In nature, ecosystems find themselves in a palette of phases of development. The natural forest for example is not something homogenious static, but can be defined as the sum of different phases which at the same time are present and co-exist. This palette make the forest to what it is in essence. Each phase is unique and has its own dynamics and architecture.

In forest ecology the approach of diagnosis of this state is advanced and scientifically developed by Oldeman (1990). In his forest diagnosis and design of the forest he combined different sciences and approaches and brought them together in a understandable set of phases of forest architecture. It is an assumption that also cities and within that organisations, the true components of society, follow the same patterns as forests do. Why should they not, if they are considered as belonging to the same earth ecosystem. That cities and organisations also have a palette of eco-units is plausible.

Oldeman (1990) elaborated the phases of architecture of innovation, aggradation, biostatis (maturity) and degradation. In general the next phases can be distinguished: innovation (a new beginning, after a reorganisation or a fire, huge competition, new seedlings), aggradation (the build-up, individuals are in development and growing, in prospect, expansion), biostatis (individuals determining the rules, a balancing act, stable mature phase, rich structure, high biodiversity) and degradation (individuals are in decay, dying, leaving, part of the system collapse).

Within public governance the phase of development of organisations is most of the time underexposed in processes of strategy, policy and implementation. As said, every phase – at least in natural forests – has its own set of ground rules, which of course has to be recognised and respected by its stewards and leaders on one hand and the individuals of the system on the other hand. The present set of phases within an organisation can be influenced by internal (leadership, culture, styles, issues, business continuity demands) as well as external (cyber, corona, flooding, competition) factors.

In what phase is your organisation?


Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990). Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.


Component Colour Wheel

Kruf, J.P. (2012). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Basic Wheel with connection lines.

The colour wheel – first designed in 1666 by Isaac Newton, is a way of illustrating hues related to types of organisations, which are active in the city. This can be useful if you consider the fact that a city have hundreds, sometimes even thousands of active organisations within their borders. How to order them and keep track of drivers and backgrounds or find out positions in the perspective of the governance of the city? Colours can visualise the network of the city landscape.

Based on the city – forest analogy in the Ecosystem City® as well as on the triangle for main types of organisations – government, business and civil society (Meijer, 2018) – active in the city, the first draft of a (city) component colour wheel was designed by me. I believe that linking colours to types can be helpful in understanding and readability in the process of diagnosing the state of the city. I consider organisations in this approach as the basic components of the city, like organisms in a forest. Quite an analogy.

Mintzberg (2016) talks about species of organisations, in the way they are managed and focused. He elaborated this idea from his earlier publication Structure in Fives (Mintzberg, 1983). Adding the scope of organisations on content and value approach is a challenging step. Introduction of these types – taxonomically in analogy with that of the classification of species within genera and accordingly within families – is an exploration in itself. The starting point is the basic wheel.

All colours are from the palette of the Pantone Color Matching System, for reasons of standardisation, print and reproduction.

The basic wheel
The colour red (Pantone® Poppy Red) symbolises the city as a whole and can be considered as the umbrella colour for the total ecosystem of city life, including all components of the system, being players, actors and organisations. The colour green (Pantone® Forest Green) symbolises the natural environment or better: nature as a whole. City and Nature in complementary.

Following the triangle the colour blue (Pantone® Imperial Blue) symbolises government, the colour yellow (Pantone® Vibrant Yellow) symbolises business and the colour orange (Pantone® Carrot Curl) symbolises the true non-governmental side of civil society. It is via red connected with the 3 basic colours triangle.

Because of the political convictions and their influence on the management of the city – I added political organisations to the basic wheel, represented by the colour purple (Pantone® Royal Purple). Politics is often considered as a part of government in the triangle by underlying democratic principles, but the direct influence on the city landscape justifies a place in the basic wheel. It is connected with blue via election or nomination processes.

