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The Most Successful, Sustainable Organizations Will Be Driven by Feminine Leadership – Sustainable Brands
Posted: November 23, 2021 at 3:59 pm
An insightful panel discussion on women in leadership unearthed several critical traits for the type of leadership we need in a healthy, sustainable, equitable future and signs that theyre beginning to transcend gender.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon at SB21 SanDiego, astanding-room-only lunch session packed with women from all corners of businessdelved into the evolving nature of sustainable leadership a collaborative,more empathetic style of leadership that is emerging to meet the moment.
Gwen Migita Senior Principal of ESG at Point B;formerly VP of Social Impact, Sustainability and DEI at CaesarsEntertainment led the discussion with three women who have risen to thehighest ranks within their organizations. Migita opened by asking the threeexecutives what female leadership means to them and their companies.
Diversity brings new perspectives, fresh ideas and better innovation, saidJulia Luscher, VP of marketing for Tetra Pak. At Tetra Pak, we are100 percent supportive of women in the food and beverage industry, but wecontinue to see gender gaps. So, it is our responsibility to make sure that wetry to bridge those gaps fairly but ethically.
Katie Decker, Global President of Essential Health + Sustainability atJohnson & Johnson ConsumerHealth, said J&J might be arefreshing exception to the conventional rule of male-dominated businesscultures.
Read the latest Sociocultural Trend Tracker research from our Brands for Good collaboratory and The Harris Poll which examines consumer progress in adopting more sustainable behaviors, as well as brand trust scores during this unprecedented confluence of societal crises.
When I look around at my colleagues at Johnson & Johnson, so many of the peoplewho are driving change on sustainability topics just also happen to be women. Ithink it has a lot to do with gender equity and equality at the company, Deckersaid. Prior to Johnson & Johnson, and I've been here 20 years, I worked at aFortune 10 technology company in a field sales oce with about 150 people andI was basically the only woman. At Johnson & Johnson, I think we're up at like55-60 percent women; sometimes I look around the room and I kind of feel bad forthat one guy in the meeting!
Over the years I've nearly always worked in citizenship and sustainability, andnearly all my clients have been women; so, I take that as one data point thereare a lot of powerful women in sustainability roles, said Hannah Peters EVP of Corporate Reputation & Brand Purpose at WECommunications. But I'm sitting here today as aleader in no small part because of the people who believed in me even when Ididn't believe in myself, who were role models for me. I'm looking at one rightnow, she said, gesturing to a nearby table. Virginie Helias chiefsustainability ocer at Procter &Gamble. She has inspired mea lot I've watched her onstage so many times and today, she's here watchingme; and for me, that's what women's leadership is all about inspiring thewomen around you and continuing to show up for them.
Aside from stereotypically feminine traits such as altruism, empathy andself-awareness, Migita asked the panel to dig deeper on whats different aboutfemale leadership. As an example, Decker recounted a companywideemployee-engagement initiative.
On our journey to help 20,000 employees make every decision through the lens ofsustainability I think because it was women leading it, our first instinct wasthat we needed to go more grassroots, to bring people on a journey and be reallycollaborative and allow space for people to bring their own creativity to theproblems, Decker said. Yes, there was a little bit of top-down; but it was somuch more about the journey and the movement that we were creating; and I thinkthat has a lot to do with some of the qualities of the women leaders collaboration was really at the heart of that.
The conversation turned to what it looks like when companies work to move beyondgender balance to true diversity and inclusivity where both leaders andemployees feel supported in bringing their whole selves to the workplace. Deckerdescribed a program that helped teams within J&J create safe spaces for opendialogue following the murder of George Floyd and the racial unrest thatreignited as a result.
Last summer, when a lot of female leaders were having a hard time figuring outhow to talk to their teams about these events or felt that a lot of these thingswere going unacknowledged among teams we started an allyship program, shesaid. We do it once a month. And its [all about] building awareness andempathy; trying to help teams reflect on their experiences, their ownunconscious biases, their own journeys and then start building empathy forother s. And it's remarkable what that program has unlocked within our meetings,within our culture, within the things that people talk about we haveconversations about racism, about how do we make products and clinical studiesmore inclusive not just within the Black community but in all underservedcommunities. There's a lot to be said about education and just trying to putyourself in someone else's shoes I think that's just the beginning of what weneed to do to make a dierence.
There's a stat I've seen that at Fortune 500 companies, 54 percent of chiefsustainability ocers are women but the reality is also that the majority ofthem arewhite,Peters pointed out. So, there is still a gap that we need to address.
I personally think that there is almost too much of a focus on recruitingdiverse talent and not enough of a focus around what happens once people arewithin the organization, Peters added. I've reflected on this a lot gettingsomeone inside your organization does you no good if they leave and they aren'tultimately successful, and they don't see role models. Recruiting, of course, isimportant but we have to look across the organization; we have to think aboutonboarding and training, and how we measure success; and what we can do to meetpeople where they are, even if their background might be dierent. There's notenough of that happening.
We need to be really honest about what's working and what's not working. Imean, we have three white women on the panel today I just think we always haveto ask ourselves what more we can do, Peters stressed. It can't just be aboutrecruiting a pipeline is really important, too: We focus a lot on working withhigh school students, with college students introducing them to purposecommunications early, so that they can be excited about it and get on that pathand be part of the larger pipeline for us in the future.
The women's leadership lunch panel L-R: Gwen Migita, Julia Luscher, Hannah Peters and Katie Decker | Image credit: Sustainable Brands
Decker stressed the importance of creating a culture of belonging.
There are two principles that are important for that: One is the ability todrive a culture of psychological safety, where anybody can feel free to be theirauthentic selves, say what's really on their mind, with no fear of reprisal. Ithink that's something that women can uniquely create. The other thing isservant leadership knowing that you're putting the needs of your team, becauseof the purpose, ahead of your own needs; I think that's another thing that womencan uniquely do and that goes a long way into driving a culture of belonging.
Luscher drew inspiration from anepisode of theNetflix series, Explained, that chronicles how humans domesticatedwolves to become dogs through generations of breeding in desirable traits suggesting a potentially similar approach to inclusive team- andculture-building.
