Category: Crisis

May 11 2020

Supporting the $1K Project

A month ago, Alex Iskold emailed me about a new initiative that he started with Minda Brusse and a group of 20 volunteers called the $1K Project.

The mission of the $1K Project is to help families impacted by the pandemic by connecting them directly with sponsors who are willing to gift them $1k a month for three months. This is intended as a bridge until government funding shows up, people can get back to work, or figure out another source of funding.

I committed to fund five families on the spot for three months. I just fulfilled my second set of committments to these families.

Alex told me that part of his motivation is that with all the different ways there are to gift money, families everywhere are hurting and are unable to provide food, basic necessities, rent, and utilities. Unless you know someone, it’s very hard to directly support another family you don’t know.

The magic of the $1k Project is using trusted connections to trace back to people known to the founders and other people connected to the $1k Project. Families get referred to us through friends, families, and through their former employers who are pained by having to let the employees go.

Think of it for a chain letter in CovidWorld.

If you are an employer you can nominate someone you laid off due to Covid. Alternatively, you can nominate a friend, a family member, a business owner, or someone else you know who lost their job to Covid.

In the last 30 days, over $500,000 has been given directly to families in need. Each has a story. Each has a need.

Alex and team – awesome job.

For the readers out there, if you are inspired to make a difference directly in a family’s life and you can afford $1k / month for three months, give the $1k Project a shot and sign up to be a sponsor.

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May 10 2020

Celebrate Governor Polis’s Birthday With Me

On May 14th at 5:30pm, a group of us are going to have a virtual birthday party for Colorado Governor Jared Polis. I’m co-chairing the party with my wife Amy Batchelor, my partner Seth Levine, his wife Greeley Sachs, and our friends Mo and Jennifer Siegel. Congressman Joe Neguse is joining as a special birthday guest as his birthday is the next day.

Jared always does a fundraiser on his birthday. This year, it’s for the Colorado COVID Relief Fund.

I’m on the executive committee for the fund and Amy is on the grants committee. Our gift was one of the first to the fund (I was part of the launch discussion and committed on the first committee call along with Kent Thiry and Denise O’Leary.) So far we have raised $16.5 million and have given grants of $8.4 million to those in Colorado in the most need. Our goal is to raise at least $20 million and deploy all of the money by the end of June. Over 8,000 individual donors have contributed along with organizations listed at the end of this post.

So, please join us for Jared’s birthday (yup – it’ll be by video conference.)

It’s a tough time for everyone, but I’m especially proud to be a Coloradan right now as we work together to help each other.


Some of the organizations that have contributed so far: Anchor Point, AT&T, Baird Foundation, Bank of America, Bender West Foundation, Boettcher Foundation, Bohemian Foundation, BPx Energy, Buell Foundation, Caring for Colorado Foundation, Chambers Fund, Charles Schwab Foundation, Christy Sports, Cigna, Colorado Garden Show INC, Colorado Rockies Baseball Club Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal, Community First Foundation, Community Foundation Boulder County, Cranaleith Foundation Inc, Daniels Fund, David Altman Foundation, Deloitte, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Denver Broncos, El Pomar, Elana Amsterdam & Rob Katz, Empower Retirement, ENT Credit Union, First Bank, Gates Family Foundation, Gill Foundation, Good Chemistry Nurseries, Google, Greater Salina Community Foundation, Grogan Family Fund, HCA Healthcare, Hearst Foundation, Hemera Foundation, HomeAdvisor, John Elway, Ken and Rebecca Gart, Key Bank Foundation, Liberty Global, Liberty Media, Lockheed Martin, Madroño Foundation, MDC/ Richmond American Homes Foundation, Mile High United Way, Morgridge Family Foundation, Newmont, Norm & Sunny Brownstein and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Pat Broe, Patlaw Fund, Peyton and Ashley Manning, PhRMA, Pinnacol Assurance, PNC, R. Stanton Dodge, Rose Community Foundation, Santander Consumer USA Inc Foundation, Suncor, Target, Telluride Foundation, Terrapin Care Station, The Anschutz Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, The DaVita Village, The Denver Foundation, The Moes, The Seedworks Fund, Thiry-O’Leary Foundation, Tom Marsico, TriState Generation & Transmission Association, Twilio, VF & The VF Foundation, Walmart, Wells Fargo Foundation, Western Union, Wynne Health Group, and Xcel Energy.