The extended wheel
The extended colour wheel regards a limited selection of extra types of organisations – the components of the Ecosystem City® –  which from the perspective of city management play on average a major role in discussions, debates and decisions. They are positioned alongside the government, business and civil society triangle.

Kruf, J.P. (2016). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Extended Wheel with connection lines.

From top and clockwise the wheel is extended with education organisations (Pantone® Flame). They come in a variety of form, steered by government, founded independently or as business.

Finance organisations (Pantone® Silver) enable the flow of money. Financing is their main function, i.e. accepting deposits from the public, creating credit, lending and investing, performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Banks and investors belong to this component. The emerge as cooperation, state-owned or privately owned.

Media organisations (Pantone® Desert Dust) can be defined as the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.organisations come in a variety of organisational forms. They mostly are close to business oriented starting points and constraints.

Science organisations (Pantone® Lime Green) can be defined as a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable and verifiable explanations and predictions about the universe. Universities and research institutes belong to this group. They emerge in a variety of forms.

Parastatals/mandated government organisations (Pantone ® Process Blue) concern the executive and performing domain of government, most of the time without an elected but a mandate structure in governance. The involved organisations serve the state, province, region or municipality directly and indirectly. They have a mandate to act related to government responsibilities Agencies and parastatals are part of this function.

The Judiciary organisations (Pantone® Pottery Clay) is the governmental type of organisation which interprets and applies the law in a country, state or an international community. Courts belong to this component. They focus on the process of study, reduction, deduction and interpretations from laws, rules and regulations and accordingly on the formulation and dictation of decisions and enforcement. They are state-owned, but formally indecently operating.

Political organisations (Pantone® Violet Tulip) are related to ‘a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group’ (Hague et al., 2013). They refer in essence to the representation of ideas for achieving and exercising positions of governance-organized control over a human community. Machiavelli described politics as the world of ‘power and influence’.

Semipublic organisations ((Pantone® Quartz Pink) have a mix of features of a public institutions, maintained as a public service, but have elements of by a private nonprofit organization. Care, cure, housing, public transport and energy organisations are examples.

Ecosystem City®


Hague, R. and M. Harrop ( 2013) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan International Higher Education.

Meijer, A. (2018). Datapolis: A Public Governance Perspective on “Smart Cities”, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2018, Pages 195–206,

Mintzberg, H. (1985). Structure in Fives: Designing effective organisations. London: Pearson Education.

Mintzberg, H. (2016). Species of Organizations., Seen on the 10th of October 2020

System World and Living World

Kruf, J.P. (2017). System World.

The system world is the world of election, governance, rules and regulation, taxes, performance, services. It is a relevant component (on the highest level) of the City Ecosystem and therefore part of the City Codex. The chosen colour is Pantone® Jet Black, because of the association with the mineraloid Jet, which has an organic origin, being derived from decayingwood under extreme pressure. So the colour has it roots in the living world but because of its structure is now symbolising the system world.

Kruf, J.P. (2017). Living World.

The living world is the world of daily life, work and love. The world of personal and public values and lifestyles. The chosen colour Pantone® Snow White symbolises the virginity, dynamics, creativity, self expression, consciousness in the living world. What is stronger than seeing one’s own footprints in the purity of the driven snow. Proof of life in its simplest form.

The system world and the living world can be integrated in an optimal coherent situation. Individuals, organisations and natural ecosystems live in harmony with their governing systems vice versa. Or they can be completely separated. No interaction, no connection, no coherent situation. Individuals, organisations and natural ecosystems live separated from their governing systems. The so called system world does not address the needs and wills in the living world.


Zooming out, getting the picture

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Zooming out, getting the picture. Stonehenge Landscape.

