You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
   The Winds of Change
Sioux Falls
Dear Friends:  The holidays are here, just as the winds of change press against us. Putting aside the upcoming political transition, there’s much change about to occur in my personal life.

At the end of this month, I’ll be leaving my position as executive director for Call for Justice, LLC, a legal resources outreach organization that I (along with the help of many) created five years ago. I’ll instead devote myself entirely to speaking, training and consulting on diversity and inclusion (particularly the latter), about which I’m so incredibly passionate (if you’ve heard me speak, you know that I call myself an “inclusionist").

Still, leaving my nonprofit job is bittersweet. In five years we accomplished much, including garnering an American Bar Association award for our work. We built something out of nothing and I’m proud of what we accomplished. Along with that, I had a salary and benefits, including health and dental insurance.

Now I’ll be without a safety net; health insurance will be from my own pocket and dental insurance won’t be possible. And of course, forget about that dependable salary.

Scary? Yes. Exciting? For sure! Waking me up at night? Sometimes.

At age 60, I will get yet another do-over. I love the idea of once more starting with a blank slate and drawing a life picture, line by line, color by color. I truly have no idea of what that picture will ultimately look like; however, what comforts me is that the picture will be entirely mine. I get to do this my way, letting life take me where it will.

For that opportunity, I’m so incredibly grateful, the risks notwithstanding.

Thank you for accompanying me on my new journey; I can literally feel your support and good wishes. That gives me great comfort! I’m certain I will draw from that support as I go forward.  

I wish all of you a happy holiday season. Please take a moment to be kind to yourselves and as well, to reflect on all that is good in your lives. Talk to you in 2017!


                             Food Stamps and Drunk Driving:
                      Cause & Effect (and it's not what you think...)
I came across a National Public Radio story by the NPR social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam, who spoke of the “unintended consequences of government policies.” 

As Vedantam reported on November 30, a team of economists from the University of South Carolina in Columbia studied the correlation between the millions of families who receive food stamps (technically called “SNAP”—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and the incidence of drunk driving accidents. Specifically, given that different states issue SNAP benefit cards on different days of the month, the economists began to find that the incidence of drunk driving car accidents dipped on the dates that the cards were issued.

Studying data from 49 states over a ten year period, the USCC researchers found that statistically, there was a big dip in drunk driving accidents on the very day that a state issued its SNAP cards. The economists theorized that the reason for this is that families came together that day for a meal, as in a “celebration.” In other words, people who otherwise might be out drinking at bars—as a way of coping with living on the lower rungs of the economic ladder—instead were home with family and friends. “They’re not at liquor stores. They’re not driving,” Vedantam reported.

Think of this. Assuming the USCC economists are right, here we have proof that empowering families with food helps to stabilize and build communities. What other good things don’t we know relative to how government policies work to benefit the community at large?

I suspect we’ll learn of many instances of such unknown benefits as we begin to lose programs with the onset of a new presidential administration. It’s all about cause and effect.  
Writings and Perspectives 

Aljazeera—yes, it has some great stories—recently ran a piece, “What the Hijab Means to Me.” This is an incredibly informative story about how the hijab has many different meanings for women across the world. One story featured Azeenarh Mohammed, who spoke of being both Muslim and “queer” and of how, because she presents as a “butch” lesbian, the hijab is “a source of protection for me.” Another woman, Jacinda Townsend, talked of how she stopped wearing the hijab because it covered “the gorgeous black self I had just discovered.” This is a wonderful piece for anyone trying to understand female Muslim culture.

Another piece, courtesy of Barry Knight bringing it to my attention (thanks Barry!), appeared in the New Yorker Magazine on-line. Titled, “Now is the Time to Talk about What We Are Actually Talking About”, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares thoughts about “the responsibility to forge unity” in the wake of this year’s divisive presidential election. He writes, “Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention; it was the basis of segregation.”

Please share these pieces with those who are hungry to be informed and willing to consider alternative points of view. Also, I welcome other suggested published writings from you, dear friends and readers!   

