Seeking your advice on masks + 4 things I’ve found helpful

My family and I are finally starting to figure out our mask protocols. One basket has the clean masks, another one has the dirty ones. We wash the dirty ones a couple times per week. Each of us has our preferred mask for when we’re going to be talking to somebody. My wife has to attend worship services with lots of other people, so she wears a KN-95, which is safer, but more expensive and less helpful if you’re having to talk a lot.

 
What have you been learning about your mask preferences? 
I ask sincerely because the core of our work at the Community Purchasing Alliance Co-op is to learn as much as we can from folks we trust and respect, and then try to synthesize and distill it for others.

4 things I’ve found helpful or just learned: 

  1. What makes for an effective non-medical mask?  A 3-pager from Stop the Spread that describes the different dimensions you may want to be thinking about when buying and using cloth masks.
  2. Clear masks can help convey so much more than standard masks obscure. When we met my son’s new teacher this week, he was wearing a clear mask and it made it so much easier to read his facial expressions.
  3. Some masks significantly muffle/mute your voice. Others hardly do. My daughter had been given this really pretty mask that she loved the look of, but when talking to her new teacher yesterday, we all realized how much it muffled her voice, which made us sad because she’s so soft spoken anyway.
  4. There’s so much I still don’t know & am learning. Just these two anecdotes have reminded me how much I still don’t know about how to help my organization and my family stay safe while practically trying to figure out how to go about our work and our lives, given our new circumstances.
I share this in an effort to sincerely share what I’ve been learning.

Are there any recent insights you’ve gleaned that you can share with me that might be helpful to others in similar situations to you?

We work with church and synagogue leaders, school and college administrators, and many other community leaders.
The more you share with me, the more we can help share with others and help aggregate and build market intelligence, so that we all can be more thoughtful as we navigate this unchartered territory together.
If you’re looking to buy masks, wipes, plexiglass, signage, hand sanitizer or other PPE, we’ve been facilitating group bulk purchases these past few months and have learned a lot on how to make the process easy and help you source from Black-owned business, worker-owned co-ops, and suppliers that are offering good products at affordable prices.
My colleague Juan Francisco Hidalgo has been leading up these efforts and has been heroic in how many folks he’s given personalized consultations to — to help them figure out what makes the most sense for them, given that many Chlorox wipes and other products are still expected to be backlogged for a long time.
He’s happy to talk to you (email him at juan@cpa.coop), if you need help, especially if you’re going to submit a meaningfully sized order as part of our bulk PPE co-op purchase — with the deadline of tomorrow, Friday. August 21
That said, we’re not perfect. We’re not experts, we’re just trying to help.
This might be our last co-op PPE bulk purchase.
Submit your order by tomorrow, Friday, August 21, 2020 if there are products on the list that might be helpful.
My personal favorite, and the mask I wear the most often, is made by Carolina Textile District.  (It’s the first item on the left in the 3rd-to-last row on our e-commerce website.)
Carolina Textile District is a group of small NC textile manufacturers that have banned together and saved 60 jobs in the process, thanks in part to more than 45,000 masks CPA Co-op members and partners have sourced from them. You can read their story on their website here and also see the other ethical essentials their Latinx worker-owned coop makes in their Collection line up.
Here’s a picture of me wearing their “Pedestrian Mask”:
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Can you tell I’m trying to smile for you?
It’s the most breathable, easy-to-talk through mask, while being made from an antimicrobial BioSmart Fabric (also used to make scrubs) made by Miliken in South Carolina. It’s a bit of a premium product, but you know you’re sourcing from domestic manufacturers who’ve been paying living wages — and been able to keep their jobs because of our work together.
It truly is a success story that I’m really proud of.
Or skip straight to the ecommerce platform, and add your order to the hundreds of others by buying together to get the group volume discounts.
And, if you’re able, I’m genuinely interested to learn what you’re learning about masks — so don’t hesitate to just respond with a quick couple insights that have emerged from your past couple months of buying, wearing, and figuring out what makes the most sense for your organization and your family.

