home Community ideas/opinions Design better humans to build better cities – Colin Whitfield

Design better humans to build better cities – Colin Whitfield

Colin Whitfield went up on stage at Urban Talks and got us to think about what it means to be human, what holds us back and how we can unlock the deeper parts of our consciousness in order to become better versions of ourselves.

Colin started off his speech by observing that technology, which is so present in our daily lives, can be said to have outpaced humanity, but that we don’t really know why we’re so determined to make technological advances.

As people create more technology, which is of course seen as progress and which does a lot of good in the world, Colin argues that a lot of wastage and negative consequences can come out of it, especially because it is done primarily for monetary gain.

Why do we always seem to be rushing towards some unreachable goal? We have an internal hunger for progress, or monetary/personal gain, which can never be satisfied and creates inequality, imbalance, disharmony in society.

What drives humanity?

Colin presented several ways of looking at the things that make us human and motivate our actions.

The most basic answer is ‘needs‘, as they may define us at one point or another. However, we as a species have actually conquered the survival or monetary needs in our societies; we have enough resources available to feed, shelter and clothe the entire world three times over – but we don’t do that, instead we use progress in different ways that don’t reach some people in need.

One way we see that our needs aren’t really prioritized in our quest for progress is the fact that there is a phenomenon of rising rates of depression and anxiety in our cities.

Another perspective is the sense of community and belonging as the thing that makes us human, but Colin observes that while we have incredible technology that could be said to bring us all closer together, we’ve actually never been more isolated, we’ve lost the sense of real connection even though we can communicate instantly regardless of the distance between us.

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Colin goes on to talk about purpose, which is marketed as very important – however, he warns that the dangers of chasing purpose may exceed its benefits, that dangerous movements have started in the name of purpose throughout history.

What Colin thinks is a good way to define humanity is the idea of transcendence – that we’re meant to transcend our needs. Technology, he says, is a great example – humans have created an infrastructure which allows us to transcend basic needs; however, we’re still stuck in a survival mindset and have hunger for monetary growth.

Colin presents a range of human needs and feelings, from the most primal to the most complex, and how we should all aim to go further and transcend those basic feelings like shame and anger and move towards such things as courage and reason.

Watch the full talk in the video below and find out how we can become better versions of ourselves:

By age 25, Colin was managing a 25 million Euro real estate fund. By age 30 he built an award-winning digital agency with clients such as the BBC, London Olympics 2012, the Baftas and Lidl. Colin now coaches entrepreneurs and creatives, to find more balance, meaning, and purpose in their lives.