From Akron to Duluth
The food isn’t the reason. I search the internet for “family restaurants” during my travels and see what comes up. There isn't a hard definition, but the 8-10 I’ve recently patronized had common traits: “vintage" decor; decent, but not stellar food; a local, generally older clientele; reasonable prices; and a cashier near the door. Contentedly ensconced in a booth, I try to temper my innate urban elitism.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Filtering by Category: Insight
From Akron to Duluth
Starbucks at Starbucks
Time is of the essence. I'm writing this on my phone while riding a bus. Time is always of the essence. Juggling multiple deadlines and evolving project demands this week has stressed my capacity for nimbleness. Sometimes we are more aware of the essence of time than others.
We hope. During occasional moments in my 10+ year yoga practice, I’ve contemplated quitting. The physical machinations don't seem worth the delayed, amorphous results. A client recently commented “I was hoping that the document you sent would have that one big, game changing idea. It didn’t.” The nature of innovation is misunderstood. I’m eager for substantial, meaningful breakthroughs, yet have learned how much hard, slogging work is required to create the conditions for them to occur.
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 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.
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.
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.
Body in Flight II: The Psychological
All the possible metaphors. Wanting to do something memorable, I went skydiving on my birthday. It took several hours of circling the idea before committing. My internal resistance sometimes doesn’t evaporate immediately, but requires time to subside. With age comes perspective and, rather than open you up to new experiences, it can motivate just the opposite. Despite renting the car, driving the 70 miles, watching the training video, seeing lots of other experienced jumpers prepare, stepping on the plane, tucking myself snugly in front of the instructor, and even watching others disappear out the door before me, I was in denial.
Body in Flight I: The Physical
The acceleration jarred me. Sitting at the back of the plane, my feet dangling outside the door 13,500 feet above the ground, the burly instructor secured to my back, my mind went full and blank simultaneously. Courage, fear, determination converged at light speed as we lurched forward, leaving the safe, solid and secure for the unfettered mystery of free fall. Some kind of profound barrier of disbelief shattered as my butt lifted off the airplane floor and out into empty space.
Sustainable Me III
My birthday catches me off guard. I always feel that I should have been anticipating it more, making plans. Instead, I usually end up working, deferring the observation for a later date that sometimes doesn’t come. I’ve been flummoxed about what to do this year. Navigating Foresight’s projects, currently focused on food, agriculture, water, and community development, while simultaneously growing the enterprise, is the primary focus of my life.