In a system, like the human body or a transit system, it is clear to see that there are many functions performed by many parts. All of the functions impact on all the other functions, and when the network of relationships that connects them all up is working well, the whole system flourishes. And the opposite is true: if one or two lines on the London Underground are out the other lines are forced to adapt.
To have impact at the scale and reach that is now needed, work at the whole systems level is essential for social change; we have to pay attention to the smooth running of the whole network, as well as the parts. Change is not linear, power is not top down or even bottom up, relationships between actors are as important as what each is doing, and shared vision becomes the glue that holds the network together.
Communities have always played a role in stewarding their bioregional ecologies and managing their local economies. Now that the issues that we are facing need all of us to tackle them, not just experts, our work is to ally the expertise of communities with local government, learning organisations, businesses, civil society and many other kinds of organisations. And to do this with imagination, creativity and the will to rediscover what it means to be a citizen of place.