August 9, 2019

Earlier this week, my dad and I were talking about hope. It is a surprisingly difficult word to define in your own terms. He said that hope is a future-looking word, different from “wish” or “want.” We talked about how it’s imagining that something could be different than the way it’s always been, that the impossible could happen. To me, feeling hope is essential for showing up to work tomorrow, for believing that our work has purpose. But sometimes our supply of hope gets low, eroded by acute chronic pain, or wiped out by tragedy. And while belief in an eternal hope is important, we also need to build up our stores of ordinary, everyday, on-earth hope. I see that as a community effort, so I tried to gather that kind of story this week. If you have stories or moments of hope, I would welcome them in return.

  1. Ethiopia plants 350m trees in a day to help tackle climate crisis, the Guardian. Ethiopia, in pursuit of an environmental initiative called #GreenLegacy, encouraged every citizen to plant 40 seedlings. That final number, somewhere around 353 million, is just so impressive! “Trees not only help mitigate climate change by absorbing the carbon dioxide in the air, but they also have huge benefits in combating desertification and land degradation, particularly in arid countries. They also provide food, shelter, fuel, fodder, medicine, materials and protection of the water supply.”
  2. Be Water! Seven Tactics that Are Winning Hong Kong’s Democracy Revolution, New Statesman. This is such an inspiring look at successful protest built on unity, ingenuity, and care for one another. The tactics listed here, such as a leaderless movement (to protect protestors from being singled out and imprisoned) and coordinated hand-signal communication through a crowd, are actionable and exciting to read about.
  3. The Happiest Design Ethics Article You Will Ever Read, Modus. “The whole spark of design comes from our seeing another human being attempting to do something, not having a great time doing it, and thinking: I bet there’s a way to help them do that. And then figuring out what that is. That’s it, that’s the whole thing. Whether we’re helping someone fill out a naturalization form in their own language, keep better track of their finances, find the right charity to donate to, keep in touch with someone they love, or just find the right cat gif, everything we design should be in service of making people’s lives easier. Feel free to replace “easier” with “more efficient,” “delightful,” or any other positive word you prefer.” Design ethics is not a subject I’m familiar with, but what he’s talking about here is using design to make people’s lives better in some way, not to trap or trick or manipulate them (to purchase, vote, etc). The above quote about the spark of design reminds me of my urge to teach, and that’s why this piece made me feel hope.
  4. Want to Change the World? Talk to Kids, Glamour. “Did I write this for kids? Of course I did. Grown-ups don’t want to read books about nervous chipmunks, and otters named Duffles and Nudge. Their loss, honestly—they are solid otters who make some really good points. But I also wrote it because, in my heart of hearts, “welcome someone new” and “kindness is stronger than fear” are what I want to tell adults. Kids encounter new things all the time—new kids at school, new experiences, even new foods. It makes sense to be a little fearful of them. But unlike adults, kids are open to change. If you give them new information, they don’t immediately get defensive or call it #fakenews. They take it in, and if it makes sense to them, they try to incorporate it into their lives.” This is sweet. I’m gonna check out her kid’s book.
  5. Mediterranean Blue,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. “They are the bravest people on earth right now, / don’t dare look down on them. Each mind a universe / swirling as many details as yours, as much love / for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn, / the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere / to receive a letter for a very long time. / And if we can reach out a hand, we better.” Emphasis mine.

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