You do have a brain tumor! It is very small! And probably benign! It doesn’t require any treatment at all! Just an occasional scan in a noisy machine in the hospital basement! It’s wonderful news!

And the old blessing steps out of the shadows.

Your cozy bed! Your fuzzy slippers! This delicious coffee! The morning light! The muttering songbirds! The warm, soft body of your lover! You breathe in the damp clay smell of morning! You taste your food, you chew it up and swallow it! You wash the dishes!

You open the front door to go out. …

· This poem cannot reduce the CO₂ in the atmosphere to a survivable level. It cannot feed a hungry child or provide safe harbor to even one refugee family.

· This poem cannot heal the sick or relieve an exhausted nurse.

· This poem will not get out the vote, won’t volunteer at the food bank, won’t start an art program for urban youth, won’t monitor the water quality in Sausal Creek.

· This poem has never heard of climate change. It doesn’t know the word “justice.”

· This poem won’t even weed the garden or take out the trash.

She meant to write about the white-crowned sparrow in the neighbor’s driveway, stunned to stillness by a window-strike, easy pickings for any curious dog or cat. Darkness falling and the raccoons coming out, the unmoving bird helpless in the cooling air. She gathered the feathered warmth up in cupped hands and carried it home, put it in a box in a quiet place and left it, she supposed, to die of its invisible injuries. Was the terror of the human hand, the strangeness of the cardboard, better than swift execution by a prowling cat or raccoon?

She went about her…

Welcome messages that promote client/supervisor interaction

This piece was co-authored with my colleague Eric Giannella


People on community supervision (probation, parole, or pretrial supervision) are in a high-stakes situation. Their freedom is literally on the line: if they are not successful in meeting the terms of their court-ordered supervision, they may be incarcerated. Our research team at Code for America studied text messaging between people on supervision and their case managers to understand how texting might help supervisees avoid technical violations of the terms of their supervision. We learned that clients who engage in a texting relationship with their case manager do significantly better on supervision…

Gwen Rino

Gwen is a quantitative researcher using insights from data to improve social service delivery at Code for America.

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