Lingering September practices

September was a busy month, full of life and excitement.  Now a week into October at a totally different speed, I notice some new practices in response to the life conditions of September that I choose to continue.

  1. I visit the river every day.  Every weekday in September we had contractors on hand to put a new roof on our home.  I work at home, and before I get to work I have a routine of some physical practice and journaling. The contractors’ noise was too much, so I walked over to the river valley for a beautiful view and a bench.  (See Writing from the red chair.)  The contractors are gone, but I still head out in the morning for some time alone with me, the river and the city.
  2. I write at night.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in September I was working as Interviewer and Harvester at the Integral City 2.0 Conference.  We hosted 36 sessions (three each day, twelve days) and interviewed over 60 visionaries. I played the role of interviewer, and when not interviewing, supported the host and interviewer by catching audience questions and crafting questions for break-out groups’ exploration.  At the end of each day, I wrote a ‘harvest’, my meaning of the day for immediate publication on our web site.  This schedule meant for some very late nights during the week.  I am finding now that I am inclined to write for a couple of hours each evening.  I am not totally exhausted in the morning because this somehow fuels me.
  3. I stop to breathe. In the middle of September’s craziness, I took some time to pause and deepen one of the ways I gather with people: circle.  I attended Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea’s Circle Practicum.  One of the most meaningful learnings for me from this experience is the importance of pausing for breath.  Ring the bell, take a breath, then ring the bell again.  This is useful when feeling frenetic, or when something profound has occurred, when there is a transition of some kind, etc.  We even came up with a way to articulate this by text in the digital world: *~*  I am no longer sitting in circle for several days in a row, but I circle up with myself and I choose to notice when I need to stop and breath.  Sometimes I even use a bell.
  4. I pay attention to my energy. There is a lot of synchronicity in my life right now around personal energy.  At the Circle Practicum, and several times throughout the Integral City 2.0 Conference the word ‘energy’ and practices around knowing and cultivating personal energy surfaced. I recognize that I have been intrigued by this for a while, but not yet able to explore this in my personal development.  I sense a whole new area of learning here for me.  One of the gifts of September is curiosity about where my energy is, where I choose to put it and how it moves throughout my body. I am also curious about how energy behaves between and among people.  I choose now to pay attention to the subtleties of my body and being.

Each of these new practices are in response to my life conditions of last month, yet I have chosen to stick with them even though the reasons for them are gone.  In some way, each of these are responding to today’s life conditions too.

There is a virtuous circle at work within me, allowing me to see myself well, and see when life conditions change and when I need to shift in response.  Regardless of what form my habits take, they serve what Marilyn Hamilton and I call the master rule:

  • look after self
  • look after others
  • look after this place


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This post forms part of Chapter 4 – An Uneasy Journey, of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities.

Nest City is organized into three parts, each with a collection of chapters.  Click here for an overview of the three parts of Nest City.  Click here for an overview of Part 2 – Organizing for Emergence, chapters 4-7.

Choice of work matters to the city


This note to myself has been sitting on the side of my desk for a while, waiting for the right time to act on it. Now that my immediate tasks as Co-Designer, Interviewer and Harvester for the Integral City 2.0 Conference are looked after, I can refocus on my writing here.

 The last month has been gruelling.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the month of September explored one of the 12 evolutionary intelligences of the human hive, as identified by Marilyn Hamilton.   I co-designed the program of over 50 visionaries whose work makes the world a better place, many of whom I had the opportunity to interview.  My other role was to catch the story of each day and grasp the essence of each intelligence and the conference as a whole.

This window into the growing planet-wide community of thinkers, designers and practitioners confirms my belief that our work is the life force of our cities, whether we realize it or not.  Our work, and our approach to our work, is what releases our true potential IF that work is aligned with what we wish to offer the world.  The more our being is aligned with what we do, our work, the more our cities meet our needs.

