Transition 2020: How can we be good ancestors? Part II

Transformation

This post is Part II of the essay “Transition 2020: How can we be good ancestors?”. The essay is based on the Douglas R. Wilson lecture I had the honour to give in October 2019 at the University of Alberta.*

Part I is a perspective on tragedies — of the current moment, of the commons, of the horizon, and of declining trust — and it questions some of our deepest societal assumptions.

Part II looks at transformation: I argue for three fundamental premises for building the future , and propose 10 needed transitions, and 20 pathways for transformation in the 2020s.

I welcome comments and suggestions. Feedback received will help inform our thinking and design for the next phase of Cities for People and other community transition initiatives incubated at the McConnell Foundation as we build a more ambitious mission-oriented agenda for the decade ahead.

*I’d like to thank Dean Shanthi Johnson and Dr. Wilson and the team and faculty at the School of Public Health for inviting me to give this lecture and for an outstanding week of learning and exchange in Edmonton!

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Transition 2020: How can we be good ancestors?

Part II: Transformation

We know that countries and whole civilizations have collapsed or transformed in the past: e.g. the Roman Empire, South Africa, and the Soviet Union. But these past experiences provide inadequate precedents for the current global challenges. The scale of transition required — because of the damage to the earth, technological changes, the scale of population growth, wealth concentration and globalization — is beyond anything humanity has ever endeavoured. The transformation is about each of us on the planet and the health of the earth herself.

This scale of change demands that we recalibrate our ambitions for transformation to a level that we have rarely dreamed of. It requires that we unlearn many old ways of societal change. And we must decolonize them. We must bring to bear ways of knowing, thinking, being and doing that:

· Are regenerative to the planet and all life.

· Build equality, rights and belonging for all.

· Engender trust and legitimacy.

· Unlock imagination and collective agency of all to co-create the future.

It requires that those with great wealth and power take far greater responsibility for the effects and externalities of their actions and impacts in ways that provide for greater rights for all and that support the flourishing and freedom of all. And it requires that we reconstruct our societies to truly recognize inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples, and also of Nature and of Future Generations.

So how can societies — particularly cities, the crucible of the future — transform?

I start with the guiding question: “How can we be good ancestors?”, which in turn raises other questions such as:

  1. How can our communities and cities foster trust and agency across generations and between people, governments, institutions and corporations?
  2. How can we rebuild cities in balance with nature, and for the health of all people, in ways that address mounting crises of housing, mobility, energy and land relationship?
  3. How can we upend socially-constructed assumptions that have become destructive to the planet and society which are about ownership, sovereignties and the role of corporations (as described in Part I: Tragedy)?

The answers to complex questions like these are certainly not clear or linear, but I would argue that three of the fundamental premises for building viable futures are:

  1. Changing our understanding about value — what it is and how it is created, extracted and distributed;
  2. Adopting perspectives and systems of the commons and related ways of sharing public goods and civic assets from environmental goods such as air, land and water, to our city infrastructure and our data; and
  3. Expanding our notions of intelligence to be more pluralistic and recognizing different cultural and Indigenous knowledge systems as well as those of nature, space and time, in order to move from collective intelligence to collective wisdom.

Challenging our notions of value, the commons and wisdom requires a number of transitions in our collective consciousness and in our expectations of our institutions.

VALUE

How do we change the nature of what we hold dear as societies in order to increase equality and strengthen regenerative systems?

1. From corporate social responsibility to public purpose.

2. From sector-driven innovation to mission-oriented innovation.

3. From private and monetary value to public and sacred value.

What we choose to measure matters; it drives public action and political focus.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first Minister of Scotland and co-Founder with Iceland and New Zealand of the Wellbeing Government Coalition said: “I think the limitations of GDP as a measurement of a country’s success are all too obvious. GDP measures the output of all of our work but it says nothing about the nature of that work — about whether that work is worthwhile, or fulfilling. It puts a value, for example, on illegal drug consumption, but not on unpaid care. It values activity in the short-term that boosts the economy even if that activity is hugely damaging to the sustainability of our planet in the longer term.”

How we think about value creation and value extraction will need to change.

Capitalism as we practice it will need to transform. For example, we will need to change our expectations of why corporations exist. Why would we not expect our organizations and corporations to contribute to a healthier society and planet?

Pioneering work is being done on related fronts by a number of different people, notably Kate Raworth and Mariana Mazzucato.

