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Photo: Folio.
Are newspapers really dead? Maybe it’s just taking a while to find new ways to support them.

As consumers of the news and traditional advertisers increasingly go online, there has been understandable handwringing about how local reporting and investigative journalism is to survive.

Sarah Scire writes for Nieman Lab about a philanthropic model.

The Guardian — through its U.S.-based philanthropic arm theguardian.org — raised $9 million between April 2020 and April 2021. Rachel White, who has been president of theguardian.org since its founding in 2016, said [donations for news organizations continued].

“New multi-year reporting projects were funded and launched, too. Humanity United, which has funded reporting on modern day slavery and labor exploitation with a pair of two-year $800,000 grants, expanded its support in 2021 with a $1.5 million grant for a series on human rights around the world. … In another example, Open Society Foundations, which has funded reporting on gender inequality in the U.S. at the Guardian in the past, reupped its contributions to fund work on climate justice and the intersection of inequality and Covid-19. Other grants have boosted the climate journalism … and made a U.S. voting rights project possible.

“With bleak-and-getting-bleaker advertising figures, we’ve seen a number of new newsrooms choose to go the nonprofit route and look to fund their journalism through individual contributions and direct support from foundations and other charitable organizations.

“Philanthropy at the Guardian is a little less straightforward. The news organization, owned by Scott Trust Limited, is not a nonprofit like. … Instead, in 2016, the Guardian formed an independent, U.S.-based charitable organization specifically to find financial support for its journalism. It’s part of a growing trend of U.S. newspapers seeking philanthropic support; the same year, the New York Times launched its own philanthropic arm. …

“White, who joined from New America Foundation, says … ‘For a place like the Guardian, we wouldn’t and shouldn’t be seeking the same kind of funding that nonprofit newsrooms split, because we have lots of different revenue streams that support the news organization. [We] really needed to define why and how we would seek philanthropic support.’

“The ‘how’ was relatively straightforward; setting up a 501(c)(3) made it easier for more nonprofits to contribute. The ‘why,’ White says, has been driven entirely by the newsroom.

“ ‘We’re fierce — and always will be — about editorial independence,’ she said. ‘Every one of the ideas that we take to philanthropy comes first from senior editors at the Guardian.’ …

“Every project funded through theguardian.org has a prominently placed badge noting the institution(s) that made the work possible. A gene editing documentary was funded by the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust, for example, while articles in a series on the threats facing public lands in the United States and Canada discloses its support from the Society of Environmental Journalists. The full list of more than 40 grant-supported projects appears on theguardian.org. …

“White is quick to point out that philanthropy is not the primary way the Guardian supports its journalism. Annual revenue for the Guardian was £223.5 million (USD $308 million) in 2020, including digital-driven revenue — now making up 56% of all revenue — at £125.9 million. In contrast, theguardian.org has reliably contributed between $5.1 million and $5.4 million per year. … The philanthropic arm focuses on reporting projects that might be difficult to justify funding while facing budget shortfalls. …

“The organizations and individuals that White works with are, unsurprisingly, very interested in the impact of the journalism they fund. The Guardian has developed a suite of tools and procedures to try and measure who their journalism is reaching — and what effect it has. …

“Looking ahead, White says the newsroom is looking at finding funding for topics like ‘the future of the American worker’ and ‘the long tail of inequality and poverty’ post-pandemic. …

“Toward the end of our conversation, I asked White — who has been working to secure philanthropic support for journalism for nearly six years now — what has surprised her most in her role.

“ ‘I really did believe in 2016 … that everyone would immediately see the role of journalism and philanthropy would rise triumphantly to the challenge and that there would be this outpouring of support. While the market has expanded and this commitment to the idea of supporting journalism has grown, it certainly hasn’t grown at the pace of the crisis for journalism. …

“ ‘I just continue to hope that the philanthropic market will expand to meet the needs of news organizations, because they’re substantial.’ ”

More at Nieman Lab, here.

A bullied homeowner in a homeowners association won the right to have natural landscaping. The governor is expected to sign a bill that affects every gardener in Maryland.

Jean is my go-to source for information on saving the planet by protecting insects, planting native species, and getting rid of yard chemicals.

Yesterday she sent me a cool article about a tyrannical homeowners association that bit off more than it could chew when it told one couple what to plant.

Nancy Lawson wrote at Human Gardener, “If you live in a community governed by a homeowners association [HOA] in Maryland, your HOA will soon no longer be allowed to require you to grow turfgrass. It can no longer prohibit you from planting native plants and creating wildlife habitat. The Maryland General Assembly has spoken, quietly and firmly, joining a growing number of states last week by passing House Bill 322, the low-impact landscaping legislation that specifically codifies your right to be wildlife-friendly, plant-friendly, and environmentally conscious.

“You can thank my sister, Janet Crouch, for that. … Three and a half years ago, Janet and her husband Jeff began receiving demands from the Beech Creek Homeowners Association in Howard County that they convert their beautiful 15-year-old pollinator gardens to turfgrass. In a series of bullying and nonsensical letters, the HOA’s contracted law firm, Nagle & Zaller, wrote that a garden ‘without the use of pesticides in which they have maintained “native plants” to provide food for birds, bees, and other insects and animals’ is ‘completely contrary to the overall design scheme for the Association, which is a planned development.’ … Attorney Sean Suhar used quotes around words and concepts he apparently viewed as suspicious, such as ‘garden,’ and wrote disparagingly of the Crouches’ ‘environmentally sensitive agenda.’

The law firm’s letters displayed a seemingly boundless ignorance by trying to demonize my sister and her husband for adding ‘plantings which grow back every year.’

“Throughout this process, there was virtually no opposition from politicians, and even the national association representing HOAs supported the legislation. When we testified for the bill the first time at last year’s hearing, the curmudgeonly delegate who’d voted against other environmental proposals that day surprised us all by asking, ‘Who wouldn’t support pollinator gardens?’

