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Sept 23rd, 2014: Siemens and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) announced the winners of the City Climate Leadership Awards 2014 at a ceremony held on Monday night in New York City. The Awards honor cities all over the world for excellence in urban sustainability and leadership in the fight against climate change. The winning cities in the ten award categories are:
Amsterdam (Finance & Economic Development)
Barcelona (Intelligent City Infrastructure)
Buenos Aires (Solid Waste Management)
London (Carbon Measurement & Planning and Air Quality)
Melbourne (Adaptation & Resilience)
New York City (Energy Efficient Built Environment)
Portland (Sustainable Communities)
Seoul (Green Energy)
Shenzhen (Urban Transportation)
In the international network circle of AiREAS (citizen’s driven healthy city cooperation, that started in Eindhoven and focuses on air quality and human health) people reacted with surprise that highly polluted London was awarded for Air Quality.
AiREAS is not submitted for these or any other award. We are hence not surprised. If you don’t buy a ticket don’t expect to win the lottery. It is not the state of pollution that matters but the effort a city does to solve the issue for human health and vitality. We @AiREASnl and City of Tomorrow (@STIRfoundation) reason using 4 paradigms, not just one. The award winning cities have every right to be highlighted, in their fragmented technologically innovative way.
What people tend to forget is that cities are the old conglomerates of “industrialised” financial and technological dependencies. People who live in cities enjoy the centralized facilities but depend for their basic needs (water, food, energy, clothing, etc) entirely of the system’s dynamics of the city with the surroundings, still totally based on money. To get access to money the citizens need to work or speculate. Due to system automation cities only develop consumers but not labor. Cities sustain themselves with growth, change, inflation or go broke.
Big enterprises such as Siemens depend on these huge city’s investments in technological solutions so award those that excel in this, rather than those (such as Eindhoven) that develop living lab solutions with their own population and entrepreneurship. In large cities systems prevail over human, responsibility driven interaction, simply because financial flows give old power to the political and economic structures. They however cover just part of the solutions.
Local responsibility is extremely cost and bureaucracy saving, very challenging even for the local creative forces that get involved in their own sustainable city progression with the development of a circular local economy, yet demanding a new local leadership mentality. It requires facilitating support from the policy makers, is not directly taxable nor instantly part of the global economic reality, so no reward system is in place yet to back it up. Local value systems appear in the city based on value creation and sharing. These subsystems detach from the large economies producing a power shift in the city.
That’s why solutions like Sustainocracy and AiREAS are not (yet) receiving global awards simply because they do not fit marketing communication plans. They just solve key local issues through co-creation, they don’t buy or sell them.
Of the 4 paradigms available to cities, economic lobbies and fragmented power positions around public dependencies tend to push to a single focus, the one of technological innovation only, offered by the big global players. “Smart Cities” is not (yet) about people but mainly about (business) systems. From an overall global sustainable progress point of view we see that the other 3 paradigms need to be respected too, else the cities enter into chaos anyway. These other complementary 3 are however not money driven, hence hardly ever highlighted:
- Chaos: cities have to accept the collapsing of old obsolete structures and economic efficiencies to open up for overall renewal based on other types of innovative solutions (people, planet, profit) in a more holistic approach.
- Awareness: cities have to allow and help their self aware and responsible citizens to develop solutions of their own and connect to the evolution of their own community. This requires freedom for experimentation and innovation from inside the community. It opens up a new economic reality of cocreation, universal ethics, commitment and best practice from within.
- Harmony: cities need to learn to focus on harmony between nature, people, authority (rather than power) and their own regional self sufficiency.
Those cities that develop themselves using all the four paradigms (Sustainocracy) become strongholds of human evolution that contribute to the whole as well as the regional self. They become pearls of co-existence, harmony and flexibility. Then they will be rewarded by evolutionary progress and need to address the challenge of growth (in population) because of a livable, integral attractiveness, fulfilling the “sustainocratic dream” of sustainable human progress within, among others, climate awareness.
