Clarity First Newsletter,
July 17, 2020

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov

Clarity First

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

During a check-in this week, I shared that I feel like I’m holding the comedy and tragedy masks of theatre. On the one hand I am happily engaged in multiple projects that are both satisfying and meaningful. And the people with whom I am working are collaborative, cooperative and just plain fun. On the other hand the criminal mismanagement of a deadly pandemic, and the wholesale gutting of our democratic institutions and agencies by the White House, abetted by a blind-eyed Senate, is a minute-by-minute nightmare to witness.

So, I’m trying my best just to hold and acknowledge both realities. And as I do, it’s important to acknowledge my white male privilege. There are millions who are holding only the mask of tragedy.


The plague marked the end of the Middle Ages and the start of a great cultural renewal. 

“Could the coronavirus, for all its destruction, offer a similar opportunity for radical change?”

Article: How Pandemics Wreak Havoc—and Open Minds


How to foster an open mind:

“Closed-mindedness in the inability or difficulty to consider different ideas or opinions. While it is easy to spot in others, we are all guilty of closed-mindedness depending on the topics and situations. So how can we identify and manage this behavior in order to go from closed mind to open mind?”

Article: From Closed Mind to Open Mind


Why we justify stupid beliefs

“Cognitive dissonance is the motivational mechanism that underlies the reluctance to admit mistakes or accept scientific findings—even when those findings can save our lives. This dynamic is playing out during the pandemic among the many people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. Human beings are deeply unwilling to change their minds. And when the facts clash with their preexisting convictions, some people would sooner jeopardize their health and everyone else’s than accept new information or admit to being wrong.”

Article: The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic

Black Lives Matter, Print, Learning

The early pioneers of Black printing and publishing risked their lives to make their voices heard.

“Printing arrived in the Americas in 1539, in Mexico City. A hundred years later, the first press, owned by Elizabeth Glover, was established in Cambridge Massachusetts shortly after the first slaves arrived in August 1619, in the then English colony of Virginia. Over the next 200 years print grew rapidly to cater for a burgeoning and increasingly literate population.

“The birth of African American printing and publishing coincides with a new momentum, a rising tide of anti-slavery and immediatist abolitionist movements weary of ‘indefinite deferral’. Their voices were disseminated and amplified through millions of printed pages of broadsides, pamphlets and books. The spread of their message was further aided by technological innovations of the Industrial Revolution…”

John Boardley, publishing on I Love Typography, tells an amazing story.

Article: Black Print

Stuff Lust

Masks are a thing now. Might as well get one you like.

In February of this year it never occurred to me that come July I would be pointing you to reviews of face masks that the crew at WIRED find both functional and cool. But that was then.

Article: 15 Face Masks We Actually Like to Wear


“Is everyone wearing pants?”

Leave it to Apple to sponsor a 6+ minute ‘film’ (it’s an ad) that is worth watching to the end. Bravo for re-introducing a binge-watch worthy cast that we care enough about to want to watch, and share, again. (Last year the same cast introduced Apple at Work-The Underdogs.) Bravo for the amazingly adept product placement for Apple’s products. Bravo for the product placement that is not even an Apple product. Most importantly, bravo for being so entertaining. When is episode three? I’ll watch.

Video: The Whole Working from Home Thing


It’s true that a tag line can give a brand fame and mental availability, but only if it’s a great one, which gets harder to achieve as time goes by.

Typically I do not promise to find a tag line in my branding work. This article explains why.

Article: Don’t Expect a Slogan to Make Your Brand Famous

Nonprofits, Funny

“Explain how you will 

transform lives, but remember… 

we will not fund staff”

Ouch. These haiku are hilarious because they are so true.

Article: 25 Beautiful and Profound Haiku About Nonprofit Work


Imagine if the The Black Keys, a full frontal rock band with just two guys, was just one woman.

Damn, I love rock and roll.

Tiny Desk Concert: Madame, the Band. I Nearly Waited


Image of the week

The image of the week is a quilt by Rosie Lee Tompkins. “The size of a small billboard, this 1996 quilt pieces together a folkloric dish towel, chunks of the American flag and a mass-produced tapestry of Jesus.”

UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Eli Leon Bequest; Ben Blackwell

“The ‘self-taught’ or ‘outsider’ labels were inaccurate for quilters. (She) had grown up as her mother’s apprentice in a kind of atelier: a small town full of female friends and relatives who quilted, the older ones showing and telling the younger ones how it was done. More and more I saw her as a great American artist, no qualifier needed.”

“Her work is simply further evidence of the towering African-American achievements that permeate the culture of this country. A deeper understanding and knowledge of these, especially where art is concerned, must be part of the necessary rectification and healing that America faces.”

“This September many more people will (be able to) feel the love implicit in her extraordinary achievement, when ‘Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective’ — the artist’s largest show yet — opens its doors once more at the Berkeley Art Museum for a run through Dec. 20. (It debuted briefly in February before the coronavirus lockdown.) The museum’s website currently offers a robust online display and 70-minute virtual tour.”

Article: The Radical Quilting of Rosie Lee Tomkins


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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