Integral intelligence for the city – part 2

In my last post, Integral intelligence for the city – part 1, I outlined two maps that help us see cities as whole, integrated systems: the nested holarchy of city systems and Spiral Dynamics integral.   The two remaining maps complete the collection of maps presented by Marilyn Hamilton in Integral City (click here for the book and here for the website).

The two maps I present today are the integral map and the scalar, fractal relationship map.

1.  The integral map

The basics of this intelligence have been applied in the Nest City blog in my post entitled  City – a dance of voice and values. The map here is very simple: four quadrants that help us notice within our selves and any scale of human system the individual and collective, and the internal and external.

Figure A - Wilber's Four Quadrants (illustrated by Brandy Agerbeck)

As a map, it helps us track this territoity.  It isn’t the territory itself, but a frame for us to explore the territory we are experiencing, or not. Marilyn Hamilton applies this lens expressly to the city:

  1. Upper Left (individual, internal, subjective, intangible) – appreciates the beauty of life and the city, particularly in living systems.  This is the psychological well-being of the city.
  2. Upper Right (individual, external, objective, tangible) – appreciates the truth of life: the actions that support our material survival in the city.  From this perspective we determine the energy flow in the city for life: water, food, waste, shelter, clothing. Our attention here gives us a quality built environment. This is the biological well-being of the city.
  3. Lower Right (collective, external, interobjective, tangible) – appreciates the the truth that emerges from the material systems generated by the Upper Right.  From here the artifact of the city emerges for us to live in collectively – our combined habitat.  This is the social well-being of the city.
  4. Lower Left (collective, internal, intersubjective, intengible)-  appreciates the Goodness in life.  From this perspective we see the moral qualities of our collective choices.  We weave this voice into the stories of everyday life.  We see this view in our formal laws.  This is the cultural-well-being of the city.
For more on Hamilton’s view of this work, please explore her book, Integral City – click here for the book and here for the website.
The lens of the integral map is crucial to seeing the whole city as a system of citizens, city managers, city builders and civil society.  Any contemplation of a city without all four of these integral voices is not complete.  In our work to create cities as habitats in which we thrive, this is a crucial part of integral intelligence.

2.  The scalar, fractal relationships of human systems

I have not written about this map in an explicit fashion so far, but the spirit of this map is within Next City.  Two images I have shared here are fractal: our work and habitat, and the city dynamic.

Figure B - Work in Habitat (at any scale)
Figure C - The City Dynamic (at any scale)

(For further description of work and habitat, visit this post: The development of cities is a survival skill.  For further description of the city dynamic, visit this post: Dynamically steering cities to the future.

By fractal, I mean that regardless of the scale, the pattern is the same.  The image and concept of our work evolving in response to our habitat, social and physical, is one that holds for individuals, families, neighbourhoods, cities and so on.  We don’t come up with new ways of doing things but for in response to some kind of challenge that we face.  This pattern is in place regardless of scale of human system.

The other important consideration when using this map, is that each individual whole that makes up a larger system (think nested holarchy of city systems in my last post) is each in response to her/his/its own set of life conditions, making a soup of values and responses to changing conditions.  Understanding these dynamics are critical to understand as we upgrade our work to ensure cities are habitats for citizens to thrive.


The pattern

We build habitats for ourselves at many scales.  We build habitats for self, for family, for our neighbourhood, our organizations, our whole cities, regions, nations, continents and even our planet.  We have even begun building habitats for ourselves when we spend time in outer space.  The scale at which we do this work is expanding, yet it is only as good as the health of the wholes that make up the whole.  The well-being of selves, families, neighbourhoods, organizations, cities, etc., determine the well-being of the larger wholes.  Our work, as people keen on creating cities that serve citizens, is always at many scales, and in many directions (think quadrants) at once.

Marilyn Hamilton – An Integral City “is dynamic, adaptive, and responsive to its internal and external life conditions.  An Integral City acts much like a complex adaptive human system that concentrates habitat for humans like a beehive does for bees or an anthill does for ants.”[1] 

My next post will explore ecosphere intelligence – our ability to locate cities in appropriate locations.


[1]   Marilyn Hamilton, Integral City, p. 52




Integral intelligence for the city – part 1

Integral intelligence is about charting patterns.  Since I began blogging Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities on May 1, 2012 (click here for the first blog), I have used three of the four integral maps introduced by Marilyn Hamilton in her body of work called Integral City (here are links to her book and website).

The four integral maps to look at cities in a whole, integrated fashion are:

  1. The nested holarchy of city systems
  2. Spiral Dynamics – the complex adaptive structures of city change
  3. The integral map
  4. The scalar, fractal relationship of micro, meso, macro human systems
In this post, I will outline the first two maps. The next two will be outlined in my next post on Monday.

1.  Nested Hierarchy of City Systems

Figure A – Nested Holarchy of City Systems

I first introduced the nested holarchy of city systems when describing the role of work and our work life as the evolutionary spark that began our migration across the planet, then into cities, and the subsequent growth of our cities.  We are driven to do more than merely survive, so we constantly find ways to think, make and do new things.  The result is that we change our habitat along the way – we create settlements and cities (and many other things that physically change our habitat).  More importantly, our work, at every scale in the city, creates the conditions for even more ways of thinking, making and doing new things: innovation.  Our cities are engines of innovation, which means that  the development of cities is a survival skill.