“His question was more than rhetorical for my sister. Janet’s HOA board was so unsupportive of pollinator gardens that it paid the law firm of Nagle & Zaller about $100,000 of the community’s money — made up entirely of homeowners’ dues — to try to get rid of the one in my sister’s  yard. …

“The entire case against the Crouches was built on the complaints of one neighbor, who grows Japanese barberries in front of his house and fills his lawn with blue chemicals that I have filmed running down toward the wooded and stream-filled park during rainstorms. He also hires pesticide sprayers routinely and accused the Crouches’ of attracting mosquitoes, even though his eroded lawn pools with standing water and provides perfect mosquito habitat. One of the most ludicrous complaints of all from this man — whose property and entire neighborhood abuts forest where owls, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks and many other animals live — was repeated in illogical screeds from the lawyers proclaiming that ‘numerous squirrels are being attracted to the subject property. The neighbor fear [sic] this will affect their property.’

“Claims of squirrel takeovers may sound laughable, but since 2017, it has been no laughing matter for Janet, who poured her heart into saving the garden that has offered so much solace to her family and so much habitat to the community’s birds and other wildlife. …

“In preparation for a ‘hearing’ process in 2018, we prepared many documents and photos, only to arrive and discover it was all a sham. Suhar, the HOA lawyer, immediately told my sister to ‘shut up’ when she tried to speak and yelled at me to ‘be quiet.’ …

“Unfortunately there was no law against such abusive behaviors, nothing to prohibit HOAs from acting in a kind of Wild West, arbitrary fashion toward gardens and nature and the people who love them. Until now. …

“We will be eternally grateful to wildlife biologist John Hadidian, native nursery expert Rob Jenkins, and realtor Kristi Neidhardt for their wisdom, insight and bravery in signing on to help with the case. Most of all, Jeff Kahntroff and Matt Skipper of Skipper Law took on what most lawyers consider to be an unwinnable issue. …

“It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the forces against nature, but my sister has taught me that you can change those tides by becoming a force of nature. ‘I’m a shy person,’ she told me last week, ‘and I don’t usually put myself out there like this.’ But she’s never countenanced bullies and has defended me from them since I was a little girl. This time, she was defending the plants and animals and her family, who felt attacked in their own home of 20 years. … Thanks in large part to the bravery and fortitude of Janet Crouch, many more people in my home state will now be allowed to nurture the bees, butterflies and other wildlife in their own backyards.

“The bill is waiting for the governor’s signature and is set to become law in October.”

More here. Hat tip: Jean at Meadowmaking.

Photo: Bode-Museum, Berlin, Germany.
A wax bust once attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) has been conclusively shown to be no earlier than the 18th century.

There are always new things to discover. In today’s story, decades of fierce arguments about the artist behind a wax bust in a Berlin museum were laid to rest when researchers mastered the dating of the wax. The History Blog has the report.

“A wax bust whose attribution to Leonardo da Vinci once caused art historians to threaten violence has been conclusively shown to be a modern work from the 18th century at the earliest.

“The bust of Flora, goddess of flowers and springtime, now in the National Museums in Berlin, was spotted by general director of the Royal Museum of Berlin Wilhelm von Bode in an antique store in London in 1907. Her downcast eyes, half-smile and finely-modeled features impressed Bode as a work by Leonardo da Vinci. German art historian Max Friedländer, assistant director of the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum under Bode, was convinced by its high quality and wear patterns that it was a Renaissance work. Bode bought it for a princely sum (185,000 Goldmark) in 1909 and announced with much fanfare that it was a work by no less a Renaissance luminary than Leonardo da Vinci, the only known wax sculpture surviving from the period.

“Bode was held in high regard in Germany. He had been involved in the creation of a national collection for the royal museums since he was hired as assistant curator of sculpture in 1872 and his career would span the entire five decades of the second German Empire from Unification to Republic. …

“Within months, the Times published a story contesting the attribution and alleging Flora was in fact it was created by 19th century British sculptor and photographer Richard Cockle Lucas who had copied it in 1860 from a painting of Flora in the Hermitage once attributed to Leonardo but later determined to be the work of his student and right-hand-man Francesco Melzi.

Lucas’ son Albert Dürer Lucas, then 80 years old, swore that his father had made it and that Albert had helped stuff old newspapers and wood chips into the hollow of the bust.

“Even though newspapers and wood chips were indeed found inside, including an article from 1840, Bode dismissed out of hand the possibility that Lucas was the sculptor. Lucas, Bode contended, was simply not good enough to model so superlative a piece. Unlike Flora, Lucas’ known wax pieces were greyish in color, lacked any polychromy and still smelled of wax. Bode was sure that at most, Lucas had been employed to fill its empty core to reinforce the structure and had fashioned some arms to match.

“In the next two years, more than 730 heated articles were written debating the attribution. There were debates on the floor of the Prussian parliament. Two scholars challenged each other to a duel. Bode died in 1929, still convinced that his attribution to Leonardo was correct. The debate got less aggressive over the decades, but never died down. Even modern technology hasn’t been able to settle the issue conclusively, because wax, as it happens, is a complicated medium to date.

“Albert Dürer Lucas said his father made the bust by melting down a bunch of burned candle ends. Analysis of wax samples found it is composed almost entirely of spermaceti, a waxy substance produced in the head cavity of the sperm whale commonly used in 19th century candles, and a small amount of beeswax. The decay of C14 occurs in the atmosphere in a calculable way, but under water the C14 is absorbed much more slowly and is much older than the carbon absorbed on land. The Marine Reservoir Effect makes radiocarbon dating results difficult to calibrate because you would need to know that specific whale’s full biography — track its movements from equator to ice shelves — to produce any semblance of accurate results. …

“The new study utilized two calibration curves, marine and terrestrial, and applied them to samples of the wax from Flora as well as to another work by Lucas, an 1850 relief of Leda and the Swan. The result was a date range of between 1704 and 1950, admittedly wide, but it conclusively precludes that the bust was made by Leonardo or anyone else in the Renaissance. The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports and can be read here.”

For additional details, check out the History Blog, here.

Photo: Landis Brown/The Archive of Healing at UCLA.
The Archive of Healing describes cures, rituals, and healing methods spanning two centuries.

My daughter-in-law and I got interested in a kind of tumeric tea that we bought at the farmers market before Covid. Since then, I’ve tried other kinds of tumeric tea just because I like the weird flavor. And as today’s article points out, tumeric has long been known to reduce inflammation.

At Hyperallergic, Valentina Di Liscia wrote recently about similar tried and (sometimes) true traditional remedies that are featured in something called the Archive of Healing.

