2021 got off to quite a start.
I didn’t expect the pandemic-style New Year’s Eve celebration, with the bit of optimism we all tried to muster, to give away to a full-blown government insurrection less than a week later.
But it did, and that crisis on January 6 has led me to shuffle around my usual list of top SmartBrief stories (I usually present them in alphabetical order).
UN Wire (United Nations Foundation)
The events of January 6 were horrifying to those of us who live here in the US, and they were horrifying all over the globe. These statements by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other high-level United Nations officials seem like the ultimate global “call to the principal’s office” to me.
After the insurrection, I worked with each of my nonprofit partners to determine if they wanted to make a statement in their newsletter and, if so, what the specifics would be. Being a liaison with my partners isn’t just work for me; I value these relationships on a personal level. Working through times like this is an integral part of my work, and I’m grateful they trust me. When applicable, I’ve shared the partners’ statements along with my favorite story of January.
Before moving on to do that, January’s most-clicked story in UN Wire was WHO predicts endemic future as it studies virus variants.
International City/County Management Association
Solving the challenge of homelessness is an infinitely difficult quest. There are several things about these insulated sleep pods in Germany that I love. I appreciate how the charity association responsible for the pods makes sure they are cleaned out during the day and how they try to connect whoever used a pod with further assistance. This story made it into this blog, though, mainly because the pods have room for the users’ DOGS (one dog, at least). I love that.
Top January story: Joliet, Ill., gets first permanent manager since 2018
National Association of Social Workers
I chose this story for one particular passage in it: “We’re not legislators. We don’t have the powers in other ways.” This family went to great lengths to give a mother and her son a home after they fled violence in Honduras. They may not be able to change policy, but through their actions, they showed a child what love means.
Top January story: 7 types of rest that bodies and minds need
Because I tend to be plugged in to a lot of nonprofits, I’ve gotten questions over the years from parents seeking help finding volunteer opportunities for their high-school seniors as they tried to complete the volunteer hours Florida requires to qualify for the Bright Futures scholarship. It can be kind of tough to connect a teen with a fitting opportunity, even in nonpandemic times.
I appreciate this high-school student, who took it upon herself to connect her peers with opportunities once the pandemic shut down lots of options.
Top January story: How to send your “best” at the end of every email
Business Transformation SmartBrief
I only know what I know about fantasy sports and the world of sports wagering because of my husband’s expertise in the matter, but that was enough to make this story interest me. Apparently, a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 was one of the actions that opened the floodgates to this type of thing (the ruling “struck down the federal statute that restricted regulated bookmaking to primarily Nevada”). We’ll see how separate the football field can remain from the field of bettors as more pro teams get betting licenses.
Top January story: The complicated equation of N95 mask supply and demand
National Emergency Number Association
The “Beyond the Call of Duty” section is relatively new to this newsletter, but it has rapidly become one of my favorites. It has two purposes: One is to recognize dispatchers who do commendable things and the second is to recognize civilians who help save lives or in some other way do a good deed in a situation where they interact with 9-1-1. This story is a lovely example of the first purpose — I’d like to hope I would do the same thing (including staying anonymous) if I were that dispatcher.
Top January story: Details emerge in case of Mo. dispatcher accused of slur
Reserve Officers Association
I like the generosity element of this story, but I am surprised there is no more formal plan for airman battle uniform components once they are no longer useful to a service member (but are in good enough shape to help someone who has no other clothing options). Good on Senior Airman Louis Shackleford for taking the initiative.
Top January story: Vetting sees 12 Guard troops exit Inauguration duty
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary Society
I learned through this story about the Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, which started erupting again in 2018, that the water that emits when a geyser erupts comes from so far underground that it is “decades or even centuries old.” How cool is that?
Top January story: Solar Orbiter snaps images of Earth, Mars and Venus
Once upon a time, I was a huge Foursquare fan and a constant user. I checked in everywhere. I got the city commission to do a resolution for Foursquare Day (April 16, get it?) and worked with a local restaurant (RIP Bagelheads) to do a promotion to commemorate it one year.
Eventually, I rethought the messages I was sending by telegraphing my location throughout each moment of the day, not to mention the amount of data I was freely giving away, and stopped checking in compulsively. While a decision to stop being a CEO is a whole different thing than a decision to stop tapping a smartphone several times a day, I found former Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley’s take on his decision enlightening.
Rather than focusing solely on money, Crowley did some self-examination and concluded, “What makes me happy is building things that change the way people use public space.” Then he went with that. To me, it’s brave to do what your instincts say will be more satisfactory when the world is arguing for a different metric.
Top January story: 6 rules for morning check-ins that work
About working at Future/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 newsletters and Future’s other enterprises.
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 respond to inquiries and provide more information about the process.
All open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. Here are a few highlights (listed in order of most recent posting date (2/4/21) to least recent (1/14/21)):
If you are interested in applying and have questions, please email me so we can discuss further.
To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays, and you can subscribe to it here.
If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on Facebook; SmartBrief Twitter; Leadership SmartBrief Twitter; LinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.
And to close out this look back at January …
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.