7 Giving Tuesday causes and a bonus

At the beginning of every month, I share a post about my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month (here’s October’s, for example).

I do have favorite stories from November, but I’m changing things up today in honor of Giving Tuesday, which is December 3.

I feel so fortunate that my work at SmartBrief is with nonprofit sector newsletters (although everyone who knows me knows I get pretty attached to everything I do, including tolling and agriculture). Especially as Giving Tuesday rolls around, with its opportunity for so many great causes to discuss what they do and the difference a contribution can make, I decided for this month to share a way each of my partners is connecting on Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday

BoardSource

As stated on their website, BoardSource “supports, trains, and educates nonprofit leaders from across the country and throughout the world.” Donations to BoardSource ” support our research and leadership addressing issues of critical importance to the work of the social sector and the communities and people we seek to serve.”

How to donate: Click here.

Learn more via the BoardSource newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

International City/County Management Association (ICMA)

ICMA’s website describes the organization as “the world’s leading association of professional city and county managers and other employees who serve local governments.” I had the pleasure of attending ICMA’s conference this year, so you can get my perspective here and here.

ICMA has a Future of Professional Management Fund that seeks to “advocate and promote the council-manager form and professional local government management.” Read the 2018 Giving Tuesday post about the fund here and donate here.

Learn more about the ICMA newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

National Association of Social Workers

NASW, according to their website, “works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.”

Contributions to NASW are directed to the NASW Foundation, the NASW Legal Defense Fund and/or its Political Action for Candidate Election efforts. All three have links here.

Learn more about the NASW newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

The NENA website lists its role as being “the only professional organization solely focused on 9-1-1 policy, technology, operations, and education issues.”

NENA’s Gold Line Scholarship Fund seeks to help 9-1-1 professionals obtain training. Donate here.

Learn more about the Public Safety SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Reserve Officers Association (ROA)

ROA describes itself on its website as “only exclusive advocate for the Reserve and National Guard – all ranks, all services”

There are multiple ways to contribute to ROA, including general contributions to its work, donations to its ROA STARs foundation, tribute benches and more. All are accessible by clicking here.

Giving Tuesday
ROA Tribute Bench Photo credit: roa.org

Learn more about the ROA newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Sigma Xi says on its website that its purpose is to “honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering.”

Sigma Xi’s Giving Tuesday initiative is what got me started thinking about doing this post for all my partners. I really love it!

Sigma Xi is directing its Giving Tuesday donations to help provide free one-year subscriptions of its STEM magazine, American Scientist, to 1,300 high schools. Here’s the link to contribute.

Learn more about the Sigma Xi newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Giving Tuesday
American Scientist Magazine

United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation expresses its purpose via its website this way: “We work by building communities and incubating initiatives to support the UN and its priority issues, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

I am sure the UN Foundation will have plenty of Giving Tuesday options, but to take a moment of personal privilege, I will first list Shot at Life. Shot at Life is a grassroots advocacy program under the UN Foundation umbrella that helps children around the world have access to immunizations to protect them from polio, measles, pneumonia, rotavirus and other vaccine-preventable diseases. I’ve been involved with them for years. The World Health Organization notes several key improvements in getting children worldwide vaccinated, but says ” an estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine immunization services such as 3 doses of DTP vaccine” in 2018.

Giving Tuesday

Contribute to Shot at life by clicking here. Contribute to the UN Foundation in general by clicking here. Another incredibly meaningful option is giving in memory of the late Jennifer Schlecht, who worked for the UN Foundation, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

To learn more about the UN Foundation newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Food & Friends

Food & Friends is a cause that SmartBrief has supported for years (I’m not sure how many, but since I started there in 2017). For that reason, I want to give them a shout out because I have come to appreciate their work and I feel a personal investment.

The Food & Friends premise is “anyone can get sick and everyone can help.” Their services include home-delivered meals, groceries-to-go and nutrition counseling.

Contribute to the work of Food & Friends by clicking here.

It’s relevant to talk about Giving Tuesday and provide this boost to these eight great causes because there are programs such as the $7 million Facebook plans to match that are specific to the day. (I also urge you to read up on how quickly those matching funds go … a great case study of the challenges nonprofits face.)

And while we’re here …

I am staying with one of my monthly traditions, which is sharing our open positions.

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 at SmartBrief as of 12/1/19:

(There are other opportunities with our parent company, Future plc, that are not specific to SmartBrief and are located in multiple places. Find all openings here.)

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

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

My October: Oobleck, Varosha and “Working With”

I closed out October by going to my friend Rachel’s house for trick-or-treat. She lives in a neighborhood that is the center of activity for hundreds of ghosts, goblins and a T-Rex or two. Note to self: Don’t go to Rachel’s house next year unless it’s possible to get there before the kids descend. I’m just so relieved I didn’t take out a 3-year-old unicorn.

This month at SmartBrief felt a little like that too. Before I knew it, I was awash in great stories and couldn’t always see the road ahead of me very well for all the great content.

Here are my favorites:

BoardSource

In the October 10 issue, the Nonprofit Whisperer explained the difference between “working with” and “doing for” in nonprofit agencies. This is something I have personally been evolving about, so this perspective was meaningful to me.

National Association of Social Workers

Food insecurity among college students comes up not infrequently in the articles I read for SmartBrief. In the October 10 issue, I learned about the Leftover Textover program at the University of Oregon, a program that sends text announcements to students when there is food left over after campus events. Makes so much sense, but why does this have to be?

Sigma Xi, the Science Honorary Society

Chances are you either played with oobleck as a kid, or made oobleck FOR a kid, or in some other way have encountered the ooey gooey substance. In our October 14 issue, we learned all about the scientific data behind the predictability of oobleck. I was fascinated!

The video embedded in the article was so cool; it reminded me of my son and his curiosity growing up.

UN Wire

Have you ever heard of Varosha? If you have, you’re ahead of me in the geopolitical knowledge realm. We discussed it in the October 11 issue, because the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed its intentions to protect the uninhabited part of the Cypriot city of Famagusta from being resettled. (There are concerns that Turkey will try to change its status.)

I kept reading the articles, and looking at the pictures, and marveling at how a previously 2.3-square-mile, civilized place can go uninhabited for FORTY-FIVE YEARS.

The concern is that Turkey would disrespect the rights of Cypriot people who deserve to go back to their homes. Honestly, this one stumps me a bit but here is a decent explanation. I just suspect if I were there, I would be so tempted to just put a foot on that forbidden sand.

