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RC002

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges in the murder of George Floyd. This is good news, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a baseline of accountability for someone with a history of using excessive force, who was filmed kneeling on a man’s neck until after he was dead. We should celebrate that accountability, but it’s disgusting that his verdict is the exception to the rule.

Since Chauvin’s trial began on March 29th, more than 3 people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement. Including 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr., 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

There’s still an absurd amount of work to be done to prevent more deaths at the hands of people who are supposed to protect others. It’s dizzying to think of how much work, really. As always, I recommend focusing on what you can do locally instead of at a national level to see an actual impact.

In my city, we’re focusing on upcoming City Council elections to make progress. They control the budget for the city and emergency services, and everyone on the Council is pretty damned accessible. I’m friends with a few of them on Facebook (and most of the candidates) and can send them quick messages voicing my concerns or showing support for upcoming initiatives.

They recently voted to create a crisis support team that consists of two trained social workers to augment our existing police force and help with issues related to mental health and drug abuse. It’s a small step but an important one. While it was unanimously approved, there are some folks on the City Council that have shown resistance to progress in the city. So, I’m also working with our local Democratic club to help get more progressive candidates elected in November.

Whether or not you know it, your own city/township/village probably has smaller elections this year, too. Now’s the time to look into what’s on the ballot, when to vote, and where candidates stand. Since it’s local, you can probably talk to those actual candidates (masked or online), something very few people get to do with state or national elections. And those elections—and the people elected—usually have a much bigger impact on your everyday life than national elections.

I read something recently that was about how local politics are where most people get started. Someone will run for City Council, then mayor, before moving onto state and national politics. It’s where they learn the ropes and start building their careers. So, if we want to change things at the national level, we need to change local politics first. Get good people into power locally before giving them power over the country.

I think that holds up for the most part.

So pay attention to what’s going on in your city, with your local reps and police departments, and try to make change happen there. Your neighbors will thank you for it and, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, it’ll bubble up and start making the change we need as a larger society.

Some Interesting Things

If you do want to push for statewide and national change, Resistbot is one of my favorite ways to reach out to my reps. It’s free, I just got an email yesterday from one of my senators in response to a message I sent using Resistbot, and they have plenty of ideas to help if you don’t know what to say yourself.

Figma introduced FigJam earlier this week. I’ve played around with it a bit and it’s pretty damned impressive but still a bit buggy (it’s in beta, duh). Interested to see how this develops. Also, will anyone ever push the limits of their new 500 contributor count on Figma docs? I can’t even imagine the cursors…

I’m doing everything I can to convince my wife to let me get one of the new, colorful iPads but she’s not budging. I mean, it’s more reasonable than one of the gorgeous iMacs, right? RIGHT?

I remember going to our drummer’s house to smoke before shows in college and it being kind of sneaky and taboo. Kind of wild that (at least where I am in Michigan) we can now get weed delivered. My wife and I just tried out Lantern and it was a stellar experience.

My favorite audio plugin maker, Klevgrand, has a new drum instrument called Slammer. It’s absolutely wonderful. Kind of feels like instant Tom Waits or Tune-Yards. All of their stuff is superb and affordable, can’t recommend them highly enough.

The Regular Communication Playlist

Here are the songs keeping me going this week. Follow along on my official Spotify playlist.

Have your own favorite songs? Reply to this email and share them, I’m always looking for new music to enjoy.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Mike Monteiro’s The Collected Angers, which is such a good title for a book:

There are two words every designer needs to feel comfortable saying: No and why. Those words are the foundation of what we do. They’re the foundation of building an ethical framework. If we cannot ask “why,” we lose the ability to judge whether the work we’re doing is ethical. If we cannot say “no,” we lose the ability to stand and fight. We lose the ability to help shape the thing we’re responsible for shaping.

Until next time,

Jason Rodriguez
Civic-minded designer, writer, and marketer.

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