As I look back at the range of conversations I had with aspiring city planners at the Canadian Association of Planning Students conference in Toronto last week , I found 5 recurring messages emanating from me. Here is a summary of my hot tips for city organizers everywhere:
- Get to know yourself. The more you know about how you work, and what drives you, the better you can serve others. I entertain regular conversations between my ego-self (who is afraid of what people think, judges others, and can get overly competitive) and my highest Self (who, when I choose to listen, always know what to do and how to best do it). I entertain these two aspects of me in a journal and they even talk to each other when I go for a walk. The more you know your Self, the more you…
- Notice what is life affirming (for you). When you work in ways and places that are life affirming, you make your city and your world a better place. What we put our attention to is what we get more of, so when you focus on things that don’t work, or things that don’t fill you with joy, you get more of what doesn’t work, more of what fills you with “ick”. Trust that when we all pursue what makes us feel good, the diversity among us ensures that all the bases are covered. Choose work that feels good.
- Notice what you and others believe and understand – without judgement. If everyone feels that what they believe and understand is true, and its not the same, then can you find a way to accept that they are all true? Are you able to honour the diversity? This is great subject matter for your self and Self to talk about. To better understand these perspectives, this post on values might help.
- Learn to speak multiple languages, then speak theirs, not yours. I’m not talking about Mandarin, Portuguese, or French (though that’s also a good idea). When touring the Steamwhislte Brewery the tour guide asked who we all were and someone replied, “we are practitioners of the planning and orderly development of our urban and rural environments.” That answer didn’t cut it. Someone else said, “city planning,” and our guide understood. It was just enough information in a way the tour guide could receive it.
- Figure out what you want to say, then translate it. This applies to anything you do with anyone. Take some time to be clear about what you want to say, in any situation, then make sure that what you say is in a language your audience will understand. The result is you will be more clear.
Journalist Christopher Hume has noticed that we are all terrified of who we are. But we each have to be who we are to ensure along the way that we create the cities and communities we want. Everyone’s work matters, because our work generates and regenerates cities. All together, and terrified, we make our places. Be yourself, well, with others.
You are your own secret weapon.
You are our secret weapon.
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This post is a wee bit of the book I am working on, while I am working on it. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City – The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities:
- My decision to share the book while I am working on it
- The overall structure of Nest City’s three parts
- A summary of Part 1 – City Patterns, Concluding City Patterns
- A summary of Part 2 – Organizing for Emergence, Focus, learn and Emerge
- The plot for Part 3 – City Nestworks
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