Some references that elucidate the ways that we decide what holds value in society (L-R): The Value of Everything, Mariana Mazzucato; Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth; Capitalism Alone, Branko Milanovic; The Beautiful Bailout, Shaun Loney; The Code of Capital, Katharina Pistor; Decolonizing Wealth, Edgar Villanueva.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato and her team at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London, are working on mission-oriented innovation policy in Europe and now globally.

The current issue of Wired describes some of Mazzucato’s ideas. “She illustrated what missions could look like with three hypothetical examples: a plastic-free ocean, 100 carbon-neutral cities by 2030, and cutting dementia by 50 per cent. The clean oceans mission could involve removing half of the plastic already polluting the oceans and reducing by 90 per cent the quantity of plastics entering them before 2025, through projects such as autonomous plastic collection stations or distributed nets. The solution would require inventing alternatives to plastic, designing novel forms of food packaging, and creating AI systems that could separate waste automatically.”

In 2019, the European Parliament approved Professor Mazzucato’s mission-oriented innovation proposal, as part of its “Horizon Europe” program. The five mission areas that Europe will tackle through it are: climate change adaptation; cancer; healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters; climate-neutral and smart cities; and soil health and food. Each mission will have a board of 15 experts, who will be responsible to identify the specific missions of each of the five areas, and according to the criteria that Mazzucato sets out.

It is time for Canada to do this as well. What missions can we take on in 2020?

Economist Kate Raworth is working on “doughnut economics” that support social foundations of all people within planetary boundaries, thereby enabling a regenerative economics. As she puts it: “A healthy economy is designed to thrive, not grow.” She and her team are now applying the doughnut to cities, starting with Amsterdam.

Many other people around the world are doing work that reveals different ways to understand what we value and how to attribute it economically. A few showing the way are: Shaun Loney, Jeff Cyr, Indy Johar, Dominic Hofstetter and Anna Laycock.

Rethinking value can involve more worker owned companies, such as ESOPs (Social Capital Partners is working on this). It could mean changing antitrust laws to allow for workers and platform users to be represented on the boards of tech monopolies pushing companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon to make more socially responsible decisions.

Rethinking value also means that we embed sacred values, such as freedom, honour, agency, etc. in our economics. Sacred values often transcend differences between people to unify groups, and they are not subject to trade-offs in the way that money is.

We must value what matters, because after all, as the Cree Indian Prophecy warns, it is “Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

COMMONS

How should we organize and govern ourselves for this great social, ecological and economic transition?

We need to transition

4. From sustainability to regenerative systems.

5. From nature as subordinate to incorporating the rights of nature.

6. From privatization and nationalisation to commons and shared ownership.

Working in a philanthropic foundation, I frequently think about how we support change. The nonprofit sector is the closest thing to a marketplace for solutions, but given the scale of challenges, how can we collectively produce better results? Are ecosystems, movements or commons-based mechanisms a more effective organizing force than individual organizations? Could commons-based governance models provide a hybrid arrangement of state, market and civil society that would help strengthen local democracy? What about discovery labs and experimentation? What could be a more effective marketplace, if you will, for addressing complex social challenges?

The commons provides a set of ways to think about and re-organize for transformation.

In Part I I discussed the Tragedy of the Commons and a prevalent belief that privatization of assets and private resource ownership were the solution. As we have seen, mass application of this solution has not worked out so well. But there are alternatives.

Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for her extensive study of real-world scenarios of commons-based stewardship in which small communities around the globe have devised ways to successfully manage common resources like grazing land, forests and irrigation waters.

Some references that elucidate the commons and how commons-based approaches address environmental and social justice issues simultaneously: Designing Regenerative Cultures, Daniel Wahl; Peer to Peer, Michel Bauwens; Sharing Cities, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman; Free Fair and Alive, David Bollier; Sheila Foster, Co-Cities Open Book; Governing the Commons, Elinor Ostrom; Palaces for the People, Erik Klinenberg.

Even The Economist sees commons as critical for the future, and no longer as a tragedy.

“A world rich in healthy commons would of necessity be one full of distributed, overlapping institutions of community governance. Cultivating these would be less politically rewarding than privatisation, which allows governments to trade responsibility for cash. But empowering commoners could mend rents in the civic fabric and alleviate frustration with out-of-touch elites. In her Nobel lecture [Elinor] Ostrom said that public policy should “facilitate the development of institutions that bring out the best in humans”. That sounds like common sense.” The Economist, 12 Sept 2019.

