Clarity First Newsletter,
March 26, 2021

“The urgent finds you; you have to find the important. Importance is not fast. It is slow. It is not superficial. It is deep. And as a result, it’s extremely powerful. When important matters go wrong, they undermine everything. When they go right, they sustain everything.” – Stewart Brand

Clarity First

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

Here in the Northeastern US the days are gloriously long. The temperatures have creeped into the 70s and people are gathering again, for now outdoors.

A very challenging winter is over.

Happy Friday.

Long Term Thinking

“The drivers of short-termism threaten to drag us over the edge of civilizational breakdown, while ways to think long-term are drawing us towards a culture of longer time horizons and responsibility for the future of humankind.”

Roman Krznaric on TED

“Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. The need to draw on our capacity to think long-term has never been more urgent, whether in areas such as public health care, to deal with technological risks, or to confront the threats of an ecological crisis.

“What can we do to overcome the tyranny of the now? The drivers of short-termism threaten to drag us over the edge of civilizational breakdown, while ways to think long-term are drawing us towards a culture of longer time horizons and responsibility for the future of humankind.”

“Creating a cognitive toolkit for challenging our obsession with the here and now offers conceptual scaffolding for answering one of the most important questions of our time: How can we be good ancestors?”

Long Now Foundation Seminar: Becoming a Better Ancestor

Ted Talk: How to Be a Good Ancestor

Book: The Good Ancestor

Community, Urbanism, Public Art

Imagine that public space put the ideas of the artist at its center.

See Art! Make Art! Live Art! by Garrett Ziegler

“Imagine that public space put the ideas of the artist at its center, with urban transformation, public infrastructure, and civic architecture as its foundation. In such a space, creative culture would be championed by the public and be financially supported by those who understand that art is essential to social advancement. In that world, hasty cycles of development would become more thoughtful, collaborative civic movements that represent people from all backgrounds and abilities.

“Imagining public art in this way reminds us that cities should function as vehicles for social movements and progress, rather than as spaces that reinforce existing power relations. Our public spaces most often reinforce the dominant systems of our time, such as capitalism and white supremacy. It can and must be different. This means, when thinking about sustainable support for the arts, we must develop a system that sustains not only artists but ourselves.”

Article: Public Art: The Case for a Cultural Heart Transplant

Design, Circular Economy, Long Term Thinking

An open call to creatives to solve our planet’s problem with waste

“What Design Can Do has partnered with the Ikea Foundation to launch an international open call to creatives to solve our planet’s problem with waste. The No Waste Challenge asks for design-driven solutions to reduce waste and rethink the way we buy, sell and use resources on the planet. The global competition has three briefs to choose from, and applicants can submit their ideas for a chance to win €10,000 investment in their concept, plus publicity and development support from startup network Impact Hub.”

Article: What Design Can Do Asks Creatives to Solve Our Waste Problem


What C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed can tell us about our year of loss.

“In this terrible pandemic year, it has been oddly difficult to find ways to talk about the onslaught of bitter and unrelenting grief.

“More than half a million Americans are dead. And even if you don’t personally know anyone who died, you still have to reckon with the loss of the world that used to exist. But as a nation, America has been afforded little space to stop and feel the grief that comes with the tragedy of this moment in history.

“One of the best literary examinations of grief that I know of is C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. This slim volume is a transcript of Lewis’s journal after the death of his wife, Helen Joy Davidman, and in its pages Lewis tracks the process of his own mourning: its repetitions and its strange boredoms, its agonizing small moments. Lewis is a precise and scrupulously honest chronicler of his own thoughts, and the result is a portrait of a mind in the throes of very personal grief, which is why it is perhaps strange that what he describes feels so similar to the grief of living through an era of mass death worldwide.”

Book Review: The Boredom and the Fear of Grief


There are things that you can’t measure.

“If there’s one quote that’s particularly popular in management circles, it’s ‘what gets measured gets managed’—often misattributed to famous management consultant Peter Drucker. First, Drucker never said this; second, he actually didn’t believe such a thing; third, the idea is flawed.”

Article: The fallacy of “what gets measured gets managed”


Cal Newport Recommends Replacing the Endless Pinging with Office Hours 

In 2016, Cal Newport published an article on the Harvard Business Review’s website that used a purposefully provocative title, “A Modest Proposal: Eliminate Email.”

This is a well-articulated follow-up. Email can be such a productivity suck. In the teams I am involved with, we are increasingly insisting that project communication, idea capture, agenda building, and resource sharing are moved to an app designed to capture, hold and share such thinking, apps like Slack and the chat function of Zoom.

But the idea of ‘office hours’ has merit as we learn to learn with each other.

Article: When It Comes to Email, Corporate America Should Emulate Academia

Visual Identity

Modern logos reimagined as if it were the 70s.

Graphic designer and lettering artist Rafael Serra, based in Porto, Portugal, has ben imagining what the logos of modern brands would look like if they were born in the 70s. It’s a fun exercise.

ArticlePopular Logos in a Vintage Spirit


There’s a Global Plan to Conserve Nature. Indigenous People Could Lead the Way.

A Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon Is About More Than the Price of Books

Why Soft Skills Help You Thrive as a Designer



I love covers.
I love string quartets.
I love the Beatles.

Video: Come Together


Image of the Week

The Image of the Week is an artist’s depiction of the future, circa 1930. deMilked has curated a great collection of 20 images that capture how people who lived before us envisioned how we’d be living today.

I’m struck by how much they got right, from Facetiming, to food trucks, to home delivery of prepared meals, to texting via wristwatch, and to people – in 2021! – transporting themselves in hermetically-sealed glass bubbles.

Article: Here’s How People from the Past Imagined the Future 

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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