This journey began after a decade of the Sustainable City-Region program at CURE (Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy). This was all about the inter-connectedness of things. We created future visions, analysed models and projections, presented reports and ran workshop events… and nearly always found gaps, barriers and blockages to real progress. We began to realize that the key was not only about things, but about the inter-connectedness of thinking. Some people do this intuitively – great leaders, artists or entrepreneurs, carers or teachers – but many don’t – and meanwhile the global challenges escalate (climate change, water, obesity, unemployment, expropriation, etc). This calls for rapid learning on interconnected thinking, and rapid R&D on methods and tools to help.
download: Town & Country Planning special issue on the anniversary of CURE and the inter-connectedness of thinking: TCP – special issue
This site is a snapshot in progress of that journey of learning and R&D: it’s not a final statement or theory, and not a 10-point checklist, but there is enough in progress to share.
take the elevator for an elevator pitch(9mb)
Cities are the hubs and shapers of economies and societies from local to global… but they are too often divided and dysfunctional. There is a huge challenge, in how to foster our cities – i.e. communities, city-regions, city-states, urban systems or any kind of settlement pattern – to ensure survival and prosperity for 9 billion people, on one small planet. So we explore how cities and urban systems work, with 3 different models:
The “City-I” (and all its social or economic systems) is basically a mechanical model of how cities work. It’s based on a linear throughput of materials and energy, from extraction to production to dumping of waste and pollution. A City-I might be a very complex and ‘clever’ city, but it works only on the functions it was programmed for.
The “City-II” is a more biological kind of system, well suited to capitalist enterprises and markets. This city can be more entrepreneurial and creative, but basically the winners take all, while outsourcing their problems to communities or ecologies, local or global. A City-II might be very ‘smart’, but smart systems too often bring ‘un-smart’ side-effects.
The “City-III” is a more human model of conscious synergy, self-organizing collaboration and networked intelligence. This kind of synergy can then respond to complex inter-connected problems – climate change, social exclusion, economic fragility and others. It can co-design systems of economics, technologies or urban planning, with collective intelligence. A City-III is basically a ‘wise’ city. A wise City-III looks for wider synergies between all its actors: for ‘deeper’ synergies between different values: and it looks for ‘further’ synergies of co-evolution and transformation.
2016 – A MOMENT OF DIFFERENT TRUTH
The first version of this site – UK2040 – was thrown together rapidly, at a moment of political crisis, following the UK Referendum on membership of the EU, 23-06-16.
UK2040 is all about the next generation – children today who will be young adults in 2040, and those today who will be mature in 2040, somehow dealing with the legacy of the previous generation…
We have at this moment in the UK an extraordinary political crisis, economic crisis, constitutional crisis, and underlying all that, a massive socio-cultural-political fracture zone, which is now open and raw. This has already produced a global level earthquake, and it seems it could escalate further in many directions.
As any ‘crisis’ can be (a) part of a longer cycle, and (b) a moment for opportunity, this site aims to explore the meaning and implications of this crisis. We look at ways of navigating immediate storms while keeping sight of further horizons. We look for ideas and opportunities for the principles of equality, prosperity, sustainability and social justice, even in the darkest hours. These founding principles for the European project, and indeed the essence of Britain, we believe can apply in almost any configuration of nation states, cities and regions, markets, networks, partnerships and communities.
We use insights and methods from many sources, including foresight and futures, systems thinking, creative and visual thinking.
The background is the work in progress on ‘3.0’ deeper-mind systems – economies, politics, technologies, ecologies and cities – with the ‘synergistic toolkit’ for navigating complex inter-connected problems. The toolkit includes visual thinking and cartooning – the greater the challenges, the more need to look sidewise and smile… all on http://www.urban3.net
Debate, contributions and feedback all welcome.