Goals for Boston (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time-bound)


Strategic Plan / Goals

By Feb 14:


  • 60 1:1s 


      • By the end of my 8th week now and I’ve done 20. I can up that rate.
      • These 1:1s are with church pastors, synagogue directors, community organizers, potential providers, civic leaders, people I hope will help champion the work, etc
      • I find the in-person meetings take about 1.5 hours, and I much prefer in person to phone. Setting the meeting up, preparing, then follow-up takes another couple hours each


  • Gathered 40 electric bills 


      • From the 20 meetings I’ve had so far, 8 of them have resulted in sharing electric bills. The other meetings weren’t directly applicable to electric bill gathering. I have an 100% success rate of asking for bills in person and receiving them later (aka nobody says no), although it often takes follow-up. 
      • I hope to get more bills both from more focus on relevant in-person meetings, and also by connecting with larger networks of institutions that can make the ask for me:
        • GBIO? – I plan to follow up with everyone on the first two calls and see who I’m still missing bills from. Maybe a list email here to see if that gets traction
        • MATSA – Massachusetts Association of Temples and Synagogue Administrators – meeting with them next week
        • Episcopal Archdiocese – cold lead from someone I hope to find direct contact with
        • Roslindale Leaders meeting – going tomorrow
        • ??


  • Set date for a group Zoom meeting of all who have submitted electric bills
  • Facilitated group Zoom meeting of 6-10 institutions interested in a trash hauling RFP


    • I’ve discovered that this is a major issue for several institutions. CPA’s success with this in other regions makes it a good next step
    • Involves finding a lawyer to help with breaking contracts and establishing relationships with new trash hauling providers 
  • Group in-person meeting of those who could be a “steering committee” for CPA Boston. Also a way to engage new people. Already met with several people who I could see being champions in this

willingness to be changed

Reflection Script: I’m putting this at the beginning because it’s more important than the first part.

I want to start by really affirming and respecting all the blog posts that have raised skepticism and tension and anger at the idea that we should seek to open empathetically to all relationships. I agree that empathy is not appropriate in many situations, particularly in unsafe ones. 

I did notice a few assumptions underlying some of these conversations, as well as in our broader societal questions on empathy. This is not meant to resolve those tensions. On the contrary. I’m curious how it will land.

I want to question the assumptions that:

  •  empathizing means giving up power.
  • empathizing with the oppressor or people who hate us is itself an injustice.


I’ve been working through this for two years with someone who hurt me. I find that empathy is the first step towards forgiveness, and I want to work towards forgiving him. Not for his sake, but for mine. I realize that actually holding on to the hurt is hurting me far more than it’s hurting him. On the other hand, I don’t want to forgive him!  First of all, because F*$k him! Secondly, because it feels wrong! Unjust! On a universe-level, I can’t let this slide. And I don’t want him with any part of his being to think what he did is OK. I don’t want him to ever do that to me or someone else ever again. And I don’t want to make myself vulnerable to being hurt again. In this sense, I feel a responsibility to hate him. 

What I have (slowly, slowly) been starting to see is that how I feel towards this person does not  have a sway on the justice scales of the universe. My actions do, but my feelings are not my actions. I fear, often, that they are, that letting my guard down will allow me to get hurt again. Enter anxiety. Enter depression. 

Through my process of healing, I have found that I am not my emotions, and that if I can see that and know that, I am not bound to them. That I can feel my own emotions fully and find space to empathize with this person who hurt me. That I can see he was acting out of his own fear and confusion, and that this doesn’t in any way eclipse my own experience, my empathy for myself. And that this clarity is not disempowering, it’s empowering! I can let go of the anger and allow for healing, and I can work to do whatever the world needs to stop this kind of bullshit from continuing.

What allows me through this practice of healing is safety. Emotional and physical safety. Enough that I can take what on the deepest psychological level feels like a risk – to practice forgiveness, to empathize with the “enemy”. I have not always had or felt that sense of safety. It has taken me a long time to cultivate it, and I leaned heavily on my privilege of time and resources that allowed me to spend time and money on meditation retreats and therapy and exercise and spiritual practice. It is not for me to assume that others are in a similar position, or that their process is like mine. It is not for anyone to judge. Judging others does not make the world more just, and it’s certainly not empathetic.




