Clarity First Newsletter,
November 6, 2020

“Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.”

– Maggie Smith, Good Bones

Clarity First

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

The good news is that Austin voted for major tax-funded investment in public transportation. The Black Lives Matter movement is attracting and holding more white participants than any previous civil rights movement. We are, as a nation, recognizing that movements, not politicians, are what make meaningful change. More people voted in this election than ever before. (Here in Franklin County, MA we had a better than 85% turnout.)  More people are recognizing that it is not just important but essential that we practice speaking truth to power. And as of early afternoon today, the 6th, it looks like we’ll have honest adults in the Whitehouse, fingers crossed.

The bad news? You know that. You don’t need to hear it from me.

Happy Friday. Let’s keep going.

Personal development

If you find all the bad news overwhelming, here is a larger perspective to help you relieve your anxiety.

“The Scream” after Edvard Munch, 1984 (silkscreen on canvas), Andy Warhol.

I find this essay by Buddhist teacher Judy Lief very comforting. Change what you can actually change. Feel compassion and empathy for those who are hurt and wounded. Accept the rest for what it is: human-made suffering.

“The Buddhist notion of samsara implies that all times are troubled. Not only that, but the troubles we complain about are the very troubles we ourselves create and perpetuate. So to the extent that our world is dominated by hatred, greed, and ignorance, known in Buddhism as the three poisons, it is because we have collectively made it so.

“The idea of samsara could be taken as an extremely pessimistic view of things. But it could also be a quite liberating message.

“It is liberating to drop the fantasy of there being a more perfect world, somehow, somewhere, and instead accept that we need to engage with the world as it is. It is our world, it is messy, but it is fertile ground for awakening. It is the same world, after all, that gave birth to the Buddha.”

Article: How Not to Freak Out


De-polarize, America!

“It seems pretty obvious. We need to tamp down the political polarization in this country. But how do we do that? ‘They’ won’t listen. Assuring us that We Are Not Doomed,‘ conflict specialist Dana Caspersen, also a former dancer, has created a special ‘score,’ or physical/mindful exercise, in honor of our national election. Dana calls her exercise, which you can complete on your own, an ‘act of depolarization for whatever comes next.’”

Article: ‘De-Polarize for Democracy,’ Says Dancer Dana Caspersen

Community, Creative Process

Crafting offers a tactile and sensory group experience, even online.

Jessica Kausen’s craft night over Zoom (image courtesy Jessica Kausen)

“Four friends and I started having craft-based get-togethers over Zoom in early May…. It was so refreshing to just chat and make stuff together that we decided to make it a regular thing. We had met each other more than a decade ago at Craft Night, a program I founded in 2007 at Etsy’s HQ in Brooklyn and led for several years. So, a craft night was not only how we started our friendship, but has also become a way to support each other long-distance during a pandemic. These times together apart — to borrow the name of the podcast that The Art of Gathering author Priya Parker started during the pandemic — has been a lifeline for me and a source of joy to anticipate each week.”Since this craft night has been a buoy for me, I got to wondering what crafting together has meant for others during this time of, shall we say, challenges. I talked to the founders of five other craft-centered gatherings to find out.”

Article: Craft Through This: Why Getting Together Online to Make Stuff Matters

Communication, Leadership

How to use nonviolent communication to talk about politics at work without ratcheting up the tension or unintentionally excluding and offending people.

“In what is arguably the most divisive election year yet, some people will be experiencing grief, fatigue, anxiety, skepticism, or flat-out terror. Even among colleagues who share political affiliations, there’s no “right” reaction to this election.

“For the conscientious among us, which ideally should cover everyone we work with, one option is to lean on the pillars of nonviolent communication, a process for interacting with people that emphasizes mutual respect and shifts the tone of discussions away from boiling points. The approach was created by the late psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s, and has been adapted and applied in regions with entrenched warfare, in workplaces, and in everyday interpersonal conflicts.”

This is a good primer.

Article: How to Have Constructive Conversations About the US Election at Work

Investing, Sustainability

The environment and other aspects of sustainability are becoming top concerns for investment CEOs and their clients.

“The year 2019 was one of cataclysmic fire and rain. Wildfires swept across California, the Amazon, and Australia, and storms and floods deluged parts of six continents — a string of natural disasters that scientists say were caused by the changing climate. And in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has coursed through the world.

Historically, events like these — along with other concerns that are included in what Wall Street calls environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues — haven’t been a major business concern for most asset and wealth management (AWM) firms….But that’s changing.”

Article: Investors and Asset Managers Are Chasing a New Shade of Green


The power of simple but smart creative

“The? ?Economist has launched a new digital marketing initiative, ‘Word Play’ designed to drive audiences to the high-quality journalism they can expect from? The Economist’s? coverage of the US 2020 elections.

“Tapping into the collective frustration with mass media and acknowledging the emotionally-charged presidential election, ‘Word Play’ was devised to promote ?The Economist’s? US 2020 elections coverage, raise awareness of ?The Economist? among US audiences and present the brand as a refreshingly fair-minded,? rigorous a?nd data-driven alternative source of journalism.

“A departure from The Economist? traditional ‘white out of red’ creative, this campaign instead leverages the secondary colour palette with striking blues. Each creative makes use of kangaroo words found within ?The Economist? name to boldly alert audiences to what they can expect (evidence-based, refreshingly fair) and cannot expect (no hype, no clickbait) from The Economist?.

“This global digital campaign, aimed primarily at US audiences, will run across social media (including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) as well as T?he Economist’s owned channels and a myriad of digital media properties including ?Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and Quartz?. It will also be featured as host-read advertisements on a range of prominent politics and current affairs podcasts?.”

Article: The Economist: Word Play

Advertising, Sponsorship

A brilliant place to place a logo

During this election week virtually everyone I know has been sharing that they are experiencing an unprecedented level of anxiety. Tech editor and publisher David Pierce noticed this brilliant sponsorship of the CNN screen on Tuesday night by Calm, “the #1 app for sleep, relaxation, and meditation”.

And apparently it worked:
Calm’s Hilarious CNN Ad Campaign Sent the Meditation App Flying Up App Store Charts

To Prevent Future Pandemics, Protect Nature

Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line Is Ready for an Unusual Thanksgiving

How Do You Know When Society Is About to Fall Apart?

This Reusable Packaging Could Help Stop the Massive Amounts of E-Commerce Waste


Yesterday my friend, Bruce Lierberman, sent an email to a group of 50+ people. It had a simple subject line: “Take 6 min 23 sec on 5 Nov”.

He provided a link to this song: A Voice Foretold. It’s a gospel song from the play The Gospel at Colonus. The show recasts Sophocles’ tragedy “Oedipus at Colonus” as a Pentecostal sermon.

Spotify has the whole original cast recording.

Amen. This stunningly beautiful music is so soothing right now. Thank you, Bruce.


Image of the Week

The image of the week was shot by National Geographic photographer Jasper Doest. About the image the magazine said: “This image of Japanese snow monkeys, modeling a collection of papier-mâché masks for a restaurant audience, told a story about the trivialization and commercialization of a species long revered as a messenger of the gods. Judges chose this from 19,000 entries to award Nat Geo’s Jasper Doest the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Said one judge of the winning photo: ‘A macaque on stage takes off his mask in front of a fake forest. As the mask slips, the wall of arrogance that we have built between us and nature over many centuries suddenly collapses. Never before has a portrait of an animal mirrored us like this: a naked monkey behind a human mask.’”

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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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