Clarity First Newsletter, December 14, 2018


Clarity First

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

This week we celebrated the retirement of one of my closest friends, Kiffer Sikes. The party for him on Wednesday at the new, almost ready Northampton Center for Arts was a perfect celebration of an amazing person’s amazing contributions to economic diversity, to celebration of place, and to the community.

During his too-modest last speech as the head of Common Capital, the company he started 29 years ago, he referred to the drivers that the community loan fund had learned to use as filters to find right-fit partners. The list is a complete recipe for bottom up community economic development.

The Seven Drivers of Common Capital
1. Build platforms for Improving Lives/Providing Opportunity
2. Enhance Job Creation/Retention
3. Support provision of Essential Community Services
4. Support Businesses that are “Built to Stay”
5. Promote Neighborhood Rejuvenation
6. Build in Environmental Sustainability
7. Support Businesses that Re-Circulate Local Dollars

Thank you, and a deep bow to you, my dear friend. I am so interested to see what think about next.


“The Dali Lama asked me why I couldn’t use the tools of modern neuroscience to study kindness and compassion and the positive qualities of life”.

Article: Mental Hygiene – Madison Researcher Uses Modern Neuroscience to Study Kindness, Compassion & Happiness


Learning, Diversity
What we characterize as pathology may simply be part of the human experience.

“Instead of encouraging inclusion, the disease view of mental illness may be fueling inequality. Instead of building a bridge, it may be driving an ever-wider wedge between us-the-healthy and them-the-sick, us-the-normal and them-the-mental.”
Article: ‘Normal’ Does Not Exist


Organization Design
The real job of design is changing organizations and charting a path to the future.

“No longer an outsider, design has become an accepted branch of the org chart, and in all kinds of organizations. Given this new reality, we can identify the three fundamental jobs of design: Integration, Transformation, and Evolution.”
Article: The Fundamental Job of Design is Not Great Design


Organizational Health, Workspace, Public Space
There’s an emerging body of research that shows that our surroundings have a profound influence on our well-being and performance.

“We think of aesthetics as frivolous or superfluous. We’re inculcated with the view that this isn’t really what matters in life. But, these aesthetics of joy have deep effects. There’s an emerging body of research that shows that our surroundings have a profound influence on our well-being and performance.”
Article: Ingrid Fetell Lee: Our Surroundings Have a Profound Influence On Our Well-Being


New Civics
Democracy is a Design Problem

I draw your attention to this organization for two reasons: 1. They offer information worth sharing, and 2. They are a model of clarity around their mission, their vision, and their values. In turn, they make it really easy for those of us seeking what they offer to find them. And then they make it really easy to use them.

“Our mission is summed up in our slogan, democracy is a design problem, and the opening words of our site: Ensuring voter intent through design.

“Our goal is to make every interaction between government and citizens easy, effective, and pleasant.

“We bring civic design skills in research, usability, design, accessibility, and plain language to improve the voting experience, make elections easier to administer, and encourage participation in elections.”
Website: Center for Civic Design


Marketing. Digital Reserach. 
What confuses marketers? Data science is such a vague, meaningless word in the industry. 

Digiday spoke with a data scientist who says marketers are still lost when it comes to the science and are wasting money on data scientists.
Article: Confessions of a Data scientist: ‘Marketers Don’t Know What They’re Asking For’.


Typography, Visual Identity
Typeface as a bridge and a guide

“While The Crimes of Grindelwald is set in the Harry Potter world, Harry isn’t actually in it. So the central design challenge became: How do you both communicate the connection to the original story and establish that it’s a different series entirely?” One way to do it is to draw a proprietary typeface.

“Warner Bros. likes to have a proprietary typeface so they can have something ownable and recognizable that suits the brand,” says Emily Oberman, the Pentagram partner who led the project.

“It is also a handy way to help all the various agencies and companies that work with the film to stay on brand.”
Article: Pentagram Designs a Harry Potter Font, and It’s Magical



Samantha Fish grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. As a kid she hung out at a local saloon to hear touring blues artists. When she came of age she started to jump onto the stage to play along. By the time she was 24, Buddy Guy was so impressed with her guitar playing that he declared to his audience, “When this kind of shit happens, I’ll play all night.”

While tempting to compare her to artists like Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin, artists who completely commandeered the musical styles they chose, neither played an instrument. Samantha Fish plays guitar like the smokin’ band leader she is, and then she sings like she’s intent on rearranging your heart.

Here she is with a full band and horn section live on stage. 

Here she is live in the studio with a quintet.

She totally rocks the power trio format, too. Here she makes I Put a Spell on You all her own.

She gives me hope that we can get this humanity thing right.


Image of the Week

The image of the week is a close-up of an installation at the Standard Hotel in downtown LA last summer. Called the Sparrow Mart, it was a life-size replica of a mini-mart made entirely of felt. Everything in the store was for sale. The artist is UK-based Lucy Sparrow.

Lucy Sparrow at the Sapporo Mart. All photography by Michael Anthony Hernandez.

Lucy Sparrow’s website proudly proclaims that she has been “Sewing lives back together since 1986.” This show had to close early due to mass sell-outs of her “products.”

Article: Get Felt! Shop Sparrow Mart at The Standard, Downtown LA


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 tool of transformation. Learn more.

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