How might we move or collective thinking and action beyond single-issue social action?
Does it make sense to build our urban worlds and future societies by winning one political issue at a time?
Can we design civic business models for our cities and society?
In February’s Design with Dialogue we workshopped our framework for co-creating civic design proposals with a group of 35 citybuilders, ranging from youth activists to City of Toronto people to architects and SFI students.
A significant design challenge of our time is anticipating the relationships of multiple environmental and social problems as a complex system of nonlinear relationships. However, we cannot think about, model or discuss the relationships well, especially in the heat of discussion with deliberative groups and decision making processes. We need not only better engagement and dialogue processes for citizen deliberative problem solving, we require relevant tools.All social services, determinants of health, and economics are complex and interrelated. So why do we expect any political body or activist group to get it right? Only meaningfully diverse, multi-stakeholder groups can envision the variety of interests and outcomes in complex social systems.
With the OCADU Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group and with Strategic Foresight & Innovation students we designed a relevant framework from the common language of business model tools, adapted for civic decision models for flourishing cities and settlements.
The Flourishing Cities framework adapts a design tool for strongly sustainable business models as a visual organizer for engaging stakeholders in co-creating normative operational guidance for civic groups, community planners, and local governments. Flourishing can be understood as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience,” or as John Ehrenfeld states it:
“Flourishing is the possibility that human and other life will flourish on this planet forever.”
This visual model enables a participatory mapping of propositions, values, and preferences that might yield significantly better group decisions for sociocultural and ecological development and governance in any planning engagement. Participants developed working models in 30-40 minute studio sessions, and presented compelling narratives for issues in:
Climate Change Action and Citizen Motivation
Placemaking for Well-Being
An additional table developed a model for Textile Waste Recovery.
The Flourishing Business Canvas is shown below, the basis for the Flourishing Cities model adapted in the workshop.
Unlike the Flourishing Business Canvas, the “Cities” canvas has not been employed in actual practice yet. This is a proposed concept, developed from extended research and is presented as a model for further inquiry and evaluation.