Certain phrases make me cringe. For example: “now more than ever,” and “the world’s most pressing challenges,” invoke instant consternation. They are, of course, almost always hyperbole. Accurate language and perception is important to the social and environmental innovation work to which I’m committed. A portion of the challenge is to see the context and barriers clearly. A lack of urgency is often exactly what we strive to address!
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Last week, you may have seen your Twitter feed explode with excitement around the #ChicagoClimateCharter, or you were in the room when over 50 mayors from across North America and beyond signed on to the Charter. But what does the Chicago Climate Charter even mean?Read More
From the Jaws of Defeat
A common foe unites opposition. The federal government’s dismantling of its previous climate efforts is disturbing. Each new demise reminds me of the line from Joseph Heller’s novel: "Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” This dynamic can work both ways.
For its 2017 Person of the Year, Time magazine just named “The Silence Breakers;” the brave people who have bared their pain from sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse by those at the highest levels of power and influence, and catalyzed the emergence of a truly transformative movement that is shifting our cultural tolerance. YES!
While we have touched on the concept of emergence before in this series, this moment presents a compelling example and an opportunity to revisit it. So, let’s re-pose: what does emergence even mean?Read More
The pursuit of positive change requires imagining possibilities that seem unthinkable in the present. When current constraints seem overwhelming, I try to remember that medical breakthroughs like the world’s first human heart transplant, accomplished in 1967, likely seemed the stuff of science fiction only decades prior.
Part 1: Innovation Imperatives
I’m still deleting solicitation emails. In light of the deluge “Giving Tuesday” has become, I challenged myself to identify elements I consider key to creating positive, meaningful change. Here’s the first three.
Alfred Nobel signed his final will on November 27, 1895, more than a year before his death, and bequeathed 94% of his assets to creating a prize fund for those who “conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” While pursuing transformative change can be a lifetime’s work, platforms like the Nobel Prize and Foresight Prep @ Oberlin can empower future generations to carry on and improve these collective efforts.
Have you ever noticed how so many work-related (and home-related, for that matter) challenges come down to miscommunication or differences of perspective? Well, as systemic designers, we like to call that "social complexity" and explicitly design for it in our practice. But what does social complexity even really mean?Read More
Each click satisfied. When I was about 8, one of my prized possessions was my Dymo label maker. You rotated the dial from letter to letter, squeezed the handle, and it spit out a raised-letter plastic strip that could be affixed to anything. As a kid, this activity gave me some sense of agency when I felt I had little. The world seemed imbued with knowledge that was constantly shifting and outside my reach, but not others'. I was determined to learn how things worked, and still am. Labeling things helped create a sense of order and stasis, however temporary.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published on November 24, 1859, launched the field of evolutionary biology. More than just a piece of scientific literature, its ideas arguably changed the course of history, as eloquently captured in this Scientific American piece.
8 Years: Part II
Every tone provides possibilities. There are two kinds of classical musician: those that are placated by well-constructed performances, and those that are never satisfied, but rather are constantly exploring, seeking the potential depth of the experience. Bottomless curiosity is a genetic disposition. I appreciated a recent piano recital because it never sounded complete. The journey was dynamic, not a static fixed plan and, as such, imbued with intelligence and life.