Commons-based organizing often involves building participatory ecosystems and movements at local and regional scales. Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione have done pioneering work on the city as a commons, including adapting Elinor Ostrom’s institutional design principles for the commons to the city context.

What about trust, the commons and technology companies at the city scale, and how does it relate to so-called ‘smart cities’?

The current federal government in Canada has a Smart Cities Challenge platform, which is looking for ways to put technology at the service of human needs and societal goals. A capability-building part of the platform supports hundreds of communities across the country, particularly small municipalities and Indigenous communities. Early signs are promising. One example from this Future Cities Community Solutions Network, led by Evergreen and Open North as part of Future Cities Canada, is learning from and applying Indigenous Data Governance principles in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

At another part of the smart cities spectrum is the work of Sidewalk Labs, a Google sister company under the Alphabet umbrella. Toronto is ground zero for Sidewalk Labs’ largest proposal yet. The proposed Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) is controversial and seen by many as antithetical to strengthening local institutions of democracy and civic legitimacy.

One could argue that many of Sidewalk Toronto’s materials, planning and design innovations are groundbreaking and have extraordinary potential; however there have been missed opportunities and great challenges associated with the approach, including in relation to public trust building. I wonder: What if a public good organization had led Sidewalk Labs’ proposal for Toronto? What if Sidewalk Labs were held to higher standards and proposed radical interpretations of urban economics that created more shared value and more affordable housing? How could we be inventing institutions in parallel with the technologies that would strengthen local democracy building and civic legitimacy?

Regarding data, commons principles can also be applied there. Francesca Bria (City of Barcelona), writes about a data commons:

Could we better organize ourselves and design our institutions to build trust and to bring out the best in humans? Are commons-based approaches and models useful to those ends? There are good indications from around the world that the answer to both these questions is an emphatic yes. We at McConnell are currently exploring regulatory experimentation and governance innovation that would strengthen democracy, with fantastic partners across the country and globe. Our involvement in this area grew from a partnership with Dark Matter Labs, MaRS, the Community of Federal Regulators, representatives of federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as Indigenous communities and civil society organizations.

WISDOM

How can we raise our collective consciousness and imagination and improve our ability to act?

We need to transition:

7. From collective intelligence to collective wisdom.

8. From individualistic culture to interdependence and participatory cultures.

9. From ego systems to ecosystems.

10. From colonial and imperialist to Indigenous.

There is much great ancient and contemporary philosophy about wisdom. I make no presumption here to tap into that. Rather, I’ll share a few thoughts that draw on what could be considered phronesis, or practical wisdom.

Wisdom is closely related to love, which is a key component of purpose. It is much more than intelligence; it adds layers of meaning, spirituality, intuition and emotionality to cognition.

And it is not about age; while it may be easier to acquire wisdom with longer experience, young people can be wise. My own mother showed an uncanny wisdom at 18 years old when she had her first baby and decided to breastfeed. In those days, the early 1960s, breastfeeding was typically frowned upon in many conventional hospital settings in the US. Even at her young age, my mother was courageous enough to listen to her internal wisdom — call it intuition — that would not let her be dissuaded by the nurses and family members who accused her of being a silly, ignorant teenager. She simply wanted to listen to the wisdom of her body and her baby, and she did just that.

Some references that span a range of ways to understand wisdom: John Borrows, Law’s Indigenous Ethics; Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning; Margaret Wheatley, Who do we choose to be?; Bent Flyvbjerg, Making Social Science Matter; Collective Wisdom report led by Kat Cizek; bell hooks: all about love

The seemingly smallest acts of resistance can potentially lead to the greatest. Small acts of resistance are the seeds of movements.

There are many wise young climate activists today. Greta Thunberg has displayed remarkable wisdom. In her speech to the UK Parliament in April 2019, she said: “Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know how to build the ceiling.”

Wisdom for today requires cathedral thinking. And it requires listening. Listening to humanity, to all life and to the earth herself. Indigenous ways of knowing, being, thinking and doing have a great deal to teach us. The many works of Professor John Borrows and the words and life work of Elder Satsan of the Centre for First Nations Governance are some of my teachers. As is Nadine St-Louis, who wrote: “The emotional, spiritual, cognitive and physical dimensions of knowledge are common in Indigenous epistemologies… while colonial constructs have prioritized corporations, consumerism and individual wealth, which results in poverty and social isolation.”

How can we change fundamental aspects of our dominant culture which are not wise? How can we be practical about wisdom and apply it to transformation?

