Citizen as evolutionary agent


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:

a rare question

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.

Connect your Self to your city.

Be an evolutionary agent.

 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:

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