You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
Remembering the Value of "Dignity"
Sioux Falls
Dear Friends:  Recently, I interviewed Michelle McKenzie from The Advocates for Human Rights on my radio show, “Hidden Edges Radio with Ellen Krug,” who mentioned how The Advocates worked to protect the “dignity” of humans who otherwise are marginalized by the actions of other humans or their governments.  

“Dignity.” It had been a long time since I had heard that word used in a face-to-face conversation and it got me thinking.  

According to Merriam-Webster, “dignity” connotes the “quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.”   I began to wonder the extent to which I actually offer other humans the dignity they deserve. I soon got to find out.  

Not long after my interview with Michele, I encountered a man standing next to two overstuffed, weathered backpacks in the Skyway near the Target store. He was tall, and by the gray in his beard and hair, I guessed in his sixties. He held a handwritten cardboard sign, “Hungry and unemployed. Please help.” On a mission to buy a greeting card, I passed by the man without hesitation. However, once inside Target, Michele’s imploration about “dignity” started to take hold. I quickly made my purchase and headed back into the Skyway hoping that the man would still be there. He was.  

I went up to the man and asked, “Are you hungry?” “Yes,” he replied. “Okay,” I said. “I won’t give you money but I will buy you a sandwich.”  

We proceeded to a nearby Subway where I suggested that “Leonard” (pseudonym) get anything he wanted. He selected a sandwich and a bag of chips, but declined a drink; “It would be too difficult to carry,” he said.   As we waited, I asked Leonard how long he had been on the streets. “A long time” was the answer.  

The sandwich was made and paid for. As we parted company, Leonard said “Thank you,” and offered a smile and gentle fist bump (my first fist bump in many months!). I could tell that my very small act of kindness had made a difference to him. It also made a difference to me.

Perhaps the next time, I’ll divert from any mission at hand and actually help someone the first time rather than via after-thought.   (Please: I don’t share the above to make me sound like some great human. Nope; I’ve got all kinds of biases and faults for sure. Still, we are a society of storytellers and story-listeners—stories are how we learn.)  

We all can make other humans feel worthy, even in the darkest or loneliest of times. It simply takes awareness, a bit of risk-taking, and compassion. Moreover, doing so results in something that’s in incredibly short supply these days: hope .    


HIW Expands with its First Employee: Welcome Lula Hussein!

We have wonderful, incredible, fantastic news: Human Inspiration Works, LLC has hired its first employee, Lula Hussein!

Lula is a 2015 graduate of St. Catherine University who has a strong interest in public policy—she’s volunteered in the past for the Minnesota AIDS Project and the Science Museum of Minnesota. As Lula puts it, “We can’t just sit back and wait for the world to suddenly be better, we have to be the one that does better.”

No question about it, Lula joining HIW is a big step. The company is barely six months old and still finding its footing in the diversity and inclusion consulting world. Still, it’s absolutely clear that across America, people are hungry to learn how to be more inclusive and welcoming of others who are “different” from “us.” Many simply lack the tools or courage; that’s where HIW comes in—we can provide those tools and gently push others along on the inclusivity spectrum.

Lula’s formal title is “Program Manager,” which translates to “help Ellie with everything.” I look forward to Lula’s many contributions to making HIW a national presence on connecting humans through education, modeling and compassion.

Welcome Lula! I’ve been waiting for you!

Please Put on Your Radar: The American Refugee Committee

Do you know about the American Refugee Committee based here in Minneapolis? If not, perhaps you should.  

Among other things, I’m a member of Rotary International (the City of Lakes Rotary Club). Our club usually invites speakers of various organizations; last week we heard from Angela Eifert of the American Refugee Committee who spoke of ARC’s critical work around refugees from across the world.  

ARC was formed in the early 1980’s to serve refugees along the Cambodia-Thailand border who were fleeing the Khmer Rouge atrocities. From there, ARC began expanding its work to where it now assists with on-the-ground refugee support work in eleven countries, including Syria (!!), Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. They assist with things such as providing clean water, ensuring for health and livelihood, and protecting against gender-based violence. ARC presently serves more than 3 million refugees (you read that right) and 95% of ARC’s staff is comprised of persons with refugee status.  