For me, practical wisdom means applying a participatory worldview to life and work, which means valuing social and environmental justice and invites active engagement of people to build together.

Wisdom is also associated with responsibility. Vaclav Havel once said: “[A] main task in the coming era is… a radical renewal of our sense of responsibility. Our conscience must catch up to our reason, otherwise we are lost.”

Practicing wisdom now requires creativity, imagination and openness to experience and the exploration of uncharted pathways. This will require building new fields that strengthen collective capacities for discovery, experimentation, adaptation and scaling to work in complex systems with synthetic thinking and integral, transdisciplinary practices.

We turn now to some ways that wisdom can be applied to our most pressing challenges.

What transformation is happening now? Here are 20 experiments, movements, and initiatives — some in early stages — with highly promising possibilities to scale and help build societies that Value Commons Wisdom.

The following list of pathways and examples is a first draft. I invite comments and refinements to make it better. Please send comments and suggestions to me by email: jengle@mcconnellfoundation.ca. Based on feedback, I’ll improve and share the 20 Transition Pathways in early 2020.

1. CORPORATIONS FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE

It is time we expected corporations to act in the interests of the public, not merely the shareholders. The B Corp movement shows the way. In fact, Professor Muhammad Yunus recently called on all enterprises to join the B Corp movement.

2. RIGHTS OF NATURE

In most nations of the world, Nature has no inherent rights under the law. Only persons have rights (the definition of persons usually includes people and corporations), and the justification for environmental protection is only through how persons are affected. A Rights of Nature movement is working to change that.

3. RIGHTS OF FUTURE GENERATIONS

A great deal of how we distribute resources is based on short-term thinking. Even inclusive participatory processes rarely take into consideration future generations; notable exceptions are Indigenous communities which generally consider at least seven generations past and future in decision-making. A recent example in the western world is Wales, where the Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public agencies to consider long-term impacts of decisions, particularly regarding health inequalities, poverty and climate change.

4. WELLBEING ECONOMIES

Wellbeing metrics are increasingly replacing GDP as a way to measure what truly matters. New Zealand, Scotland and Iceland are adopting wellbeing at national levels, and a growing number of groups, such as the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, are working to expand the movement.

5. BETTER ENERGY FUTURES

Energy transition is one of the planet’s toughest challenges, and at ground zero of the debates in Canada is Alberta. The Energy Futures Lab has brought together a wide cross-section of interests to address how to build a future that will be generative for ecologies and that will not leave people behind. We’ll need more of this, and with much more ambitious aims.

6. TRANSITIONAL GOVERNANCE

In many ways, governments are falling short in their capacity to keep up with the rate of societal and technological change while addressing growing climate and social crises. Indigenous nations within Canada have an opportunity to show the way to other governments by developing transitional governance pathways toward self-determination, the inherent right enshrined in the Canadian constitution. The Centre for First Nations Governance is supporting this transition, which represents an opportunity not only for Indigenous nations, but for the world to learn what Indigenous governance and its values, laws and principles can teach us about caring for the planet and all life.

7. DATA SOVEREIGNTY & DIGITAL RIGHTS

Digital platforms are increasingly seeping into our lives, and how our data is collected, used, managed, stored and valued has wide-ranging implications. A number of cities around the world — led by Barcelona, Amsterdam and New York City — have come together to uphold human rights and digital rights at both local and global levels by creating Cities for Digital Rights. This provides one example of a new social contract for our digital era.

8. TECH FOR GOOD

In most cases, cities that are more technologically innovative (by measures of number of patents, for example) are also more socially and economically unequal. We have come to expect this as normal, but we should expect the exact opposite, that is, that technology is a force for social good. One example of a tech-for-good initiative is the Montreal Declaration for Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence.

9. VALUE OUTCOMES

By valuing outcomes, governments, investors, communities and social-purpose organizations can collaborate in transforming seemingly intractable problems into opportunities for inclusive growth. Community-driven outcomes contracts (C-DOCS) are one form of an outcomes purchasing tool that’s showing promise for scalability and change.

10. NEW METRICS & REGULATORY INFRASTRUCTURE

So many of today’s regulations and government metrics were designed for another era, when challenges were very different. Examples abound where change is needed, from accounting rules, to zoning by-laws, to building the digital infrastructures that will enable transformative change. The Network of Governance and Regulatory Experimentation (RegX) is an emerging peer-to-peer community of civic experimenters aiming to challenge and re-imagine governance and regulatory systems.

