… the totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something besides the parts …” – Aristotle Emergence, simply put, refers to patterns spontaneously arising from complex systems – new behaviors and properties that aren’t simply reducible to “the sum of its parts.” While flocking behavior is an emergent property of birds or fish, emergence also takes place across knowledge systems. Take for example, the chain of emergent knowledge fields given as an example of the phenomenon by Wikipedia: “Biology can be viewed as an emergent property of the laws of chemistry which, in turn, can be viewed as an emergent property of particle physics. Similarly, psychology could be understood as an emergent property of neurobiological dynamics, and free-market theories understand economy as an emergent feature of psychology.” Emergence defines our times as our living, technological and knowledge systems increase in complexity. Climate change is an emergent meteorological behavior from the Industrial Revolution; robotics an emergent property of engineering; mycoremediation an emergent property of applied biochemistry. What can we take from our observations of emergent patterns? Can we apply the lessons of emergence to knowingly create something truly greater than the sum of its parts? What would that mean to the futures of, say, our cities? A new property emerged in the 20th century – the global institution – which has reshaped social boundaries, political goals, meteorology, and culture around the world. While many see this new entity as either the apex of evil or the seat of promise for the future, designers from Buckminster Fuller to Peter Senge have noted that living systems continually recreate themselves, guided by the system’s own level of self-awareness. TED and TEDx, it could be said, are global institutions that have emerged from the forces of technological and design innovation with media production and the Internet. Further, they promote the kind of self-awareness Fuller, Senge, and many others have said are essential to the kind of knowing, connected unfolding we can experience as “presence.” A city, according to Marilyn Hamilton in her book Integral City, “is a whole system that arises from the massive interconnections and entanglements of structures, cultures, intentions and behaviors.” Resilience, today an often-proffered goal of humankind at the intersections of social, ecological and economic systems, can be said to emerge when a system is well-adapted to its environment. Coherence appears from the internal alignment of a system that optimizes efficiency. With resilience and coherence, new patterns and capacities of a city emerge. Our mission of engaged citizenship at TEDxMileHigh begins with this idea that by bringing together our community around the power of big ideas emerging from Colorado, we can help create this awareness and share in the emergence of a bright future for ourselves and our children. We’re looking forward to the conversations that emerge from our engagement with you in 2014.   —