One of the crucial skills of public leaders and managers is to be able to get the bigger picture of society, and from there to connect things and to act accordingly. Mayors and city managers among others need to keep the main focus on the bigger picture, while aldermen and directors have their specific discipline, craftsmanship and portfolio. Overview and content go hand in hand, both complementary pieces of the puzzle of public governance. Zooming out is a form of art, necessary to understand the city as an ecosystem. For this art, Alexander von Humboldt and Roelof A.A. Oldeman have been of great inspiration. The ability of zooming out is the essential skill for true knowledge, they say. Two quotes.

Naturalist, explorer and geographer Alexander von Humboldt (1856) concluded that zooming out leads to more overview and offers the possibility to interconnect things (and even sciences). Von Humboldt gave guidance on the relation between ecosystems and abiotic factors. At the beginning of the 19th century, he came to this fascinating conclusion, actually revolutionary for that time.

“Physical geography…, elevated to a higher point of view, … embraces the sphere of organic life…”. – Humboldt (1856).

He saw the connection between the life in the ecosystems and the constraints of soil, water, energy and climate. Nobody before him had done this. Also in cities these connections between in fact habitats and communities are all over the place. So we can learn here from the discoveries of Von Humboldt.

“The principle impulse by which I was directed was the earnest endeavour to comprehend the phenomena of physical objects in their general connection, and to represent nature as one great whole, moved and animated by internal forces. Without an earnest striving to attain to a knowledge of special branches of study, all attempts to give a grand and general view of the universe would be nothing more than vain illusion.” – Von Humboldt (1856)

Connection between sciences seems to be necessary to find the real answers. It is about the ability of sharpening one’s view from different angles and principles. Oldeman et al. (1990) underlined, in cross-border studies of forests, the need for such an holistic approach in diagnosis. He always encouraged, within the fragmented landscape of sciences, the necessity to cross the by individual universities so heavily guarded boundaries. For most of the city challenges, the process of policy making and service delivery needs to be based on a cross-border view, to come to well-founded decisions.

“The group that was responsible for the forest components theme decided to accelerate the process by starting an ambitious project, the writing of a common book. There is no way in which cooperation can be stimulated better, but this way has to be learned and practised too. The result is now before you. The book is not yet ideal in our opinion because it still contains too many traces of the old University tradition of researchers working, each apart, on such narrow subjects as they know best.

This way of executing the research of course is necessary to reach sufficient depth. But it carries the risk of loss of vision of the whole system, parts of which are studied. Still a little bit unbalanced, but on its way to improve along lines that are more clear now, this presentation in a pluridisciplinary way is a first step, however, to overcome both the limits of individual researchers and the shallowness of groups. We trust, however, that it is exactly this wrestling with integration of broad views versus the deepening of restricted views that may be as interesting to the reader as the facts, figures, conclusions and hypotheses on forests and their components which are presented in the following pages.” – Oldeman et al. (1990)

Von Humboldt and Oldeman are inspiring in this cross-scientific and pluridisciplinary discovery. Zooming out is crucial to get the picture.

Humboldt, Alexander von (1856). Kosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe, Volume 1. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. 406 pp.

Oldeman, R.A.A., P. Schmidt and E.J.M. Arnolds (1990). Forest components. Wageningen: Aricultural University, 111 pp.

Ecosystem City®

Forest City Rendezvous

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Forest, City, Rendezvous. Pantone® Forest Green 17-0230 TPG.

Red en green are complementary colours. Opposites in many ways. In our approach of the city as an ecosystem, we use this complementarity to understand and underline the present and existing contradiction between man and nature. One, the colour red, stands for the city in all its traditional urbanity. The other, the colour green, stands for nature.

In fact it is about the city-nature rendezvous. We have chosen for the metaphorical strong and tangible colour Pantone® Forest Green 17-0230 TPG.

There are many talks and concrete ideas to bring them together, link them in a sustainable approach of energy and climate, not only to approve the liveability of our cities but also for the sake nature itself and all colleague species in it. At the end of it, there is no other way. The plans and decisions by and for city of Madrid are a good example how a city reflects on its own state of resilience. The conclusion was, it is bad and it has to improve. This is a first start, the reforestation of the wastelands.

