Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights

At the beginning of March (32 short days ago), I had the heart-filling opportunity to read to students at Ruediger Elementary School during #ReadUnited, a United Way campaign to encourage childhood reading.

Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights

Who knew this picture would seem so anachronistic just a month later? An open school! People sitting within six feet of each other! People breathing the same air! Now, of course, the physical school is closed and everything has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although much of our content at SmartBrief has been taken over by coronavirus stories, we did talk about other things last month. Here are my favorite stories (and none of them are about the pandemic).

BoardSource

Unfortunately, we have had our share of hurricanes here in North Florida. After Hurricane Michael, my friends and I spent a day volunteering at a drop-off center for donations. I was assigned to take the clothing contributions that came in and put them in a holding area. I am as utterly guilty of this as anyone else, but some of the things people brought were clearly of the “this has been in our closet for five years and now is as good a time as any to get rid of it” variety vs. “this is something that could clearly be used by a hurricane victim.”

That’s why this story in the March 2 issue about when physical donations hinder instead of helping rang so true.

Here’s an excerpt:

A man showed up to the Seattle homeless service provider with a large box full of new, waterproof, cold-weather boots, a valuable commodity to survive Seattle’s cold, damp winters. Then, Reynolds took a closer look at the boots. They were all for the left foot.

The article goes on to give specific tips for people who want to donate items instead of money, such as the fact that “socks are almost always in need.”

Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights

Business Transformation SmartBrief

In the March 30 issue of the Business Transformation SmartBrief, we shared Jane Keith’s article about what she learned from guiding her team through an implementation of their own enterprise planning software product. “Ownership is important,” she wrote, as she described why organizational change is most likely to succeed if people feel heard.

I’ve experienced this time and time again over the course of my career. Stories like this will always make my “favorites” list.

International City/County Management Association

One of the things we hope our municipal agencies and elected officials will do is to keep us safe. Accidents happen, of course, but accidents that happen because people shirked their responsibility are different.

This article about the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans in the March 12 issue documents the “shirking responsibility” type of situation. (To be clear, it sounds like some of the details are still shaking out, and everyone is innocent until found guilty, but there were lines in the article (“Kevin Richardson, another New Orleans building inspector, pleaded guilty to accepting $65,000 in bribes in exchange for not reporting building violations and issuing false inspection reports”) for example, that I found infuriating.

I channeled that fury into a post I wrote for the Lead Change Group. The post juxtaposed the blatant disregard for human life exhibited by the New Orleans inspectors with the way a physician, Dr. Anthony Gbollie Charles, approached his responsibilities are the medical professional in charge of Lillian Chason’s case as documented in the book “Breathless.”

Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights

National Association of Social Workers

Who knew when Social Work Month kicked off on March 1 that so many social workers would have abruptly transitioned to providing services via telephone and the internet by March 31? The end of the month undoubtedly did not hold the celebration they expected (or deserved). At least this piece in the March 20 issue gave them some well-earned recognition. (It was directed to social workers in Iowa, but it applies across the board.)

National Emergency Number Association

The topic of this article from the March 19 issue isn’t new. It covers the trauma dispatchers face from hearing the absolute worst moments of people’s lives, as well as the proposed 911 SAVES Act, which would reclassify first responders from a federal perspective. The reclassification would take them from being “administrative service” (clerical) to “protective service” and provide better benefits, training and recognition.

Reserve Officers Association

My mother-in-law was blind, so I have a sizable soft spot for visually impaired people. That’s why I loved this article in the March 9 issue. It explains the artificial intelligence remote assistance (AIRA) system that helps visually impaired veterans through a combination of glasses fitted with online connectivity and sighted volunteers. As a side note, I discovered another way to help visually impaired people, Be My Eyes, through the BoardSource newsletter.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary

In the March 30 issue, we shared a story about how physicists at Harvard had created a more refined image of a black hole than the Event Horizon Telescope had created previously.

I really liked the description scientist Alexandru Lupsasca gave to describe the challenge of this work an explain why computer simulations are necessary. He said this type of imaging is like “sitting in New York and trying to take an up-close picture of a quarter in LA.”

