Weekend Briefing No. 42

Welcome to the weekend! Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you stuffed yourself and took many naps this weekend. It’s been a short, but interesting week. Obama’s talking about immigration reform. We didn’t reach a nuclear deal with Iran. Twitter’s CFO had a DM fail. And, of course, the Darren Wilson decision in Ferguson.



Ferguson. The grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson sent shockwaves across the US. The Washington Post put together a telling graphic on how rare it is for a grand jury to not indict. In 162,300 cases, the grand jury declined to indict 11 times, that’s 0.007%. This data was for federal not Missouri cases, so let’s assume there is 100x higher rate in Missouri, the chances are still below 1%. Without a trial, it’s no wonder that this feels like injustice for many. This New York Times op-ed from a civil rights lawyer trying to explain the incident to her 10-year old son is worth reading.

Can international aid work… should it? The PlayPump story is a sort of Mad Libs version of a narrative we’re all familiar with by now: Exciting new development idea, huge impact in one location, influx of donor dollars, quick expansion, failure. It’s easy to point fingers when something like this happens, but do we ever stop to ask the deeper question, can aid (even innovative aid) ever work? The New Republic has a great long form article on this question. Thanks to Stefanie Chang for sending this to me.

Old Power v. New Power. Check out this think piece on how power is changing. Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures. New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it. Learn more in this Harvard Business Review article and this TED TalkThanks to Blair Miller for sharing this.

Patagonia’s Black Friday clothing swap. Patagonia always has something up its sleeve for Black Friday. This time around, they are hosting a series of events, both online and in-person. At eight retail locations throughout the country, customers brought their used Patagonia clothing and got other used items off the rack. If nothing in the store looks good, clothes can instead be exchanged for credit on Yerdle, a platform for giving and getting free stuff that runs on a system of in-app credits. Learn more about this conscious consumption campaign and check out a cool video of the emotional value of a piece of gear at Patagonia’s Worn Wear site.

Fellowship application season is open. Echoing Green’s Fellowship Programs, accepting apps starting on 12/2, will offer more than $4.6 million in seed-stage funding and support this year to emerging leaders working to bring about positive social change.  Acumen’s Global Fellows Program is a 12-month fellowship for individuals dedicated to serving the poor and who have the business and operational expertise, and moral imagination needed to effect long-term social change – apps opened on 11/10. B Labs is hosting their first class of B Corps Fellows this year. They will be trained to work with thousands of companies to measure and manage the impact of their businesses on their workers, communities, and the environment with as much rigor as their profits. Apps are open now.


The Lone Bellow. This “Brooklyn Country” trio is probably writing the best music and pulling together the best harmonies of anybody out there. I’ve been following them for years – listening to them play packed out, sweaty little rooms in the Lower East Side. They are about to release a new album and just released a video for a haunting song called Fake Roses. Check out this video featured on The Wall street Journal’s Speakeasy Blog and find them on Spotify & Rdio.

Copeland. After a 6-year hiatus, this indie rock band hit the studio and produced Ixora, in my opinion, their best album yet. Contemplative and tight. This album is on heavy rotation for me right now. Check it out on SpotifyRdio.

Father John Misty. Bored in the USA is a prophetic song on the malaise and vapid consumption in America. My favorite line is, “They gave me a useless education, a subprime loan on a craftsman home. Keep my prescriptions filled, and now I can’t get off, but I can kinda deal.” Check out his performance on the Late Show with David LettermanThanks to Michael Rudzena for giving me a heads up on this.



The Weekend Briefing is a digest of the best stories from around the web about meaningful innovation curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway & Co.


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