In this issue: A letter from Dr. Sarah about clearing the clutter Our customers push us to be better and make new things -- this Vaccine Tracker repo...
Note: Gauze and Effect is a newsletter all about our work in the Health space at mySidewalk. Past issues are available on Medium and new issues will be available on this blog!
As I write this, I’m staring out my back window at the icy tundra of the schoolyard behind my house. The temperature is 4 below zero. When the cold snap first hit, I sleepily put my watch on that morning and stared at the temperature number. I kept squinting and rubbing my eyes, thinking for sure I was seeing the number 20, when in reality I was seeing the number 2. Everything out my window looks pretty and perfect from here. But the minute I open that door to take out the dog, the reality of the bitterness hits me right in the eyeballs.
This concept--that things look perfect from the outside, but are gross and cold and sad once you dig in--is something I’m really trying to avoid this year. I think it’s a theme across the company, actually. This year we are leaning into the core of who we are, and making sure that the details are taken care of so we can be just as great on the inside as we might look from the outside. This means taking deeper dives into our user experience, and ensuring that the heart of who we are is authentic and accessible. We are polishing our story so it isn’t just a standard elevator speech. We are laying great foundations for the future by pursuing transformative trainings on inclusion and anti-racism. This is a year of bringing it all together...because we have everything we need to succeed.
One of the dumbest things I agreed to do this year is a 28-day Core Challenge. Every day I have to do a prescribed 10, 15 or 20 minute Core exercise class and cross it off the list. The satisfaction of scribbling on that little calendar square is beyond measure, but there have been times I have yelled at my TV screen “I can’t do that! It’s not ACTUALLY possible! I hate you!”
The most interesting thing I’ve noticed in the last 15 days of focusing on my core is the benefits I start to see everywhere else--in my posture, my running, my mobility. I guess the lesson here is that without a strong core, everything else is a whole lot harder. This goes for your body, and it goes for your mind.
P.S. The plan this year is to release a Gauze and Effect every other month, with podcasts potentially coming more often--so make sure to subscribe to our podcast AND the newsletter so you don’t miss anything! More info on the podcast near the bottom of this newsletter.
For too long, 498 cities across the US had the coolest data…while the rest of the country was left out in the data-cold. NO MORE! Nothing makes us more excited than getting useful data refined and into the system. Big tip o’ the hat to CDC and RWJF for expanding the 500 cities project everywhere and also to our data team who worked late into the night getting that data processed and into the mySidewalk library.
Here are three cool visuals we made with PLACES data that we could never have made before!
The map on the left takes us to the hometown of Dr. Sarah Martin--Bakersfield, California. This viz shows the prevalence of Binge Drinking by City Council District.
Our bivariate maps are the Bee's Knee's (did we get those apostrophes right?!) and the viz on the right shows the proportion of women getting appropriate preventative care by layering Pap Smear testing with Mammography in Navajo County, AZ.
Lastly, the scatterplot below shows a clear relationship between our air and our health in Raleigh, NC. As bad air increases in Raleigh neighborhoods, so does the prevalence of COPD.
We're excited to see what YOU create with the new CDC PLACES data. Make something cool? Tweet it at us @mySidewalkHQ!
On the heels of President Biden’s Executive Orders focused on racial equity, we re-published an older piece that still stands the test of time. Partitioning “equity” doesn’t do us any favors--we need to push for true integration. Read this piece by Dr. Sarah and let us know what you think.
We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of COVID being labeled a pandemic, which means we are also coming up on one-year of being a fully remote company. Over this year, we’ve learned a lot of important things, but we’ve still managed to carve out space for those frivolous things you talk about in the break room randomly. Except now, this randomness happens in a Slack channel, and not in person.
So, here are the top 5 things that are hot around the virtual Water Cooler at mySidewalk:
The mySidewalk crew has assembled a team for Rugged Maniac in September. Everyone who isn't on the team is currently taking bets on which one of the members of SEEK and Destroy (tm) will return with the most broken bones.
Maybe somewhat related to #5, but there is an irrational amount of conversation related to which Protein Powders are the best.
Apparently, all of us buy a lot of Stuff because of sponsored ads on our social media. Last month's purchases included that weird circle thing that stretches your back; Magic Spoon; these dog leggings...
We have an unhealthy obsession with houses we can’t afford on Zillow. Ever. Like never in a million years.
Not a day goes by where someone doesn't post a photo of their pets. In fact, there are likely more photos of pets on the mySidewalk Slack than pictures of children or other family members. There might even be more pets than maps. So, here's a little video slideshow of (most of) our pets set to music:
Working remotely has forced us to rethink the ways we connect with each other. This craving for connection led us to unveil a regular feature — the Gauze and Effect Proust Questionnaire.
