Stories Worth Your Time: SmartBrief August 2019

“Busyness chokes deep thinking.” This quote, attributed to Todd Stocker, rings true to me. Our days don’t seem to afford much time for deep thinking, and that’s a loss for all of us. Do yourself a favor and think a bit more deeply about these stories I’ve curated from the SmartBrief newsletters I edited last month.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary

Hopefully, it is well-established among my readers that I am a passionate supporter of literacy, reading and all things book-related. This article in the Sigma Xi newsletter touched on one of the reasons why. Titled “Science fiction as a potent policy tool,” the article talks about the role of popular fiction in shaping policy.

Scientists should focus less on the possibility that citing fiction works will weaken the power of accurate facts and more on the way doing so can educate and pique interest, says Lindy Orthia.

August 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

UN Wire

The United Nations wants to end child marriage by 2030. This article, shared in UN Wire on August 5, introduces a series called “The Worth of a Girl.” UNICEF says more than 12 million girls per year get married by 18, many of them without the girls’ consent. As the mother of a daughter, I grieve all those girls who don’t get a say in their future.

August 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

The rest of the series is available through this link.

Reserve Officers Association

The fact that the Circle of Heroes underwater dive memorial is free to visit (for people who can dive) isn’t the most important part of the story shared in the ROA newsletter on August 7. The most important part, of course, is the fact that it honors veterans. It also has the potential to help veterans with physical disabilities and mental health challenges by providing therapeutic diving opportunities.

I found the sentence about the “first-of-its-kind underwater dive memorial [being] free and open to the public – at least to people who can dive” amusing for some reason, even though it’s accurate.

Mainly, I admire the tenacity of the people who have supported this project and provided yet one more way to honor those who gave all.

August 2019 SmartBrief wrapup
An artist’s sketch of the underwater Circle of Heroes Veterans Memorial.
Photo Credit: Brighter Future Florida

National Association of Social Workers

Occasionally, there are little snippets of insight-via-wordsmithing that take my breath away among the many things I read when editing. In the August 9 NASW newsletter, we shared an article about times when challenges provide reminders of the need for self-care. This particular article discussed the author’s leg injury and the recovery period, which necessitated her reassessing her priorities and letting go of her fierce independence.

Sometimes the fall is the path, wrote Erlene Grise-Owens. It’s so true.

August 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

International City/County Management Association

The ICMA newsletter had a story last week that is one of my favorite types of stories in this brief (and in life). It was the fourth most clicked story last week, and the most clicked once I excluded the leadership items, which often rank highest since they appear first in the brief.

The town of Christiansburg, Va., wanted to honor a deceased fire chief by flying the American flag at half-staff. They went ahead and did that at the mayor’s direction, but while it was flying at half-staff, someone said “you can’t do that — it has to be by order of the president or the governor.” The city did raise the flag again, but the issue did not die.

They still asked the governor (who said “no” after the fact … and after the town manager asked three times). The mayor spent $247.50 on fees to get an official opinion from the city attorney (who concurred that the death has to have happened on duty to warrant the president or governor authorizing the half-staff honor). There was apparently a “string of emails” obtained by the Roanoke Times that chronicled the discussions.

The town manager said, “The governors make exceptions when they feel like it and they all seem to operate under the ignore the request model so that they do not have to tell you no — I had to contact them three times to get told no.”

While waiting for the governor, the mayor pursued the town attorney’s legal opinion.

The situation took many twists and turns. I can’t begin to calculate the staff time it theoretically took to work through it. At one point, the mayor said, ” There’s no insinuation I’m more powerful than the president or governor “

Eventually, they decided “Hey! Let’s buy our own city flag [cost: $224] and we can do what we want!”

BoardSource

I’m a little torn regarding which story to highlight for BoardSource. We run lots of stories every month that highlight incredible philanthropic efforts, such as this story about organizations that help people with disabilities through surfing programs. However, I think the BoardSource mission, “to inspire and support excellence in nonprofit governance and board and staff leadership,” calls on me as the editor of this newsletter to share strategies to make that mission a reality.

Perhaps that need for sound strategy is why “Resignation-request policies are a good practice for nonprofits” was the most-clicked story in August. The article looked at recent issues such as the board membership of Warren Kanders at the Whitney. Protests ensued because a company Kanders owns manufactures tear gas that was used at the US-Mexico border. Kanders eventually resigned.

“Probably right now, many boards don’t have a policy around [resignation-request policies], but prominent nonprofits are going to have to. If they don’t, they’re risking future funding or they’re risking public protests like the Whitney saw,” said Melissa Berman of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Resignation-request policies may not be glamorous nor do they inspire in the same way many stories we share each month do, but that type of topic is essential to good board management, and good board management makes the inspirational stories happen.

National Emergency Number Association

We shared a story in the NENA newsletter last week that covered a lot of ground in one article (making it really difficult to condense into two sentences). The article addressed an issue somewhat local to Phoenix (dispatchers’ efforts to get the City Council to increase funding so they can get additional staffing, systems and access to therapy resources).

In addition to talking about how Phoenix dispatchers are advocating for themselves, the article also discussed the 911 SAVES Act, which proposes reclassifying dispatchers from the federal “administrative support” designation to “protective service.” This would help them get more benefits, better training and more professional respect.

Speaking of the 911 SAVES Act, here’s my most recent Editor’s Desk video for SmartBrief. In the one-minute video, I explain the act and why it’s so important to dispatchers.

NOTE: I would appreciate shares of this video. The act has passed the House but not the Senate. While it is not my place to advocate, but rather to help NENA tell their story, this issue seems like such a no-brainer. We will all need 9-1-1 at some point (or a loved one will). (And big gratitude to Steve Harrelson and the Consolidated Dispatch Agency in Tallahassee, Fla., where I made the video. If only one the emergency of that one piece of unruly hair had been dealt with LOL.

It has been a year!

August 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Technically, this comment should possibly wait until next month’s wrap-up, but it really seems relevant for August. I got a manicure in late August of last year that approximated SmartBrief blue as closely as possible. I did that because I had a video interview on August 29 and — although no one would see my hands — I wanted a bit of encouragement.

The nail color choice (and my answers during the interview) must have worked, because I received my offer of full-time employment a couple of days later on August 31.

Although I didn’t transition from my freelance status (which had begun in January 2017) to full-time until September 10, that sequence of events in August and especially the offer on August 31, has always felt like the true turning point. I learned so much throughout four years of freelance work, but I am at heart a person who does better on a team, and I am particularly grateful to be on this one.

Openings on the team

I invite you to peruse this list of openings. I wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions as of 9/9/19:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

SmartBrief is designed for people who are in a hurry (aren’t we all). Each of these stories in one way or another made me slow down and absorb them in a deeper way than editing the story technically required. Each one matters, and each was worth spending the extra time.

(I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska’s blog, for the prompt “write a blog post that ends with the word “time.”)

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

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