Clarity First Newsletter,
January 10, 2020

“I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.” – Molly Ivins

Clarity First

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

This week our beloved Prospect Mountain had snow cover, so Debbie and I got to move our bodies in the woods at sundown, a lot. And we got to connect and smile again with the amazing, multi-generational community of nordic skiers that gathers around this magic place.  

A New Year’s toast to getting outside, together. Happy Friday.


“The last 10 years were filled with positive change—really.”

With an egocentric, race-baiting, misogynistic and lying bully in the White House, it’s pretty hard to find reason for optimism in the daily news. But when the editors of Reasons to be Cheerful surveyed the past decade they found a whole lot of reasons to celebrate.

“Issues that were hardly on the radar a decade ago, like transgender rights, began earning the attention they deserved. Meanwhile, problems from the past, like damage to the ozone layer, turned a corner. A decade that often seemed to be mired in muck actually boasted major progress. But don’t take our word for it—read our list of how things have gotten better since the dawn of last decade.”

This is really encouraging. We do seem to be learning, in spite of our setbacks.

Article: The Decade in Cheer

Next Economy

How indigenous wisdom can help us heal divides and restore balance.

Edgar Villanueva notices dynamics of colonization in our philanthropic and social finance sectors. And he offers hopeful and compelling alternatives.

“In Native traditions medicine is a way of achieving balance. An Indigenous medicine person doesn’t just heal illnesses—he or she can restore harmony or establish a state of being, like peacefulness. Medicine people live and practice among the people; access to them is constant and unrestricted. And the practice of medicine is not just limited to the hands of medicine people: everyone is welcome to participate. Engaging with medicine is a part of the experience of daily life. Traditionally, Indigenous people don’t wait to be out of balance before they turn to medicine.”

Book Excerpt: Money as Medicine: Leveraging Philanthropy to Decolonize Wealth

Learning, Systems Thinking, Trauma-informed

“It’s no secret that our health, education, and social service systems are failing the people they intend to serve.”

“The science of trauma has opened new pathways for understanding and addressing social problems resistant to traditional programs and services. Beginning with the seminal Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in 1998, a growing body of research has demonstrated that adverse experiences and chronic stress, particularly in childhood, can harm the developing brain. Repeated exposure to perceived danger alters the connections between brain cells and floods the body with hormones. These biological changes accumulate over time and can have long-term consequences for emotional function, regulatory capacities, physical health, and successful performance in a variety of domains, such as education, parenting, and employment. Research in the field of epigenetics has even suggested the possible biological transmission of trauma from generation to generation.

“A mix of genetic and environmental influences determines physical and mental health. This combination of factors helps to explain why individuals or groups that are exposed to the same trauma may experience different outcomes. Treatments, environments, and cultures that do not recognize the biological impact of repeated trauma may be ineffective or even cause additional harm by retraumatizing those they serve. Behavioral health organizations are increasingly providing evidence-based, trauma-specific therapies. However, therapy alone does not eliminate the risk of an organization’s activating a trauma response, nor does it address the wide range of consequences of traumatic exposure. Trauma-informed organizational models are necessary to address these more systemic issues.”

Article: A Trauma Lens for Systems Change

Organizational Health

The role of belonging at work and the outsized consequences of its absence

“Social belonging is a fundamental human need, hardwired into our DNA. And yet, 40% of people say that they feel isolated at work, and the result has been lower organizational commitment and engagement. In a nutshell, companies are blowing it. U.S. businesses spend nearly 8 billion dollars each year on diversity and inclusion (D&I) trainings that miss the mark because they neglect our need to feel included.”

Article: The Value of Belonging at Work

Resources, Email Marketing

Boost opens and conversion rates with content and elements users want to see.

Email marketing works. The emails that work best follow the golden rule: put into an inbox what you would want in yours. Carrie Cousins tracks email marketing trends. She’s curated a nice collection of smart email design circa now.

Article: Email Design Trends for 2020

Resources, Fundraising

A list of Jeff Brooks’ favorite fundraising blogs

Jeff Brooks has been blogging about fundraising since 2005. He claims that fundraising is the most noble pursuit. This week he posted a list of the blogs he follows.

Article: Best Fundraising Blogs for 2020


Learning, Personal Development 

Perfectionism leads to procrastination

This article was written for students of architecture. It is relevant for anyone learning to express themselves, like…everyone.

Article: In School, Sometimes More Research Is Just More Procrastination


When I was 14 years old my local college radio station – WRPI, Troy, NY – turned me on to Buffalo Springfield’s second album, Buffalo Springfield Again. The first cut was Mr. Soul, written by Neil Young. This song is so sweet. It has the crunchiness of a buzz-guitar and the yummy smooth blend of a simple hook with a driving beat.

Two years later Neil Young stepped aside from that seminal band to make a solo album, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. To back him up he recruited a psychedelic pop/folk rockband, The Rockets. They renamed themselves Crazy Horse.

50 years later, in 2019, Neil Young and Crazy Horse released their 24th album, Colorado. About the band Neil has recently said “Everything about Crazy Horse is soulful. I don’t get that from anybody else: CSNY, any band I’ve ever played with.”

The so cool news is that this album rocks with the same kick out the jams spirit as their first, and their shared enthusiasm for, and ability to push boundaries has never wavered. This album assures again that rock and roll will never die.

Video: Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Mountaintop (Official Movie Trailer – EXPLICIT)
Album: Colorado

Image of the Week

“Toronto-based photographer Luis Mora opens up about his hometown of Bogotá, Colombia in this inspiring profile for The Creator Class’s Canon Creator Lab series. After receiving the Edward Burtynsky Photobook Grant, Mora has been able to put together his first book and photo exhibit, Say It With Flowers — a project dedicated to one of Colombia’s largest flower markets. The Creator Class joins Mora at Paloquemao as he shares the unique energy of the place and reflects on the importance of reconnecting with where you come from.”

Article: The Creator Class: Photographer Luis Mora on His Project “Say It With Flowers”

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