National Emergency Number Association

I was happy to read in the October 8 issue about new California laws that benefit first responders. One creates standards for peer support programs and another provides workers’ compensation for stress-related illnesses.

Reserve Officers Association

Feeding National Guard members is no small task. I learned from our October 2 issue about the Army National Guard Food Service Phillip A. Connelly competition, which seeks to recognize the best cooks in the guard. The food service manager credited a regional win to “an emphasis on basic kitchen skills, hard work by the cooks, and support from the rest of the company.” I loved this article because — although it was about food prep — it was also about excellent team work and the value of supporting each other.

International City/County Management Association

Because of the way the ICMA newsletter is structured, stories in the top section, which is always a leadership story, almost always gets the most clicks.

When story that is not a leadership piece makes it into the “most read” category for a month, I know it struck a chord somehow.

Such was the case in the October 2 issue with a story about officials in Ames, Iowa, who insisted on keeping their rainbow crosswalks that were intended to celebrate inclusion. I learned all about the Federal Highway Administration’s rules about crosswalks, which have been an issue for crosswalk art in other cities such as the keyboard crosswalk in Rochester, N.Y.

I also had the pleasure of attending the ICMA conference in Nashville, Tenn.

My October: Oobleck, Varosha and "Working With"

Before I went to the conference, I prepared this pre-conference report.

The first day of the conference, Jake Wood, CEO and co-founder of Team Rubicon, spoke about conquering chaos. I wrote this post about the takeaways from his speech. And we met!

My October: Oobleck, Varosha and "Working With"
(The shirt and check were gifts from my Disney College Program parents’ group, which is giving proceeds from shirt sales to TR. Lucky me to be their messenger.)

I also shared this brief video encouraging people to subscribe to the brief.

And I wrote this post about the 10 words I heard on the conference’s final day that captured its essence.

About working at SmartBrief

As you can tell, it has been a full month. I feel so fortunate to have met so many of our readers at the conference. It meant so much when someone would say, “Oh I definitely get the newsletter!”

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 11/3/19:

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

A 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 at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

(I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska’s blog, for the prompt “write about something you’re looking forward to,” because I’m looking forward to what November brings.)

My October: Oobleck, Varosha and "Working With"

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

With every newsletter I edit daily, I aim to help people who may feel a bit stuck — at work or in their personal lives — find a bit of space to see things differently.

The stories I share inform, inspire and lead people to inquire.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring
Photo illustration w/image from Gratisography.

Here are some examples from September.

INFORM

In the Sept. 4 issue of the International City/County Management Association newsletter, we discussed a Colorado county that created a space for nursing mothers when it redesigned its administrative space and accommodates Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury as she brings her nursing infant to meetings. Having pumped breast milk in a number of less-than-comfortable places 20 years ago, I love this new acceptance of the needs of parents. I hope including this story in the newsletter informed other city and county managers of options they may not have considered.

I have typed/edited Michelle Bachelet’s name more times than I can count in the year that I have been editing the United Nations Foundation newsletter (UN Wire). The Sept. 6 issue had a lead story about how Bachelet was urging “Indonesian authorities to respect Papuans’ right to freedom of expression and refrain from using excessive force.” Farther down in the issue was a story about how Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro “taunted UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet Wednesday over her father’s death under 1970s Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.” (Bolsonaro was striking back at Bachelet’s inquiry about an increase in the number of killings by police in Brazil.) A judge found that Alberto Bachelet most likely died as a result of torture that took place after he was jailed by Pinochet’s administration. I have grown to admire Bachelet over this past year, but this piece of information grew my admiration exponentially.

INSPIRE

Many of the stories in the nonprofit sector newsletters somehow touch on wastefulness and how to reduce it. You know the little packets of four crayons that restaurants give kids so they can color throughout the meal? Did you ever wonder what happens to the crayons once the patrons leave? One meal certainly isn’t enough for a kid (or kids) to wear down one crayon, much less four. In the Sept. 5 issue of the BoardSource newsletter, we told readers about the Crayon Collection, a nonprofit that collects used crayons from restaurants in every US state and nine countries and redistributes them to school districts. This story can inspire restaurant owners to reduce waste (while giving schools ideas regarding where they might get more supplies).

There’s a “policy” section in the National Association of Social Workers newsletter that seems, at times, a little less awe-inspiring than some of the stories we share about how social workers are making a difference in their communities (and world), but the Sept. 11 story about a resolution passed by the Seattle City Council is both — a policy story and a difference-making piece. The resolution “acknowledges and promises to address violence against indigenous women and girls after native women.” It was championed by native women, social workers among them. This resolution will inspire a whole city to right some centuries-old wrongs.

I wrote a post for SmartBrief, Helping families find hope again after Hurricane Michael, that describes playgroups organized for children and their families in Bay and Jackson Counties after Hurricane Michael struck Florida last year. I am so inspired by the change these social workers created for children, 10 at a time, by giving them an opportunity to share their stories and process their challenges. The fact that their parents also got to benefit from the Journey of Hope curriculum matters too. The affected communities are not far from where I live, and their well-being is personal to me. I was honored to have a small part in continuing to tell their story at a time when they are still struggling as the national spotlight has faded.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring
A participant in one of the Hurricane Michael playgroups. Photo Credit: PlayBig

INQUIRE

How are you at keeping secrets? When the 347-member team behind the Event Horizons Telescope that produced this image of a black hole won the Breakthrough Prize, only one person was allowed to know so the news could remain secret. In a massive understatement, project leader Shep Doeleman said, “I feel like this has been bottled up.” This story in the Sept. 6 newsletter from Sigma Xi , the Scientific Honorary, was news because of the prize, but it made me ask whether I could keep such a big secret. (For the record, I could keep such a big secret; confidentiality is my jam.)

It’s not something I have thought that hard about, but I always assumed any military veteran could be buried at Arlington Cemetery. As I learned from the Sept. 30 issue of the Reserve Officers Association newsletter, there is a history behind how burial rights evolved at Arlington, and there are more changes ahead. The rules have been revised 14 times in 150 years, and the newest set of proposals is geared toward handling a space shortage. The new rules would restrict burials to “those killed in action, recipients of medals for heroism and gallantry, recipients of the Purple Heart medal, former POWs, and U.S. presidents and vice presidents.” The biggest change would be prohibiting service members who die on active duty from being buried there if the death did not occur in combat. This is just something it was interesting to know. It can’t be an easy job to make these decisions and disseminate the changes among the military community.

