The purpose of most cities is generally unknown. Without an explicit purpose, one that calls each city into a brighter future, the undeveloped and narrow purposes of our institutions will continue to wage war with each other and impede human flourishing in and around cities. As humanity becomes increasingly urban, up from 34% in 1960, to 54% in 2014 and projected to be 66% by 2050 (United Nations, 2014) the challenge and opportunity of urban renewal has never been more critical or exciting.
Further, over the last 30 years, nation-states have increasingly revealed that they are not suited to meet the challenges of climate change, income inequality, corruption or the rise to power of supra-sovereign corporations (Guardian, 2018). We are witnessing a sociological event across the planet, marked by a new identity that both expands to encompass the whole planet, as well as fragment, descending into our local communities, culture and nature. It is incumbent upon cities to reinvent themselves, to craft an organic identity that is both planetary and supremely local, to shepherd human flourishing and lead the way to a more purposeful, abundant, just and sustainable future. The science of individual and collective purpose is well-documented (ScienceOfPurpose.org) suggesting that when individuals and organizations align themselves with their higher purpose, life improves by many measures important to us. It is now time to imagine the possibility of a whole city on purpose.
This endeavor is not another proposal for political, religious, healthcare or education reform, nor more urban planning and economic development plans, though they are necessary tools in embodying any city's purpose. Rather, the Sentinel City Project begins with the premise that each city in the world has a higher purpose that is unique, that it is waiting to be revealed, and that when deployed, each city's higher purpose will call forth each citizen's higher purpose, AND offer a wholly original context for citizenship, community and a shared future.
Given the long-term trends in urbanization, the speed, feedback loops and string of purpose-driven city redesign efforts (Chattanooga, Thimphu, Curitiba), and the unprecedented opportunity to unleash the power of purpose at the collective level, it is city-purpose that now needs to be activated, celebrated, and utilized as a guiding light in the implementation of best practices for urban renewal.
As articulated in Part Four of Planet on Purpose, at this unit of economic and political cooperation, we have the best opportunity to instantiate a bio-regional, cultural and economic purpose, a way of being and sense of aliveness, belonging and pride. Because of the immediate felt effects of a city's purpose on it's citizens and bio-region, it is becoming evident that awakening the purpose of cities is the key to living in integrity with the truth in our hearts and all of life. With the city at the center of our attention, we have the power to effectively create a high-integrity, personal and collective experience of purpose, one felt, embraced and celebrated in every area of life - health, romance, family, community, career, finances and spirituality.
What is a Sentinel City?
A Sentinel City knows it's higher purpose, why it exists and where it is headed. It has a clear and inspiring picture of what success looks like at the individual and collective level.
A Sentinel City holds its leaders accountable to realizing this picture of success, and utilizing its higher purpose to drive public policy and structure the activity of private enterprise.
A Sentinel City guards and holds sacred its higher purpose, contributes to our species and planetary purposes, while periodically evolving its purpose with the participation from all stakeholders.
Sentinel City Program
Much as imaginal cells form close bonds and lock arms within the cocoon to begin the butterfly project, we need leaders who are connected to their individual higher purpose (Stage 3: Higher Purpose versus Stage 2: Declared Purpose) across sectors in each city to come together and reveal the purpose of each city on the planet, to step into leadership as a Sentinel City, fully inhabiting and embodying a city-wide purpose.
From these ranks of purpose-awakened leaders, a new generation of purposeful economic, cultural and political leadership will lead and empower each city to reach its fullness. This isn't a purely strategic inquiring, a SWOT analysis like the one offered in Appendix E: Chicago on Purpose in Planet on Purpose, but the emergent result of a group purpose process.
And yes, this exists.
The True Purpose Institute facilitates group purpose process to reveal the higher purpose of companies and organizations, and the results are breathtaking and catalytic in inspiring massive change. Tim Kelley and his colleagues at TPI, are currently doing this work at the national level with Israel and Colombia.
The mission of the Sentinel City Project is to light up one city at a time with the power of higher purpose, empowering a vision and irrefutable identity that transcends partisan politics and pulls each city into a future marked by a level of human flourishing greater than has ever been experienced.
The outcomes of the Sentinel City Program are:
To awaken the higher purpose of a city, and
Empower a new generation of purpose-awakened leadership committed to their city's purposeful reformation.
