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City of Tomorrow initiative AiREAS was analysed among the Smart City projects in Eindhoven and classified “peer 4” city development. Peer 4 is unique in the world and a major evolutionary accomplishment of both the city and AiREAS. But what are these layers of city development mentioned by the external analysts? And what does it mean for all involved?
City evolutionary steps:
Peer 1: basic infrastructures of the city
Peer 2: functional integration of infrastructures
Peer 3: intelligent interaction between the infrastructures (Smart City)
Peer 4: purpose driven multidisciplinary civilian cooperation with city executives (Eco-city)
There seems to be an important line drawn between peer 3 and 4. While peers 1, 2 and 3 are managed by the city executive through the establishment of a territorial hierarchy, peer 4 has totally different characteristics. Peer 4 involves core human values and value driven interaction with the city’s citizens in which there is no hierarchy anymore. Peer 1, 2 and 3 cities can be seen as destructive black holes that absorbe resources from their surroundings without any return. That is because the citizens and city both interact from a consumption point of view. Peer 4 suddenly transforms the black hole in a warm star that enlightens the surroundings with productivity and core values for life enhancement and wellness. City and citizens work together on those local core human values.
Eindhoven became a peer 4 pioneer with AiREAS (heathy city, healthy people, healthy air) as recognized spark into a new reality.
From an anthropology point of view I compare the city break through from peer 3 to 4 as a “second positive desintegration” at community level, proyecting on the “city’s awareness” the analogy of Kazimierz Dabrowski and the psyche of people. Also, if you like, the level 4 awareness based structuring applies, according MIT’s Sensing views (see below).
From black hole to star
Any city starts off as an unaware “foolish” conglomerate of people who, for what ever reason of submission, decide to group together under territorial command. Infrastructures are needed to host those people and create society of some sort. Time evolves and so does the city. The original submissive reasons for any person to come to the city transforms over time too. At one time the motivation was maybe the expected labor in town, now it may be housing, entertainment, care systems, shops and social securities. Many people don’t even decide to come to the city anymore, they are born there and for all they know it is the only reality that exists.
For many generations city governance, with submissive citizenship, was the norm. The city provides a promise of abundance at the expense of one’s human identity. The human being is simply “the consumer”. Nowadays cities cannot keep the promise of abundance. Huge global issues affect the local stability and sustainable progress. Abundance cannot be garanteed anymore even though it is democratically demanded by the citizens. The economic attractiveness and functioning of the city is questioned due to the shortages created by the conglomerate of cities themselves. The lack of productivity of the population makes any city into a massively destructive consumer of resources. Since 70% of the global population lives now in cities, and numbers grow every day, the destructive force of the cities can be seen as black holes that just take without giving anything back. It is not just the resources that are consumed that is devastating, the pollution generated by all cities together and the way countryside productivity has been adjusted to economic norms, produces a lethal natural unbalance.
Human awareness develops when people do things and subsequently enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences of such actions. The interpretation of suffering develops our understanding of what we are (the “to be” part) through backward analysis.
We tend to mature in our understanding of life as we build up (painfull) experiences. At one point an awareness breakthrough is encountered. This is when our matured being starts to consciously determine what we do. We have learned so much about life’s mechanisms and essentials that we can anticipate and learn to create rather than destroy. This inner breakthrough is the one referred to by Dabrowski and a unique benefit of the human psyche. Unfortunately we have not yet based our executive leadership on these breakthroughs but gradually we will.
Peer 4 can be seen as a similar breakthrough but at city level. This is unprecedented in human history. It can be seen as a logical and evolutionary consequence of the times we live in and necessary for the survival of the human species. It is an inspiring act of group leadership that steps down from a hierarchical position to adopt a partnership role in a teritorial eco-system.
Eindhoven become powerfully aware of it vulnerability already in the 80’s when its major providers of employment (Philips and DAF) either went broke or moved their industrial processes to China. The pain of unemployment and corresponding social costs brought a severe crisis. It made the city reflect about its vulnerability out of dependence. This became the basis to convert into Smart City’s peer 3 with initiatives like Brainport. The city had become aware that it should remain productive even though this was translated primarily in product innovations for the global market. Triple helix is a typical peer 3 structure in which the three pillars for economic growth (government, education and business innovation) work together to optimize resources and results. Yet the triple helix is still focused on the world economic market of trade (to do). Brainport developed into a highly subsidized technology driven creative institute.
