Clarity First Newsletter, April 12, 2019


Clarity First

A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live. 

This week I’m handing the opening remarks to Stewart Brand. In addition to writing the quote of the week above, he also wrote the subject line.

He also said:

“Nobody can save the world, but any of us can help set in motion a self-saving world.”

“’The greatest good for the greatest number’” means the longest good, because the majority of people affected is always yet to come.”

“Zen Buddhists define their task as ‘infinite gratitude for the past. Infinite service to the present. Infinite responsibility to the future.’“

All are from his book The Clock Of The Long Now: Time and Responsibility.

Happy Friday.


Storytelling, Cultural Awareness
“These stereotypes are problematic, and they’re still very powerful. They shape the American public’s understanding of Indigenous people.”

“On the first floor of the American Museum of Natural History, a diorama depicts an imagined 17th-century meeting between Dutch settlers and the Lenape, an Indigenous tribe inhabiting New Amsterdam, now New York City. It was intended to show a diplomatic negotiation between the two groups, but the portrayal tells a different story…”

“…Critics have said the diorama depicts cultural hierarchy, not a cultural exchange. Museum officials said they had been aware of these implications for a while, and now they have addressed them…”

…”While the scene remains intact, 10 large labels now adorn the glass, summarizing various issues. They were carefully chosen after a research process that took most of 2018. The largest one, visible from a distance, invites visitors to ‘reconsider this scene.'”

Article: What’s Wrong With This Diorama? You Can Read All About It


Organizational Health
The Power of Adulting at Work

“Organizational Adulting—being an adult at work and treating everyone else as an adult too—is key to reducing divisiveness.

“When we Adult, we exhibit behaviors traditionally associated with highly productive, collaborative teams. We’re more engaged, motivated, and proud of our team and our work.

“So how do we tackle divisive inclinations to generate connecting behaviors to build up teams and organizations?”

Article: Organizational Adulting: Divisive Workplace Behaviors and How to Overcome Them


Personal Development
“There is nothing wrong with negativity per se; the problem is that we never see it, we never honor it, we never look into its heart.”

Pema Chödrön says that “We don’t taste our negativity, smell it, get to know it. Instead, we are always trying to get rid of it by punching someone in the face, by slandering someone, by punishing ourselves, or by repressing our feelings. In between repression and acting out, however, there is something wise and profound and timeless.

“If we just try to get rid of negative feelings, we don’t realize that those feelings are our wisdom. The transmutation comes from the willingness to hold our seat with the feeling, to let the words go, to let the justification go. We don’t have to have resolution. We can live with a dissonant note; we don’t have to play the next key to end the tune.”

Article: To Know Yourself is to Forget Yourself


Personal Development
This 4-question quiz can help you identify the specific things that could make you happier right now


Article: What Would You Do If You Could Play Hooky For A Day?


Communications Process
George Orwell on writing clearly and effectively.

“The point of the essay was not to introduce a list of strict commandments, but to encourage the writer to think about how and why they are using words. The writer should be constantly questioning whether the words they write are clear and worthwhile. For the purpose of language is for expression, rather than concealment from one’s truth.”

Article: George Orwell’s Six Rules For Great Writing


Learning Organization
How nonprofit leaders can learn from software developers

“In the tech world and beyond, many teams operate using agile practices to increase flexibility and efficiency in decision-making. If you’re not familiar with agile methodology, it’s a collaborative process that involves breaking large projects into incremental steps. During each cycle (or “sprint”), the team works toward a specific outcome, gathers feedback from the end-user and incorporates any requested features or changes in the next iteration.

“While agile might not make sense for every business, several members of Forbes Nonprofit Council have seen great results by implementing agile approaches into their day-to-day operations.”

Article: Five Ways An Agile Approach Can Help Your Nonprofit Thrive


Not your father’s Helvetica

In the 90’s, when Dann DeWitt and I were running titanium, a communications design firm, we’d joke that we could use only Helvetica for a year and no one would notice, and we’d still win awards. It’s a typeface that is so powerfully clean and relatable that it has its own documentary film.

But the face was first drawn in 1957, with the expectation that it would be rendered with lead type. In 1982 is was redrawn for the digital era “in the form of Neue Helvetica. In its first iteration, there was only one master typeface, meaning the designers chose only one size to digitize (12 point) and as a result, Neue Helvetica only really works for text around that size.” Now that most people read on screens, that is an extremely limiting factor.

So, Helvetica has again been redesigned, and released this week. “For people who appreciate Helvetica on a deep level, the why around Helvetica Now is a no-brainer,” says Charles Nix, type director of Monotype and lead designer on the new typeface Helvetica Now. “It was always a question of when.”

Article: Allowing a Modern Audience to See Helvetica for the First Time”: Charles Nix Talks us Through the Newly Released Helvetica Now



Singer Donn T has been called an “alternative R&B singer”. MC Chill Moody has been called a “Philadelphia music ambassador”. Last year they teamed up and created an act they call &More.

They debuted at The Roots Jam Session ahead of the 2018 Grammy Awards, and they’ve been delighting audiences since.

This is a warm and inviting session at the Tiny Desk studios. Sit back and enjoy. Life really can be about love and respect and honesty.

Tiny Desk Concert: &More. (Chill Moody and Donn T)


Image of the Week

As any road warrior in the Northeast knows, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is hell on earth. The idea of transforming it into a park seems too good to be possible.

“Titled BQP (P stands for “park”), the proposal offers an ambitious plan to revamp the crumbling three-tiered 1.5-mile stretch of the BQE which passes through the neighborhood of Crown Heights near Downtown Brooklyn.

“The plan proposes a 10-acres sloped park that slants from the upper tier of the BQE down to the waterfront. The new park will connect with the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park. The existing upper tier of the BQE will be replaced with a pedestrian path.”

If this adds up, how can I help?

ArticleArchitects Want to Build a Park on Top of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway


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