Clarity First Newsletter,
August 21, 2020

“So many institutions in our society need reinventing. The time has come for a new dream. That’s what being a revolutionary is.” – Grace Lee Bogs

Clarity First

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

This week I found great comfort in watching the Democratic National Convention. To see and hear so many diverse people from all walks of life share and repeat the same words of hope over and over again—words like dignity, decency, integrity, empathy, family, justice, respect, faith, and love—was so soothing.

This week I also spent some time reading Grace Lee Bogg’s The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. She was acutely aware of the limitations of the traditional political process, so her vantage point helped me to see how we can each learn to also reach beyond just words.

““With the end of empire, we are coming to an end of the epoch of rights. We have entered the epoch of responsibilities, which requires new, more socially-minded human beings and new, more participatory and place-based concepts of citizenship and democracy.”

We’ve got a lot of work to do. Let’s keep going. Happy Friday.

Transitions, Supply Chains

Only 9% of Britts long for a “return to normal”.

“The pandemic has been a turning point in the way businesses move forward. It is clear that by focusing on finding their higher purpose, right down to the intricacies of their supply chains, businesses can help manifest the sustainable future that we need.”

Article: Cleaning Up Our Act: The Heightened Urgency for a Green Recovery


Actually, traditional English commons were stable and well managed until rich people trying to acquire more land destabilized them.

Image via Wikipedia

“In a brilliant Twitter thread, UCSB political scientist Matto Mildenberger recounts the sordid history of Garrett Hardin’s classic, widely cited 1968 article “The Tragedy of the Commons,” whose ideas are taught to millions of undergrads, and whose precepts are used to justify the privatization of public goods as the only efficient way to manage them.

“Hardin’s paper starts with a history of the English Commons — publicly held lands that were collectively owned and managed — and the claim that commons routinely fell prey to the selfish human impulse to overgraze your livestock on public land (and that even non-selfish people would overgraze their animals because they knew that their more-selfish neighbors would do so even if they didn’t).

“But this isn’t what actually happened to the Commons: they were stable and well-managed until other factors (e.g. rich people trying to acquire even more land) destabilized them.

“Hardin wasn’t just inventing false histories out of a vacuum. He was, personally, a nasty piece of work: a white supremacist and eugenicist, and the Tragedy of the Commons paper is shot through with this vile ideology, arguing that poor people should not be given charity lest they breed beyond their means (Hardin also campaigned against food aid). Hardin was a director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the white nationalist Social Contract Press, and co-founded anti-immigrant groups like Californians for Population Stabilization and The Environmental Fund.

“Mildenberger argues that Hardin was a trumpist before Trump: He served on the board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose talking points often emerge from Trump’s mouth.”

Article: The “Tragedy of the Commons” Was Invented by a White Supremacist Based on a False History, and It’s Toxic Bullshit

Diversity, Biodiversity

Poor, urban communities of color are also low on biodiversity, while high on rodents, disease-carrying pests, and temperature.

“A new powerhouse study in Science finds that systematic inequality leads to a horror show not just for communities of color, but for surrounding wildlife and biodiversity.

“Researchers from the University of Washington looked at 170 studies to analyze how systemic racism impacts surrounding ecology. In a word: catastrophically. They found that poor, urban communities of color are also low on biodiversity, while high on rodents, disease-carrying pests, and temperature. The latter is known as the “heat island” effect, where areas with less natural water and greenery have higher temperatures, which in turn fuels the negative effects of climate change.”

Article: Systemic Racism is a Nightmare for Plant and Animal Diversity Too, Says Major Study

Packaging, Circular Economy

For its new zero-plastic line, Seventh Generation has reinvented its products as powders instead of liquids.

Article: Seventh Generation’s New Line Gets Rid of All Its Plastic Packaging

Social Messaging, Advertising

What would it be like to be an abused woman?

