This blog continues to share the Findings from the research conducted in three Learning Lhabitats exploring the 4 Voices of the City in the United States, Canada and Europe in the last year. Today we compare the results that open wider understanding of the role of the Civil Society Voice in the city,  from Learning Lhabitats at the Integral Theory Conference 2013, Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainability Conference 2014 and Integral Europe Conference  2014. Civil Society embraces Not-for-Profits, NGO’s and Faith Community. (Integral City has characterized them as the Inner Judges of the Human Hive.) 


Voices of Civil Society are Spark Plugs

IEC: Voices of Civil Society are Spark Plugs


Profiles of the Co-Researchers

In collecting this data, it is interesting to note the profile of the participants in each conference. The Integral Theory Conference 2013, located in San Francisco, USA, attracted thinkers and theorists with a major interest and focus on integral points of view – a group that were heavily weighted in the Upper Left /Consciousness Quadrant of the Integral Model. At the same time, this group self-identified as being strongly biased in favour of Innovators and Business or Diversity Generators.

The Federation of Canadian Municipality Sustainability Conference 2014, located in Prince Edward Island, Canada, attracted Mayors, City Managers and Civic Leaders with an interest in sustainability and action orientation. So from an integral perspective this group were heavily weighted in the Upper Right/Action and Lower Right/Systems Quadrants of the Integral Model. This group by definition were Civic Managers or Resource Allocators.

Finally the Integral Europe Conference 2014, located in Budapest, Hungary, attracted a diversity of cultures and actors from across Europe (with smaller representation from other non-European nations) who were heavily weighted in the Lower Left/ Cultural Quadrant of the Integral Model. This group had a strong predisposition to be Inner Judges from Civil Society (with a strong showing from Business as well.)

These three groups give us an in interesting sampling of the I/We/It/Its perspectives on the Civil Society in the Integral City. Figure 1 sets out the comparison of the 3 Groups.


Figure 1: Comparing Voices of Civil Society: ITC, FCM, IEC

Figure 1: Comparing Voices of Civil Society: ITC, FCM, IEC


 Qualities of the Voice of Civil Society

Each Learning Lhabitat was asked to define the qualities of the Civil Society Voice. A visionary spirit of pioneers characterized this voice.

Civil Society is able to set the focus for conversations and act as integrators of diverse value systems in the city. They could create a “climate change” where all voices share a mindset that is open to future focused thinking.

They were credited with being good listeners who could align all voices on a shared track. They had the capacity to be in right relationship with each other and the city. Moreover they had the astuteness to discover who are the key stakeholders of the other three voices in the city. In doing so they can create a sense of “home” in the city so that everyone gains a “feel” of the city.

This voice conveyed love, as well as reflective and meditative capacities. They were known as both pragmatists (tough love?) and conscious philanthropists.

As builders of strong social networks, collaborators and facilitators, they joined forces to build community and organize intergroup exchanges, thereby breaking down silos. This voice searched for and discovered the needs, purposes and values of city voices, groups and cultures and they took the time and effort to check in with the intentions of citizens.

Civil Society aims for the Greater Good, demonstrating the stamina of long distance runners, overcoming apathy and isolation, enabling resilience to emerge in themselves and the city.

Some called Civil Society “spark plugs” and others saw the same qualities as “shit disturbers” – but in either case they are active leaders of the pack – change agents with creative, innovative, pattern-busting capacities for change.

Even as free thinkers, Civil Society is seen also as strategic thinkers, problem solvers and more than willing to spend money (and less often save it).

On the shadow side, Civil Society was seen as cynical, vocal, self-interested and adamant about getting their way.


The Value of Collecting Intelligence from Multiple Sources

These Learning Lhabitats are helping us see how Civil Society Voices see themselves, each other, their city and the world. In these LLhabs, Civil Society Voices are discovering their aligning force in the Integral City, and how to build community that improves the quality of life for the city as a whole.

In the companion blogs (Citizens, Civic Managers, Business) we look at the other three Voices of the City revealed in our trio of Learning Lhabitats.