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“Stories have been used to dispossess 
and malign.
But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize.
Stories can break the dignity of a people.
But stories can also repair that dignity."

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have long been a lover of stories. In the past month I've become especially aware of the power of stories to empower and humanize. 
 
In the past month, after my article about white women's tears went viral on LinkedIn, I got interviewed for the Level Up Your Life podcast with Jackie Capers-Brown (yet to be published), and "Leadership 911: When Crisis and Courage Collide," the Relational Leadership Series with Charles Jackson II.  
 

Speaking with Jackie and Charles about race, leadership, and other issues made me realize how valuable these conversations are. They inspired me to start my own podcast, and I knew I wanted mine to be about stories of grit, resilience, and connection--three of the things that inspire me personally.

And the Finding Fertile Ground podcast was born! I have definitely been drinking out of a fire hose, learning how to interview people, edit sound recordings, put everything together, and get the word out! I'm using brain cells I forgot I had. But it's been an incredibly enriching last few weeks as I interview people from across the country who have moving stories to share. I'm determined to share stories primarily of people on the margins--people of color, women, LBGTQIA+, non-Christians, and others who are not regularly and accurately represented on our airwaves, media, and film screens. My goal is to honor stories that can repair broken dignity.

You can read about my podcast here and find it wherever you get your podcasts! Please share it if you like it...and let me know if you have any suggestions for future speakers.

 

As readers know, I’ve been encouraging companies and individuals to take a stand on Black Lives Matter (BLM) and take actions that make their workplaces more welcoming and affirming to all people of color. In “Ten Ways White People Can Support Black Coworkers,” I remind companies, “You’ve GOT TO BE AUTHENTIC. Don’t just do it for the PR. That is called performative. Be real and mean it.” Whether you are an individual person or a brand, words are meaningless if they’re not reinforced by real, tangible goals and actions.

“Greenwashing” is a well-known term among sustainability professionals. Greenwashing makes companies and their products appear to be more environmentally responsible than they really are.

 

Enter "BLMwashing."

Do not succumb to BLMwashing. It’s just going to make the situation worse, and Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) and those who care about them are not going to trust you.

Here’s the upshot: if you are not regularly listening to the BIPOC on your team (and their allies and accomplices), you have no idea whether you are walking your talk.


Read more about how to avoid BLMwashing.

I’ve been working on new website content for a client, The Formation Lab, and they are an outstanding example of how to walk your talk in this work. The Formation Lab is extremely clear on its mission. Not only does it donate 10 percent of its labor hours to community organizations and disadvantaged businesses dedicated to improving equity and social justice, but it also sponsors events and donates to socially supportive community organizations and commits to providing office space and advocacy for minority-owned businesses.

After working with Nicki Pozos and Jessie Moran from The Formation Lab, I decided I needed to make my own company's mission clear. Read my commitments to corporate social responsibility.

Have you ever wondered how to use apostrophes? Here's a quick primer, a la Black Lives Matter and Pride Month!

Quick quiz! Which of these sentences are correct?
  • We need to be teaching Oregon’s racist history in our schools.
  • Get your face mask’s here for the protest.
  • Its tragic that Black people are disproportionately far more likely to be stopped, arrested, harmed, or killed by police.
  • The fallen confederate statue lost its nose.
  • Bea Arthur left $300,000 to an organization that houses homeless LGBT youth when she died in her 80s.
  • In the late 1930’s, jazz great Josephine Baker, who was also bisexual, renounced her American citizenship to become French because she couldn’t stand the racism any longer. 
Read the article to learn the answers and more!
Check out this powerful conversation about race in America
Check out this new video podcast, "An Uncensored Account of a Black Man's Experience in America." Zonnette Jackson and Lisa Alexander interview my new friend and Zonnette's husband Charles E. Jackson II. They have an intimate conversation about growing up, parenting, and being Black in America that is sure to move you.
How do you know when you’re in a toxic environment?
If you feel shaken by the way someone reacts, especially when you are trying to help, you are probably working in a toxic environment. Leaders must keep their emotions in check and always treat other people with respect and dignity...and companies that care about this will adopt a "No Asshole Rule."

Using my own work experiences and the Cards Against Humanity shakedown as case studies, I describe eight signs that indicate you might be working in a toxic workplace, assisted by my friend and client Julie Jensen of Moxie HR Strategies.
Next week we'll feature Dennett's story of grit and resilience. Subscribe to find out the day it drops!
We're in the news!
Fertile Ground Communications is featured in "9 Ways for Adults to Celebrate a Birthday in Quarantine" on uniquegifter.com:
Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business, dedicated to creating a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. With over 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more compassionate world.
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