Grasshoppers on a mission and other fascinating stories

February 28 came and went without me noticing, but it was the two-year anniversary of the beginning of my editing career at SmartBrief. (Prior to that, I had been a searcher and writer of stories.) My first brief as an editor was the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association SmartBrief.

Lucky me, I had so much support from the production manager, the editor who showed me the ropes and the brief’s copy editor at the time.

I sort of laugh at the Paula that was so new to the responsibility of editing in February 2018. She was a little intense about it all (shocker, I know!).

I have a renewed respect for my colleagues who have been doing this much longer than I have. Being in work that demands so much sustained concentration for so long every day is a calling that takes discipline. I’m fortunate to be among people who do it so well.

I’m also fortunate that every brief, every day, somehow gives me a moment to think, “Wow. What if that DID happen?” I hope our readers feel the same.

Here are my favorites from February.


In our Feb. 28 issue, we shared the story of Solace Women’s Aid, a UK charity aimed at ending domestic abuse. They are running a Twitter campaign to demonstrate how abuse is often hidden and difficult to recognize. It uses the hashtag #hiddenabuse along with Twitter’s hidden replies feature (something I didn’t know about before) to share examples of why abuse doesn’t always fit the stereotypes — it can look like a typical happy couple.

Grasshoppers on a mission and other fascinating stories

Business Transformation SmartBrief

I learned about the $10 billion Jeff Bezos committed to help alleviate the effects of climate change through the BoardSource newsletter, but we shared a story in the Feb. 24 Business Transformation SmartBrief that took some really interesting angles on how exactly this money might be best used. There are so many competing ideas, from the environmentalists who think Bezos should be “confronting the fossil fuel industry head-on” to the researcher who says he should be “investing in solutions to reduce inequality and pricing carbon fairly.” I feel this whole initiative needs a leader with true backbone to give it direction.

International City/County Management Association

Summit County, Utah, has created a Communication and Public Engagement Department. We discussed it in our Feb. 6 issue. The goal is to reach non-English speakers and promote the county’s offerings and services. We have undoubtedly covered bigger stories, but to the residents of this community, I’m guessing it makes a difference that leadership cared enough to prioritize engagement.

National Association of Social Workers

First of all, it’s National Social Work Month so I’m wishing all my friends and acquaintances (and readers) in social work the best. I appreciate what you do!

A story in our Feb. 4 issue discussed a virtual reality application that helps people understand dementia. I watched the video embedded in the article (even though it’s theoretically optimized to be watched via a VR viewer). Having lived with someone with dementia for around three years, it was gripping. You can try to see the world through their eyes, but it’s so hard. This VR application makes it easier. Hopefully it helps social workers serve those with dementia (and their caregivers) better.

National Emergency Number Association

A contingent of National Emergency Number Association advocates went to Capitol Hill last month for their advocacy day. A number of them met with Rep. Norma Torres, who sponsored the 911 SAVES Act, which proposes reclassifying dispatchers from clerical to “protective service occupations.” I’m probably turning into a broken record about this, but it’s so important to recognize dispatchers for the work they do and to give them sufficient mental health (and other) resources. We covered this in our Feb. 13 issue.

Reserve Officers Association

If you don’t know that I am highly (obsessively, very, overwhelmingly) interested in being an Honor Flight guardian, it’s possible you haven’t been reading my blog for long! I didn’t get selected last year (and — to be fair — the number of veterans qualifying to take Honor Flight is declining as they age and pass away). Yet I still hope…

Therefore, when I read in our Feb. 26 issue that an organization in Chicago is organizing an all-women Honor Flight, I did indeed send them an email and say I would fly to Chicago to participate. (This probably won’t work out — why would they trust a random woman in Tallahassee begging to be a part of it all? How would I make the training that is undoubtedly a couple of weeks before the flight? Etc. Etc. Etc. Yet, if I don’t ask, I’ll never know, right?)

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honorary

After about a year and a half of doing these posts, I’m starting to detect a pattern. My favorite Sigma Xi stories seem to lean toward the ones that include animals doing silly (at least to the naked eye) things.

A story in our Feb. 18 issue discussed grasshoppers that were engineered to detect explosives — the setup involved a little backpack they had to wear. The really downer of the story was this: “The grasshoppers continued to successfully detect explosives up to seven hours after the researchers implanted the electrodes, before they became fatigued and ultimately died.” Talk about sacrificing for science.

UN Wire

It probably won’t surprise you that the UN Wire newsletter has been heavily skewed toward coronavirus stories this past month. There was a story in our Feb. 3 issue that caught my attention in a different way than the coronavirus, though. It was about a practice of ironing young girls’ breasts with hot stones in the hopes of discouraging men and boys from viewing them as sexual targets.” I never cease to be amazed at the injustices young women in our world still experience.

Keeping it Accurate

We editors had an opportunity this month to take a workshop through Merrill Perlman, a former copy desk chief at the New York Times. I took a class from Merrill last year, and it was a huge help to my editing process. I appreciate being given more resources to continue trying to improve my work.

Find the Interesting Stories (and Opportunities) for Yourself

Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing similar fantastic stories.

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.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link.

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

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 at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

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

Grasshoppers on a mission and other fascinating stories

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