My September experience compels me to revisit many of my posts since my declaration in April to blog my book, Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities.  So far, I have shared three chapters with you:  1 – The City Impulse, 2 – The Planning Impulse, and 3 – The Thriving Impulse (click here for a recap).  They paint a picture of how cities come about and the nature of our evolutionary relationship with cities.

Over the next few months my attention will be focused in two directions:

  1. Behind the scenes, I will be turning these first three chapters into their own publication that I will share with all readers as soon as it is complete.
  2. On this blog stage, I will share Part 2 of Nest City, focusing on how we can effectively organize ourselves in cities by taking into account our destination, the journey and the emergence of ourselves and our cities.

My Integral City 2.0 Online Conference expedition has fed my desire to dig deeper into our relationship with the cities we create.

My next post will revive the plot for of the city’s new story: organizing for emergence. 



Tues/Wed/Thurs in September

A reminder that my posts are not appearing here on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in September.  My writing attention for these days is going to the Integral City Expo and eLab, where I am providing a written harvest for each day of the conference.

I realized last week that this is a paying gig to write about what I am passionate about – our evolutionary relationship with cities.  It’s not lucrative, but there is a transaction.  I write and I will be paid.  I write and it will be read.  Even better – I get to have a front row seat on what’s happening, even be the interviewer for 7 sessions.

This is a marathon endeavour for the month of September and it is a thrill.  The Integral City Expo involves 50 visionary speakers in 36 sessions over 12 days. Each day focuses on one of the 12 evolutionary intelligences of cities.  I am tired at the end of day 2, and I have yet to write today’s harvest.

Go to this link to register and listen to the 30 remaining sessions live as part of the Expo.  For a small fee, you can get MP3 downloads and my take on each day’s intelligence.

Tomorrow’s focus is Living Systems Intelligence, with an opening session with Elisabet Sahtouris.


Willfully unfolding lemonade


The words willful unfolding have continued to unfold!  Relentlessly.

As part of the Integral City conference, I have four roles: co-design the eLab program with Marilyn Hamilton, interview many of the 50 visionaries we have gathered, speak to participants about the role of the Integral City master rule (take care of self, take care of others, take care of place), and harvest the meaning we make of what we are learning.

As we have been working on the conference, we have been struggling with making sure that we create the conditions for the transfer of wisdom from people who have been living the 12 evolutionary intelligences to participants.  These are the 36 live sessions that form part of the conference.  We are also aiming to create the space for an asynchronous community space that allows the participants to meet each other and make meaning together.  Holding this latter intention as been my role as the Harvester.

Up until today, I have had no idea how our harvest function was going to take place with our technology choice.  I have willfully held on to the intention to create the conditions where the emerging Integral City Collective is able to connect as a collective, rather than as individuals.  We wish to create the conditions to see the collective, to discuss within the collective.  To interact with the collective.  To be a collective.

The way to go about creating this kind of space has been very slow in unfolding.  I have had to be patient as we made decisions about the technology we use and whether it can hold the dream of a collaborative space that can hold us in our exploration really well.  Our challenge is that the technology platform we are using is moderately good at setting up individuals to connect with each other.  Not more.  And at this stage in the game we are not in a position to change our platform so we are making lemonade out of lemons, as one of my colleagues puts it.  We will make great lemonade together.

Whether we meet face to face or virtually, the quality of our interaction comes with what we each bring and the spirit in which we conduct ourselves.  Regardless of the structure, physical or virtual.  This is how we will make lemonade.  And the lemonade will nourish the next iteration of the technological structures that we need to serve us well in our virtual worlds.

The lemonade will serve the next unfolding.


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7  free interviews are posted on the Integral City Collective website.  Go to the conference page, scroll down to the bottom of the page to register for the free Integral City expo and you’ll have access to the interviews.  This is free time to learn with Don Beck, Ann Dale, Ann Duffy, Barrett Brown, Buzz Holling, Hazel Henderson and Terry Patten.  Enjoy

Go to the conference link above, then click on this button...


Willful unfolding

It is 13 days until showtime, when the curtain goes up for the Integral City Expo and eLab on-line conference.  We have a lot to do and we could have chosen to focus our time today on tasks, but we made a different decision today.