“The digital archive features hundreds of thousands of entries describing cures, rituals, and healing methods spanning two centuries, with a focus on protecting Indigenous knowledge from for-profit exploitation.

“The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Archive of Healing, one of the most comprehensive databases of medicinal folklore in the world, is now accessible online. The interactive, searchable website boasts hundreds of thousands of entries describing cures, rituals, and healing methods spanning more than 200 years and seven continents.

“The site … focuses on the preservation of Indigenous traditions and customs related to wellness.

“The project started five decades ago, when former UCLA professors Wayland Hand and Michael Owen Jones led teams of students to document medicinal practices described in university archives, published sources, anthropologists’ field notes, and their own family folklore.

In 1996, the school received a grant to digitize the research — encompassing more than a million handwritten four-by-six note cards — and transform it into a searchable database then known as the ‘Archive of Traditional Medicine.’

“But somehow, the massive trove remained a little-known resource until 2012, when a librarian at UCLA came across the database and alerted Dr. David Delgado Shorter, Professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. Shorter, who had just published a book based on fieldwork with the Yoeme communities in northwest Mexico and launched a digital tool to help Indigenous people preserve their languages, was ‘blown away’ by the archive.

“ ‘It was just sitting there probably for years without people knowing about it,’ Shorter said in an interview. … ‘In some ways it’s fantastic that no one knew about it, because in this day and age, someone could have created a mining program and simply just pulled all the material from the database,’ he added. … His team safeguarded the data in a secure server.

“One of Shorter’s priorities is protecting Indigenous knowledge from exploitation by for-profit entities, such as pharmaceutical companies. For that reason, some entries in the archive do not mention specific plant names or recipes unless that information is already widely known.

“As dangerous health-related disinformation surged during the coronavirus pandemic, many have become wary of alternative medicine. The archive’s initial compilers were folklorists, not medical doctors, and the website includes a disclaimer that the entries do not constitute medical advice. … Users can flag entries they deem inappropriate. …

“Most importantly, these spices, plants, and other healing methods can deepen our understanding of how different cultures view the body, wellness, and community.

“ ‘The whole goal here is to democratize what we think of as healing and knowledge about healing, and take it across cultures in a way that’s respectful and gives attention to intellectual property rights,’ said Shorter.”

Hooray for librarians who alert people to “treasure troves”! More at Hyperallergic, here.

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP.
Gardening gurus Jim and Cindy Kaufmann met when they both worked at the National Gallery. Today they work in separate government jobs to brighten Washington, DC, with 300 acres of landscaping and flowers.

Have you ever thought about how the beautiful flowers appear in public places like the US capital — and what it takes to keep them beautiful, even in a pandemic?

Cari Shane reports at the Washington Post reports about a married couple who are responsible for more than 300 acres of the the Washington, DC, landscape.

“Cindy Kaufmann, 56, is chief of horticulture services at the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden. Her husband, Jim Kaufmann, 48, is the director of the Capitol grounds and arboretum for the Architect of the Capitol, which maintains the buildings, monuments and gardens on the U.S. Capitol campus. He also chooses the National Christmas Tree. …

“They call themselves ‘garden geeks’: Jim is ‘a tree guy,’ he says. (His favorite is the white oak.) Cindy loves pink flowering plants the most. ‘But it’s like having children,’ she says. ‘You really just love them all.’

Cindy grew up in Rockville, Md., where she spent hours in the garden, ‘growing flowers and vegetables just to see how they would look,’ she says.

“After studying horticulture at the University of Maryland, she started at the National Gallery right out of college. Jim grew up in Philadelphia, helping his parents take care of their vegetable garden. He attended a public vocational-technical high school that specialized in agriculture, then graduated from Temple University with a degree in horticulture. They met when they both worked at the National Gallery. …

“Cindy’s pre-pandemic life meant arriving at the office at 6 a.m. and ‘walking five miles every day, visiting the campus and directing the wide variety of areas we support from the Sculpture Garden — the greenhouses, the garden courts, terraces and every exhibit and interior space,’ she says.

“Now, like for many of us, her work is done mostly over Zoom. The National Gallery closed and reopened a few times over the past year; each time, Cindy had to be ready, constantly ‘planning for normal.’ The museum’s March anniversary is celebrated annually with a rotating display of 250 azaleas in the Rotunda, and Cindy and her staff spent the winter preparing the plants to transfer from greenhouses in Frederick, Md., but the museum didn’t reopen after all. (The Sculpture Garden reopened in February.)

“For Jim, the pandemic and the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol — which was followed by the erecting of non-scalable fencing — meant some pivoting, too.

“He and his team continue to care for more than 4,500 trees and all the flowering plants on 274 acres of Capitol landscape. …

“Like Cindy, Jim’s days this past year have been less hands-on, which he misses. ‘Nothing ever replaces the ability or the experience to walk the grounds, feel the landscape and talk to people,’ he says.

“But the pandemic has allowed the Kaufmanns to spend more time in their own garden in Silver Spring, Md. Last summer, tending it was their ‘pandemic therapy,’ says Cindy. It reflects their different horticultural styles, and over the years, the yard has naturally divided into ‘Cindy’ and ‘Jim’ sections.’ “

More at the Washington Post, here.

Photo: Noah Robertson/Christian Science Monitor.
Master falconer Rodney Stotts, founder of Rodney’s Raptors, holds a Harris hawk at the Earth Conservation Corps campus in Laurel, Maryland. At ECC, Stotts works with young people who may be at risk, just as he was once.

There’s more than one way to connect with troubled teens, but sharing an interest can be key. In today’s story, we learn how getting involved with birds of prey transformed the life of a young Rodney Stotts and how he later commmitted himself to helping other kids.

Noah Robertson writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “Before young Jamaal Hyatt met falconer Rodney Stotts, the youth had never seen a bird fly from a person’s finger, disappear out of sight, and return at the sound of a whistle. He’d never fed a bird of prey, or understood the trust it takes for one to calmly perch on a person’s arm. He’d never even seen a raptor up close.

“Mr. Hyatt grew up in downtown Washington, D.C., where birds rest on traffic lights as often as trees. Two years ago, when his family felt he wasn’t focused on school, they decided to send him to Capital Guardian Youth Challenge Academy, a military school for at-risk students in Washington high schools. It was in the woods here that he met Mr. Stotts – a master falconer, mentor, conservationist, and Dr. Dolittle of sorts. 