I’m an outdoor gear nerd. If you want to talk moisture-wicking base-layers, high-friction climbing shoes, and high-loft, baffled alpine parkas, I’m your person. In particular, I have a soft-spot for the company Patagonia. And not just their clothing and gear; the whole business. I’ve read all the books that Patagonia’s founder,Yvon Choinard, has written. I actually read their weekly e-newsletters. In Grad School, I participated in the Patagonia Case Competition, submitting a team proposal to Patagonia on how they might minimize their carbon footprint. 

I respect them because in addition to making excellent gear, Patagonia is a company on a mission. A stated mission. This mission: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” And they work towards it. They’re an industry leader in their efforts to lower their social and environmental footprint (for one example, check out The Footprint Chronicles, their supply chain tracker). They’re also radically transparent about their shortcomings in doing so. They have not reached carbon neutrality, and frankly they are nowhere close. But their work and their transparency is pushing the industry, the supply chain, the policy, the system.  

I was on a walk with a new friend the other day, someone I don’t know that well. We were somewhere on the conversation of looming environmental disaster when he said something to the effect of, “you know I really just hate the hypocrisy of these outdoor gear companies who talk a game about environmental solutions and brand themselves as part of the movement but actually are part of the problem.”

Woof. I love Patagonia! I think their activism work is in service of closing that gap between mission and practice. I think critiques based on “hypocrisy” are lazy and undermine our greater efforts. My own professional work and personal theories of practice in many ways mirror Patagonia’s path. What’s up with this new friend who disagrees with me?  


So here’s my set-up, as the prompt requests, of “why people who oppose an issue you support are correct to do so.” 


It’s important to me to keep this individual. Guessing at the emotions and rationales of a group of “people” isn’t empathy. Empathy requires personal connection, and, as Brené Brown so brilliantly defines it.

In that vein, I’m also not going to guess at what this friend meant. I’m going to call him and ask. And then really listen, which means I must be open, which means I must have some willingness to change, which means I must be vulnerable. 

Alas, the friend hasn’t called me back yet. Luckily, we have a Reflection Script! I hope to reach him in the next couple days, and I will report back.


RS. See top.

yes, and . . .


Using the framing of the “another way to think about the method” (p.6 of the prompt):


  1. Commit to Making a Decision:

I had a hard time with this project. I do not agree with/ascribe to the outlined method for how to make decisions. This doesn’t feel trivial to me: this is something I have a given a lot of professional and academic time and thought to – from my Master’s thesis on reflective practice to my work in dispute resolution. Part of me wants to make the decision of not making a decision, to just skip out and not write this one. Alas, I won’t. I will commit to making a decision! I will commit to writing the post.


  1. Frame it Generously, with lots of room for insight

I’ll frame the question as, “what do I write this blog post about?”

This leaves generous wiggle room, space for a million sub-questions. One option: I could write an outline of my own thinking about decision-making. If I do that though, should I frame it as a pointed critique of the prompt or as my own way of doing things? If that, what specific points would I highlight? Who do I consider my audience? Would I write it as narrative or with more objectivity (so to speak), citing behavioral economics and action science? Alternatively, I could throw that out the window and write about my experience attempting to use the prescribed method of the prompt to work through a decision. That whole process is actually much too long for a blog post, but I could write about some of it. This appears to be something like what I’m doing now.


  1. Ask, what is this for? And define what success looks like

This is for my own personal growth and development – clarifying my own thinking, learning in the process, opening myself up to change. This is for meaningfully contributing to the conversation with all of you. This is for fulfilling my commitment and completing the post. Success looks like completing it on time. Success looks like writing something coherent, as judged by my own metrics and the comments of the cohort.


  1. [optional and advanced] build a decision tree, feed it data and update as you go



  1. Organize your priorities and don’t proceed until the constituents agree

I think this is talking about when you’re making a group decision, but I often think about the ways group decision-making processes mirror (fractals!) our own internal decision-making processes. I can thus read this as only proceeding when I’ve reached internal consensus, when I’m at peace with my own decision.

Except, I cannot hold off until I have reached internal consensus. I have real-life constraints. My biggest constraint right now is . . . time. I’ve been working on this for some time already, and it’s due tonight, and I have other priorities for today, my next meeting in just a few minutes. So, I’ll reframe question 2 and ask: given my limited time, what should I write this post about?

And then I’ll allow the answer to emerge . . .