Finally, congratulations you’re now a first responder (or you need to be). If you’re like me, you have come to assume any call to 9-1-1 will summon help. In general, that’s still true, but the broader network of first responders in our nation is changing. Less people are volunteering to respond to emergencies and disasters, which poses a problem for small towns that rely on them more heavily than big cities do. We discussed this in the Sept. 24 National Emergency Number Association newsletter. FEMA’s 2018-22 strategic plan emphasizes, “shared responsibility across all layers of government down to the individual.” That “individual” part? It’s you and me. “If a whole lot of people were just a little bit more prepared, it would make a very big difference,” said public policy professor Amy Donohue. You (and I) might want to inquire at the local Red Cross about disaster preparation techniques.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

If you would like to be a part of informing, inspiring and inquiring, learn more about our current openings.

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 10/6/19:

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

A 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.)

(I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska’s blog, for the prompt “10 reasons why you love your job.” Although I could easily list 10 reasons, I wanted to keep things on the concise side, so I chose three things I love doing at my job (informing, inspiring and inquiring) and added seven examples (plus the bonus Hurricane Michael post)).

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

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

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.

A Scientist Swallowed His Research and More: SmartBrief July 2019

Was July supposed to be a relaxing summer month? If so, I missed out on the relaxing. (I did sneak in a quick trip to Tampa to see Hugh Jackman in concert, though. What a treat to see such a consummate artist and spend time with a friend.)

July 2019 SmartBrief wrapup
A favorite image from my visit to Tampa.

I spent the rest of the month working as usual (and praying for our house to sell so I can afford to spend some time at a more laid-back pace during some future summer).

It’s a good thing I love working. July, as in all the other months, did not disappoint. We also created “best of” issues for the July 5 holiday. That was a fun project, and I’ll share a link to each one.

National Association of Social Workers

It’s no secret that homelessness is a chronic problem for many communities. The National Alliance to End Homelessness says 17 out of every 10,000 people in the US “were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2018.” In the NASW newsletter, we shared the story of safe parking lots. Run by a nonprofit, these facilities on the west coast provide a safe place to sleep and access to social workers who help people living in their cars find stable housing. (As this post explains, the legality of sleeping in your car in public varies. The safe parking lots provide more stability and, as mentioned, case management that may help people find more permanent accommodations.)

I appreciate the creativity involved in this solution, and the effort to be respectful to the homeless people. Veterans are among this group, and they especially deserve respect and help.

This is the NASW July 5 “best of” issue.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary

A scientist reached conclusions regarding the possibility that Florida’s Tamiami Foundation demonstrates evidence of an ancient meteorite strike. He and his team reached this conclusion, because fossilized clams dating back to that period contained “tiny, silica-rich glass spheres” that most likely were created as the result of a meteorite.

Although the story was interesting enough, there were two things about it that stuck out to me and elevated it to my monthly roundup. First, the scientist said he had 83 of the glass beads and “just kept them sitting around in a box for more than a decade.” It seems as though this theme arises often in scientific writing. A fossil was in a museum for decades, then someone took a new look at it and discovered a species or made some other riveting discovery. Sometimes it just takes new eyes to make a discovery.

The second thing that resulted in a double-take from me about this story was the scientist’s description of how a paintbrush moistened with saliva is the perfect implement for picking these tiny beads up. (Can you see where this story is going?) “I did accidentally eat a couple of them,” he said. Bon appetit. Don’t eat your evidence!

This is the Sigma Xi July 5 “best of” issue.

BoardSource

All of us are imperfect at best. I admire people who make the effort to reexamine their own choices and to make choices that are more fair and accepting. Northwest Area Foundation President and CEO Kevin Walker writes about a story he used to tell from a humorous standpoint about a time he was detained briefly by Canadian border officers after a momentary decision that led him to be on Canadian property without going through proper procedures. Would he have been treated the same if he “were a person of color? An immigrant? A tribal member from Turtle Mountain instead of an executive from St. Paul?” Please read this important story to find out his conclusion. I have also added a link to my We have to talk about white privilege post, as I do with the pieces I find that speak to the topic of white privilege in a powerful way.

This is the BoardSource July 5 “best of” issue.

International City/County Management Association

The top story for ICMA in July was this July 8 entry about the $5,000 reward police offered for information regarding John Wooner, the McFarland, Calif., city manager who was missing. Wooner’s body was found July 28, submerged in the Kern River in his city-issued car.

I can see why this story was so compelling to readers. He had been missing since May 14 by the time we shared the story. There were concrete details (such as the fact that his last known stop was at his estranged father’s grave) and other squishier pieces of the story (had he been engaged in malfeasance?). From an editorial standpoint, I am torn regarding whether it makes sense to include an item about his body being found or if that’s more feeding a curiosity than giving readers closure. Mostly, I acknowledge that he has a family left with questions and grief. What a difficult summer they must have endured.

This is the ICMA July 5 “best of” issue.

UN Wire

I love El Salvador. Therefore, a story about a woman charged with murder after giving birth to a baby (who was either born dead or died after being born — the story is a bit unclear about this) she says was conceived during a rape. The story goes on to say that women who miscarried have been routinely charged with murder.

A dense story with much to consider, but this one left me sad and questioning.

UN Wire did not have a July 5 “best of” issue.

Reserve Officers Association

Stacy Pearsall is a veteran. She has a goal; she plans to take 7,500 pictures of veterans, covering all 50 states, by Veterans Day of this year. She started the project in 2007 as she recovered from a combat injury. “I want people to realize that in every uniform is a human being with a heart and a soul, people they love, history and baggage,” she says.

I love this story, and I especially enjoyed reading about Pearsall’s service dog, Charlie.

ROA did not have a July 5 “best of” issue.

National Emergency Number Association

I wrote in my June wrapup about the 911 SAVES Act, a piece of nonpartisan legislation that proposes to reclassify dispatchers from “administrative support” (a federal clerical designation) to “protective service.” This stands to make a big difference for dispatchers in several significant ways. The Act passed the House and is on to the Senate.

I have worked with this topic for almost a year now; I am convinced this Act is a necessary change and I hope it passes.

While I’m on the topic of NENA, here’s a story of why our town is so great (almost always). I love being able to experience the things I write about, not just read about them. I decided to do an Editor’s Desk video about the 911 SAVES Act. I contacted the director of the Tallahassee/Leon County Consolidated Dispatch Center to ask about making the video there so the background looked more realistic. I heard back from him within 24 hours, and within a few days got a tour of our center and got all my questions answered. The director even said, “here — make it in my office so it’s quiet enough.” I could not have asked for a more generous interaction. The video is still in the works, but here’s a screenshot. I *really* appreciate the gentleman walking by with EMS on the back of his shirt. It’s as if I planned it that way!

