“People need stories more than food to stay alive.” (Barry Lopez)
That observation has always been one of my favourite insights into the depths of human nature.
When I review the epic voyage to 10 cities (BC Canada: Delta, Vancouver, Mission, Abbotsford; Scotland: Findhorn, Edinburgh; India: Auroville, Chennai, Agra, Delhi) in the last six weeks I am curious to notice what interested people?
At the same time, I am curious to reflect on what interested me? One thing I noticed is that speakers, experts, facilitators and participants who could tell stories captured my imagination (and the attention of the audience).
So, what were the most popular stories I told?
- The biomimicry Story of the Honey Bee and the Human Hive wins first place. This reveals the intelligences of nature that we are too often blind to in our own actions, choices, strategies and relationships. And it gives us an image of the whole city that we can relate to.
- The related story of the 4 Voices of the City is another winner. People are fascinated to see how the differences in our roles and souls bring strength to the table as a whole system.
- The Holistic Maps of the City that can be seen through the Bees and the 4 Voices is another corollary. People are used to geographic maps of the external city but are delighted to see how we can also map the city through bio, psycho, cultural and social lenses.
- Audiences are surprised and intrigued by my spin that Cities are Gaia’s Reflective Organs (building on the story of James Lovelock who says Humans are Gaia’s Reflective Organs). We re-story ourselves with the astonishing realization that Gaia has evolved us for a purpose that calls us to a higher appreciation of the value and meaning of our lives.
- I was deeply touched in Delhi when I heard an outcome of sharing the story of the Master Code as an Integral Yoga. A young man told me that he had practised it on the way home the night before. Starting with caring for himself by choosing to return home for an early night of recovery and rest (thus Caring for Self); offering kindness to a fellow passenger on the bus (Caring for Others); choosing to take public transport instead of a single person cab (Caring for this Place); reflecting how the whole suite of choices added up to Caring for this Planet. By putting into action, the Master Code, this person realized that if we all made decisions with this “Integral Yoga” we could make significant and rapid change in the world.
- A last story I told, always surprises audiences – and it is the story of Russia’s Living Cities – and their intention to change 1000 cities by 2030. Like me they are at first impressed by the ambitious goal – which at first, they discount – but then quickly re-evaluate the possibilities when I tell them of witnessing the change in over 300 monocities that has already taken place. This story is both an example of the Master Code in action, but also designing strategies with the 4 Voices of the City working together.
With just this sample of stories, it is possible to see, we now have many ways to engage the head, heart, hands and wholeness of cities to expand, deepen and mature our ways of serving Gaia’s wellbeing.