Moscow June 21-23, 2019.

LC1/ Marilyn, you founded the Integral City Meshworks Inc., which now has become a global constellation. What does it mean for you to realize that the Integral city paradigm works globally now?

The Integral City paradigm is being demonstrated as a framework for cities that integrates all the other city frameworks. It does not say other frameworks are wrong or not useful – rather the Integral City paradigm transcends and includes Happy Cities, Smart Cites, Resilient Cites, C40 Cities, etc.  The name for Integral City in Russia – Living Cities – is a beautiful acknowledgement of what Integral City integrates; namely, that cities are complex adaptive living systems; they are developmental and evolutionary human systems; they bring together consciousness and culture as well as technology and infrastructure; they are so complex they need to be understood through all their diversity, plurality and dynamics of change. Integral City Meshworks creates the conditions for both Placecaring (through consciousness and culture) as well as Placemaking – which is what most of the other frameworks focus on (through technology and environment). We say the training for Integral City (which we deliver in partnership with Findhorn College) goes “Beyond Smart, Beyond Resilient and even Beyond Complexity”. So seeing the 5 maps of Integral City  being used by practitioners not only in Russia, but Australia, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, UK, South Africa, Canada, USA, and Mexico is a real joy and inspiration. It seems that our approach of attracting and training practitioners, catalysts and meshworkers who are ready to do this work, means we have created seed beds able to nurture and incubate this new paradigm in many key locations around the globe. We could even dare to say they are becoming early stages for Gaia’s Reflective Organs (a term coined by James Lovelock, author of Gaia Hypothesis).

LC2/ This year Living cities forum’s manifesto is «To know. To be able to do. To act». As an “AQtivator”, what advice would you give to newcomers in city development, leaders and initiators of urban projects on how to move from “what I know and can do” to real actions?

In order to move from what I know and can doto real actions, my first advice would be to “find the energy for change” with others – move from the “I” to the “we”. The Integral City work or paradigm depends on one or more of the “4 Voices” of the city – Citizens, Civic Managers, Business/Innovators, and Civil Society/3rd Sector – initiating an interest in or a call for action to change. The next step is for the initiators to invite all four Voices to inquire:

  • What is the change we want (change from what to what)? What is our superordinate goal that we wish to attain?
  • So What – why is this important to us? What values and vision underlie our desire for change?
  • Now What – What are the next natural steps to move towards the change we want? What are our goals and objectives and who (individuals, organizations, associations) will take responsibility for them? How will who do what, when, for what purpose?

This approach combines the methodologies of Action Research/Inquiry and Meshworking – bringing together both self-organizing and structuring capacities to attain the superordinate goal.

As an “AQtivator” I would help city Voices to appreciate, map and catalyze:

  • all quadrants (Voices)
  • all levels of complexity and capacity that have evolved in the city
  • all lines of intelligence (we count 12 for an Integral City)
  • all types of diversities
  • in service to a purpose that serves Gaia’s wellbeing

Read the second part of this Interview here.