This year I was invited to the Smart City Expo in Barcelona as one of the 440 speakers. Various media channels had contacted me to meet and talk about this strange word and concept “Sustainocracy”. After finishing off our first phase in Eindhoven of level 4 regional development and our first price in the Vinci Innovation Awards for Europe it became of interest to globalize views. After all the growing instability in the world was crying out for new views and Sustainocracy does provide answers to most issues. The problem is not just to understand that we have a choice, it is the powerful old reality that caused all the problems that is doing its best to remain in control at all cost. This reality is one that has captured us all. When I arrived at Barcelona I wondered what I would find and how my speech would be received? “You are the only speaker in the entire expo who addressed the core values of human life” people exclaimed after hearing me speak. Media representatives reacted positively as my message was enlarged through camera interviews and personal chats. But then they react positively to anyone sharing a talk. Key is to see what happens between now and the next few month. The seed of awareness will land only in fertile grounds of the mind and come to blossom when sustainocratic initiatives find space and support to develop. This is unpredictable and time will provide us with the surprises. I had nothing to sell, a lot to say and more still to invite to. In that sense an Expo is a strange place. But Barcelona was “different”.
I grew up in Barcelona and saw the city develop from a dirty harbor into a unique lively pearl on the Mediterranean coast. I was a 17 year old youngster when Franco died in 1975 and post graduate student international business studies at Nyenrode, worried about my family in Spain, when the military coup of Tejero tried to restore the dictatorship in 1981. I was tourist guide during the world soccer championships in 1982, general manager Philips Spain during the Olympic Games and Seville Expo in 1992. Barcelona hence is in my genes.
When I got to the airport of Barcelona it was a home coming. The signaling at the airport needs serious attention. It is confusing to find one’s way around. When I finally found the bus to the Expo it took us to the old region that I used to know as “Zona Franca” which had gotten into decline after industries like Philips Lighting decided to close their manyfacturing there. The development since had been enormous. Huge modern hotels and large expo buildings now decorate the scene. I was used to the expo at Plaza España but this was a surprisingly new environment.
After a lifetime as executive in the world of industrialization and trade I have developed a natural aversion against the circus of expo’s. Stands full of bored sales people waiting for someone to show interest in their stuff. Their boredom so obvious that no one dares to even show interest. If their offer does not arise their own enthusiasm how would they transmit it to potential customers? Then there are the groups of young “professionals” that gather among colleagues, having fun together with their first real experience abroad. Their conversations must be so interesting that customers interrupting are seen as a clear burden. They are however mixed with expert “expo contact gatherers” hunting for business cards for the follow up at a later stage. It was like this 30 years ago, and it is still like this today.
Yet the Barcelona Expo had a different flair too. The 400 odd stands were mingling technology with regional representations of cities displaying themselves as Smart. Interesting to see expressions of new city development based on quality of life with living green in urban places, new mobility and energy usages, architecture and lots of technological goodies using the Internet of Things for all kinds of applications. Somehow offer and demand seemed to unite in a single space even though all were present with a sales pitch, not one of common challenge and purpose.
Maybe the most interesting part was the enormous offer of speakers grouped in thematic blocks throughout the three days. I was placed into a group with a mixture of speeches. As always I found the presentations just one way informative. The public patiently listened and I had no clue what they wanted to get out of it nor what the expectations were of the speakers. I feared that I would become just one of many. My 10 minutes of glory came and went. I had the opportunity do get a little interaction going by asking those present to try to pronounce “sustainocracy”. They actually did a serious effort which comforts me. At least they will remember when seeing it one day in one of the videos taken that day.
When I asked how many find the core value of “health” important the majority rose their hand, the same when referring to the “health” of their children. My open question asking “how smart Smart Cities really are that remain unhealthy due to pollution?” was answered by smiles from the audience. More disturbing was when I asked how many professionally were dedicated to help create health (not healthcare that repairs damage done) or a healthy environment? Only a few raised their hands. What does this mean? That all others one way or the other do not contribute consciously and may even be part of the problem? As seen in my own hometown we reward financially those active in producing unhealthy situations and pollution while those who try to contribute fall outside of the financial system.
