All of us depend on systems each of which are too large, intricate and complex for any one person to fully understand, much less manage: no one anywhere understands their interplay in its totality. We are forced, in order to think well about the world, to engage in collaborative thinking across disciplines, fields and places. We are forced to build models, construct working analogies, learn to debate systems functions and probable outcomes.
This need to grapple with complexity and interconnectedness as we remake our cities demands more and more facility with telling stories about systems. We require elegance in apprehending complex truths combined with skill in turning models into narratives.
This “systems storytelling” skill is absolutely critical in bright green cities in order to engage people to with their roles as citizens, creators and consumers in helping to evolve and support the kinds of systems that make possible more sustainably prosperous lives. Systems storytelling is an essential 21st century civic and journalistic skill.
The new urban culture of innovation is revealing to us again an old basic truth of cities: that cities are not the streets and buildings found within a set of legal boundaries, but the agglomeration o…