July 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

NENA did not have a July 5 “best of” issue.

While You Were Working

I had the opportunity to “drive the ‘While You Were Working'” bus for a week in July when our editor, Sean, was out. Because WYWW has a different vibe than almost every other SmartBrief newsletter, it is simultaneously thrilling (because we have more flexibility) and scary (because editing without guardrails feels so risky). It certainly helped that my week coincided with the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary (YAY SPACE).

I have a hard time choosing a favorite story from that week. The July 19 issue was fun in many ways. We shared that crazy “Cats” trailer that had everyone agog. My colleague, Cathy, debunked the idea that astronauts ate “space ice cream.” We covered joyineering (it’s a thing, at least for one father and daughter). And to cap off the Apollo 11 celebrations, I shared this memory of visiting the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. Every astronaut who has lifted off from Kennedy Space Center walked through this door. I’m so grateful to NASA Social for the opportunity to visit and learn.

July 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

This is the WYWW July 5 “best of” issue.

Leadership

I had an opportunity to edit SmartBrief on Leadership for a couple weeks in July. This is my favorite brief to edit as a fill-in (and the most nerve-wracking). Although I do have favorite stories, I want to share something different — a feature we have added. I don’t know if it will always appear, but #FridayReads is a pet Twitter habit of mine, so I want to share!

In last Friday’s issue, for example, you’ll see the last item (except for the quote) is “What are you reading today?” Clicking on the item takes you directly to the tweet, and you can share what you are reading. I enjoyed thinking through the small details of adding something that looks so simple, but there are always steps in the process to check off the list, such as whether the image that has been chosen is a fit, who is going to update a nonevergreen item for future uses, and more.

If you don’t subscribe to our leadership newsletter already, please feel free to do so by visiting this link.

July 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

This is the Leadership July 5 “best of” issue.

Here’s another reason July was not “slow”

SmartBrief closed out the month of July with some big news. The company was acquired by Future plc. Learn more about the acquisition in this release.

How you, too, could stay busy with SmartBrief

I invite you to peruse this list of openings (3 are in DC, 1 is DC or remote depending on the candidate and there’s a part-time position). 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 8/8/19:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer (for the full-time positions) 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 along with Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Here’s to finding news (and career opportunities) that keep you informed, even when life is busy.

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

June news developments that made me say “WOW”

When Hugh Jackman sang the opening notes of “You Will Be Found” at his show in Tampa Friday night, I knew I was about to experience one of my favorite moments of the evening. When he was joined by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Tampa Bay, I had the added thrill of knowing no one — in any other city where this show is performed — would see exactly this show. Although I’m not local to Tampa, I appreciated my fellow Floridians being a part of the show, especially fellow Floridians so supportive of causes that are important to me.

As I’m looking for a thread among my favorite SmartBrief stories from June, I am thinking about my experience at the show Friday night. It mattered that the organizers involved local people. It probably would have been easier to secure some more “generic” singers … someone to vocalize the lyrics and complement Hugh. But these people meant something to me.

The stories we choose at SmartBrief (and the way we introduce them to readers) should mean something. They should make them feel “Wow, I’m glad I opened this newsletter. I’ll not see this combination, presented in this way, anywhere else.

With that thought, here are my favorites from June:

BoardSource

What performer earns a pre-concert standing ovation before they’ve even played a note? In the 6/3/19 issue of the BoardSource newsletter, we shared a story about measures the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is taking to deal with a massive budget shortfall. For example, the season is being cut from 52 weeks to 40 and the summer series was canceled.

The orchestra’s musicians have been protesting these cutbacks. According to this article, they received a pre-performance standing ovation, “a three-minute standing ovation at intermission and a one-minute ovation” that preceded an encore.

This is the announcement shared by Brian Prechtl, co-chairman of the BSO players (preceded by part of that pre-concert standing ovation).

The orchestra also added an unscheduled performance of “Nimrod,” which evokes loss, by Elgar. You can see a performance of “Nimrod” (not the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s, unfortunately) by visiting this link.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society

I had a boss once (who is still a friend) whose philosophy was, “you can have any title you want. Titles are easy to give out.” Not to put words in her mouth, but I knew her and her management style well enough to know that the point was two-fold: 1) Titles are free … it doesn’t cost anything to give someone pretty much any title and 2) Your work product gives you more status than your title.

However, she never met Linda Lee, who is (wait for it) an environmental fate chemist. How great of a title is that?!

Linda Lee came to my attention because she was quoted in a 6/5/19 article about the possibility that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in biodegradable materials may leach into compost. Once that compost is used by human beings, the PFAS could end up in our bodies and potentially create health hazards.

Admittedly, we talk often about PFAS at our house because of Wayne’s responsibilities at Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. The term “environmental fate chemist,” however, has never come up. It seems so aspirational … that someone who goes into that field plans to make a difference. I’m betting my boss would have said, “sure fine call yourself an environmental fate chemist.” I’m glad Linda Lee is doing the work she is doing; all of our fates may depend on the work she is doing.

Reserve Officers Association

This article from the 6/10/19 Reserve Officers Association newsletter could be interpreted as a straightforward description of how National Guard members and reservists collaborated with local contractors in Hawaii to build a STEM building at a Girl Scout camp.

Although it is straightforward, National Guard member 1st Lt. Emelia Brooks, who was the mission-officer-in-charge, discussed how meaningful it was to be a leader on the project and a role model for girls and young women. She’s an environmental engineer, and she is usually in the minority as a woman at the workplace. She said her daughters think it’s cool to see their mom at the helm of this project.

“Representation is everything,” she said. She’s right.

June 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

1st Lt. Emelia Brooks, 138th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard and mission officer in charge of the Camp Paumalu, Innovative Readiness Training project FY 2019, oversees the construction of the project May 22 at Camp Paumalu Girl Scout Camp, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

National Emergency Number Association

While we’re on the topic of Hawaii-based stories, let’s discuss this incredible story from the 6/27/19 NENA newsletter. You might remember the story of Amanda Eller, a hiker who got lost while hiking in Hawaii and was found after 17 days.

Searchers were able to be much more effective by using a digital map developed with GPS data to make sure they didn’t duplicate efforts and cover territory they had already covered.

“We never would have pushed out if we hadn’t searched the reasonable area first. There’s no reason to start reaching further and further out of the box if we hadn’t completely searched the box ,” said volunteer search leader Chris Bergquist.

