150th Nest City post!


Nest City Graphic


On April 24, 2012 I started to blog pieces of the book I am working on, Nest City. I declared it a slow release, bit by bit, however long it took.

150 posts in, I am exploring Chapter 7 of 11, essentially two thirds of my way through. With each post, I tighten my writing and I see more clearly the plot, the direction the writing is taking. With each post, I also see more clearly the direction I am heading on this personal journey.

As I head into the last third of Nest City, I realize that this part of the book is the least defined. All the writing I have shared about discerning direction and destination, being on a learning journey and exploring emerging thresholds is alive and well for me personally. I do have a sense of direction for this last third, but I have no idea what I will have to say. That will emerge, and that process will be a learning journey along the way. I will continue to share that as I go.

I have grappled with the decision to publicly work on my book as a blog. Other writers have asked why I would dare to ‘publish’ my work in such a non-traditional manner, why I would give it away. Or why I would give away my chances for traditional publishing. 150 posts in, I do not regret this decision. I am giving a lot to readers, but I am gaining so much myself – and my writing is too.

With each blog post, I learn something about me as my writing is taking its shape. I could have done all of this privately, but then I lose the support I receive from readers. More importantly, for me personally, I know much more about what the writing will say when it does appear in ‘book’ form, as one comprehensive piece of writing, than if I did this privately. I know much more about the layers of meaning that I am exploring.

So writing and exploring with an audience matters.

To mark this milestone, I have launched a separate publication, Nest City News, an email newsletter series that explores the the human drive to thrive in cities. The purpose of this publication is to deepen the relationship between myself and readers, where we support each other in our work to improve cities. I make this commitment to subscribers – I will share my latest thoughts with you before I post them here on my website. I will share your stories as you share them with me. And, of course, as my writing appears in other formats, subscribers will be the first to know and have first access. You can subscribe in the form to the right. Next edition – March 15, 2013

Thanks, everyone, for your support as I blog along.

Nest City News Overall Small



“Nest City News”


Monday, February 25, 2013 marks the launch of Nest City News, my monthly email publication for city explorers hungry for cities that serve all inhabitants well. Our collective work takes place in many places and at many scales. We work with individuals, families, organizations, for government and business and not-for-profits. We share a keen desire to create cities that serve us well – and a keen desire to be the citizens our city needs.

On April 24, 2012 I began a slow release of the book I am working on, Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities. I have received significant support for this work and have decided to launch Nest City News as another way to support people in my growing “nestwork” that are working for better cities. I will share content with subscribers before I share it with regular website users. There will also be content only for subscribers, not share with regular website visitors. Here is what you can expect to receive:

  1. Insight into how cities work
  2. Ideas on how to organize cities
  3. Practices that enable Nest City work
  4. Stories from subscribers
  5. Upcoming events

I see a transaction here: I give the above, and I receive many things in return from you when you subscribe. I receive an opportunity to share what I see with you. You choose to be my audience. If you find value in what you read in Nest City News, you may find yourself exploring my website, my blog. You may choose to tell me what you find of value in my work or what would make it better. Your feedback is welcome! What you are giving me is a critical relationship with my audience that will strengthen my work.

The primary outcome I am seeking in our relationship is that we support each other in the work we do to improve our cities. How that will take place precisely has yet to emerge.

Will you subscribe?

This monthly publication will appear in subscribers’ email inbox the second Monday of each month.  To subscribe, look for this form on the right side of your screen, enter your name and email address, then click submit.

Subscribe to Nest City News

 _____ _____ _____

Retreat results

Last Wednesday I headed into a writing retreat.  I popped back out into the world Sunday afternoon feeling satisfied with the time I spent with myself, exploring our evolutionary relationship with cities and the reasons for whichI am compelled to do this work.

Strawberry Creek Lodge is in a beautiful setting in aspen parkland – full of the genus populus, after which my company is named.  I love to spend time outside, so I took my tent and set up camp on the edge of a meadow, on a bluff overlooking strawberry creek a hundred feet below.  The view from my tent was impeded by the forest growth crawling up the bank.  Yet despite the visual obstacle, I knew what was on the other side – a beautiful view.

I learned that I need a good night’s sleep in order to be able think and write clearly.  In the end, I spent only two nights in the tent, bookending the summer solstice.  I learned that while I am writing, it is absolutely critical for me to have a good night’s sleep.  Waking up at 4:40 am and working from 5-8am before breakfast and then being so tired to have to sleep until noon is not a recipe for success with my body.  Sleep in split shifts is not helpful. I chose then to sleep in my room in the lodge and make treks out to my tent to think about my writing.

It feels good to just sit and write.   it was a great way to mark the transition into summertime.