Intersectionality--The "Skeleton of Racism"

A November 25 story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune highlighted the “Mapping Prejudice Project” which is working to uncover the restrictive deed history of Minneapolis residential properties. The project, which is a collaboration between Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota’s Borchert Map Library, aims to make Minneapolis the first city in the country where current homeowners can learn of how their property was subject to deed covenants that blocked ownership by anyone other than those who were Caucasian.

So far, the project has uncovered restrictive deeds dating to 1910, with language prohibiting selling or even renting to people of “Chinese, Japanese, Moorish, Turkish, negro, Mongolian or African blood or descent.” One of the project’s researchers, Kirsten Delegard, said, “We feel like this is the first step in starting a conversation. This is the skeleton of racism in Minneapolis.”

This would help to explain why today’s rate of black home ownership in Minneapolis is just 20 percent, compared to more than 60 percent for white home ownership.

This project and its early findings are a reminder about how we got to where we are today. In order to have meaningful change, we must understand just how bad it was for anyone who was “different” from “us.” Indeed, it wasn’t until 1948 that restrictive deed covenants were deemed illegal and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that “red-lining” practices (e.g. lenders granting mortgages to non-white homeowners only in specific areas of a community) ended—meaning that there are still many people living today who were the victims of these forms of racism. This, in part, is where the phrase “institutional racism” springs from.

There is so much work to do. Thank you to the Mapping Prejudice Project for its incredible research!  

Human to Human Impact: A High School Principal's Words

Some may have seen the YouTube video of Eden Prairie (MN) High School principal Conn McCartan speaking to students about choosing love over fear following the election; if not, it’s well worth viewing here.

McCartan’s message came shortly after the election as he and his staff sought to allay concerns about what the election might mean for diverse students. As McCartan related, “It is our fear of those we don’t know that leads to assumptions about what they’re like because of how they look or sound or even who they vote for.” Rather, “Love is the answer to fear. When we acknowledge the value of each person, we erode fear because we start to see each other and the many things we have in common.”

What great words!

The themes of love over fear and focusing on commonalities are similar to my messaging through Gray Area Thinkingand the Four Commonalities. (For those who haven’t attended one of my talks: to engage in Gray Area Thinkingis to be aware of human vulnerability; to take risks to lessen that vulnerability; and to act with compassion/kindness. The Four Commonalities are grounded in our common hopes, regardless of race or gender or class: [a] that our children succeed; [b] that we and our loved ones be free of physical or emotional violence; [c] that we each get 20 minutes of peace; and [d] that we’re able to love and be loved.)

It so warms my heart when other humans are bold enough to step forward and lead on how we can better treat each other. Imagine what the world would be like if we encountered the message of love over fear several times a day! As a society, we just need to set our collective mind to the fact that such a message is important.

Ray of Sunshine: A Message of Belonging by an Army of One  

This month’s Ray of Sunshine falls on 53-year-old Justin Normand, of Dallas, Texas, who bravely stood outside an Irving, Texas mosque with a sign that read, “You Belong. Stay Strong. Be Blessed. We are One America.”

As reported in the Washington Post, Normand felt the urge to do something positive in light of current political attitudes toward Muslims. Normand wrote on Facebook, “I have been in a malaise and at a loss since Election Day. What to do? To make things better, or…just to slog through?”

Normand decided to make things better. The manager of a sign shop, Normand created his sign and then drove to the nearest mosque where he stood outside on a long weekend. Normand did so “(T)o share the peace with my neighbors. My marginalized, fearful, decent, targeted, Muslim neighbors.”

Making this all the more extraordinary is that the mosque had been previously (and wrongfully) accused of creating a Sharia court to settle civil disputes and had been targeted by demonstrators armed with long guns following the Paris attacks in November 2015.

Normand said that thousands of motorists driving by showed their support, while a fewer number reacted negatively. “This was about binding up the wounded,” Normand explained. “About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us…And, it was about what I think I must do as an American when our way of life is threatened. Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life (but) is the polar opposite of our way of life.”