We hence need to review our total system, from political and economic steering to rewards and responsibilities. The solution provided by Sustainocracy deals with this complexity on top of the Smart City (level 3) positioning of “intelligent infrastructures”. Rather than using technology in the context of optimization and control we change the context into stimulation health and innovative co-creation in which everyone takes its share of responsibility.
Inside the open space produced by the facilitating executive in both city governance as technological innovation we position formal citizen’s cooperatives that address the core values of life as defined in Sustainocracy. Smart infrastructures remain needed but transform against the resonance with health, safety and regional self fullfilment. We experimented with this with AiREAS and FRE2SH in the city of Eindhoven with enormous boosts of energy and cohesion delivering multiple values at the same time.
“You are the only one in this event that addressed core human values” shows the long way we still need to go. The fact that I was invited to speak was a sign that change is happening. As I walked my old city the many changes were visible. Traffic had been banned from the ancient city core making room for human encounters and pleasant food experiences in a historical ambiance. Compared with other major cities in Europe the price and quality ratio in Barcelona services excelled. Food was delicious and the environment clean and well kept. The public transportation was well organized, with modern easy access and excellent fares that discourage car usage at all times. A 9.95€ ticket for 10, 90 minute rides (including transfers) could be used on all public transport in the vast metropolitan region!
Without any chauvinism I can firmly state that Barcelona this year became my personal Smart City of the year among the category of cities between 1 and 5 million citizens. It may not be strange that my first steps to prove the concept of Sustainocracy was to be done in a small city like Eindhoven (220.000 people yet “smartest city of the world in 2011) and the stepping up into the large world was to be in Barcelona. It is a beginning, yet again, and who knows where it will all bring us. I will enjoy the energy as it grows and will support where-ever it reaches out for more.
Arriving back home I had the satisfying feeling that humankind is doing its evolutionary work. My own little spark of enlightenment is reproducing itself and doing its work as I noticed when I got back home. Various meetings had been held locally without my presence while I was in Barcelona and all had carried the sustainocratic energy. What more can I desire? Gratitude is what I feel.
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.
After producing a paper for the Saprej congress it was published in Horizon Research open access publications.
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PAPER_TITLE: Redefining Human Complexities
The majority of people want to keep things as they are. They are conservative by nature. To change something one needs guts, vision or a desperate need. Than leadership appears. The rest is powerful management of what has been.
So don’t expect leadership from your politically chosen representatives. They forcefully try to please the voting majorities. Leadership and change is always outside politics.
When we look at our natural surroundings we see many living species. They are all healthy. Life ‘s mechanisms are based on health. The unhealthy always disappears to make room for new health!
That is why I declared health a Sustainocratic core value, something to take responsibility for together, individually and as society. Our current societal and global executive model produces unhealthy evolution with just one ending. If we want to evolve in a healthy way we change our models and awareness.
We learn and use new words every day. Etymology for instance crossed my path for the first time today. I may have heard or seen it before but it has never entered my consciousness as it did today.
We pick up new words and even change the meaning of words over time. Etymology studies these patterns. This reminded me of a book about English language that I read once. It showed the study of migration of people in the middle ages from one area to another, through marriage, travel, war or other circumstances, by the sudden appearance of specific words in a region. Linguistic archeology! That facinated me already back then! Having lived in many places in different countries I developed even a special sense around the pronounciation of words and the origin of people. In Spain and here in Holland as well, the words and accents differ between adjacent villages, just a few miles apart.
The times in which we live today are just as exciting in linguistics as our past. Never before so many words have been reformated, screwed up or given a totally new significance as today. Internet, social media and the unique interpretation of words by our youngest generations has created a totally new vocabulary, giving new significance to old words, agreeing on commonly accepted new expressions, including even totally new words, expressions and letter combinations. My teenage daughter communicates with her friends through skype, Instagram, life streams, twitter and texting using a combination of images, short video’s, voice recordings, abreviations, emoticons and verbal emotions. When I see a written sentence she sees and senses a multidimensional storyboard.
