Clarity First Newsletter,
February 11, 2022

“Love alone is the only reasonable activity or pursuit of humankind….For Love not only annihilates our fear of meaninglessness but empowers us to seek the happiness of others. And this indeed is our greatest happiness.”
– Leo Tolstoy

Love & Work

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

The power of humans to learn and share never ceases to amaze me. Here are some examples I fished out of the firehose this week.

Happy Friday.


How art, architecture, and fashion design can actually help restore the earth’s biodiversity.

Carole Collet. Photo: Misha Haller

Carole Collet, a professor of Design for Sustainable Futures at Central Saint Martins (C.S.M.) in London, has spent decades studying how biological systems might help humans create a more regenerative future—one that shifts the focus from merely lessening society’s negative impact on the planet to exploring ways in which art, architecture, and fashion design can actually help restore the earth’s biodiversity. Collet’s investigations narrow the gap between the hypothetical and the viable. Her project Biolace, for example, first exhibited almost a decade ago, explored the concept of modifying the DNA of plants to produce delicate, latticed textiles. Now, among other things, she’s looking into fabric-like matter that is naturally grown by trees. Her work generally falls under the field of biodesign, an emerging movement of scientists, artists, and designers that integrates organic processes and materials into the creation of buildings, objects, and clothes.” – Mara Fisher

Article: What the Fashion Industry Can Learn From Biology

Emotional Health

How and why emotional pain can lead to physical pain and illness

Florence Williams

“This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Heartbreak can make you physically ill. Take my guest, science journalist Florence Williams – when her husband left her after more than 25 years, they had to devise a plan for co-parenting. And she says physically, she felt like her body had been plugged into a faulty electrical socket. She lost 20 pounds. She’d stopped sleeping. She developed diabetes. It was hard to think straight. She wanted to understand why the emotional upset she was experiencing was also causing her body and brain to malfunction. She found in recent years science had begun to investigate the biological pathways of this brand of pain. She traveled across the U.S. and to England to report on researchers investigating how and why emotional pain can lead to physical pain and illness.” – Terry Gross

Podcast/Transcript: Heartbroken? There’s a Scientific Reason Why Breaking Up Feels So Rotten

Related Article: Was He Really Having a Heart Attack?

Psychedelics, Disparity

The coming psychedelic-industrial complex threatens to strip hallucinogenic drugs of their historical and religious significance.

“Obregón Matzer’s sense of place has always included the perpetually looming threat of placelessness—and the dream of helping others overcome it.” Photo by Jason Henry

Before there was LSD, there were psilocybin mushrooms. Before there was MDMA, there was ayahuasca plant medicine. Both have been shared by indigenous people for generations as far back as can be remembered, always in a ritualized context.

Yet, “what for centuries has been a largely taboo or prohibited experience is on the verge of becoming fully legal in majority-minority California and other states. The growing and largely white business of blowing minds adds to the economic distress of poor, non-white communities while denying them access to the powerful mind-altering substances that might help them. The fate of the psychedelic underworld hangs in the balance. As it stands, the dismal statistics documenting access to legalized psychoactive medicines look no better than employment statistics for people of color at Facebook, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley companies whose employees and investors are (again) putting the Bay Area in the vanguard of the next movement.

“Nationwide, a University of Connecticut analysis over a 25-year period found that only 2.5 percent of participants in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy studies were Black, 2.1 percent were Latinx, and 1.8 percent were Asian. Most tragically ironic: only 4.6 percent were Indigenous, the descendants of the psychedelic ‘first wave’ that introduced the world to using plant-based psychoactive substances to explore altered states of consciousness.” – Roberto Lovato

Article: The Gentrification of Consciousness


“The brain did not evolve for culture, but culture evolved to be learnable by the brain.”

“A classical, although often implicit, view in social science is that the human brain, unlike that of other animals, is a learning machine which can adapt to essentially any novel cultural task, however complex. We humans would be liberated from our past instincts and free to invent entirely new cultural forms.

“What I am proposing is that the human brain is a much more constrained organ than we think, and that it places strong limits on the range of possible cultural forms. Essentially, the brain did not evolve for culture, but culture evolved to be learnable by the brain. Through its cultural inventions, humanity constantly searched for specific niches in the brain, wherever there is a space of plasticity that can be exploited to ‘recycle’ a brain area and put it to a novel use. Reading, mathematics, tool use, music, religious systems — all might be viewed as instances of cortical recycling.” – Stanislas Dehaene

Interview: Your Brain on Books

Profile, Storytelling

The woman who redefined the children’s book

“Bruce Handy, in his 2017 book about children’s literature, “Wild Things,” confesses that he always imagined the writer Margaret Wise Brown to be a dowdy old lady “with an ample lap”—just like the matronly bunny from her classic story “Goodnight Moon,” who whispers “hush” as evening darkens a “great green room.” In fact, Brown was a seductive iconoclast with a Katharine Hepburn mane and a compulsion for ignoring the rules. Anointed by Life in 1946 as the “World’s Most Prolific Picture-Book Writer,” she burned through her money as quickly as she earned it, travelling to Europe on ocean liners and spending entire advances on Chrysler convertibles. Her friends called her “mercurial” and “mystical.” Though many of her picture books were populated with cute animals, she wore wolfskin jackets, had a fetish for fur, and hunted rabbits on weekends. Her romances were volatile: she was engaged to two men but never married, and she had a decade-long affair with a woman. At the age of forty-two, she died suddenly, in the South of France, after a clot cut off the blood supply to her brain.