They took the traits of the nice, domesticated type of dogs and bred them tocreate these wonderful pets that we have today. As a leader, choose people forthat team who have the right traits, who will exemplify inclusivity. To me,that's what we as leaders need to do not choose men or women, but choose theright traits that we have to have in place in order to build more diverse andinclusive teams.
The panelists all pointed to broader cultural changes as signs that theembracing of female traits in strong leadership is here to stay.
The three of us on the panel were of a certain generation, where we didn't havethe best characterizations of women as leaders. We grew up looking at movies,communities, television where most of the leaders were men and most women whoexhibited femininity were seen as weak. And that's not something we need to passon to our next generation, Luscher said. It is okay to be a former ballerinaand take an executive role; it is okay to have been in a sorority and take anexecutive role; it's okay for you to be diverse and exhibit femininity and be inimportant leadership roles and that's why we need to make sure that the rolemodels that we are today, the next generation sees that we are indeed verydierent and diverse.
I also have a lot of optimism around how mindsets are changing, Peters said.Last night, Sandy [Skees, Porter Novelli] mentionedresearchthat's been consistent to what we have found around executive and leadershipbehaviors over the past 18 months, C suite leaders are really leaning intobeing more vulnerable, being empathetic; thinking about, what are my personalvalues and how do I want to show up? And I think a lot of those qualities thattraditionally have been more associated with women, men are now recognizing andembracing. We're moving beyond the sort of aggressive leadership style tosomething that is way more appropriate for the current moment that were in, sothat gives me a lot of optimism that some of these changes will be permanent.
Another feminine trait exhibited by some of todays more courageous leaders iswalking their talk and staying true to their, and their organizations, values.
Looking at the brands that I believe will flourish in 2021 and beyond are theones that are showing up with bravery and bold action despite knowing thateveryone may not agree, Peters said. It could look like Marc Benio atSalesforce, oering to relocate all of his employees inTexasbecause of the abortion legislation that just passed. It could look like Procter& Gamble over the years, so many examples of taking a brave stance: on genderequity,closing the wagegapfor the women's soccer team, starting a conversation around toxicmasculinity really showing the role that brands can play.
Honestly, the biggest question that we get from clients is, should we engage onthis issue? Should we weigh in and what does that look like? Peters said. Ialways tell people there's really two things to think about: First, what do youstand for, what are your values, what's your purpose as an organization? Andwhat do your stakeholders think about it, how your employees feel? And then, I'mgonna steal this from Maddy Kulkarni yesterday in her panel, she said that the best initiatives are timely, butthey're grounded in timeless purpose. So, yes, jumping on to a cultural orsocietal moment or something in the news yeah, that makes PR sense; it'srelevant but don't do it if you don't have the long-term commitments to backit up.
Any advice for the next generations as they move up the corporate ladders?Migita asked.
Rely on those who have been there not only on the women leaders insustainability but the men who are also driving this in a good way and acceptingof dierent points of view, dierent ideas, new perspectives, Luscher said.And continue to try and change those patterns when it comes to innovation inSTEM roles typically roles men have been taking, but let's try and reinforcethe importance of women to take those roles as well, so that we can build thatpipeline.
Don't be afraid of those typical male roles and don't feel that you'reresponsible for taking typical female roles, she added. We may be the rolemodels and are continuing our journey, but we need the younger generation to beable to carry on from where we will leave o.
Someone I turn to a lot is Bren Brown she says,who we are is how we lead," Peters offered. "I think that women's leadership starts with us asindividuals, with being self-aware, with demonstrating self-compassion andempathy; we have to do that first we have to take care of ourselves. I saw a phrase the other day called intentional flexibility, andthat's what we have to embrace as leaders. We have to continue to be flexible asleaders and as employers; so, I think it's intentional flexibility in thatcontext and intentional flexibility with ourselves.
And women's leadership means using our access to power and resources to makemore room for voices, to get more people at the table," she added. "I mean, the number ofchallenges that we're facing as a planet we're never going to solve them unlesswe all work together to build a more resilient andregenerative future.
Decker closed by addressing the audience, packed full of female leaders: You're allchange agents here you're part of leading some pretty major change in yourcompanies or with your partners. When we can connect the emotion or the heart ofthe situation with the logic, heart + head = change.
Published Nov 23, 2021 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Posted: at 3:58 pm
Published 8 hours ago
Submitted by MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth
SummaryThis year's Global Inclusive Growth Summit brought together purpose-driven leaders from around the world to shine a spotlight on promising solutions that are people-centric, climate-informed, equity-intentional and evidence-based
Solutions to Build Inclusive and Sustainable Economies
By Avni Patel and Barbara Ray
How do we harness collective ingenuity and resources from across industries and sectors to solve the big challenges of inequality, poverty, systemic racism and climate change? On October 14, more than 1,800 business, government and civic leaders came together to tackle that massive question at the second Global Inclusive Growth Summit, a virtual event co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
More than 50 speakers took to the virtual stage to shine a spotlight on innovative ideas, partnerships and solutions, and to announce $59 million in 10 new commitments that support bottom-up growth in communities around the world. From mobile apps that help farmers in India earn a more stable income to new partnerships that are redirecting capital toward underserved women entrepreneurs, weve been cataloging dozens of solutions discussed during the day.
In the first of two posts, we highlight 14 solutions that advance economic growth and environmental sustainability and that put technology to work to better connect communities to opportunity.
One clear takeaway: there is no shortage of promising solutions to build more inclusive and sustainable economies. However, to drive meaningful impact, organizations will need data and evidence to lift up what works, and a commitment to creating partnerships that combine the right assets, competencies and incentives to scale those solutions.
People, planet and prosperity
Speakers throughout the day highlighted how the challenges facing people, planet and prosperity are increasingly interconnected, as are the solutions.
For example, environmental shocks brought on by climate change, such as droughts, heatwaves and floods, contribute to food shortages and economic insecurity for smallholder farmers around the world. Now advanced data science is helping to address all three challenges for farmers in India through a mobile app. Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant, a data.org Inclusive Growth and Recovery challenge winner, uses data science to enable farmers to access clean and efficient cold storage and market intelligence, which ultimately can help them earn a more stable income and improve food security while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions that come from inefficient cold storage.