Never before it has been more difficult to communicate and actually understand eachother. I even concluded that I cannot communicate anymore at my own level of societal resonance without introducing new words and images of myself. All old and current words often have a totally different energy and meaning to what I want to get across. Old words in a new jacket need as much cognition or explanation as new words in an old world. That is why I invent fresh ones of our own to resonate with, with their own fresh energetic charge. Back in 2003 I decided that I wanted to pass on a new reality to my children than the perversely dangerous political economic reality that we had created over decades or even centuries and that was destroying our habitat but also the harmony of our communities. With the decision to start creating a new society by being that society it never crossed my mind that such decision would end up into a new vocabulary too.
Words as energy carriers
Words carry meaning, history, culture as well as significance. A word transmitted by someone may not at all be the same word that the receiving part interprets. Context is part of the meaning, the communicative intentions of the sender charge it with part of him or her self. The receiver may recharge the word according one’s own resonance. Communication then becomes nearly impossible, especially when we develop new realities in a world of our own. That’s also the reason why I never dispute the old reality anymore in an attempt to convince people that it is obsolete and wrong for the times to come. I invite them to my new world and sense the energy, vibes and new communicative reality that grows in the new community that shapes itself and expands.
I simply use words and drawings, my teenage daughter combines words with emotions and foto’s. My parents use words and photoalbums and charge them with their own generational meaning. A conversation between grandmother and granddaughter easily becomes a Tower of Babel with remarks like “when I was your age” and a whole load of energy that is totally misunderstood by both. We are now living in parallel worlds and learn to deal with it through awareness.
A world organisation in extraordinary transit
Take the word “economy” for instance. What does it mean? We all use the word regularly or encounter it in our daily reality. But do we know what it means? Do we have a common understanding or an individual resonance? Or do we just use the contemporary public understanding of the term “money in my pocket to buy what I need”? Economy as a word has so many different formal and informal meanings and sensitivities that we first need to agree on the meaning of single word within a conversation before we can actually have a conversation.
Another word that gives rise to many hours of confusion is “sustainability”. An Italian student actually made a study and asked people of different cultures what that word ment for them. The report was shared with us through this blog.
Then people ask me why I introduced this word? The reason is simply that all other words that were already taken never allowed me to express myself because they were interpreted by my audience through the energetic programming of our current reality. When I wanted to talk about sustainable human progress from a humanitarian and evolutionary point of view I lost my audience because their mind was programmed to understand “Sustainable human progress = technological measures to assure energy supplies”. The same happens when I use the word “democracy” in the context of freedom of choice and required self-responsibility while my audience hears “government dependence and elections”.
So by introducing Sustainocracy I could capture the open mind of people who spend time getting a feeling by what I want them to feel rather than having to dispute the type of resonance around an already existing word. When saying Sustainocracy I am always right in its interpretation because I coined the complexity myself. When I say the “democracy of sustainable human progress” I get disputes around every word. An energetic chaos appears while we never get to the essentials of feeling the new energy of harmony and progression. Using that single word “Sustainocracy” I instantly bridge chaos with the opportunity to develop awareness and cocreation.
Our world of perception is governed by energies. If we voluntarily or intentionally change the resonance we change the perception. This is an extremely interesting field of societal research when dealing with the complexity of our evolution and the challenges we face because we managed to manoeuvre ourselves into a erroneous field of destructive resonance. Being able to remediate that with just one word, a word that carries the entire energetic DNA of a new global human society in harmonic relationship with our surroundings, is an unprecedented quantum leap in our own evolution. A new type of energetically sensitive humankind is born.
In my own region of Brabant and the city of Eindhoven (the Netherlands) we have been working together on the concept of `healthy city` for over 5 years now. The first initiative taken came from myself and my own STIR Foundation (City of Tomorrow), using the Sustainocratic work format. Our work became a confrontation with ourselves and the way we manage our cities and communities. And still is. The learning process is however unique, exciting and worth sharing.
This is a long blog again as it describes a process of awareness and a solution of common understanding and need. I describe first the issue, the impossible solution and the workable one from a core human values point of view. The latter works.
