We descend. The airplane’s lights struggle to cut through the night fog. I yearn for clarity. Words can be slippery and inexact, poor mechanisms by which to probe overlapping interrelations. Talk less, draw more. Glimpses of the city’s lights emerge. We are lower than I imagined, although there has been no context from which to measure and judge. Complexity can offer the mirage of easy understanding. Craft more diagrams to turn buried realities inside out, unravel their guts.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Since the first polio vaccination on February 23, 1954, the worldwide effort to eradicate the disease has almost succeeded, but is now hampered by mainly geopolitical challenges. This dynamic appears often in systems change efforts, where scientific breakthroughs are straightforward in comparison to the social and political transformations required to achieve their full benefits.
The League of Women Voters formed in Chicago on February 14, 1920, six months before the 19th Amendment legalized women’s suffrage. While it began as an effort to “help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters,” the League quickly began to advocate on a number of other important issues, ranging from voting rights to environmental protection.
Sustainability crosses over. The intersection of the personal and the professional has been the focus of this column from the start. Last week, they collided in an unexpected way: a young family friend’s suicide coinciding with the end of a project exploring student mental health issues on a college campus like the one he would have attended in the fall. It’s not just T’s death that has jarred me, but also witnessing the repercussions for his friends and family, including mine.
Like an unexpected slap in the face, news from Cape Town, South Africa about its severe water crisis both shocks and stings. In a few short months, the day will come when this major global city will have zero drinking water. But what does “Day Zero” really even mean? The Chicago Council on Global Affairs breaks it down for us this week. Click here to read their explainer.
Along The Way
There are parallel realities. A single event can shift us from one to another, from denial to truth, ignorance to insight, normalcy to mourning. I am waiting for us to flip into the deeper authenticity of climate change from this surface lie in which we’re so immersed. The suicide of the 18yo son of close family friends last weekend has jarred me from my everyday existence into a pervasively grey mind space. With climate change, all kinds of indicators are highlighting that something isn’t right. But the truth has yet to become inconvenient enough to pursue the level of innovation required to adequately address it.
In early February 1936, the cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling convened over 2,000 conservationists for the first North American Wildlife Conference. The resulting coalition, now the National Wildlife Federation, was the first to dedicate itself to achieving conservation goals across the country.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like everywhere I turn folks are talking about blockchain and its potential to change all of the systems around us, from food to banking. But what does blockchain even mean?Read More
At the World Economic Forum’s annual convening, the business member releases The Global Risk Report which identifies the most important risks and trends in shaping global development in the next 10 years. For the last 10 years, I have been fascinated to learn of the world’s 1,000 leading companies’ perspective on emerging threats to our global economy. Truthfully, I have been curious to watch the threat of climate change rise on their list—which originally popped up in their top five in 2011. But what does The Global Risk Report even mean?Read More
The Reorganization of Intent
I'm constantly on edge. It’s a subtle anxiety. Foresight has navigated many challenges in its 15 years of existence. We’re as effective and empowered an entity as we’ve ever been. I’m not cocky enough, however, to take success for granted. Every new undertaking (and we’ve had several lately) is a fresh challenge requiring a balance between ego and humility. When that dynamic gets skewed one way or another, the organization will be in trouble.
I’ve written previously about how the end of the Cold War was greeted as a paradigm shift, marked by literal and symbolic ruptures like the collapse of the Berlin Wall. More innocuously, but equally importantly, McDonald’s, perhaps the world’s most famous capitalist icon, opened its first Soviet Union location in 1990.
Through our project work and research, Foresight has been studying and practicing the mechanics of cross-sector collaboration for years now. Collaboration is by no means a novel concept, but working together on complex challenges requires new approaches, structures, and measures of success. Now is the time to ask, what does transformational collaboration even mean?Read More