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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: Big vs. Viable?

Peter Nicholson

Toward Transformation II: Don’t Bring Me Down
The room was buzzing. Ignited by the ideas for BIG IMPACT that had been shared by the panelists, the conference auditorium was filled with eager, raised hands. I sat, feeling a familiar tension between being inspired and knowing better. Such grand inflections are most often the result of many much smaller, more innocuous yet viable ones; the stuff that comprises much of my daily work. These incremental steps lack sex appeal, and rarely make it on to the conference stage, the speaking circuit, the front page. Well-voiced visionary assertions can invoke pangs of guilt and defensive impulses in me. Have I unwittingly been lured into focusing too small? Viability is the great mediator of this equation. I have accumulated an archive of well-considered project ideas over the last decade that were too much, too soon to move ahead. Success isn’t achieved by being ahead of the curve, but rather by catching the crest of the wave. When the questions have been answered and the crowd dispersed, I'll return my attention to catalyzing a succession of more modest gains. Doing anything else ignores the hundreds of invisible barriers that need to be navigated between here and there if we are to, at some point, look back and see just how far our small steps have taken us.