writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
September 2018 Vol 3 No. 9
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
Among other things, I view myself as a “human cheerleader”—someone who cheers and supports other humans who seek to make the world a better place. Recently, I sat with a very dynamic attorney who is also a woman of color and non-Christian; she shared her idea of seeking to become a Minnesota state court judge. “Think big,” I said. “When we do that, we do big things.”
I hope my friend takes this advice and pursues a judgeship. Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota, and our country need her. Our collective humanity needs her.
Which next brings me to thinking big for myself.
Since 2009, I’ve been speaking and training on human inclusivity and the need for greater compassion for others and for one’s self. Ninety-nine percent of those talks have been to “closed loops,” where the audience is restricted to the sponsor that hires/hosts me (such as a business or a conference). The general public isn’t invited.
I think I need to expand my audience. My instincts tell me that many humans would benefit from my message of compassion and understanding; indeed, I often hear after a training, “I wish my son (or partner or neighbor) could have been here.”
So, here’s a bit of Ellie’s “Big Thinking”: under the banner of my Human is Human® Transformational Thinking Series, I will conduct my first self-sponsored public event on Monday, November 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Open Book/Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. The specific talk will be my well-received Gray Area Thinking® human inclusivity training with a few new things added for the event. I need to charge a slight fee for this public event and hope that doing so doesn’t scare people off. (If you cannot afford the ticket price, see me about possible scholarship funds.)
The goal is to see if my instincts are correct—that the human-on-the-street really does want to learn how to be more welcoming to persons who are “Other.” If the night proves successful, I will do more public events. Maybe many more.
If you are interested in attending, here is a
flyer about the event
and here’s a
link to purchase tickets.
Please tell others about the event; I would love to have the room filled with humans eager to learn my Gray Area Thinking® toolset on how to be welcoming to others!
I’ll share more about the November 5
Public Event in the coming weeks. Wish me luck that Thinking Big works! (Actually, I’m positive that it does work!)
Be well. I care about you.
Three Stories of Compassion
Much of what we hear are stories of hatred or division, of harm to others or to ourselves. Yet, the instances of people being good to each other far outnumber those that hurt our hearts. Here are three examples of human kindness and compassion, each involving strangers.
Southwest Airlines has some pretty fantastic flight attendants—on more than one of my Southwest flights, I’ve been treated to songs or jokes by energetic flight attendants. Thus, a story about Southwest flight attendant Vicki Heath caught my attention; it involved a passenger, Tracy Sharp, a Sacramento woman who has Down Syndrome. The two had met on a Southwest flight several months ago, where Tracy confided that one of her lifelong dreams was to be a flight attendant.
Hearing this, Heath contacted Southwest management with a pitch—to have Tracy work alongside her as an assistant flight attendant. Southwest readily bought into the idea and in late August, Tracy got her wish, complete with a red uniform and the chance to greet passengers as they stepped onto the plane. Check out the story and a short video
We’re reminded that sometimes compassion involves using one’s imagination (and making a phone call to top management).
, also about someone with Down Syndrome, comes from an Abilene, Texas IHOP where waitress Millie Young struck up a conversation with Dwayne Roach who was in the restaurant with his sister. As they spoke, Dwayne remarked how he liked Young’s nametag. Dwayne then shared that his name was actually, “Captain America.” Sometime later, as Dwayne and his sister were readying to leave the restaurant, Young appeared with an IHOP nametag that read, “Captain America,” which she pinned to Dwayne’s shirt. Sometimes it’s just the littlest things that make the biggest difference.
Finally, let me share about the power of human touch. Several weeks ago, Star Balloon-Bradley and her young nephew Isiah attended a high school football game in Valdosta, GA. For some unexplained reason, Isiah was drawn to a stranger, an older woman named, “Mrs. Angela,” and promptly sat on her lap. Two weeks later, Star and Isaiah were at another football game, and once again, Isiah saw Mrs. Angela. This time, as Star reported, Isaiah walked up to Mrs. Angela and “crawled in her lap and laid his head on her shoulder. She welcomed him with open arms,” and rocked him and patted his back “like [she] had given birth to him."
When Star asked if Isiah was a bother, Mrs. Angela replied that “moments like this are priceless.” Check out the
pictures in this story
and I’m sure you will agree. Again, little things.
Remember: we all have empathetic hearts. We simply need to give our hearts permission to show up.
A Compelling Essay about Racism
My dear friend Maggie Hood recently forwarded an essay by writer-poet Tony Hoagland that appeared in the September issue of
The Sun Magazine.
