If you’ve ever been captivated by a small detail of a big story, you’re in good company with me.
Here are the stories that caught my attention last month among the nonprofit sector newsletters I edit for SmartBrief. They don’t all revolve around a small detail, but each has something that made me think a little harder.
A nonprofit in San Francisco gave 15 people who were experiencing homelessness $500 a month for six months. I was fascinated by how well the experiment turned out, for the most part. Here’s the comment from a program participant that resonated with me, though. One woman gave back a small amount of the money to the organization that had provided cash to her. Why?
“I’m doing it so I can once again feel the dignity of being able to support a cause that I believe in.”
There is dignity, joy and empowerment in giving.
Most-clicked August story: 3 questions to ask when assessing CEO compensation
Business Transformation SmartBrief
Li Huang’s research backs up the idea that we are more creative when we subject ourselves to mind-body dissonance. As an example, she discusses Gordon Ramsay’s adventure catching puffins on an Icelandic cliff in contrast to his usual perch in an ultra-modern, well-equipped kitchen. I agree with Li Huang — it’s not comfortable for us to change up our habits, environments and actions, but it can be worthwhile for employees all along the seniority chain.
Most-clicked August story: The “great resignation” isn’t necessarily a great solution
International City/County Management Association
Local government work has enough difficult scenarios — it is fun to see a movement that is lighthearted and positive. A petition to have a pavilion in Edmonton, Alberta, named after native son Nathan Fillion (who stars in “The Suicide Squad”) languished for a couple of years. Then his co-stars got in on the action and used social media to give the movement some “oomph.” The pavilion hasn’t been renamed (yet), but the city acknowledged that the name “Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion has a great ring to it.”
UPDATE: I did a little research to see if there had been any developments. It turns out that Edmonton DID rename the pavilion. Granted, it was only for 24 hours and tied in to the debut of “The Suicide Squad,” but still …
Most-clicked August story: Clearwater, Fla., mourns manager’s death
National Association of Social Workers
This story about the challenges people face finding affordable rentals in Wisconsin highlights so many affordable housing choices. The part that earned this story a spot in my recap blog this month was a social worker’s comment that finding affordable rentals can be even more difficult with pets, since many landlords charge extra when animals are involved. I’ve gained a new appreciation while editing this newsletter, specifically, for the role animals play in emotional well-being. For many people, they aren’t optional; they have a bearing on mental health.
Most-clicked August story: Apologies must do these 3 things
National Emergency Number Association
I’m not an OnStar user, so this is not any type of endorsement. I just think it’s cool that the organization apparently goes through so many procedures to ensure quality. For example, Medical Director Paul Stiegler drives to some location in his area once a month, presses the OnStar button in his vehicle, and runs through a scenario with the emergency medical dispatcher he connects to.
Most-clicked August story: Report: Phoenix 9-1-1 violated 3 policies prior to dispatcher’s death
Reserve Officers Association
It’s so important that veterans get the mental health support they deserve. With the recent events in Afghanistan, it’s especially important that medical providers and our citizenry at large recognize the stressful emotions that are likely to have been awakened by the Taliban’s takeover.
I also really appreciated having the input of Dan Grinstead, a former National Guard member who is a retired social worker. As a civilian, I can talk about the mental health of National Guard members endlessly, but Dan has instant credibility for having served. (I also encourage you to watch Dan’s Storytellers Project speech about joining the military at age 58.)
Most-clicked August story: Army Reserve members caught behind lines in Afghanistan
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honorary Society
This story perfectly aligned with one of my favorite podcasts, Song Salad. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Song Salad yet, I am pretty sure its premise may sound improbable to you. (The hosts of the podcast generate a random music genre then hit the “random topic” button on Wikipedia then write a song combining the two. Trust me, it works!)
I had just heard the “Struggling, Relaxed, On Our Backs” episode when I encountered this story in the Sigma Xi newsletter. The podcast episode is about snout-vent length, which is “a morphometric measurement taken in herpetology from the tip of the snout to the most posterior opening of the cloacal slit (vent).” The musical genre is Afrobeat.
The story itself is about how anole lizards can stay below the surface of the water for almost 20 minutes by creating an air-filled bubble on their snouts and breathing in exhaled air. The article doesn’t specifically mention the vent, but my mind had already gone there just on the mention of “snouts.”
Science can be fun; just listen to a song about snout-vent length in an Afrobeat style if you have any doubts.
Most-clicked August story: NASA rover captures photo of Mars’ moon
As the article says, the UN says it is going to ask staff at its NYC headquarters to prove they have been vaccinated in order to eat in its dining facilities. This one is simple for me: I wholeheartedly agree.
Most-clicked August story: Officials: Report issues “code red for humanity”
In other news
I had the opportunity to edit the AGC SmartBrief (News for Contractors and the Construction Industry) newsletter last month. Here’s a story that stayed with me:
There are problems with Interstate 5 in Portland, Ore. Transportation authorities have been seeking an expansion that will hopefully resolve a bottleneck that proves risky for motorists. Climate activists assert that expansion is a bad idea because government should be supporting less traffic, not more. The angle of this story that got my attention was the part that has to do with rebuilding communities such as Albina, which at one time was a thriving Black community in Portland. It was decimated when a significant part of the Rose Quarter district was taken over for the original construction of Interstate 5 and the Memorial Coliseum in the 1950s and 60s. This plan, called “Hybrid 3,” contains a $1.1 billion “cap” that will protect the community, ostensibly leading to opportunities for rebuilding. It also would involve moving Harriet Tubman Middle School. Its location has been represented as a reason the interstate shouldn’t be expanded. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says moving the school would help the students have better air quality.
It’s a much longer story than I can capture in one small paragraph, but it’s a great example of how history, politics and business all converge in a way that can’t ignore history or the future.
About careers 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 (8/3/21) to most recent (9/4/21)):
Associate Editor – PC Gamer (remote)
Content Director, Systems Contractor News (DC, NYC or remote)
Android Central Deals and Commerce Writer (remote)
Digital Sales Associate – Advertising, Marketing and Media (DC)
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 While You Were Working, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays, and you can subscribe to it here.
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My Timehop recently contained this image. Prior to my 8/30/18 interview, I got my nails painted “SmartBrief blue” to psych myself up for the interaction. It was all a web-based interview, so the only person who knew what colors my nails were was me. But … as I said at the beginning, small details relate to big stories. I had shared it on TimeHop because I had gotten my initial email about an offer on 8/31. Stay tuned to the September wrapup for how all of that ended, but it’s probably pretty obvious.
*These opinions are my personal thoughts, not those of my employer.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
Paula, I just love the eclectic mix of stories you post with your monthly recap! This month’s did not disappoint! From affordable housing through to anole breathing bubbles, you definitely had my attention! Thank you!
Paula Kiger says
It was a great month from that standpoint! Thanks as always for dropping by.
Carol Cassara (@ccassara) says
I loved waking up to this potpourri of stories!
Paula Kiger says
I’m glad! I was off for the last week of August, so it’s weird to sort of have a “blank space” in my head (but obviously there were enough interesting options before I went on vacation).