Bergquist’s statement could also be a life metaphor BUT I digress! Thanks to technology, Eller was found and other people’s lives may be saved because someone put the research time into developing the tools to make it happen.

UN Wire

This story about obstetric violence faced by women in Mexico from the 6/17/19 UN Wire newsletter was downright depressing. There are very few examples from the story I can even quote here due to their grisly and inhumane nature. Women (and girls) who died during childbirth, were rendered infertile due to cruel practices, who had to labor with absolutely no pain relief are the examples given. Indigenous women and poor women are especially subject to the human rights violations.

There must be a way to do better.

The International City/County Management Association

I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg for this story. In the 6/21/19 ICMA newsletter, we shared the Philadelphia City Council’s initial response to Facebook posts by more than 300 of its officers that contained violent and racist content. The posts were discovered as part of the Plain View Project, which works on the rationale that such posts “could erode civilian trust and confidence in police, and we hope police departments will investigate and address them immediately.”

This type of thing must be such a moment of truth for a city council and city staff. It’s an opportunity to lead, and protect residents from inappropriate behavior on the part of law enforcement. The opposite, of course, could also happen (and undoubtedly has in many municipalities). I hope for the sake of the citizens of Philadelphia that the council chooses the former.

Note: I’m not going to share any screen shots from the database (it’s too sad and I’m not sure what the permissions are). I will say one post I saw was enough to make me click out: “Its [sic] a good day for a choke hold.”

Smart Cities

I wish I could give the “favorite story” nod to this story from the 6/26/19 issue about the Tallahassee/Leon County GIS  program that has completely digitalized the disaster recovery process since Hurricane Michael last year. I do love my home team, but there’s already the possibility of a tropical depression or tropical storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico, and I refuse to give the darn weather gods any ideas about testing out all these digital disaster recovery tools. No, just no!

Therefore, all hail the Creative Village in Orange County with its 5G internet connections and other gee whiz smart city components featured in the 6/28 issue. I honestly thought “maybe we should move there” as I was reading the article and editing the summary. Mayor Dyer piqued my interest with “incredible quality of life.”

National Association of Social Workers

I saved the story that was so personally gripping for last (and that’s saying a lot given the obstetrical violence and racist law enforcement posts above).

In the 6/7/19 NASW newsletter, we shared a public service announcement created by students at Rockford High School in Illinois. The mayor asked the students to make the PSA after seeing them recite “I Got Flowers Today,” a poem about domestic violence.

Watch it for yourself; it doesn’t need my words:

Note: If you’re in Tallahassee and in danger, please contact Refuge House. If you live elsewhere and need help for a situation where you are in danger, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

June 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Helping be a part of making people say, “wow” about their news

I invite you to peruse this list of openings (most are in DC, a couple are in NYC and there’s a part-time remote position). 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 7/7/19:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer (for the full-time positions) 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 and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Here’s to finding news (and career opportunities) that wow you!

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

The Endlessly Fascinating Nonprofit World

May was a blur. There’s a reason a group of my friends have a “Mothers Surviving May” party. It’s tough month (even for an empty nester, it seems).

Looking back, here’s what stuck with me most from the stories I encountered as a SmartBrief editor last month. If I had to capture the theme, I’d say, “life is rough and we take care of ourselves best by saying ‘no’ sometimes.”

May 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society

We shared a story about how men’s grant proposals scored better than women’s (the study examined almost 7,000 submissions to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Even though the reviewers preferred men’s word choices, men’s projects didn’t perform better than women’s.

I encourage you to read the linked article. It was difficult not to walk away from it with a “when are we ever going to have equity?” type of feeling. However, the beauty of science is that the question was asked. Researchers learned more. Potential solutions were floated. It’s a start.

UN Wire

In this article, I learned that around 270,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh had been issued ID cards. This was the first time any of these people had been formally identified as people. So basic, yet so essential. Without ID, they had difficulty getting aid, were more susceptible to human trafficking and were more likely to have difficulty finding family members when separated.

BoardSource

Remember the story I shared from Sigma Xi, about how
Male researchers’ wording favored by grant reviewers? It was the third-best-performing story in BoardSource last month.

These equity issues apply in so many of life’s arenas.

Reserve Officers Association

For the ROA SmartBrief, we discussed how a lack of funding has resulted in delays to repairs needed at Tyndall Air Force Base.

This one is personal. Tyndall is less than two hours from me … less than 100 miles. My fellow North Floridians are still struggling, nine months after Hurricane Michael struck. Hurricane season just began again. I want their lives to get back on track.

The International City/County Management Association

I read a story this month that was included in the ICMA SmartBrief that hit all my favorite targets for stories: facts, a “people” angle, good writing. On its surface, it was about flooding issues in Ellicott City, Md., but at its heart it was about so much more.

I wrote about that story in this Five Minute Friday post. Read it and think about Eddie’s legacy. I’m sure it would matter to his family and friends.

National Emergency Number Association

Elivia Shaw and Paloma Martinez, produced “The Shift,” a documentary chronicling San Francisco dispatchers’ work lives and the stress they experience. One of their goals was to encourage passage of the 911 SAVES Act, legislation that Martinez says “would allow for increased funding, training, and other benefits to people like the dispatchers in [the] film.”

Dispatchers experience stresses many of us don’t understand well. Here’s the documentary; it’s worth the eight minutes it takes to watch it.

SmartCities

I am editing a new (to me) brief, the Smart Cities SmartBrief. It covers smart cities, the internet of things and the “connected world.” I can already tell I’m going to enjoy the subject matter with this brief. Here’s one big “a ha” I’ve already had:

You may be able to use the MTA in New York without a metrocard sometime next year. In theory, the next time I go, I may have to figure out a whole new way to pay. It wouldn’t be the first time, of course. I successfully transitioned from tokens to Metrocards. Still … mind slightly blown!

National Association of Social Workers

It was impossible to choose just one story to feature from May’s NASW brief. Usually, as the month goes by I pop over to my blog and drop in favorites as they accumulate over the month. Because May was such a sprint (and never a cool down), June arrived and I had only dropped in two links. Both were from NASW!

I think, looking at them, that the two things relate in a way.

I am a fan of Brian Cuban. I appreciate his candor about his journey through addiction and an eating disorder, along with his commitment to helping people in the legal profession cope with its stresses.

