The questions put to candidates in the election forums I have been moderating for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues this fall are about what city hall can do for citizens. No one is asking what citizens – as communities – contribute to the city as a whole.
While moderating a Ward 10 forum, hosted by Blue Quill Community League, the South West Area Council and the Central Area Council of Community Leagues and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, the audience was asked to write questions down on index cards, to be drawn at random and put to the candidates. This question was not drawn and put to the candidates, but it stands out:
What do we owe to the city as a whole?
A number of trade-offs immediately come to mind with this question: welcome the LRT through my neighbourhood to allow the larger transportation network to work better; allow higher density housing in my neighbourhood to make better use of city infrastructure; welcome a variety of housing in my neighbourhood to accommodate a variety of citizens; encourage expenditures for neighbourhood renewal first in neighbourhoods that really need it. To truly serve the whole in these (and many other) ways, we need to co-create a social habitat that allows for them to happen. We need to co-create the space to see what the city needs, versus what my community needs.
Citizens are city makers. We build the physical city in which we live, we build the economic systems in which we work, and we build the social habitat that helps us navigate the world. We choose the city we want by naming it, describing it. When we speak of what’s wrong, we get more of what’s wrong. It’s time to create a social habitat that aims for more of what we want, that delivers on the improvements we seek. This is important work, because at every scale (self, family, neighbourhood/organization, city, nation, planet), what we build lasts: it reverberates for a long time to come. Everything we do shapes our city.
The responsibility of citizens is to be the best citizen possible and prototype social habitats that affect deep systemic change. Here’s how:
Connect to your Highest Self.
- Trust your antennae of possibility. Are your choices serving You?
- Stand at the edge. The biggest threshold you have to face is you.
- Don’t take your thoughts to seriously. Are you holding a story that limits your experience of the city?
- Choose to show up, consciously. Put your true self out into the world.
- Choose work that feels good. When you do, you expand the contributions you make to the world.
- Choose to renew patterns. Let the patterns that refresh you, refresh you. Let new patterns revive you. There’s strength in surrender.
Connect your Self to your city.
- What you bring to the world is valuable. Focus your energy and trust your contributions.
- Be profound. Be curious and get involved.
- Notice what surprises you, and you can learn a lot about yourself and your habitat.
Be an evolutionary agent.
- Intentionally be a vehicle for the evolutionary impulse in the world. Tap into who you really are.
- Cultivate collective ingenuity at any and every scale. Nurture this emerging form of leadership.
In what ways are you an evolutionary agent for your city?
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Coming election forums:
- Tuesday October 15, 2013 – Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations at Four Points Sheraton (7230 Argyll Road NW) at 7 pm (register here)
- Wednesday October 16, 2013 – Ward 6 Candidates Forum at North Glenora Community League Hall (13535 109 A Avenue) at 7 pm
- Thursday October 17, 2013 – Ward 4 Candidates Forum at McLeod Community League (14715 59th Street) at 8 pm
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This post is part of Chapter 9 – Be the Best Citizen You Can Be. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities, the book I am sharing here while I search for a publisher:
- My decision to share the book while I am working on it
- The overall structure of Nest City’s three parts
- A summary of Part 1 – City Patterns, Concluding City Patterns
- A summary of Part 2 – Organizing for Emergence, Focus, learn and Emerge
- The plot for Part 3 – City Nestworks
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