Data-enabled solutions like this are critical to helping marginalized and underserved populations in developing countries mitigate the devastating impacts of a warming planet.
Another data.org challenge awardee, Solar Sister, is unlocking the power of clean energy to support womens economic empowerment. A grant from data.org will enable the nonprofit organization to partner with data scientists to put data in the hands of entrepreneurs and field staff to help them maximize business outcomes and bring light, and with it opportunity, to more people throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
And finally, Acumen is committing $5 million to accelerate and invest in early-stage companies that both mitigate the impacts of climate change and create economic stability for informal workers. An example is Indias LabourNet, which creates paths to upward mobility through training.
The environment is the economy
Climate change is estimated to push 100 million people into poverty in just nine years, according to the World Bank, and it could cost the global economy 10 percent of its value$23 trillionby 2050, according to a Swiss reinsurance company.
As Miamis Mayor Francis Suarez points out, we need to move beyond outdated thinking that pits the environment against the economy. In Miami, the environment is the economy, said Suarez.
Miami is perhaps the U.S. city most threatened by climate change, and Suarez shared the citys climate resiliency plans, including citywide greenhouse gas reduction, building efficiency incentives, waterfront infrastructure plans, a 20-year stormwater abatement and planting thousands of trees.
Unilever CEO Alan Jope demolished another false trade-off for businessessustainability vs. profit. We've got to see sustainable business as a pathway to better profitability, said Jope.
By 2023, Unilevers raw materials will be sourced only from verified deforestation-free zones, and the company is aiming for net-zero emissions from all its products by 2039, from sourcing to the shelf. Unilever is among 345 companies (including Mastercard) that have committed to reaching net-zero with science-based targets aligned to limiting the rise of global temperature to 1.5 degrees celsius.
Technology that reaches the last mile
Nearly half the global population3.4 billion peoplestill cannot meet their basic needs because of last mile hurdles. They may live in remote areas with few passable roads or are invisible to governments and aid providers because they lack a government-issued ID or birth certificate.
Community Pass is a digital infrastructure powered by Mastercard that creates a shareable, digital identity that can be verified in different settings, such as local shops or a health care clinic. The pass uses chip-based technology that works offline or in low connectivity settings. It also illustrates another key takeaway of the Summit: The most effective solutions use technology to meet people where they are.
In some cases, quite literally:
In Rwandas western areas, limited infrastructure means when a health emergency strikes, help can take a long time to arrive. But now, thanks to drones that deliver life-saving blood to infusion centers, countless lives are being saved.
In Togo, GiveDirectly used satellite imagery, cell phone data and machine learning to speed up and target pandemic aid to the most vulnerable residents.
Real-time data to respond to crisis and recovery
The pandemic has also shown us how critical it is to have real-time data to inform decision-making and help governments and businesses save lives and livelihoods. In Sub-Saharan Africa, new platforms have aggregated information to track COVID hotspots, and source critical medical supplies.
Already preparing for the next pandemic, the Pandemic Prevention Institute is using various sourcesfrom satellite images to wastewater datato identify the early warning signs of an impending pandemic.
Other data tools are helping measure and track inequities in regions and communities. For example, the Centers Inclusive Growth Score tool is helping policymakers in the United Kingdom better understand the widening economic and social divides between the countrys north and south regions. The tool, which blends open-source and proprietary data with Mastercard insights, enables leaders in the UK to track levels of inclusion and growth at the neighborhood level and develop targeted economic development strategies.
Broadband for everyone, everywhere
In the U.S., the importance of broadband access was driven home during COVID-19 when thousands of studentsoften in rural or low-income communitiescouldnt connect to classrooms when schools shut down. While the federal government had created maps identifying where the gaps in access were, the maps were not exhaustive. Microsoft, however, was able to use data to identify the broadband gap more precisely.
It turned out that if you want to spend a lot of money, as we need to, as a country to bring broadband to the people who don't have it, you actually have to know where they live. Otherwise, you're going to miss the mark, said Brad Smith, president and general counsel at Microsoft.
While access is still a huge hurdle to overcome30 percent of rural Americans still lack access to broadbandeven the connected face barriers such as digital literacy and proficiency.
Bhaskar Chakravorti and his team at the Digital Planet program at Tufts University have developed a new framework that can help policymakers address the various dimensions of digital inequality, along with an interactive map offering snapshots at county and state levels.
Broadband is advancing in Africa as well, with the goal of creating universal, affordable access to high-speed connections by 2030. Currently, only about one-fourth of Africans have such access. With support from the international community, Africa is laying subterranean fiber optic cables in the sea off the coast to connect eastern African countries to the rest of the world. These and other efforts will increase competition and lower the price of broadband.
We are making the market much more accessible to competition, said Makhtar Diop, managing director and executive vice-president at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which ultimately will unleash the creativity of the tech industry in Africa.
The scale of the challenges ahead are enormous, but these and other innovations inspire hope that with commitment and partnerships across sectors, global leaders can begin to solve the worlds most pressing issues. By building and connecting a growing global community of purpose-driven leaders committed to inclusive growth, the Center, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, is working to catalyze new partnerships that support bottom-up growth, advance economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.
Next week, we will report on the innovations that are helping advance financial security for families and small businesses around the globe. Stay tuned.
Avni Patel is director of content for the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Barbara Ray is a Chicago-based writer who writes about social policy and research.
Check out more content from theMastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth focuses on promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. As an independent Mastercard subsidiary, it combines data, expertise and technology with philanthropic investments to empower a community of thinkers, leaders and innovators on the frontlines of inclusive growth. Follow us on Twitter @CNTR4growth and subscribe to receive our latest insights.
More from MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth
The Austin Chamber of Commerce announces new leadership and board members – Community Impact Newspaper
Posted: November 19, 2021 at 5:27 pm
Ali Khataw, left, and Fred W. Heldenfels, right, will start their terms Jan. 1, 2022. (Courtesy Elizabeth Christian Public Relations)
The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced Nov. 17 Fred W. Heldenfels as its 2022 board chair and Ali Khataw as its 2023 board chair-elect, according to a news release.
