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Fast Company editors recommend their favorite items to gift new parents.

If you’ve gone rogue on a registry—or are in the process of creating one and don’t know where to start—finding baby items that are functional, fun, and look great can be tricky. We asked Fast Company parents for their favorite design-forward presents for baby showers and birthdays. Here are our top picks of toys, clothing, and accessories, from an Eames-inspired high chair to an extraordinarily engineered pop-up book classic. They’re guaranteed to delight both babies and parents.

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Author: Rachel Kim Raczka
Posted: July 26, 2021, 6:24 pm

More and more healthcare facilities are mandating vaccines for employees. Now you can see if your local ones are among them.

On Monday, members of nearly 60 medical organizations called for mandating COVID-19 vaccinations among healthcare workers, pointing to the COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant and notably low vaccination rates among healthcare workers in some parts of the country. Some medical facilities are already requiring their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but if you’re not sure whether the hospitals near you have done so, now there’s one central place you can check: a Hospital Vaccine Mandate Tracker from the Brown University School of Public Health.

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Author: Kristin Toussaint
Posted: July 26, 2021, 5:15 pm

The first federal agency to mandate vaccines wants to provide more care to veterans, yet around 30% of its staff are still unvaccinated.

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to create new hot spots across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handed down a mandate to the healthcare workers in its organization. Those on the front line (around 115,000 workers) will have to get vaccinated within the next two months. VA Secretary Denis McDonough told The New York Times that if they didn’t comply, the workers could face penalties, “including possible removal.” The VA is the first federal agency to make vaccinations mandatory.

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Author: Lydia Dishman
Posted: July 26, 2021, 4:10 pm

People are calling for a new designer to make the Olympic outfits for the American athletes. But how easy is it to dress Team USA?

The Olympics aren’t just about incredible feats of sport. They’re a chance for countries to project their national identity onto the world stage.

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Author: Elizabeth Segran
Posted: July 26, 2021, 2:15 pm

Cherry Point, Washington has been fighting a new coal terminal for years. Now it’s going to stop any new projects instead of battling each one individually. And it hopes its policy can serve as a model for other local governments.

In the northwestern corner of Washington State, a deepwater port called Cherry Point has been a hub for the fossil fuel industry for decades. The first oil refinery and pier opened in 1954, along with a pier to export the oil. The industrial zone is now home to another refinery, more piers, oil and gas pipelines, heavy rail lines, and a propane export facility. The industry wants to keep expanding. But in a vote on Tuesday, the local county council is expected to become the first in the country to ban any new fossil infrastructure through changes to the land use code.

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Author: Adele Peters
Posted: July 26, 2021, 1:00 pm

Employees are more restless than ever and looking for change. But changing jobs is not always a practical option for all, so let them bring their dreams to work, says this sales exec.

The massive disruption of the pandemic has led millions of people to reassess their lives and think about what they want from work. So it’s little surprise that there’s a so-called “Great Resignation” underway, with as many as 95% of workers considering changing jobs.

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Author: Ryan O’Hara
Posted: July 26, 2021, 10:00 am

If you’ve been expecting one of those much-anticipated unemployment refunds, check your tax transcript from the Internal Revenue Service.

Are you still waiting for one of those coveted tax refunds related to 2020 unemployment compensation? If so, it might be worth checking your tax transcript this week.

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Author: Christopher Zara
Posted: July 26, 2021, 9:01 am

Paradowski Creative’s CEO leased 2 acres of land and drafted a few coworkers to develop a business camp that could help employees reconnect and collaborate.

As offices start to reopen, reentry to the workplace will officially begin for many companies. After working remotely for more than a year, employees may need time to adjust to new routines and settings. The head of Paradowski Creative, a Saint Louis, Missouri-based ad agency, found a creative way to ease his team back to work by sending his 100 employees to “Camp Paradowski,” an outdoor summer day camp situated on 2 acres in Webster Groves, Missouri.