Modeled after the Vanity Fair feature, but interviewing much more glamorous and important people, our version turns a lens on our colleagues. Its purpose is to give you a glimpse into who they are and — in turn — who we are as a company.
Javi is a new-ish member of the mySidewalk Software Development team. He moved to Kansas City, MO only 6 months ago from Madrid, Spain. Get to know more about him below!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
During my college years, I had to get ACL surgery twice in less than three years, and the strenuous recovery plus the pressure of studying engineering put me in a difficult mental state. But with a massive effort and my loved ones support I could overcome it, and get back to myself both physically and mentally.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, the perfect happiness would be me and my wife reuniting with my best friends in Spain and just enjoying good food, nice drinks and their company, because it has been a while since I could meet them all in this crazy year.
What is your favorite occupation?
My favorite occupation is anything that has to do with soccer. It has been my passion since I was a child and I still enjoy it like the first day. So I spend a lot of time playing, watching games and reading about it. Who knows? Maybe one day I can coach Sporting KC.
What is your most treasured possession?
A few years ago, we made a huge reform in our house back in Madrid, and I got to keep all the photo albums from when my parents were young and when me and my brother were young too. I love looking at them because they remind me of better and easier times.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife is definitely the greatest love of my life. She has been with me through the best and worst times and she has always been my rock. She is a wonderful person and I can’t be any happier to have her by my side.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I believe that my most marked characteristic is that I am very personable. I always try to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome and because of that I feel it doesn’t take long for people to trust me.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear would be loneliness. I feel like it is something necessary sometimes but I wouldn’t like to feel that at any point in my life, especially when I am way older.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My greatest extravagance would be my collection of soccer jerseys from all over the world. Every time I travel somewhere I must purchase the soccer jersey from the city team or the national team instead. I am hoping one day to have a worthy collection of classics.
Which talent would you most like to have?
That is an easy question. I would like to be able to sing well. I am passionate about music and my wife is a phenomenal singer, so I would like to be at least able to sing as well as her.
Where would you like to live?
One of my biggest discoveries of 2020 is the Alpine region in Austria. I was able to explore it while living in Munich, and it took my breath away. It is the most beautiful and peaceful landscape I have ever seen.
What is the quality you most like in a person?
The quality that I most like in a person would be probably empathy. I feel that is the best quality for a person if you want to have a connection with him/her. Doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you two have.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I consider myself to be a pretty smart person, and that makes me automatically assume sometimes that I know things that the rest of the people that I am interacting with don’t. That is not always the case, and it is not very pleasant.
What do you most value in your friends?
The things that I value the most in my friends are both being adventurous and kind. I like to hang out with people that always have initiatives for new plans or things to do, and I also expect my friends to always be there for me in times of need the same way I would do it for them.
Which living person do you most admire?
The living person I admire the most is my father. He was always a very strict man throughout my childhood and teenage years, but even with some very rough times for him, he has always been an example for us and he has worked so hard to be better.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I tend to use the word “literally” way too often and it is very irritating, even for myself.
How would you like to die?
I would like to die peacefully in my sleep, after a very delicious homemade meal.
What is your motto?
“Don't wish for others what you don't wish for yourself”. I like that sentence because I believe that good things will always come for you if you are kind and helpful to everyone else.
A new year means a new opportunity for us to flex our creative muscles and try out some new things. In 2020, we played around with a Podcast where we interviewed people we found fascinating. Moving into 2021, we wanted to make sure that we elevated these voices. So... *drum roll*...the Gauze & Effect Podcast has moved to Anchor!
We will be uploading some of our archived episodes over the next month, but you can catch two of our "oldies but goodies" from 2020 on our new site, and a brand new episode with Dr. Faith Miller-Sethi. Faith is an amazing woman who recently joined the mySidewalk Health Team. We think you'll love her as much as we do!
Dr. Sarah Martin is Vice President of Health Solutions for mySidewalk and is responsible for developing new ways to help our clients change the world. Sarah came to mySidewalk from the field of Public Health, most recently as Deputy Director for the KCMO Health Dept. Her work lives at the intersection of public policy and health outcomes, focusing on combining Public Health and Healthcare into a force to be reckoned with. Sarah received a Ph.D. and MPP in Public Policy and Economics from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. She also received an MPH in Epidemiology from Cal where she specialized in methods for Social Epidemiology and Epigenetics.
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