Heldenfels, president and CEO and Heldenfels Enterprises Inc and Khataw, president of Encotech Engineering Consultants, will begin their terms Jan. 1, 2022. Heldenfels has served on the Austin Chamber board and executive committee for over a decade while Khataw has served on the board since 2016. Both have extensive and award-winning backgrounds in the business industry and look forward to working with the Austin Chamber to create economic opportunities throughout the greater Austin area during a time of rapid economic growth, they said in the release.
The Austin regions moment has arrived to be an economic powerhouse and global destination for investment and job creation, Heldenfels said in the release. [The Austin Chamber of Commerce must be] intentional about planning for a super-regional economy, in cooperation with the business communities and economic development organizations in San Antonio, and the vital corridor communities connected to the two metro areas.
The Austin Chamber is an organization helping to create jobs throughout Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties. Here is a list of other new board members beginning terms Jan. 1, 2022 and run through Dec. 31, 2024.
Kristy Attaway, vice president and regional manager, Hill & Wilkinson
Don Christian, president and CEO, Concordia University
Andy Davis, president and CEO, Ascension Seton
Joyce Durst, CEO and co-founder, Growth Acceleration Partners
Tamara Fields, Austin managing director, Accenture
Dillan Knudson, regional president, PNC Bank
Samantha Lamantia Luchak, general manager, Favorite Brands
Ric Mussiett, general manager, Archer Hotel
Lynda Rife, president, RifeLine Consulting
AJ Rodriguez, executive vice president, Texas 2036
Tim Timmerman, president, Commerce Texas Properties
Kevin Young, division vice president, Jacobs Engineering
View original post here:
Posted: at 5:27 pm
By Katherine NeebePresident, Duke Energy Foundation
I joined Duke Energy a little over a year ago, and one of the main reasons I was drawn to the company is its mission, to power the lives of our customers and the vitality of our communities. This strong sense of purpose underpins how the company and its Foundation support their employees, customers and communities through one of the largest clean energy transformations in our industry.
Im inspired by the companys intentional approach to this issue as we continue to focus on maintaining reliable, affordable and increasingly cleaner energy in a way that also lifts society. One of the critical enablers of our transformation is how we engage with the stakeholders who live in, work in and represent our communities as well as those at the national and global levels.
The Duke Energy Foundation has spent the past year listening, learning and adjusting to stakeholder feedback on a variety of topics from pandemic impacts to environmental justice. These conversations have led to deepening our focus on root causes and system challenges while we also more strongly align our priorities with our companys clean energy strategy and net-zero emissions goals.
We believe by focusing the Duke Energy Foundation on those topics we are best positioned to address, leveraging the unique capabilities of both our company and our Foundation, we can deliver the most good for our communities. Through this holistic approach, we are prioritizing three pillars, each of which includes a broad suite of adjacent topics:
What does this look like in action?
While we are already leaning into these issues, we are refreshing our Duke Energy Foundations vision. Additionally, we are implementing grantmaking process changes in the Carolinas in 2022.
To that end, our process for grantmaking and community engagement opportunities will evolve to be more customizable and community based. Beginning in the Carolinas, we are prioritizing our efforts on those community challenges that intersect with the clean energy transformation. Our approach will help ensure our business responds to community needs while also being intentional about supporting work where we can have the most positive impact.
We have seen this approach work effectively over the past two years in our COVID-19 relief efforts and our commitment to social justice and racial equity.
We believe our refreshed strategy will deliver more meaningful community engagement and outcomes and shift us to more collaborative relationships to solve the challenges associated with the clean energy transition together. Im excited about leaning in and learning more from our local communities.
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Posted: at 5:27 pm
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HOUSTON When Brenda Compton, 73, was a child living in a tight-knit Black neighborhood of northeast Houston, the smell of chemicals was constant, she said. The soil was discolored. She remembers the rainbow sheen on the water running in the drainage ditches.
We were used to it because it was our neighborhood, said Compton, who grew up in Fifth Ward and still lives in the house her parents built more than 70 years ago. It was our home.
The chemical smell often wafted to their homes from the east, where a rail yard a few blocks away was treating railroad ties with hazardous chemicals in the late 1970s and early 1980s with little oversight from environmental regulators. Two Superfund sites also sit northwest of the neighborhood. Residents are continually fighting to keep new sources of pollution from moving in, from concrete batch plants to interstate expansions.
Its the type of community dominated by people of color and polluted for decades that the nations new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Michael Regan, has promised that President Joe Bidens administration will prioritize for environmental cleanups, emissions enforcement and infrastructure investments.
Regan, who spoke with residents of Fifth Ward and other communities of color in the Houston region Friday as part of a tour of historically marginalized and polluted communities across the South, said the EPA will ensure that money from the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives Friday, will flow to communities that need it most.
There are so many things we need to do to rebuild trust, he added. Its not rocket science, we just have to get to work.
The top EPA official also said his agency is prepared to act to prevent companies or Texas environmental regulators from stalling cleanup efforts in Houston and communities like it.
I can assure you that if the state does not lean in as aggressively as we would like, EPA has the authority and ability to do what we need to do, Regan said.
How, specifically, the federal government will address decades of lax environmental enforcement and policy loopholes that allowed a long legacy of pollution was a key question from residents to the EPA administrator on Friday. Much of the damage has already been done: Many of the residents of Fifth Ward and an adjacent neighborhood, Kashmere Gardens, already have cancer or have lost a loved one to the disease. Higher-than-expected rates of certain cancers among both adults and children were identified by state health officials in recent years.
Contamination is often technically difficult and expensive to remove decades after it was created. A high legal bar to prove that health problems were a result of pollution prevents most lawsuits from succeeding.
Its going to take years to clean it up, and people have already died from cancer, Compton said. The rail yard is still there. Its been there for so long, and its part of our area. How do you clean up a whole area?
Community advocates and environmental experts say the EPA needs to rethink its approach if the federal government is going to holistically address the problems in such neighborhoods.