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Author: Stephanie Vozza
Posted: July 26, 2021, 8:00 am

The author writes that, for there to be systemic change, there must be Black leaders at the tables where a community makes its decisions.

When people talk about minority business, they too often think only of businesses that are small and struggling. They talk about supporting these businesses in social service terms, as if they’re attempting to care for them instead of enabling them for success. Their focus is not on economic development and job creation, and it’s surely not on generational wealth. By thinking solely about small businesses, they miss a big opportunity when it comes to closing the equity gap. If you’re talking about growing Black-owned businesses and you’re not also talking about Black wealth, you are missing the transformational community opportunity.

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Author: Melvin J. Gravely
Posted: July 26, 2021, 8:00 am

The real problem of these Olympic games isn’t representation, but the fact that people in Japan don’t want them to happen.

In the weeks leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the BBC premiered its trailer for the games – an extravagant, 60-second romp through the recent imagery of Japan as a cute, colorful, anime and manga-inspired wonderland.

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Author: Fabio Gygi
Posted: July 26, 2021, 8:00 am

Lucid’s first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, will range in price from $69,900 to $161,500, depending on the model. It debuts later this year.

Another day, another public offering. This time around, it’s for the luxury electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors. Lucid Motors was founded in 2007, but unlike Tesla, it’s yet to launch its first electric vehicle. Instead, the company has historically concentrated on energy storage solutions.

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Author: Michael Grothaus
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:45 am

The Brazilian phenom went viral when she was just 7 years old for skateboarding in a fairy costume. Now she’s an Olympic medalist.

A clever new Nike ad featuring Olympic skateboarding silver medalist Rayssa Leal confirms what should be obvious to anyone watching this year’s Olympics: Skateboarding isn’t a boys’ club anymore.

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Author: Jeff Beer
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:10 am

Determining which tasks are best accomplished solo and which are done best at the office is key if you want to thrive in a hybrid work setting.

This summer and fall, more companies will begin welcoming workers back to the office—at least part-time. This rise in hybrid work has sparked all sorts of conversation over COVID-19 safety as vaccination rates plateau, and about the clear disconnect between how eager employees are about a return to the office compared with their managers.

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Author: Diana Shi
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:00 am

A ceramic cooling plate and double-sided vents separate this neck fan from the cheapies on Amazon.

For the past few years, several companies have been trying to create the perfect portable air conditioner, and it’s a task that’s taken on new urgency as extreme heat waves spread across the United States.

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Author: Jared Newman
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:00 am

Building materials and construction are a massive source of emissions. Could using waste materials help?

We tend to see eggshells as fragile, but they’re stronger than we think.

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Author: Elizabeth Segran
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:00 am

Eunice Foote discovered that carbon dioxide absorbs heat, and theorized that if the Earth’s air filled with more CO2, the planet’s temperature would rise.

Long before the current political divide over climate change, and even before the Civil War, an American scientist named Eunice Foote documented the underlying cause of today’s climate change crisis.

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Author: Sylvia G. Dee
Posted: July 26, 2021, 7:00 am

As the pandemic continues, tech employees have new expectations for where they work. Here’s how tech companies from Apple and Google to Slack and GoPro are responding.

After big tech companies like Facebook and Google spent billions on cool office spaces and perks designed to keep workers at the office, those workers were suddenly able to do their jobs closer to home life and family during the pandemic. Office work was no longer the default, and many employees liked that.

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Author: Mark Sullivan
Posted: July 26, 2021, 6:00 am

The ‘Atlas of Disappearing Places’ maps out climate impacts around the globe.

In Shanghai, one of the word’s largest megacities, the city center has sunk between 7 and 10 feet in less than a century. As the city has pumped out of aquifers underground, the sheer weight of the buildings has started to compress the earth: The financial district, a former marsh, is now home to at least 3,000 high-rise buildings. As sea levels rise, the network of sea walls and other defenses likely won’t be enough to protect the lowering city from floods.