11. PLATFORMS TO SCALE TRANSFORMATION

In light of massive complex challenges, there is a clear need to innovate in how we organize for change. An increasing number of platforms are growing that create new forms of collaborative infrastructure for growing and scaling innovative change and movement-based approaches. Two quite different examples are: 1) the new UNDP Accelerator Labs, which aim to address development challenges through a network of 60 labs that will enable rapid learning; and 2) the Transition Network, a global movement of communities which aim to reimagine collectively how to rebuild our world.

12. CITY AS A COMMONS

If the answer to the question “Who owns the city?” is “we all do,” then it is necessary to reconceive our cities as shared resources for the benefit of all. Drawing on the work of Elinor Ostrom on the commons, the co-city movement is growing new forms of collaborative city-building and participatory urban governance that are helping neighbourhoods, cities and regions create new forms of inclusive economic growth and social innovation. The Co-Cities Open Book includes 400 case studies from 130 cities around the world.

13. SACRED CIVICS, IMAGINATION & SELF-DETERMINATION

If democracy is about giving power to all to co-create society, and if a long-term healthy future for people, the planet and all life depends largely on those of us alive in the world today, then we need to seriously open space to construct and manifest a collective imagination. Engaging with art, culture, philosophy and spirituality are key components of this. Recent work on Participatory Futures, the Long Now and Sacred Civics address this. The Indigenous right to self-determination, as set out in the Canadian constitution, provides a wormhole to imagining alternative futures for how people can organize and govern in ways that support regenerative life on earth.

14. LOCAL CIRCULAR ECONOMIES

Countries and cities are increasingly recognizing that wellbeing and economic competitiveness cannot be based on wasteful use of natural resources. Finland was the first country to develop a carbon-neutral circular economy roadmap, and its innovation foundation, Sitra, has founded the World Circular Economy Forum (next to be held in Toronto in 2020). Slovenia is working on a similar ambition with the assistance of Climate-KIC. At the local level, the Fab City Global Initiative is leading the way through its global network, labs, teaching and publications. More than 30 cities have signed up to the charter that commits cities to produce everything they consume by 2054 (the next Fab City Global Summit is in Montreal in 2020).

15. CIVIC+INDIGENOUS 7.0

Indigenous peoples’ histories, cultures and current realities are often marginalized in present-day city-making, and generative partnerships between Indigenous communities and neighbouring municipalities are still too often the exception. Some initiatives that are aiming to transform the current paradigm are CEDI (Community Economic Development Initiative) and the Mi’kmak Friendship Centre in Halifax. Future Cities is also developing a strategy for Indigenous Reimaginings of Settler Cities that will help to build Indigenous knowledge, governance and spiritual systems to inspire how we build and rebuild cities that are fit for future generations.

16. PARTICIPATORY CITIES

The social infrastructure of our neighbourhoods and cities is critical not only to building social capital and individual and community resilience for everyday life, but it is also important in times of disaster, when people need to work together differently and better in order to meet survival needs or rebuild following a crisis. The social infrastructure of libraries, schools, park systems and other publicly accessible spaces have formed the backbone of our civic commons. Reimagining the Civic Commons has enabled a number of cities to transform shared civic assets to foster equity, engagement, and economic and environmental regeneration. Another example, Participatory City, is demonstrating a large-scale model in its Every One Every Day initiative of how people can engage and work together doing practical activities in radically inclusive ways. This is being built at scale with extraordinary individual and collective outcomes.

17. CITIES FOR PEOPLE

We can and must rebuild cities to be by and for people, as well as regenerative of all life systems and in ways that they belong to their wider ecosystems. There are a range of ecocity-type initiatives in cities around the world, but there are not yet large-scale city-wide full system transformations. A recent example that shows great potential for transformative change and scaling are “superblocks” in Barcelona. This citywide plan is dramatically limiting cars in certain neighbourhoods and capturing nearly 70 percent of street space for people walking and cycling, and — no small feat — is projected to save 667 lives per year. Jan Gehl and Gehl Architects have long pioneered similar work.

18. CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION

Thousands of jurisdictions around the world have by now declared climate emergencies. But what does that mean in terms of activating change in ways that directly and simultaneously address growing inequalities? City governments in particular are becoming climate leaders, as we see in the C40 network and the superalliance of the Global Covenant of Mayors. Some municipalities are currently developing climate action plans in various forms. One example is the City of Vancouver’s Six Bold Moves. An important large scale ambition is part of the Horizon Europe mission that aims for 100 Cities to be climate-neutral by 2030; Climate-KIC is already in action with a cohort of 15 cities who are digging in to reach the target.