People have allowed so many different types of industries to move in and function right there in the community with residents, said Denae King, a toxicologist and research program manager at Texas Southern University who has worked with the residents to find solutions for legacy contamination in the area. Many of the people that were exposed over the years are now gone.
Earlier this month, university scientists came to test the soil in Comptons front yard for environmental contamination. Shes still waiting on the results.
This is important, and this is scary, said Compton, whose parents as well as two of her siblings battled cancer at some point. Its still scary.
Her mom was diagnosed with thymus cancer and overcame it with treatment; she died in 2013 from complications from pneumonia. Her dad died with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1999. Her brother had colon cancer and beat it. Another brother died with multiple myeloma in 2019. She and a third brother are the only immediate family members still cancer-free.
Years of community activism followed the revelation that the groundwater beneath homes near the rail yard was contaminated with creosote a mix of chemicals used to preserve railroad ties that the EPA calls a probable human carcinogen. That brought environmental testing, a city health survey, a state analysis of a cancer cluster in the area and now a visit from the EPA chief.
According to a 1993 environmental assessment of the rail yard that was recently made public, chemicals from the rail yard leaked into the surrounding soil, carried toxic waste off into the ditches and streets and discharged more pollution into the sewer system than it was supposed to.
In 1981, an explosion occurred at one of the chemical tanks that stored materials for the wood treatment operation. The extent of the contamination from that release is unknown, according to the assessment, which was conducted by PRC Environmental Management Inc., in Dallas to comply with the EPAs hazardous waste requirements.
Lena West, 77, who grew up across the street from Compton, said her father, Herman Earl Hall, worked at the rail yard for 49 years. Every day, she said, he came home covered in what looked like tar and smelled like chemicals. Their mother boiled the clothes each night to get them clean enough for him to wear the next day. Of the 10 children in their family, five developed some type of cancer, she said.
When the family is riddled with cancer, you are on high alert for everything, West said. She and her siblings are screened for cancer frequently since several people in the family have contracted the disease its a constant source of stress, she said.
It would be hard to blame it on anything else [other than the pollution], West said. Our grandparents, our great aunties, they didnt have this problem, and they didnt live here.
A spokesperson for Union Pacific said the company is pleased the EPA administrator visited Houstons Fifth Ward to hear directly from the community about the railroad tie facility that the company acquired from Southern Pacific in 1997 after production ceased. The company has maintained that environmental testing has not identified any current human exposure to contamination.
Union Pacific is in the process of renewing our permit to continue our ongoing, decades-long cleanup, testing, monitoring and remediation activities at the site, Robynn Tysver, a spokesperson for Union Pacific, said in a statement. We have an open, ongoing dialogue with the EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the City of Houston and Harris County.
Though the Texas Department of State Health Services found elevated rates of cancer in residential areas surrounding the Houston rail yard, proving it came from a specific contaminant is extremely difficult and often fruitless in the current legal and regulatory system, environmental experts said.
In 2000, Houston rail yard workers and their families sued Union Pacific, alleging cancer and other ailments were caused by exposure to creosote and other chemicals such as vinyl chloride monomer, a known human carcinogen while at work. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiffs didnt provide sufficient evidence to prove their illnesses came from a specific pollution source at the rail yard even though toxicologists say it would be nearly impossible to do so.
Wed like to be able to have clear direct causality, said King, the toxicologist at TSU. With cancer, its just not that simple. Oftentimes, cancers result from a long-term exposure to a contaminant, but that person could be exposed to other things during that long time period.
Joe Gardella, a chemist in Buffalo, N.Y., who has researched the impact of industrial pollution on local communities and advised EPA cleanups for decades, said data for historic contamination is often sparse. The explosions that occured four decades ago at the rail yard are of particular concern, he said, since burning naphthalene or creosote creates air pollution thats toxic to people breathing the fumes.
Its hard to reconstruct what the exposures were, Gardella said. A lot of times, the corporate world will say, Well, we dont have any data about the exposure, and there may be a cancer cluster there, but we have no way to prove that the cancer was the result of exposure.
James Dahlgren, a medical doctor and expert on environmental toxins who published an epidemiological study on the effects of creosote on the human body in 2003, was an expert source in the Houston rail yard workers case 20 years ago. Attorneys for Union Pacific labeled his analysis junk science in part because he didnt link a specific chemical to the alleged health problems or quantify exactly how much exposure the workers had to creosote, naphthalene or other toxins while working at the rail yard.
He said thats nearly impossible to do unless a community has millions of dollars to spend on a thorough epidemiological study.
Hundreds of Houston residents have joined lawsuits seeking damages from Union Pacific in recent years. Its an uphill battle: The Texas Supreme Court in 2007 held that plaintiffs that sue for damages from toxic contamination must rule out other potential causes with reasonable certainty a bar thats nearly impossible to meet, environmental experts said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has floated the idea of buying out some residents so they can move to another area, according to the Houston Chronicle, but some like Compton dont want to leave. Maybe shes old-fashioned, she says, but she doesnt want to be bought out not by the rail yard nor by the speculative investors swarming into the neighborhood that lies just a few minutes from downtown. There is nothing like Fifth Ward, Compton said.
Some environmental lawyers and community activists say the EPA could make changes that would have big impacts on communities facing long-standing pollution, such as investigating more public complaints about pollution that cite the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That legislation prohibits intentional discrimination and discriminatory effects on the basis of race, color and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance which includes state environmental agencies that approve permits to operate polluting facilities.
EPA could really move forward on [discrmination] claims, investigate the most pressing ones and put money and energy towards expanding their civil rights enforcement office, said Scott Badenoch, an environmental law professor at the University of California Irvine School of Law. That is a major avenue for communities to get redress.
Advocates have also called on the agency to require environmental regulators to consider all the sources of contamination in a community before allowing more polluting businesses to move in, arguing that could help to avoid overburdening any one neighborhood with pollution.
During a conversation with faculty and students at TSU on Thursday night, Regan suggested the agency is considering action to address the cumulative impact of pollution but warned that its unclear whether the EPA has the authority to do that. He said he is discussing with members of Congress whether the EPA needs additional statutory authority.
