Conscious capacity – a city intelligence

I began this series of posts on evolutionary intelligences with integral intelligence (part 1 and part 2).  In these two parts, four maps were shared that help us see our cities as wholes.  One of those maps was the integral map, shown like this (illustrated by Brandy Agerbeck):

This, and the next three posts, will each focus on one of these quadrants, as applied to the city.  Author Marilyn Hamilton calls this Integral City (her book, her website).  For our purposes, imagine the four quadrants like this:

Four of the evolutionary intelligences identified by Hamilton are from the vantage point of each of the four quadrants.  Today, we look at the upper left – inner intelligence.

As we explored emerging intelligence, I made the case that the city is alive.  Alive also means consciousness, a key aspect to Hamilton’s inner intelligence.  When exploring emerging intelligence, I also introduced the notion of the city as a whole system made up of smaller whole systems, such as individuals, families, neighbourhoods, organizations, etc.  Each of these whole systems are holons, each with a conscious intention.  From the vantage point on inner intelligence, Hamilton states that “individual citizen attention and citizen intention lie at the heart of the intelligent city and at the center of the city’s capacity to sustain itself [1].”

It is from our inner intelligence, that together, as a social holon, citizens of a city discern purpose.  Again, Hamilton: “For a city to function optimally, its citizens need to practise, manage and lead from a sense of purpose in their collective lives.  Such an awareness could coalesce the intention of all learning systems with the relevant application of resources in the city [2].”

As we choose to live collectively in the city, we do so with purpose – to create the conditions for us to thrive.  And the very purpose we see for our cities evolves along with us.  It emerges.  Remember the purposes of the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and how we conceive the purpose for the city is in relation to our life conditions.  We evolve and what we need from our cities also evolves.

City Purposes

What we need form our cities comes from the inner intelligence of our individual intentions.  In the holon of the city, this is the intelligence of collective citizenship.   This collective sense of purpose of the city is actually a big mess.  “A citizen in any given city will hold a spectrum of values to which she pays attention and for which she will form intentions and purposes [3].”  Compound this with all the citizens of a city and the values and intentions and purposes end up being potentially quite diffused.  Yet, as Hamilton points out, when enough people share their dreams the cities vision, or mission, or purpose can emerge.  It emerges from the inner intelligence of citizenship.

Our inner intelligence is growing.  Our conscious capacity is growing. As we grow and evolve with our cities we learn new capacities at every turn.  We are learning to grow our capacities to be conscious of our habitat and respond appropriately.  Our inner intelligence is growing so we can be the citizens our cities need.  

My next post will explore outer intelligence, the upper right quadrant, and our capacity to ’embody right action.’


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If you are interested in learning more about evolutionary intelligences relating to cities, you need to know about the Integral City eLaboratory – Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive

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[1] Marilyn Hamilton, Integral City, p. 102

[2] Marilyn Hamilton, Integral City, p. 105

[3] Marilyn Hamilton, Integral City, p. 111

One thought on “Conscious capacity – a city intelligence”

  1. I am slow at the switch – here is Marilyn Hamilton’s most recent take on inner intelligence from July 3, 2012:

    Inner Intelligence is Seedbed of City’s Intuition, Insight and Innovation. Three simple rules: show up and be self aware, notice the city intelligences and map them integrally, and grow leadership in heart, mind and soul.

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