Eindhoven became the hotspot for creative product development but remained vulnerable in the economic context of demand and supply. Natural resources are increasingly being dealt with in a competitive manner as consumption peaks. Human consumption has its limits and inflation produces an enormous economic bubble that does not provide securities for all anymore. Poverty rises, migration starts and unbalance and insecurity becomes the standard. The city realizes at all levels (not just executive) that it needs to become much more self sufficient rather than competitive or consumptive. The main resources of the city are not its way to deal with economic growth but its talent to produce its own wellness. This understanding is a major breakthrough. Balancing value driven creativity with economic drivers becomes the deeper understanding of the essentials of life. A totally new way of dealing with one’s surroundings appears as well as the way citizens are seen in the city’s context, and how citizens see their city. Both develop empathy towards eachother and the objectives the community faces. Everything (governance, business development, education, behavior) starts to resonate with the higher purpose of quality of life in harmony with the natural surroundings.
While previously the city’s citizen were mere consuming parasites now they become primary resources for wellness driven creativity and productivity. Everything one can produce together one does not have to buy. The city’s economy balances out because it gradually becomes self supportive and self aware rather than vulnerably dependent of outside resources that it cannot control. The city develops awareness of its own core needs and takes responsibility by facilitating rather than controlling citizen’s interaction and productivity. It is not the city’s executive that leads anymore, it is the common persuit for core values that does. Both the citizens and the executive interact and adjust to produce the best results together. The entire city dynamics transforms.
Obviously the underlying peer 1, 2 and 3 infrastructural resources are still needed but they also need adjustment to the ecosystem that develops in the city. The city becomes self aware, passionate and energetic, less dependent on resources from outside. An energetic turn around can be felt. People in Holland state often “it all happens in Eindhoven” as they sense the warm and positive vibes. Its own resources sustain the city now, applying awareness, knowledge and tools for sustainable progress through quality of life rather than just trade.
Peer 4 transforms the city also economically. Since local values are created by the citizens themselves a local value sharing system needs to be developed. Citizens are no taxable parasites anymore but cocreators of wellness. People from outside the community can interact with the abundance created inside the city through financial means but those local citizens who put energy into the cocreation should be able to share the benefits without having to pay for it. Taxation transforms from money (VAT) over consumption to a sharing system of creative input and output for the city’s self sustaining progress. Housing is key to keep the value driven citizens in the city as the city recognizes that without them it becomes vulnerable again. The citizens become more important than the real estate which becomes functional to productivity rather that consumption. Also issues like pension-schemes become obsolete because peer 4 value driven interaction and contributions are not age but awareness dependent. A new dynamic interaction develops in which the elderly contribute and share as much as the youngest. Regards are measured in tangible reciprocity, not money. The city becomes less dependent on economy and more on social interaction and harmony. The city executive transforms and becomes more like the spinal cord and stemholder of the community than its brain. The community itself becomes the brain as the city starts to behave like a living body, with all its senses and core value awareness. Peer 4 transforms the black hole into a shining star.
In AiREAS we have been able to create and sense the warmth of our own creative powers and it is great for the city and all involved to be recognized as such. Any city can cross the line to peer 4 and we are ready to share our experiences of the new era that presents itself as more and more “black holes” transform in stars. All our progress is being documented and published through open access briefs. We use the global publishing channels of Springer and New Horizon Research. If you follow this blog you will be kept updated too. Also the global AiREAS Blog will provide you the specifics on progress around healthy city from air quality perspective.
A new leadership perspective and perception appears. For a short time both coexist in tension but after some time the persuit for harmony will prevail growth.
Someone who wants “to change the world” has an easy job. He or she simply has to change oneself and the world has changed. All you have to do thereafter is to show people how you are by being yourself. This serves as inspiration to some and may eventually spread…..In times of internet, with the possibility of blogging, to express our ideas and show the world the changes one has made, this process gets a modern unprecedented dimension. The problem people face is the huge amount of information that becomes available and the selection one makes for one’s own inspiration. By doing so one creates his or her own world of information and personal progress.
My own progression
After 5 years of blogging I see a progression in my own activities and also in the way I share this with my surroundings. I also see a steady and even exponential progression in the support I receive from you. The amount of readers has exploded in recent months and my practical contribution to the world through Sustainocracy is becoming a serious source of inspiration for people across the world. When I look at the blog items that drew most attention I see a certain tendency too, obviously provoked by myself through social media and public presentations, but also by a growing interest by you around the different views that I present. WordPress advises, through its statistics, that I should pick up these items and continue that line of inspiration for you.
The top 7 readings and topics are:
1. Why people avoid spirituality – This post was extensively read by the academic world after my presentation during the scientific encounter on Sustainability and Spirituality in September 2012 in Hungary.
2. Alternative definition of Sustainable Development – This post is key because it is used all the time to define the ethical basis of Sustainocracy. So every time I address and audience I need to clarify this point first to create the right mindset to follow my statements. The post is there extensively used by me as hyperlink.
