Toy Drops, Accountability, and the End of Overdue Book Fines

In October and December of last year, I shared posts recapping my favorite SmartBrief stories among the briefs I edit. Here’s an update:

From ASPA (The American Society of Public Administrators) and from ICMA (the International City/County Management Association)

Cities loosen penalties for transit fare evasion (ASPA)

Utah library stops charging fines for overdue books (ICMA)   

Why it’s so interesting: When I lived in New York City (1989-1992), fare evasion was definitely seen as a “no-no.” Now it’s (to an extent) in the same category as fines for overdue books. Speaking of overdue books, some cities are choosing to forgo fines for those now. This (keeping a book past its due date and owing money for it) was seen as a “no-no” long before I was a NYC resident paying my fair share for transit services. Things are changing regarding how municipalities incentivize behaviors that contribute to the greater good. The Utah library was concerned that fines exacerbated inequity, for example, and made it hard for the people who needed the library most to use its services. Also, in both cases, there were analyses of the amount of resources spent on enforcement in comparison to the revenue generated. It makes me look at the world in a different way than I did before. 

Favorite December 2018 SmartBrief stories

From Sigma Xi Science Honor Society

Invasive wasp endangers Spain’s chestnut crops

Why it’s so interesting: It’s a problem in itself that sweet chestnut production in Spain is down 30% due to an invasive Chinese parasitic insect. It’s a bigger problem that the diminished chestnut production and parasitic attack is a) affecting a struggling economy dependent on exporting sweet chestnuts to France b) contributing to an increase in forest fire risk (because some farmers are burning their crops to kill the invader c) resulting in “urban drift” as young people have become more cynical about a future in chestnut farming and d) causing more questions as one method of combating it (the release of the parasite’s natural predator) may itself cause. This is one of many stories I read that help me understand the challenges our world faces. As one government investigator said, “If we take a wider view this is another example of the unintentional globalisation of parasites and the problems facing scientists as they search for ways of eradicating, or at least limiting the pest.”

From the National Association of Social Workers

Commentary: Seeking, finding support helps former foster child

Why it’s so interesting: This story was about Deitrick Foley, who spent time in the foster care system as a child, and says his involvement in several support groups has helped him see that it is possible to find affirmation and support from people who are not relatives by blood. I loved this quote: “I learned to never give up spreading love to the people around me, and to look at one person leaving my life as leaving the door open and making space for two people to come into it.” So wise.

From UN Wire

Female Venezuelan migrants selling hair, sexual favors for income

There is absolutely nothing uplifting about this story. Nothing. As difficult and heartbreaking as it is to read stories like this, it means a lot to me to be a part of sharing them to a broader audience. For International Women’s Day 2018, Kathy Escobar wrote, “May we remember that our freedom is all tied up together, and none of us are free unless we are all free.” I concur.  

From BoardSource

Organization, bipartisanship help nonprofits excel, Bono says

Why it’s so interesting: When I first read this article, I thought about the last time I participated in “Hill Day” for Shot at Life. On Hill Day, advocates visit the offices of their congressional representatives and share their hopes for their cause. There were so many ONE advocates it was almost comical (it was heartening and wonderful, of course, but the visual was a dramatic statement). Bono, the founder, knows what he is doing and he doesn’t mind being direct and possibly even controversial. Case in point: this line from the article: “Whatever you feel about the NRA – and I don’t like them very much – they’re a very well-organized group and we want ONE to be the NRA for the world’s poor.” I admire him for his ability to praise the organizational abilities of the NRA (while also systematically working day and night to achieve goals that are mostly diametrically opposed…).

From the Reserve Officers Association

Operation Toy Drop prep involves 260 jumpmasters

Why it’s so interesting: Operation Toy Drop (not surprisingly) doesn’t involve actually “dropping” toys. In short, it’s a cooperative, multi-national training opportunity that involves paratroopers from 14 partner nations. The participating troops also collect toys for children in the surrounding area. The event started in 1998, and I enjoyed poking around to learn its historyAt a time of so much divisiveness internationally, I loved the cooperative tone of this project. 

