Hey, everyone. I hope you’re doing alright.
Reminder: I’m Josh Rubenoff, a product designer and org culture enthusiast. I use this newsletter to work and think in public. You probably subscribed on my website or via Twitter @joshsj. If you’d like to unsubscribe, there’s a link at the bottom.
Since moving to Oakland, I’ve spent most of my life biking between cafes, patronizing movie theaters, and impulse-buying from bookstores. All of the people and organizations I regularly interact with are now under existential duress.
I quit my job seven weeks ago and have about eight months of runway. My gut tells me to give all my money away to people who need it more. My brain tells me to wait until I find steady work, since it’s a real possibility I’ll be unemployed for over eight months. I give what I can manage while knowing it can never be enough.
We’ll likely postpone our wedding, which isn’t a huge deal in the scheme of things. But: when will we be able to reschedule it? How many of our guests will still be alive to celebrate it? How many of our guests have I already seen for the last time?
That said: I feel so fortunate to be with a partner I love, in a home I enjoy staying in, with no external pressures to produce work. I’m aware that being able to process all of this on my own time, without having to worry about food or housing insecurity in the short term, is an incredible privilege.
In November, I posted an essay about resilient remote teams. If you’re in the third square of the above meme right now, it might be worth taking a look.
This week, I also published DOBT’s internal guide to remote work. It has some helpful advice on logistics, but upon re-reading it, I was most drawn to our advice on treating colleagues kindly when you lack the emotional subtext and nonverbal cues of in-person conversations.
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I made a short thread of the highlights.
So much incredible art is now available for free or at a discount. There are two (totally valid) ways of consuming it: as comfort / solace, or as a way of altering and expanding the way you see the world. The former helps you cope with our situation, while the latter may help you transcend it.
To that end, I’ve been waking up early the past two weekends and watching Shirley Clarke’s short films on the Criterion Channel. They’re gorgeous, experimental recordings, often of dance performances, filled with color and light. It’s probably the closest thing to meditation I have right now. If your default mental loop in moments of silence seems… less than constructive at the moment, watching something you’ve never seen before may help you break out of it.
If you have the resources and have already read this Vox roundup, consider donating to these organizations:
Bay Area Workers Support
The Free Press Foundation (did you know that Congress is poised to pass a law that could effectively ban end-to-end encryption?)
The Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund for New Yorkers, or the Roxie Theater staff fund for San Franciscans
A reminder: ”the end of the world as we know it” is not the actual end of the world. We’ll get through this, and society at the other end will be as strange and beautiful as what we had before, just in different ways.
Thanks for reading.