After completing a Master’s in Architecture, followed by a Master’s in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management, and 12 years in the private sector as an urban designer, Shannon Royden-Turner became increasingly aware of the lack of creativity applied to the design and imaginings of our future cities, especially infrastructure futures. Her study of systems thinking and urban metabolism lead her onwards to the study of biomimicry. At its deepest level, it is the study of life itself, and how we can create conditions within our human systems that are conducive to more life. Biomimicry is the science that studies nature’s designs and translates them into design solutions for our challenges. Her dream is to create future cities that give you the same feeling as when you walk into a forest, a feeling of harmony and beauty.
Shannon was inspired to share this understanding and created informal south to assist governments, developers, professionals and citizens to increase their capacity and understanding, to enable a creative potential for the future cities, one that is abundant and flourishing, just as nature is. In doing this, she came to realise that by far the biggest leverage for system change was that of the human mind, and our perception of the world around us. Continuing her insatiable quest to understand the nature of reality, she has spent the past four years studying human behaviour with the world-renowned educator, Dr John Demartini. She applies all that she learns to the development and facilitation of a methodology for CREATING AN INSPIRING FUTURE WORLD by unlocking the genius and creativity of people responsible for solving complex challenges. Since her work continues to expand beyond the initial conceptualisation of formal and informal relationships in the city, she renamed the company in 2016 from informal south to Actuality.
We have had the privilege of working with many inspiring leaders to develop innovative visions for the future. We have worked with Tongaat Hullet Developers, Dube Trade Port and eThekweni Municipality to create a Resilience Framework towards win-win solutions to stormwater, land-use and ecological infrastructure for the Northern Spatial Area eThekwini, overcoming an age-old conflict between development and ecology. We have worked with the Nigerian Presidency to design a conceptual future for a city district in Abuja in celebration of their 100 centenary celebrations. Shannon travelled to Haiti to advise the President on urban renewal opportunities, and works with the Western Cape Premier in the Genius of Space project focused on the development of innovative solutions to waste water, stormwater and solid waste in Langrug informal settlement. We represents the Dutch NGO Cordaid, building multi-stakeholder collaborations between Philippi domestic violence service providers to develop a model for civic engagement and a domestic violence strategy; and between taxi operators, City of Cape Town TCT and traders to develop a future vision and management strategy for the roll out of MyCiti public transport in Nyanga and Khayelitsha. In Uganda, we facilitated The Collaboration Game, a serious gaming tool to enable collaboration within the newly formed Water Catchment Management Organisations for the implementation of an Integrated Water Resource Catchment Management Strategy for two catchments. We also partner with Play the City, a Dutch company specializing in urban serious gaming, bringing this innovative method of planning to the development of the Khayelitsha CBD. In addition to our Visionary Futures Training, we are currently setting up a program to clean all rivers in South Africa and developing a movie that creates an inspiring systems vision for the future of cities.