EPA is exploring ways that we can legally read the Clean Air Act in a way that allows us to take into consideration some of these external factors, Regan said. Do we believe that theres some vulnerabilities there if people want to challenge us in court? Possibly. But the only way to find out is to test it.
Still, residents who spoke with Regan on Friday said environmental regulation is only part of the problem. They said the people who have already gotten sick need proper health care, reliable transportation to their doctors appointments, compensation for their medical bills and cancer screenings solutions that arent within the EPAs traditional authority.
We didnt ask for cancer, Sandra Edwards, a resident in the Fifth Ward and member of IMPACT, a community group advocating for solutions to the legacy of contamination from the rail yard, told Regan on Friday. We shouldnt have to go all the way to the medical center across town. We should bring a facility to this neighborhood for people.
Disclosure: Texas Southern University - Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs and Union Pacific Railroad Company have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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Posted: at 5:27 pm
As important as diversity, equity and inclusion is to the future of an organization, how it is incorporated into the culture drives sustainability, success and impact.
Trina Scott, chief diversity officer, Rocket Companies, shared her journey, experience and insight into how the strategic commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion influences building a strong community and culture in an organization with Oakland University Executive MBA students and alumni in its most recent Executive Speaker Series event.
Scott, who pioneered the role for Rocket Companies almost five years ago, started with a mission to first understand the organization, its people, roles and processes.
Before I started with what does it mean to be inclusive, I had to start with what does it mean to be a mortgage banker, an underwriter, an appraiser or any of the many other roles in the organization, she said. Its so important to first understand perspective of what people are doing before you come in with implementation.
Through Scotts leadership, the model Rocket Companies adopted is centered on talent, community, culture and marketplace.
As a leader I dont talk about diversity, equity and inclusion with those terms, Scott said. Instead, I ask do you care about the work culture? Do you hire people? Do people get promoted? Do you buy things? Does the organization you work for care about the communities it is in? What does your talent look like?
Those questions start conversations, build understanding, expand perspectives and create support.
Its not about you have to hire four women, three people of color and one person with disabilities, she said. Its about having the best people on your team to have the most innovative and healthy discussions, so you come out with the best outcomes. And if you have homogeneous teams whether its all women, all men, all Black, all white, all whatever -- youre not going to get the ingenuity.
Welcoming different perspectives, experiences and skill sets help organizations grow, innovate and stay in business. Navigating that path requires a long view, intentional action and a firm commitment.
For us, it wasnt putting up numbers, it was about digging into the processes. The process of hiring, the process of promotion. Where are the gaps, where are the inequities, Scott said. Directly correlated to that is raising the awareness of why that is important, and why having a diverse panel of interviewing is important, understanding why presenting a diverse slate is important. The big piece is understanding that we all have bias and that bias plays into all our thoughts. And its being aware of that bias so you can push against it.
Intentional action distinguishes the Rocket Companys commitment to nurturing this culture in its organization.
You have to be intentional. You can shrug your shoulders and say the talent isnt out there, or you can do what you need to do to build it, Scott said.
She described the various ways Rocket Companies does that, including the Gilbert Family Foundations support as one of the founding partners in reopening Michigans only historically black college and universities (HBCU), the Lewis College of Business. Opening March 2022, the new Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design will offer free tuition and programs for Black creatives, designers, engineers and business leaders. Rocket Companies also works with HBCUs throughout the U.S., on developing sales and business programs, recruiting students, and providing mentoring and resources.
So, you can say its not there, or you can say, all right, we recognize how valuable it is, now were going to put the resources behind it to bring the talent in, said Scott.
While data and metrics are critical tools to measure success in business, two concepts Scott touched on were proof of progress and perspective not perfection.
Its not about ROI, its about the inputs that show youre progressing, Scott said. When the Rocket executive team wanted an update on the partnerships with the HBCUs, I didnt just go in with a list. We talked about outreach in terms of Black and brown home ownership, our connection with students and deans, building relationships on campus and becoming the number one employer on HBCU campuses.
While our goal may be hiring 10 percent from HBCUs, what we really care about is building those relationships so five, ten years down the line, were not at the place we are right now.
Even with a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Scott said one of the biggest challenges to overcome is mindset.
I want people to understand, its not about othering, its not about marginalizing majority groups, she said. It is about how you continue to innovate as an organization.
National Injury Prevention Day illuminates the burden of injury and violence in our community – Public Health Insider
Posted: at 5:27 pm
On Thursday, November 18th, green lights will illuminate Seattle and twenty-five other major cities across the country to illuminate the need for violence and injury prevention. Injuries, whether they are intentional or unintentional, are leading causes of death for people ages 1-44 in the United States and in King County. Unintentional injuries include traffic crashes and drowning. Intentional injuries include violence inflicted on others as well as oneself.
Over the past ten years in King County, deaths from unintentional injuries among children, youth and young adults ages 18 and younger have remained steady: 79 in 2010-2014 and 70 in 2015-2019. However, deaths from assault and self-inflicted injuries among this age group have fluctuated between 60 in 2010-2014 and 78 in 2015-2019.
The overall burden of injury in King County is disturbing, said Shannon Murphy of Public Healths Violence & Injury Prevention Team and a University of Washington student. Even more concerning are the racial and ethnic disparities in injury that disproportionately burden American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Black residents. For example, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. They experience 10 times the gun homicides, 18 times the gun assault injuries and nearly 3 times the fatal police shootings of white Americans.
Over the past five years, the total number of vehicular crashes in King County has dropped each year, from 42,000 in 2016 to 24,000 in 2020. Reducing the threat of distracted driving and making our roads safer is something about which 95% of King County adults agree, said Rebecca Lis, Target Zero Manager at Public Health.
Related to firearm concerns, one-in-five adults in King County says they keep firearms in or around their home, and only about half say they store their firearms locked up. Storing firearms locked up prevents unintentional injuries, suicide, violence, and theft. The safest method to store firearms is unloaded with ammunition locked separately said Karyn Brownson, manager of King Countys Lock It Up program. Locking up these items and keeping them separate protects all of our families and communities.