Cuban’s “Above the Law” post, Using The Power Of Story To Break Law Firm Mental Health Stigma, discusses how breaking the mental health stigma involves trying to understand and acknowledge the root causes behind the challenges many people face. As he notes, waiting until someone has a crisis is not optimal. He writes, “A skin-tight suit of shame … may have been worn for years, maybe decades, possibly a lifetime.”

Earlier, the month, we shared Self-Care A-Z: Black Women and Self-Care from “The New Social Worker.” Social worker Cortney Downs discussed why self care matters, especially for women who feel a burden to be a “strong black woman.” She said part of self care involves saying no. I love her reminder to do it “with a period, not a comma.”

Not that I have walked in Brian Cuban’s shoes or Cortney Downs’, but I have had my own struggles with overcoming entrenched negative self talk. And sometimes I dealt with that by saying “yes” to too many things or the wrong things.

My Second “Originals” Post

Have you seen “The Public”? If you haven’t, you should (in my opinion)! The release of the movie dovetailed nicely with my growing interest in the role of social workers in libraries.

Take a look at Library Social Work: Separating Fact From Fiction, and let me know your thoughts.

May 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

If You’re Looking to Turn a New Career Page

I invite you to peruse this list of openings if you’re in DC and being a part of our team may make sense for you (or if you know someone in DC who is seeking a great opportunity). 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 6/2/19:

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 (and which crossed the 100,000 subscriber mark recently!), 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 and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading!

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

My Fave April SmartBrief Stories

“Even though the local news business has declined, the appetite for news has not.”

The above quote is something I read on LinkedIn yesterday. It was posted by the International City/County Management Association, as an intro to ICMA’s share of an article by “Governing.” The article discusses how local engagement is declining as community members turn more frequently to national news and media rather than local newspapers.

One of the things I enjoy about editing nonprofit sector newsletters for SmartBrief is the opportunity to give the stories from some of those local newspapers an opportunity to be shared more widely with the reading public.

Although this month’s favorites don’t focus too heavily on local outlets, they are always at the forefront of my mind. I try to use them when I can, because they matter.

Reserve Officers Association

This story in the ROA SmartBrief brought home the way administrative decisions touch individual lives. I remember thinking, “of course someone should advocate for a change.”

Family members who are survivors of active-duty military service members are eligible for scholarship assistance. Children who are survivors of reservists and National Guard members are not. There is proposed legislation to change that.

I hope it works.

National Emergency Number Association

This story is about a law (the “move over” law in Illinois, also known as “Scott’s law). It talks about how — despite a law requiring motorists to leave the lane open next to first responders (and others) working on the road shoulder with their lights deployed — three people died in 2019 and 17 troopers had their cars or bodies struck by motorists evading that law.

A sheriff’s deputy quoted in the story told a motorist he stopped during an operation set up to inform motorists about the law, “We want to come home to our families, too.”

So many stories come back to family, don’t they?

SmartBrief April 2019 Wrapup
Photo Credit: Road Safety at Workhttps://twitter.com/RoadSafeAtWork/status/1022282873536237569

International City/County Management Association

My choice to include this story in the ICMA SmartBrief was born in Lyft as I was leaving the SmartBrief office in Washington, D.C. and heading back to the airport.

Me to Lyft driver: “I like your music.”

Lyft driver to me: “This is the music they tried to get rid of in DC.”

And so a story was born … about how city council members joined residents of the Shaw neighborhood in D.C. in a rally aiming to persuade T-Mobile to allow a small business to resume playing go-go music on external speakers as it had for years, a practice T-Mobile had stopped as it cited complaints of new residents. After the rally, the collection of more than 60,000 petition signatures and a Twitter campaign around the hashtag #DontMuteDC, T-Mobile said the music will resume.

Music tells people’s stories.

National Association of Social Workers

On its surface, this story about how students at a K-8 school created a makerspace for children at a domestic violence shelter sounded like many of the stories we feature in this newsletter. Often, a social worker is involved in facilitating a great idea and helping the participants understand the broader picture and the mental health context.

Here’s what got me:

We don’t have a special vehicle for the program, so we travel separately and the supplies we bring are restricted to the dimensions of my Ford Fiesta. ~ Innovation space coordinator Greg McDonough

People helping people do it with duct tape, gumption and the tenacity to get blood out of turnips sometimes.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society

Sigma Xi is currently the first newsletter I edit every day. If I were choosing a version of coffee to represent this brief, it’s like starting every morning with the double espresso information equivalent. Space, animals, physics, chemistry and more.

My April Sigma Xi highlight, though, isn’t a technical scientific fact. The story itself, about a study that examined the microbes around an underground fire in Pennsylvania, is pretty cool.

But did you know ZIP Codes can be revoked? “All but a handful of the town folk had fled when the government revoked Centralia’s postal code in 2002,” says the article.

Now we know. Hang on to your ZIP Codes, folks!

UN Wire

World Immunization Week occurred in April, so cue up this Shot at Life champion’s favorite cause!

The UN Wire newsletter covered immunizations (measles on April 17 , UNICEF’s #VaccinesWork campaign on April 19 along with malaria on April 22 and April 26.)

Capped off with the Quote of the Day on April 26.

April 2019 SmartBrief Stories

BoardSource

Last but not least (as far as newsletter stories go), here is a thought on my favorite BoardSource story for April. For BoardSource, every issue has at least one, and usually several, stories about big money donors.

For example, BB&T and SunTrust Banks are each donating $15 million to the Foundation for the Carolinas to help alleviate homelessness in Charlotte, N.C.

Of course that type of generosity will (hopefully) help solve some of our world’s big problems.

BUT, my favorite story was one I could relate to and even see myself doing. It was about how the tent cards at board members’ places can be used wisely. Although for obvious reasons, the front of the card needs to have the board member’s name on it, Bob Harris notes the other side of the card is “an ideal location for the mission that should frame nearly every discussion.”

I realize this sounds like such a minor thing. What if the back of the card just repeats the board member’s name? What if it’s left blank?

Ultimately, I believe we need reminders of our mission. I believe details matter. Pay attention to the details and you’ve taken a step toward fulfilling the bigger goals.

The “While You Were Working” News Quiz

When I was in the D.C. office in April, I had the torture opportunity to take the “While You Were Working” news quiz. You may know that I am a contributing editor to WYWW, but having my knowledge tested without being able to Google answers was a whole different experience! Here it is; you can check out how I did.

My First Original Post

April was a big month. I published my first blog post under my SmartBrief byline (and a small personal celebration ensued!).

It’s about how animals can help elderly patients heal. Take a look, then pet a pup!