The essay, titled “The Cure for Racism is Cancer,” is among the most compelling pieces of writing that I’ve come across in several years. In fact, the piece brought me to tears (including as I drafted this); read on and you will see why I’m featuring the essay in this month’s
Hoagland, apparently a cancer survivor who was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, writes that cancer is the great leveler that doesn’t differentiate by race, class or any of the other things that we humans use to group and label people.
Some excerpts from Hoagland’s essay: “America, that old problem of yours? Racism? I have a cure for it: Get cancer. Come into these waiting rooms and clinics, the cold radiology units and the ICU cubicles. Take a walk down Leukemia Lane…Wonder what you are doing here among all these sick people: the retired telephone lineman, the grandmother, the junior-high-school soccer coach, the mother of three.”
“In the Republic of Cancer you might have your prejudices shattered. In the rooms of this great citadel, patients of one color are cared for by people of other colors. In elevators and operating theaters one accent meets another and—sometimes only after repetition—squeezes through the transom of comprehension. And when the nurse from the Philippines, or the aide from Houston’s Fifth Ward, or the tech named Dev says, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ you are filled with gratitude for their compassion.“
“This place bears a passing resemblance to the old photographs of Ellis Island—so many travelers from afar, sitting with their papers and passports…waiting to find out if they will be admitted and advanced to the next stage of the process. Some of the travelers are dressed in pajamas and slippers; some have on shiny blue tracksuits and Nikes; and some wear suits and ties, as if being presentable will make a difference. The shabby and the affluent, the stoical and the anxious, the scrawny and the stout, the young and the aged. If we are tense or pace restlessly, it is because we are aware that we may, on short notice, be swiftly deported. And because of this, perhaps, our hearts soften.”
One can surmise that Hoagland’s cancer experience softened his heart to humans who are “Other.” And it is true: when we are desperate, the lines of personal demarcation—color, class, religion, and whom someone loves or the gender they identify as—all fade as markers of distinction. Instead, what matters then is that the person tending to you is kind, compassionate, and above all else,
You can read Hoagland’s entire essay
Please share. The essay encapsulates everything I’ve spent my entire life trying to teach others.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
IDE Roundtables--You Can Create One!
I have been a member of Twin Cities Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable (TCDIR) for approximately five years and presently serve on its executive committee. TCDIR is a collection of approximately 120 diversity and inclusion professionals from the seven county Twin Cities metro. Our members hail from some of the largest employers, like General Mills, Target and 3M, and from many smaller companies. We meet bimonthly for two hours; a half hour for networking/re-connecting and then ninety minutes of programming. Topics have included how to engage culture leaders in inclusivity, diversity and inclusion (IDE) initiatives; how to measure success; and how to have conversations around race and marginalization when team members are required to attend IDE training (which can create far different challenges than when audience attendance is voluntary).
Last month, TCDIR put on a day-long symposium which included two speakers and a free-wheeling “marketplace of ideas” in a large room where the 100+ attendees were able to give/attend mini-talks in corners of the room to facilitate the exchange of ideas and strategies on many different topics (I offered a mini-talk on how to welcome transgender team members). Attendees gave the day exceedingly high marks.
Our group is all volunteer and there are no fees or dues. We meet at the office/headquarters of various members, which allows the host to showcase their commitment to IDE. It all works quite marvelously given the organization’s loose structure.
I share about TCDIR because you too, can create a similar platform in your community. All it takes is a group of people committed to the idea of breaking through silos to create a safe space to share ideas and practices around IDE. We professionals in the IDE field often find that this can be solitary, challenging work and having a space to talk with like-minded individuals has immense professional and emotional value.
Contact me if you’d like more information about setting up a roundtable. I’d be happy to brainstorm on how to get your roundtable up and running. It really is worth the effort!
Odds and Ends
It was a great summer while it lasted. This month’s Odds & Ends has a bit of color, just like Fall.
We lost the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, recently;
check out the Welsh Guards
(who ordinarily protect the Queen of England) paying their respects to our Queen by playing “Respect.”
Second Darn Wonderful:
When you need a pick-me-up, watch
of dolphin pods swimming in Monterey Bay, CA. I think you’ll agree this does this trick.
Police Officer Heroics:
Here is a different kind of police
—one where an Atlanta officer rescues the occupants of a flaming vehicle. Good stuff really happens in real life with real cops. Thankfully.
A Hero Lost to All of Us:
I have long been a fan of John McCain ever since reading his autobiography and learning that he passed up opportunities to be released from POW captivity in Vietnam because it “wasn’t my turn.” That heroism played out many times as a U.S. Senator; here are
his final words to America
and here is the
eulogy by his daughter Megan McCain.
I will miss you, John McCain.