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Author: Adele Peters
Posted: July 26, 2021, 6:00 am

Moody Nolan, the largest Black-owned architecture firm in the U.S., is designing a home in each of the cities where it has offices—then giving it to a needy family for free.

In early 2018, the architecture firm Moody Nolan took a look at its charitable giving. As a 220-employee, 11-office firm headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Moody Nolan is an established player in the business, and regularly makes donations in the markets where it works. The informal audit showed a lot of modest donations here and there, supporting nonprofits and charity events. “When it added up it was a big number,” says CEO and president Jonathan Moody. “But what do we have to show for it?”

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Author: Nate Berg
Posted: July 26, 2021, 6:00 am
Small Biz Survival

Small Biz Survival

The small town and rural business resource

The only housing “best practice” that really works for every town: Keep renewing your town’s core No one likes a mushy core, in an apple or a small town. Build more in the center, less on the outside. Grab a paper map of your town and a highlighter. Circle the oldest neighborhoods, the ones closest […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: July 19, 2021, 10:47 am
When you’re introduced to someone, you wouldn’t start the conversation with, “Hi, I think your hair style is a big mistake.” So why do we greet new ideas with “That will never work”? How to greet an idea respectfully Picture being introduced to someone you’ve never met. You look them in the eye, and you […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: July 3, 2021, 11:53 am
Your fellow reader Miriam wrote in to ask about attracting filmmakers to her town. I am designing a website for a small town in Texas that apparently was used as a location for some small films years and years ago. They are designing a new website for the town and thought it might be fun […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: June 28, 2021, 8:52 am
Rural communities were not immune to the chaos of 2020, but remained more concerned with ongoing challenges. To find out what rural people felt were their biggest challenges, SaveYour.Town and SmallBizSurvival.com surveyed over 280 rural people in the fourth quarter of 2020. The results make up this fourth edition of the Survey of Rural Challenges. Challenges […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: June 7, 2021, 10:30 am
Guest post by Rob Hatch Chris Brogan recently shared a story of a local bookstore in his hometown. He asked them to order a specific book for him that wasn’t in stock. The owner wrote down his name and phone number and told him she’d order it. The next week, when he walked in the […]
Author: Rob Hatch
Posted: May 28, 2021, 11:20 am
Quick Summary: A “micropolitan area” is US term for smaller metropolitan areas between 10,000 and 50,000 people. Micropolitans provide shopping and services to their core population and even more rural people in surrounding regions. About 27 million US residents live in micropolitan towns.  Nanopolitans are towns with between 1,000 and 10,000 people. Nanopolitans serve as […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: May 22, 2021, 10:09 am
By Becky McCray Small towns need good housing to retain population and to attract new residents, new industries and new entrepreneurs. There’s growing interest in living in small towns and rural communities, making good rural housing even more important. You might have heard about Zoom Towns, as more people choose remote work and live in […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: May 7, 2021, 11:47 am
By Becky McCray In each state that has decriminalized marijuana sales, there’s a usual pattern that happens. Immediately after it is allowed, cannabis dispensaries or legal weed stores start opening all over town, even in small towns. At the peak, it can feel like every other store front is a pot shop! Should city governments […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: April 22, 2021, 8:21 pm
Why does downtown matter? I’ve been asked why downtowns matter to small towns. Why should you invest your time and money into revitalizing your downtown? What makes it more important than any other area of town? What about that highway frontage? Or the edge of town where the discounters locate? In our Survey of Rural […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: February 22, 2021, 3:28 pm
People have been saying for years that they would prefer to live in rural areas. Trulia research in 2014 showed 7% more people wanted to live in rural places than did then. In 2018, Gallup asked people where they preferred to live. Rural came out on top for all age groups except for 18-29 year olds. With the 18-29 […]
Author: Becky McCray
Posted: December 10, 2020, 11:55 am
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