Not many people understand the functioning of our complex human systems called society. We interact without asking too many questions, suffering large consequences as they come along. We protect the selfinterest by living life as it comes making choices based on cultural norms, tradition, fears and ambitions. We do not really believe we can do a lot about the bigger picture as individuals.
When effects of pollution, global warming, migrations of desperate people, financial crises, scandals, etc reach our awareness we do tend to take a broader view of our reality. We may even reach a point that we adjust our daily choices with this new information.
This awareness has an interesting extra effect on people as we begin to question the way we organize ourselves. We open up to an inner reality called “empathy”. This is a state of consciousness that does not just want us to survive in a competitive world. It helps us try to “do good” too. This “to do the right thing” is a state of mind that requires us to learn to feel sympathy for our surroundings. We open up to observing new realities, such as the suffering of other people, the effects of our actions on nature, the immorality of manipulation and injustice of certain human actions of greed. We arrive at a point that we project our daily choices on the world wide issues and take action accordingly within our span of control. We open up to understanding the bigger picture and see our own role with more clarity. Changing this role changes the human world of systems that, as a consequence, are forced to adjust.
On a worldwide basis we see our shops being packed with goods through an old system of supply and taxes on which institutions (business, government, banks) rely.
You can’t solve problems by increasing them
It is in their system’s interest to keep this chain functioning because it produces labor, involves technology, keeps consumption going and produces funding for infrastructures and bureaucracy. It also provides means to address the consequences of this system. As the consequences grow exponentially, so does the need for money in this globalized system.
We understand that it produces the problems but we all depend on its functioning. How do we change it without putting this machinery on hold?
The first change is our own sense of “empathy” we the related change of our daily choices. We force the human systems to adjust to the newly growing popular mentality.
The second change is that the supply chain is stressed due to unsustainable chackles inside the system. The supply chain tries to optimize and reorganizes itself to remain strong.
The third change is provoked by the global issues themselves. If for instance competition for raw materials becomes as demanding as competition for sales the intellect is forced to look for adaptation to avoid system’s collapse. There is a lot of stress everywhere demanding leadership to cope with stressful circumstances.
The way we (STIR) addtess this at yhe top level of regional goverance and economuc development is by introducing a new complex system next to the old one. It is a system based on responsibility of change rather than keeping a supply chain going. It helps participants anticipate without being surprised by circumstances and the unexpected.
When tension builds up locally in the old system relief is found by looping initiatives through the new system in a multidisciplinary way. This exercize helps people in charge to open up their minds to alternatives and choose their best options.
By doing so we achieve another interesting process, the development of the consciousness (to be) with the use of instruments to change things for the better (to do).
The biggest challenge we face in human reality is to integrate our growing awareness and empathy (awakening to new realities) with the systems that produce sustainable human progress and wellness. It becomes clear in our minds that for our own stability we need change. This is excitingly new when we come from an era of conservatism due to lack of awareness. The more we all become aware, the peacefuller we adjust our lives and systems through innovation of our structures and lifestyle. We start enjoying the prospect of progress rather than fearing the consequeces of change.
Awareness changes the world
Recent blog and internet discussion, and our practical living lab exercises of AiREAS in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, got us again going about the overall complexity of the “psychology of change”.
On the one hand there are the impressive challenges of a global shift, a true transformation of society to save our selves, demanding tremendous changes. On the other there is the powerful resistance and dominance of the world’s institutionalized economics that produces many powerful lobbies to avoid change all together. The latter brings a certain material wealth to the world and to the financial mighty. I already wrote various blog items on it but the complexity of “change” seems an endless and highly repetitive topic. Why? Because it affects us intensely on all levels of society.
