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

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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.