Exhilarated by This Workshop Cohort

It’s hard to describe how exhilarated I feel right now.

The cohort for this Shared Ownership workshop is bringing together some of the most powerful & influential people I’ve met this past decade.
The workshop format integrates insights from some of the most influential experiences and learning spaces I’ve ever been a part of.
The deadline for applications to join us is tomorrow, July 21.
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The cohort includes:
  • leading shared ownership practitioners (i.e. Molly & Sarah co-founders of The Industrial Commons)
  • top influential US cooperative movement leaders (i.e. Doug O’Brien, Paul Hazen, Nathan Schneider)
  • investors that are re-shaping the way we think about risk & return as well as impact, legacy & a livable future (i.e. Marco Vangelisti, Essential Knowledge 4 Transition)
  • cutting edge community development & community ownership leaders (i.e. Jennifer Bryant, Alison Powers, )
We’re also drawing in:
  • young entrepreneurs taking the tools of private equity and applying it tackling the racial wealth gap through employee ownership (i.e. Phil & Todd from Apis & Heritage Capital Partners)
  • movement leaders from Zebras Unite, who are countering existing startup and venture capital culture by creating alternatives.
  • wise leaders from spiritual & religious traditions who are thinking on time horizons and scale of impact — that most of us are just starting to dream of (Myra Jackson, Sr. Corinne Floreck; Ryan Strode, Fr. Seamus Finn, Elizabeth Garlow)

The workshop brings together frameworks from movement organizing, cooperative economics, finance, leadership science & change-making & what’s at stake in this moment.

 

The Workshop Format

 
The format for this Shared Ownership workshop creates space to advance your own project and get feedback from generous peers reflecting back to you what they see.
We introduce frameworks for leadership & movements for change; but flip the traditional format. The vast majority of your time is interacting with peers and/or doing your most important work.
If you’re hungry to know how shared ownership companies work, legal structures, investment vehicles…. We will have prompts and reading lists that will point you towards those resources. However, the focus will be on creating an environment where you can interact with peers — who are some of the top leaders in their respective fields.  In other words, the workshop isn’t about what technical knowledge you’ll obtain, but a deeper self-awareness of how the culture changes and what you need to learn next. It’s about how ideas spread and how change happens. We focus on how you can develop what you have to offer for even more transformative impact — because of the relationships & community we’re bringing together in this cohort.
Applications are due, tomorrow, July 21 by midnight.
Workshop runs August 1 through 29, 2020
Details here and here. Q&A video here or here.
Detailed invitation document

My invitation to you

Friends, as we face pandemics and economic crises, we also face an opportunity to do the work that could shape this decade and this century.
I believe you are the kind of leader we need at the center of this work.
Do you believe in yourself enough to take the leap and commit to your most important work?
We’re here for you when you’re ready.

List of Confirmed Workshop Participants

  1. Doug O’Brien, CEO, National Cooperative Business Association
  2. Paul Hazen, Executive Director, US Overseas Cooperative Development Council, former CEO, NCBA CLUSA
  3. Sarah Clark McBroom, Equity Officer at Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
  4. Sr. Corinne Floreck, former Portfolio Director, Religious Sisters Impact Fund
  5. Myra Jackson, United Nations Representative, Biosphere consultant
  6. Ryan Strode, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, formerly Arabella Advisors
  7. Marco Vangelisti, Impact Investor, Slow Money, EK4T
  8. Molly Hemstreet, Co-Executive Director, Opportunity Threads, Carolina Textile District
  9. Kevin Jones, Co-founder SOCAP, Co-founder, Faith+Finance
  10. Eli Andrews, Accelerate Change 
  11. Fr. Seamus Finn, President, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  12. Elias Crim, Solidary Hall, & US Economy of Francesco
  13. Kyle Johnson, Business Services Collective
  14. Alison Power, Capital Impact Partners
  15. Sara Chester, Co-Executive Director, The Industrial Commons
  16. Dr. Tina Facca-Miess, Inspired Foresight 
  17. Jennifer Bryant, Washington Area Community Investment Fund
  18. Elizabeth Garlow, Deputy Director, New America’s New Practice Lab
  19. Phil Reeves, Partner, A&H Capital Partners, Board Member, DC Black Chamber of Commerce
  20. Todd Leverette, Democracy At Work Institute, Partner, A&H Capital Partners