The need for change has to do with ethics, sustainable human progress, in-dependencies, our environment and basic human rights, as opposed to nothing of that, expressed through individual and institutional power positions. It also has to do with awareness, responsibility, dominance, different paradigms and massive manipulation as part of the huge human complexities. Both sides of the problem, the desire and the avoidance of change, are firmly established inside the kernel of our individual and collective consciousness, self reflection, evolution and the ethical structuring of our choices. Despite everything there is always a dominant situation of overall avoidance of change.
Manipulation may sound unethical to you but we are being manipulated all the time. Not just through conscious manipulation of powerful institutions but also by the way we perceive our own selves in general. We react primarily to our surroundings using multiple sensory and extra sensory impulses. The way we perceive is the way we react. Within this simple action = reaction there is the “human psychology” involving fear, worry, happiness, wellness, anger, hate, education, jealousy, etc. All this can be manipulated, even by ourselves, consciously and unconsciously. In fact, it takes an intense learning process to to become aware of one’s own behavior, perception and choices, to get more or less liberated from manipulation. We call this a part of our higher evolutionary awareness. Not many people reach that state and those who do often become manipulators themselves with a large array of motives.
While I write this blog and re-read it I realize that I myself am one of them. I have grown over time mostly free from manipulation. Now (before I did not) I can see that I am being manipulated in intention by a dominant money and consumer driven system. This produces some kind of friction between me and the old generalized system. By introducing a new paradigm (sustainocracy) I also manipulate people by showing them a different truth. Despite my desire to be ethical and transparent I do create a new environment with the intention to provide people such a sense of new security that they decide to follow my views and let go of the old paradigm.
All I try to do, which justifies my motivation and passion, is to make people aware of manipulation and help them make up their own mind, without prejudice finally about their choice, not even when they decide to turn their back to me. I see it hence as a challenge to explain myself and Sustainocracy in such a way that people start believing in it, more than the other reigning system. But isn’t that what the system of capitalist consumer economics does too? And has been doing successfully for a long time? So we both compete in the psychology of manipulation presenting two different paradigms to the people. I am of course just a beginner while the other paradigm has thousands of years of experience.
Psychology of manipulation
When it is warm we buy an ice-cream when its cold we wear a pullover. We look around us and decide what we do, need, say, move, ….almost instantly. Our impressions do not just have to do with sensory perception, they are also colored by what we think is right or wrong, just, wishful, desirable, etc. In reality we have been conditioned to instant reaction right from the moment we were born and open our eyes to see the world. Normally we see the face of one of our parents at first, or a doctor or nurse. We see lights, colors, movements …. We smell and taste things….we hear noises, sounds, melodies, voices. All these first impressions reach us without giving it yet a conscious thought, they form however the basis of the big pile of sensory impressions to come that we do reflect consciously about.
After growing up in a certain environment it becomes so familiar, our own unquestionable reality, a specific truth. Every new observation and experience is being compared with circumstances we lived through before in the past. It enhances them, builds them up, or rejects them, until you feel at home right in the middle of those impulses from outside. This helps to react instantaneously on most issues of life during the day and makes you feel familiar with the way others react too. Together we form a culture, a set of values around language, beliefs, behavior, etc, that define us as a community. It gives us a behavioral identity. This gives a sense of belonging that remains united to our local natural and human surroundings. It is important to us because we need speedy adaptation and reaction when our behavioral routine is upset in any way. It is important for our mind to be able to distinguish between the normal and abnormal and react adequately, especially when in danger.
So securities are built up by ourselves and with our cultural environment to make us feel safe within ourselves. We auto-manipulate this feeling out of risk avoidance, fear control and sense of control. This can of course be manipulated also by an organized surroundings that is based on institutionalized principles. This then becomes also a paradigm, a worldview that is conditioned by certain values. Our current ruling paradigm is the one of capitalist economics. The one that I am introducing with arguments is called “sustainocracy”.
That is psychology of manipulation, the sense of providing external security to a community of people by the internal perception of security.
