An integral city is something that came to me as my own journey as a leader and a thinker, has been through all of those different levels of complexity that I now teach. And I realized that I thought of community very much as people. So I went through a period of time where I had this massive heart opening and I became aware of all the social integration that there was around me, the need for tolerance, the need for acceptance, the need for seeing people's rights as being equal.
And as that became a reality for me, I was then sort of tapped on the shoulder from a small voice within to say: 'Okay, now that you've looked at the community, have a look at the city.' And I was rather astonished to think I should look, because I'm not a city planner. I would say, now when I look back, that I've become somewhat of a social geographer, if I was going to put myself in a group of people.
And of course at first, I looked around at the city that you can see, the bricks and mortar. My father was actually in the museum field. So I grew up saying that I've either slept in or visited every museum in Canada. Slept in, because my Dad was taking his holidays and we would just go around. So you know, I was really used to going to archaeological digs and thinking about the stratification of history that you can see through geography and through then the built form. And I've always been fascinated with architecture and how the actual creation of a city can bring a real aesthetic quality to life.
But there was some point where I was really focused on the human systems, and I woke up and I said: 'Actually, the boundary of the city is related to consciousness. Because if we think about what James Lovelock says about what the human system's value is to Earth, he says: 'Well, Gaia can look after herself, and what the human system is, is Gaia's reflective organ.'
When I heard that, I realized that my thinking about integral city as having boundaries in the people of city, so the minds and hearts and bodies and systems of the city, that that's where the boundaries of the city are. And so, once this was something I felt really strongly as a reality, it totally reframed the city. To look at the city only as bricks and mortar is really to only look at it as an 'its'. It's a very complex 'its', but it also has a spirit to it. The culture of a city has a real, I think, living, palpable, felt energy to it.
And then, we really can't get away from the fact that every person in the city counts. Because that's how all of those layers and groups of people within a city come together, as each one of them is an individual. And then we emerge our families, and our cultures. And an integral city has this way of looking at it through four quadrants.
I call that actually the integral map. And it may be that that is the simplest way of my framing about what an integral city is, because I've come to realize that it isn't just the map. The map helps us to identify what those boundaries are. And it's kind of like using microscopes and telescopes. I can zoom in and zoom out. I can zoom in on levels of development of consciousness, I can zoom in and zoom out on all those holarchies I just talked about. I can look at the complex diversity of a city.
So if you took like a plan view, a bird's eye view... I flew in this morning into Amsterdam and when you look at a city from there and imagine all of the different people interacting together. And so there are some very complex thinkers and there are people who are just starting out, just, you know, young children and babies, and there are people who have come from other cultures and other lands who don't think the same way as people in Holland think at all. They're all in this together.
And then, in the perspective of looking at the organizations in the city, we have every level of major organization that has ever been invented, that's alive and coexisting in the city. And in many cases, many versions of them, because places like Amsterdam or Vancouver, where I live close to in Canada, they're mosaics. They're not just melting-pots any more. They are mosaics and melting pots together of the whole world. We have the whole world system in our cities. And so that's why they are a microcosm of the world, they are a microcosm of the living human system. And as I think of them now, they are the real reflective organs, and consciousness is really kind of in this boundary of the built city, with that consciousness alive and bubbling in it.
And I can't but imagine that it's that coming together that is going to bring... It's bringing actually a great of difficulty. There is a huge set of dissonances that are alive in the city now. We haven't figured out how to live with all these cultures together, how to do policing together. What do you do with a health system that needs to take a shamanic approach on one hand, and somebody's high-tech stem-cell transplants on the other - how do you marry those together in a health system? How do you educate people who don't even all speak the same language? In the city of Toronto I think it's supposed to have more languages than any other city in the world. There are over 200 languages spoken in that city. So how do you bring all that together?
The integral city has got all this teeming in it, and yet those lenses that I spoke of in the maps, the integral map, allow us to actually see all of those. I also believe there are two other ways that have emerged for me, because of the integral thinking, because of thinking about it as a whole. I've added to the map a mesh, a mesh work, and the human hive. That's the way I think about the city.