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We are a multidisciplinary innovation studio working with diverse partners to understand sustainability challenges and identify holistic, resilient solutions, and we are committed to training the next generation of leaders.

Blog

Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

INSIGHT: How Much Do We Need?

Peter Nicholson

Island Diaries 1: Give and Take
I overpacked. With electricity for only 5 hours a day, no local source of fresh water except what falls as rain, and only intermittent internet, there isn’t much you really need in such an environment. On this 13 acre island in the middle of the Philippines, circumstances dictate the agenda.

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RADAR: Democratizing the Grid

Peter Toth

Institute for Local Self-Reliance, December 2014

Institute for Local Self-Reliance, December 2014

As changes to the electric grid alter the relationship between utilities and consumers, a new report outlines the possibility of a more radical shift towards energy democracy. While transitioning to renewable generation is valuable in and of itself, I think it is imperative to leverage this opportunity into positive economic and social impacts as well. 

RADAR: How People Fix Places

Peter Toth

UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar is among the authors of a new book that illustrates the importance of social intelligence in effective responses to disasters, including climate-related ones. In my work on sustainability-related projects, I've seen firsthand that relationships between individuals and institutions, while often difficult to strengthen and foster, are the most essential aspects of truly vibrant cities and regions.

INSIGHT: The Appeal of the Impossible?

Peter Nicholson

How The Days Are Full
Night—Possibility entices. Each new project beckons with the chance of being more resolved than it ever is. We generate partial solutions, at best, to complex challenges. The promise of conquering the impossible is seductive. I work, happily running up that hill, as if the summit were attainable, knowing it isn’t, but also aware that an abundance of life is to be found in the attempt.

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RADAR: A More Inclusive Effort

Peter Toth

Rhea Suh, the new president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has prioritized the organization's efforts to better represent the diversity of groups affected by climate change. I'm optimistic that growing efforts (including our own) to include and empower communities of color, and strengthen relationships with people of color-led initiatives, will help create a more equitable movement for greater sustainability.

INSIGHT: Functional Fear?

Peter Nicholson

Diving Lessons
Challenge yourself. Comfort zones are meant to be expanded. That’s the advice I’m giving myself this year. As an innovation consultant, I’m not doing my job if I’m not encouraging my clients to stretch. As a sustainability agent, I know that progress requires pushing boundaries. Yet everyone navigates risk differently.

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INSIGHT: Daunting?

Peter Nicholson

Leaning Toward Ourselves
Words have changed. “Resiliency" is the current buzzword, just as “sustainability" once displaced “environmentalism.” New terms help keep the movement fresh, even if the impulses behind them remain basically the same. 

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RADAR: Seeing Both Forest and Trees

Peter Toth

Although many people and organizations tend to favor either short- or long-term decision-making, an upcoming report argues that both approaches are essential for dealing with new and volatile challenges. Examples like this remind me of the importance of mental flexibility, and that a single perspective alone is not enough to effectively solve complex problems.

INSIGHT: Only Skin Deep?

Peter Nicholson

Chasing Waterfalls
“Because they are beautiful.” I had asked about my friend, a brilliant scientist, about why he had chosen to research fluorescent proteins. Visual aesthetics, more than any other qualities, mattered to him. I had never considered this as a rationale for an intensive scientific pursuit, nor for pursuing greater sustainability, for that matter.

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