Citizen Voice Grows Sustainable City Vision

Imagine Abbotsford

The story of the Imagine Abbotsford Dialogues was well documented in the three years that this city visioning process unfolded (by the local community paper publishing nine special sections for each of the dialogues).

This story could be told through any of the 4 voices. Civil Society partners sponsored the project (Abbotsford Community Foundation, Community Futures, United Way of the Fraser Valley). Businesses financed gatherings and supplies (Envision Credit Union, Complete Eye Care). Civic Managers offered meeting space (The Reach Art Gallery and Museum; Library). But it was Citizens who offered volunteer time to serve on the core committee, come forward as Thought Leaders, facilitate at Public Meetings and make sure that Policy Makers found the time to attend dialogue circles. It was estimated that volunteers worked a remarkable total of 3000 hours over 3 years – providing a value of approximately $300,000 to $450,000 to what became the City Sustainability Master Plan.

The importance of the role of the Citizen Voice in Imagine Abbotsford became evident from Year 1 to Year 3, when 33,000 households in the city received nine reports written by volunteer researchers, analysts and editors and published by the community newspaper. The vision that gradually emerged through these stories was amplified by the massive feedback loop of the newspaper distribution that constantly invited other citizens to join the dialogues.

Ultimately the Citizen Voice is necessary to release the power of the Master Code. Because it lies at the heart of being able to take care of ourselves … so that we can take care of others, and together we can take care of our place and our planet.

Planning AS the City for Strathcona Mature Neighbourhood

Like community musical impresarios, Beth Sanders and Dnyanesh Deshpande are innovators in composing, scoring and conducting an Integral City 2.0 planning process for mature neighbourhood planning. In 2013 this civic meshworker (Beth) and city planner (Dnyanesh) guided the 4 Voices of Strathcona County, Alberta (near Edmonton), through a planning process that inspired uncommon participation, intelligent engagement and sustainable futures.


The Planning Maestros (PM) started by taking a meta-design approach to creating an expertly informed self-organizing process. Like composing a 3 movement symphony, they designed the project in 3 phases each of which related to a core Integral City Strategic Intelligence: Asking Questions (Inquiry Intelligence); Coming Up With a Strategy (Navigation Intelligence); Implementing a Strategy (Meshworking Intelligence).

With this meta-design in place, they were able to use many Integral City Intelligences as they  applied Integral City Practical Steps to clearly provide the context for environmental performance analysis (Eco Intelligence);  situate the Purpose for the Mature Neighbourhood Study  (Structural Intelligence); summarize the Assumptions behind the people, priorities and place (Storytelling Intelligence); and explain the comprehensive Consultation Framework of the first phase of the project (Integral Intelligence).

They set out “to listen to the community, to seek their input regarding issues and opportunities … [referring to available data] using a variety of methods to catch a wide range of perspectives”.  To do so they adapted the core Integral City design tool of the 4 Voices to create a Stakeholder Wheel. This gave them the organizing relationship of  the 4 Voices of  the Strathcona County mature neighbourhood and guided the sequence of their engagements, the choice of engagement methods and demonstrated the inter-relationships of data findings and analysis (see Figure 1).

Read more about how this dynamic Canadian duo achieved –Meshworkers of the Year Award 2013 .

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