Psychology of change
People are of course reluctant to change when it addresses their sense of security. Nowadays we are confronted with a lot of information on climate changes, pollution, global warming, financial crises, other crises, etc. When we read such issues in the newspapers and watch documentaries on TV we become worried. We still, however live our day to day, everyday life. We are worried about the large picture and yet do what we have always done. “What do you want me to do?” you would say, “who am I to do anything?”, you may suggest. “Let the government solve it” most of us would say. And you are probably right!
Unless your name is on the list of the G7 and G20 encounter, or something like that. Which is what tends to happen. A few hundred powerful people join in global talks but fail to talk about change because they want to keep a capitalist economy going that provides perceived security to many people including the ones in power. And 7 billion people feel too small, too insignificant, too unaware, to do anything while feeling blindly secure in their day to day living experience, expecting that the big G solve it all. Until it is too late.
So if we want to change anything we have to overcome the “psychology of fear for change”. This starts with the aspect of “negation”. This feeling is normal. To accept a responsibility we have to be aware that we actually carry one. Or that we become aware that those who we think are responsible, have good reasons for themselves to avoid change and will therefor not take that kind of responsibility.
As explained above we see our direct environment as a secure cultural nest in which we were born and grew up. If we want to change we attack our inner senses of security and that creates an intense feeling of fear and insecurity. At individual level, despite the awareness that things need to change, we have the tendency of neglecting it just out of fear of the consequences. We tend to place the responsibility elsewhere, outside our own scope. You may say that this the mentality of an ostrich yet it has a strong basis of survival. If everyone would panic upon the wisdom of need for change the chaos would even be more dangerous. Human beings need some kind of leadership to address change.
The need for change grows, the negation too
Meanwhile a growing part of those 7 billion people are being incorporated into the Western example of material wealth. They feel that they have every right, just like European and Americans have enjoyed this wealth for a long time already. They are right of course. Why would they have to step back being the newcomers on the scene while the old guys made the biggest damage? Aren’t all people in the world allowed to have a TV set, a house, a car and a well stocked supermarket around the corner? Sure!
So the biggest challenge of the global shift is to change everything without changing anything. Would it be possible to keep up and expand wellness around the world without damaging it? Many scientists and business people would see a challenge in it, many local small governments also, but national large governments and bankers seem to be more than reluctant. “You can change whatever you want as long as it gives us an economy of growth” they would claim out of self interest. What they really express is their fear for loosing power, control and a financial profit. So when we introduce the need for change we also have to seriously accept the “psychology of change” as a challenge to overcome, including the powerful.
Two ways to change
There is the universal natural way, which is the traditional chaos of destruction through war, depression, recession, poverty, etc which obliges all people to change by external, non human force. When institutions keep up their opposition and negation too long they block the flexibility and adaptiveness of a population around evolutionary change and provoke a natural collapse. The human suffering is huge and so is the institutional because it collapses. It is all expressed by violence, demanding the liability of the old leaders which are prosecuted by the laws of chaos or history books.
Then there is the voluntary way, as proposed ( and demonstrated) by Sustainocracy. When we offer the current authorities the recognition of power, also in the new paradigm, then they feel secure to support change. Fear is overcome by safety, also involving the powerful. So psychology of change has much to do with communication, not just providing means for others to change but also by being the change by providing security in following. Followers show their own leadership by making choices in which we recognize the intense process of letting go of old securities. If the new securities provide a better perspective people are much more willing to open up for change, also when they have a high level position of power.
Yes, I can
Sustainocracy builds a new society directly in a new new paradigm using the same instruments of power and authority of the old paradigm. It is interesting to see that sustainocracy offers more security to the powerful than the crumbling paradigm of consumer economics. Executives that are value (not money) driven are the very first to support the transformation, which is also becoming a transformation of securities, not just of values, economies and ethics. Now executives have a choice and when aware of their own responsibilities they can claim: “I know I can”.
Like every situation when a choice is presented between two paradigms, a new issue arises: “explain why you made your choice”. That will be subject to subject of a new blog.