Is everyone unhappy with how we organize our cities? Citizens don’t like what city hall does. Developers and builders don’t like what city hall does. Civic advocacy groups don’t like what city hall does. I recently worked with a group of city employees who have been battered and bruised by colleagues in city hall, politicians, civil society, developers and builders, and citizens. City hall isn’t happy either; every effort they make doesn’t seem to be right and they can’t see a way through to get it right. They are miserable. Everyone sounds miserable.
I am hungry for something other than fighting city hall.
I am hungry for civic practices that allow us to see what is working, so we can have more of what works.
I am hungry for civic practices that allow us to see what does not working and grapple with solutions in ways that leave everyone’s dignity in tact.
I am hungry for civil society that serves cities.
I am hungry for civic managers that serve cities.
I am hungry for civic builders and developers that serve cities
I am hungry for citizens that serve cities.
This is my quest: to see what it takes for a city to serve everyone and everything in and around cities well.
All aspects of a city need to be healthy for the city to be healthy. We need to be healthy for our cities to be healthy. If our cities don’t serve us well, it is up to us to make it better. Each of us. While some of us have more influence over others to make cities that work for us, no one has enough influence to make what they want happen. Uncertainty is embedded in our cities. How we react to the uncertainty is key; we can fight or we can choose to figure out how to figure it out.
The route we choose creates the conditions for more of what we put our attention: we can have more fighting, or we can figure it out.
City hall isn’t healthy when they constantly hear what’s wrong. Developers and builders don’t build great cities when we don’t ask them to. Civil society doesn’t succeed in keeping us honest to our ideals when we are not open to hearing them. Citizens – at any scale – are not their best when defensively in trenches, sabotaging their best potential.
My fight is of a strange nature. I do not ‘fight’ in a physical way, of course, but also not in mental or emotional ways. I am a warrior of a different kind.
I create the conditions where the various perspectives of the city come out to play, integrating themselves, with give and take, for the purpose of creating a nourishing habitat for the beings that live in and around cities. This will evoke a different sort of warrior in our cities: one who has the calm poise needed to welcome the feedback our world is giving us, who listens to it, who takes wise action. Where cities become warriors for well-being themselves.