3. Feminizing masculine cultures in crisis – This post appeals much to female groups who see a justification in it for their own emancipation. The masculinity of current manipulation and speculation of economies is often despised and purposely negated by masculine authorities but strongly recognized by the feminine structures causing an interesting Yin-Yang also among my readers.
4. The day after economics – I found that this post was appreciated by a broad audience that saw it as an eye opener to a trusted paradigm that was falling apart without anyone really knowing what was happening. “Economics” is a word that is seen as eternally connected to human development. To project it as a finite thing with a “life before and after” got readers to open up their mind to new worldviews.
5. Kondratieff versus Close – This recent post was re-blogged various times by people who like the analytics of human and economic systems.
6. Anthropocene I and II – Many people do not realize the effect we have on our surroundings and that this even is being defined as “an era” that will leave a lasting print or scar on the face of the Earth just like other natural disasters of the past.
7. Why only Sustainocracy can save the human world – This post is especial popular among the growing list of supporters of Sustainocracy as a solution.
Blueprint for prosperity:
I will certainly come back to these in forthcoming posts, as the trusted old world collapses and we all need to put our shoulders under the renewal. From the above posts, and observing the line of progression I made in my own work, we can define the key ingredients for a stable society:
- Ethics should rule (eg. Sustainocracy), not money
- Higher human purpose should lead the democracy, not economies of growths
- Self-sufficiency should prevail in primary requirements (food, housing, energy) to avoid dependencies
- Co-creative craftsmanship should provide sustainable local human progress
- Harmonious partnerships should connect self-sufficient neighboring regions for safety and sharing prosperity
We still have some work to do before this blueprint will be accomplished. What goes for societies, goes for us individually too. We are back again where I started. Change the world by changing first oneself by taking the above blueprint at heart. The rest will come automatically.
After having covered the three institutional pillars of a sustainocracy (business, government and education) I now reach the individual citizens as fourth and main key to a sustainocratic society.
It is curious to have to deal with human beings in a different blogchapter than institutions. The latter are a human invention and only exist on paper. With an administrative number such institution starts living a life of its own using human beings to keep it going within a predefined mission. Institutions make products, sell services, proform scientific studies, educate, determine city layouts and regional landscaping, build houses, print money, extend loans, gather specific political interests, represent a certain belief, etc etc. So in reality institutions are human teams performing a specific task that has to do with human interests and activities. In a way they are all puzzle pieces that can be placed in certain ways to form a society of many teams of people interacting for a particular reason. Institutions keep enormous amounts of people occupied and give them something back. This is mostly a salary but also a challenge, status, a place to go, something to do, a something “to belong to”, a sense of security of different kinds. In most countries men and women can now be active in the institutions on a more or less equal basis, especially those that have developed around financial interest. Institutions around beliefs or politics are not necessarily based on equal rights.
We call this emancipation, the equality of rights to have a job for individual financial independence.
The institutionalized world has gradually occupied most of our daily lives and dominates our activities and choices. Emancipation may have ment that we can become economicly independent from other human beings but instead we have also become slaves of a system that has simplified our existance around money dependence. The purpose of this system determines the way institutions interact and how all the people find an occupation. The main institutional purpose is today blindly focus on yet another human invention: money.
The problem we face is that universal standardization of all objectives into financial means has taken our individual attention away from the real fullfilment of our basic requirements. We need financial means to gain access to our needs that are supplied by the system and we serve the system to get our financial means. We are unaware of what the system does to produce our needs and rely on it entirely. All this would be fine if there would not be a financial profitability aspect woven into the system. This makes the system speculative in its operation in order to produce maximum financial benefit for shareholders. There is no morality anymore in the processes because all attention is given to the flow of cash not the consequences of producing the flow. We have made money more important than ourselves. Poverty in the world of financial crises is explained to be “people who have no money”. In reality it are people who have nothing to eat or to live. We cannot eat money and do not live in a bank yet we organized our social dependencies that way. If poverty has food and a place to live they are not poor anymore. It has become of interest of the systen to deprive people from their needs just to get them committed to the financial system of dependency through work and debt. Dependency is control and control is power yet power is in crisis now because this system reached its limits of exploitation. Financial poverty cannot get back into the system even if it wanted to so it needs to become brilliant in finding alternatives to survive. Then people become aware and find new ways of building a complex society based on different values than just money.