We chose to pause and consider our work and its role in our selves and our world.  We circled up for 90 minutes to reflect individually and collectively on the following:

  • stories of when we feel appreciated working with each other
  • ideas of how to strengthen our culture of appreciation
  • the callings in our lives in relation to our work on the Integral City Expo and eLab
  • the common patterns of intention within our highest individual aspirations
This was a wise choice to spend our time this way as we head into the chaos of putting on a month long on-line conference.  We are grounded in the understanding of our shared calling to work together, even when most of us have never met face-to-face.
Our trust in each other has been amplified.  Our shared, emerging purpose has been amplified.  As we move into crunch time, our ability to priorize with purpose will be amplified.
We are ready to forge ahead.
Here is the poem that emerged from our time together, our feedback loop to ourselves, grounding our selves and our work serving cities and citizens as we design for our unfolding future.




Planet of cities

Earth is now a planet of cities.  The implications of this stage in our evolution are going to be discussed in 15 days by world thought leaders in the first week of a four week online conference: The City 2.0.

Each day  of Week 1 will focus on an evolutionary intelligence that supports citizens and cities:

  • Tuesday Sept 4 – Ecology
  • Wednesday Sept 5 – Emergence and complexity
  • Thursday Sept 6 -Living systems

Here is a quick review of what is happening Week 1 (please enjoy the links to web pages with some information about these folks).

On Tuesday September 4, Bill Rees, co-author of Our Ecological Footprint, will begin Day 1 of the conference exploring the contribution of ecosphere intelligence in cities.  Brian Eddy and Michael Zimmerman will follow, giving us examples of how ecosphere intelligence contributes to city design.  We will wrap up the day by setting the stage for participants to share stories of living ecosphere intelligence by hearing the stories of Karen O’Brien, Lummina Horlings, and Gaston Remmers.

Day 2, on September 5, will begin with Buzz Holling‘s take on emergence and complexity in cities.  Jan de Dood and Harrie Vollaard will give us examples on how emergence and complexity contribute to city design.  Day 2 will conclude with some stories of what this intelligence looks like in real life, starting with Ian Wight and Will Varey.

Week 1 concludes on September 6 with a look at living systems.  Elisabet Sahtouris starts us off on Day 3 with a look at life cycles and aliveness in the city.  Darcy Riddell and George Por will show us how how to apply living systems intelligence.  The day will conclude with a round of stories about implementing living intelligence.  Bjarni Snaebjorn Jonnson and Roberto Bonilla-Nunez will get us started.

These folks come from around the world.  Appropriate for a week’s exploration of Earth as a planet of cities.  They hail from Canada, The Netherlands, the United States, Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Mexico.  Their work takes place on planetary and local scales.  They look at cities integrally, examining the city ‘s interior and exterior perspectives.  Among them they are thought-leaders, scholars and practitioners.  They are a wonderful blend of what it means to think about cities integrally, to feel cities integrally and to embody cities integrally.

That’s week #1 in a nutshell.

For more information, please explore the conference web site.  Speakers’ bios can be found here.





City designers for ecosphere intelligence

I will be interviewing Brian Eddy and Michael Zimmerman on the opening day of the Integral City eLab, Tuesday September 4, 2012.  We will be exploring ecosphere intelligence, our awareness and capacity to respond to a city’s climate and eco0region.

(For over a decade, Brian Eddy has been exploring sustainable development with an integral lens.  Here is a link to one of his articles available online:  Integral Geography: Space, Place  and Perspective (2005 – World Future 61).  Michael Zimmerman is author of Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World, a wonderful treatise on the the transdisciplinary nature of integral ecology.)

Day One will begin with Marilyn Hamilton’s interview of Bill Rees, author of Our Ecological Footprint,  who will provide an overview of the contribution ecosphere intelligence makes to cities.  Eddy and Zimmerman will zoom in on how the three principles of ecosphere intelligence can be used in city design:

  1. Honour the climate and geography of your city.
  2. Steward the environment.
  3. Add value to the earth space.
Day 1 will conclude with ecosphere intelligence practitioners Karen O’Brien and Ina Horlings, and a look at integral approaches to climate change and sustainability.

