Clarity First Newsletter,
May 7, 2021

“Living simply makes loving simple.”  – bell hooks

Clarity First

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

In a meeting with a client this week, my colleague, Liz Solomon, brought up the importance of understanding and honoring intersectionalites. bell hooks phrases it really well:

“It is important and vital is to keep that education for critical consciousness around intersectionalities, so that people are able to not focus on one thing and blame one group, but be able to look holistically at the way intersectionality informs all of us: whiteness, gender, sexual preferences, etc. Only then can we have a realistic handle on the political and cultural world we live within.”

By embracing each other for our differences we can find hope, redemption and possibility.

Happy Friday.

Living Space

Biophilic design is rapidly becoming one of the principal considerations when embarking on an urban building project.

The Garden House in the City by Christos Pavlou Architecture

According to Wikipedia, “‘Biophilia is an innate affinity of life or living systems”.

“Much research exists outlining the benefits of biophilic design, and the positive results gleaned from the practice are unquestionable. Being surrounded by natural elements improves our mental health and increases our productivity, and has a marked effect on our physical well-being. Designers and architects are beginning to understand that a strong connection to nature is beneficial and necessary for safe, productive, and healthy living.”

Article: Living Space: The Buzz About Biophilia in Architectural Design

Biomimicry, Systems Thinking

“The scientific evidence is impossible to ignore: the forest is wired for wisdom, sentience, and healing.”

“One of the first clues came while I was tapping into the messages that the trees were relaying back and forth through a cryptic underground fungal network. When I followed the clandestine path of the conversations, I learned that this network is pervasive through the entire forest floor, connecting all the trees in a constellation of tree hubs and fungal links. A crude map revealed, stunningly, that the biggest, oldest timbers are the sources of fungal connections to regenerating seedlings. Not only that, they connect to all neighbors, young and old, serving as the linchpins for a jungle of threads and synapses and nodes. I’ll take you through the journey that revealed the most shocking aspect of this pattern—that it has similarities with our own human brains. In it, the old and young are perceiving, communicating, and responding to one another by emitting chemical signals. Chemicals identical to our own neurotransmitters. Signals created by ions cascading across fungal membranes. 

“The older trees are able to discern which seedlings are their own kin.

“The old trees nurture the young ones and provide them food and water just as we do with our own children. It is enough to make one pause, take a deep breath, and contemplate the social nature of the forest and how this is critical for evolution. The fungal network appears to wire the trees for fitness. And more. These old trees are mothering their children.”

“…This is not a book about how we can save the trees.

“This is a book about how the trees might save us.”

Book Excerpt: Finding the Mother Tree, Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest


Most experiments with four-day weeks have been motivated by corporate self-interest. That could be changing.

“Rhys and Amy on Menorca’s Only Mountain 1990” by Gareth1953 All Right Now  CC BY 2.0

“More than a century after Chicago factory workers won fixed labor protections under the slogan “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what we will,” the work week is once again evolving.

“Companies have recently been experimenting with four-day weeks in the hope that a shorter week will ultimately improve their bottom lines. But the concept broke new ground last month, when Spain announced it will become the world’s first country to trial a four-day working week.”

“’The four-day week has never been tested on this level,’ says Héctor Tejero, political coordinator of Más País, the left-wing party that put forward the proposal. ‘Until now there’s only been fragmented evidence and research from different countries.’

“Tejero believes the benefits of shifting away from the Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 status quo could be profound and wide-ranging: improving employee wellbeing, reducing carbon emissions, increasing gender equality and raising productivity.”

Article: Spain’s Four-Day Work Week Is a Game Changer


“We’ve forgotten how to talk to people.”

“Small talk gets a bad rap, but remember, this is how all conversations begin. We can use it to more intentionally express how much we care about one another and to admit how much each of us is struggling.”

Article: How to Make Your Small Talk Big

Personal Development

Why Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm, prefers handwriting to keyboard strokes

“I was doing some research for an essay and ended up on a website called, Drawright, which had a nice piece on why handwriting trumps typing. Here are my favorite five reasons.

“1. By feeling the writing surface, holding the writing instrument, and directing precise movement with thought, you give your brain a full workout! In contrast, typing is a simple, memory-based movement. Executing keystrokes is just a repetitive movement.

