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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: 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. The sustainability issues here are the same as other places: energy, water, waste, sustainable economic development. All that significantly varies from back home are the resources to meet them, and the processes by which they might be addressed. You learn to wait, plan and/or do without. I’ve learned that I can brush my teeth with just two swigs of (bottled) water, and take a shower with about half the amount of water that I might consume in a minute back home. My experience among the 650, largely economically poor, residents has been a powerful reminder. Affluence can take many forms, and the one to which we default is perhaps the most shallow. It is possible to have a meaningful connection with the natural world, particularly when lacking any distracting devices with screens. And most significantly, that human connection can carry a universal, transcendental power should we allow ourselves to give and receive it.