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May 1 2020

Launching Energize Colorado

I’m excited to announce the launch of Energize Colorado, a new Colorado-based non-profit to help energize companies in Colorado survive the Covid crisis and then thrive as we get the crisis under control.

A month ago (which seems like a year ago), I wrote a post explaining that the Covid crisis was actually three interwoven crises: health, financial, and mental health. As I went deeper through my work on various aspects of the Covid crisis on a volunteer basis across a number of initiatives, I began forming a clear view on the importance of the private sector taking a leadership role in helping the private sector.

I was fortunate that several of people who I started working with, including Wendy Lea, Erik Mitisek, and Marc Nager, were highly motivated by the mantra “Coloradans helping Coloradans.” The group rapidly expanded through both my network and theirs and quickly shifted to a mode of actively doing things, as volunteers on the private sector side, to actively support local businesses, entrepreneurs, rural businesses, women & minority-led businesses, non-profits, and contingent workers.

On March 23rd, a founding team of 15 people, led by Wendy Lea, got together to sketch out the idea for a new Colorado non-profit called Energize Colorado. The simple notion was to rally a large group of volunteers across the state who would donate their time and talent to help Colorado businesses under 500 employees stabilize, rebuild, and grow.

Amy and I have seed-funded many non-profits and are happy to include Energize Colorado in the list of things that we were the first funders for. Five weeks later, Energize Colorado is over 200 volunteers and growing daily.

In addition to creating new initiatives, Energize Colorado is focused on amplifying many of the activities happening throughout Colorado to help small businesses. Rather than duplicate efforts, Energize Colorado is adding to the mix, amplifying things that other non-profits are doing, highlighting new initiatives, and helping business people understand and navigate the many new initiatives from our State and Federal government.

The various categories of activities and information are currently organized as:

There will be at least two major new initiatives launched next week, with a steady stream after that. Follow along by subscribing to the newsletter or following the Energize Colorado twitter feed.

If you want to get involved and help in any way, please sign up on the volunteer form.

I’m proud to be a Coloradan helping other Coloradans in this crisis.

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Apr 29 2020

Times Like These

‘Nuff said.

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Apr 27 2020

The Disorientation of Exiting Phase 1

We are starting to exit phase 1 of the Covid Crisis in the United States. If you find the whole thing extremely disorienting, you have my empathy.

In mid-April, I was getting used to the Stay at Home mode. I’d joke about how I was made for this and was never leaving my house again.

Last weekend I took a digital sabbath and woke up feeling energized on Monday. By Wednesday there was talk everywhere about opening things back up in various parts of the country. I struggled with this based on what I knew and was relieved when, at least in Colorado, I realized that it wasn’t really opening things up but rather relaxing some of the constraints that existed.

But the narrative is complicated. It’s made worse by the contrast of getting used to the existing Stay at Home mode with the uncertainty around relaxing some of the constraints. For me, this was made amplified by the intense pressure in some of the discussions I had, as many people were scared, frustrated, confused, anxious, and uncertain.

I was exhausted Thursday at the end of the day and went to bed at 6:30pm. I slept soundly until 7:00am Friday morning. I didn’t really feel any better when I woke up. As I meditated, I realized I was anxious about a cough I had, and even though it was probably springtime allergies, my brain kept going to Covid. My back was hurting again, which was probably a result of sitting in front of my computer or in my Zoom room for 12 hours a day. My brain was tired from the week, but as I meditated, I kept coming back to feelings of fear and discomfort.

I focused on work throughout the day and planned to take a digital sabbath on Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I saw two meetings had appeared on my calendar. It was a beautiful day, but I decided to work. As Amy slept, I did the dishes, started my laundry from the week, and worked through what felt like an infinite pile of email.

At dinner time, Amy looked at me and told me I needed to take a break. She was unyielding and correct. We talked some and I started to realize that I was scared about the shift away from Stay at Home. All of my underlying frustration was really fear. The more we talked, the more I realized how disoriented I was feeling. While I was relieved that Denver County and Boulder County had extended the Stay at Home order until May 8th, I was agitated that Weld County had not, and I was complaining about Californian’s on the beach ignoring the social distancing requirements.