El Ayuntamiento de Madrid va a poner en marcha un plan para la reforestación de los descampados de las circunvalaciones. Serán más de 34000 árboles. La medida tiene como objetivo ampliar los espacios verdes dentro de la estrategia de sostenibilidad para contribuir a la mejora de la calidad del aire de la capital. – Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

There is this growing insight of biocentrism – Madrid is a good example – and the conviction that man and nature need to align and come together (again). Madrid has accepted the necessity and the challenge to protect its citizens, in fact its city. Nature and city, forest and men. It is a crucial connection. In Madrid the forest has a planned rendezvous with the city. It is an inspiration for a new start for a re-connection. A true rendezvous would be great.


Kruf, J.P. (2019). City, Ypres, Poppy. Pantone® Poppy Red 17-1664 TPG.

Ypres is the symbol of the ultimate resilience and dynamics of a city ecosystem. It refounded itself, recreated, rebalanced and resurrected from the immense losses on the dark battlefields of the Big War. If there is a city which can be given a distinctive colour, then it is Ypres in West-Flanders, Belgium. The city has the name City of Peace.

The poppy (Papaver spp.), in abundance growing among the graves of war victims near the city, has become the symbol for the remembrance for those who lost their lives. The remembrance poppy, the artificial flower and first created by Madame Guérin, is often worn on clothing leading up to Remembrance Day/Armistice Day on the 11th of November, the day in 2018 when the war was ended.

The poem In Flanders Fields, by Canadian and Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, brings us all back to the day it was written, the 3rd of May 2015:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

John McGrae

The most abundant flower – among other species of papavers – near the graves of the soldiers is the Flanders Poppy (Papaver rhoeas L.). When florists speak about the poppy they often mark it with the colour scarlet. Within Ecosystem City® we link the poppy colour Pantone® Poppy Red 17-1664 TPG to that of the city.

McCrae, John (1918). In Flanders Fields and Other Poems. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.


Kruf, J.P. (2018). Citizen. Pantone® Terra Cotta 16-1526 TPG

The citizen is one of the basic functional components of the ecosystem city. The associated colour is that of Terra Cotta, derived from the craftsmanship of terra cotta (“baked earth”).

De burger is één van de functionele basiscomponenten van het ecosysteem stad. De bijbehorende kleur is die van Terra Cotta, afgeleid het vakmanschap van terracotta (“gebakken aarde”).


Tijd voor reflectie

Kruf, J.P. (2018) Stepping Stones [fine art print].

Na het afscheid begin deze maand van PRIMO komt geleidelijk de reflectie. Het terugkijken en vooruitdenken. Balans opmaken. 15 jaar bouwen aan een vereniging. Van niets naar iets. Nu overgedragen. “Loslaten is het devies”, dat ik van alle kanten krijg. Mooi, maar klinkt eenvoudiger dan het is. Iets op het niveau van de ziel. Geloof in een betere wereld, dat ook.

Natuurlijk heeft afscheid ook iets weg van ‘vakantie’ of van ‘sabbatical’. Uiteraard ook van klussen in huis, in te tuin werken, kinderen, kleinkinderen, boeken lezen, fietsen. En tenslotte, van mijn archief (nader) op orde brengen, met daarbij vooral oude documenten screenen en wat weg kan of moet, ook daadwerkelijk weggooien.

Dit is mijn eigen wall-art: Stepping Stones. Een plekje zoeken ergens op het schaakbord van het systeem der samenleving. Reflectie en vooral de tijd zal de weg wijzen. Eerst eens lekker gaan zitten.


The correlation between trait, interaction, role and environment leads to a wide variety of niches and roles, at least in natural ecosystems. The possibility of transposing this correlation from the natural world to that of the city ecosystem, i.e. the world of organisations and society, seems obvious. In the previous section we elaborated on interactions, in this section we focus on traits, environments and roles. 

