My exploration of cities as Gaia’s Reflective Organs, rests on the assumption that our planet Earth is a living system – as proposed by James Lovelock, author of the Gaia Hypothesis. In the last few months I have gathered confidence that this perspective that our planet is a living system is now being shared by a growing number of interdisciplinary experts – evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, cosmologist/archeologist Jude Currivan, philosopher Charles Eisenstein, international legal expert Polly Higgins.

Figure 1: Lady Europe [1]

This point of view was further affirmed by my participation in the Co-Creating Europe Inquiry in Plovdiv Bulgaria, July 10-15, 2019. This conference brought together inquirers from many cities located within an extended European map. Its location attracted Europeans centred around Plovdiv, the Cultural Capital of Europe 2019 – with strong representation from Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Greece as well as Poland, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Switzerland – and not just the “usual” western voices of Europe. In my experience, this shifted the points of view away from Germany, France (England and Spain) who can often dominate the conversation of European identity. (Ironically the language for shared communication was English – in general a second language for most of the participants.)

Our exploration of the Co-creation of Europe was designed to start from eight Essentials that had been earlier identified by several Zoom calls in 2018-19, the Vision Team, the Design Core Team and the first gathering in Frankfurt 2018. (See the website for detailed explanations of the Essentials).

The Essentials included:

  • Unity
  • Universal/Spiritual
  • Evolutionary/Integral
  • Freedom/Human Rights
  • Ecological
  • Glocal/in Solidarity
  • Dialogical
  • Transsecular

As participants, we explored in small groups the meanings and implications of the Essentials for becoming a hub for a new post-national social form in Europe, further interconnecting themes emerged like  “Healing” (especially exploring through the relationships of Victim, Tyrant, Rebel, Rescuer, Survivor, Witness).

My Open Space group also discovered that the possibility for a new post-national Europe could be framed by a 16th Century map, depicting Lady Europe – whose head touched the Azores and whose hem skirted the Urals, with river flows and mountain ranges strategically positioning her emerging cities (see Figure 1).

Figure 2: ECOIntention Organism Europe [2]

Moreover, Lady Europe’s countries seemed to presage two maps developed by the ECOintention Group that identifies the organism of Europe (Figure 2) and reveals the energetic strength of her centres (or organs) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: ECOIntention Map of Energetic Strengths for Organism Europe [3]

I have often pushed back against the dominance of nations as a valid form of organization that contributes to the wellbeing of our planet – they cannot be seen from space, and are ill-defined because they seem to embed human disrespect of ecological boundaries, like watersheds (a form of territory often used in indigenous peoples). This is why I have proposed that cities (as living systems with boundaries visible from space) are the more valid form of human system to embrace for generating insight and influence in complex contexts.

However, when I examine the maps in the 3 Figures above, I see the possibility that what has been revealed are the energetic centres of the eco-regions of cities. It is relevant that ECOintention names Europe as an “organism”. This organic approach to mapping living systems can bring into play the fractal nature of Planet, Europe and her Cities – a most interesting thought experiment. If it holds “water” the relationship of these 3 scales of living systems must be respected as integral to the wellbeing of each and all.

Which brings me to the central question of “What Have Cities Got to Do with Co-Creating Europe”?

Figure 4: Locating and Appreciating the Roles that Cities Play in Co-Creating Europe

Firstly, cities have an organic role to play in vitalizing Europe as a living system. The cities of Europe act like her organs. They are all situated on her rivers, which enable the flows of energy, matter and information throughout her living system. As a result, cities and (ecoregional) rivers have always played a major role in the flow of people and resources throughout Europe and onto the greater Planet.

Each city of Europe has the potential to integrate the 4 key voices of the city as a living system. Bringing these 4 voices together around the table enables each city to function using the 8 Essentials defined above:

  • Citizens
  • Civic Managers
  • Business/Innovators
  • Civil Society/3rd Sector

Moreover, each city acts a s a 5th voice within an eco-region (per ECOintention map and/or River Zone)– to compare, contrast, and learn from each other. Co-creating Europe as a new post-nation hub cannot happen without the dialogue that the 4+1 voices of her cities naturally provide.

Within each city operates the Master Code of Care. This is another fractal principle used by Integral City that we believe will become the core of evolving new governance for Europe. This Code says simply that every time we make a decision, take action, relate to others and co-create we should align:

  • Care for Self (so that we can)
  • Care for Others (so together we can)
  • Care for Place (so altogether we can)
  • Care for our Planet.

In these times of dynamic change in Europe, the patterns of people-flow are bringing pressures on both her ecological river systems and her traditional city structures and infrastructures. We find that the previously homogenous cultures and consciousness (of city language and traditions) have been impacted by three types of nomads who are flowing at high volume into, through and out of Europe’s cities:

  • Digital
  • Tourists
  • Immigrants

Thus, our nomads are evolving the perfect conditions for re-imagining and co-creating Europe. What have cities got to do with it? Everything. It is only by embracing the 8 Essentials with the 4+1 Voices that the greatest Care can be manifested for the greatest good of all life in Europe. For this exploration reveals that Europe herself, is a vital organ of Gaia and none of us can be healthy without her.


[1] Europa Regina Wikipedia

[2] ECOintention Europe Energy Centres×615.png&

[3] ECOintention energy assessment map of Europe