A unique dinner
Twice a year the political councillors of the five big cities of this region join for dinner, the so called `diner pensant` (dinner to think), together with the hierarchical representatives of the province. They discuss the practical issues related to their temporary jobs (every 4 years we see new executive faces after the elections). They are accompanied by their top civil cervants who run complex programs in the city. This time the leading topic of the evening was `health`. I was invited to speak.
My speech is not an easy one. Despite the noble purpose of the evening and the practical commitment of the region to work on health we need to face the potential impotence of the venture.
Cities have never been envisaged from a health point of view. Doing it now we face a confrontation with a reality that is engrained into our city management and the democratic structure of our system of governance and societal steering. For 5 years we have been working with a solution developed by my foundation in cocreation with the organizing (of the dinner) city of Eindhoven. This solution is a source of inspiration for other cities but at the same time a challenge without presidence as it questions everything a city has ever stood for.
Perverse old city management
The 5 years of experience in Eindhoven has become a practical voyage and proof of principle. It also became of tremendous academic interest for me to investigate the process through backward analysis. It gives modern insight on the practicality of transforming city management, sustainable leadership and societal awareness. Above all it is a research issue about human awareness development, executive blocks and hierarchies, and the human courage to break loose and co-create a totally new way of developing society. But before that we need to be aware of the current historic and ruling perverse reality of unhealthy city development and executive.
Cities have never developed around health, on the contrary. Cities developed around self declared land ownership, trade routes over sea and land, logistics, industrial processes, market places, public events and protection against the aggression of others. 5000 years of city development show us that everything turns around the hierarchy of power, the speculation with services and goods, consumption and all of this eventually translated into money driven executive management. Money leads in cities because the city hardly produces anything of itself. It interacts with its surroundings to purchase all it needs to continue speculation with the people who are attracted to this perceived abundance of real estate, shops and services.
Nothing in the city sustains health. Every executive decision made to develop the city is related to money driven choices that generally produce more pollution and health problems, not just in physical sense but also in the mentality, culture and behavior of people. Economic growth through inflation prevails while the problems are remediated through costly regulating bureaucracy and expensive care systems. There are at least four big reasons why a city is not at all healthy:
- A city consists of tarmac, cement and glass, eliminating every reference to nature or living species in an ecosystem. When something is not perceived by people than it does not penetrate our sense of reality. People in a city don´t identify with life and develop a mentality of so called `frozen ego´s`, emotionless for the problems of our living surroundings simply because those surroundings do not exist in their daily interaction. There is hardly any empathy, no sensitivity, no awareness. At the same time the materials used to sustain the city and its growth are extremely polluting, producing unhealthy dust and fumes.
- A city is based on the trade and consumption of goods producing a psychology of greed and hoarding rather than an attitude of productivity for wellness.
- The dependence of the city on goods from outside the city makes it a decadent negotiator for volume, purchasing as cheaply as possible whatever it needs to sell it as expensively as possible within the city. The effect is that the city contributes to the decadent way of treating our sea, soil and air producing all the problems that we face in the world that lead to huge catastrophes.
- The entire city is based on economics of trade that structurally rewards the systems that pollute (traffic, logistics, consumption, etc) while those who take responsibility are often do this as volunteers or get blocked by the official system.
The city inhabitants and users hardly identify themselves with issues such as climate change, acidifying seas or the invisible air pollution. The population does however show direct interest in sources to make money (through labor, social security, loans or pension schemes) to pay for all the services that a city provides. 90% of all city´s executive decisions are dealing with sustaining, rewarding and enhancing these patterns. The city’s transactions are being taxed and this sustains the bureaucracy, the investment in economic growth and the financial reserves to repare local damage. This damage repair is seen as a cost, not as lack of original responsibility.
Never ever the city or its population has seen or considered itself beyond its own city confinement, empathised with nature or the city´s own natural surroundings. The city invests in tarmac, cement and glass, more logistics and mobility, causing the pollution to even grow further. When I was introduced to this powerful audience of this unique diner the presenter used this video of air pollution in the Netherlands referring both to the challenge we face, the problems we caused ourselves and the responsibility I try to take through sustainocratic ventures in Eindhoven.