Amy told me I was taking Sunday off.

I took my digital sabbath on Sunday. I meditated in the hot tub and listened to the birds. I read. I called my mom and caught up. I took a long afternoon nap. I did my weekly Zoom social call with Will, Warren, and Dave. I watched the Series Finale of Homeland. I went to bed early.

I woke up this morning realizing that the anxiety I felt building up last week was simply disorientation related to fatigue, fear, and uncertainty around change. While I try to deny and power through this, I recognize that I’m in a much better, or more privileged, or safer, or pick whatever phrase you want that signifies “easier” position to deal with this situation than many. But the weight of it still, well, weighs on me.

As the birds start waking up this morning, and the sky starts to lighten, I choose to embrace a new day. And simply begin again.

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Apr 23 2020

Names Matter: Exposure Alerting vs. Digital Contact Tracing

Most people, unless you work either for government or an infectious disease “organization” (non-profit, hospital, health care system) probably had not heard the phrase “contact tracing” until a month or so ago.

I now hear and see the phrase “contact tracing” everywhere.

About a month ago, as I started working on Covid-related stuff, the phrase came up regularly on the private side as a partial solution to the problem of “opening things back up.” It was often phrased as “it will be hard to open anything up until we have enough testing and contact tracing.”

For about a week, I couldn’t figure out why many of the people I was interacting with seemed to dismiss my ideas and concerns about contact tracing. Then, in a conversation, someone in government explained what the government’s historical view of contact tracing was, which is a well-defined and regularly executed completely manual process.

A giant lightbulb went off in my brain as I realized two things were happening. A bunch of people who were hearing the phrase “contact tracing” figured “yup – we’ve got that under control” (meaning they already had a manual contact tracing effort in place or about to be launched). The rest were thinking “the tech people want to automate and digitize the manual contact tracing activity – that’ll never work and it’ll create huge security and data privacy issues.”

So, I, along with everyone I am working with, started calling it “Digital Contact Tracing.” That helped some, especially as we described its relationship to Manual Contact Tracing. But, there was still too much explanation of Manual Contact Tracing vs. Digital Contact Tracing. And, confused continued to abound.

The phrase “Digital Contact Tracing” started evolving. The ACLU wrote a great white paper titled Principles for Technology-Assisted-Contact-Tracing which generated a clever acronym (TACT). I also saw the phrase “Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting” being used.

Yesterday, Harper Reed put up a short post titled Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting vs Exposure Alerting that lays out the history of the concept and renames it “Exposure Alerting.”

Exposure Alerting is the correct phrase for Digital Contact Tracing. It is clearly additive to Manual Contact Tracing (or simply Contact Tracing as most of the non-technical world refers to it.)

So, from here on out, I think we should call this activity Exposure Alerting. I think we would have saved a lot of time and energy if we had come up with the right name from the beginning. But, since this is going to be with us for a very long time, let’s start now.

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Apr 17 2020

Make4Covid Is Having An Impact In Colorado

Make4Covid is a new Colorado-based volunteer organization of makers working on making stuff related to the Covid crisis. They were started 26 days ago, have 2023 community volunteers, are working with 105 organizations, and have delivered 14,335 pieces of PPE as of this morning.

I’ve been in the Slack channel from inception and it’s just amazing to see what they’ve done. It’s an awesome example of the intersection of volunteers, 3D printing, makers, and a bunch of people motivated to help their fellow Coloradans in a crisis.

I’ve tried to do my part to connect them where I could, so hopefully I’ve been a little bit helpful. Amy and I – through our Anchor Point Foundation – just made a meaningful contribution.

Please consider joining us and making a donation to Make4Covid.

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Apr 16 2020

Leadership is Pulling Together, Not Tearing Apart

Our Colorado governor, Jared Polis, displayed an amazing act of leadership in his response to what I consider a question posed in an extreme and divisive way yesterday.

The question asked was:

We are hearing a lot of reports around here … about neighbors reporting on other neighbors for not following the orders … rebellion out here against your orders which have been called tyrannical, against local health department orders being equated to Naziism. How do you react to that? What do you say to those people who are clearly getting frustrated with this stay at home order?

I thought Jared’s response was incredible. It included:

As a Jewish American who lost family in the holocaust, I’m offended by any comparison to Naziism. We act to save lives. The exact opposite of the slaughter of six million Jews and many gypsies and Catholics and gays and lesbians and Russians and so many others.

