Sacred Civics

Sacred Civics argues that societal transformation requires that spirituality and sacred values are essential to reimagining patterns of how we live, organize and govern ourselves, determine and distribute wealth, inhabit and design cities, and construct relationships with others and with nature.

The book brings together transdisciplinary and global academics, professionals and activists from a range of backgrounds to question assumptions that are fused deep into the code of how societies operate, and to draw on extraordinary wisdom from ancient Indigenous traditions; to social and political movements like Black Lives Matter, the commons, and wellbeing economies; to technologies for participatory futures where people collaborate to reimagine and change culture. Looking at cities and human settlements as the sites of transformation, the book focuses on values, commons and wisdom to demonstrate that how we choose to live together, to recognize interdependencies, to build, grow, create, and love – matters.

Using multiple methodologies to integrate varied knowledge forms and practices, this truly ground-breaking volume includes contributions from renowned and rising voices. Sacred Civics is a must-read for anyone interested in intersectional discussions on social justice, inclusivity, participatory design, healthy communities and future cities.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Imagine Shaping Cities as if People, Land, and Nature were Sacred Jayne Engle, Julian Agyeman, and Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook

Chapter 2: Awakening Seven Generation Cities

Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook, Jayne Engle, and Julian Agyeman   PART I: SPACE

Chapter 3: Honouring the Sacred in Cities: Indigenous Teachings for City Building Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook

Chapter 4: The Black Commons: A Framework for Recognition, Reconciliation, Reparations Julian Agyeman and Kofi Boone

Chapter 5: (Un)situated Improvisation AbdouMaliq Simone

Chapter 6: Co-creating the Cities we Deserve through Indigenous Knowledge

Ginger Gosnell-Myers  PART II: TIME

Chapter 7: Unsettling the Coloniality of Foresight Aarathi Krishnan

Chapter 8: Inhabiting the Edge Edgar Pieterse

Chapter 9: Reconciling Relationships with the Land through Land Acknowledgments Deborah McGregor and Emma Nelson

Chapter 10: Urban Planning Oscillations: Seeking a Tongan Way Before and After the 2006 Riots

Yvonne Takau and Michelle Thompson-Fawcett  PART III: AGENCY

Chapter 11: Social Infrastructure for Our Times: Building Participatory Systems that Value the Creativity of Everyone Jayne Engle, Tessy Britton, and Pamela Glode-Desrochers

Chapter 12: The Ceremony of Reclaiming Agency Through Wonder Catherine Tàmmaro

Chapter 13: Feminist, Antiracist Values for Climate Justice: Moving Beyond Climate Isolationism


Chapter 14: Participatory Futures: Reimagining the City Together Kathy Peach and Laurie Smith

Chapter 15: Basque Civics Gorka Espiau and Itziar Moreno

Chapter 16: Commons Economies in Action: Mutualizing Urban Provisioning Systems Michel Bauwens, Rok Kranjc, and Jose Ramos

Chapter 17: Radicle Civics – Unconstituting Society: Building 21st Century Civic Infrastructures Fang-Jui “Fang-Raye” Chang and Indy Johar

Virtual Forum on Urban Transformations

Brussels/Istanbul, 19 November 2021 – The 2021 Virtual Forum on Urban Transformation focused on system transformation in urban settings and working in complexity throughout the European Partnership region. 

Jointly organised by the EU and UNDP, the Forum showcased emergent practice on urban transformation among the M4EG network of municipalities as well as the civic and private sector. 

Diana Jabłońska, DG NEAR Head of Unit C1 ‘Georgia, Moldova, Economic Investment Plan’, stressed the importance of the EU-UNDP partnership to tackle local economic development challenges in a more innovative, inclusive and sustainable way, by relying on portfolios of interventions. She also recalled that the EU has designed an ambitious agenda and economic investment plan for supporting resilience, recovery and reform as well as harnessing the green and digital transition in the Eastern Partnership region. 

Gerd Trogemann, Manager of the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, said that the demand for new approaches is tremendous, given the fact that municipalities are at the forefront of addressing systemic risks. He encouraged the Mayors network to lead by example vis-à-vis building partnerships based on trust, honesty, and openness, learning and iterating together.

During the Forum, M4EG municipalities joined in a discussion between various actors, exploring how to move from visions to actions. Panelists from Bilbao, Bologna, Lviv, and Vienna shared best practice on inclusive concepts implemented at the local level, including gender mainstreaming, civic imagination, adaptive city planning and portfolio approaches to tackle complex challenges. 

Oleksandr Syenkevych, Mayor of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, said that the pandemic outbreak has surfaced municipalities’ vulnerabilities. Recent and protracted challenges outlined the need to apply new tools and visions to address complex issues like inequality and economic development.

This is one session of many that will come where participants get a chance to engage with a growing network of municipalities and partners to build a space for a community of innovators at the regional level.

The joint EU-UNDP Virtual Forum on Urban Transformation is part of a series of strategic dialogues organised by the EU and UNDP on working in complexity in February and May 2020, as well as during the Partnership Forum on system transformation in November 2021. In December 2020, the EU and UNDP signed an agreement to apply portfolio approaches as a way to accelerate system transformation and build resilience at the local level under the initiative Mayors for Economic Growth. These dialogues have highlighted the speed of change and the need for development institutions to adapt their ways of working to allow for testing and discovery, while maintaining a high level of rigor.