Clarity First Newsletter,
March 11, 2022

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”

– Doris Lessing

Love & Work

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

Even as we fight wars, challenge democracy, build extractive economies and act indifferent to our biosphere, we learn.  Here’s a few learnings I fished out of the firehose this week.

Happy Friday.


How We Live

Finding the seeds of peace

“Science could play a crucial role in specifying the aspects of community life that contribute to sustaining peace. Unfortunately, our understanding of more pacific societies is limited by the fact that they are rarely studied. Humans mostly study the things we fear—cancer, depression, violence, and war—and so we have mostly studied peace in the context or aftermath of war. When peaceful places are studied, researchers (much like the U.N.) tend to focus primarily on negative peace, or the circumstances that keep violence at bay, to the neglect of positive peace, or the things that promote and sustain more just, harmonious, prosocial relations. As a result, we know much more about how to get out of war than we do about how to build thriving, peaceful communities.

“In response to this gap in our understanding of how to sustain peace, an eclectic group of scholars started gathering together in 2014. We are psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, astrophysicists, environmental scientists, political scientists, data scientists, and communications experts, who are interested in gaining a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of lasting peace. We also share an appreciation of the benefits of using methods from complexity science to better visualize and model the complex dynamics of such societies, and as a platform for communicating with one another across such different disciplines to develop a shared understanding of stable, peaceful societies and of peace systems.”

Article: What Can We Learn from the World’s Most Peaceful Societies?


How We Live

Good news: We are not hard-wired for selfishness, war, rape, and greed.

“Nurturing Our Humanity offers a new perspective on our personal and social options in today’s world, showing how we can build societies that support our great human capacities for consciousness, caring, and creativity.

“It brings together findings–largely overlooked–from the natural and social sciences debunking the popular idea that we are hard-wired for selfishness, war, rape, and greed.”

Book Summary: Nurturing Our Humanity. How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives and Future



How We Live

There is a scientific reason that humans feel better walking through the woods than strolling down a city street.

Richard Taylor’s research has found that looking at fractals, which are very common in nature, can reduce stress and mental fatigue for the observer by as much as 60%. Image by Michael Lux via Creative Commons.

“The authors examined the question: ‘What happens in your brain when you walk down the street?’ and they conclude that urban environments are not pleasing to the human brain.

“The reason is the lack of fractals in modern architecture and spaces. Fractals are patterns that self-repeat at different scales, and they can be found all over nature in objects like trees, rivers, clouds, and coastlines.

“Because of this prevalence of natural fractals, the human brain has evolved to respond favorably to fractals, and to do so in the blink of an eye. The human brain only needs 50 milliseconds to detect the presence of fractals.

“’As soon as we look at nature, it triggers a cascade of automatic responses,’ says physicist Richard Taylor of the University of Oregon. ‘Even before we’ve noticed what we’re looking at, we’re responding to it.’

“And the response is a positive one. Humans experience less stress and better well-being when looking at nature, and this is driven by fractals.”

Article: Why Your Brain Likes Nature More Than Cities


Writing, Reading

Love at first sentence

Allegra Hyde via New England Review

“A great first line can spur intense readerly attraction—provoke a compulsion to know more. Let’s call this: love at first sentence.

Allegra Hyde found herself asking what it takes to “propel a text out of a slush pile or off a bookshop shelf—for a work of literature to transform from stranger to intimate.”

“What is that something, exactly? I started pondering this question in earnest last summer, after signing on to teach a class about fiction’s first lines. To ‘research’ in preparation for the class, I decided to ask around—to ask strangers, specifically, in the spirit of love at first sentence. And so, to the people of Twitter, I posed: “What are your favorite first lines in literature?”

(One of my favorites is Leo Tolstoy’s opening lines to Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”)

Article: What Makes a Great Opening Line?


Corporate Social Responsibility

The first link of a beer maker’s supply chain is the soil.

“Guinness is going green. The Irish brewery is launching an agricultural program to make its stouts more sustainable.

“It’s already tapped 40 Irish farms to join its pilot regenerative agriculture project, which involves working with the natural environment to put back more than it takes out. Soil management and crop production experts and suppliers are also on board.

“The initiative intends to reduce the carbon emissions of its barley production—a key ingredient in each black and white pint.

“The regenerative agriculture project has key goals, including improving soil health and its carbon sequestration potential; aka having the soil itself store carbon before it becomes carbon dioxide gas, and enhancing biodiversity—or the natural soil fertilization, nutrient recycling, erosion control, and crop/tree pollination that keeps the ecosystem healthy.”

Article: Guinness is ‘Brewing Good’ by Cutting Carbon Footprint of its Barley Farms


Advertising, Social Messaging

Basic freedoms are missing in 29 states for LGBTQ+ Americans.

Case Study: Human Rights Campaign – The Reality Flag By WPP Group


Trauma Informed Care

Putin had a shitty childhood. Ukraine and the world are paying the price.

Putin with his parents

“When you look at Putin’s early years, the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) pile up—lack of food, inadequate housing, bullying, neglect, parental depression, etc. And he obviously inherited a bunch of ACEs from his parents, including wartime trauma personified by Nazi forces that threatened their existence and their homeland. But what’s also evident is what he didn’t seem to get: appropriate attachment—the strong and requisite bond between a parent and a child that leads to a healthy life and without which children can die or be damaged….”

Article: How Vladimir Putin’s Childhood is Affecting Us All


Article: The Radical Roots of Bikesharing
Article: Ukraine’s libraries are offering bomb shelters, camouflage classes, and yes, books
Article: Eleven Over Sixty: A Reading List of Later in Life Debuts
Article: How Artists Are Responding to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine


“DakhaBrakha is world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine. Reflecting fundamental elements of sound and soul, Ukrainian «ethnic chaos» band DakhaBrakha, create a world of unexpected new music.

“The name DakhaBrakha is original, outstanding and authentic at the same time. It means «give/take» in the old Ukrainian language.

“DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art «DAKH» by the avant-garde theatre director — Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre work has left its mark on the band performances — their shows have never been staged without the scenic effects.

“Having experimented with Ukrainian folk music, the band has added rhythms of the surrounding world into their music, thus creating bright, unique and unforgettable image of DakhaBrakha. It will help to open up the potential of Ukrainian melodies and to bring it to the hearts and consciousness of the younger generation in Ukraine and the rest of the world as well.

“Accompanied by Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian traditional instrumentation, the quartet’s astonishingly powerful and uncompromising vocal range creates a trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture.”

Website: DakhaBrakha

Video: DakhaBrakha – Vesna (Live on KEXP)

Image of the Week

“Photographer Beth Moon immortalizes the magnificent baobabs of Madagascar in a poignant black and white series. In the fall of 2018, when the oldest baobab on the island, 1400 years old, collapsed, the photographer from the Bay Area went there. Beth Moon has been studying these strange and sublime trees since 2006, in an attempt to visually conserve the species. The thousand-year-old baobab tree Tsitakakoike, which means “the tree where the cry from the other side cannot be heard”, was also linked to local traditions and was believed to house the ancestral spirits of the Masikoro people. Today these photos are the subject of an online exhibition available here. A beautiful book is also dedicated to the series.”

Article: Stunning Baobabs by Beth Moon

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.

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