April 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

About working at SmartBrief

When I attended employee orientation last month, I learned more about the other divisions of our organization. In addition to editorial, there’s advertising, IT, marketing and sales.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here and I invite you to peruse this list of openings if you’re in DC and being a part of our team may make sense for you (or if you know someone in DC who is seeking a great opportunity). As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions as of 5/5/19:

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 and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading!

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

Making Up My Mind: Choosing SmartBrief Stories

I have to make up my mind multiple times each day about which stories to feature in the nonprofit sector newsletters I edit for SmartBrief. I have to think through criteria such as:

  • What will encourage a subscriber to keep reading?
  • What will best reflect the organization the newsletter represents?
  • What will stand out in the deluge of information every news consumer faces daily?

These are the stories that best met the criteria in March:

Access breeds integrity: How scientists are getting in their own way by refusing to share

A story in the Sigma Xi Society SmartBrief discussed how scientific discoveries could progress much more quickly if paleontologists would share 3D fossil scans online. For various reasons (territoriality, copyright issues, not knowing the process involved in sharing such images), the process has been halting and incomplete.

Doug Boyer, creator of a website for virtual fossils, talks in the article about the correlation between the quantity of data and the ability to do more sophisticated analysis. “Just as important is the idea that access breeds integrity,” writes the article’s author, Dyani Lewis. The “access breeds integrity” idea is one that lodged in my head and took hold. I think it’s true beyond fossil datasets.

If we don’t have access to many things in our world, the lack of transparency threatens integrity. 

March 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

Is helping a homeless person anonymously through an app a step forward or a step backward?

Have you ever heard the term “relational poverty”? I had never encountered it until I read this story in the BoardSource SmartBrief about beacons backed up by an app that homeless people can use to share information about themselves with potential donors to bypass “relational poverty” — the term the app’s creator uses to represent a bystander’s reluctance to help.

If access breeds integrity, as discussed above, does this app and its apparent success means that lack of access (i.e., not having to talk face to face with someone who needs help) breeds generosity?

I am simultaneously fascinated by the use of technology to make it easier for people in need to get help and appalled that it is seen as a good thing to be able to avoid all interactions.

Our military goes face-to-face in Central America to provide a helping hand

You can’t pull a Honduran kid’s painful infected tooth with an app. In the Reserve Officer Association SmartBrief, we shared a story about how Army Reserve troops with Joint Task Force-Bravo provided medical care to people in remote areas of Central America.

I am grateful to these members of our military for serving the people of Honduras in this way. 

Women in India get restroom parity

Here in the US, we may have a hint at the issue of restroom parity as homeless women (and men) seek decent facilities to use the bathroom or clean up, but the challenge exists on a much wider scale in India. A story in the International City/County Management Association SmartBrief described how Pune, India, is converting old buses into mobile restrooms for women.

Lack of public restroom access for women in India can lead to health issues, increases safety risks and may keep girls from continuing their schooling. As many as 300 women per day have visited the stations, which creators say “give women what is theirs: safety and dignity.”

I love how this effort to meet a basic need has the potential to make a difference in women’s (and girls’) lives that is so far beyond “basic.”

The Yezidi people deserve much more

The UN Wire SmartBrief format includes six two-sentence summaries and eight links to stories that don’t include a summary. I suppose it is a testament to the enormity of our world and the multitude of griping stories that we only had room to give a story about the UN and Iraq jointly exhuming the first Yezidi mass grave a link without an accompanying summary.

Still, it’s a story worth reading. I didn’t know about this until I read it, and I can barely wrap my head around a situation an Iraqi official said was among “the most brutal crimes of the modern era.”

History can’t be reversed, but I am glad the remains these people who suffered so much will be given the dignity they deserve in death, even if they didn’t get it in life.

This analysis of 911 calls from Amazon warehouses was a prime example of the intersection between working conditions and mental health

In the National Emergency Number Association SmartBrief, we shared an analysis of 911 calls made from within 46 Amazon warehouses in 17 states. Obviously, even one analysis such as this is one angle on a situation, but I found it eye opening, and it is hard to discount the themes that arose.

Experts consulted for the article agreed that “a pressure cooker environment and mental illness can be dangerously toxic combination,” while not commenting specifically on Amazon.

Our work world has, in many cases, become much more driven by metrics. This article made me wonder when the line between metrics and humanity has been crossed too far.

How one psychotherapy center ensures each step of the process is welcoming

You know how a tiny part of an experience can ruin the whole thing? A rude receptionist, the waiting room playing a tv station that ruffles your political sensibilities … that type of thing? For the National Association of Social Workers SmartBrief, we discussed how the Walnut Psychotherapy Center takes care to make sure LGBTQ clients feel welcomed from the very first moment of interaction with the center.

The intake process “[cultivates] a safe enough space for [LGBTQ clients] to articulate their needs, share their story, feel heard and seen, to have someone hold the parts of their lives that feel sacred and tender as they prepare for their journey inward with their new therapist,” writes Biany Pérez, the center’s intake coordinator.

The small things matter, whether it’s starting the therapy process or building a massive construction project. I love how this center pays attention to the nuances.

How to get people to do things

I had the opportunity to fill in for the editor of SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs for a few issues last month. For the obvious reasons, this brief is quite a departure from my usual nonprofit fare. BUT this article about the ideal pitch deck to appeal to angel investors contained this universal truth about trying to convince almost anyone of anything (a quote from Kay Sprinkel Grace): “In good times and bad, we know that people give because you meet needs, not because you have needs.”

How often have you had to convince another person of a particular point, and been tempted to focus on what you need? Even in parenting, we may want our kids to be quiet, clean their rooms more quickly or get their homework done without procrastinating, but finding the appeal (diverting them to an interesting book may engage their attention while giving you the quiet you want without you having to harangue them for example) creates a win-win for everybody (sometimes!).

March 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

Why we should shelve our stereotypes about libraries

Another thing I had to make up my mind about recently in my SmartBrief life was a topic for my second Editor’s Desk video (here’s my first). I decided that the topic of social workers as staff members at libraries should be addressed, since we had run stories about the topic six times over six months.

I’m grateful to the Leon County Public Library for allowing me to record a video about a library in a real library, as I think the backdrop made it much more effective visually. I appreciate the National Association of Social Workers sharing the video on their Facebook page, which created a great dialogue on the topic. This subject is going to continue growing, as evidenced by sites such as Whole Person Librarianship and the movie The Public, starring Emilio Estevez and Rhymefest, which discusses a library’s decision-making process about how to handle the needs of homeless people.