A trait or character is a feature of a component.

In natural ecosystems ‘traits play a central role, because it is the trait that determine how a species (component in our model) reacts to environmental change, and how this reaction influences ecosystem functions.” (Astor, 2011). There is a direct relation between the trait of an organisation and the effect on the system itself. That is truly an holistic essence. “In this respect functional traits can be defined as those phenotypical components of an organism that influence ecosystem properties or biogeochemical processes, and those that determine the response of an organism to environmental conditions” (Lavorel & Garnier, 2002; Hooper et al.,2005).

Behavioural ecology is the study of the evolutionary basis for animal behaviour due to ecological pressures. Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after Niko Tinbergen outlined four questions to address when studying animal behavior which are the proximate causes, ontogeny, survival value, and phylogeny of behavior. If an organism has a trait which provides a selective advantage (i.e. has an adaptive significance) in its environment, then natural selection will favor it. Adaptive significance refers to the expression of a trait that affects fitness, measured by an individual’s reproductive success. Adaptive traits are those which produce more copies of the individual’s genes in future generations. Maladaptive traits are those which leave fewer. For example, if a bird able to call more loudly attracts more mates, then a loud call is an adaptive trait for that species because he will mate more frequently than a bird who can not call so loudly, thus sending more loud-calling genes into future generations than the soft-caller does.

Individuals are always in competition with others for limited resources, including food, territories, and mates. Conflict will occur between predators and prey, between rivals for mates, between siblings, mates, and even between parents and their offspring.

The trait: attitude towards cooperation
In the city ecosystem the trait of a component is considered to be the result of cultural factors, type of business and forms of leadership and management. This trait for an optimal development of a city ecosystem is mentioned over and over again in the extended helix concepts.

The trait has been considered as important for the greater good of local and regional development. The philosophy and the approach of the triple and quadruple helix is generally adopted as true, but it all begins with this attitude towards cooperation. The trait incorporates attitude as well as empowerment of an organisation to implement and motivate on cooperation. We developed a rate on an empirical basis from the perspective of city managers with several stages of maturity: secretive, square, delta, rolling and cooperative.

Inward-looking and operating complete independently from other components. Hard to be approached.

Working and focusing mainly on own targets, not aware of the bigger picture they can benefit from. Stiff and leaning back on cooperation.

Improving and learning organisation, more and more aware of environment and possible benefits of improving basic processes to own performance.

Cooperating and networking with main accent on self satisfaction, basic processes are good, has a good network in which it can deliver products and services on a fairly high level.

Cooperating with benefits to the max, well organised and open to cooperation. Initiating alliances and an optimal player in the bigger picture of common goals.


Astor, Tina  (2011) The importance of species traits in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research .Department of Ecology, SLU, Uppsala Link

Alyssa R. Cirtwill, Anna Eklöf. Feeding environment and other traits shape species’ roles in marine food webs. Ecology Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12955 Link

Hooper D.U., Chapin F.S., Ewel J.J., Hector A., Inchausti P., Lavorel S., Lawton J.H., Lodge D.M., Loreau M., Naeem S., Schmid B., Setala H., Symstad A.J., Vandermeer J. & Wardle D.A. (2005). Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs, 75, 3‐35. 

Lavorel S. & Garnier E. (2002). Predicting changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning from plant traits: revisiting the Holy Grail. Functional Ecology, 16, 545‐556. 


Central question for the EcoCity® Scan is: “What is the state of the city related to a certain issue or value?”. The city is a metaphor for both a specific area or target group (the object) and the responsible actor(s) for governance (the subject)).

The purpose of carrying out this scan is to diagnose how the ecosystem of involved organisations actually is functioning. It is a look inside. The object and the subject of governance are linked within this approach, because both are part of the one ecosystem. This is unique.