“Mr. Stotts, too, grew up in Washington, and, like Mr. Hyatt, once barely knew a pigeon from a peregrine falcon. But more than 30 years ago, working with animals transformed him from a man of the streets to a man of the woods. He’s since become a mentor for young people facing similar challenges. 

“That mission brought him to Laurel, where his office is sandwiched between Capital Guardian and New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a youth detention and rehabilitation facility. He works with young people in each facility, giving them an outlet, a role model, and a chance to learn to trust others by learning to trust animals. …

“In three decades Mr. Stotts has worked with thousands of people on the streets and in schools, parks, jails, barns, and Zoom calls. Along the way, he founded his own nonprofit, Rodney’s Raptors, and earned his falconry license. The work is low in pay and often poignant, forcing him to confront violence, substance misuse, and loss. 

“But for Mr. Stotts, whose life is profiled in a new documentary, ‘The Falconer,’ it’s highest in personal reward. If he could change, he tells the young people he works with, so can they. …

“With a mother who struggled with heavy substance use (before later quitting cold turkey), Mr. Stotts grew up in southeast Washington during the crack epidemic. In early adulthood, he reflected his circumstances; he dealt drugs and was likely to cross up with law enforcement, he says. Then, by accident, he found animals. 

“In the early 1990s, he needed a pay stub to sign on an apartment and took a position at Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), a nonprofit then focused on cleaning the notoriously polluted Anacostia River. Bob Nixon, the program’s de facto founder and a falconer himself, helped introduce Mr. Stotts to animals and eventually birds of prey. 

‘The first time I held a bird, period, it took me somewhere else, says Mr. Stotts. …

“After a year, he stayed with ECC and eventually took charge of its raptor program, based in Laurel. … ‘He’s been engaged since the get-go – that’s the impressive thing,’ says Mr. Nixon, of ECC. ‘He really feels the nature in his bones and gets a real reward in sharing that with people.’ … 

“ ‘There’s a lot of kids out here that don’t really have anything or don’t even believe in [themselves],’ says Mr. Hyatt. ‘Seeing somebody like that … can uplift them and give them a little bit more hope.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Robert Klose.
This shop in a low-income neighborhood of Bangor, Maine, has had the same owner since 1980.

People in my town love our independent bookstore, which seems to have been able to weather the pandemic so far. If I bought a book there before I was vaccinated, the staff would either mail it or offer curbside pickup. Now at last I feel comfortable going inside. Does your town have an indie?

Robert Klose wrote recently for the Christian Science Monitor about an indie bookshop in Maine. “The Dutch Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam once wrote, ‘When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.’

“This thought came to mind as I drove through one of Bangor, Maine’s poorest neighborhoods en route to a small, offbeat, secondhand bookstore that distinguishes an otherwise careworn street and bears the lofty moniker Pro Libris Books. …

“What a wonderful, wonderful thing to have a bookstore in one’s midst, especially in a place where other needs may incessantly intercede, and in an electronic age when so many bookstores – whether of the small, independent, mom and pop variety, or mega-outfits like Borders – have evaporated from our communities, seemingly overnight.

“Pro Libris Books is an unassuming but well-ordered cave of a shop occupying the ground floor of a peeling-paint clapboard building. … The owner, Eric Furry (is there a more appealing name for a bookseller?), has plied his trade since 1980 and, happily, still turns a profit.

“Mr. Furry, a small septuagenarian with an outsize crop of salt-and-pepper hair, touts his business as ‘A Reader’s Paradise.’ This seems to be enough to attract the rich variety of types I have observed there. …

“As I wander the stacks, dividing my time between titles and observing the other visitors, I note the interplay between patron and proprietor. Not everyone is there to buy. If I’m not mistaken in my interpretation of body language, my impression is that many are there to be – and I choose this word carefully – comforted. The familiar titles, the affordability of the volumes, the quirky touches (a coffin-turned-bookcase from the set of a Stephen King movie; a bumper sticker announcing, ‘Maybe the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about’; Mr. Furry’s roaming cat) return me to the consideration of what we need, of what is indeed essential. When I am visiting Pro Libris Books, I find myself siding with celebrated author John Updike, who once said, ‘Bookstores are lonely forts, spilling light onto the sidewalk. They civilize their neighborhoods.’ …

“When I broached the topic of necessity [of bookshops] with him, he recalled a woman who gave him a $20 bill for a $9.50 sale and told him to keep the change, remarking, ‘I just don’t want you to ever go away.’ And then there was the man who sent him $80 out of the blue because he was worried about how Mr. Furry was faring during the pandemic-induced lockdown. I asked about his survival secret. The answer: ‘Low overhead. And a loyal clientele.’ More here.

By the way, I never lose an opportunity to tell book lovers that https://bookshop.org/ has everything. Plus it gives a portion of sales to indies. Unless you think Amazon needs more money, please check it out.

Photo: Max Kleinen/Unsplash.
From snail jokes to antique presses, TikTok showcases museum nerds.

Either the anxiety over TikTok is overblown or I’m extremely gullible. Probably both. But so far, the only videos I’ve seen at TikTok are fun.

Suzanne is into the platform, too. At Easter she made a goofy video with the kids’ hands jiggling a rabbit charm from her company, Luna & Stella. For music, she used a strange version of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” that TikTok had on offer. Even though the video wasn’t meant to be serious, she did get one query about price.

Today’s article by Kelsey Ables at the Washington Post is about how some museum employees are starting to have fun on TikTok.

“Not much has changed since Howard Hatch started working in the creaky, old printing shop at the Sacramento History Museum 22 years ago, writes Ables.

“He always arrives early in the morning so he can focus. In those quiet hours, … the only chatter comes from the machines: the gentle clinks and clatters of a 102-year-old jobbing press, his ‘one-legged StairMaster’ whirring to the beat of his pumping foot. To the tune of rattling ink rollers and clicking gears, he prints museum bags, holiday cards, and facsimile wanted signs and newspapers for visitors.

“Another press, the Washington hand press, works just as well as it did the day it was manufactured in 1852, Hatch says — with such certainty you’d think he used it back then. … Not much has changed these days, except that Hatch has an audience around the world watching.