“Many readers now think of Brown titles like “The Runaway Bunny” as tranquil introductions to storytelling, but they were radical for their time. When Brown was emerging as a writer, in the nineteen-thirties, most books for young children drew on classic fables and folktales, providing moral instruction on each page. She rejected this orthodoxy in favor of stories that better reflected the preoccupations of young children, from sensual pleasures (the shape of an apple) to visceral emotions (fear of the dark). When boys and girls are first exposed to reading, Brown argued, they are most engaged by stories about ‘tables and chairs, plates and telephones, animals they know.’ Even though her work embraced everyday subjects, it was far from banal. Brown incorporated influences from avant-garde literature, concentrating as much on the sound of words as on the words themselves. And she often commissioned illustrations from modernist painters who understood the allure of bold color. Brown helped create a new type of children’s literature that provided both aural and visual feasts. Her books—including ‘Goodnight Moon,’ which celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary this year—delighted, surprised, and sometimes disturbed.” – Anna Holmes

Article: The Radical Woman Behind “Goodnight Moon”


When you think about it, most branding is “folk branding”.

“For decades, shopkeepers up and down Britain have intuitively understood one of the key principles of branding. It’s about taking an inanimate product or an intangible service and investing it with a personality. Something to which people can relate on a human level.

“They’ve also worked out the simplest way to do it. Just take your product or service and put ‘Mr’ in front of it. Or in some cases, Mrs or Miss. It’s a great way to describe what a shop does and personalise it – all in one short, memorable name.

“The result of this instinctive ‘folk branding’ is a lively cast of characters who cheer up the everyday shopping experience for millions of people.”

Mr. Blog was a really fun project initiated by “Mr. N. Asbury and Mrs. S. Asbury”. In 2010 they started to scout Google Street View for storefronts that featured a “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Miss” in their name. I’m not sure when they stopped, but they left behind a rabbit hole of fun.

Blog Project: Mr. Blog.

Advertising, Social Messaging

“This plastic packaging was recently found on a beach after floating in the ocean for 60 years.”

“Storms have been washing up plastic packaging of products thrown away 40, 50, and even 60 years ago.

“Thousands of plastic packages that haven’t been around for decades are making a comeback to our beaches. To show people that plastic just doesn’t go away, we decided to create a relaunch campaign for the plastic packages of long-gone products.

“Greenpeace presents: Plastic. It’s back!”

Article: Integrated Advertisement Created by Ogilvy, Netherland


Article: Why a school board’s ban on ‘Maus’ may put the book in the hands of more readers

Article: I’m really just high on life and beauty’: the woman who can see 100 million colours


Recently Robert Glasper performed on Jimmie Fallon in support of his new album, Black Radio III, to be released on February 25. He was joined by Rapsody, BJ the Chicago Kid, Amir Sulaiman and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a tight and very groovy band.

I just love hip-hop sung, rapped, and performed with a live band. Rock, say hello to jazz. Jazz, say hello to hip-hop. Hip-hop, say hello to….  I can’t wait for the whole album.

Video: Robert Glasper: In Tune/Black Superhero w/ Rapsody, BJ the Chicago Kid, Amir Sulaiman, DJ Jazzy Jeff

Image of the Week

“Artist Jill Bliss has spent the last few years wandering a small island in the San Juan archipelago of the Salish Sea foraging for mushrooms. When she comes across a patch where supply is plentiful, she plucks a few specimens from the ground and arranges them cap side down in compositions that showcase the diversity of each species. Layers of thick, fleshy gills in lavender, taupe, and bright orange add texture and depth to each work, with ferns, flat stones, and other organic matter framing the temporary constructions. Once complete, she photographs the work and leaves it in place.

“Prints, stickers, and notecards of Bliss’s color-coded spores are available on BuyOlympia, and you can see more of her findings on her site and Instagram.” – Grace Ebert

Article: Sprawling, Color-Coded Arrangements Expose the Intricate Underbellies of Mushrooms

What’s Love & Work?

Love & Work is 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. For five years, 360 issues, I called this letter Clarity First. But as of this anniversary – August 20, 20121 –  I renamed this labor of love as Love & Work. It will still be a “notebook about how we work, learn, love and live”, but the new name, inspired by a statement by Freud, reflects this mission more accurately. Learn more.

If you get value from Love & Work, please pass it on.

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