UN Wire

Here’s the thing about UN Wire in March. Out of 13 issues, 12 of them had a coronavirus story as the top story. Not surprising, right? The one noncoronavirus top story was on March 6, about how girls still face threats after 25 years of progress. Seeing as how coronavirus can’t possibly be good for mitigating any of those threats, I guess the whole situation comes full circle, doesn’t it?

A little more coronavirus content

I realize the above subhead is about the least attractive subhead in the world, BUT I am proud of what SmartBrief is doing to help keep people informed about the coronavirus pandemic, in a way that is hopefully unique and useful.

The Special Report on Coronavirus comes out every Tuesday and Friday. You can subscribe here. Also, SmartBrief is donating $1 to the WHO COVID Solidarity Response Fund for every new reader referred.

Even this sort of relates to the coronavirus

Sorry, but it does! However, hopefully it holds some interest beyond pandemic life. I wrote a post about why empathy matters when leaders are guiding their organizations through a crisis such as the current pandemic. I’d love for you to read/share. Here it is.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned a coronavirus-free section!

A few weeks ago, I received the business cards issued to my colleagues and me to reflect our logo change since Future bought SmartBrief. The whole experience as orchestrated by Moo was so much fun and so delightful. Had the whole world not essentially gone into hibernation (except for all the incredible essential workers), I would have done a cute social media “unboxing.” Now that seems tone-deaf. People are being furloughed and losing their livelihoods, so it’s not the time. But I do want to share what a great job Moo did here:

Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights
1. The outside of the box says “Yay!”
2. The seal says, “Made in Providence with pride”
3. The insider of the box says, “My goodness, you’re gorgeous! (We’re talking to your cards. But ok, you are too.)
4. The finished product is nicely arranged, with a card holder.

I love the attention Moo paid to how they presented their product. I also was happy to get my own business cards; it’s a small milestone I guess, but it was meaningful because I am proud of the work we do and of the effort we have put in over the past month, both to meet our usual standards and obligations and to rise to the occasion of coping with the arrival of the pandemic in the US.

About Future and SmartBrief

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 questions and provide more information about the process.

When there are open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc, they 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.

Left-footed boots and more: March SmartBrief highlights

*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

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.

BoardSource

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

Can cuttlefish wear glasses? And other SmartBrief highlights

Welcome to the “trying to keep it brief” edition of my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month. (We just closed on our house Friday and immediately headed out of town. Hence the shorter commentary today!)

BoardSource

My favorite BoardSource story was in the Jan. 15 issue and discussed nonprofit mergers. In this podcast, the guest talks about going to the location of a nonprofit that was the result of a merger, and how there were still two separate reception desks for the two previous organizations. Clearly the merger still had some bumps to overcome! The discussion happens at the 8:54 point in this podcast.

Business Transformation SmartBriefI

In the Jan. 22 issue of the Business Transformation SmartBrief, we featured an interview with the Chief Information Officer of Target. When he talked about the challenges of recruiting IT talent away from Silicon Valley to Minneapolis at a time when Target did not have a great reputation in this area, he said, “It was about selling people on the future, not the present.” I felt so much optimism in the way he framed this challenge.

International City/County Management Association

There’s a town in Austria that is said to have inspired the setting of “Frozen,” the Disney movie, and that connection has attracted tourists in droves. Mayor Alexander Scheutz is begging the tourists (around 10,000 a day) who want their own look at the Arendelle-like town to stay away. It’s causing multiple issues and he wants them to just let it go (couldn’t help the pun there!). We discussed this story in the Jan. 9 issue.

I also wrote a post in January based on a session I attended at the ICMA conference in Nashville last October. It’s about the manager of Meridian Township, Mich., and what he did when he discovered a report about Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of a resident was reported in 2004 (14 years prior) and not acted upon. Although he had not been manager at the time, he found it necessary to apologize.

Can cuttlefish wear glasses? And other SmartBrief highlights

National Association of Social Workers

Mental health parity is a topic we discuss often in the NASW newsletter. An article in the Jan. 14 issue talked about a young woman named Emma who died by suicide and how her father is supporting the bill. He blogs at GlitchesAndSmiles.com, which is worth a visit.