RS. Understanding the sunk cost fallacy is a powerful tool in decision-making. There are several other behavioral economics concepts I think about when evaluating my own decisions and actions:

  1. loss aversion – we are often willing to risk more to avoid loss than we would for an equal gain.
  2. the endowment effect – we more highly value things that we already own than the same thing or an equally valued thing we have no sense of ownership over. So, if someone hands you a chocolate bar that’s worth $1 and then offers to trade it to you for a $1, you may be inclined to decline
  3. the ikea effect – similar, but instead of ownership it’s labor. People more highly value ikea furniture they did a mediocre job of putting together themselves than the same product perfectly assembled.

Analyzing our actions to test them against these and other concepts can be immensely valuable. That doesn’t mean it provides enough clarity to make perfect decisions. The IKEA effect was taught to me by a professor who scoffed at it, telling the class how ridiculous he is that he feels attached to his IKEA furniture. For me, though, I love that people love their IKEA furniture! Better to feel good about a piece of imperfect craftsmanship than to feel indifferent. Where it gets problematic is on the level of effecting other people. A manager feeling over-attached to a business plan they came up with may inhibit them from listening to their team or observing the real effects. Having this language and understanding of the non-robotlike-goofs of the human brain allows us to see what we’re doing, empowers us to make choices. It doesn’t tell us what those choices should be.

complexity-embracing, economy-bending

The 2-5pm workshop stirred up some interesting conversations. One interesting question that I believe Michelle asked rooted a few conversations I had over the next few days. She raised to the group the issue of priority, of which relationships and networks to build first. If the goal is connecting MBEs to anchor institutions or networks of nonprofits, for example, should we first build the networks of nonprofits and anchors or the networks of MBEs? The ensuing back-and-forth and an exchange I had the next day with Felipe led to what I’m holding as takeaways from the weekend, ideas that are essential to the upcoming work of drafting a business plan for CPA Boston. Here’s where I’m at:

My first inclination when I’m faced with an either/or question like is to see what happens when I say “neither!” or “both!” or otherwise reframe the question. In this case, to the question of what to prioritize, I say “both!” We need to be building these networks in unison, allowing them to iteratively recreate, inform, and inspire each other.

To the additional question of how to message that, I say (hellooo personal edge) be honest. It’s complicated to message a complicated process, to share honestly that building power in a network means focusing some of the earlier wins and processes on saving money and building trust, and that the economy-bending, wealth-building work of channeling collective purchases towards black/woman-owned/minority-run businesses, may not bear fruit until later. Honest strategy. Collaborative, authentic, complexity-embracing, willingness-to-listen-and-be-changed, humble. Leadership. I don’t know exactly what this will look like in Boston. As I see it, it’s not up to me. It’s up to this network we’re building. It’s up to all of us. 


letting the light in

I had a relational meeting today with another organizer, someone who, like me, had just started a position in a new context. We had set up a time and a place, and we had found each other in the crowded cafe. Now we were sitting, coffees in hand, phones turned upside down on the table. 

Now, what?

So, tell me about yourself. What drew you to this work? How long have you been involved?

I have been brainstorming, writing, practicing, testing out different “stories of self” for the last month. Different narratives I could keep in my back pocket, bring out as needed. I pulled on a couple, shared them. Asked some questions and the organizer shared, too. But it didn’t quite feel right. It was a little too . . . scripted.

So I took a risk. I went off script. I took the conversation meta. “I’ve been working this month on further developing personal narratives, and I’ve found that reflective process really rewarding,” I said. “And honestly, I’m also still struggling with how to not have that preparation for conversations turn the conversations stale, commodified.” 

A look of relief crossed his face. “I’ve been feeling that same way!”

It was a turning point. We shared with each other for another hour before I remembered the clock, that I had a 2:30 and needed to go, that we should we should define our next steps and wrap up.


This story represents a continual tension and challenge for me, namely how to hold a balance between preparation and openness, presentation and vulnerability. It often feels all too easy to tip too far, in either direction. There can be consequences, too. I’ve been called out for being “too confident in my assertions.” I have been told I should take more of a stand. I have left meetings elated at the quality of the connection and the enthusiasm with which we’d set next steps, and I’ve left others with a pit in my stomach, worried I shared too little, or too much. For women, the lines we walk can be particularly thin. How do I, how do we, navigate all this?

