Welcome to At The End Of the Day! I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter for a people-first perspective on the news. Thank you for being here.
It’s a million below freezing outside and I’m sending my friends “potatoes stuck to the highway” memes.
How are you?
In Toronto, it is extremely winter right now. Some days are so cold that talking becomes sloppy, like you’ve been to the dentist and your mouth is frozen. We also had a huge dump of snow that was pretty exhilarating for the kids. I walked them to the park and back in the middle of the street because the sidewalks were buried under thigh-high snow. Buses were stuck in snow banks for literally days.
It’s frozen season. There are a few bright spots (like nighttime skating with my family, which I highly recommend!).
But generally, as I stare down work and life, these days feel a lot like our Covid winter last year—except we’re more tired.
So I’m really clinging to a “get through each day” vibe.
Last week I wrote about how when everything is complicated, I try to boil things down and focus on one simple thing at a time.
I’m very much on the same track this week, especially with regards to the news because:
there is a housing crisis in my city 1
a family perished as they tried to cross the U.S.-Canada border in Manitoba in extreme cold weather 2
people are dealing with rising food costs —a reflection of supply chain issues and climate change, with floods and droughts affecting food production3
Covid, climate, homelessness, poverty. The complexity of these issues speak to exactly why I started to write this newsletter back in March 2020. News can be overwhelming to a point of making us feel paralysed.
I’m fighting that feeling this week with a simple ask: What is a simple act that everyone can do?
Just do one thing
I don’t want to oversimplify complex issues. But I can hardly stand to just BE here, holed up in a cozy home, without saying or doing SOMETHING for endless winter days on end as people die outside in the cold.
What’s just one thing we can do right now?
⭐ Write a letter
I started this week by receiving a blind-copied email from a friend. We bcc each other when we write emails to our city councillor, MPP or MP (we usually copy all three levels of government).
When it doesn’t feel like an email or phone call is enough, I liked this read, “How to start making change: An introduction to lobbying for the causes you care about,” (you can read it in Further Reading, below) as a simple reminder that our elected representatives don’t know what we want unless we tell them.
My friend Chi Nguyen is quoted in it, talking about how emails or letters or phone calls or social media may be weighted by folks keeping track of these messages.
“The more eyeballs on your issue, the better.”
⭐ Don’t do it alone
People who are working with the shelter system know it is collapsing. There is a surge in homeless deaths this winter.4
The Toronto Prisoners Rights Project raised $100,000 in less than three days and is working with Maggie’s Toronto to support unhoused neighbours with that money.5 This represents the wallets of many individuals, maybe solo cocooning at home, too, who made a small action towards a group effort.
In Further Reading below, I’m linking to a digital toolkit from the Shelter Housing Justice Network in Toronto.
When I read the toolkit, the main takeaway for me is that there are people who have been doing this work for a long time, and that supporting their work with your voice (or money) is an easy way to help. And it puts pressure on people in charge to do the right thing.
This week, I found myself chatting with Lorraine Lam, an outreach worker in Toronto. I love her energy. In our conversation, she said something that struck me so much.
She works directly with people experiencing homelessness in the heart of downtown Toronto. And her friends in the suburbs, for whom the housing crisis may not be so visible, are generous in their donations to charities that support people in poverty. But as she likes to tell them, it’s their own elected representatives who may be upholding policies that make those charities necessary in the first place. Poverty is a failure of policy.
I thought this was such a great way to frame how important it is to not only vote, but to know where candidates stand on the issues that matter most. I know voting feels so far away, so there’s also this…
⭐ Just do…ANYTHING
My friend Sarah Lazarovic (who writes the brilliant Minimum Viable Planet newsletter) has made it her life’s work to break down the mind-melting topic of the climate crisis into doable actions.
“One climate thing you can do is ANYTHING,” she says. “We know that just doing any single thing gets you on a path to action and action is the antidote to despair.”
Right. Despair. That old friend.
Don’t know where to start with your one thing? Sarah has you covered with one hundred versions of “just one thing.” It’s a poster that you can download for free!6
I love that Sarah has already gone to the “one thing” place (think of a classic New Yorker cartoon with a person crawling toward a mirage of water and that’s basically a live update of my constant mood).
And I especially love Sarah’s reminder that taking one action is what can get us out of this place.
Hope and optimism
I’ll leave you with something Lorraine said to me as we chatted.
“I’m hopeful. It’s different from optimism, which is passive. Hope is a discipline where you really think you can make things better,” she said.
“Hold on, let me write that down!” I yelped. I could really use some perspective on hope to get us through these days.
Hopefulness as a discipline and “one thing” as an action. I’m hoping you can do your one thing this week as a step toward the end of this Omicron winter.
And if you do, will you let me know? If you write an email to your representatives, bcc your friends. You can even bcc me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your one thing, it doesn’t matter how small, in the comments here or on my Instagram.
Thank you so much! Many “one things” equal many things accomplished! (The level of math I’m at these days).
✨✨✨ At The End Of the Day is edited by Laura Hensley ✨✨✨
Shout out to my friend Lauren, a parent in Burlington, ON who did her one thing that led to this change, for her kids and every kid in this school board. Congrats!
Shelter Housing Justice Network Digital Toolkit. This is filled with information on the housing and shelter crisis. Give it a read.
Sample Letter to Government. This is a sample letter created by SHJN (above) you can use to directly contact your representatives. If you’re not in Toronto and you want to write a letter in your own town, a super-easy way to do it is to Google a recent news story on the issue in your own location and link it in your message.
Minimum Viable Planet, an undepressing newsletter about how to fight the climate crisis by Sarah Lazarovic
Lorraine Lam, the outreach worker I mentioned above, works with Sanctuary Toronto. You can find them on Twitter here.
Media Girlfriends: We are hiring!
If you’re an audio journalist, click through. We are looking to grow our team. And if you know of someone, forward this newsletter.
At The End Of the Day: Past, present and future!
I’m planning the future of At The End Of the Day. I’m slightly bewildered but also proud that it’s been almost two years since I started writing this newsletter to you.
Thank you so much for reading! I’m amazed you let me send you late Friday emails (or in this case, a Saturday email) and that you actually read it, write me back, all of it. I’m humbled and honoured and really happy to be in your inbox.
I work with the sharp editorial advice of Laura Hensley and I’m going to be working with a new small-but-mighty team soon, who will be working with me to create a podcast.
If you like what we’re doing, consider pay-what-you-wish support of At The End Of the Day at our Patreon. You choose the amount you want to pay. Giant thank you to the 83 people on board with supporting our work!
We care about relationships, good information and making it all add up to some positive action, in your own lives — for you, the people you care about and your own thriving communities.
Talk Climate to Me
My friend Sarah Lazarovic (I mentioned her up above) acts as my personal hotline to information on the climate crisis and doable actions. She designed a program called Talk Climate to Me and the way she has explained it to me, it sounds like a guided Book Club for a group of friends where the topic is climate and you can learn with every meet-up.
Interested in learning more, maybe gathering your friends to try it out? Just click through here.
Why Canada’s food inflation may get worse before it gets better, Global News. “Climate change is a supply chain issue”
Download “100 things you can do to help in the climate crisis,” a free poster by Sarah Lazarovic
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