I was a newbie. Founded in 1998, the Delta Institute has been a potent force in the regional sustainability scene since before I officially started in this field. Friends, colleagues and collaborators, their talented staff have addressed a wide-range of issues, including brownfield remediation, green infrastructure implementation, building deconstruction and materials reuse, carbon mitigation, green building consulting, an array of energy-related issues, nutrient runoff, and environmentally preferential purchasing practices, among others.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Colleagues matter. At its best, Foresight is a not a collection of staff members working together, but an ensemble of individuals each contributing their perspective and talents to a greater whole. As any chamber musician knows, playing together is relatively simple, but performing as a dynamic and vibrant unit is incredibly difficult. Trust is required; individuals must be fundamentally invested in one another’s growth and well being. Sometimes roles need to evolve, including beyond the team.
I’m lucky. My job involves constant learning, a dynamic that I find both fun and fulfilling. The structure of the fall-to-spring academic calendar is still ingrained in me like a circadian rhythm. The onset of autumn is about new teachers, subjects and books; let’s go! Here’s what’s on my class schedule:
Impact Enterprise for the Inevitable Entrepreneur: Designed specifically for those who can’t resist the allure of the start-up, this course explores the dynamics, challenges and opportunities of “doing well by doing good.” Through experience with hands-on, real-life enterprises, students will be challenged with inflecting the tenants of capitalism toward doing more than just making money.
Pre-req: Start-Up Magic 101
Organizational Development, Accelerated and Condensed: Need to evolve your organization but don’t have the time to learn everything you should know? This course is for you! With the assistance of a few fearless volunteers, we’ll explore how to evolve significant structures without your clients noticing.
Pre-req: The Well Designed Organization
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action: For students that have talked the talk, this seminar seeks to explore methods for more deeply understanding values, and devising empowering ways for acting upon them in projects and the workplace.
Pre-req: Fundamentals of Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity
The new Chicago Architecture Center’s new location at 111 E. Wacker opens to the public on August 31. Housed in a building designed by famed Chicago architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the center celebrates the city’s architectural legacy and presents a vision of its future.
The Middle Road
Photography mediates my stride. Hiking on vacation last week, I struggled to strike a balance between my speed-demon daughter, and slower-but-steady mother. I remember being my kid’s age, discovering a capacity to clock miles at a steady, accelerated clip, riding a mild adrenaline high that was difficult to moderate. She doesn’t like to slow down either.
A New York City bill introduced on August 20 would create an ambitious mandate to reduce building energy use by up to 80% by 2050. This framework, the first of its kind in the nation, was made possible by the cross-sector 80x50 Buildings Partnership that represents environmental interests, affordable housing, unions, and the real estate industry.
On Tuesday, New York became the first city to place temporary restrictions on apps like Uber and Lyft, citing the need to further study their impacts on wages and traffic congestion and develop regulations accordingly. The rapid and transformative rise of these apps has raised broader questions about the costs and benefits of innovation, and the public sector’s role in managing them.
How Not What
What will we do? Every mayoral election provides the opportunity for new ideas. I was recently approached by one candidate’s campaign to help create a forward-looking sustainability platform. My first response: it’s not a matter of what, but of how.
I’m a city person. I’ve lived mostly in urban areas for the past 25 years. Chicago’s combination of quality of life and cost of living has made it an appealing home base. The recent development patterns, however, have reached a tipping point. Population density is increasing out of sync with the implementation of new public amenities like open space, public transportation, and a sense of neighborhood identity. Chicago is peaking, with its benefits being threatened by the drive to increase the tax base without investing in the infrastructure that will sustain and amplify its appeal.
Following this week’s primary elections across the US, a record 185 women have been nominated for seats in the House of Representatives. This is the latest milestone in a year that has seen a surge in women running for office, a welcome development in light of the huge gender disparity in congressional representation.
The City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, a grant program for South and West Side small businesses, recently announced its latest group of grantees. Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has distributed over $10 million generated from downtown development, a model that is meant to foster equitable economic growth across the city.
Body in Flight III: The Impossible Project
My mother set the example. “Guess what I did today?” she asked during an unexpected phone call one evening a few years ago, before announcing her impromptu skydiving feat. Whether scuba diving, downhill skiing, travel to remote locations, or falling from an airplane, my fearless mother has been the family’s chief adventure officer. I probably wouldn’t have jumped myself without her example.