Futures Lab Russia, July 2021, invited Integral City to imagine cities in 100 years. This series of blogs comprises the lecture that was offered by Marilyn Hamilton PhD, Founder of Integral Cities.

MH: Gaia has spoken. I am energized and excited by the picture she paints of the future of cities in 100 years. But how do we evolve our cities from 2021 to 2121? Can we backcast to see how we could develop a strategy to realize what you imagine?

Cities are Alive

Gaia: That is my intention I want to inspire in you. I have some more wisdom to share.

I am so grateful that James Lovelock recognized that as a planet I, Gaia, am a living system. Not only am I alive, but I am the creator of all life on this planet – and I long to have a conversation with the most complex species I have evolved to date – humans.

 I want to share with you some of the ideas and design frameworks I have evolved, and how I am still in the process of evolving living, evolutionary organs for my Earth body. I have been busy creating forest organs for breathing, riparian organs for cleansing my wastes, heart organs from the savannahs of Africa, circulatory organs from my rivers and lakes and homeostasis organs from my great oceans. Now I long for a system of Reflective Organs that allow me to express my consciousness and intelligent culture. I have imagined these organs to be Integral Cities.  When I imagine a Planet of Integral Cities coming into existence, I will have a whole Reflective Organ system (like Map 4), with organelles formed from organizations and cells from you individual humans.

 As a planet I have been around for 4 billion years and have ancestors in the universe who have shared with me universal design patterns that I put to good use.  For instance, Cities are Complex Adaptive Living Human Systems. As such they are extensions of the living organisms that form you humans as individuals and collectives. Like all living systems I have created, cities demonstrate 3 behaviors: They

  1. Survive
  2. Adapt/connect with environment
  3. Regenerate

Cities Evolve 

As living organisms cities have the potential to develop through characteristic (archetypal and fractal) lifecycle stages of most living systems:

child, youth, adult, elder

Each of these stages has the potential to mature in ways that expand the worldviews – and centres of care – of your individual consciousness and the culture that contains it:

Ego, Ethno, Regional, Global (Your languages describe these as I, You/We, It, Its.)

 In turn each of your worldviews can be related to a potential stage of maturity in engaging with the world – that I name as:

Waking, Growing, Cleansing/Healing, Wholing

 Elisabet Sahtouris, the evolution biologist who has explored so much about the living system contained in cells and microbiology, wisely recognizes that humans are a very young species. (By comparison to the honeybees that you study for insights through biomimicry – honeybees are 100 million years old). Your species is maybe a million  years old if we stretch it.

 Elisabet says, as a young species, you have been and are naturally conflicted and very competitive. This is very typical of the child and youth stages of most species. This  youthful stage of your species – with all its conflicts and competition is what has brought you to the circumstances that you experience in the world today. In your youth you tend to see the world through a I/It lenses and challenge life with a competitive attitude.

 My first mentoring insight for you is that unless you can mature and outlive this stage to embrace a wider circle of care, and become cooperative and collaborative, your species may not mature into the organs I Gaia so greatly desire.