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Cultivating Practices for Meaningful, Intention-Based Work

Despite what we’re calling unprecedented, challenging times, for many of us daily work seems to carry on as normal. Even before the pandemic, many of us were intimately familiar with never-ending to-do lists. Now, as the nonprofit sector is increasingly strained, many have taken on more work with fewer resources. In a culture that favors productivity, even as we’re marching through hell and high water, there is always another email to send and task to complete. 

It’s important to establish practices that can help hack the to-do list, identify what is truly important, and cultivate a feeling of fulfillment both at work and in life. I am admittedly no pro, but I’ve gathered a few of these actionable items that have helped me along the way.

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5 Ways to Enhance Your Writing, Borrowed from Public Speakers

You’ve completed a year’s worth of grants, appeals, social media posts, and e-blasts. Treat yourself for your hard work right now! We need it. 

But if you’re working remotely because of COVID-19, you’re probably used to spending all day behind a screen. How can you write conversationally when you’ve gone days without face-to-face contact? Try borrowing some ideas from the art of speech writing! 

Public speaking principles are useful because they’re designed to hook audiences, ignite emotions, and pack meaning into a limited time frame. Even if you never step on stage to speak (in-person gatherings? What are those?), your writing will benefit from these principles. Below you'll find some core ideas, how they apply to nonprofit writing, and inspiration from skilled public speakers.

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7 Ways to Improve Virtual Nonprofit Work Culture

With COVID-19 continuing to plague the state, and the timeline for everyone getting vaccinated still months away, it looks like we will be working from home for the foreseeable future. And I don’t know about you, but working virtually from a one bedroom apartment can sometimes be exhausting. Fortunately, my nonprofit has implemented seven practices for improving our team culture that could transfer to your nonprofit:

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America the Not-So-Beautiful: Living Abroad During the Trump Presidency

I moved to Eastern Europe two months before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, and I relocated to the Twin Cities in September 2020. Plenty of jokes have been made about how I managed to “escape” nearly all of Trump’s presidency, and I’ve grown accustomed to chuckling uncomfortably while knowing that this isn’t really true. The Trump presidency impacted countless aspects of my four years living abroad and taught me several valuable lessons about how people overseas view America.

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Navigating Multiple Crises with Care

This past summer in the Twin Cities has been revolutionary. 

As many organizations made the important pivot to working from home to minimize the impact of a global pandemic, our community suffered the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of  Minneapolis Police Department officers, and residents were activated to hit the streets demanding justice.

Mutual aid distribution sites sprung up overnight to aid South and North Minneapolis communities who lost important neighborhood storefronts, which eliminated access to groceries, household goods, and critical medications. 

And we carried on because our work didn’t stop. For many, it intensified. 

The problem with ignoring pain is that it doesn’t go away. We just start to work around it, maneuvering in maladaptive ways.

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My Journey to Examine the Need for Ethical Storytelling Practices

Content Warning: Readers should be aware that this blog includes references to the topic of sex trafficking. Alternately, you can review Alyssa Scott’s earlier YNPN-TC blog on responsible storytelling or the resources listed at the end of this blog.

Communicators have the honor to interview and share the stories of people around us—both those who have lives like our own and, when appropriate, those with experiences that are far different. When sharing stories based on the words and life experiences of another person, we should feel two responsibilities. 

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Graduate school: What am I doing here???

I look up from my laptop screen to see my mom taking a photo of me. “MOM!” I scream at her.

“What honey? It’s funny that you are working on homework in the ER, and this really needs to be documented.”

That was not the first and not the last moment I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” Well, okay, I knew why I was in the emergency room. I had tripped over a pothole while going for a run and got a hematoma (essentially internal bleeding) on my leg that needed to get checked out. During the long wait at the hospital, I found myself laying on a hospital bed with a leg injury and needing to prep for a graduate school group project meeting I had later that night. So, essentially, I knew why I was in the ER, but I found myself questioning yet again why I decided to go back to graduate school. Why was I putting myself through the mental and, apparently, sometimes physical, stress of pursuing a second degree? 

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Young & Professional: Why YNPN-TC should hold space for tough conversations

While I don’t consider myself a writer, I highly respect those who write for a living or for pleasure. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I looked to someone I’ve always admired: Oprah Winfrey. I admire Oprah as a black woman and as a millennial who grew up watching her become an influential and powerful voice for women. Her book “What I Know for Sure” came to mind when I started brainstorming how to start writing. The book is a straightforward account of her biggest adversities in life and how overcoming her greatest challenges allowed her to learn the important lessons i.e. what she knows for sure in her life. So here it goes. 

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A poem for now

For the podcast Sugar Calling, Cheryl Strayed interviews authors during quarantine. In a recent episode, Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, read and recited poetry. Collins is a poet who reminds me that I like poetry. In the podcast, he quoted Irish poet Eavan Boland, “Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person’s life.”

If ever there was a time that felt like a shadowy accident, it’s now. Thus, I can’t write anything resembling advice. Dozens of COVID-19 think pieces exist or will soon, and I can’t do that to you or to myself. Also, I have no sourdough tips.

So instead of a blog, I’ve written a poem, followed by some poems I enjoy.

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Unfortunately, it's still a MAN's world

I have a friend that within the last few years made a career shift. They went directly from being a pharmacist to being the Executive Director of a non-profit center addressing women’s health in a rural area of my home state. No in-between job. No experience with non-profits. Did I mention that this friend is a cis-gendered, white man?? Look, I am not upset at my friend. I am tired and irritated with our sector. 

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