Somewhere between Ideal City and Integral Theory

Dear Reader! Below you will find an experimental, collaborative effort to produce an account of a day at the Study Session based on individual impressions, emotions and perception. It was cooperatively written by two participants parallel to each other, building upon and elaborating on each other’s ideas. Hope you will enjoy this experimental piece!

Day 2 started on a creative note. The assignment – build your ideal city – threw us way back into the past. Building things! – using stiff cardboard, sticky glue, mixing colours and getting cut with scissors – but just a little. It was a rush. A wave groups surfed on just like children, without even noticing it. The end results: marvellous creations that encompassed ideas we talked about so far; passive housing, renewable energy, urban planning… We felt like city planners. We debated, brainstormed, built cheeses, cemeteries and space stations – everything that’s necessary for the ideal city. We found out city planning is hard.

After this imaginative interlude we split into groups for some role play. Setting – a quiet neighbourhood with a rundown park in need of an investment. Roles – people from the local community with different backgrounds, interests and views on what the future of the park should entail, plus a local politician and a potential investor in need of yet another mall. Ready, set, go! – a discussion commenced. Even though it was just a role play the situation stirred the emotions so much that it felt real. Arguments were tossed around, interests collided, passion electrified the atmosphere – and the discussions were quite useful. We learned a lot, and in the end some agreements were reached, some not – but as it was the point, in most groups, solidarity prevailed. We have seen that in these types of situations reaching a consensus is usually the solution, but the way to reach it is through harmonizing different variables within the group and coming out together as one. Individualism and stubbornness doesn’t get the job done.

With a lot of energy spent a recharge was needed in the form of food we had for lunch.

Enter Tracey Wheatley – a lifelong activist, environmentalist in both spirit and body. Her presence filled the room as she revisited the pathways of her life from a young 8 year old girl fighting for social justice, saving seals and foxes to a wise, colourful women sharing her thoughts, experiences and theories with a new generation. She encouraged us to reminisce upon our own beginnings and to remember the emotions that got us where we are today. Furthermore she tore down the walls that kept our emotions confined within us, in order to be able to share them with others more easily, simply by making us indulge into conversations with each other. To explain it more plainly, the process goes like this: recalling initial feelings and motivation; sharing it with others; tears of nostalgia; creating multipliers, who do the same with others; success. You got yourself a new generation of activists! We all had our own reasons for activism before – but now, it was amplified by causes of thirty-nine other people.

People with hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, brace yourselves…

After this emotional trip, it was time for some cold, hard, intellectual theorizing. Tracy went on to talk about this interesting guy Ken Wilber, a transpersonal psychologist and his Integral Theory. As we are not experts in transpersonal psychology we understood it like this. The theory comes down to these four steps: people have thoughts and feelings in the beginning (1), and then they go on a journey of finding a group of likeminded people (2) – they search, investigate, share their thoughts, after which they start working back to back (3), getting mixed up, getting sweaty, laughing and crying together, when, at a certain moment, they experience collective consciousness (4), solidarity, empathy and at that point they realize that they belong to something in space and time that is bigger than them, that is special, that is precious and fun.

It was a good thing that we heard Tracey’s story and Ken’s theory, for we already belong to certain groups, and this information showed us the goal we have to reach, the thing for which we should aspire. When you reach this point, you begin to understand the group you belong to more clearly, and the paths you take in the future are for sure easier to walk on.

The long and fruitful day culminated in an intercultural night with a twist! We had to present a country given to us, which could have been any, but our own, based on questions given to us on pieces of paper during the day. We had some goofs, some laughs, and afterwards some kicks on the dance floor and some talks in the garden.

All in all it was a pleasant day.

Vanja Dabižinović
Member of the Governing Board, Club Alpbach Montenegro, participant
Simon Gergely Császár

Future Can Be Different (Hungarian Young Greens), participant





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