Clarity First Newsletter,
July 31, 2020

“The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present, and when you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that. That is what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.” – Joanna Macy

Clarity First

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

Joanna Macy describes “three stories or versions of reality that are shaping our world so that we can see them more clearly and choose which one we want to get behind”. The first narrative is “Business as Usual,” the second is “The Great Unraveling,” and the third is “The Great Turning,” or a transition to a life-sustaining society.

Sign me up for The Great Turning, please. Want to help?

Happy Friday.


Joanna Macy on the transition to a life-sustaining society

In this article eco-philosopher and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy introduces us to the bardo, the Tibetan Buddhist concept of a gap between worlds where transition is possible.

“We are in a space without a map. With the likelihood of economic collapse and climate catastrophe looming, it feels like we are on shifting ground, where old habits and old scenarios no longer apply. In Tibetan Buddhism, such a space or gap between known worlds is called a bardo. It is frightening. It is also a place of potential transformation.”

Article: Entering the Bardo

Learning, Collective Intelligence 

Emotions have much more power to affect reason than reason does to affect emotions — particularly the emotion of fear.

Holy moly. Here is a trauma-informed juvenile justice system reform that swayed the conservative majority in the Georgia legislature, a legislature more inclined to adopt reliance on a deterrence model of crime and punishment.

“Judge Teske first used collective decision-making beginning in 2003 to reform his local juvenile justice system, which has netted an 80% decline in juvenile arrests. It was used in the Georgia juvenile justice reform effort to net a 57% reduction in youth committed to state facilities, which resulted in the closure of three secured facilities. The relevance of these outcomes is that they were influenced by reforms that are counterintuitive to the conservative majority in the Georgia legislature, and they were passed unanimously.”

Article: Collective Decision-Making Can Neutralize Politics of fear 


Science’s brand is “hope”.

“Through the marketing lens what is the ‘brand’ of science as an enterprise? It’s an especially important question during the COVID-19 pandemic, when headlines around the world have shifted global attention to the science surrounding the coronavirus.

“A March 2020 Pew Research survey asked Americans how they had felt about the coronavirus over the previous week. People reported experiencing nervousness, anxiety, depression, and even physical reactions, at least a little of the time.

“But despite these uneasy feelings, nearly three in four Americans indicated they felt hopeful for the future.

“As my communications colleagues and I find, hope is the starting point for how the public thinks and feels about science.”

Article: What Gives Americans Hope? Science

Design, Activism

Cleaning out designers’ attics to fight systemic racism
A 1966 photograph of Las Vegas by architect Denise Scott Brown was one of the items auctioned by the Design Yard Sale.

“Prompted by the death of George Floyd in late May, a group of five Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) students and alumni were moved to rethink the power of design. ‘Most of us in the design school felt like design couldn’t provide immediate assistance,’ says Yaxuan Liu, a current architecture master’s student at Harvard University. ‘In the larger sense, we can design for equity but it will take a longer time to achieve this goal.’ Undeterred, Liu and peers Tessa Crespo, Grace Chee, Izzy Kornblatt, and Edward Han Myo Oo came together to invent a way that their industry could provide instant support for anti-Black racism, based on a concept pulled straight from imagery of suburban America: the yard sale.

“After reaching out via survey to fellow students and partnering with co-sponsor nonprofit The Architectural League of New York, the group began Design Yard Sale, a month-long fundraising event that auctions and sells design pieces online. 100% of the proceeds benefit nonprofit The Bail Project and New Orleans-based architecture and design justice practice Colloqate Design, organizations that are dedicated to fighting systemic racism. Since its July 1 launch, Design Yard Sale has raised over $80,000 for racial justice.”

Article: Harvard GSD Students And Alumni Raise $80,000 For Anti-Racism With Design Yard Sale

Corporate Social Responsibility

How to address racism in your company and your brand

A statue of protester Jen Reid by artist Marc Quinn, which temporarily replaced one of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, England (Photo: Sam Saunders)

“The media frenzy around Black Lives Matter might have subsided but the issue has not – racism is still prevalent and we must all use whatever influence we have to remove it from our workplaces and our society.”

“There is so much we can do, must do, as individuals, as communities and as businesses. Most of it is pretty straightforward. That doesn’t mean it is easy. We are talking about challenging entrenched behaviours – but unless we start to dismantle them, we can’t ever finish. So, listen up, here are my top three things I think you should do the help tackle systemic racism.”

Article: Racism is Not Just a News Story, It’s a Disease All Marketers Should Fight

Advertising, Social Messaging

For us, lockdown was temporary. For some animals, it’s for life.

