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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.

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

Learning at Sea?

Peter Nicholson

Lake Lessons 2
I’m still processing everything I observed last week from my four days traveling from Detroit to Duluth on the Honorable James L. Oberstar, an 800-foot lake freighter. Many of the lessons have reverberations for the kind of big issues Foresight strives to address through its work. Here are the first few:

1. Whole Boat: Looking ahead and steering from the front of the ship, it’s easy to forget the 800 feet behind you. The trick isn’t getting just the bow of the vessel through a tight passage, but the entire thing.

2. No Wake: Slow zones tend to exist for reasons, particularly in narrower passages. While the ship could plow through at a higher speed, it might leave collateral damage along the shore.

3. Look Long: Thirty thousand tons of cargo in a long, floating vessel carries substantial inertia. It doesn't turn or stop quickly. When steering, you have to look and guide the ship toward often small points far on the horizon.

4. Adaptive Navigation: Many variables can influence a ship’s behavior, including current, wind and load. You don’t really know how it will behave until you’re in the exact situation. It can be dangerous to assume the boat will act like it did before.