Trees, blueberry bogs and video games

It’s Labor Day weekend, so here’s a look back at the SmartBrief stories that resonated most with me last month as I labored over the eight newsletters I edit.

A way to better understand what refugees experience

In the August 17 issue of the BoardSource SmartBrief, I learned about the way The Spero Project helps people better understand refugees. It’s a refugee experience walk in which participants have just moments to grab the items they need the most, go through a simulated journey to a refugee camp and end facing a wall that displays 24 years’ worth of monthly calendars. An organizer reiterates that’s “24 Christmases, 24 birthdays, 24 Thanksgivings,” noting that “the average length of time a refugee is in limbo without a permanent residence is 24 years.”

24 years. An unimaginably long time to have your life in limbo.

REI’s HQ employees will have to get their blueberries elsewhere

REI built a gorgeous new headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., complete with a blueberry bog and a fire pit. BUT … the building is up for sale before any employees set foot in it. In the August 24 issue of the Business Transformation SmartBrief, we shared the story of REI’s choice to sell the building it began constructing in 2018. Now the company needs cash since sales slowed during the pandemic, and it also says it is taking a new look at the importance of remote work.

Maybe REI employees can set up little personal blueberry bogs. Is that possible?

In Berlin (and elsewhere), citizens pitched in to water trees

A story in the August 5 issue of the International City/County Management (ICMA) SmartBrief introduced an app being used by citizens in Berlin to save trees that are being threatened by drought. This article delved into lots of topics, including the fact that the US Air Force flew saplings to Berlin after World War II along with food and supplies.

Trees matter, for oxygen and detente.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Alejandro Cartagena

A video game could help older adults with depression

I’ve dealt with depression in the past. More recently, my father-in-law experienced depression when he was living with us the last few years of his life. I’m all for pretty much anything that might help people overcome it. That’s why a story in the August 14 Social Work SmartBrief about a video game that might help older adults with depression get better interested me so much.

Please take a break to read this story about brakes

It took five miles and (ultimately) three police officers to help a motorist in Mississippi stop her car after the brakes failed. Dispatcher Bailey Whitehead stayed on the phone with her from the moment she called until the three officers jumped out of their patrol cars and physically stopped her car. Whitehead has been a dispatcher for a year. Learn more via the August 18 issue of the Public Safety SmartBrief.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Whitehead’s career accelerates.

Before I leave the topic of public safety and the National Emergency Number Association, I want to mention something that is happening this month that you may be interested in. Country music star Craig Morgan is hosting a Facebook live concert benefiting America’s 9-1-1 emergency call takers this month. It will take place on Wed., September 23, at 4:00 p.m. CST and will be broadcast live on Morgan’s Facebook page. Funds raised from the event will support education and wellness programs for 9-1-1 public safety professionals in local communities across the United States.

Tanks for the memories

In the August 26 ROA SmartBrief, I learned about the deactivation ceremony held for the Company E, 4th Tank Battalion. Tanks have been a part of life at Fort Knox for 70 years, and they are going away as the corps reduces its dependence on tanks in general.

Having come from a military family, this type of thing always tugs at my heartstrings.

This was not just another brick in the wall

This story in the August 12 issue of the Sigma Xi SmartBrief was such an interesting take on how an ordinary object has the potential to do something extraordinary. It detailed the way scientists have discovered how to “store energy in ordinary red bricks by heating them with acid vapor and adding reactive compounds.” I also had so much fun with the wordplay of the headline (I originally wrote “Not just another brick in the wall” and it was improved upon by a colleague with the addition of “This was…”) … and you’re welcome for the earworm.)

The Beirut explosion, explained in profoundly sad, simple terms

In the August 12, 2020, issue of UN Wire, we shared one of several stories in August about the explosion in Beirut. Here’s the quote that got me, from Amal Mudallali, Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN, who said the blast was like “15 years of war in 15 seconds, the darkest 15 seconds we have ever seen.”

Lessons from Freddie Gray’s death

As I mentioned last month, I attended the Education Writers Association National Seminar (virtual) in July. I heard Wes Moore and Erica L. Green speak about their book, Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City. I appreciated their presentation, and the fact that Moore found it important to enlist Green’s involvement to give the project a “journalistic lens.” I wrote more about their presentation here. I would appreciate it if you would read and share my post. It’s more important, though, that you read the book (as I’m doing now) and try really hard to learn its lessons and share those.

Working at Future/SmartBrief

The language below is the same thing I always share at the end of these monthly wrapup posts (with a few minor modifications). Before saying what I always say, though, I want to mention what committed, compassionate colleagues I am working with on some of our organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. We may not ever get it exactly right, but we are working at it. Spending time with these people gives me hope in a divisive world.

Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing stories through business-to-business newsletters.

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 inquiries and provide more information about the process.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc, including a health care and life sciences editor position that may be open to telecommuters, 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. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays, and you can subscribe to it 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.

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