“While the world is struggling in fighting a dangerous pandemic, domestic violence against women doubled in Colombia from March through June of 2020 lockdown. A significant total of 104 women were murdered, including Daniela Quiñones. This tragedy, in particular, encouraged hundreds of protests in reaction to the severity of the situation, on its majority by women. But what about men? Many of them have questioned what it might feel like being a woman in Faceapp. So, we took this trend as an opportunity to show what it really means to be a woman in Colombia. We created a social media movement that made men reflect on how a tragedy is becoming something so normal. We started a conversation that we hope will never end. Are you wondering how it feels to be an abused woman? #ItWouldBeLike”

Ad/Social Campaign: #ItWouldBeLike


Research suggests that scientists and activists might rely too heavily on facts and evidence when trying to change minds.

“In two experiments, people listened to a short radio clip from 2015 about Richard Mode, a 66-year-old North Carolinian who enjoys hunting and fishing. In heartfelt tones, Mode describes how he’s seen the climate changing first-hand as ducks migrate later in the year and trout disappear from their old haunts.

“’Trout require cold, clear, clean water,’ Mode says in the clip. ‘Places that I’ve trout fished in the past that used to hold lots of fish are warming, and the fish just aren’t there like they used to be. It makes me very, very sad.’

“After listening to the segment, the study participants — who identified as conservatives or moderates — reported greater concern about climate change and greater acceptance that it was happening and caused by humans.”

But the study reveals that the same people are not motivated by facts and figures. “Facts about rapidly melting Arctic ice, dwindling habitats for polar bears, and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide just don’t resonate with most people. ‘Humans just aren’t wired to care deeply about dangers that seem far away,'” says the study’s lead author..

Article: When Facts Fail to Convince, Storytelling May Do the Trick

New York Public Library’s List of Essential Reads on Feminism
Making Your Zoom Look More Professorial
Reusable Packaging Provides Untapped Payoffs for Business
Even Your Home Office is Sexist

Just For Fun

“I make street art to make people smile.”

Follow Rudy Willingham on TikTok and Instagram

Heard Via: Street Art Utopia


Last month Lit Hub, one of my favorite daily letters, launched a new video series that they call Mighty Song Writers. In it they ask songwriters to talk about their writing and reading lives—their influences, writing habits, and favorite books, and while they’re at it, to play a song or three.

The whole effort benefits Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that teaches reading and writing to thousands of low-income and marginalized students every year.

As of this week they’ve shared four sessions. The first featured singer-songwriter, Amanda Shires, “whose latest single is Deciphering Dreams, and who’s been heard of late with all-star, supergroup The Highwomen. Amanda performs a couple songs with Jason Isbell and the two chat about writing advice, favorite teachers, and more.”

Amanda Shires: One of the best pieces advice I ever got was when I was studying at Sewanee University in the south. My professor, Andrew Hudgins—who is a fantastic and wonderful poet—told me that a lot of times when you’re writing, the actual start of where you think the start is, isn’t at the start. Like, your first paragraph, your first few verses, first lines or whatever it is… usually you’re doing the work to get to the start. After having thought about that, some, internalizing it, I found it to be true, and so now it’s easier for me to get rid of that beginning, working stuff and get to the actual start.

“Jason Isbell: I like that. So sometimes you’re finding your way to the story you want to tell. And then when you get to the beginning you can just go back and take all that stuff out, and start from the start.”

Article: WATCH: Amanda Shires with Jason Isbell on Writing Advice, Favorite Teachers (and a Song or Two)

And don’t miss episode two with Marcus Roberts—his comments about Theolonius Monk are priceless, episode three with Jewel in which she talks about leaving home at 15 and discovering music as a way to find the nurturing she didn’t get as a kid, and episode 4 with Phil Augusta Jackson who says that the best writing advice he ever received is to judge the draft, not the process. 

Image of the week

The image of the week is titled “Mountain of Tulip Petals” by Anne MacIntyre, of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. The image won her the second place honor in the 2020 Macro Art Photography Competition.

“The International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) competition has announced its winners for the 2020 Macro Art Photography Competition. In partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, this institution is offering several themed competitions throughout the year. For the Macro Art competition, photographers captured tiny moments of beauty in gardens around the world. Each photo is rich in color, detail and texture, all in a miniature world invisible to the naked eye. A hidden world of garden life is revealed through this collection of amazing images.”

Article: Best Pictures from the 2020 Macro Art Garden Photographer of the Year

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.

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