“On TikTok, a popular app for sharing short videos, Hatch has gone from beloved local museum docent to — in the words of one online commenter — ‘a national treasure.’ Videos of him explaining the printing process or even simply using the equipment, which doubles as an exhibit, have racked up millions of views in a matter of months. With Howard at the helm, the Sacramento History Museum has become the most popular museum TikTok account in the world, boasting twice as many followers as the population of Sacramento.

“Most people associate TikTok with Gen Z, but Hatch is an octogenarian, and the star of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s widely followed account — snail expert Tim Pearce — is a baby boomer. The two men’s charm is not a result of keeping up with the latest memes and trends. Quite the opposite. Neither Hatch nor Pearce, who is known for his ‘Mollusk Monday’ jokes, own a smartphone or send text messages. Pearce calls himself ‘a technological klutz.’ …

“While TikTok has been the site of many online trends related to history — such as medieval TikTok and dark academia — the platform still lacks a significant presence from major U.S. museums. … Pittsburgh’s Carnegie museum paved the way.

“The museum began posting videos in early 2020, and it saw quick success with Pearce, the mollusk curator. …

Being on TikTok has allowed him to get closer to achieving one of his life’s goals: to make mollusks as popular as football. …

“There’s no doubt the success has to do with Pearce’s enthusiasm. Wearing a snail-patterned mask, Pearce begins each video the same way: ‘I’m Tim Pearce from Carnegie Museum of Natural History and I’ve got a snail joke for you!’ The way he emphasizes the word ‘snail’ captures an unbridled eagerness as pure as it must’ve been when he started collecting snails as a toddler. …

” ‘Natural history museums can become didactic really quickly,’ says Sloan MacRae, director of marketing at the Carnegie museum. TikTok, he says, allows them to show that scientists are approachable — even silly — and that natural history isn’t all dead animals and dioramas. …

“Still, when Jared Jones, a 28-year-old guest-services associate at the Sacramento History Museum, proposed starting a TikTok account, it didn’t go over well. … But the museum was desperate to stay relevant during the pandemic-induced closure, so the staff eventually gave in and opened an account. And Hatch hit his stride on the app not by dancing but by deadpanning.

“In one early video, Hatch is printing wanted posters on the hand press. ‘Can you explain a little bit more about it?’ Jones asks. ‘I would, but I’m really pressed for time,’ Hatch replies so matter-of-factly that the pun almost seems unintentional. …

“ ‘Some of [the Carnegie museum’s] popular personalities are gray-haired, very wholesome, grandparent-like personas,’ MacRae says, referring to Pearce and Bonnie Isaac, the botany collection manager. He has spotted online comments along the lines of ‘Adopt me, Bonnie!’ and ‘Tim, will you marry my mom?’ …

“Similarly, on the Sacramento videos’ pages, viewers liken Hatch to their grandparents. ‘Protect Howard at all costs’ has become a refrain among commenters, alluding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Whenever the museum reaches a new milestone in followers, Hatch prints a newspaper announcement. As he moves around the print shop on those squeaky floorboards, he shakes his head and says, ‘I just don’t get it,’ which has become a catchphrase. And it’s true — Hatch isn’t keeping track of likes or followers. He’s just working in the print shop, as he has for decades — doing his thing in true 19th-century style and succeeding in the most 21st-century way.”

Great photos and video here.

Photo: Ann Hermes/Christian Science Monitor.
Shoppers in Chelsea, Mass., have benefited from cash payments during the pandemic.

How many years have we kicked around the idea of a guaranteed income to eliminate poverty? If you search at this blog on the topic, you will see several forms the concept has taken in the past. And since COVID-19 became part of our lives, the feeling of urgency around Universal Basic Income (UBI) has grown.

At the Christian Science Monitor, Simon Montlake as a report on Chelsea, Massachusetts.

“Inside the hillside church where she works part time as custodian, Ana Vanegas-Rivera rests on a wooden bench and pulls out her phone wallet. She holds up a blue debit card, similar to the others in her wallet, minus her name or any issuing bank. 

“The card belongs to Chelsea, a blue-collar city outside Boston that is using it to give cash to around 2,000 low-income residents during a pandemic that has disproportionately hit its Latino-majority population. Every month the card is reloaded with between $200 and $400, depending on family size, allowing recipients to spend the money as they see fit. 

“Ms. Vanegas-Rivera’s $400 goes toward buying food, household items, school supplies, and shoes for Dylan, her third grade son. For now, the family is getting by on her modest custodian salary and disability checks, along with what her husband earns from sporadic construction jobs, so every extra dollar counts.

“ ‘It has been a big help. I’m very happy that we have this opportunity,’ she says. 

“The pilot income program, which began in November and runs until May, has been underwritten by federal and state COVID-19 relief dollars, as well as private donations, and is geared to feeding families, as its name, Chelsea Eats, suggests. ‘Our overriding goal is to get people through the spring,’ says Tom Ambrosino, the city manager. ‘For some of our families that is the only money they have.’ 

“Chelsea is also a national testbed for a simple idea: to help people by giving them money. Not a housing voucher, not food stamps, but a cash-equivalent payment that ensures recipients have a basic income that they can spend any way they want. The rationale is that people know best what they need, and letting them make decisions on how to use the money, without restrictions, is direct and empowering, and doesn’t require a big bureaucracy to implement.

“Chelsea is one of several U.S. cities experimenting with unconditional cash transfers to help some residents quickly – an idea that could become the basis for an alternative to traditional welfare and other safety net programs that have existed for decades. Indeed, advocates see these cash experiments as a building block toward a federal guarantee of a basic income for all, or at least all who manifestly need it. 

“The idea of a universal basic income that would fill in some of the crevasses in capitalist economies isn’t new. … But UBI has always been a provocative notion that seemed just a little too provocative, an unfathomable expense – free money for all – that nobody would want to pay. That was before the pandemic.

Once economies started closing down, governments around the world began to dig deep and spend freely, putting cash directly in people’s hands. …

“Most U.S. social assistance is modest and conditioned on certain requirements, such as work and family size. Except for older adults or people with disabilities, it rarely arrives in the form of cash. This reflects an ethos of self-reliance, as well as decades of conservative criticism that welfare is wasteful and breeds dependence. Backers of basic income believe these traditional assistance programs no longer work. 

“Yet the politics of governments handing out cash remains complicated. Many liberals like UBI but some don’t. Many conservatives don’t like UBI but some do. 

