Clarity First Newsletter,
April 30, 2021

“Despite current ads and slogans, the world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what’s possible. This is good news for those of us intent on creating a positive future. Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections. We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits. Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage and commitment that lead to broad-based change.”                                             – Margaret Wheatley

Clarity First

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

One of the advantages of getting older (I’m 67) is that your friendships, networks and community deepen, broaden and become sturdier and stronger  I’m deeply grateful for the many people with whom I share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.

And yes, Meg Wheatley, this is very good news for those of us intent on creating a positive future.

Take some time to think about the relationships that support you. Tell someone that you care about them.

Happy Friday.

Collective Learning

“Scenius is like genius, only embedded in a scene rather than in genes.”


The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford is famous for being the hangout of The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and other noteworthy writers and scholars of their day. They referred to the pub as “The Bird and Baby”. This place has been in business since 1650.

“Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or ‘scenes’ can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: ‘Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.’

“Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenius, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you.”

Article: Scenius, or Communal Genius

Education, Social Messaging

NYC was founded by slavers. To change a name by established process is painfully slow. Let’s sticker it instead.

“A group of activists is calling attention to the legacy of slavery encoded in the names of New York City’s streets and neighborhoods through archival research and small-scale interventions.

“Street names are an inescapable part of navigating city life, embedded into the addresses of our homes, schools, and workplaces. It is near impossible to give directions in Brooklyn, for example, without invoking the name of a historic local slaver. The family of nineteenth-century congressman Teunis G. Bergen, for whom Bergen St. is named, owned at least forty-six people in 1810. Nostrand Avenue is named for one of the first Dutch families to colonize Manhattan. The family went on to own approximately forty-three people between 1790 and 1820.

“Co-naming a street is an increasingly popular way for communities to interrupt these narratives that privilege slave-owning colonists and wealthy landowners. But the process can often a take up to a year, and is at the discretion of community boards, whose procedures vary across the city, and the City Council.”

So, let’s sticker.

Article: Mapping the History of Slavery in New York

Education, Media

The creators of Sesame Street wanted to teach kids something, and come down on the right side of history.

Speaking of scenius, the documentary film, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, reintroduces the visionary ‘gang’ of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and created one of most influential and impactful television programs in history. Inspired by the activism of the late 1960s, socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett conducted a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful, uplifting and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide, especially those living in urban areas. Cooney recruited trailblazing Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and beloved world of ‘Sesame Street.'”

The film will start streaming on May 7.

Trailer: Street Gang
Press page: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.

Business Model

“We need a new idea, something that changes the rules a little bit.”

“The lockdowns last March nearly spelled doom for Joe Squared, a pizzeria and music venue in Baltimore’s arts district. The popular eatery already had some outstanding debts from a recent expansion; all of a sudden it had to curtail its hours and shut its dining room. General Manager Okan Arabacio?lu recalls frantically trying to make the numbers work with owner Joe Edwardsen, but they decided they couldn’t sacrifice the quality of the coal-fired pizza or the living wage they paid employees. “So at that point,” Arabacio?lu says, ‘we were like, let’s wrap it up.’ Joe’s closed its doors for the next nine months.

“The two men continued to brainstorm about what to do next. Edwardsen was considering getting out of the restaurant industry to spend more time with his family. Joe’s had previously been located across from Red Emma’s, a worker-owned bookstore and cafe, which got them thinking: What if Edwardsen passed on the restaurant to his workers? Restructuring would take the load off a sole proprietor, and each worker-owner would be more invested in the business’s well-being. A 2016 meta-analysis of more than 100 studies across several countries linked employee ownership to better productivity, organizational stability, and business survival. In times of crisis, co-ops have been shown to be more resilient than traditional enterprises and less likely to lay off workers.”

Article: Can Co-ops Save Restaurants?

Mission, Brand, Visual Identity, Advertising

A whole food as an instant food

Future Noodles, founded by the chef, Carl Clake, and designed by London-based design and advertising studio, Otherway, call themselves “Nutritionally Complete Instant Noodles: Super tasty, plant-based instant noodles that are healthy for you and our planet.” Their simple mission is to “make the world a better place one noodle at a time”.

This article is ostensively about the brand’s packaging, but it is really a great case study of a whole brand done brilliantly.

