writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
Vol 5 No. 5 May 2020
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
A couple weeks ago, I met online with more than forty of you for our first “We’re All in This Together!” event. For an hour, we talked about “human measuring sticks” and shared lockdown-related stories of compassion and empathy. It was an event of total humanity that I think everyone enjoyed—at least it would appear so given that 26 of 41 attendees submitted evaluations. Almost all the reports were positive and responded, yes, please, let’s do this again!
Thus, I’m happy to announce that I’ll convene online “We’re All in this Together 2!—Resiliency” on Tuesday, June 9 at 4:00 p.m. Just as last time, there’s no fee to attend but certainly donations are welcome. This time, your donations will benefit Joyce Preschool in Minneapolis and Minnesota Women’s Press. (Note: I occasionally write for MWP.) To sign up for WAIT2!
. I’d love to see ya!
By the way, WAIT1! raised nearly $900 for Gender Justice and Mossier—thank you for that!
On a separate note, I need your help. I don’t think I’ll be standing in front of many audiences doing my work (and earning a living) until early next year, if even then. As reported last month, I’ve succeeded in converting my work to online; in fact, in late April, I pres
ented to 430 criminal prosecutors
across Illinois. However, I lack name recognition and an online following sufficient to carry my work forward by myself.
So, I ask if you would please share about my work with your networks, including LinkedIn. Potential clients simply need to go to my website,
and they’ll see that I’m the real deal. I’m also willing to put on online talks or trainings that are geared to specific organizations or groups.
Some have already stepped forward to assist me. Shelly S, Michael B, Steve H, and Linda B, please know how grateful I am for your help!
This is the fifth time I’ve had to pivot since 2008. Please know that I have the grit to yet again succeed; it’s just that I can’t do it alone.
Finally, I also need a good online marketing person for contract work. Any leads would be very much appreciated!
Thanks for everything my friends! Your individual and collective support mean so very much to me!
I care about you.
Aimee Stephens: In Memoriam and "Deadnaming"
I’m sure that most aren’t familiar with Aimee Stephens, who passed away from kidney disease last week at age 59.
In the transgender community, Aimee is a hero; she filed a lawsuit against her Michigan funeral home employer when it fired her for transitioning genders while on the job. That lawsuit worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which next month is expected to decide whether existing federal employment law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) prohibits discrimination against transgender persons. (The Court will also decide a similar case relative to gays/lesbians.) It took great guts for Aimee to go forward with the lawsuit, and thankfully, though confined to a wheelchair, she was able to hear her case argued to the Supreme Court last fall.
As reported in the
The Detroit News
when asked about her lawsuit last year, Aimee said, “If you’re part of the human race, which we all are, we all deserve the same basic rights. We’re not asking for anything special. We’re just asking to be treated like other people are.”
And yet even in death, Aimee continues to teach us. In the above
article, the reporter saw fit to include Aimee’s male birth name. A number of other media sources, including the
New York Times
, did so as well in reporting on Aimee’s passing.
For transgender persons, referencing someone’s birth name after they have transitioned genders is called “deadnaming.” It’s highly offensive; indeed, I never speak of my birth name in public (although, in my memoir and in some writings, I have provided the name—but that’s my choice to do; someone else should never have that option).
The takeaway: once someone has transitioned genders, the name they assume is their name both in life and in death. When I pass from this world, please, don’t let anyone list the name I had as a boy/man. It’s not who I am.
Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour--The Best and Worst of Humans
In Mashpee, MA on Cape Cod, the Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour has long been a fixture, so when Massachusetts lifted its lockdown, local residents were ready for some frozen delight. Unfortunately, the demand was so great—and the line so long—that customers became irate at the store’s employees, including a 17-year-old high school senior, who quit at the end of her shift because of the abuse. (She had worked there for three summers.)
According to the
New York Post
, store owner Mark Lawrence reported that the reopening had customers yelling at his team members with, “(W)ords…and language you wouldn’t even say in a men’s locker room. To say it to a 17-year-old kid, they should be ashamed of themselves.”
As a result of the disrespect, Lawrence shut the store and recalibrated. After word got out about the reason, customers expressed support for the store’s team members.