In King County, local groups, residents and cityand countyofficials are driving solutions to reduce gun violence and increase safety in their communities, but data and resources are needed to support these efforts.
We are fortunate to have so many partners and programs in the region addressing violence and injury prevention, and I expect well continue to make progress, said Dennis Worsham, Interim Director for Public Health Seattle & King County. Addressing the disparities of violence and injury prevention is a priority for me and our department.
Reducing firearms-related injuries and promoting traffic safety are two priorities for Public Health as well as many others in the community. The Violence & Injury Prevention team works with partners for policy change, data reviews, leadership, and community education, among other strategies.
Originally published 11/17/2021.
Posted: at 5:27 pm
The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools announced this week it will join a national education movement that aims to improve learning by increasing community support and involvement in students lives not just at school but away from it as well.
ECPPS officials said they plan to create Community Schools within the district, and one school P.W. Moore Elementary has already signed up for the effort.
Community schooling is a grassroots effort drawing on the assets of schools, universities, and other agencies serving children and families, interim Superintendent Eddie Ingram said in a press release, noting there are already more than 5,000 Community Schools across the country. The time has never been better to reimagine what our schools can be and I look forward to the work ahead.
According to ECPPS, Community Schools form strong, deep, and intentional partnerships between schools, faith and business communities, and other social and health agencies (to) ensure student learning and whole child and family development. They also combine wraparound services with more personalized, deeper learning opportunities for young people and families.
ECPPS said its taking the step to form Community Schools because research shows that out-of-school factors are responsible for the vast majority of gaps in student achievement.
The capacity to learn academically is shaped by many social, physical, and mental factors, the district said. Schools alone cannot do all of the work that needs to be done for children.
Citing the Partnership for the Future of Learnings Community Schools Playbook, ECPPS said the four elements of a successful community schools program include:
An integrated student support network where teams of educators and other professionals work together for students and their families;
Expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, connecting the classroom to after-school, summer, and apprenticeship programs;
Active family and community engagement opportunities that facilitate positive communication between education and other professionals and parents; and
Collaborative leadership practices where every stakeholder shares responsibility for leading the work.
Assisting ECPPS with the Community Schools effort is Dr. Barnett Berry, a professor and senior director for policy and innovation at the University of South Carolina.
We need to be tackling institutional structures that limit our ability to create the conditions that we need for whole child education to occur in schools, he said in the release. North Carolina, as well as ECPPS, have many of the pieces of the puzzle but now we need to put them together.
Stephanie Ambrose, principal at P.W. Moore Elementary, said her staff are eager to start the Community School initiative.
We believe in the power of community, providing needed supports and resources for success, and most of all, we believe in our staff and families, she said. Together, we can reimagine education for P.W. Moore and work united for the betterment of our children and community.
ECPPS Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden said she believes its time to embrace an initiative that will redefine how we look at our childrens futures and the future of our community.
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools has always had incredible partnerships, innovative professionals, and interested families, so its time to have them working as one cohesive unit toward one goal: the elevation of all our children, she said. We are ready to jumpstart education here in Elizabeth City and enthusiasm is extremely high for what our community is about to experience at P.W. Moore Elementary School.
Ingram, superintendent at a school district in South Carolina prior to his retirement earlier this year, has had past experience with the Community Schools concept.
This initiative is the first step in developing a comprehensive approach to schooling that makes much more sense than the myopic approach of chasing a standardized test score, he said. The present accountability system is driven by zip code and is simply insufficient when measuring school effectiveness.
Biden reacts to Rittenhouse verdict: ‘The jury system works, and we have to abide by it’ – KCRA Sacramento
Posted: at 5:27 pm
President Joe Biden said Friday he stands by the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, saying the jury system of trial in the United States works and must be respected."Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded," he said. "The jury system works, and we have to abide by it."Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and shot another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted Friday of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges. The panel of five men and seven women deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days in a closely watched case. The verdict cannot be appealed.The president made the comments upon returning to the White House after a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that lasted more than five hours, where he received a routine physical and a colonoscopy."I just heard a moment ago," Biden said, when asked about Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all counts. "I didn't watch the trial."In a statement later Friday afternoon, Biden acknowledged that the verdict in the trial "will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included." He said that everyone "must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."In a statement released by the White House Friday afternoon, Biden said he "ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.""I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we're not going to heal our country's wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law," the statement reads.Biden also encouraged protesters to "express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.""Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy," the statement adds.The president has also spoken with the Wisconsin governor this afternoon and "offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety."Asked by reporters as he turned to the White House if he stood by his past comments equating Rittenhouse to a white supremacist, Biden didn't directly answer. In September 2020 then-presidential candidate Biden tweeted a video that included Rittenhouse carrying a rifle with the caption: "There's no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night." The video was meant to criticize then-President Donald Trump.When asked on Monday why Biden previously tweeted a video that suggested Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: "What I'm not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the president's past comments. What I can reiterate is the president's view is that we shouldn't have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons. We shouldn't have opportunists corrupting peaceful protest by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent anywhere in the country."
President Joe Biden said Friday he stands by the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, saying the jury system of trial in the United States works and must be respected.
"Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded," he said. "The jury system works, and we have to abide by it."
Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and shot another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted Friday of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges. The panel of five men and seven women deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days in a closely watched case. The verdict cannot be appealed.
The president made the comments upon returning to the White House after a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that lasted more than five hours, where he received a routine physical and a colonoscopy.
"I just heard a moment ago," Biden said, when asked about Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all counts. "I didn't watch the trial."
In a statement later Friday afternoon, Biden acknowledged that the verdict in the trial "will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included." He said that everyone "must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."
In a statement released by the White House Friday afternoon, Biden said he "ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us."
"I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we're not going to heal our country's wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law," the statement reads.
Biden also encouraged protesters to "express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law."
"Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy," the statement adds.
The president has also spoken with the Wisconsin governor this afternoon and "offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety."
Asked by reporters as he turned to the White House if he stood by his past comments equating Rittenhouse to a white supremacist, Biden didn't directly answer. In September 2020 then-presidential candidate Biden tweeted a video that included Rittenhouse carrying a rifle with the caption: "There's no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night." The video was meant to criticize then-President Donald Trump.