“2. Research shows that children who practice their handwriting have higher levels of literacy and cognitive development. This is likely because as children learn how to quickly translate mental images of letters into a physical form, they begin to understand how letters form sentences and meaning.

“3. Boosts reading comprehension: Strong writing skills also improve reading comprehension.

“4. Retains knowledge: Handwriting notes (such as in a class) helps you retain knowledge more than typing on a keyboard.

“5. Increases creativity: Writing and drawing by hand increases creativity because we are forced to slow down, consider the big picture, and come up with creative ideas. You use the right side of your brain.”

Article: Why Handwriting Beats Typing

Related Article: This Is the Single Most Powerful Productivity Tool I’ve Ever Used, And I’ve Tried Them All

Brand Identity, Packaging

“Simplicity provides ecstasy in a messy world.”

In the 90s I was a principal of Titanium, a 15-person international design firm. Every one of our team had an Apple computer under their desk, and we upgraded them frequently. In what became a hallowed ritual, whenever a new device was delivered we all dropped everything to gather ’round the new gear as it was unpacked. We weren’t there to see the gear that held the CPU, we gathered to marvel at the packaging that held and presented that gear. Now, 30 years later, photographer Johann Clausen has captured and celebrated the eloquence of Apple’s packaging.

Clean lines, whiter-than-white elegance and direct, no-fuss ultra-minimalism. These are the qualities that give Apple its unmistakable Apple-ness.

“But Apple’s product packaging, though the source of less limelight, seems to involve almost as much artistic consideration as the device it shrouds. Every inch is considered: superfluity is a sin, and simplicity provides ecstasy in a messy world.”

Article: Apple Packaging Like You’ve Never Seen it Before


I love watching this six-year-old kid in a party dress drop into a very deep bowl and skate it like a pro. 

She’s good. She’s very, very good. Not for a kid, for a skater.

She found her mom’s skateboard in a closet when she was two. And now she does this.

There’s hope for the future.

Instagram page: paigeetobin



The Quest to ‘Have It All’ Isn’t New. History Is Full of Mothers Who Changed the World While Taking Care of Their Children

“The World’s Best Restaurant”, Eleven Madison Park, is Going Vegan

What Top Wealth Advisers Are Warning Their Rich Clients About

How Data Is Changing the Way Offices Are Run



A journalist once asked Eric Clapton what it was like to be the best guitarist in the world. He replied: “I don’t know. Ask Prince.”

This performance, at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for George Harrison, shows why. I’ve featured it here before. I’ve shared it with friends many times. But late last month director, Joel Gallen, – who helmed the 2004 Rock Hall show – posted a new cut of the mind-bending solo that calmly and definitively claims Prince’s title as guitar champion.

I love how he looks at the band with such appreciation for the song and for the artist they are honoring. I love how the band of Allstars looks at him with such awe.

“The 2004 clip is beloved online, inspiring reaction videos, musical breakdowns, and re-uploads of the classic performance. Part of the reason for its popularity is the fact that Prince doesn’t just upstage a couple of schlubs. His bandmates for this rendition of George Harrison’s signature Beatles tune include Harrison’s fellow Traveling Wilburys Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, as well as Steve Winwood and George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison. But it’s pretty clear that everyone is pretty psyched on what Prince is throwing down.”

Article: Prince’s Earth-Shattering “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Solo Gets a Director’s Cut With Even More Prince

Video: Prince Gently Weeping from Rock Hall 2004: NEW DIRECTOR’S CUT!

Article: Tom Petty and Others Tell the Story Behind Prince’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Solo

Image of the Week

The image of the week was shot by photographer Brooke Schultz. “This photo of my friend and her baby encapsulates every feeling I have about motherhood: the longing to give them all of you and the ache of not being able to; the heartbreak of growing separation as they grow up; and the inexplicable love story of being so intertwined together–from pregnancy to babyhood and forever in the stories we tell of our roots.”

This is just one of 100 photographs curated by In The Luupe in honor of Mother’s Day.

Photo Essay: 100 Visions of Motherhood.
(Thanks to Tina Roth for steering me here.)

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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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