Making a Place We Can All Call Home:

Wrestling with VUCA – Through Placemaking

As Wellbeing By Design

This is five 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)

In integral terms enacting is more than acting; it honours the in-side-ing, the in-sighting, the in-tuiting – alongside the otherwise too easily privileged outer acting or performing, where our True Self can often-times be off to the side, or in shadow. An enacting disposition directs attention to the ‘in-goes’ in our ‘out-comes’ – the inner-goings-on in our part of the noosphere. We ‘enact’ as knowing/doing/being self-systems, that we are personally accountable for, that we monitor, and adjust, and – on occasion – consciously transform.

How might we ‘see’ this self-system, from an integral perspective, in a way that might help us better presence such enacting? A natural response might be to seek greater understanding – to get to the essence of what we know, and the sense we are making of this knowledge. Consider that we might have other ‘standings’ – in relation to our knowing – than simply under-standing. The diagram offers some integral hunches about equally significant over-standing, inner-standing and outer-standing that we might wish to acknowledge and cultivate, in our personal praxis-making and inter-personal ethos-making.

Perhaps we are simply channeling Hermes Trismegustus: ‘As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul’. Over-standing might be read as our spirit-at-work; inner-standing might be our soul-at work; outer-standing where we are most obviously in service beyond ourselves; under-standing as our ground of being.

There are probably similar insights to be derived from an integral inquiry into our doing and our being, to yield a better sense of ourselves, of our knowing/doing/being self-system. Our current doings might be mostly manifest acts of information-processing – informers-at-work, often given form in our performing – as performers in systems, but less often in our transforming. Consider that we may be being called to be present as our transformer-selves – transforming, transformatively, transcendingly. Could you ‘do’ such 4T transformation?

Our current ‘being’ may also be a function of our operative setting – where we sit, as well as stand. Mind-set may loom large here; is it fixed/static or is it expanding/growing? Or is it set to ‘flow’, optimally? And what about similar considerations of our heart-set, and our soul-set? There is much scope for some common meaning-making hereabouts, to deepen our enacting, individually and collectively. Think, for example, of our outer knowing/doing/being in terms of our inner minding, hearting and souling. And connect with not simply the subjectivity, but the inter-subjectivity in all this.

Would such development of our selves increase our ability to achieve some natural resilience – as a  counter to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of our VUCA world? A built-in resilience to VUCA conditions, a ‘VUCA-savvy-ness’ that keeps us functioning efficaciously, if not effortlessly? A self-caring that embraces others, and our shared world – and an associated four-fold ‘response-ability’: being reliable in volatile situations; being trustworthy in uncertain situations; being direct in complex situations; and being understandable in ambiguous situations.

There is a larger story being told in such enactings, beyond slaying the VUCA dragon. The praxis-making and ethos-making come together in some extraordinary story-telling, around an evolution story on a par with our creation story. We are the authors of, and the characters in, the story – as its enactors. This particular ‘inter-subjective according in the noosphere’ is given form as ‘telling we-stories to our future’ – primal and potent in equal measure. A higher ‘making’ is implicated – by those with a praxis and sharing an ethos, venturing into their leading edge, targeting the ‘territory beyond’. This is the realm of poiesis, undertaken by modern sophrosynes: exquisite making by exquisite makers.