This video gives a brief overview of the event:

(As a side note and point of personal privilege, this story was also relevant to me because my daughter went skydiving for the first time ever last month. Thank you to Jump Jasper Skydiving for delivering her back to terra firma safely. And props to Tenley for being brave enough to do something I have no desire to do. EVER.)

From the National Emergency Number Association

Peevyhouse: Trauma among 9-1-1 professionals should be given priority

Why it’s so interesting: First, I loved the title of this commentary from Jamison Peevyhouse, President of the National Emergency Number Association, “Hell is empty, & all the devils are here.” Such an evocative use of words to introduce a piece about the stresses first responders and dispatchers face. Besides the explanation of the challenges faced by dispatchers, I loved the emphasis on being observant, of being a team, such as, “Be the one who will commit to check on each coworker after a tough shift.” We should all do the same, regardless of our industry.  

From SmartBrief on Leadership

Letting employees design workflow increases engagement

I edited SmartBrief on Leadership for six days in December. This brief is how I became acquainted with SmartBrief years ago, and it has its own significance to me for that reason. Being entrusted with editing it was mixture of enthralling and nerves (but mostly enthralling!). One article from that six-day period that stood out to me was this interview with Stephen Mumford, an executive at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. In discussing employee engagement, he said this:

Listen, listen, listen! I find that sometimes my employees just want to be heard. I make rounds in the departments as much as I can. My employees really like when I come to their areas and see them in action. I also let my team design the processes and workflows for their departments. This keeps them engaged, and they hold each other accountable to the processes they build.

People like to be involved in designing “processes and workflows.” In the medical environment, who better to be a part of designing workflows than the people who do it? I can see why they are more engaged and why they emphasize accountability if they had a hand in the way things run. 

Another cool component of the leadership newsletter is its Twitter feed. Check it out by visiting @SBLeaders.

About Working at SmartBrief and Our Current Openings

When I share my recaps, I also like to give an update about openings. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

SmartBrief’s Open Position(s)

Here are SmartBrief’s currently advertised open positions:

And in the New York office:

If you apply, please list me as your referrer. 

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including our newest, 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 Facebook, SmartBrief Twitter, Leadership SmartBrief Twitter, LinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

Favorite December 2018 SmartBrief stories

SmartBrief: My Favorite Stories (And Open Positions)

In October, I shared a post recapping my favorite SmartBrief stories among the briefs I edit. Since a little more than a month has elapsed, here is an update about my latest favorites.

From ASPA (The American Society of Public Administrators)

Opportunity Zones take another step as IRS releases rule proposal

Why it’s so interesting: I have to admit … before starting to edit the ASPA newsletter, I wouldn’t have known an “opportunity zone” if it struck me in the face. Short version: Opportunity zones, created in late 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, are “economically-distressed communit[ies] where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.” OZs are going to be complicated, and it’s hard to say (yet) whether they will pan out to do what they are intended to do, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities.

From Sigma Xi Science Honor Society

Bodies burn more calories later in the day, study suggests

Why it’s so interesting: Sometimes, it’s not the findings of a study that fascinate me so much, but the methodology. For this study, which found our bodies burn more calories in the late afternoon than early evening, the seven study participants spent a month in a windowless, clock-free lab, having their schedules manipulated and all kinds of things measured. A MONTH IN A WINDOWLESS, CLOCK-FREE LAB. That’s sacrificing for science.

From the National Association of Social Workers

Carolina Panthers tackle player mental health

Why it’s so interesting: I know NFL players earn plenty of money, but they also endure intense pressure, emotionally and physically. The Carolina Panthers were the first NFL team to hire a full-time psychologist. NFL Players Association director of wellness Nyaka NiiLampti said, “mental health is health.” I love that message and believe it, whether we’re talking football, accounting or trash collecting. 