For Hamilton, to look at a city as whole we must contemplate the city as a human system, which is comprised of a nest of systems, each of which are themselves whole.  Each of which has its own level of complexity that includes the preceding “smaller” systems.

The value of this map is that at minimum, it reminds us to thing of city life at more than one scale.  It also reminds us that to work at any scale, we must also work with the systems that make up that system.  If working at the neighbourhood scale (5), then we must also work at the individual, family/clan, group, organizational scales as well.

Hamilton has made a recent blog post on this if you are interested.  Other Nest City posts that include this map are: Cities: the result of our evolving interaction with our habitatWork at scale to serve the city, and The city as a nest.

2.  Spiral Dynamics – integral

Figure B – Spiral Purposes of Cities

The Nest City blog next introduced Spiral Dynamics as a means to map the evolution of the purpose of cities.  A series of posts (Is an unplanned city part 1part 2part 3 and part 4) tell the story of St. John’s, Newfoundland and reveal how as the levels of complexity change (as the scales of system in the nested holarchy of city systems get larger), we adapt to provide structures that support new levels of complexity.  As the  purpose of a human settlement evolves, we shift and adjust our values and priorities to organize ourselves in response to changing conditions.  These posts are a window into how the Spiral shows up in the city.

Three additional posts outline how the Spiral works: A primer on the emerging spiral7 principles frame the emerging spiral, and Conditions for evolutionary expansion.

The value of this map is not just in the map itself.  The places on the map tell us about the values of that spot, and the things that motivate people and systems from that spot.  This understanding has huge implications for designing and communication with city systems.

The additional value of this frame is the understanding  that movement up or down the spiral is always in response to life conditions – our habitat.  This is so critical for cities – for our cities are our habitat, made by us.

Both of these maps are intensely connected to our drive to thrive in cities.  The nested holarchy reminds us that cities are a systems made of systems and part of larger, expanding systems.  Moreover, as we build our cities we are creating the conditions for our own movement up the Spiral.  We are creating the conditions for our own evolution.  

The next post will address the two remaining maps of integral intelligence: the integral map, and scalar, fractal relationships.  

12 evolutionary intelligences

In many preceding posts, I have referred to Marilyn Hamilton’s application of integral theory to the city: Integral City.  She articulates 12 evolutionary intelligences in her book, Integral City.  (Visit the Integral City web site here.)  (For  a quick summary of integral theory, visit this post.)

Integral City identifies 12 intelligences that are part of our evolutionary relationship with cities.  Each of these intelligences are described on Hamilton’s website.  If you visit her site, you will find this compass.  When you hover over the words in the compass, the text immediately to the left of the compass will describe that intelligence.  If you click on it, you will go to a new page with some text that describes that intelligence in more detail.

 Here is a quick phrase describing each intelligence:
  1. Ecosphere intelligence – locating places
  2. Emerging intelligence – seeing wholeness
  3. Integral intelligence – charting patterns
  4. Living intelligence – living and dying
  5. Inner intelligence – conscious capacity
  6. Outer intelligence – embodying right action
  7. Building intelligence – creating structures that flex and flow
  8. Story intelligence – feeding each other
  9. Inquiry intelligence – releasing potential
  10. Meshing intelligence – enabling order and creativity
  11. Navigating intelligence – directional dashboards
  12. Evolving intelligences – imagining the future

Over the course of the next several posts, I will look at each of these.  At times, I will look at clusters of intelligence, and other times I will explore only one. My intention is to present the ideas of the intelligence, reveal the power of the intelligence, and find an example of how the intelligence is lived in world.  Following this exploration of evolutionary intelligences, I will apply them more specifically to the Nest City model that articulates how we organize ourselves in cities: the city organizing dynamic.

Stay tuned if these evolutionary intelligences catch your eye – your evolving being.  I’ll start tomorrow with integral intelligence. 

NOTE  – If these evolutionary intelligences are of interest to you, the Integral City eLab will be taking place in September 2012.  Please click here to see the invitation.  Please click here to see the preliminary program.



My own work snuck up on me


That is the message I left in my manuscript to describe Chapter 3 – The Thriving Impulse.   Chapters 1 and 2 had been written and rewritten over and over again, leaving them in a state that seemed to make turning the text into smaller chunks for blog posts relatively easy.  I had to rewrite and reorganize things, but the frame was in place.

I am getting organized to start blogging Chapter 3.  Funny that the guiding text for Chapter 3, from John O’Donohue’s blessing, For the Time of Necessary Decision, is this:

For time gathers its moments secretly.

Time does gather its moments secretly.  I thought it was a scary chapter, though now when I look at it after a few months, the emerging outline seems clear.  My own work has snuck up on me over time.  I have a frame on which to hang the next series of posts:

  1. What is evolutionary intelligence?
  2. How does evolutionary intelligence shape the city?
  3. What are the protocols and practices for an evolving, emerging city?