"For example, let's say an ant in a colony stumbles upon a new food source. No dictator ant has to tell the colony to reorganize itself to harvest that source. Instead, one ant, in the course of his normal foraging stumbles upon the food. Then a neighboring ant will notice that ant's change in direction, and then a neighboring ant of that ant will notice the change, and pretty soon, as Steven Johnson puts it, 'local information can lead to global wisdom.'"
David Brooks, 'The Social Animal'
That food source can be a designed change or alteration to our landscape, whether it be the city, the suburbs or our home and garden. As I'm particularly interested in the way we will produce and perceive agriculture and food production in the future, I think the quote is quite revealing. Our focus in design and theory can move from thinking about the big picture to instead thinking about the small scale, individual paradigm shifts which, as social evolution would argue, make a sizeable contribution to the big picture.
The food source can also be landscape reuse, (re)discovering the culture of industry, suburban retrofitting, and the list can go on.