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A letter to all

Hello friends,
A new year, a brighter beginning. That’s our hope for 2021.

And it carries over from last year. After all, we hoped for so much: a quick resolve to the pandemic, a return to normalcy, adequate resources for all. As timelines continue to change, hope feels like an audacious emotion—but we ardently believe that audacity has always served humanity well.

Moving into the new year, we find ourselves buoyed by hope, sustained by comfort and in search of joy. A few thoughts on them below.

Hope gives us vision. More importantly, it gives us agency. Where we have hope, we have fortitude to handle whatever may come our way. With hope, we can draw upon our inner reserves and achieve a better outcome, not only for ourselves but everyone.

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On hope: “‘Hope’ is a thing with feathers,” said Emily Dickenson, but our favourite definition comes from former President Barack Obama who said in a 2008 speech that “Hope is not blind optimism.” Far from being passive or ignorant, it’s “that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”

On comfort: Creature comforts have resumed the utmost importance in our lives. From the rise of sweatpants to spending on our homes, the pursuit of “Hygge” (a Danish word for comfort and coziness that improves wellness and contentment) is at an all time high. Yet comfort has another meaning. In the olden days, when Latin reigned supreme, it meant to strengthen, to support.

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If anything, we’ve seen how the last ten months have strengthened bonds and resolve and built vast support networks where there were previously none. In that sense, comfort should not only drive us to care for ourselves. Instead it demands of us to ask: how can we give comfort to others? Particularly in the form of strength or support? Perhaps it’s in the form of a handwritten letter, a small donation, or even watching a neighbor’s child for an hour. Comfort needn’t be big or heroic, just significant.

On joy: Often the littlest things bring the biggest joys. The sea breeze from the beach, a handmade drawing from your child, moments with family. These joys abound. After all, the corollary to joy is abundance, a quality that can be found even in the depths of restraint, like say lockdown orders.

In this spirit, we’re channeling poet Mary Oliver’s "Don't Hesitate". As she writes, “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it . . . Joy is not made to be a crumb.” When we feel joy, we share it—as selflessly and widely as possible.

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On resilience: Although not an official intention for the new year, we’d be remiss not to mention how we’ve witnessed resilience in motion everyday, from our clients and team, who have adapted to working at home, dealt with logistical quandaries during a global pandemic, and managed homeschooling; to our cities who have banded together during the darkest moments only to come back more united, generous, and understanding. Their perseverance teaches us so much about the human spirit.

Our task moving forward is to bring these qualities into our everyday actions, and build a world where kindness and care become everyday business practices.

Take care,
Jonathan, Ciara and Mark