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The Weekly

FEBRUARY 23, 2021

 

Below, we continue our collective, almost-year-long journey of introspection and reflection. We hope you’re hanging in there, friends. Regardless of your answer, we hope this mailer is a bright spot in yet another winter week.

 
 

Links That Kept Us Reading

 
Credit: Sara Andreasson
 
It’s Nice That and Apple’s New World programme interview New York-based photographer Camila Falquez, London-based illustrator Sara Andreasson, and LA-based filmmaker and photographer Bethany Mollenkof about how they’re redefining beauty and inclusion. “By reframing narratives and looking for beauty where others may not see it, they’re showing us the possibilities of a new world where anyone can stand at the helm.” Dive in.
How can you lift your low winter mood? Diana Chi for FastCompany says the sure-fire way is to practice self-compassion. Read on to get her tips on incorporating this mindfulness practice into your daily routine.
Things that inspired us last week—Justice Through Code is a free coding program for those impacted by the criminal justice system. Give this one a go and learn about how you can contribute, too.
One of “America’s greatest living writers” explores what it means to be kind in a cruel world on The Ezra Klein Show. Carve out an hour to listen to this one—we promise it’s well worth the time.
Whether you’re a Chicagoan or not, you should know of The Hideout—one of the city’s best venues. Tomorrow, they’re hosting a virtual Grown-up Spelling Bee. It’s free to attend or participate, but donations are encouraged—and this week Soup & Bread is raising money for Pilsen Food Pantry. What’s better than drinking + spelling + donating to a local aid organization?
 
 

Micro-conversations

 
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Micro-conversations spotlight the unique perspectives of our team members through splices of candid chats—reflecting the spirit, story, and point-of-view of all the voices of our studio.

 

AMY, SENIOR DESIGNER, On the catharsis reading can bring during trying times

Severance by Ling Ma was one of my favorite books I’ve read the past couple years—because of the timing, but also because it’s just such a well-written, dry-humored, almost-fatalistic novel.

She wrote this book in 2018—way before there was any kind of guess that Coronavirus was a threat. Reading it during this very non-fictional virus and being in quarantine, it’s reminded me of how people find value in the time that they have. How they choose to spend time—what they think is meaningful.

It follows a mid-twenties Chinese-American woman named Candace Chen who works at the Penguin of publishing companies in New York City. Her life is very mundane and blasé. And when youvre reading through it, there’s nothing fantastical. It’s very much like, ‘Oh. This is my friend, Candace.’ Everyone knows a Candace.

Enter the virus of the book—it’s called Shen Fever and is hauntingly similar to COVID-19. It starts wiping out city by city, and America gets hit really, really hard. New York, which used to be so bustling, is actually starting to be kind of abandoned—the stock market crashes completely and money doesn’t really have any kind of value anymore.

Even as this fictional world is disintegrating, she still goes to work. Even when her boss quits and most people evacuate cities to be with their families, she’s still there in the office. As New York is crumbling, she still holds onto the things that distracted her, the things that, more or less, made up her identity. She ends up living in her office building because ‘the view was way better.’ And since no one else was there, she could hoard all the office snacks.

What do you need to do in order to feel somewhat normal, right? When everything is kind of crumbling around you, how do you maintain that semblance of normalcy?

Throughout the book (as to not give away any spoilers, I’ll speak in vague terms) Candace experiences a few moments of crisis that make her re-evaluate what’s important to her life. How ‘simply’ she lived before—maybe the things that she told herself that she valued—it just didn’t work anymore. She had to just totally switch her whole entire point of view.

What’s really interesting is this idea that we could all really do this until we’re forced not to.

I think uncomfortable change is always a catalyst for that. Now, I didn’t live through a zombie apocalypse book—well, not really. But I relate to the desire to rediscover the things that actually matter to me.
 
 
 
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