 “As a result of the authenticity and skill of the facilitation, I and every group member were surprised by how quickly we were able to drop into high-trust sharing and collaboration. The amount that we got “figured out” in a short amount of time was remarkable, life changing for many of us, and potentially world transforming.”

~ Sam Hummel, former CEO, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (Participant in April 2020 Workshop)

Do you cancel? Or do you move it online?

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Might this be an opportunity for you to re-imagine the quality and depth possible through better virtual spaces?

  • For me, most of the past 6 years I’ve built my organization while living at home in another city.
  • I’ve also built many of my deepest, most meaningful friendships, and communities online.
  • I’ve joined spirituality groups that only meet online.
  • I’ve started organizing 150+ gatherings online and made them meaningful for participants by using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms features — allowing us to have 1-on-1 networking and small group time.
  • I’ve also been using Zoom for enlisting my friends to help me make some of my hardest decisions, by facilitating virtual Clearness Committees.
  • Meaningful check-ins with friends from around the globe have made life easier in the hard times.

You can relate generously and in profound ways… all online. 

What I really want to tell you is — I think you would be surprised how much depth and quality you can find from the right kind social interaction online.

  • Seth Godin offers some of the most helpful advice. I highly recommend this post, and the Akimbo Workshops:
    • Here are two of the four leaps Seth says we need to make:
    • Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

      Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. (But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.)

    • It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.

 

Here’s what my experience has been:

  • Two years ago, I took the altMBA — a 4 week intensive workshop that was 100% online.
  • What I didn’t expect is that it transformed my perspective on how powerful virtual spaces could be. When the expectations are set for you to do your most important work and to embrace the emotional labor… and dance with your fear, I found myself being more vulnerable with the 3-4 others in my peer learning group. I found myself being more honest and real than I had been with some of my closest friends. My altMBA peers and I were together 3 days a week for 14 hours, so it was a lot of time together… but we also shipped 3 projects each week, commented on each other’s projects and wrote 3 reflections each week. Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 2.36.26 PM
  • We got a LOT of work done together. I learned to give written feedback in a way that just mirrors back what I’m seeing. The every 3 day practice of writing a dozen set of comments taught me to ask better questions. The practice of writing and publishing online my reflection and synthesized learnings from reading other’s comments has led me to take more strategic risks. My peers in the learning groups taught me to create tension in a way that created change. The whole experience showed me that we can create a culture of reciprocity, where everyone actually does give generously, because they see how wonderful and liberating the culture can be.

The problem is, many of us interact online in crappy ways, and so we judge ourselves because some spaces are a bastion of negativity and distraction.

Take the leap. You, too, can create a culture of generosity, deep relating — all online. 

My hope in this time where we increase our social distance and stop our large gatherings, that you might see this moment as an opportunity to leap. An opportunity to take a risk, try something new — and collaboratively create online spaces that build the culture of reciprocity, gift, and mutuality. You can create the kind of culture that we most want to see.

In the next few days, I’m going to share the frameworks and strategies for how the online communities I’ve been part of have completely re-shaped my thinking for what’s possible online.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a leap to try re-thinking the possibilities when you bring the right tools together. With Zoom, Slack other similar tools, I think you may find the transition easier than you thought.

But there are a few critical elements…

Let me know if you’re ready for the leap, I’d love to talk.

I also have a live Q&A, best practices sharing, and more intensive spiritual community workshop that I’m leading coming up.