From UN Wire

UNEP: Meat, dairy production driving climate change

I’m not prefacing this with “why it’s so interesting” because it’s more important for me to share that editing this newsletter a) breaks my heart on the regular and b) leave me amazed that I get paid to do this (I have been involved in United Nations Foundation causes for years). This story opened my eyes to the ways the production of meat contributes to heavy water usage and rainforest deforestation. It’s a newsletter that simultaneously leaves me worried about the state of the world and optimistic that causes including the environment, poverty, education of girls, and health have champions.  

From BoardSource

Commentary: Philanthropy must directly face anti-black racism

Why it’s so interesting: This piece does not mince words, and I found it courageous that BoardSource asked for it to be included. It is just a stroke of good fortune, and not something I have the right to expect, to be asked to work with a piece of content that so closely aligns with my personal values. I’ll take it. Excerpt: “…many people face challenges because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their sexual identity, and so much more — but that treatment squarely rests, in fact has been perfected over centuries, on racism specifically directed against black people.” 

From the Reserve Officers Association

Study: Meditation could help alleviate PTSD

Why it’s so interesting: The transition back to civilian life is so difficult for many veterans, and meditation is such a powerful resource. In a study, PTSD symptoms were reduced 61% among veterans who practiced meditation as part of the study.  

From the National Emergency Number Association

Commentary: New title for 9-1-1 operators would denote professionalism

Why it’s so interesting: I have learned so much about the world of emergency management, and especially the unique stresses dispatchers face, working on this newsletter. This opinion piece advocates for changing the way dispatchers’ jobs are classified from “clerical” to “protective service professional,” which would make progress toward helping recruit qualified dispatchers and keep wait times for emergency response from growing longer and jeopardizing people’s health. I’m pretty sure every dispatcher I know would agree. 

From the International City/County Management Association

Petaluma, Calif., manager retires after 35 years in public service

I saved this one for last for a reason.It sounds pretty routine, right? City managers retire all the time. But for that city and for that manager, this is a major milestone. I had to confirm the date of the meeting where a proclamation was presented about his service, so I found myself watching the livestream of the presentation. I wondered what went through the mind of John Brown of Petaluma, Calif., as he was celebrated. The man orchestrated the replenishment of the city’s reserves after they fell from $8.5 million to $5,000 in 2008. Now they’re on target to be at $8.7 million next year. It may not be the most unique story we publish in a SmartBrief newsletter, but a man who gave all of his professional life to building communities and the hard, difficult work of getting a city’s finances in line deserves two sentences. Congratulations, Mr. Brown of Petaluma.

Digital Journalism Job Openings

About Working at SmartBrief and Our Current Openings

In my previous post, I wrote about our open positions and why I am so pleased to be a part of it all. Here’s an update.

digital journalism job openings

SmartBrief’s Open Position(s)

SmartBrief now has a similar position to mine open, for a Media Editor.

If you have experience as an editor and an interest in digital journalism, as well as expertise with media news and trends, I encourage you to learn more about the position and apply. (Please use my name as your referral contact. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have questions.)

The Media Editor position is slated to be in the Washington, D.C., office, but the ideal candidate might be permitted to telecommute.

Note: There are several other open positions in the D.C. office. I assume most of my contacts will be interested in the Media Editor position, but here are the others:

And in the New York office:

About My Experience

When I was sending an email to a few contacts in October, to share the open position(s), it occurred to me that some people are not aware of SmartBrief. Therefore, I wrote a bit in the email about my experience. This is an excerpt of what I said:

Although I just started as a full-time editor with SmartBrief in September, I was working as a freelance searcher, writer and editor before that (since January 2017).
I know people vary in the path they take to find a job that is rewarding and enjoyable. For me, working as a freelancer because I was still taking care of my father-in-law turned out to be the best of all worlds. It showed me why I wanted to apply for a full-time position and introduced me to a product I believe in wholeheartedly, working with other people who have the same focused commitment.
To learn more about what we do, visit the main site here.

 

To Recap

To follow up on the Media Editor position, click here.

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including our newest, 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 Facebook, SmartBrief Twitter, Leadership SmartBrief Twitter, LinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!