The scan is carried out in a three steps along the main determinants of a natural ecosystem:

  1. The issue and the value.
  2. The system with object and subject.
  3. The elements of governance (based on FORTE® (Kruf et al., 2019).

1. The issue and the value

  • What is the issue?
  • What caused the issue in terms of (own) leadership et cetera?
  • What in general is the state of the city, described in your own words?
  • What public value should be delivered to solve the issue?

2. The system with object and subject

2a. Determinant: components

  • Which type of components are involved in the public value?
  • How many components are involved (numbers)?
  • What is the weight/power/influence of the involved components?
  • How are the components structured according weight and influence?

2b. Determinant: interactions

  • What are the main interactions between the most involved components.
  • Can you describe the main characteristics these interactions?

2c. Determinant: traits

  • What are the main traits of the involved components.

2d. Determinant: roles

  • What are the roles of involved components?
  • How do you rate the division of roles related to value delivery?

2e. Determinant: factors

  • What are the main biotic factors?
  • What are the main abiotic factors?

2f. Determinant: cycles

  • Where do water cycle and city meet, rate on quadrant where the city is involved
  • Where the nutrient cycle?
  • Where energy cycle?
  • Where democracy, money, policy?
  • Guidance from governance perspective?

3. The elements of governance, based on FORTE™ (Kruf et al, 2019).


Jack P. Kruf, Simon Grima, Murat Kizilkaya, Jonathan Spiteri, Wouter Slob, John O’Dea (2019). The PRIMO FORTE Framework for Good Governance in Public, Private and Civic Organisations: An Analysis on Small EU States. European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXII, Issue 4, 15-34, 2019 DOI: 10.35808/ersj/1494


Government Imperial Blue

Kruf, J.P. (2017). Government. Pantone® Imperial Blue 19-4245 TPG.

Government is a functional component by which a state, region, city or community is controlled. Government in fact is in charge of the public governance of society and the natural environment. It serves its citizens and companies. It does this through elected and governing councils with its management. Examples of governments are municipality, region, province or specific organisation.

The colour is Pantone® Imperial Blue 19-4245 TPG. It is the umbrella colour for the whole of government. It links with the Latin imperium, meaning ‘rule over large territories’. Its main task is to constitute the tasks it has been given by its citizens and act accordingly and consequently.


  • Multi-level governance: the process of connecting with higher and lower levels of society (from Europe to the street). It is a key process to travel across the borders of the different levels of the ecosystem.
  • Ordering: the process of ordering my measuring numbers, dosages and structures of the ecosystem.
  • Creation: the process of from sensing of trends, developing strategy and policy plan and implement and monitor them related to desired public value.
  • Delivery: the process of communicating with stakeholders and the acutal delivery of products and services.
  • Financial Engineering: the process of collecting and budgetting financial sources to make things possible.
  • Compliancy: the process of acting and working according the legislation and rules by checking, verifying, auditing, supervising, examining and measuring correctness.
  • Correction: the process of prompt, immediate and accurate management of crises and disasters to bring society back into balance, i.e. recovery process. These can be related to biotic factors as diseases or abiotic factors as flooding. Compared to society we can speak of rebuilding and recovering from crises and disasters.
  • Succession: in case of getting out completely out of balance there is in nature loss and a path towards a next generation. There are no recovery processes in place and the system slides into a next system level.


Kruf, J.P. (2018) Freedom.

Freedom is one of the highest personal values. Thinking of society – with all free people – as a mosaic as large as a chess board. Imagine the colours of thought or belief (Pantone Quiet Gray), of physical movement in sport, dance, travel and leisure (Pantone Leather Brown) and of expression in art and culture (Pantone Pastel Yellow) together.

A palette with just the core indicators of true freedom. No blue (government) and no violet (politics) on the horizon.

The Colours of Climate Change

Kruf, J.P. (2019) Climate Change [fine art print in frame].