My accomplishments:

  1. I completed and submitted my book proposal to New Society Publishers.
  2. I have organized a bit of a ‘plot’ to guide the next series of posts on evolutionary intelligence.  In July, I will introduce the intelligences for the city articulated by Marilyn Hamilton (Integral City).  In September, my blogging time will be consumed by my participation in the Integral City eLaboratory, an online conference.  You can expect many more details on evolutionary intelligences for the city.  Over the course of August, I will tease out the principles and practices that specifically create the conditions for a  social habitat  that allows for us to integrate our economic life with our physical habitat.
  3. A Nest City Manifesto is coming.  As I conclude the first piece of this book that has a hold of me, I am preparing a 30 page ‘report’ to share with readers.  I will share this freely (literally) with readers in the fall of 2012.
  4. I have updated some of the text on my website.  I have some things to keep adjusting, but I have recognized that it may be time for a refresh of the whole thing.  The truth is, I am not sure what needs to be done on this front.  Comments welcome!
  5. I have rearticulated my business plan and how I wish to spend my time – in my personal and work life – in support of writing and exploring our evolutionary relationship with cities.

Thanks for reading – I appreciate this opportunity to share what I am thinking, finding and writing with all of you.

Here are two great blogs that have shaped several decisions over the last few months: Chris Guillebeau’s unconventional strategies for life, work and travel, and Nina Amir’s How to blog a book.  Enjoy!

Phew – it’s hard work being part of our cities’ feedback system

Just over two weeks ago I wrote about my decision to slowly release my book, Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities, as a blog.  Part of that decision was to post a piece of the book Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week, starting Tuesday May 1, 2012.  I have done it for two weeks.  Phew.

Even though I have material written, it has taken a lot of time and focus to turn what I have into a blog post that is remotely cogent and meaningful. It has been useful to condense my thinking.  Most helpful is the insight not to name the post until I am just about done – at that point I seem to find the point of the post.

As I keep doing this, I am mindful that I need to craft accurate invitations to readers.  I aim to pay particular attention to:

  1. A compelling title.  It might be all a readers sees in an RSS feed.  It will also be part of an attractive collection of posts as they become more numerous.  The title itself can be insightful.
  2. A compelling first sentence.  This appears on LinkedIn and facebook, for example.  It must draw readers in.
  3. A compelling personal update.  The title can be used, or slightly modified, for a Twitter/LinkedIn/facebook update.  The words themselves are what will compel a follower to retweet or forward my update and link.
  4. A post that provides links to others’ work.  As I explore, it is important for me to notice, for myself and others, the work on which I am building.  This models how economic life works.
  5. Writing what is wanting to emerge from me. I trust that each of us has a passion that is worth following.
  6. Being part of our cities’ feedback system.  As a writer, my work is, in part, to reflect on cities and how we organize ourselves.  I share what I see.
I have to confess I am looking forward to a break from blogging for a couple days.  But I know I will be itching to post again on Monday.  The pressure is welcome.

Nest City – a slow release


Nest City: the Human Drive to Thrive in Cities is the title of the book I have been working on now for a few years.  I have 100,000 words that now sit in a structure that makes sense. I know where it is going and my ask now is to make it clear and compelling.  I have very purposefully over the last 9 months chosen not to blog very often; it seemed to be a distraction from the writing time I need for the book.

But I have received several signals from the “universe” that it is now time to get the blog back to life with renewed purpose.  It is now time to start taking steps out of my safe little nest where I have been working so feverishly and start putting my writing efforts out into the world.  The signals:

  1. The signal: Agent rejection #1. My first proposal to a literary agent was declined.  This is normal, but it made me rethink the traditional “publishing” trajectory of finding an agent, who finds an editor who wants to publish your work, and so on.  This serial world is at odds with the messy and meshy world that I live in.  Response: Diversify my efforts to find my audience.
  2. Signal: I keep reading about small publishers.  My goal is to put my material out into the world.  Once out there, it will grow if it is meant to grow.  While it would be a thrill for my ego if my writing went viral, the reason I am writing is to find and support people who are working to create cities to be the best habitat they can be for as many people as possible.  Response: Just start small.
  3. Signal: Writing about blogging keeps coming my way.  The Writer’s Guild of Alberta‘s most recent edition of WestWord has an article on blogging. My takeaway: blogging time feeds other writing time.  Response: It is time to blog and put my ideas out there.
  4. Signal: People want to read Nest City.  After one of my sessions at the Manitoba Planning Conference this year, a participant asked me where she could get my book.  I had no answer and no way to connect people to my work.  I am being asked to very explicitly put my work out into the world. I do not need to wait for a book to be published to do this.  Response: It is time to share what I’ve got and invite feedback. 

SO.  I intend to release my work here.  Each Tuesday, in short little pieces, I will release the pent up energy that is vibrating in my whole being.  It will be a slow release…  to feed our capacities to build cities in which we nest and from which we go on great adventures.