“For now, momentum is building for at least some form of basic income in the face of a lopsided economy that seems to generate more losers than winners, even before the pandemic. But the question is: How far will the idea go? …

“In Chelsea, Mr. Ambrosino doesn’t really focus much on whether the idea of a basic income is gaining ascendancy in Washington or not. His priority is simply to help families in a tough spot, and he’s happy with what he’s seeing so far with Chelsea Eats. ‘We’re getting money in the right hands,’ he says. 

“Roseann Bongiovanni, a former city councilor and now executive director of GreenRoots, a local nonprofit, agrees that the extra money is helping families. But Chelsea faces challenges of housing affordability and environmental justice, and overall demand at food pantries hasn’t gone away. ‘This is a short-term fix,’ she says. ‘It’s not resolving a larger structural issue.’ 

“Ms. Vanegas-Rivera knows that her debit card is temporary. Though she owes less on her credit cards and is managing better, her money problems haven’t gone away. What has changed, she says, is that she and her husband are no longer lining up daily at food pantries.” 

More here.

Too Many Urchins

Photo: Talia Herman/Guardian.
A purple sea urchin with roe inside.

In her graphic memoir of her childhood in 1970s China, Na Liu recalls a time that comrades were told to kill sparrows because they were eating crops. The leaders went too far because in eliminating the birds, they let insects take over, and famine followed.

In today’s story, the public is asked to eat the invasive purple sea urchins that are damaging California’s kelp forests. If we are wise, we’ll learn from others’ experience and stop before we have eaten them all. Right now, that’s a long time ahead.

Vivian Ho writes at the Guardian that purple sea urchins “have become a major headache for the Pacific west coast. Their population has exploded by 10,000% since 2014, with scientists blaming the decline of sea otter and starfish populations – two of the urchin’s natural predators.

“Hundreds of millions of purple sea urchins now blanket the coast from Baja to Alaska, where they have been devouring the region’s vital kelp forests, doing untold damage to the marine ecosystem in the process.In California, it is estimated that 95% of the kelp forests, which serve as both shelter and food to a wide range of marine life, has been decimated and replaced by so-called ‘urchin barrens‘ – vast carpets of spiked purple orbs along the ocean floor.

“That’s why marine biologists and chefs have teamed up to release a new predator into their natural environment: me. Or, to be exact, me and all of you. There’s been a push for years to get the public to eat more sea urchin as a way to help curb the population and recover the kelp forests.

“It shouldn’t have been a hard sell. Sea urchin, or uni in the sushi world, is considered a delicacy in the fine dining circles. ‘The two main descriptors I would use are sweet and briny, similar to an oyster, similar to a clam,’ said culinary scientist Ali Bouzari. … ‘The texture is very creamy. It’s very similar to room-temperature butter.’

“During the pandemic, however, fine dining has been harder to come by. And the retail costs, which range from $9 to $12 per urchin at your local fishmonger, isn’t something every home cook can justify.

“But what Bouzari, co-founder of culinary research and development company Pilot R&D, has been pushing for the last few years is that sea urchin cuisine doesn’t have to be particularly precious or expensive. You can have it served on a half shell, topped with espresso-cream whipped potatoes and caviar – as they do at Michelin-star restaurant SingleThread in Healdsburg – or you can sauté it with some onion, sausage and day-old rice and make a dirty rice, one of Bouzari’s favorite recipes. And anyone with access to the coast can have sea urchin dirty rice on a dirty rice budget. …

“[One day] I stood on the beach of Timber Cove in Jenner, California, waiting as Bouzari and his friend Justin Ang, a Pilot R&D product manager, paddled up to shore atop some surfboards. They had spent the morning spearfishing. … But you don’t need a wetsuit or fancy gear to harvest sea urchin, he explained. Anytime at low tide on the edges of a cove, urchin – an intertidal species – should become visible. …

“Sea urchins are essentially a ball of hard purple spikes containing five egg sacs, which is what we eat – in the culinary world, they’re described as the tongues, the roe, the uni. …

“The sea urchin came loose when I twisted it like a doorknob. The triumph of my first harvest overtook any lingering sensations of pain from gripping its prickly spines. Still, I’d recommend gloves.

“I had brought some salted sourdough toast from San Francisco, and Bouzari quickly scooped a fat, golden tongue out of the hardened purple spikes to lay on to the olive-oiled surface. I had enjoyed uni before at sushi restaurants, but never tasted anything quite like the briny creaminess of sea urchin fresh from the ocean, on toast warmed in the California sun. That one bite felt like a calm summer day, floating on a boat in the water. …

“Bouzari showed me a move where he cut the urchin in half elegantly so that you could use the shell as a bowl or a candle holder after removing the roe. I had not mastered that. Instead, I cut the urchin jagged down the middle, at times just using my hands to rip it apart, sending spines flying on to the floor and into my sink.”

Read more at the Guardian, here, about helping the environment by eating this delicacy.

One Foot in Spring

It’s really spring in Massachusetts. Sometimes 70 F, sometimes 50 F. But we know where we’re headed.

I took advantage of being old to get my Covid-19 vaccinations wrapped up in March and began to visit grandchildren indoors. Below you see that piano recitals are still on Zoom. While I was visiting, I got my hair “painted” rainbow colors by the youngest grandchild. She worked on my hair while her brother read “spooky stories” to me. The stories got exciting, so she went to look at the pictures.

Easter involved an egg hunt, although some kids may be getting too old. Next year, maybe a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt would be a good variation.

Where I live, there’s a guy who rides around on his bicycle playing the guitar. I managed to capture him this week in his headless horseman costume. His day job is baker.

Also in my town, there are people who never forget that April is Natural Poetry Month. One homeowner makes poems available for free.

Most of the other pictures are about Suzanne’s Mom and her friends flipping over spring flowers. Daffodil, Andromeda, Rhododenron. Fig Buttercup, Blue Scilla, Bloodroot, Trout Lily, Magnolia.

The second to last photo was taken in Central Park by Ying-Ying, who was thrilled to get out of Arizona for a New York spring. And the last was taken by Melita in Madrid, where she’s been living during the pandemic.

Art: JRR Tolkien.
Photo from the Open Culture website.