This video was placed on YouTube in 2013, two years ago, and has been watched just around 1000 times. Any teenage or adult video on fashion or music will receive such amount of views in mere seconds. It shows where the public interest goes. Health is not in the minds of city people as they deal with other mental priorities and choices. Health hence can never be a democratic issue, nor part of a political campaign. Health is a core responsibility, a key value of life. But this responsibility has been made subject to the political and economic system that defends other priorities and prefers to remediate damage rather than prevent it. Country level executive work is largely a copy of the city´s management culture.
As the city consumes it parasites on the sea, the land, the air and all life on planet Earth. The exponential growth towards 7 billion human beings, of with 70% have populated the cities, delivers a life threating situation managed by hypocritical, perverse city politics and economics. We can hence conclude that all current humanitarian and ecological problems on Earth can be related directly to the sum of all cities and that cities hardly identify themselves with their responsibility due to intensive self interests and a political and economic system that stands health in the way. The countrywide government floats on top of the consumption in cities and the logistics to supply them. The results are catastophical for all life on Earth, including human awfulness as humankind is too kind.
If this can be explained by pinpointing the executive problem of a polical and economic steering format and hierarchy why then did Brabant and Eindhoven accept my invitation back then, in 2010, to start cocreating the first healthy city of the world, using air quality as guiding principle?
Motivation differs, goals converge
My own motivation was and is still to initiate a society that takes core human values as leading dots on the horizon thus producing a self reflective and correcting society. By doing so one continuously challenges reality to see if progression can be made by engaging with such values (eg. Health, safety, self-sufficiency, self-awareness, basic needs fullfilment) and the continuous threats against it produced by life itself (human or nature). This would produce a continuous stream of innovation while we carry our responsibilities all together as a population. But it requires a different relationship with the executive steering.
Eindhoven had the courage to accept that challenge but the motivation goes step by step.
The motivation of the political partner at the city council was not yet challenging the political system that, in my reality, would disappear and be replaced by a new democratic setting. She was primarily interested in the potential of producing smart innovations as well as the production of insights that help her define her own executive policies around the air quality norms that come from the political hierarchy above the cities. Still now, after 5 years, the political partners introduce me and the cocreation efforts through AiREAS as a `measurement system for air pollution` rather than the beginning of a societal alternative in which we have taken responsibility together. I don´t push the situation as I see it as a gradual process. To accept my proposition immediately would mean political suicide in the perverse context of our present day systems. The story of perverse decadence can only be told by me as independent viewer of our realities but not by the city executive who is elected to uphold the system. We can however work together and need space todo so.
This evening session was the very brave first public setting organized by the executive of Eindhoven, accepting the total turn around of regional governance, with all the consequences of such move. The proof of principle of 5 years cocreation has developed enough arguments for the executive to adopt its challenge and present it to their colleagues as the best option forward. It has become a choice now, a serious executive option and this evening the choice was presented to the entire executive world by Eindhoven. The second part of my presentation was to explain this solution to get to cocreative health responsibility without political or economic suicide or chaos in between.
Socrates once said: “You can spend a lifetime fighting the system or put all your energy in creating a new one”. Sustainocracy is a commitment to create the new using the key values of our existence. For our traditional city executives it is hard to accept Sustainocracy when one is still in between two realities, professionally in one, humanitarian or intellectually in the other. Half denial and half acceptance is hence the safes way forward. Often we still hear the remark that “health has to become a business case” while in reality we realize and show that health is a basic, core responsibility, not a trade or something you can buy. Health is on the other hand so abstract that people generally do not understand, until we face the absence of it. That may also be the explanation why health never became an executive issue before.
Nature provides wisdom
When we look at nature we realize that it is always healthy and health driven. Life itself is by definition healthy. The natural living ecosystem that surrounds us is always healthy. That what is not dies or is eaten. The unhealthy always disappears to make room for new health!
