Understand the underground


A few words of Ben Okri’s Mental Fight stand out as I explore what it means to be best citizen I can be:

It is all in the air - poem, Okri

Cities are about connecting people and the ways we think, make and do together. This is how cities are formed, how they energize us, by giving us opportunities to follow our passions. In turn we energize the cities.

The quality of how we relate to self,  each other and our cities themselves in this city-making endeavour is essential. Everywhere, at all times, we need to listen to – notice – all the things forming, in the air and underground. This is a citizenship practice, of stopping to notice what and how we each show up to dance, and our relationship with the dancers and the changing dance floor itself.

The underground is the implicit, internal inner workings of the city that are hard to discern. Not the traditional, physical “underground” we think of as the network of pipes that serve the city, but the connections and conduits within, among and between us citizens in our social habitat.

If we want our cities to be different for us, then we must be different. For our cities to be different, we need to explore the underground within us, within citizens. Our underpinnings need to be tended to. We have to connect our souls before our work together, the very work that creates cities, will be different and result in different cities.

This is, ultimately both a personal and collective ‘mental fight’ to see, and understand, the underground.

What do you do to understand the underground in your self and your city?


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This post is part of Chapter 9 – Enduring Civic Practice. 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:

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