this & that: edition 4

We’ve been struggling to get going this week. The Manchester bombing threw us. Not just because it was aimed at children and their parents, and because it was aimed primarily at girls, but also because this is my hometown — I grew up in this diverse, proud, ever-changing Northern City. In the last few days as I’ve talked to family back home, I’ve been struck by the city’s resilience, and how it came together to help its own. Its tentative rendition of Don’t Look Back in Anger. Its sense of place. Its humor. The Mancunian Way.

“What is safety anyway? Genie seemed to be conceding that there is only randomness — only chance. And if everything beyond us is chance, maybe the only force we have to survive a world like that is connection. By then, it must have seemed so obvious to her: it’s a good idea to hold on to each other.” — Jon Moallem

These three podcasts had us grasping for soothing ideas around safety, connection and resilience (99%Invisible), loss, violence, and forgiveness (TedRadioHour) and bringing empathy into more aspects of our lives (Ezra Klein Show).

Some of this edition was written before Manchester, some after, but I hope you’ll get something out of what we’re been thinking about, reading and stumbling on over the past couple of weeks.


The wellbeing piece:

Though it’s a couple of years old now, this article from The Atlantic is still one of the best takes on anxiety that we’ve read in a while. Here’s an even older idea for how we might better live together.

In the mental health world (though doesn’t that denote everywhere and everything now), there’s an ever-widening gap between talk and action, an expanding concept of accepted treatments, including psychedelics and increasing public platforms for discussion, including Instagram’s support of users affected by mental illness. People who are depressed are definitely not werewolves or villains. Though maybe one of them is a retired WWE superstar.

What we think is driving happiness isn’t. Is this the other side of meditation? We still struggle with this: focusing only on what’s within your control. But we’re coming around to this: curiosity is better than knowledge. We need to get back to the importance of emotion. And shift our self-worth to one based on purpose and not professional achievements.

The humanities still have life lessons to teach us but not through traditional lectures and preferably by Alain de Botton.

There are clear reasons for this we won’t go into here: Women are least optimistic about America’s future. We also get why this was one of the most read pieces on the NYT: Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

Laughter, ideas and ‘our shared fictions’: they spread.

In approaching your week, try to add this simple shift into your routine. We’re not sure what we think about this yet: an app for grief. Or this new addition to the wellness scene.

“Day by day, hour by hour, my Instagram feed became more manic, nasty and petulant. Posts that were once meant as romantic gestures became tiny, pixelated middle fingers.”

A painfully honest piece about how social media contrives to undermine our real-world selves and relationships.

A piece of wellness from our friend over at Captain Blankenship.


The culture piece:

We are becoming increasingly aware that art contributes to our mental wellbeing, that we need to find new models for funding creative and community development and that we need to stand by our artists and those who support them as they are increasingly under assault.

We’re still thinking about last weekend’s Oakland Book Festival, in particular, Jeff Chang’s question about what our responsibility is to the culture that has given us a voice? “What are the debts we owe each other? What are our responsibilities to each other? What commitments do we owe each other? Where does an ethics of responsibility begin?”

While thinking about your answers, remember to focus.


Catching our attention:

Have we now satiated our appetite for personal essays? Virginia Woolf’s and a contemporary seem to think so.

“My hope for the world? Human beings are all equal. These word can’t be empty. They have to be reality.” — The Forger. One of the most mesmerizing and impactful videos we’ve seen in a while. A reminder not to forget. 

Chicago’s new 10,000 Reconnected Campaign that aims to get 10,000 “opportunity youths’ ages 16 to 24 back to school or work by 2020.

Just discovered Brand New Congress


A little transparency, what we’re learning to make things happen in our world:

We’re still in early stage mode, so thinking about start-up conditions and the case for moral leadership.


And planning ahead:

Catch Tucker Nichols, Flowerland in LA and Designed in California at London’s Design Museum.

Next weekend, there’s the Bay Area’s Book Festival and a Conference on Art and Race at Impact Hub Oakland.

YBCA’s new performance festival to be looked forward to this Fall, Transform.

The fantastic Luna Malbroux’s How to Be a White Man at San Francisco’s Piano Fight very, very soon.

Wish we could get over to the east coast for this series: How to Construct a 21st Century Feminism.

A disconnect between a child’s outlook and the parent’s reality. We just ordered Richard Ford, Between Them from the library.

And finally, you may not have graduated recently but you can still take advantage of all that advice that’s around.

More soon.