2021 is halfway over. We all find ourselves in a different world than the one we had in January 2021. I’m grateful for hugs, get-togethers and the reopening of live theatre. I’m not so grateful for having to put makeup on again, some of the social challenges that come with small talk and mingling, and the return of head colds and the other things that can vex us now that we are living a less-masked life.
I have a few comments to share about the Fourth of July. If you’re one of those people who likes to get right to the recipes rather than hearing a long intro tying in the origins of the grains and the recipe developer’s life story, scroll on down to the word “BoardSource.”
Otherwise, some thoughts:
We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t pay attention to the need in this country to recognize white privilege and the ongoing inequities that have their genesis as far back as 1619.
Listen to Frederick Douglass’ descendants read his speech, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?” (or read the entire text here.
Helping people focus
This came up in my Timehop recently:
The Firecracker 5000 race was held for years in Greenville, a small Florida community. Everything about it is quintessential rural North Florida. As a runner, you boarded a yellow school bus, and the bus delivered you to a spot truly in the middle of nowhere, that was 3.1 miles/5 kilometers away from the center of town where the finish line was.
Picture a clutch of enthusiastic runners … and some fields with cows.
The reward was working our way back to town, where the local Kiwanis club (the race’s sponsors) served a scrumptious breakfast and the kids got to play in bouncy houses.
I view my work at SmartBrief as something similar to the Firecracker 5000 race. Our readers find themselves at a distance from the heart of the activity. It’s our job to give them a route back, help them home in on a finish line, and make them feel rewarded for gaining context about the world (there’s no breakfast for our readers, though — sorry about that).
Here are the stories that stood out to me in June 2021.
It is so saddening to realize that many children in our country don’t have their own beds. I had heard of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, the nonprofit that builds the beds, before reading about them for work. I’m glad I got this glimpse into how one chapter does it. I also agree with Valerie, the chapter president’s wife, who said, “We can’t do everything, but we can do something.”
Top June story: Ways white supremacy insinuates itself into nonprofits
Business Transformation SmartBrief
This article about the survival of F.X. Matt Brewing was fascinating in general. The part that shot it up my priority list was its president’s comments about his early career, and how it was rejection that fueled him. I tend to be pretty skeptical about many of the ways failure and rejection are treated by thought leaders, but this one rang true:
“I wallpapered my dorm room with rejection letters. The crushing blow of getting rejected, rejected, rejected, rejected got me focused on the idea you gotta make your own breaks. That’s been my approach to life and business.
I ultimately got a job in a training program in international shipping with Barber Blue Sea. In an entry job, you might think your boss is thinking about how to groom you and promote you, but I didn’t see much of that.
If you cull it down, early influences weren’t a boss or a person. It was a fair amount of rejection.”
Top June story: Film gives way to drugs as Kodak seeks a new path
International City/County Management Association
This is the kind of story I love sharing via ICMA. It’s unique — there may be similar stories, but there will never be one exactly like this. The mayor of Budapest, Hungary, can’t change the fact that China is building a university in his city, but he can make sure four of the street names reflect his opinion about alleged human rights violations by the Chinese. I guess this kind of thing could get out of hand (I shudder to think what an ultra-conservative mayor might do with some more liberal projects), but this one is a home run, in my opinion.
Top June story: 10 questions to ask about your emotional leadership
National Association of Social Workers
Sometimes, a pet is the only consistent companion a person experiencing homelessness has. This doesn’t mesh well with a lot of municipal regulations, not to mention people’s opinions that homeless people somehow don’t deserve pets and/or can’t handle the responsibility. In this article, social worker Scott Beck says, “There are so many stigmas about people who are experiencing homelessness and if they should have the responsibility of having a pet. And I can tell by far in my life experience and my professional experience, they are the best pet owners there are.”
Top June story: 5 characteristics of a healthy work environment
National Emergency Number Association
This article is about a dispatcher who wrote the end-of-watch call for an officer who was killed while on duty. Full disclosure, I was out the day this story was chosen, written and edited. I only discovered it as I was preparing this blog. So much changed between the June 1 NENA Public Safety SmartBrief and the end of June. A good friend of mine who had just left her job as a Florida State University Police Department dispatcher (because she got her MSW and moved on to a different job) died on June 23.
At her celebration of life, a lieutenant in the FSU PD gave one of the best eulogies I’ve ever heard. It’s hard to stay focused on a eulogy at a memorial service (for me anyway). He outlined KIm’s life in a thorough, touching and even humorous way (she would have wanted the humor). He said she was a protector (true), perfectionist (so true) and a productive person (very, very true). I was so lulled into a sense of really feeling her presence that I didn’t realize he had saved the hardest part for the end — her end of watch call. I’m sure those of you in law enforcement aren’t surprised to hear this, but I’ve never been in a room where so many people started sobbing in unison.
I know this addition makes this blog even longer, but I think Kim’s dad’s message is so important. She would want every one of us to take care of others and of ourselves. I’m not sure how I can personally be a part of helping first responders with mental health issues (except for tracking down every mental health/first responder story that it’s appropriate to add in this newsletter), but I plan to try.
Top June story: Dallas-area dispatcher shortages hurting response times
Reserve Officers Association
It’s nice that Ebbing Air National Guard Base is going to host a fighter jet center, and that the local economy will benefit from the influx of service members and their families. What I loved about this article is that the center is international in scope. “…at the end of the day the relationships with citizens and our diversity is what gives us the edge,” said the mayor, George McGill.
Top June story: Gear needed to prep for ACFT challenges Guard, Reserves
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honorary Society
The name of an object periodically blocking a star 25,000 light-years away from Earth has been designated VVV-WIT-08. The WIT stands for “What is this?” And I find that hilarious. (Apparently this is a practice astronomers use, not just a whim this particular researcher dreamed up.)
Top June story: Chocolate in morning may lower blood glucose, burn fat
World Oceans Day was last month (June 8). “Let’s end our war on nature,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He’s right. I also really liked the fact that two other sites I like observed World Oceans Day. One is Good Today. People participating in Good Today give $0.25 (or more) every day and get two choices related to a certain cause. The choices for World Ocean Day were Clean Ocean and The Ocean Foundation. If you’re interested in Good Today, you can sign up through this link.
Top June story: Deadly attack kills at least 160 in Burkina Faso
June was a busy month!
One cool thing about June was the fact that I was able to be involved in a couple of our other verticals as I lent a hand for editors and other team members who were out. I can’t say I exactly managed it this well …
… but I enjoyed dabbling in leadership, concrete and human resources. I also edited our While You Were Working newsletter a couple of times. In one of the issues, I talked about the strawberry moon, which was due to appear that evening. Lo and behold, I woke up the next morning to an email from a reader with an incredible picture of the strawberry moon.
About helping people find the route to focus at SmartBrief/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 stories through newsletters and Future’s other enterprises.
All open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. Here are a few highlights (listed in order of least recent posting date (6/2/21) to most recent (6/30/21)):
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 company via Future Twitter, SmartBrief Twitter; Leadership SmartBrief Twitter; Future LinkedIn, SmartBrief LinkedIn, SmartBrief Facebook and SmartBrief Instagram.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.