A sustainocratic person has become aware of that and also that we keep this destructive “anti-ecosystem” going because of our own dependence on it for our daily needs. This awareness makes us conscious for change. To reduce our dependence we need to let go of it and become independent. That is extremely difficult. Self sufficiency is nearly impossible unless you live in the countryside. And even then you are only self sufficient for food and maybe energy but not for healthcare for instance. A sustainocratic person hence becomes aware that self sufficiency and sustainable progress can not be achieved individually. It needs to be done in cooperation, with expertise on how to deal with it productively.
When one becomes “aware” it becomes also a personal problem to remain inside the old system. It is like being trapped, made hostage in a way and deprived from all freedom while one sees how we destroy our habitat and social relationships. Letting go is a deed that can only be done if assured of some kind of new securities to sustain oneself and those who are close. Sustainocracy provides such security. It becomes a challenge to find people and circumstances to deal with it. To make things even more complicated one finds that the old system is so powerfully present in our lives that it wants to get back to us all the time. Many people suggest a conspiracy against humanity to use humankind for the benefit of a few. In fact we conspire against ourselves by creating and sustaining a powerful culture our of dependency and self interest.
When one is aware of different paradigms one can also find a transformative way between them that satisfies one’s own consciousness within a local practical reality. Finding a new balance of dependence and independence depends very much on the local possibilities that one can find.
I for instance live in a city where houses are built low and we all have a small garden. In theory it should be possible to get sustainable cooperation going for food and energy independence but human psychology interferes just as much as the old system. When surrounded by abundance of an obsolete but still very functional system why would you go to the trouble of producing your own? That would be hard work! It is difficult to see the need to make the effort also when hardly anyone does it.
Still there is a large undercurrent in society that is taking fragmented action. People become active in new mobility systems, grow their own crop, start doing this with solar panels and become conscious on the type of food they eat. Yet all this makes you a local hero but not yet sustainocratic.
You become sustainocratic when you step up your awareness to become “entrepreneur of your own life” in cooperation with other, on the way of creating a new local society. In your quest for self sufficiency you become active in platforms that give you back parts of your daily needs. You get organized in teams that produce direct local value. In fact you are institutionalizing bottom up a new society that focusses on local for local sustainable progress based on basic needs for health, vitality, safety and progression within the challenging posibilities of the local environment. This is time consuming and makes you step away from traditional employment but into a new kind of productivity and reciprocity. Within this personal transformation the art of letting go and accepting new responsibilities is delicate and often complicated. You may feel partly active in both worlds that each have different rules and manners.
When you do so you can also ask existing local institutions to reposition their powers to support you. A sustaincrat like me actively positions himself in the middle of a sustainocracy and invites old power institutions to look up their true value propositions that can be used in my own human based venture. It is a crazy thought for many people that a single individual can surround him or herself with “institutional monsters” of the old paradigm. But it is possible. Such monsters also consist of people who wish to do a purposeful activity and contribution. A hamer is meant to be used as a tool not as a killing instrument. Institutions are meant to produce benefits for humankind and if not they should be repositioned that way. As simple as that. It is democratic human working that makes this happen, as executive, civil servant, entrepreneur, student, medic, worker, parent, pensioner, etc. It becomes also a personal choice to contribute to one or the other purpose. In sustainocratic communities one can become individually active in various purpose driven communities. One is not confined to one job and income but active in various receiving reciprocal means in equal diversity. Money is not a goal anymore, it is one of the many means to an end. Human sustainable progress is the goal starting with local self sufficiency in as many basic needs as possble.
Sustainocracy is developing primarily around sustainocratic people, individuals and executives. Previously we were called cultural creatives due to specific awareness and willingness to adopt change in our lives. Now we connect this willingness to a new kind of commitment that develops outside the present dominance of financial systems. We may introduce new systems of value but they would be cyclic in a local environment. Sustainable progress is difficult for the early pioneers and so is sustainocracy that requires a multidisciplinary approach. As volume and support grows, voluntarily out of consciousness or involuntary due to crises and chaos, it will become easier.
The individual transformation and all the related choices one makes to set up a sustainocratic world also changes the attitude of the institutional world. They need to adapt or find ways to proceed without customers or workforce. In between there will be a challenging transformative time in which both systems coexist and transform in parallel. Think for instance of the foodsystem, now centralized through speculative means of production and distribution. It will grow to decentralized, direct access and with its own value system outside economics focussing on providing people with things to eat in exchange of their participation in the production process. Back to a life of agriculture? In a way, but adjusted to the situation today. Our relation with nature will change as we become aware of our environment. And in the long run we will balanse our lifestyle with climat changes rather than producing them.
A sustainocratic individual becomes a person that enjoys a higher personal awareness (self leadership) in a social system (self sufficiency) that produces sustainable human progress through purpose driven human interaction (cooperation), education and in close partnership with its local environment.