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4 Voices in the city working together like bees in a hive

Bees collect nectar to make honey for the hive and at the same time they spread pollen for plants and trees in the area. How can humans learn from the bees? How can a city provide for its own needs and act responsibly towards its natural environment and the further-away regions which feed it? This lifemap scenario brings four voices in the city together: civil servant, business manager, not-for-profit manager and citizen. It offers them a journey of discovery to find answers to the questions. Representatives of the voices start by collecting information about a chosen city. How would a profile of the city look like? Which characteristics are unique and which are strengths? What are the key themes for the different voices in the city? The voices each map their current reality and near future. They tell each other their stories. A dialogue follows about the future of the city. Throughout the process they play out the story of the bees. This scenario is meant to gather new ideas and inspire the city and its inhabitants.


The image shows the lifemap building blocks

A lifemap scenario and a workshop programme for a self-appointed group of four in (or for) a city. A group coordinator receives the lifemap package for the group, containing the building blocks shown in the image for each member: the compass poster, city stickers (new version) and a selection of the transformation symbols on a sticker sheet strip.

The overarching goal for this lifemap scenario

The overarching goal for this lifemap scenario is to invite the voices in the city to become aware of each other and to get acquainted with each other’s reality as a basis for multi-stakeholder collaboration, guided by Humanity’s Code of Care: taking care of self, others, place and planet.

For the city and the stakeholders

How do we learn to align to what’s collective? Individualism is a sign of our times, in wealthy countries. Power, property and richess rule, their is minimum responsibility, the mutuality between profiting from the collective and being of service has often been lost. This lifemap scenario invites people to be fully present as a person while simultaneously representing one of the four voices in the city.  The individual experiences the personal as well as the collective. The four voices need each other to organise care, liveability and resilience in the city. The city needs this cooperation in every form and colour. Beginning and ending the workshop programme by putting the city central helps to become aware of the priorities and interests at the collective level of the city.

What would the voices in the city accomplish, when they would join forces? Many city projects involve local communities, e.g. in a greening project in the neighbourhood or a sustainable energy project for a region. The city can benefit even more from a multi-stakeholder approach. Working with the four (and more) voices is a way of introducing and practicing this.

How would it be, when the city would function like a hive, following the example of the bees? Of course, sustainability is a priority, but how can its scope be widened, not only to include a city’s natural environment, but also the whole impact of the city as a household? Practicing with Humanity’s Code of Care: Taking care of self, others, place and planet, will show opportunities and lead to reality-based ideas.

This lifemap scenario invites people to raise their awareness. It creates involvement and it’s a basis for joint vision building. The lifemap scenario and workshop programme offer a safe process for deep listening and ideation. It is a realistic experience. It inspires the mind and touches the heart.

Bringing the voices in the city together inspires at the start of a project, helps to promote citizen participation at an event, or activates people at a conference. No prior knowledge or experience is required for participation.

During the workshop programme symbols are used to bring in the story of the bees
Bee with pollen
Bee on flower

Programme summary

A programme for a group of four people in/for a certain city starts with an individual mapping round, which takes up about one hour. The rest of the programme can take from 2 to 5 hours, spread over one or more days (weeks), depending on what the group wants in terms of elaboration and deepening. The various rounds of the programme each add new insights and information. After each round, time is taken for the participants to make notes in the Zoom chat. Group members make photos of their completed posters. The photos, notes and outcomes of the rounds of exchange are part of the harvest.

The programme has several rounds, each of them with its own function:

  • Stepping into the role of one of the voices and creating a reality-based map of the present on the poster. Sticker theme choices are made both as a human being and as a representative of the voice.
  • Telling each other what is on the poster, using the sticker themes to tell the story, while the other voices listen without interruption or discussion.
  • Having a dialogue in which the voices look at similarities and diffences and key sticker themes, in a way that brings an understanding of what the reality of each voice is about, while building a joint understanding at the level of the voices as archetypes in the city.
  • Mapping the imagined (near) future of the city, which is done by each voice, individually.
  • Sharing what it is that the poster tells about the future, using the sticker themes to tell the story, while the other voices listen.
  • Noticing what the voices affirm and what they foresee for the future, making meaning of it and building a joint vision for the city.

The host advises about the fine-tuning of the workshop programme, leads the group through the workshop rounds, provides support to create a presentation of the harvest, and is available throughout the whole process.

Group meetings can take place in person, on location, or on Zoom. Exchange meetings with the host are on Zoom.

Personal safety and privacy

How the built-in lifemap process facilitates a safe environment for sharing and how personal information is protected during the workshop and in the presentation of the harvest will be discussed in advance.

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