Ok. Pause and consider that for a moment. When you watch the video (which I hope you do), pay attention to Jared’s behavior as he starts to lose his composure, but then regains it.

He follows with:

It’s not a contest to see what you can get away with. It’s a contest to see how well you can stay at home. By not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you are not sticking it to the government. You are not sticking it to Jared Polis. You are sticking it to yourself because you are putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy and you are prolonging the economic pain and difficulties your fellow Coloradans face.

He finishes with:

Now is the time for us to act with unity, to act together, to do the best that we can …

This is leadership in the time of crisis. This is how I want my leaders to lead and to react to challenging questions, divisive and ad-hominem attacks, and analogies to things that are personally offensive.

Notice that in the midst of a question that clearly provoked an emotional reaction, Jared answered the question incredibly clearly with a positive, thoughtful, and unifying, rather than divisive and hostile, response.

Jared – thank you for your amazing leadership in this crisis. Fellow Coloradans, let’s all pull together in this crisis, no matter what.

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Apr 14 2020

Taking Care of 2 Million Essential Ears with Glowforge

We are all looking for ways to help during the COVID crisis. The most important thing most of us can do is simple: stay home. Taking social distancing seriously is our best collective measure against the pandemic right now.

But we need to help the people who can’t stay home.

Glowforge has launched the 2 Million Essential Ears initiative. The goal is to print 1 million Ear Savers on Glowforge printers across the US and get them for free to the essential workers who need them.

An Ear Saver is a small adapter that prints in less than a minute. It lets a front line worker attach their mask comfortably and safely. The hooks let the wearer use a mask of almost any size, which is important when not every sized mask is available to every worker. Fit is crucial for forming a safe seal on a surgical or N95 mask, and the Ear Saver makes a correct fit much easier.

With essential workers spending entire days wearing their masks, the elastic straps can cause discomfort which can lead to painful ear damage. The ear straps take this pressure off of the ears of the wearer.

If you have a Glowforge printer, join the Ear Saver printing team now.

Or, go register to get some free Ear Savers if you need them for yourself, those taking care of you, or those in your community.

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Apr 12 2020

Digital Sabbath in the Time of Covid

I usually do a digital sabbath from Friday sundown to Sunday morning. No email. No meetings (except urgent ones). I used to do no phone, but the text dynamic to coordinate getting together has made that difficult (even in the world of Covid) so I check the lock screen on my phone a few times a day and deal with anything important.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t had a digital sabbath since 3/14. I also hadn’t had a day off since 3/14.

Friday night I crashed. My last call ended around 6:20 pm. My inbox was still full of stuff, but I had no energy to even look at it. We had a Zoom dinner with Ryan and Katherine, although it didn’t involve food since they eat late and I blew it by not being ready for dinner until three minutes before dinner was supposed to start … After dinner, Amy and I went downstairs and watched a little more Hunters, which I think we’ve decided to stop watching after episode two.

We went to bed around 10 pm. When we crawled into bed, I committed to Amy to have a digital sabbath. I knew she was worried about me and I hit a self-aware point that I was on the edge of good vs. not good emotionally and physically.

I woke up around 10 am. I had a strong green recovery score on my Whoop for the first time in a while (I’ve had plenty of red, some yellow, and an occasional green, but never very strong …). I went to the bathroom, meditated, and had a cup of coffee on the couch with Amy.

I then went for a run. I’m very out of shape relative to my norm because of a January back injury (muscle) combined with no consistency in exercise the last month. That ended a week ago as I started running again with some swimming tossed in.

I then ate a little and finished reading Facebook: The Inside Story by Stephen Levy which I had started on March 8th. I hadn’t opened a book since mid-March and as I read the second half of it, I realized I wasn’t very interested in it.

I then broke digital sabbath and did a Zoom call that I noticed showed up on my Zoom Room calendar. I’m glad I did it as it helped resolve some outstanding issues on a project that is launching this upcoming week.

I read a little more (Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk), had some leftovers (thanks Amy for cooking so much!) and then went downstairs and watched 93 Days.

I was in bed by 9:30 pm. When I woke up this morning, I felt very refreshed.

Digital sabbath will simply begin again for me.

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