Wow. Where were all the artists when this version of The Lord of the Rings was made for television? Were they imprisoned in the Gulag? I think my childhood dream of presenting a production of “Snow White and Rose Red” at the Lafayette Theater would have gone better.

Andrew Roth, reporting for the Guardian from Moscow, has a funny report on the Soviet version of The Lord of the Rings.

“A Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings thought to have been lost to time was rediscovered and posted on YouTube last week, delighting Russian-language fans of JRR Tolkien.

“The 1991 made-for-TV film, Khraniteli, based on Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, is the only adaptation of his Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.

Aired 10 years before the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, the low-budget film appears ripped from another age: the costumes and sets are rudimentary, the special effects are ludicrous, and many of the scenes look more like a theatre production than a feature-length film.

“The score, composed by Andrei Romanov of the rock band Akvarium, also lends a distinctly Soviet ambience to the production, which was reportedly aired just once on television before disappearing into the archives of Leningrad Television. Few knew about its existence until Leningrad Television’s successor, 5TV, abruptly posted the film to YouTube last week [part one | part two], where it has gained more than 800,000 views within several days. …

“Earlier adaptations and even translations of Tolkien’s work in the Soviet Union were hard to come by, with some convinced that the story of an alliance of men, elves and dwarves fighting a totalitarian eastern power had been blocked by the censor.

“But another suggestion for the sparsity of translations was that Tolkien’s intricate plot and linguistic invention made it difficult to translate into Russian without either adulterating the original or leaving Soviet audiences without any idea of what was happening.

“Nonetheless, the schlocky adaptation appeared to scratch a nostalgic itch for many who watched it.

“ ‘It is as absurd and monstrous as it is divine and magnificent. The opening song is especially lovely. Thanks to the one who found this rarity,’ wrote another. In the opening song, Romanov sings a rough translation of Tolkien’s description of the origins of the rings of power, of which three are given to the elves, seven to the dwarves, and nine to mortal men, doomed to die.

“The Soviet version includes some plot elements left out of Jackson’s $93m blockbuster, including an appearance by the character Tom Bombadil. …

“In 1985, Leningrad Television aired its first version of Tolkien’s work, a low-budget adaptation of The Hobbit featuring ballet dancers from what is now the Mariinsky theatre and a moustachioed narrator standing in for Tolkien. The abridged production, titled The Fantastic Journey of Mister Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, skips over the trolls and elves in an hour-long romp that was long believed to be the only finished Tolkien adaptation produced during the Soviet Union. …

“Jackson’s adaptation of the trilogy was a hit in Russia. Many young Russians watched a version dubbed by the translator Dmitry Puchkov under the pseudonym Goblin, which was notable for its expletive-laden reinterpretation of the text. In that version, Frodo is called Fyodor Mikhailovich, Legolas has a pronounced Baltic accent, and Aragorn yells, ‘Whoever doesn’t hit [an orc] is an ass,’ as his archers let their arrows fly during the defense of Helm’s Deep.”

More at the Guardian, here.

Art: Jacob Lawrence, via PEM.
Missing Panel 28 from the “American Struggle” series as shown at PEM, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. This panel and one other were recently found in New York City.

Have you been following the story of the missing panels of a major work by African American master Jacob Lawrence? It was exciting enough when one missing panel was discovered in New York in the past year, but two? In different homes?

Hilarie M. Sheets at the New York Times reported on the latest developments.

“When a nurse living on the Upper West Side checked an app for neighborhood bulletins last fall, she learned about the recent discovery of a Jacob Lawrence painting in an apartment a few blocks away. It had turned out to be one of five panels long missing from the artist’s groundbreaking 30-panel series “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across Central Park.

“The name Jacob Lawrence rang a bell. She walked over to look more closely at a small figurative painting on her dining room wall, where it had hung for two decades, its signature barely legible. It was a gift from her mother-in-law, who had taped a 1996 New York Times profile on Lawrence to the back. The nurse, who had only glanced at the back while dusting, learned from the app that Lawrence was a leading modernist painter of the 20th century — and one of the few Black artists of his time to gain broad recognition in the art world.

“Could lightning strike twice in just two weeks’ time? The woman told the story to her 20-year-old son, who had studied art in college and quickly Googled the Met’s exhibition. He found a murky black-and-white photograph of their very painting being used as a place holder for Panel 28. It was titled ‘Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840—115,773,’ and the wall label read: ‘location unknown.’

“ ‘It didn’t look like anything special, honestly,’ said the owner. … ‘I didn’t know I had a masterpiece.’ …

“After she had connected the dots, she called the Met, but her messages went unreturned. By day three, her son suggested they just head over on his motorbike. His mother recalled:

‘I grabbed a young kid at the information desk in the lobby and said, “Listen, nobody calls me back. I have this painting. Who do I need to talk to?” ‘

“Eventually, an administrator from the modern and contemporary art department met them downstairs and asked the owner to email her photos of the work — which she did on the spot, from her phone.

“By that evening, Randall Griffey and Sylvia Yount, the co-curators of the Met’s Lawrence show, and Isabelle Duvernois, the Met’s paintings conservator, were making their second trip to an Upper West Side apartment in the space of two weeks to verify the authenticity of a Lawrence painting that had not been seen publicly since 1960.

“The nurse, who has agreed to lend her painting for the last two stops of the traveling exhibition, was granted anonymity because she said she was concerned for her family’s security living with a now-valuable artwork. The panel will debut March 5 at the Seattle Art Museum in ‘Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle’ and remain on view through May 23.

“Before the discovery of Panel 16, first reported by The New York Times on Oct. 21, the Met’s team had known only the work’s title and subject matter — Shays’ Rebellion — but had no image to help authenticate it. … With Panel 28, they had a low-quality photograph of the work, which had been exhibited in the late 1950s at the gallery of Lawrence’s dealer Charles Alan.

“The painting, in vivid red, gold and brown tempera on hardboard, shows two women draped in shawls flanking a man in a broad-brimmed hat, their heads bowed and oversized hands clasped toward the center of the image. The panel, evoking old-world travelers, was inspired by immigration statistics in Richard B. Morris’s 1953 ‘Encyclopedia of American History,’ part of Lawrence’s exhaustive research on the foundational contributions of immigrants, Blacks and Native Americans to the building of the nation. (He refers specifically in the title to the number of immigrants who came to the United States during the early years of the 19th century.) …

“The owner of Panel 28 doesn’t know how her mother-in-law — who was an immigrant herself and raised her family on the Upper West Side while amassing an eclectic array of inexpensive artworks — acquired the painting. ‘I have a feeling my mother-in-law didn’t pay much more than $100,’ she said.”