National Emergency Number Association

Burnout is an issue with the industry of first responders, and in the case of NENA, dispatchers particularly. In our Jan. 23 issue, we shared an article about reducing burnout and stress, something we do frequently. What I liked about this one was the relative simplicity of the concept and its emphasis on the power of writing. Dispatchers were encouraged to write about their experiences in response to email prompts. The writing, and the sharing among each other, led to significant reductions in scores on a burnout assessment.

Reserve Officers Association

In our Jan. 6 issue, we had a story about an Army Reserve unit preparing to deploy. This passage was heart-rending to me, as it would be to anyone with a heart:

Taylor’s 2-year-old son Axl toddled from his third row seat to embrace his father’s legs.

Taylor shooed the young boy at first, but as Axl clung to his legs, Taylor gave in with a pat to his head. Smiles filled the faces of families that admired the heartwarming yet heartbreaking moment.

“Honestly, I wanted to cry,” said Taylor.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

This one goes under the “wow — science requires people to do interesting things” category. For a study of depth perception, some scientist(s) put tiny 3D glasses on cuttlefish, as we shared in the Jan. 9 issue.

@Doug_Ellison, who is the Engineering Camera Team Lead of the Mars Curiosity Rover (cool gig, eh?), sent a tweet that was a reminder that all science should be questioned.

Can cuttlefish wear glasses? And other SmartBrief highlights

UN Wire

The United Nations began celebrating 2020 as its 75th anniversary year as January began. We discussed this and the “Decade of Action” plan in our Jan. 24 issue. As he briefed the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the dangers the world faces from “epic geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, global mistrust and the downsides of technology.” He said, “commemorating the 75th anniversary with nice speeches won’t do” and encouraged “21st-century solutions” instead. I agree – we need so much more than “nice speeches” right now.

Employment opportunities at SmartBrief and Future

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.

Golden stories for a new year

Golden stories for a new year

Some months, I sit down to compile my post of my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month, and I’ve populated the draft post with stories already. (This is my preference, because it makes the final writing a bit easier. A story that merited me taking a moment in the middle of a workday to log in to my blog site and add the link RIGHT THAT MOMENT is a golden story). There have been months when I sat down to write my post and had to start from scratch, either because the prior month was just too busy to jot down the fave stories or because nothing had jumped out to me yet. December was pretty good from that standpoint, because most of my favorite stories were already here when I started to write. It was also just a great month in general. Here’s why.

BoardSource

The beauty of working on business to business newsletters in the nonprofit sector is the huge variety of topics I read about every day. In the case of a story in the December 19 BoardSource newsletter about Sioux Falls Thrive, which is working to identify children and families struggling with food scarcity in Sioux Falls, S.D., and coordinate relief efforts with local nonprofits, the standout sentence was the one that contained a huge amount of common sense in 24 words about one of the Food Security Action Team members:

She recalled visiting a mother during her tenure, who didn’t have access to a can opener, but had a stack of canned goods nearby. 

How many times do we give in order to make ourselves feel we are making a difference, yet not take responsibility to look at the bigger picture and make sure our “help” is actually helping?

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the BoardSource newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

Business Transformation SmartBrief

Over the time I have been editing at SmartBrief, I have said goodbye to being responsible for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association SmartBrief, the SmartCities SmartBrief and a newsletter for the American Society for Public Administration. I’m sure as time goes on, there will be more changes, and it’s always a bit of a challenge because I get attached to the subjects and the partners.

The newest entry in my lineup, the Business Transformation SmartBrief, will always have the distinction of being my first brief for which I was the initial editor, and for which I was involved in the team that put the brief together for the very first time. The brief covers many areas of business transformation, including environmental, social and governance investing, digital transformation and research related to these topics. I’m excited to be doing it and hope you’ll consider subscribing.