Wiki describes the the Born Free Foundation as “an international wildlife charity that campaigns to ‘Keep Wildlife in the Wild’. It protects wild animals in their natural habitat, campaigns against the keeping of wild animals in captivity and rescues wild animals in need.”

In this brilliantly conceived and executed spot by agency Engine and animation house Aardman, the voices of caged animals are really human interview subjects speaking of their personal experience of lockdown.

“The people’s complaints about their feelings of captivity, paired with animated animals such as tigers, an orangutan, an elephant and some humorously incontinent lemurs, become a hard-hitting message about animal suffering. The film ends by pointing out that their entrapment will last a lifetime—rather than just a few months.”

Article: Pandemic Lockdown Interviews Give Heart-Breaking Context to Plight of Captive Animals in Animated PSA From Aardman

Personal Development

An idle mind is not a lazy mind.

“The key is to build (to literally schedule, if that’s what it takes) a few more idle moments into life — knowing that idleness and getting stuff done aren’t in opposition. Idleness IS getting stuff done.”

Article: The Perfect Conditions for a Great Idea

12 Tips That Actually Help with Zoom Fatigue
Holly Grounds Develops Dissolvable Ramen Packaging That Turns Into Sauce
An Oregon Arts Nonprofit Will Transfer Its Land to a Native-Led Cultural Organization

Just for Fun

Teenager Isamu Yamamoto is a master of the skateboard.

Video: Another ver. of World Freestyle Round-Up 2020 Online Showdown : Isamu Yamamoto


Fleetwood Mac w/ Peter Green – Black Magic Woman (Live Boston Tea Party) 1970

Before there was Fleetwood Mac, there was Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green, a blues guitarist who B.B. King described as “the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”

In the mid-60s Green replaced Eric Clapton in the British blues band John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. During his tenure in that seminal band, Mick Fleetwood played drums, and John McVie played bass. The three left Mayall in 1967 to form Fleetwood Mac (named after Fleetwood and McVie).

During the years 1968 and 1969 Green fronted the band as they played classic blues, toured the world, made four albums and released a number 1 single, Albatross. But by the time Stevie Nicks joined the band in 1975, she’d never heard of him. Green did play and record after leaving the band in early 1970, but he spent much of the rest of his life fighting mental illness and homelessness. 

Peter Green died last weekend at the age of 73. Rolling Stone has a fitting tribute.

Article: Farewell, Peter Green: The Timeless Blues Perfection of Fleetwood Mac’s Original Guitar Hero

P.S. 53 years later Fleetwood and McVie still hold down the rhythm section of the band that is far better known for the album “Rumors” than Green’s rocker “Oh Well”.

Image of the week

The image of the week is the work of American photographer Tawny Chatmon. About her painterly images she says:

“The primary theme that drives my art practice today is celebrating the beauty of black childhood. I am currently devoted to creating portraits that are inspired by artworks spanning various art periods in Western Art with the intent of bringing to the forefront faces that were often under-celebrated in this style of work. 

My camera remains my primary tool of communication, while my constant exploration of diverse ways of expression moves me to add several different layers using a variety of mediums. After a portrait session is complete, I typically digitally manipulate my subjects and unite them with other components to achieve a work that is a new expression. Often lending to them the eyes of someone their elder and more wise and almost always exaggerating their hair and features in a celebratory way. Thereafter, I may superimpose antique patterns and textures, collage vintage botanical and wildlife illustrations, or add hand-drawn digital illustration. If I feel I am not yet complete, after each portrait is refined and printed, I may combine paint and gold leaf adding ornamental elements inspired by 19th-century artworks. By experimenting with various art practices, I allow myself to follow no set of rules while creating instinctually and fluidly. Each layer serves its very own meaningful purpose.”

Article: The Jealous Curator: Tawny Chatmon


Last Word

John Lewis left us a challenge

Yesterday, the 30th, Debbie and I had every radio, TV and computer in our house tuned to the funeral ceremony of John Lewis, one of the most inspirational teachers and leaders of our time. The tears and the Amens were flowing on Chestnut Hill non-stop for hours. The same day the NYT published an epilog by him, an essay he meant to have us read on the day of his funeral.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

Article: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

My Guru

John Lewis gets darshan from Amma.

Mata Amritanandamayi, who her followers, me amongst them, call Amma, visited more than a dozen members of the US Congress in the Capitol Building in July of 2013. John Lewis was one of them.

Video: Amma’s Message to John Lewis

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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