Big Ideas in Early Childhood: March 27, 2017

Dear friends,

As many of you know I left ICS a few weeks ago and I just wanted to give you an update. I have joined Openfields, a social innovation and impact consulting firm as a Senior Advisor.
Openfields is also incubating a new nonprofit organization focused on harnessing the power of ideas, imagination, and culture to ensure that all children and families flourish. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in the future to help all children realize their full potential.

Please feel free to contact me at For anything directly related to ICS, please contact Jamie Moon (

Since the Big Ideas newsletter has been so well-received, I will keep writing. I will continue expanding the content to focus beyond the confines of the early childhood development field to share big ideas focused the flourishing of all children and families. In time, the name of the newsletter may change, but for now we will continue as we have.

On to what’s caught my eye in recent weeks:

  • New City Commons is a “social impact consulting firm that seeks to support institutional leaders in the work of reimagining the common good, reinvigorating cultural institutions, and renewing civic life.” Each week they publish a thoughtful culture briefing, the most recent of which focused on loneliness and addictive technology. I was particularly interested to learn about Time Well Spent, a new advocacy group focused on “aligning technology with humanity.” This framing around alignment seems useful as we think about the ways technology is changing the experience of childhood and family life.
  • Janan Ganesh wrote an interesting piece on the evolution of cities (London, in particular) and their cosmopolitan elites for the Financial Times. Also from the FT, David Goodhart shares why he “broke up with the metropolitan elite.”
  • William Frey at Brookings looks into the Census Bureau’s newly released 2016 US population estimates and what those tell us about our political divisions.
  • Also from Brookings, Anne Case and Angus Deaton have released a new report on mortality and morbidity of non-Hispanic whites. This is a follow-up to their 2015 paper that tracked decreased life expectancy of non-Hispanic whites with a high school diploma or less. Their newly released research focuses on the increase in “deaths of despair” — deaths by drugs, alcohol, and suicide- and a slowdown in progress against certain diseases among non-Hispanic whites as reasons for the decreased life expectancy. Imagine the toxic stress in all the lives of children affected by this epidemic of despair among adults.
  • Is child care critical to national security? Yes! Two retired generals wrote an opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution outlining why (h/t Katharine Stevens at AEI).
  • The American Council on Science and Health is tracking the surging suicide rates in rural America. Suicide rates are highest in our most rural communities and decrease where urbanization increases. The reasons for this are surely complex, but it is clear that rural America is experiencing an epidemic of despair and a lack of mental health and other resources to address it.
  • NationSwell examines how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would impact three model programsfocused on economic opportunity for low-income Americans living in South Central Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Appalachia.
  • Openfields is helping accelerate the development of a multi-stakeholder systems approach to addressing low levels of economic mobility in Greenville County, South Carolina. This work is part of MDC’s Network for Southern Economic Mobility and led locally by the Hollingsworth Funds. Read MDC’s State of the South report to learn more about communities across the South building an “infrastructure of opportunity” for all citizens.
  • Can a retrieval of Aristotle’s view of practical wisdom help reform our policy making process? Our health care system? Education? Barry Schwartz’s TED talks on the virtue of prudence draw on ancient wisdom to suggest ways to reform systems and restore the humanity to many features of contemporary life.

Have a great week and keep in touch.


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