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4619 N. Ravenswood Ave., Ste 305
Chicago, IL 60640


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.


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

INSIGHT: Why Buy the Farm?

Peter Nicholson

The Feedback Imperative
It happens fairly frequently. I'll meet someone new, or run into a colleague, and they'll mention that they read, and generally appreciate, these weekly reflections. While edifying, such acknowledgment is not the reason I write them. But it helps. Positive feedback loops matter, especially when pursuing long-term, systemic change. A friend of mine, who is both a small business owner and a leading national activist in his field, recently bought a farm. I was initially puzzled why a person with no previous agricultural experience and an ongoing retail business in the city would make such a move. Pursuing systems change requires deriving satisfaction from the process, and the incremental accomplishments along the way. Having worked on international policy issues for several years while running his business, my friend explained his need for something more tangible to shape. Learning to sustainably cultivate his 10 acres won't change the world, but it will help satisfy him in a different, more immediate way than his previous challenges. Too often, the most influential feedback loop we have is a monthly paycheck that keeps us from ever risking the question: what's my farm?