Making a Place We Can All Call Home:

Wrestling with VUCA – Through Placemaking

As Wellbeing By Design

This is three in a series of 6 Thought Pieces by Ian Wight exploring his contribution to Urban Hub 20: Accelerating City Transformation in a VUCA World (curated by Marilyn Hamilton, published by Paul van Schaik, to be released April 2020)

Our effectiveness as placemakers – in integral terms – will depend on our integrated-ness, on our insides, as much as our integration-ability – on the outside, achieving the integration of physicality, functionality, conviviality and spirituality. Our integrity is implicated – how we hold ourselves together, how whole we can be, how much at home we are in ourselves. This is personal place-making, consciously integrating our knowing, doing and being, aiming for the congruence that makes us more than an individual, but a person of real substance. In this world of rampant individualism we may need to work at this deliberate privileging of the personal.

Indeed, it may be suggested that at this juncture – in our collective minding, hearting and souling – we need to very much favour a personal disposition. This accords with (what Cynthia Bourgeault has noted as) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘unshakeable conviction that evolutionary progress will unfold its ultimate triumph in the realm of the personal’ … (encouraging) us to see our planetary home as a coherent and increasingly compassionate whole, steadily plying its way along an irreversible evolutionary trajectory’. For Bourgeault ‘there is plenty to suggest that we are entering a critical new phase in which some old-order survival strategies are giving way to a new and more intentional sense of mutual interdependence… To continue this turning it’s crucial that we humans make the evolutionary shift from ‘individuals’ to ‘persons’’. She continues:

‘We typically use these terms interchangeably, but for Teilhard they denote distinctly different, progressive evolutionary stages. An individual lives as an autonomous unit, subject to the old-order laws of ‘survival of the fittest’ and planetary indifference. A person has come to understanding themselves as belonging to a greater relational field. They now sense their identity from a sense of wholeness in an entirely different order of coherence: a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In this greater whole both unity and differentiation are preserved; meanwhile the whole begins to be infused by a supremely personal tincture or essence. The universe is no longer random, but a system of relationships to which we all belong and are participating in!’

The invitation is to see ourselves as persons, with a praxis – as our home-base, our home-place. My praxis becomes an integration of my various ‘workings’ in my world: my behaving; my enacting; my relating; and my operative system. If I were a student this would involve an integration of not only my theory studies (knowing) and practice experiences (doing) but also my core values and beliefs (being). I am my praxis@work in a meshwork of knowing, doing, being and becoming – inclusively, comprehensively.

Praxis is a place of congruence as well as integration. It is where my various ‘spaces’ – my I-space, my We-space, my It-space, my Its-space – are transformed into the place that emanates from my Self, as I show up in the world – where I manifest as a whole person, whole in body, mind, soul and spirit. Consider praxis as the place where you come home to yourself, the groundwork for all your future placemaking with others. A person, as a whole, rooted in family, community – and the land… in all one’s indigeneity.

A Praxis in Essence


Each of us is an artist of our days;

the greater our integrity and awareness,

the more original and creative

our time will become

~ John O’Donohue

Who am I? An artist of my days

What is my work? Embodying integrity and awareness

Why? In service of our becoming – original and creative – as ever-more-whole-making