Lawrence felt compelled to do more. He created a GoFundMe campaign to raise college funds for the 17-year-old woman; this is where the best of humans showed up. In only four days, 1400 people donated $38,550 to help the high school senior. As Lawrence reported on the GoFundMe page, “Today I have been inundated with calls and messages asking if they could send money or what could be done (for) her. One kind gentleman offered to pay her salary until she came back or found a new job.”
Because of the tremendous outpouring/money raised, Lawrence has already closed taking donations. However, if you go to the
(which is still up), you will see a thank-you note from the 17-year-old, which includes this:
Everyone is dealing with something in quarantine, and more than anything people are scared. Now more than ever this is a time to respect one another, lift people up, and understand that any small positive act toward someone can make a world of a difference. If some feel as if they still want to give to me, please just be kind to the people around you, that’ll make a more significant difference.
Very wise words, indeed.
See my Inclusivity Tip below for more about the need to be kind to those on the front lines.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Recognizing Privilege and Speaking Up
We continue to hear stories of how the virus has affected those who are most vulnerable or whose skin color isn’t white. Indeed, I write this from the 12
floor of my downtown Minneapolis condo where, because of life station, ability to save, and pedigree, I’ve been able to isolate for ten weeks with relatively limited discomfort. The same isn’t at all true for folks living paycheck to paycheck, many of whom are from marginalized communities and who serve us as we grocery shop, buy gas, or make liquor purchases. (See this
about how black and brown-color Americans are being hit particularly hard by the virus.)
Question: In the last two months, how often have you told any of the frontline people you’ve encountered, “Thank you”? Thank you for showing up, thank you for risking your life, thank you for making my life easier.
I do make it a point to thank the checkout person at Target or at my pharmacy, CVS. The latter brings me to a second inclusivity point, not unlike what you just read about with the Cape Cod ice cream store.
Two weeks ago, I had a prescription refilled. As I was helped at the order window by the pharmacy tech, a young woman (she was at most 25 years old), I said, “Thank you for being here.” She smiled in a way which suggested hearing that from a customer was unusual.
Five minutes later, I stood near the pharmacy checkout counter daydreaming, waiting until my name was called. Suddenly, my attention shifted to a tall, early 60ish, broad-shouldered man wearing a mask. He was yelling at the tech who had just taken my order, saying things like, “You’re the worst,” and “I’m going to contact CVS to fire you.” My 63-year-old ears could have sworn that the tech was laughing as she heard this, and for a second, I thought the two were friends giving each other a good-natured hard time (the way that friends sometimes do). At the point when I realized this wasn’t at all well-intended, the man yelled one last time and stormed off.
A few minutes after that, I told the pharmacy tech that I was sorry she had to endure the man yelling at her. “It was so wrong,” I said. The tech responded that it was no big deal. However, in my head, I knew it was a huge deal and I told myself that apologizing just wasn’t enough.
When the tech checked me out a few minutes later, I took a clump of bills out of my purse. “Here, take this and spoil yourself,” I said. “Please know that there are way more good humans out there.”
The woman seemed incredibly surprised, but she thanked me and took the money.
I don’t share this for you to think that I’m someone great. Rather, I know that the lockdown/virus/division-forming/fear are forcing many into a pressure cooker. Still, we need to stand up for other humans, particularly those who are risking their lives FOR US. If you see someone being verbally abused or marginalized, say something. Let the victim know there are good humans out there.
Because, yes, we are all in this together!
Odds & Ends
This month we’ve got boys giggling over soda and a ginormous red ball rolling loose in Toledo.
Here are two young brothers sharing an orange soda with glee. As the Twitter poster says, I dare you not to smile as you
Second Darn Wonderful:
as two young men distribute food to the homeless from the trunk of their car. Please note the skin colors of all involved…
One More Wonderful:
Okay, this one seems a bit unbelievable, but
as an owner and his pup tandem “scratch” on vinyl records. Oddly cool!
Giant One-Story-Tall Red Ball Rolls Thru Downtown Toledo:
I know, “What the hell?”
Goodness in Italy:
as Italians use poles to toast from their balconies.
South Mountain Community College Storytelling Podcasts:
A friend turned me on to this wonderful Phoenix-area community college that offers a degree in storytelling;
for the program’s inspiring podcasts.
Compassion for COVID-19 Victims:
reader and Ellie Krug supporter Michelle Cohen passed along
of how Tanisha Brunson-Malone, a forensic tech in Hackensack, N.J., honors those lost to the virus by placing a yellow daffodil on each deceased’s coffin or body bag. I am sure the families are so grateful their loved ones aren’t forgotten.