Following the Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change is despite Covid-19 not forgotten. More so, the last is seen by scientists, managers and experts as an omen what we can expect when we keep disrupting the Earth ecosystem. Goal 13 is Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. This goal has 5 targets:

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.

My personal expression of climate change is displayed above. I imagined the canvas of our world as a chess board with 8*8 fields and estimated the most hurt ecosystems due to change: coral reef (Pantone Living Coral ) and tropical rainforest (Pantone Forest Biome). Government (Pantone Imperial Blue) is a tiny spot on the canvas and is not doing too much with many public leaders which are still in denial of what is happening (why? Interest and stakes!). Government, steered by people we as citizens elect to be our representatives (how difficult can it be!), need to take the lead. But, to be frank, its influence anno 2020 can not be marked as substantial. Storm (Pantone Storm Gray) is coming.

It is a personal art impression – or maybe better an expression of an impression – to remind me that we will loose precious life if we continue this way. The myriad of life is so abundant in coral reeds and tropical rainforests, we can hardly imagine. If you have seen it, and understood, you fall in love immediately. And if this happens you want to protect and want to stay it forever. I am in love, still (it is actually since 1978, the year I met Professor Roelof Oldeman and with him discovered the forest, almost 32 years now).

I am a realist, not a pessimist. I hear you thinking. But I did my homework as Wageningen University ecologist. Believe me, storm is coming, if we keep sitting on our hands. Maybe this small expression is a small contribution to one of the targets of this sustainable development goal. The colours of climate change are printed in my mind.

Cultural Heritage

Kruf, J.P. (2019) Cultural heritage [fine art print].

Cultural heritage (Pantone Pastel Yellow) is the felt DNA of society. It most of the time contrasts as a light in-depth perspective on past days with the hectic world of the city of today (Pantone Chili Pepper). The governing system with its rules and regulations (Pantone Jet Black) comes in. The white fields (Pantone Snow White) are the opening spots to the new world, the pristine fields to be discovered.

It is this composition that comes into my mind when society is ignited to reorient and even redesign itself when society is at the brink of rewriting and rethinking its own history, its past, but more than that, it’s future. Society changes in color palette from heritage pastel yellow into dynamic chili pepper, the hot variant.

This design is available as fine art print.

Lost in the City

Kruf, J.P. (2018) Lost in the City [fine art print]. Breda: Governance Connect.

Can someone get lost in the city? I do not mean the romantic kind of lost, on a late evening wandering through the city of Paris with your love in search for your hotel. Not the philosophical, in search for existentialism, the Jan-Paul Sartre or Albert Camus-like kind of lost.

I do mean the type of Corona, isolation or loneliness kind of lost. Yes it can, to get lost in the city, to get disconnected from the fibres of the city, to be erased from the chessboard of life. This is how it could feel like.

The Measurement Triangle


Which methods and techniques are available to measure and diagnose the state of the city. There is rich variety available on the market: surveys and indexes, commercially non-profit driven, business, governmental or civil society oriented, policy or science-driven. The general impression of this variety is that the landscape of starting points is rich but at the same time segmented and fragmented. I had the feeling and wanting of going back to basics in natural ecosystems principles and build from there.

If the city is considered as an ecosystem, what methodes can we use for measuring the city? Those from the forest are the most advanced as developed by Oldeman (1990) for tropical rainforests. They are the most complex systems in the world. The methods from the forest, from the science of silvology, a tem professor Oldeman coined, are relatively unknown and hardly applied in the world of public governance and administration.

Assuming that the laws of nature rule everywhere – the opposite has not been scientifically proven – even in cities, it is therefore fair to consider that forest research methods and techniques could be interesting also for city diagnosis. In this article some measurement basics are explained and elaborated in examples.

