Using the power of participation to make global challenges more achievable and meaningful in people’s daily lives.

A Working Hypothesis and Iterative Toolkit

To connect people’s individual needs with the global scale of development challenges, this site’s mission of ‘participation’ is the result of asking the question:

“How might we envision a world that enables people’s freedom and motivation to co-create in ethical, strategic and technological ways that contribute to emerging, dynamic and interrelated patterns of sustainable life — as a global system of systems?”

Exploring patterns of participation – from low-stakes social interaction to formal activities towards sustainable impact — this site references key terms and concepts related to both people-centred and global-scale processes for sense-making and collaborative problem-solving. The open collection of practical tools and the list of related events is also in constant development.

This site’s working hypothesis and iterative toolkit uses five dimensions of analysis and synthesis for complex, dynamic and interrelated patterns of participation. The five dimensions are as follows:


Human-scale Challenges

This ‘working hypothesis and iterative toolkit’ is intended to contribute to Manfred Max-Neef’s taxonomy of fundamental human needs by exploring qualitiesobjects, activities and settings of participation. Max-Neef’s theory postulates that the ways that an individual satisfies their needs operate at multiple interdependent levels at once, as opposed to a linear or hierarchical ascension.

City-scale Challenges

This site also applies the lens of human-scale development at different magnitudes of society from individuals, to coordinated groups of people, through to broader organisations and institutions — and ultimately — society at large.

The Physical and Contextual Challenge

City challenges are complex, large and ambiguous. However, these challenges are increasingly relating to information as well as physical space. Along with physical and informational challenges, cities must also — critically — meet the needs and expectations of their multiple stakeholders of whom range from organisations, producers, groups of users, to individuals in civil society.

The System Challenge

In order to respond to these physical, informational and contextual challenges, we must identify the multiple and interdependent dimensions involved in producing, distributing, receiving, and maintaining these solutions. Ultimately, it is the rigorously-defined and validated methodologies that are at the heart of analysing and synthesising city challenges in an informed and effective manner.

The Potency Challenge

Including people in a way that addresses all five magnitudes of participation (approachability, accessibility, clarity, tangibility, sustainability) ensures that the insights and opportunities make the biggest impact on urban development.



Reference to systems theory, complexity theory and systems dynamics will be made throughout, and models for understanding these complex, dynamic and interrelated social systems will be presented to illustrate both the analysis and synthesis of results.



This research on ‘patterns of participation’ began to emerge in 2011, following an Introduction to Strategic Sustainable Development, provided by the Blekinge Institute of Technology and the affiliated non-profit, non-governmental organisation, The Natural Step.



The first public expression of this research on ‘patterns of participation’ was read at the League of Pragmatic Optimists’ Lab #7 event, in London on 29/11/2016. Read the aspirational letter to the future called Grass Roots with Digital Shoots on