A human being is also a healthy creature of nature. When we produce unhealthy situations in our surroundings we do the equivalent with ourselves. A process of elimination starts until our responsibility reaches our awareness. We have never acknowledged this responsibility because we only became aware when it was too late. The individual dead do not complain. But the collective threat of death does make us react as a group. We have let ourselves be governed by our (equally natural) greed and competitive mentality around power and control. The consequences manifest themselves because the health thriving living reality confronts us with the shortages we created ourselves through exhausting life that does not automatically recover with the development of new life. The lack of natural group empathy with nature has shown that we don´t know what we really are. We are presented with a mirror by nature through the appearance of catastrophes, illnesses, crises and chaos.
Cities are the first structures that develop this awareness because of the vulnerability that now appears and the responsibility that has long been denied. It is not at all strange to see that the large trade centers along the seashore are the first that need to deal with the rising sea levels caused by air pollution and climate change that has been produced by those same trade centers. It is not strange either that cities at cross roads in the country side are feeling tremendous fluctuations in their economies because they eliminated local self sufficiency and productivity and became totally dependent of the economic variables of the rest of the world. When Eindhoven realised this in the 90´s it tried to find a way to become more productive itself and came to the powerful conclusion that it could present itself to the world as key innovating city. Brainport was born as a concept of cocreation. It gave the city a sense of productive ownership of something it could control rather than being victim of economic fluctuations from elsewhere. The acceptance to my invitation can be seen in that context.
As stress builds up the awareness in the cities grows because they are now affected themselves in multiple ways by nature, shortages and the local crises. Responsibilities manifest at executive level and tension arises between this new sense of responsibility and the persistence of the old executive system, sustained also by powerful local lobbyists. Recogizing the problem is the first step towards a solution. That is why this diner and the possibility to speak openly about this tension, became a huge step for humankind, a burst of true healthy executive mentality, guts and sincere desire to solve such critical issues. But the old world is still dominant as the new world shows itself.
To provide room and space to develop itself the old executive is asked to step aside.
It is of course not the executive itself that steps aside. Their act is a demonstration of guts and sense of responsibility. What is set aside is the dominance of the political and economic steering system to provide space for the development of our key values that otherwise would remain trapped by the system. The executive then steps back into society to address the issue together, not as a boss but as a partner. For this we need to create the right conditions.
The transformation starts outside the hierarchy of interests. Players are looking at creating patterns to fullfil the higher purpose that is placed in the open space left behind by the retreat of the steering mechanisms. The open space itself now needs to be managed too to avoid chaos or anarchy. That is where Sustainocracy comes in as concept and way of working. We introduced the figure of the ´sustainocrat`, an independent professional that has the task to create a table based on equality instead of hierarchy, invite the many players in this multidisciplinary arena and assure that the higher purpose (health in this case) remains leading. Together the participants, in which government still plays a key territorial role, share the health driven responsibility with social innovation through its citizens, technological innovation through value driven entrepreneurship and applied knowledge through science and education. As the process develops and cocreation ends up into value driven projects with measureable results every participant is confronted with the need to address change also in their own organizations. But these changes can be addressed effectively because of the powerful arguments developed in the sustainocratic settings.
The example that is most used is AiREAS, the sustainocratic venture to produce health in relation to air quality. In AiREAS the sustainocratic space is now filled with various multidisciplinary teams that are producing an overwhelming amount of practical and scientific insights, social and technological innovations and concrete advice about legal and executives obstacles that stand sustainable progress in the way. AiREAS is providing a continuous stream of proof that can be used to start initiatives around every key issue that demands our attention fast.
Key conclusion is that, when the lid is off the dominance of political and economic steering, an explosion of creativety appears that addresses health and other core human values as a natural phenomenum. By structuring this creativy in the multidisciplinary format of Sustainocracy we can address any complexity because we introduce change not just through product innovations but also, all at the same time, by removing the blockage that the hierarchies created. The new sustainocratic society exists. It resembles an ecosystem in which all participate to shape and maintain a wellness based community in close resonance we our surrounding nature and natural resources. Sustainocracy is still relatively small on the global scale and hence still vulnerable but the ideology and practical outrole has proven itself, has been documented and now simple finds its way to the rest of the world as its seeds are being carried by the enthusiasm of all participants.