Click here for information on the eLab.  Stay tuned for more information on the eLab and details on how to participate.




eLab: a relevant crucible for change

The Integral City eLab is taking place from September 4-27, 2012.  Our mission – to pool curious minds to co-create an exploratory space for anyone wishing to create cities that serve citizens and cities well.   We aim to create the conditions for a new, life-giving story for our cities, the habitat we create for ourselves to ensure we thrive.

eLab rooted in three principles

We have created the eLab because we believe that:

  1. Cities are the most relevant boundaries and crucibles for change
  2. For collaboration we need a common lens and language from which to communicate
  3. The city lens is under construction – it requires learning how to think differently

The purpose of the eLab is to create the conditions for these three principle to gain life, to change how we think about our cities.  Our cities are a part of our evolutionary story and a significant part of the systems we humans build to support ourselves.  It is time to understand city systems.

Here’s the skinny on the format

The eLab will take place over four weeks, three days each week for a total of 12 days.  Each day of the eLab will explore one of the 12 evolutionary intelligences I have been exploring here and that form the basis of Marilyn Hamilton’s work (Integral City website, the book).  The 12 intelligences are grouped in threes, giving each week an overal theme:

  • Week 1 (Sep 4-7)  – Planet of Cities
  • Week 2 (Sep 11-13) – Gaia’s Reflective Organ
  • Week 3 (Sep 18-20) – Aligning Strategies to Prosper
  • Week 4 (Sep 25-27) – Amplifying Intelligence

Each day will explore one evolutionary intelligence through three questions and three principles that guide the intelligence.  This will be done each day at three scales (three sessions each day): a thought leader, people who design for this intelligence and the stories of practitioners of the day’s intelligence.

Feel free to explore the eLab program further at your leisure.  For details and registration please contact Marilyn Hamilton at

Over the next couple weeks I will be highlighting the speakers that will be sharing their work, life and stories about our relationships with our cities.

My three roles at Integral City eLab


For the months of August and September I am taking a break from posting Nest City while I step up my work on an international webinar eLaboratory on cities:

Integral City eLab 2012 – Co-creating the Future of the Human Hive

Integral City eLab is 12 days of webinars from September 4-27 (Tuesday – Thursday each week) and an on-line learning environment to serve as an eLaboratory  to explore how to design prosperity systems for the liveable city.   Our intention is to create the space and place for people across the planet to share and learn of ideas about our relationship with cities.  We will explore big ideas and share stories.  Click here for information on the eLab.

I have three roles in the eLab:

  1. C0-host eLab webinars.   Marilyn Hamilton, David Faber and I will be hosting/facilitating/moderating the 36 eLab sessions.  Some will be formal presentations, others will involve extensive Q and A, while others are designed for participants to explore and share their experiences and stories.
  2. Blog the eLab.  Prior to the eLab I will be writing about the contributions our speakers make to our understanding of cities as whole systems.  During the eLab I will be blogging about eLab stories and making meaning of each day.  I will be creating pieces to head out into the world as well as creating a jumping off points for discussion among eLab participants.
  3. Co-create the spaces and places to make meaning.  With my fellow eLab organizers, we are holding the intention, and creating the structure for personal and collective learning about ourselves and cities.  We are holding this intention for the duration of the eLab and into the future that we can’t see yet.

So for Nest City readers, you will see a shift in focus here.  For the month of August I will be writing about the speakers that are engaged for the eLab.  For the month of September, during the eLab itself, I will be blogging each conference day about meaning I make of the day’s journey.  This will be a juicy side-journey that will provide lots of intelligence to put toward the creation of Nest City and nest cities.

I look forward to sharing the Integral City eLab with you!


August – guest blog about Integral City eLab speakers/ideas

September – guest blog Integral City eLab stories

October – back to Nest City blog