In the forward to the book Megacommunities, Walter Isaacson writes

We are all in desperate need of game-changing ideas. Why? The simple answer is that we face a growing list of complex and challenging issues, and as a society we increasingly find ourselves stuck. Not necessarily for a lack of trying, or for a lack of appreciation of the consequences. We know that these issues—global climate change, preparing for pandemics, responding to natural disasters, global terrorism, water scarcity, aging populations, aging infrastructure, to name but a few—have the potential to become massive challenges in the next few years. And these problems manifest on both global and local levels. Consider how the need to develop new anti-terrorism or anti-pandemic initiatives applies not just globally but city by city, or how new levels of natural disaster—and new drains on government resources—can lead to situations like the one experienced in Biloxi, Mississippi or New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

The authors of this book have applied their varied consulting experience to finding solutions for increasingly complex problems at the local level, where resources from a variety of influential sources can be joined and coordinated. Elements of local government, business and civil society must be in synch – sharing knowledge and responsibilities around commonly recognized challenges – if those challenges are going to be met in a dynamic situation such as climate change.

The book defines a megacommunity as:

  • the space in which complex problems exist, and are addressed
  • an collaborative environment where leaders interact according to their common interests, while maintaining their unique priorities
  • a lens through which we can examine a complex problem in a new way
  • determined by the existence of tri-sector engagement and an overlap in common interest

This is a book I’ll be reading soon, but having heard already about the application of its principles in Dade County, Florida, I wanted to make sure it got on my blog today.