Be a conscious citizen


A few years ago, a friend told me that the world is run by those who show up. I’ve wondered since, are cities run by those who show up?

Cities are made by citizens, so all of us who live in and interact with cities have already shown up. Each one of us, as we build or buy homes, choose apartments, and  work to make our communities better places, are making our city. We have all shown up and the evidence that we have show up is simple: we have made cities and we are in an ongoing relationship with cities as we remake them.

The city is a dance of voices and values, where we all have a hand in the creation and recreation of our cities. Civic politicians and developers, along with professional engineers and city planners physically make much of our cities. Civil society makes sure we are organizing ourselves well, and to the standards we expect. As citizens, we work to make our places better.

The real question is whether we are making our cities consciously. 

As we unconsciously engage with our city, we make contributions we are not aware of, both negative and positive. By choosing to live in or interact with a city, we have a hand in running it because we are there. We have shown up, but more often than not we participate unconsciously.  We shape cities, unaware of how our choices shape the city. When we feel we don’t have a say in what happens, it is because we don’t choose to be in relationship with the city. Our choice, at every turn, is how to engage and contribute.

There is showing up and then there is showing up.

Cities are consciously run by those who consciously show up. More than just being in the city in body and mind, there are citizens who throw their heart and soul into their city life.

Conscious citizens put their true self out into the world. They choose to pursue their passion in their work, organize for it, invite and receive feedback.  In doing so, they reshape our cities, allowing our cities to serve us better. The risk to do the work they love is worth it, because it serves their – and our – evolutionary purpose.

Just as I can be with people and not really be there, I can be in my city and not really serve it. The choice is mine. The choice is ours.

What kinds of work make you feel like you are really showing up?


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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:

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