Here’s the video:

About working at SmartBrief

I framed this month’s recap around decisions I personally had to make regarding the content of each brief. It is true that I make the final call, but as with all good products, each brief is a team effort involving editorial, marketing, sales and technical teams (among others).

I wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here and I invite you to peruse this list of 10 openings if you’re in DC and being a part of our team may make sense for you (or if you know someone in DC who is seeking a great opportunity). As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions as of 4/7/19:

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 and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll make up your mind to stay in touch with SmartBrief!

March 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

This post is in response to the Kat Bouska prompt “Write about a time you had to make up your mind.”

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

How 7 SmartBrief stories inspired me to do more

I read many news articles every day due to my work. I can either let them influence me to do things more often or persuade me to cut down. Looking over the most thought-provoking SmartBrief stories I encountered in February, I’m going for “more often” rather than “cutting down.”

I can:

Be open to disposing of outdated ideas and considering a new, more inclusive perspective

In the International City/County Management Association SmartBrief, there was a story about how Sandusky, Ohio, had chosen to end Columbus Day in favor of making Election Day a paid holiday.

Columbus Day was never all that big of a deal here in Florida. I don’t think I ever had it off (but I think the kids’ schools scheduled teacher planning days on Columbus Day). There’s a bigger question here, though, of how we as a society treat a day that many places have renamed “Indigenous People’s Day” and how much effort we expend to give people an opportunity to vote. In the long run, I think voting wins. 

Refuse to rule out the power of the tiniest clues

In the Sigma Xi Society SmartBrief, there was a story about unusual coyotes in Texas that, as it turns out, have DNA from extinct red wolves. The article discussed how the researcher who has been collecting genetic data on wolves and coyotes in North America prefers tissue samples over photographs when people ask for her help in identifying “wolflike animals.” In the case of the unusual coyotes in Texas, though, a biologist on Galveston Island, Texas, lost the tissue samples of one of the animals who was killed by a car, so couldn’t send them to the researcher.

Here’s how she got the information she needed: “He later lost one of the samples, but was able to send the scalpel he’d used on the animal’s carcass instead.” (Lo and behold, the “unusual coyotes” may possibly share DNA with the extinct red wolves.)

Who keeps their scalpels lying around without cleaning them? It paid off big-time here, but the survival of this woman’s research (at least in this instance) was hanging on the chance that a fellow scientist didn’t clean his scalpel right away. Hmmm.

Trust the evidence: Hope is real!

In the National Association of Social Workers SmartBrief, we discussed Professor Chan Hellman’s assertion that hope is evidence-based. “Hope scores are significant predictors of average daily attainment and GPA,” he said.

I especially loved this quote from the article: “Hope is a social gift. It’s not something that takes place in isolation within you, it’s something that we share.” I’m not even sure what it means, but “hope is a social gift” seems like a gift worth giving.

February 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Always demonstrate a spirit of collaboration

I learned through the BoardSource SmartBrief that Henry Timms is leaving the 92nd Street Y to become the Lincoln Center president.

I have always heard great things about Henry Timms, and I know he has made a big difference for the 92nd Street Y. I wish I could go to the city more often and do more things there. I did get to go to the Social Good Summit there in 2015, which was a thrill.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

At the 92nd Street Y for the Social Good Summit. Probably the closest I will ever be to Victoria Beckham in my life!

The Lincoln Center board chair, in discussing the challenges Timms has faced in the past, said, “His temperament is one of collaboration; he seems to have a low ego need.” I think this type of collaboration and a “low ego need” probably serve people well. 

Speak up to end debilitating practices

In the UN Wire SmartBrief, we shared the observation of the International Day of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation.

The practice of FGM has affected around 200 million women and girls, and the UN wants it gone by 2030. I do too, and I can do more to help bring about an end to this barbaric practice.

Be a proponent of metrics over anecdotal evidence

I have learned so much about first responders and the issues they face from the National Emergency Number Association SmartBrief. Consolidation of public safety centers is a common theme (ours here in Tallahassee has had its ups and downs since its creation in 2013), and this article explained how to make consolidations as smooth as possible.

The part of this article that most stuck out to me was “our memory does not provide an honest assessment.” It was written to explain how people who have begun working in a consolidated situation don’t always accurately remember how things worked prior to consolidation. The point was the need for an honest assessment and the development of realistic metrics. This is true beyond the emergency management world. 

Help remove mental health stigma, especially for the military and veterans

In the Reserve Officer Association SmartBrief, one of the stories discussed reports of death by suicide of 11 Air Force airmen and four civilian workers in January. “We need an Air Force culture where it is more common to seek help than to try to go at it alone,” said Air Force leaders.

I wish I didn’t even have to say this, but we have to figure out a way in this country to destigmatize mental illness. This is especially true for people in the military and veterans. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has resources for Veterans and Active Duty. Team Red White & Blue also works with active-duty military and veterans for a variety of needs. Make a donation, volunteer in some way, be there for a friend who is active duty or a veteran. 

***

That’s my list of seven but I have a bonus.

I filled in for a colleague editing the SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs newsletter for a bit, and I read How these three women faced their fears to pursue their dreams. I could have put it in a relatively generic category of “motivational pieces about women who are entrepreneurs.” Something one of the women said, though, left me wondering why it has to be that way:

“I’m scared all the time.”

In fairness to her, it doesn’t sound quite so stark when considered in the context of the rest of her advice: “Don’t be ashamed of being scared; cultivate belief in yourself. Today, it’s possible to learn almost anything online. ‘I’m scared all the time. Just do the thing you know you need to do anyway,’ she says.”

I’m past the point in my life where being “scared all the time” makes sense for me. There’s a difference between the relatively healthy uncertainty that comes with embarking on a new effort and being in a constant state of fear. I hope it works out for her, but I don’t plan to follow that path.

Balancing fear and confidence

There are things we can do to find equilibrium between assurance and anxiety. As these seven stories show, finding that balance may lie in embracing the things we can do more of rather than living a life of scratching things off the list.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

Openings at SmartBrief

When I share my wrap-ups of favorite SmartBrief stories, I also include our open positions. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

Here are our currently advertised open positions (they’re all located in Washington, D.C.):

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 and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope (in an evidence-based kind of way!) to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

February 2019 Smartbrief Wrapup

This post is a response to the Kat Bouska prompt “7 things to do more often.”

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

**Also — I know there’s something odd going on with the spacing on my post(s). I see those extra spaces and plan to eradicate them … as soon as I figure out how!