19. SMART COMMONS COVENANTS

If cities are to be the key sites of public investment to create carbon-neutral and regenerative infrastructure, then we need a new economics fit for purpose. Such is the argument behind the Smart Commons model, which aims to change our continual urban economic paradigm of “public money in, private profit out”. Dark Matter Labs modelled the value uplift of the Highline in New York City and found that if just ten percent of the private value uplift would have been captured, it could have paid for the public infrastructure in less than one year. We have the technologies now to build Smart Commons Covenants, which could be revolutionary for how we think about property rights and how we can fairly distribute commons value created in cities.

20. NEXT GENERATION CIVIC LABS

What could be considered the first generation of city innovation labs are showing signs of aging. Some of the most successful have been shut down due to political constraints; others struggle to attract investment and develop capabilities they need for experimentation and scaling. A next generation of civic innovation labs is needed, and the signs are clear that they must be equipped with regulatory experimentation capacity, and new digital public infrastructure in ways that cross sectors and levels of government. And, not least, they must be governed in ways that strengthen local democracy and civic legitimacy. A new model for this is being designed in the City of Montreal, as part of its winning Smart Cities Challenge bid. The case for next gen labs and the Montreal example are described in Legitimacities Issue #1. The follow up Quayside Addendum points to governance principles and regulatory sandbox components that are applicable to current proposals for Waterfront Toronto, and beyond.

CONCLUSION: Who will we choose to be for the 2020s?

“This is an extraordinary time full of vital, transformative movements that could not be foreseen… It’s also a nightmarish time. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both.” Rebecca Solnit

In the current moment, it is essential to have the vision and audacity to dream of a better world and have the practical tools to craft it. It’s also important to inspire trust, confidence, and legitimacy — that is what sets a visionary apart from a luminary. The latter does both.

This time requires wisdom, including cultivating wise and healthy relationships in both our proximate worlds and in our politics. Who we choose to lead our politics and how we collectively engage and govern, matters more than ever before in our lifetimes.

Politicians have immense influence not only because of their actual mandates, but because of what Vaclav Havel referred to as the ‘spontaneous impact their charisma has on the public’.

Mr. Havel, while President of the Czech Republic, said to a Harvard graduating class in 1995: “Politicians’ responsibility is to think ahead boldly, not to fear the disfavor of the crowd, to imbue their actions with a spiritual dimension…, to explain again and again both to the public and to their colleagues ­– that politics must do far more than reflect the interests of particular groups or lobbies. After all, politics is a matter of servicing the community, which means that it is morality in practice… [and has] global political responsibility: that is, responsibility for the very survival of the human race.”

Canada is the second largest country in area in the world and has a vast global footprint. We are also one of the most resource-dependent and one of the most urbanized countries on the planet. We have an opportunity with our constitution and our many nations to transform governance for the benefit of people and planet and in ways that would be globally significant. We must take responsibility for that and decide. Who do we choose to be as Canada, a confederation of nations and peoples?

Who do we choose to be with the time and capacities that we have? Each one of us, every day, as individuals, as cities, as nations?

The world as we have known it will change; we can be spectators observing the destruction, or we can dive in and do all we can with whatever we have and be the change we want to see in the world. For our children, children everywhere, for at least seven generations to come, and for all our kin on this glorious planet.

Let’s Value. Commons. Wisdom.

Naomi Klein recently wrote:

“… a new vision of what humanity can be is emerging. It is coming from the streets, from the schools, from workplaces, and even from inside houses of government. It’s a vision that says that all of us, combined, make up the fabric of society. And when the future of life is at stake, there is nothing we cannot achieve.”

We are all boat people. We are in this together — those of us who are alive in the world at this time. Let’s be our best selves and rebuild society worthy of our ancestors, and of future ancestors. Let’s imagine and build together a better world.

What will be our mission for 2020?

Let’s get started. And let’s dream with audacity.

And in the spirit of Colin Kaepernick: let’s not ask if our dreams are crazy; let’s ask if they’re crazy enough.

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Civic futures | urbanist, strategist | Adj Professor McGill University, urban planning | next gen philanthropy/ participatory planning| @JayneEngle

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Jayne Engle

Jayne Engle

Civic futures | urbanist, strategist | Adj Professor McGill University, urban planning | next gen philanthropy/ participatory planning| @JayneEngle