Still catching up a bit from being gone last week for the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly... but here are a few juicy links from the past few weeks!
SPEAKING OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Was super inspired by the group of Presbyterians who walked the 200+ miles from Louisville (our denomination's HQ) to St. Louis (where the Assembly met), in advocacy for Fossil-Free PCUSA and climate sustainability. Read a personal reflection on that journey here. Unfortunately (in my opinion), the assembly opted not to divest from fossil fuel companies, but the work continues, and this group inspired countless people.
HOW TO GET BETTER AT THINGS YOU CARE ABOUT
Got to talking to a seminary student last week who shared this great TED talk from Eduardo Briceño about how we learn, and how we get stuck:
The learning zone is when our goal is to improve. Then we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven't mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them. That is very different from what we do when we're in our performance zone, which is when our goal is to do something as best as we can, to execute. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes.
This made a lot of sense to me, and is part of what makes improv such a powerful tool for transformation--you're in the learning zone a lot. Too many of us get trapped in performance zone all the time.
IMPROV AND AGILE
Speaking of improv... agile is a pet interest of mine, and here's an interview with agile coach Leila Rao exploring how these two modalities intersect, and how businesses can incorporate improv games to reinforce agile thinking:
The power of using "yes, and" is multi-faceted. At its core, in order to agree and build upon what someone else said, you first have to listen! So it is one thing to say in a sprint planning session, please listen to each other; it is considerably more powerful to say, please apply the principle of "yes, and". The shift from reminding people about childhood basics versus reminding people that they are engaged in complex work that requires active listening and collaboration. When applied regularly, the "yes, and" principle reinforces a sense of "team", i.e. a chorus of creative voices can create more complex music than any of them can do individually.
WHY READ HANNAH ARENDT NOW
A piece in the NYT about what she might have to teach us right now:
Many liberals are perplexed that when their fact-checking clearly and definitively shows that a lie is a lie, people seem unconcerned and indifferent. But Arendt understood how propaganda really works. “What convinces masses are not facts, not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably a part.”
FTR, there are conservatives who care about facts--and liberals can get suckered into tribal thinking too. But there's good stuff here.
FEEL GOOD STORIES OF THE WEEK
The first one has made the rounds, but if you missed it, here's a high school baseball player comforting his good friend after striking him out. Parenting goals: to be the mother of a #7 kid.
Second: I just started getting the New York Times's weekly "good news" email, and this story made me smile: They Started School Afraid of the Water. Now They Are Saving Lives.
The lifeguard trainees at Grover Cleveland are predominantly students of color, about half of them male and half of them female, and most are immigrants or children of immigrants. Most enter high school as non-swimmers, fearful of the water. But within two years, most are swimming at competitive speeds and can qualify for, and pass, the rigorous training course offered by New York City to become a lifeguard at a city pool or beach.
Jimmy Barrera, 17, from Maspeth, Queens, a junior, said, “When I first came here, I was scared of the water — that’s the truth.”
Now he can swim the 50-yard sprint in under 26 seconds, nearly 10 seconds faster than the 35 seconds the city requires for a certified lifeguard.
The racial politics of swimming are fascinating and tough. Robert recently visited a museum when he was in Florida that addressed the topic. Apparently enslaved people were amazing swimmers at first, but slave owners deliberately prohibited successive generations from learning, since it was a means of escape. That shameful history echoes even to this day, with communities of color having less access to public pools, and thus learning to swim at lower rates.
THIS MOVIE CHANGED ME
I love this podcast from the On Being folks, in which interesting people talk about life-changing movies. This episode addresses Toy Story, with a Catholic priest talking about his own "dark night of the soul"... and how he was inspired by none other than Buzz Lightyear.
And that's all for this time!