I’ll take it meta again – that last paragraph, was that too much? There’s a voice in my head, right now, that is telling me I have a feminist imperative to not display signs of self-doubt. If I do, people will shred judgment into me, and as a result will not take me seriously, and then they will take that out on all women, forever. Ah! Better to pretend I’m infallibly strong, confident, quick-witted, perfect. 

And then there’s another voice piping up to weight the other side of the seesaw. “Pretending” to be someone I’m not –  trying too hard to put forward and protect a particular image – does not make me strong, says that voice. Trying to live up to the unrealistic and frankly over-individualistic, masculine expectations implicit in much of society does not make me infallible. My true strength, confidence, and quick-witted perfection exist in the constant rebalancing. Even when I mess up. Especially when I mess up! It’s how we learn. It’s how we connect. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this work, no rule of thumb applicable to every situation. We need tools in our tool box, and we need to stay open enough to know when to chuck the toolbox out the window. Sometimes, we goof. We all do it, and we all know this, I think, on some level. Yet, writing this today has got me wondering: what would it mean to really fully live life as though we know that even our goofs are openings for connection? How much more present and whole would that allow us to be? That’s when I remembered the scratchy and immortal words of Leonard Cohen: “forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Preparing to Prepare

Yesterday was the most important day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, the New Year holiday ten days before, is effectively a preparation for Yom Kippur. And the entire month before Rosh Hashanah, Elul, is baked full of traditions meant to ready us for Rosh Hashanah. In other words, Yom Kippur is so important we have to prepare to prepare and then to prepare! For over a month! 

And what is the essence of all these preparations? 

Reflection. Yom Kippur is often translated as the “day of atonement.” It’s a day of holding ourselves accountable, of taking a real good look at our actions over the past year, of doing what we can to right wrongs, of resolving to do better in the future. It is a process at once deeply personal and communal. But doing that emotional work with honesty can’t be done in a day. We gotta prepare to prepare. 

Asking questions has been a big part of this year’s preparation for me. What does it really mean to hold myself accountable? How much responsibility do I place on my own shoulders when it comes to big systemic wrongs like climate change? Inequality? What does it mean to apologize for those things? What does resolving to do better actually look like? Is it ever enough?

I share all that not to now pose answers (sorry! don’t have them!), but to give you some sense of where my head has been, to share why the goal I’m sharing with you all for this CPA Incubator is all about reflection. I also want to apologize to all of you that I’m publishing this a day late! I’m so sorry! Thank you for reading this now.

And Here it is!



  1. Identify: In the next 6 weeks, write a new draft of my personal theory of practice


  I have been drafting different versions of what I learned in grad school to call my “personal theory of practice” (PTOP) for over a year. My last version dates back several months, and a ton has happened since – I graduated, I spent six weeks in a Jewish meditation program, I began work with CPA – to name a few. I’ve learned a ton, and my PTOP needs an update!

What is a PTOP, you ask? A PTOP is an articulation of my best thinking at this point about the values, intentions, methods, ongoing questions, and reflections that guide my work as a professional and as a human. 

2. Benefits: The basic theory behind this is that we all have theories, sets of experiences, values, and methods that inform our actions. Many of these remain tacit and unexamined (think behavioral economics). Articulating a PTOP is a process of shedding light on my own personal theories, which allows me to check my assumptions and develop aspirations. The PTOP can then be used as a tool to help make decisions and to cross-check against actions, to better align intentions with the actual effects I have in the world. In the context of my CPA work now, I find that having all this articulated can really help communicate about my work with CPA in a way that builds trust. It also, as I do this work of building, gives me a tool to ensure my work and my values continue to align and that I’m more fully harnessing the lessons I’ve learned from past experiences.

3. Challenges: Time and prioritization! Reflection is often the first thing to go when time runs short because it is not as urgent as other priorities. I’ve definitely been feeling that this last month. A great example is me publishing this post after the deadline :/

4. Skills and knowledge required: I have all that I need for right now. I am enough! The PTOP is perpetually in draft form, as I’m always learning.

5. People to work with: All of you! As well as other colleagues, teachers, and friends. We exist in relation to one another, so personal reflection needs to have a social component.  

6. Plan of action: I will set aside 1 hour each week to write, in addition to time spent on CPA prompts and in conversation. 

7. Deadline: end of this incubator!