Measurement triangle
If the organisations in the city are considered as the living components – compared with the organisms, in this case limited to the trees in a forest – we can count, weigh and measure their architecture and start the diagnosis of the state of the system. What comes forward from extensive and decennia long studies in forest ecosystems (Oldeman et al. (1990) is that “the basic criteria used in model building of all kinds seem to be only three.” The starting point in forest research is the measurement triangle. In essence, one can measure only three characteristics and continue with advanced (cross) ratios from there:

  • Population: presence, numbers, quantity, population.
  • Production: weight, dosage, biomass (literally) and importance, power and influence (figuratively).
  • Architecture: structures, forms, shapes.

City Canvas
Eagle view by remote sensing and field view in forests have always been a good marriage, Combining both views have inspired many scientists for advanced accuracy and balanced diagnosis. The combination of top-down geographical and statistical measurement with more perceptional bottom-up findings from the street can be promising.

To explain the basic mapping, one topic – that of strategy and policy planning for regional economic development – has been selected, in relation to the four most involved organisations. The results come from personal insights. It is noted that the grids and transects need to be considered is an art impression and serve as an example for diagnosis.

  • Population, 16*16 diagram in eagle view, representing actual involved number of organisations in regional economic development strategy. In this example 7 municipalities and 1 province are involved, 6 education institutes, 4 scientific departments of universities and 223 business related organisations. They were plotted geographically in this grid. The factual mapping of involved businesses in this yellow dominated grid makes the importance of a proper economic development strategy for the commercial sector in the region very clear.

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Population diagram: number of involved organisations – government (blue), science (green), business (yellow) and education (red) – in a certain region related to the economic development. Every square is one organisation involved.

  • Production 8*8 diagram in eagle view, representing the actual mutual perceived influence on the strategy in regional economic development. The difference with the population diagram is that government relatively is of great importance, while most business are just following a view major leading companies. It was felt that the main city as well as the province had a relatively following role in the strategy, leading to holes in the overal plan (white fields). The influence of the university departments was only substantial for one science (here labor market) but relatively limited for other sciences as human resource management, technical innovation and public governance. The total of influence and involvement should be equally divided over 64 fields, for each type of organisation 16 fields. That was the starting point of this common strategy. The actual figure shows that only 57 fields were properly covered as a result of leaning back of some organisations in an uneven actual landscape of promised involvement and influence: goverment 23 fields, education 11 fields, science 9 fields and business 13 fields. The diagram was used to realign and reconfirm the cooperation. It lead to a more active role of science and education, a less dominating role of government and a stronger involvement of all companies in the region.

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Production diagram: relative influence of organisations – government (blue), science (green), business (yellow) and education (red) – in a certain region on the strategy and tactics related to the economic development.

  • Architecture, actual socionomic transects in street view in any dimension needed. Bases on interviews this is how the forest of the regions look like. The higher the tree, the more influence on and dominance in the strategy development. Interesting is to see that two main companies play a leading role, just one municipality and one education institute. It is noted that the province is somewhere active in the lower regions of the forest. It participates but is not leading. One major city in the region leaned back and played there role in the shadows of the forest. The geographical display makes it possible to mark the organisations by name. The transect makes very clear who is in the lead. Whether this is balanced and serves the strategy, is the question. This result contributed to an open discussion to improve the network.

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Architecture transect of influence of organisations  – related to government (blue), science (green), business (yellow) and education (red) – in a certain region on the strategy and tactics related to the economic development. The higher and larger the tree, the more influence.

Note: this experiment is focused to develop new methods of measurement, test them on quality and secureness and explore how results can contribute to a more focused governance and hereto related decisions. One relevant leading starting point here is that the components (organisations) are measured as how they actually feel and behave in a certain phase of strategy related to regional economic development. It s not how it should be, but how it is on a given moment. It is an instrument for socionomic diagnosis by counting, weighing and architectural measurement.


Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990), Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Oldeman, R., Schmidt, P. and Arnolds, E. (1990). Forest components. Wageningen: Wageningen Agricultural University Papers, ISSN0169-345X; 90-6, 111 pp.

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