Proving a Point about Ahmaud Arbery:
By now, most are familiar with the story of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man murdered for simply jogging in a white Brunswick, GA neighborhood. Here’s a
by a white-color ex-pastor who proved a point of running shirtless through a neighborhood while carrying a TV. Surely, he’d be stopped as a suspected thief, right? Click on the link for the answer.
A NYT Opinion Piece re: Ahmaud:
great opinion piece
by Charles Blow. America must get past its racism problem.
Postal Carrier Plays Along with a TikTok Video:
At our core, we just want to be good with each other.
The Price of Being Transgender:
Last month, I wrote how Idaho had enacted two laws that directly discriminated against transgender humans (one law prohibits transgender teens/women from competing in sports; the other prevents birth certificate changes). Here’s a
Teen Vogue piece
by Lindsay Hecox about how she’s unable to run track or cross-country at Boise State University due to being transgender. Why are trans people thought to be so horrible?
But it’s Way Worse for Transgender Hungarians:
Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary is about to end all legal recognition/protections of transgender persons.
. Could this be a blueprint for the U.S. if November 3
gives the present trans-intolerant government four more years? I fear that the answer is “yes.”
Questions Whether Google Has Cut D&I Programming to Avoid Appearing Anti-Conservative:
If true, I’m sure that Google wouldn’t be the only company taking this approach. I’m sorry, but to lead actually means leading. See the
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. Check out her website,
It’s All Booked
Kate’s pic for this month is
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
. Kate’s take:
The Night Tiger
is a beautiful historical fiction based on an old Chinese superstition. When Ren's master dies, his last request is for Ren to find his severed finger that was lost in an accident many years before. Ren has 49 days to find the digit or else his master's soul will never be able to rest in peace. Our other main character is Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker and dancehall girl with secret ambitions to be a doctor. But one night, her dance partner leaves her with a severed finger. Convinced that this is a sign of bad luck, Ji Lin recruits her stepbrother to help her find the owner of the finger. Ji Lin and Ren's lives slowly intertwine and It’s just incredible.
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. I really recommend my May 4
show where I interview Mikki Morrisette, the owner/editor of
Minnesota Women’s Press
, the longest running feminist-owned publication in America. (Again, I’m a contributor to MWP.)
to access that show and other podcasts.
Writings by Me:
This month brought my
Lavender Magazine piece
, “Sprouts,” where I share in part about my great Uncle Ed and how his influence has me trying to grow flowers. And yes, I do talk about my male name in the piece--read it and you'll see why...
Stuff that I’m Reading:
Here's a very intuitive
The New York Times piece
by Charlie Warzel, “Open States. Lots of Guns. America is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom.” The piece is about how Americans may very well accept high virus death tolls just as we “accept” firearm-related deaths. Most of all, it’s a reminder about how once we get fatigued, many things once-thought impossible or unacceptable are allowed to just happen.
Okay, So You Have Time on Your Hands?
How about ordering my book,
Getting to Ellen?
It’s available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks:
if you’d like an inscribed copy, email me.
Status Report on my Second Book,
I’m up to Chapter 18 on the second installment of my memoir-trilogy,
Being Ellen: A Newly Minted Woman Engages with the World.
The word count is about 75,000. Given all that’s on my plate, I don’t think I’ll be done with a first draft of the book until mid-June. Stay tuned!
On LinkedIn, you can find me at Ellen (Ellie) Krug; my Twitter handle is @elliekrug; and on Instagram, you can follow me @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j” for Instagram; otherwise you’ll start to follow a 23-year-old blonde Victoria Secret model—sadly, that would not be me!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
There isn’t much happening in May but in early June, I’ll present Gray Area Thinking online to a major national banking organization. Later in June, I’ll do a number of presentations for Mossier, which works to increase LGBTQ acceptance in the business world. In July, I’ll be training Allianz, the life insurance folks. If you’re inclined, see my upcoming online engagements,
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
Some of you have recently given to Human Ripple Works, Inc., a nonprofit that I and others have set up to train nonprofits and other organizations on human inclusivity. Thank you for that!! If you’d like to support this work, please
on the HRW website. Thanks for considering this!
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