More at the New York Times, here.

Photo: Ars Technica.
A recently published study suggests coastal Africa didn’t have a monopoly on innovation.

More Americans are starting to recognize the pernicious effects of coastal attitudes about the majority of US states. Sarah Smarsh’s wonderful memoir of growing up in Kansas, Heartland, was one thing that helped me understand that a derisive phrase some people use — “flyover country” — is both ignorant and dangerous.

Today’s story shows that there has been a similar attitude in African archaeology, where the only civilizations thought to be creative and innovative were on the coasts. The latest discoveries in the southern Kalahari reveal a different story.

Kiona N. Smith writes at Ars Techninca, “Between 125,000 and 70,000 years ago, people began to do some very modern things: collecting small objects for no practical reason, decorating things with pigments, and storing water and possibly even food in containers. The oldest known sites with evidence of those behaviors are along the coastline of southern Africa. …

“And according to one idea in paleoanthropology, something about that way of life enabled those early people — or maybe pushed them — to innovate. Their distant neighbors who lived far from the sea supposedly lagged behind the cultural times.

But Griffith University archaeologist Jayne Wilkins and her colleagues recently unearthed evidence that landlocked people were just as hip and modern as their counterparts on the coast.

“At Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter, there’s a layer of sediment dating back to 105,000 years ago and scattered with stone tools. In it, Wilkins and her colleagues found a large chunk of red ocher, worn flat and striated on two sides, as if it had been used as pigment. The rock shelter also held a cache of translucent white calcite crystals, which hadn’t been worked or used as tools; it looked as if someone had gathered up the crystals simply for the sake of having them, or maybe as a ritual offering. Several broken, burned pieces of ostrich eggshell, buried in the same layer, may once have held stores of water.

“The Ga-Mohana Hill artifacts are roughly the same age as the oldest similar finds on the coast, according to optically stimulated luminescence dating, which measures when quartz grains in the sediment were last exposed to light — in this case, about 105,000 years ago. That’s around the same time that people along the coast of southern Africa started collecting seashells for no apparent practical purpose, while people at Diepkloof Rockshelter in South Africa stored their water in the oldest known ostrich eggshell containers.

“It sounds like an almost laughably simple idea to a 21st century human: if you put some stuff inside a larger thing, you can carry it more easily and store it for later. But we’ve had the benefit of at least 200,000 years of figuring out how to do things. At one point in our distant prehistory, containers were an amazing new idea. It would have been, as Wilkins and her colleagues put it, ‘a crucial innovation for early humans.’

“The conclusion from these finds is that people in the African interior weren’t lagging behind coastal cultures at all. Some of the most important innovations in human prehistory happened in multiple areas of the continent at around the same time.

“If you’re not an archaeologist, it may seem obvious that people living inland could be just as innovative as people living on the coast, but all the evidence archaeologists had until now told a different story. The oldest traces of a whole suite of new (at the time) human behaviors have all been found at sites relatively close to the coastline. …

“That has more to do with geology than with what people were actually doing in the distant past. ‘Stratified Late Pleistocene sites with good preservation and robust chronologies are rare in the interior of southern Africa,’ [the research team] wrote in their recent paper. The result is what they describe as a ‘strong bias towards coastal sites that marginalizes the role of inland populations.’ …

“Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter [tells] us something important about our past: lots of people, in lots of different environments, found similar solutions to problems.”

More here.

Photo: Tim Street-Porter.
The view looking across the Los Angeles Music Center Plaza toward the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, one of four venues to pass a new UL verification program for indoor air quality.

We have learned so much in the past year! Remember when we thought Covid-19 might be like Ebola, when we were advised to wipe down all the groceries with bleach? Gradually we learned that although it might be possible to get the coronavirus from surfaces, the air we were breathing in close quarters was the real danger. Even now, when more people are getting vaccinated every day, spending time in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation could extend the life of the scourge.

That is why people who manage buildings, once concerned that they be airtight to keep in heat and air conditioning, are now much more concerned about ventilation. How is the public to know which buildings will be safe to enter?

Jessica Gelt writes at the Los Angeles Times, “The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles [recently announced] that it is the first performing arts organization in the country to receive a UL ‘healthy building’ verification, representing high standards for air quality at four venues — Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre.

“Don’t throw away your mask just yet, though.

“ ‘This isn’t necessarily a COVID program. It’s not about putting up a force field for keeping a building completely safe from COVID. You can’t do that,’ said Sean McCrady, director of assets and sustainability, real estate and properties at UL, the safety science company that issues the Verified Healthy Buildings for Indoor Air Verification Mark, which will be posted at the entrances of Music Center venues.

“McCrady reiterated the scientific consensus that air purification and good ventilation can reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces. In September the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say the coronavirus spreads most commonly through the inhalation of droplets and tiny respiratory particles that can remain suspended in the air.

“The UL verification program emphasizes filtration, ventilation and the overall hygiene of air systems and of buildings in general. Buildings are required to use MERV 13 air filters, which remove particles between 1 and 5 microns. The coronavirus is smaller than that, but McCrady said the filter has an 85% efficacy rate and captures much of the particulate matter to which the virus hitches itself. Prior to COVID-19, the industry standard was the lower-performing MERV 8 filter.

“UL verified buildings must bring in fresh air and move it effectively around the space. The Music Center will be facilitating four to six air changes per hour, which is recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

That means the air volume of a building will be replaced an average of every 10 to 15 minutes. …

“The hygiene of the air filtration and ventilation systems also is crucial. If mold spores or fibers are present, the technology won’t work as it should. … UL also looks at the chemicals used in the cleaning of the space and makes sure that they don’t pollute the air. …

“The Music Center hopes the UL verification will help to maintain the trust of audiences. … If the science surrounding the virus and how to protect against it changes, or if the CDC or more local health officials issues new guidance, the Music Center intends to pivot too. …

“ ‘This is an ongoing process. We will not be stopping when we open our doors,’ ” Music Center COO Howard Sherman told the Times. More here.

Photo: Michelle Chiu
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles has Healthy Building Certification.

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