Clarity First Newsletter,
February 7, 2020

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.” – Bob Marley

Clarity First

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

This was a really tough week. I have never felt more afraid of a “leader”. But look away from the great divider. He’s distracting us, by design, from the power of love.

Happy Friday. Humanity has way too big a potential to waste on selfishness.

“Don’t give up. Never give up the fight.” – Bob Marley

Learning, Civic Engagement, Democracy

“We want this election to be an educational opportunity, not a hurricane that we just try to survive.”

From a client/friend, Jennifer Bryan:

“Last year I shared with you the Can We? Project, an experiment in revitalizing democracy, that brought together high school students in Maine to talk about the most challenging issues of our time. I connected you with Lydia Maier, and not surprisingly, the two of you hit it off!

“This summer one of the co-sponsors of that project is offering a Summer Institute in Dialogue and Civic Engagement. It’s for educators who want to prepare their school communities for the 2020 presidential election. We want the election to be an educational opportunity, not a hurricane that we just try to survive.”

This week of all weeks she had me at hello. Here’s the brand promise:

“With the 2020 election looming large, The Waynflete Summer Institute for Dialogue and Civic Engagement will bring together educators from a wide variety of political backgrounds and institutions. Participants will:

  • Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for engaging and facilitating dialogue across differences on even the most polarizing topics.
  • Develop strategies for fostering a school culture that promotes dialogue.
  • Create school-appropriate programming that utilizes dialogue with the 2020 election and beyond in mind.”

Can we all come?

Website: Waynflete Summer Institute for Dialogue and Civic Engagement

Storytelling, Trauma Informed Care

Changing the lives of young refugees and displaced children across the Middle East

‘Ahlan Simsim’ features new characters with stories and experiences refugee children can relate to, like Jad, a young Muppet who had to leave his home. Jad loves to express himself through art. Photo: Ryan Donnell/Sesame Workshop

“Since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011, more than 5 million children have had to flee their homes; 2.8 million children remain out of school. Many have been exposed to extreme violence and experienced unspeakable trauma that will have lasting impact on their health and future.

“The International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshop are working together to give millions of refugee and displaced children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq the support they need to learn, grow and thrive.”

Article: Sesame Street and the IRC Are Helping Refugee Children Overcome Trauma

Organizational Health, Diversity

Diversity is about improving the odds of strategic success and winning in the marketplace.

“Complex problem solving does require, as the tired old adage goes, ‘thinking outside the box’, which in turn can be defined as thought-deviation from the norm. Logically, and mathematically, it follows that it increases with diversity.

“Put differently, the more diverse thought one can secure in a room, the more thought-deviations from the norm. This is echoed by the mathematical fact that diversity lowers the average error of a group.”

Article: The Strategic Case for Diversity


Researchers have mapped 13 key emotions triggered when we listen to music.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have created an interactive audio map where visitors can move their cursors to listen to any of thousands of music snippets to find out, among other things, if their emotional reactions match how people from different cultures respond to the music. Graphic by Alan Cohen.

“UC Berkeley researchers have surveyed more than 2,500 people in the United States and China about their emotional responses to thousands of songs from genres including rock, folk, jazz, classical, marching band, experimental, and heavy metal.

“The upshot? The subjective experience of music across cultures can be mapped within at least 13 overarching feelings: amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up.”

“Potential applications for these research findings range from informing psychological and psychiatric therapies designed to evoke certain feelings to helping music streaming services like Spotify adjust their algorithms to satisfy their customers’ audio cravings or set the mood.”

Article: How Many Emotions Can Music Make You Feel?

Organizational Health

Culture is not created, changed or maintained by one person.

While this sketchnote was created about schools, it is relevant to any organization.


A growing body of research is making it clear that learners are made, not born.

“Through the deliberate use of practice and dedicated strategies to improve our ability to learn, we can all develop expertise faster and more effectively. In short, we can all get better at getting better.”

Article: Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It.

Email Marketing, Writing

Learning from the masters 

“Last week, a Reddit user posted an email template that had been mistakenly sent out by Amazon. Although the full story behind the error is not known, it appears that a member of Amazon’s marketing team accidentally sent out the template before completing it.”

Regardless of the circumstance, this is brilliant advice for anyone who is sending an email to one or a million.

Article: Amazon Accidentally Sent Out Their Email Template


When the going gets tough, I often turn to reggae. And for this white kid from Western Massachusetts, Toots Hibbert is and always has been central to the spirt of this special music. As Marcia Griffiths who got her start as one of Bob Marley’s back-up singers said: “He’s a foundation. He’s a root. He’s one of the artists from Jamaica’s first waters”.

Toots and the Maytals, Reggae Got Soul is a lovingly produced documentary about the artist’s life, music and contributions. It is built on interviews with musicians like Griffiths, Willy Nelson, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Paolo Nutini, Ziggy Marley and Jimmy Cliff, producers Sly & Robbies, writer Anthony Decurtis and historians Roger Stevens and Dermot Hussey. It features archival footage of the original Maytals, as well as concert footage that spans a 50 year career. And he’s still going strong.

I think that Bonnie Raitt might have said it best: “The reason that Toots and his music resonates so much with the rest of the world and especially with America, is that he is a bad-assed soul singer“.

Video: Toots and the Maytals BBC documentary

Image of the week

“The image of the week is by paper artist and illustrator Hollie Chastain who “clips, layers, and stitches found photographs and scraps of paper ephemera to create her mixed-media collages. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based artist repurposes old narratives and images?—in one piece, tuba players pop out of a library card pocket, and in another, two men tug on a string woven through a handwritten note?—providing a new story for each regenerated work.

“To share her appreciation of the versatile medium, Chastain published an instructional book detailing various techniques and methods. “What I adore about collage as a medium is the complete versatility and the allowances that it gives first time creators to play around with color and texture and composition without any ‘but I can’t draw’ and ‘I’m not an artist’ hang-ups,” she says. If you want to join Chastain and start your own textured project, order a copy of If You Can Cut, You Can Collage. Otherwise, check out her shop and follow her on Instagram.”

Article: Found Photographs and Book Pages Weave into Textured Collages by Hollie Chastain

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