Meet Lyndon Valicenti

Lyndon is a principal at Foresight Design Initiative where she brings systems thinking and design methods to complex urban challenges. Her career has been dedicated to designing and implementing innovative programs and policies that promote sustainable urban and ecological systems. In the past, Lyndon has conducted scientific research on vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic and Antarctic and discovered her passion for public service while working at the Chicago Department of Environment. She has served as program consultant to the MacArthur Foundation and environmental strategist for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s City Design Studio. She is currently adjunct faculty of Sustainability Leadership and Change Management at the University of Chicago’s Graham School. She has lived in Logan Square for 9 years and loves being at the intersection of Chicago’s historic and beautiful boulevards!


Q+A

What don’t people know about you? 

I have an adventurer’s heart. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than being on the top of an unnamed ridgeline looking out across snowcapped mountains. I have trekked through Patagonia, the Himalayas, the Brooks Range in northern Alaska, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. It has been a few years since I have planned a big trip and the itch is growing.

What’s the most outrageous thing you have ever done (that you can share)? 

I spent a few weeks one very cold winter in Montana volunteering with some brave and noble environmentalists at the Buffalo Field Campaign. Our responsibility, as volunteers, was to head out each day on cross-country skis and “sit” with the wild bison that have migrated out of the protection of Yellowstone National Park’s boundaries. Unfortunately, when the bison move out of the Park’s protection they are subject to life-threatening treatment, as they are seen as pests and potential carriers of a disease that affects valuable cattle. To learn more about the mistreatment of wild bison, check out the important work of the Buffalo Field Campaign.

If you had to change careers what would you want to do? 

Ah, this daydream is well-developed… I would be living on a sheep farm in a vast hilly landscape (Wisconsin, Virginia, France, no matter), growing fields of native flowers and black walnut trees for dyeing, and spinning beautiful, functional wool to survive. In lieu of this reality, I have a small spinning wheel in my living room and put it use every now and again while listening to the sweet mountain sounds of the great Seegers and honest Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

If you could fire anyone in the world, who would you fire? 

Easy…John Boehner, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Favorite quote? 

My brand new favorite comes from Matthew Hoffman, a good friend, amazing artist, and creator of the You Are Beautiful project: “Do and create things that leave nothing the same.” 

Favorite word? 

Breathe.

Want more? Tweet with Lyndon @Lvalicenti