For every Justin Normand who publicly acts with compassion toward the marginalized, there are a thousand others who feel the same way but who are afraid to act. As we go forward, more and more of those invisible compassionate people will need to step forward, just as Normand did. Those folks hold the needles and thread that are essential to keeping the fabric of our country from being permanently torn apart.  

                                          Odds and Ends
As usual, I’ve got a number of Odds and Ends. Sometimes I wonder if life isn’t simply just a collection of such things? 
Darn Wonderful: In case you didn’t see it, click here to view a picture of the seating area in the new Orlando, Florida soccer stadium that the Orlando City Soccer Club has dedicated to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. It’s a wonderful example of using imagination as a way to honor innocent others who died so needlessly.
Recent Writings: Last month, I became a contributor to Lawyerist, (a leading legal profession blog) with a piece about my experience in applying for a judicial appointment in Minnesota (hint: I didn’t get the job) and how state judicial nominating commissions need to be more inclusive. You can find that piece here. Also, here’s my end-of-the-year retrospective in Lavender Magazine; there’s a story behind this piece that I can’t publicly tell. It’ll have to suffice to say that I now consider myself a real journalist.
One last writing isn't mine but instead is from Drake University (where I spoke the day after the election) and writer Lorien MacEnulty; her story nicely captures my attempt to comfort students at an 8 a.m. class who were reeling from the election results. Great piece Lorien!
Blatant Bragging: Those who know me understand that really, I’m pretty humble and never very comfortable in the limelight. I’ve been told, however, that I need to change my thinking; it’s impossible to lead from the back of the crowd. So, in that vein, let me report that last month, my Lavender Magazine column, “Skirting the Issues” won its second Gold Award for Excellence from the Minnesota Magazine and Publishing Association. Even better, Lavender Magazine, for which I’ve written for five-plus years, won Magazine of the Year. Congrats to my editor, Andy Lien and publisher, Stephen Rocheford! I’m proud to be associated with your publication that does so much for our community!
Upcoming Talks/Trainings:  I’ll be in Boulder, Colorado this week to conduct Gray Area Thinking™ training to the Boulder County elected officials Leadership Group. That will come on the heels of me speaking last week at the Minnesota Association of Counties annual conference in Minneapolis. Next month I’ll present my favorite talk, “Gleaning Authenticity from a Moment of Truth,” at Medtronic Corporation HQ.  Click here to see a complete schedule of my upcoming events.  
And no, the Rumor Isn’t True: With my transition from nonprofit executive director to full-time trainer/consultant, I’ve been hearing a rumor that I was moving back to Iowa. Yes, I do miss my old home state, but the rumor about a move isn’t true. I’ll be staying in the Twin Cities for the foreseeable future. So Twin Citians (is that even a word?), keep me on your invite list for that wonderful party you’ll be having…
R unning the Numbers:  Please recall that last month, I issued a Special Edition of The Ripple with some thoughts about how to go forward together as one country in the wake of the election. I thought the issue had a compassionate, even optimistic tone—certainly, that was the reaction of many readers who emailed me with thanks and warm thoughts. However, not everyone felt the love; 7 people unsubscribed to this newsletter after the Special Edition, a sign of just how polarized our country is at the moment. As you know, I’m doing my best to change that and re-instill the idea that we’re one country with so much more in common than in differences.
Happy Holidays! I hope that all of you—my friends—have a great holiday season! I know that for many (and this includes me), the holidays can be challenging, especially for those who’ve endured lost relationships. If this is the case for you, please remember two things: first, nothing is static in life—the holidays will soon pass. Second, use the holidays to self-reflect by journaling or writing or doing something else that will remind you about your grit and resiliency. Please know, too, that I care about you. Drop me an email if you need a word of reassurance. To all, I wish you the best and I’ll be here as we enter 2017 and the challenges it may provide!  
The Ripple is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.
Encouraging open hearts and thriving human spirits 
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word

Ellen (Ellie) Krug