Clarity First Newsletter, September 7, 2018

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

Every Tuesday evening I work with a Nonviolent Communications (NVC) practice group at the Windhorse Hill Retreat Center in nearby Deerfield. According to Wikipedia NVC is “based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms themselves and others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs.” So, on a good NVC day, when I notice that someone’s behavior triggers me, I won’t react. Instead I’ll try to find empathy for the person whose behavior triggered me. NVC trains to ask: “What is the unmet need that this person is trying to express with this behavior?” This is brutally difficult to do, hence the need for practice groups.

This week our leader, Kate Crisp, surveyed our group for recent conflicts or triggering events that we could reprocess together. Interestingly, we had all had a pretty peaceful week. Then one of us said “Well, I wasn’t triggered by friends or family this week, but I sure was triggered by the Cavanaugh hearings on Capital Hill.” We then spent 90 minutes trying to find empathy for the unmet needs that defenders of racism, homophobia, nationalism and – ultimately – fascism were trying to express. It’s tough work. We fought tendencies to be right, to feel superior, to pit ‘us’ against ‘them’. But, in the end I found my needs for interdependence, acceptance and inclusion, respect, and community being bulldozed by the Republicans’ need for doing what they perceive of as meaningful work in the name of freedom and independence.

Then it hit me: Independence is a clear and important element of any democracy.  But, as we are learning, interdependence is even more important. And it’s the one that we all need to stand up and defend.

Democracy is a contact sport. Play. Defend interdependence wherever and however you can.

Social Progress

How to enable cross-sector partnerships to help address our most important societal challenges.

Authors Howard Buffett and William Eimicke say that “In our modern, post-privatization, hyper-connected and globalized economy, government lacks the capacity, scope, skills and trust to operate with the authority and expertise it did in the 20th century. Based on our research and experience, we have learned that no one organization or sector has the capacity and expertise to address many of our most important social objectives.” They say that what’s needed is a collaborative approach that brings together leadership, innovative thinking and resources from the public, private and philanthropic sectors. Let’s get started.
Article: A 21st Century Approach to Social Progress: Cross-Sector Partnerships as a Possible Solution

Organization Design, Business Model Generation

Org Designer is a newer job title.

Molly West Duffy is a designer for Ideo. She designs organizations. “My job is to use the tools of design to enhance organizational culture, boost collaboration and teamwork, improve structures and processes, enable learning and development, and create a sense of purpose and belonging.” When she meets someone she says: “I help people and teams do their best work.”

Being a designer committed to clear communication, she recognizes that while this elevator pitch is suitably short, it’s still kinda vague. So, to be more specific, she documented a day in the life. There’s good learning in here.
Article: What Org Design Actually Looks Like

Personal Development

New skills for new challenges

“Our evolving workplace is creating a skills divide. Some jobs require software skills tied to cybersecurity. Others require pattern-matching skills tied to system-related problem solving skills. And still others demand great people skills coupled with a deep understanding of HR law…” Thomas Frey has compiled a list of skills most of us didn’t even think about until recently.
Article: 11 Critical Skills for the Future That Aren’t Taught in School

Learning, Personal Development

Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment.

In my end of year letter in 2016, I pointed to Sister Corita Kent’s Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules. It seems that John Cage was a fan too. He typed them up on Merce Cunningham’s letterhead, and they took on a second life as his own rules for students and teachers. They are worth sharing again, whomever takes the credit.
Article: John Cage’s Ten Rules for Students and Teachers

Visual Identity

Your visual identity is not a logo.

Jonathan Mak’s poster unmistakably conveys the Coca-Cola brand without any need to show a logo

A clear and successful visual identity system relies on rigorous and disciplined use of a coherent color palette, a typeface applied so consistently that it becomes associated with your brand, and regular use of imagery. When well executed the logo itself becomes redundant. Here’s a survey of five UK brands whose ID is so strong that they work even when their logo is nowhere in sight.
Article: 5 Brands So Strong They Don’t Need a Logo

Communications Process, Research, Social Listening

Social listening helps brands understand their customers as humans first and consumers second.

This week Nike took an unusually bold move in featuring Colin Kaepernick in a “Just Do It” campaign. Yet a 2018 Sprout Social report cites that 66% of those surveyed say it’s “very or somewhat important for a brand to take a stand on social issues.” But many leaders fear taking any kind of stand, lest they alienate some. Data to the rescue.

“The level of consumer insights that brands have available now empowers them to decide on their level of social involvement based on data – not guesswork. Social listening was born for moments like this. Using any number of tools like Crimson-Hexagon, Synthesio or Sysomos, brands can see exactly what their most loyal customers are saying across digital and what they feel most passionately about.”
Article: Rise of the Fearless Brand – How Data Empowers Brands to Take a Stand.

Branding, Advertising, Guerrilla Marketing

Rather than litigate, this pork products brand got into the slip stream of the brand that copied them. Now both are winning.

Farmland Foods is a 58-year old pork products brand. They are about sliced, packaged pig meat. You can join their Bacon Club from a primary nav link on there website.

Supreme is a skateboard clothing brand established in NYC in 1994. For fall the company that Esquire refers to as “feeders of the fuccbois” introduced a hat that looked awfully familiar to the pork packers. But rather than litigate, the elder brand said “We’ll play.” In the language of poker, they saw the bet, and then they doubled it.  First, they called out on Twitter.

Then the company re-appropriated the whole Supreme line. They hired pros and made a complete lookbook of images of elderly farmers rocking Supreme gear.

Then they posted it all to Instagram. So far the score is a lot more people being aware of, and feeling good about, two very different brands. Brilliant.
Article: Pork Producer Continues to Troll Supreme With Hilarious Lookbook



Annie Clark, who performs as St. Vincent, is recognized for her iconoclastic musical style, and for her high profile collaborations with artists like David Byrne, The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens. Less mentioned is the fact that she is a really decent guitar player. This is a fun video in which she answers questions like “What was the first riff you ever learned?” and “What riff are you most proud of?” with just an acoustic guitar. It’s fun to hear her play Nirvana, Led Zeplin and Jimi Hendrix.
Article/Video: St. Vicent’s Life in 6+ Riffs


Image of the Week

The image of the week is a giant papercut designed to promote individual acts of social volunteering. The project was sponsored by Graffiti Life, who collaborated with paper artist Poppy Chancellor to create the 5 meter tall artwork.

About the artist Graffiti Life project manager Kayleigh Dyer said “I really love her work and wanted the mural to show that volunteering can be fun and empowering, rather than something you just do for your CV. I’ve been a really big fan of Poppy’s work for a couple of years now after finding her on Instagram, so it was a dream to have her on board.”
Article: London’s Largest Ever Papercut Art Hits the Streets.


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