Who qualifies? This is a 2-year program for growth-oriented leaders in their 30's, 40's and 50's, who have already begun their inner journey, e.g., personal development programs, psychotherapy, meditation, coaching, conscious communication, men's and women's circles.
Each city team will be formed of a cohort of 8-12 leaders that represent the city's demographics (matching the city's economic, gender, sexuality, race and religion profile) and industry sectors, e.g., government, media, healthcare, energy, transportation, professional services, religion, art, education, agriculture, and consumer products.
Year One - Individual Higher Purpose Discovery, Embodiment and Leadership To awaken the higher purpose of any collective, we first need leaders who know and are the embodiment of their higher purpose. As, such the first year will be comprised of 4, 2-day workshops, each moving the leaders into a deeper connection to, and expression of, their individual higher purpose.
Workshop #1: Initial purpose discovery + overcoming obstacles to revealing and living purpose.
Workshop #2: Deep purpose discovery of all 10 aspects of higher purpose.
Workshop #3: Embodiment of higher purpose in each of the 7 areas of life (career, health, love life, family, community, finances and spirituality).
Workshop #4: Purpose-driven Leadership, awakening a broad worldview, and best practices for influence; leaders will present the results and learning of their first purpose project in their city.
Between each workshop, there will be a mandatory weekly call, alternating between 1-on-1 accountability partner video calls, and group video calls. There will also be assigned reading designed to expand the leader body's understanding of individual and collective purpose, leadership and a broad worldview, including one text from each of these three categories:
Worldview: A Theory of Everything, Planet on Purpose, A New Republic of the Heart, Project Heaven on Earth, The Purpose Economy
Purpose: True Purpose, Fate and Destiny, Nature and the Human Soul, The Soul's Code, Women Who Run With the Wolves, A Hidden Wholeness, Care of the Soul
Leadership: An Everyone Culture, Reinventing Organizations, Mastering Leadership, Tribal Leadership, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
Year Two - Group Purpose Discovery, Leadership and Strategy Now that we have leaders who are the embodiment of their higher purpose, we have the fertile conditions to awaken the purpose of the city. As, such the second year will be comprised of 4, 2-day workshops, progressively awakening and embodying the higher purpose of the city.
Workshop #1: Group Purpose Quest.
Workshop #2: Group Purpose Process Revealing the city's Core Essence, Blessing, Mission and Message (ref. Tim Kelley's, True Purpose).
Workshop #3: Crafting the Sentinel City's 5-year purpose embodiment plan, and near-term city purpose projects.
Workshop #4: Developing the Sentinel City community, structures and processes for accountability, communication, purpose evolution and citizen engagement.
Between each workshop, there will be a mandatory weekly call, alternating between 1-on-1 accountability partner video calls, and group video calls. There will also be assigned reading designed to expand the leader body's understanding of their sector, leadership and urban planning, including one text from each of these three categories:
Sector: One text on best practices in each participant's respective sector.
Leadership: An Everyone Culture, Reinventing Organizations, Mastering Leadership, Tribal Leadership, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.
Urban planning: The City in History, The Pre-Industrial City, Local Planning, Civilizing American Cities, Good City Form, Cities of Tomorrow.
The Post-Program Commitment
The completion of the Sentinel City Program only marks the beginning of the realization of a city's purpose. The future of each city is continually revealed in an ongoing conversation with it's citizens and the broader human community. As each city's purpose begins to take shape, leaders must rise to the challenge by continually reinventing themselves, becoming an evolutionary leader, one who is world-wizened, vulnerable and the embodiment of their higher purpose.
This requires lifelong commitment to inner work, such as men's, women's and all-gendered transformation circles, e.g. The ManKind Project and Woman Within, coaching and contemplative practice, as well as developing one's leadership through programs such as the Collaborative Operating System and Landmark's Team Management and Leadership Program.
If stepping into a purposeful future for yourself and your city inspires you, please complete the Sentinel City Application (30 minutes). If you know growth-oriented leaders for whom this could be a good fit, please send this page to them or share on social media.
If you would like to be involved in the working group to develop and facilitate the Sentinel City Project, please pick a time to have a conversation here.
The ensouled life is purposeful, creative, vulnerable, connected, loving, inclusive, curious, courageous, sustainable, entrepreneurial and fiercely political.
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