ARC views itself as a change-maker aimed at unleashing the potential of every human to make a difference. Toward that end, Angela spoke of a personal initiative to empower humans that she’s undertaken at a refugee camp (130,000 residents from 13 countries) in Uganda. She shared about asking others, “In one simple way, how can I make the people I serve feel more valued, joyful or powerful?” Out of this question came ideas from camp residents—in year 2013, there were 170 ideas; in 2014, 480 ideas; and in 2015, 1683 ideas. One of those ideas was to start a Rotary club inside the refugee camp—an idea that’s now taken hold. Angela shared how 13 camp residents who became aligned with Rotary  are undertaking Rotary’s mission of “service above self.”  

Angela’s story about what’s happening in Uganda (and how through the use of imagination, humans are being empowered to speak with their own voices) is heartwarming. She’s allowed me to post her email in case you’d like to reach out to her for speaking opportunities or to simply get a firsthand account of ARC’s work: You can check out ARC at  

I LOVE it when organizations value imagination and human grit. I’m also so thankful when I learn of such places and will continue to share as I hear of them.        

A Profile In Courage and Allyship

Some may have seen the adjacent Facebook posting. It showed up in my Twitter feed in early February.

I was grabbed by this in several ways. First, of course, was the degree of cruelty and bigotry by the person who posted the graffiti—and in New York City, the home of millions of Jewish people.

But more importantly, I was struck by the sheer courage of the person who stood up and effectively said, “No. I won’t allow this.” Because we humans cue off of each other (and as a result, are extremely reluctant to stand out or rock the boat when among strangers, such as in a subway car), it took great guts for the first person to act. And, as the story relates, that’s all it took—just standing up and refusing to allow someone else’s bigotry to pervade one’s space prompted others to act. It's true: when one leads, others follow.

I often train on what it takes to be an “ally” and talk about “allyship”--the action part of being an ally. This is a shining example of true allyship and courage. Thank you nameless human for protecting other humans! 

p. s. New Yorkers rock!

The Danes Nail Inclusivity with This TV Ad

Danish television TV2 recently aired a stunning—yep, that’s the right word—ad about inclusivity titled, “All That We Share,” which depicts ordinary people stepping into boxes outlined in white on a large soundstage.

As you’ll see, the opening scene has those humans grouped and labelled into categories, such as “The High Earners,” “Those Just Getting By,” and “Those We Try to Avoid.” The ad tackles head-on my favorite topic: how we separate everyone into “us” versus “them.” What happens next, however, will grab your heart: you’ll watch as a moderator asks, “Who in this room was the class clown?” From there, people move out of their boxes and start to mingle. We soon hear laughing. Other questions ("who are step-parents?" "who is in love?" "who is alone?") follow along with more box exiting, mingling and wonderful human interaction.

By the time the ad is done ("And then suddenly, there's just us") there are no more boxes or labels and instead, it’s simply a group of humans talking, kidding around, and smiling.   On top of all that, the ad first aired on January 27, marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Coincidentally, that was the day the Trump-Pence administration announced the ban on Muslim-identifying humans from seven Mideast countries. How’s that for symbolism?  

It gets me emotional simply writing about this ad. “All That We Share” represents the best visual demonstration of the work that Human Inspiration Works, LLC is dedicated to undertaking. It is the epitome of our mission.

Kudos to Friends of Ellie Board of Advisors member Gina DeConcini for sending me the link to the ad. Thank you Gina!   You can see the wonderful ad here.      

Ray of Sunshine: Minuteman Press Uptown
A Business Walking the Walk

I picked up some new business cards from Minuteman Press Uptown the other day and tucked in with my invoice was a flyer with a picture of owner Frank Brown and his dog, Stella. The flyer sets forth MPU’s vision, “to produce quality print products in an ethical manner” and goes on to state: “We at MP Uptown understand how difficult the world can be for people on the fringes of society. Here at MP Uptown we believe in second chances and hire people with records to show that these people are productive citizens. At MP Uptown we believe every human being can change. It is our Social Mission to give people with records a chance.”

Incredible. But the wonderment didn’t stop there. Embedded into the flyer was a screen-shot of yet another flyer that begins with, “Hate Has No Business Here.” I’ve included the flyer below so that you can see it for yourself. I just love the words, “All are WELCOME HERE.”

