Coming back to the city from five years spent restoring a little sheep farm, we returned with the naive expectation that planning, transportation and design would have improved. To the contrary! For a variety of reasons most of the visionaries in my field had either retired or hunkered down into the world of survival. The world I came back to seemed to be far more institutional, intellectually stagnant.
So, what seemed to be critically missing? Most of my colleagues had become understandably absorbed in the necessities of survival with time for little else. Even eight years ago it had been hard work to get professionals together — but a few did regularly meet in small groups discussing how to better both themselves and the realm of the public. The institutional organizations have never filled that function very well– too many politically and economically-correct people in a self-serving mode. So, it was these small groups of professionals who made a difference — the small-group interaction of visionary leaders meeting with nothing more to gain than the sharing of ideas that were both in their and in the public interest.
In the interest of a strong civic engagement, in whatever your profession, bring your visionary colleagues together, have a great lunch and talk – frequently and not too formally. It will take some effort but you will be surprised at the outcome! It’s one of our main anchors to having a civil society.