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"Connect" is CAN's internal newsletter for staff, interns, volunteers, board members, and anyone else who would like to receive bi-weekly updates regarding highlights, announcements, and ongoing training/professional development updates. Welcome and join us in our virtual community-building endeavor!

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What's the Big Idea?

Recently Hank Green posted a video in one of his YouTube channels, Vlogbrothers (any other Nerdfighters in the audience??), about how he and his brother talk with each other about all of their different ideas.

I loved how he framed the different kinds of ideas they talk about between each other:

  1. "The Walkman" - it has 2 components that make it a bad idea; the first is that it is something that it technically difficult and they are not expert enough to pull it off, and the second is that even if they learned the skill or pulled in the resources to make it happen, someone else with those specific skills and expertise will definitely be doing it or already is doing it or already has tried it, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel.

  2. "You Can't Scale A Person" - this idea means that the idea is permanently overly reliant on a single person. It is definitionally unsustainable. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, but you have to know this going into it because a person eventually runs out of hours in the day or runs out of years in their life or runs out of the desire to keep doing that thing forever.

  3. "Newman's Own-ing It" - when you have an idea that's okay, but it gets way better when you "give all of your profit away to charity". Or, in other words, everybody wants to get more involved and is more interested in the project when they have a shared goal and feel good about both the process and the outcome.

  4. "Top Ten" - any idea that would be successful but wouldn't actually add much value.

  5. "Emperor of the World" - ideas that would be really good ideas IF everyone would just get out of my way and do what I tell them to do and agree with me! They might not be bad ideas, but they are fantasies.

One thing I love about the culture of CAN is the openness to try new things. But it is worth noting that every idea needs to take the listed items into consideration- Do we have the resources or capacity? Can other people take this on when I'm gone? How can we make this collaborative? Does this truly add value? Is it realistic?

I have been learning in my six years at CAN that the best way to keep our organization both sustainable and dynamic is to start first with putting on my investigator hat and taking out my handy-dandy magnifying glass. Here are some questions I ask myself as I start my investigation:

  • How does this work right now?

  • What are the big picture goals for this? What are the small steps that need to be taken to reach those big picture goals and is there a timeline? Is this in writing?

  • What is successful about how this is being implemented? What are some ways it could be improved?

  • What have people tried to do before to improve the program (or project or idea)? What has been sustained and what has been lost from the different changes people have tried to make?

  • Is it okay if this occurs just for now to make the program better for the present moment or does it need to be something that is sustained long-term?

  • What are my own biases or blind spots? Have I asked a diverse range of individuals what their experiences and opinions are? Who isn't at the table in the decision-making process?

  • Who can I collaborate with to make sure the changes I'd like to make can be supported, expanded upon, and sustained?

  • Am I in communication with my team to receive and offer feedback to take the steps necessary to change or improve my process?

After I've gathered my data, I can make a plan with my team and give it a try! It will never go perfectly the first time or even the millionth time, but when an intentional plan is in motion, it can only grow and improve with each iteration.

There is a keystone element to trying out a new idea: Communication. I love the ship metaphor. We are all working in our different parts of the ship with different roles and responsibilities, but the ultimate goal is to get everyone on the ship safely to its destination and we all need to coordinate with each other to make it happen. The only way that can occur is through constant feedback from all parties and an openness and willingness to make adjustments and try again.

So, mateys -- what are your big ideas?



February Birthdays-

Happy birthday, friends!

  • Frankie Moore (Director of Development), February 9 - Frankie's out on maternity leave, but I'm sure she would still love birthday wishes!

  • Alyssa Cisneros (Bryant PA), February 18

  • Jamie Conner (VISTA), February 27

  • Kayla Samuels (Director of Brick), February 28

Upcoming Staff Meetings- For February, our meeting schedule as of right now will look as follows:

  • February 11, All Staff* Meeting: 1-3pm

  • February 18, Management Meeting: 1-2:30pm

  • February 25, Off Week: Teams meet as-needed

*All staff & interns are welcome to join, but work-study/part-time & interns are not obligated.

All of our staff meetings and CAN holidays are up on the Google Calendar. If you are in our Google Group listservs (,,, & you should receive an invitation to the relevant staff meetings.

  • If you are not in one of these listservs, please email so you can be added!

You can find a link to the CAN Google Calendar at (CAN Calendar).

Google Calendars are a helpful tool CAN uses so we can make updates and share them out with all of our stakeholders in case anything changes!

After School Program-

  • February Holiday Parties: Ask your supervisor if there's anything you can do to help! If you aren't normally working from a specific community center, holiday parties a really fun way to join, help, and have a good time.

  • AAPS and LCS Closed February 21: There will be no After School Program on this Monday, but CAN will still be open.

COVID-19 Policies-

  • We are currently in Phase 4 of our COVID-19 Safety Protocols.

    • If you haven't already, please submit your vaccination card and status through your CAN Portal. Please email if you have any questions about logging into your portal or submitting the form.


Tips & Tidbits

In the cold and cloudy Michigan winters, exercise can sometimes feel more difficult to achieve, but here are some quick and easy tips to keep your hearts pumping, bodies in motion, and brains clear!


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  1. Click the little profile icon in the upper right hand corner of the website header

  2. Sign Up with your email and create a password

  3. Your request will be approved and you can go into your CAN Academy profile to update the information

  4. Make your profile "public" so you can add comments below


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments (or highlights, announcements, etc.), please email Katie at

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