That Iowan Sense of What’s Right:
Many have followed the rural Iowa tragedy of Mollie Tibbetts’ murder and the arrest of a Latino man suspected of the crime. Various political forces have sought to make Mollie’s death a rallying point against “illegal immigrants” or immigrants of any kind. Here is a
Des Moines Register editorial
from Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, who writes in part: “
My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons — Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren — are Latino. That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the Earth because I am American. As an American, I have one tenet: to respect every citizen of the world and actively engage in the ongoing pursuit to form a more perfect union.”
Iowans have an incredible sense of right and wrong and reading Mr. Tibbetts’ piece—written during his grieving—made me darn proud of my Iowa roots. My heart goes out to the Tibbetts family for their loss.
A Teacher Lends a Helping Hand, Reminding Us that Teaching Never Ends:
A Chicago high school teacher found that a former student (now a teenage mother) couldn’t attend a job fair because she had no one to care for her newborn. The teacher volunteered to wait in the car with the baby while Mom attended the job fair. It’s called
walking the walk
More on Workplace Tattoos:
The April 2018
Inclusivity Tip suggested revamping restrictive policies against team member tattoos (tattoos and piercings are important forms of authenticity); now comes word that Indiana University Health will allow nurses at its 16 hospitals to display tattoos and colored (think pink or blazing purple) hair.
also mentions that the famed Mayo Clinic is enacting similar policies. Score 1 for allowing humans to live authentically!
Now NYC to Allow for Third Gender:
Speaking of authenticity,
here is news
that beginning Jan. 1, 2019, New York City will join Oregon, California, Washington and New Jersey in permitting persons to choose a nonbinary gender designation on their birth certificates. The world really is becoming more inclusive.
A Heartwarming Story re: A Son’s Baseball Mitt Found 1000 Miles/40 Years Later:
cub reporter Michelle Cohen sent along
this incredible story
of an Ohio son’s baseball mitt turning up at a Florida flea market 40 years after the mitt was lost. And some folks believe there’s no such thing as karma.
A Strong Young Woman:
Ocean Springs, Mississippi high school
senior Kaylee Foster
was crowned homecoming queen but had to interrupt the festivities to suit up for the high school football team where she kicked the winning points. For three years, Kaylee has been the team’s extra point and field goal kicker. What a role model—and more proof that Mississippians are more open-minded than commonly believed.
Something Good for Transgender Humans:
for an October Presbyterian pastoral conference on how to be more welcoming to transgender humans. More progress with religious folks.
My 28-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She also has an entertainment-book review website that’s fun and smart,
Snarky Yet Satisfying
She regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Her book pick for this month is
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
Evelyn Hardcastle is destined to die. And Aiden Bishop is stuck in a Groundhog Day-style repeat cycle until he figures out her murderer and their motive. The trick? Every day he will wake up in the body of a different suspect and witness to her death. He must piece together everything from all seven hosts before the cycle restarts and he loses all that he has learned.
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Shows:
My show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 on Mondays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking
; Ellie 2.0 Radio podcasts can be found
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. A recent show (August 27) highlighted MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (did you know she got her start in media by winning a contest to help host a morning show at a small western-MA radio station?). My Sept. 10 show was about the intertwining of philanthropy and idealism (listen to the last segment of that show for a heart-tugging story about my Aunt Margaret—the most compassionate person I know).
Facebook Post About Kindness in the Grocery Line:
As I said above, there is way more goodness in the world than bad. Here goodness shows up in the
Two Beer Truck Guys Talk Another Guy Off the Ledge (and this isn’t the start of a joke):
Several folks sent me
where, like the video in Gray Area Thinking®, two men—St. Paul beer truck drivers—intervened to save a suicidal person. They used a 12-pack of beer as incentive.
My Writings and a Writing about Me:
For the adults in the room, my most recent
Lavender Magazine column
, “Magic Number,” is a bit tongue-in-cheek but also a bit not. Be prepared for some TMI by moi—hey, it’s all part of surviving the Human Condition. If that’s not enough for one day, and understanding that really, it’s not all about me, you can read this article
that appeared in the September issue of
Minnesota Women’s Press
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
The Fall training season has kicked into high gear and I’m just back from training U.S. Bancorp in St. Louis; this week I’ll be in Brainerd MN to speak at a human resource managers conference one day and a US Probation officers retreat the next. While in Brainerd, I’ll also present Gray Area Thinking® to the community at large in collaboration with the sexual/reproductive health and education nonprofit WeAreBrainerd. Next month has me training at The Bushnell performing arts group in Hartford, CT and law firms in New Jersey and San Francisco. I also get to go to Dodgeville WI to train the wonderful Land’s End, Inc. headquarters folks—woo hoo! To see my Upcoming Engagements page—click
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