“If you take a look at the packaging, you’ll find that it gets made from fully recyclable cardboard that’s responsibly sourced, making waves in an industry that’s inundated with unrecyclable pouches, styrofoam, and unnecessary plastic. Not only is the packaging sustainable, but it’s also well designed. Think blush pink for the spicy kimchi flavor, yellow for the yellow curry, and light green for spicy mushroom and miso flavor. The bubble-letter font is perfect for the brand as it exudes a sense of comfort and approachability, while the infinity sign in the middle of the logomark reflects the intention of the brand’s mission to give back as much as they take. And yes, it even looks like noodles.”

Article: Future Noodles Doesn’t Noodle Around When It Comes To Sustainable Packaging

Work

How manners will change when working life returns

“As the vaccination program in most countries accelerates, people will be thinking about going back to the office, if only for a couple of days a week. Many workers will have got out of the habits of the 9-to-5 day and the prevailing customs. The pandemic will also have changed attitudes towards behavioral traits that were seen as quite normal before the appearance of covid-19. Here are some suggested dos and don’ts for the new world order.”

Article: The Post-Pandemic Office Etiquette

Personal Development

An anchoring exercise, in Keynote.

“Slides force you to articulate thoughts in sequence, in the context of a narrative.

“It puts you into the mind-frame of connecting the dots for someone, of telling a story. A deck of slides must be clear, concise, and easy to follow in order to be effective. It’s ideal for communicating complex ideas.”

Ideas like how to get back in the groove after a year of unplanned pause.

Article: Building a “What’s Next” Deck

Oneliners

Experience the Before Time With This Free Handshake Simulator

Apple Tweaks its Famous Logo (and People Are Unhappy)

Conducting User Interviews? Leave These Biases at the Door

 

Playlist

“My friend Robert Burton, a neurologist and author, wanted to share a song with me last year, and sent me a link to an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. ‘It’s wonderful to see truly new and inspiring music,’ he wrote. I clicked open the link to a band who appeared to have journeyed from their mountain village in Russia to busk for tourists in the city square. Three women wore long white wedding dresses, thick strands of bead necklaces, and Cossack hats that towered from their heads like minarets of black wool. They played, respectively, a cello, djembe drum, and floor tom drum. They were joined by an accordion player who could pass for a bearded hipster from Brooklyn.

“The accordionist was the first to sing. A bray of syllables erupted from him like an exorcism. A steady drumbeat followed and then the women commanded the singing. Their vocals ranged from yodels to yips, whoops to whispers. At first turbulence reigned, as if the women were singing different songs at each other. But soon their voices blended into a melody that curled like a river. Their harmonies resonated, as if emanating from a deep hollow, and the melody rushed on. The song ended in a crescendo of mad gypsy abandon.

“The song was called ‘Sho Z-Pod Dupa’ by the band DakhaBrakha, which means give/take in their native Ukraine. Bob Boilen, who created the Tiny Desk Concerts, wrote DakhaBrakha “’sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard, with strands of everything I’ve ever heard.’ That’s a nice line, and I agree. I didn’t understand a single word of ‘Sho Z-Pod Dupa,’ the vocal styles were otherworldly, and I related to every note. The other two songs in the Tiny Desk Concert were just as thrilling. The comments I sampled on YouTube, where the video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, expressed a similar enthusiasm. ‘This is gold,’ wrote one commenter. ‘Music is the universal language of all cultures.'”

Article: What Makes Music Universal

Tiny Desk Concert: DakhaBrakha

Image of the Week

The image of the week is a selfie shot by La Verne Ford Wimberly in her Tulsa living room on Feb. 14th of this year. She is dressed for virtual church.

“Since March 29, 2020, she has taken photos of herself from her living room in different color-coordinated outfits — each one carefully selected from the burgeoning closets, jewelry boxes and neatly stacked hat boxes that have satisfied her love of making a grand entrance since she was a young schoolteacher in the 1960s.”

Article: This Woman, 82, Dresses to the Nines Each Sunday for Virtual Church. Her Selfies Have Become Legendary.

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by me, Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a pedagogy and toolbox for transformation. Learn more.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on.

Not a subscriber? Sign up here.You can also read Clarity-First on the web.

Leave a Comment

*