The story that has stayed in my mind the most during the Business Transformation SmartBrief’s first month is one in the December 16 issue about the Mexican chemical company Orbia, which used to be Mexichem. Many parts of this article interested me, but none more than the company’s “living logo.” The logo “changes yearly to reflect how well the company is doing in meeting a series of sustainability and profit goals.” I’m no logo expert, but I tend to see logos as static. It’ll be interesting to see how this idea goes. For what it’s worth, here’s the 2016/2017/2018 version:

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the Business Transformation newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

International City/County Management Association

I had never heard of the Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony until this year. We discussed the November 28 event held on Alcatraz Island in our December 2 issue. Were these comfortable articles to read about how “Native people were banned from practicing a Sunrise Ceremony” or how “Native Americans call the federal holiday the National Day of Mourning“? They absolutely were not. But city and county managers (and people in general) need to be aware of the perspectives of all within their municipalities, and this piece opened my eyes wide.

The ICMA SmartBrief did not have a “top 12 stories” issue.

National Association of Social Workers

My favorite NASW SmartBrief story of December aligned so well with one of my core beliefs in general: that reading makes us all better at what we do. In this case, social worker Michael Laird discussed how reading literary fiction had deepened his insight into the human condition.

He talks about “The Box Man” by Kobo Abe, a Japanese novel that explores issues of identity. Laird writes:

As social workers, we can think of the box as a metaphor for escaping shame and the sense that one is different and unaccepted by peers, family members, and the community. 

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the NASW newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

National Emergency Number Association

I fully understand that it’s my role to present the story of my partners from their perspective and to retain objectivity, but in the case of the need for passage of the 911 SAVES Act, which would reclassify dispatchers as “protective service occupation” workers (rather than clerical), I am firmly with the dispatchers.

In the December 17 issue of the Public Safety SmartBrief, we shared how reclassification had not been included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. However, we had an opportunity in a subsequent issue to describe how 38 of the 55 counties in West Virginia have given first responder status to dispatchers (with an effort to seek a statewide designation underway).

The Public Safety SmartBrief did not have a “top 12 stories” issue.

Reserve Officers Association

Unless you were under a rock in December, you’ll recall that Giving Tuesday took place on December 3. Three military spouses, including the National Guard Military Spouse of the Year, organized a Giving Tuesday campaign that had a slightly different twist from all the Giving Tuesday initiatives focused on raising funds. It sought to reach 1 million acts of kindness. We talked about this in the December 2 ROA SmartBrief.

“I truly believe in the power of kindness and that it can save lives,” said Jessica Manfre.

Me too, Jessica.

For the top 12 stories in the ROA newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Just imagine being a humble citizen scientist whose passion and hard work lead NASA to credit you in a tweet. I mean … just imagine!

That’s exactly what happened for Shanmuga Subramanian. In the December 4 issue of the Sigma Xi SmartBrief, we shared the story of how Subramanian’s analysis of a NASA image of the Vikram lander’s debris field on the moon led to NASA confirming its crash site.

Golden stories for a new year

I simply love this vindication of doing what you love to do; that by doing so, you sometimes earn proper recognition.

For the top 12 stories in the Sigma Xi newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

United Nations Foundation

Every UN Wire SmartBrief has 14 items. Three days a week, 14 items, and a high proportion of these items address refugee issues. One story about refugees in the December 18 newsletter that covered the Global Refugee Forum featured a woman who left Syria and became a refugee in 2013 when someone shot a gun into her car. She discussed how education and job assistance do help refugees. However, she noted the more difficult shadow of racism and stigma.

“Becoming a refugee doesn’t change who you are,” she said. “I am still the same woman.”

For the top 12 stories in the UN Wire newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

A visit to HQ

Another reason December was “golden” was my opportunity to visit our Washington, D.C., headquarters. This was my first visit since we were purchased by Future plc. I got to see some of the cosmetic changes (more Future red, for example).

Golden stories for a new year

I also got to squeeze in a visit to the National Christmas Tree the night I arrived.

Golden stories for a new year

The most delightful part, though, was spending time with my colleagues. I love remote worker life, but I also truly enjoy my coworkers. I’m so grateful for two days with them.

Employment opportunities at SmartBrief and Future

If you’d like to discover your own “golden stories” as part of SmartBrief (or our parent company, Future plc), this is your section.

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.

This video gives a quick summary of our 2019 at SmartBrief. I have learned so much and dealt with so many interesting people. I’m looking forward to more golden opportunities in 2020.

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.

I’m linking this post up at Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt, “Write a blog post inspired by GOLD.”

Golden stories for a new year

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

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.