When asked on Monday why Biden previously tweeted a video that suggested Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: "What I'm not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the president's past comments. What I can reiterate is the president's view is that we shouldn't have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons. We shouldn't have opportunists corrupting peaceful protest by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent anywhere in the country."
Posted: at 5:27 pm
Note: All of the names used in this article are pseudonyms.
To avoid someone at Whitman is a futile endeavor. Our 1,500-student enrollment doesnt provide much of a buffer, and 117 acres feel like 10 square feet when youre hoping to give someone a wide berth. In fact, the moment you even allow yourself to think youd rather not see somebody, youve doomed yourself to endless run-ins. Weve all heard the stories or experienced it ourselves: the ghosted Tinder match behind you in line for coffee, the unsuccessful friendship awkwardly reintroduced in a ten-person seminaror, worst of all, the unavoidable ex.
Oh, Jesus, said junior Molly Kemp when prompted to describe having an ex on campus. Where to begin?
Kemp, a junior, explained that Whitman essentially puts lapsed relationships in a pressure-cooker, intensifying existing post-breakup issues. It can be difficult to emotionally distance yourself from a relationship when your ex seems ever-present. At such a small school, its nearly impossible to fully extricate yourselves from one anothers lives.
Ive gone through breakups before where it feels like everything reminds me of them, Kemp said. I feel like thats sort of inherent to, like, any breakup or huge emotional experience. But at Whitman, literally everything did remind me of him. It was like a breakup on steroidsI was constantly bombarded with reminders of him.
Kemps relationship lasted through her first semester and a bit of her second. The breakup came a month or so before Whitman went online for the pandemic. While lockdown created its own emotional upheaval, she was grateful for the space to process.
On campus, we were running into each other constantly, we had all the same friendsit was a mess. It was just way too easy to wallow, too; like, my friends and I would walk past a random bench on Ankeny and Id be like, We used to hold hands on that bench! Kemp said, a melodramatic hand pressed playfully against her forehead. Obviously being home was hard and weird in its own way, but it was so much more conducive to, like, actually getting over my breakup.
Alice Cortez, a senior whose year-and-a-half-long relationship ended during the pandemic, also appreciated the space provided in the immediate aftermath of her breakup. Now, over a year later, she and her ex are once again sharing space.
The first time that we saw each other again was this semester so it felt like a lot of changes happened between us, in our lives, but we werent there to see them, Cortez said. Its been kind of weird to navigate that.
One notable change has been Cortezs epiphany about her interest in women, and the subsequent beginning of her current relationship. Recently, Cortez ran into her ex on the crowded stairwell of a partyboth of them with their respective girlfriends. Another instance found them face-to-face in the library printing queue.
I turned around and he was likeshe adopts the stilted inflection of post-relationship awkwardnessHow are you doing?
Kemp has had her fair share of uncomfortable encounters as well. Upon returning to campus this spring, she found that these run-ins were no longer painful, but remained pretty awkward.Definitely our worst encounter was a few weeks ago, Kemp said. I was on a date, and he walked by, and all of a sudden I realized we were at the same place wed had our first real date. We, like, made eye contact and had this horrible moment of acknowledgment. I wanted to be like, I promise I didnt do this on purpose! Theres just, like, three places to go in this town!
There seems to be a general consensus: Whitman College is a decidedly unpleasant space to share with an ex. Whitmans small campus and tight-knit social culture can amplify the problems fundamental to any breakup. Everyone I interviewed lamented the intermixing of friend groups, and the difficulty navigating social circles post-breakup. Cortez even worried that shed lose custody of mutual friends.
In discussing the milestone changes that had transpired between her and her ex, unbeknownst to the other, Cortez called it all a little bittersweet. After all, her ex had been a central part of both her Whitman experience and her life for over a year. Forced proximity to an ex transcends awkwardness: one must renegotiate their relationship with someone with whom they have often been profoundly vulnerable. How do we share space with people who have inhabited two starkly different roles in our lives? How do we reacquaint ourselves with them as classmates, foes, or tentative friends, and play the part accordingly?
Lily Thomas, a sophomore, put a positive spin on her situation: she claims that the close quarters of her breakup prevented her from falling into typical patterns.
Thomas and her ex-boyfriend became friends, dated, then broke upall in the same semester, and all on the same dorm floor. It sounds like a veritable nightmare, but Thomas says it actually facilitated a pretty healthy breakup.
I had to keep seeing him every day and keep interacting with him so we didnt make it awkward for everyone else, so I didnt get the chance to build him up in my mind as a villain or a terrible person, she said. And every time I was tempted to, like, send him a really regrettable text in the middle of the night or something, I could just tell myself, no, you have to see him face-to-face tomorrow. So, it really worked out pretty well.
(This is a pretty evolved perspectiveyou can thank Thomass therapist, who encouraged her to frame it this way.)
Its an interesting inversion of a common Whitman gripe, especially in regards to dating and hookup culture. After all, theres a lot to be said for existing in small, intentional communities: it can often bolster our flexibility and emotional resilience, providing us with renewed perspective and interpersonal aptitude. Perhaps we can apply these merits to romantic relationships as well.
Cortez agreed that Whitmans environment has helped her avoid running from her feelings.
Youre forced to confront it, she said. And sometimes youre not ready, and sometimes youre uncomfortable, but at the same time, I think it is kind of helpful in that way.
Another common worry comes with the idea that ones breakup is a common topic of discussion among peers. At Whitman, this anxiety is not unfounded: a deleted Instagram post doesnt escape anybodys notice, and fragmented friend groups can unleash an onslaught of on-campus gossip. Cortez explained that this feeling arises from the fact that ones world at Whitman is very small, but wanted to assure anybody in this situation that the issue will resolve itself with time.
Breakups are hard. Breakups in the confines of the Whitman bubble are harder. Whether its an awkward moment of mutual acknowledgment in Reid, a barrage of unwelcome reminders or the sneaking suspicion that your breakup has become Whitman tabloid fodder, its a difficult situation to navigate. May we all be blessed with the perspective and optimism of Lily Thomass therapist.
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