A ground-breaking initiative to codesign inclusive cities across the globe, co-created by The Presencing Institute and Impact Hub

Let’s build a new narrative.


Cities are expected to absorb almost all future population growth, accommodating 80% of the world’s population by 2080. This simple fact suggests the complex challenges such as insufficient housing, inefficient resource use, air pollution, and lack of decent jobs that cities face in the years ahead. As such, cities are important when it comes to building a more vibrant and sustainable society.


To add to the complexity, urban challenges are also emergent, interconnected and systemic. Whether grass-roots or top-down, mainstream solutions to sustainability challenges tend to be mechanistic, often propelled by a single perspective. Cities need solutions that are dynamic and flexible, that use real participatory processes and experimental prototyping to co-discover systemic and customized solutions. The truth is: No one individual person or organization knows the answer. But collectively we might... 


Communities for Change is an attempt to shape such solutions

Born from a collaboration between Impact Hub and the Presencing Institute, the inaugural Communities for Change will engage 6 Impact Hubs (Baltimore, Boulder, Budapest, Harare, Seattle, and Shanghai). Approximately 20 cross-sector stakeholders per city will embark on a prototyping journey that will extend from January through April, 2018. During this time, participants will engage with a facilitated learning- and innovation- process around the shared theme of 'inclusive cities,' using the Theory U process as offered through u.lab.


With local focus areas ranging from ‘inclusive neighbourhood development’ and ‘clean energy’ to ‘climate action’ and ‘the future of work’, Impact Hubs in major cities on four continents will tackle some of the core issues facing the world today. Impact Hubs build communities focused on generating positive impact, rooted in their local context and linked to a global network spanning across 100+ places. With 10+ years of experience in designing and delivering impactful programming, Impact Hubs are vital enablers for cities and their stakeholders to enact positive change.


Drawing from the Presencing Institute’s proven innovation methodology and Impact Hub’s expertise in community-building, Communities for Change will unite decision-makers in the private and public sectors with local citizens and entrepreneurs to generate actionable prototype solutions. Further, the program is built to connect participants in a global community and widen their perspectives to examine global systems, allowing for cross-pollination of ideas, shared best practices and, eventually, impact at scale.


To close the innovation journey in April, each city will host an event open to the public wherein participants will present prototypes to guests including policy-makers, investors and citizens. Selected prototypes will then be supported to iterate and evolve further as part of their respective local Impact Hub communities. 


As Communities for Change evolves, it will develop a model that ensures its sustainability. The program aims to have a ripple effect year on year, with a growing number of Impact Hubs joining the initiative. This initiative shows the desire for and power of collaboration; building sincere and lasting connections across a city’s actors around a topic that they care about, whilst generating a cross-sector, cross-border innovation ecosystem that will nurture systemic solutions to pressing global issues.


Since 2015 Impact Hub and MIT’s Presencing Institute have collaborated in offering Impact Hub’s physical workspace and facilitation to groups engaged with the Presencing Institute “u.lab” in 45 cities around the world.

Impact Hub: Impact Hub is the world’s leading network of entrepreneurial communities devoted to generating positive impact. It has 12 years of experience in driving action-oriented, top-down and bottom-up collaboration for SDGs. Offering entrepreneurial support services, convening diverse stakeholders to solve some of the world's most pressing issues and enabling innovation from individual to organisational level, the network counts more than 16,000 engaged and active changemakers, creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and thought-leaders across the globe. In 2016 alone, Impact Hubs supported more than 2,000 start-ups and initiatives in creation and scaling, generating 4,800+ full-time jobs across 100+ cities.


Presencing Institute: The Presencing Institute is an awareness-based action-research community for profound societal change. Drawing on MIT’s tradition of action research and learning, the Presencing Institute supports change leaders in three primary ways: they have developed a method for innovating in complex systems that is used by changemakers across cultures (Theory U); they lead cross-sector change initiatives worldwide; and they have also created a free online innovation platform (originally launched as a Massive Open Online Course) called MITx u.lab that has attracted 100,000 users who have formed a global innovation eco-system of more than 500 hubs with countless change initiatives. The action research of PI focuses on the intersection of science, consciousness, and systems change; that is, on cultivating the interior conditions for creating profound economic and societal change.


Upcoming Events