I am in a bit of awe of Frank Brown and his team. It’s exceedingly rare that a business owner would make such public statements about inclusivity and the value of all humans. I don’t even know Frank Brown but now very much want to. (Perhaps he’ll be a future guest on Hidden Edges Radio…) Once more, we are reminded of what real courage looks like in everyday practice. Take note. Learn. Share. Replicate in your own way. Most of all, Be It.

                                          Odds and Ends
Here are this month’s Odds and Ends, the stuff that makes life interesting or challenging (or both!): 
Darn Wonderful:  On January 31, the Boy Scouts of America become transgender-friendly! It was all due to eight-year-old Joe Maldonado of Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus, N.J. who had started out just fine as a Cub Scout, only to be told after two months that he wasn’t welcome because he’d been identified as a girl at birth. Thanks to the relentless pushing of many, Joe can now be a Scout. As I used to say as a lawyer, “never say never…” You can read more here.
Best Quote in a Movie: Last week I saw 20th Century Women staring Annette Bening as a fifty-five year old mother of a teenage son, Jamie, played by Lucas Jade Zumann. Bening’s character enlists the assistance of two women (thirty-something Abbie [Greta Gerwig] and seventeen-year-old Julie [Elle Fanning]) to help Jamie “be a man.” It’s a good movie about how all of us struggle with authenticity and fear and the best line of the flick comes from Bening as she grapples with yet one more teenager issue: “No matter how much you love your kid, you’re screwed.” So true , I thought.
Recent Writings: Even with all that’s going on in my life, I continue to write for Lavender Magazine with my column, “Skirting the Issues.” You can find my January 19th piece, “Blank Slate,” here and my February 16 piece, “Alone in Sonoma,” here. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to occupy the minds of readers every month!
So Now You’re a TV News Star Ellie? So far this month I've appeared twice on KSTP TV5 newscasts—the first piece centered on LGBTQ community reactions to Trump-Pence Administration Executive Orders that might eliminate job and education protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and students. (See here.) The second piece included video of my Gray Area Thinking™ training for Dakota County government employees. (See here.) The good news: these reports gave HIW's work nice exposure and helped make “inclusivity” a better known phrase. The bad news: I got my first piece of hate mail--someone had to write that I wasn't actually a woman and that I needed electric shock therapy! Me? Really? I already know that I'm crazy dude!  (Perhaps all this means is that I’ve actually “arrived”--where that may be, I don’t know…)
Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:  I’ll be attending the Transgender Youth Conference at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus on February 28. In March (the 8th), I’ll be speaking to lawyers in Excelsior, MN on “Trans 101” (it’s a great setting—the basement of a tavern; if I drone on too much, the audience can just belly up to the bar!).  The next day, I’ll be at the University of St. Thomas main campus to give the same talk. Later in March, I return to the 4th Judicial District (Minneapolis) to train on the "Identity Game" and “Gleaning Authenticity from a Moment of Truth.” On the horizon is a road trip to Denver where I’ll speak to 1000 people at the annual conference of the Association of Legal Administrators—yikes! Check out my speaking schedule here.
On “Hidden Edges Radio with Ellen Krug”: My AM950 radio show airs every Sunday from 1-2 p.m. CST. Most recently, I’ve interviewed folks from The Advocates for Human Rights and Joyce Preschool. Coming up on February 19 will be an interview with Heidi Doo-Kirk, a tattooed pink and purple-haired elected county commissioner from Cook County MN who will talk about overcoming "otherness" and thriving as one's true self. You can find the "H.E.R. with Ellen Krug" page on the AM950 website here; remember you can listen anytime via podcasts.
Please Share about The Ripple: Readers who’ve been with me since The Ripple launched last July know that this has been a building process one issue at a time. (We’re currently approaching 1000 readers on the mailing list with a 50% open rate.) If you like what you read here, please share The Ripple with your networks. I respectfully believe that our work is important (we’re all doing important work, for sure) and really, the only way I can build further is through word-of-mouth and social media. Thanks!
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.
A thank-you to Lula for putting up with me!
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits 
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word

Ellen (Ellie) Krug