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murmuration-1Photo: Daniel Biber, via the Independent
A murmuration of starlings was targeted by a bird of prey and took the form of a giant bird. But contemporary scientists insist “thinking” isn’t involved. 

The natural world never ceases to amaze. Consider the flight of large groups of starlings. You have probably seen some of the YouTube videos. Mark MacNamara wrote about the phenomenon at Nautilus in March.

“Eugene Schieffelin was the eccentric ornithologist who in 1890 shipped 60 starlings from London to New York City and set them free in Central Park. The next year he released 40 more, and today there are maybe 200 million starlings in the United States and Southern Canada. [Starlings] are shrewd flyers, clever mimics, and often unwelcome … displacing woodpeckers and flycatchers, and destroying entire crops of berries and cherries. Not to mention the havoc they cause at many airports.

“Ah, but when they come round in their murmurations on fall afternoons, or in early winter, what magicianry is that, gathering up out of nowhere, arriving in strands or massive clusters, over inlets or forests. You’ll see them fill up neighboring trees and fall into an oily, high-pitched chatter. [The] most subtle spooking will do it, a dog’s bark, the slam of a car door down the street, or nothing at all, and off they go at 50 miles per hour, wheeling around the countryside, sheets and sheets of them, thickening and thinning, blackening and scattering, merging and splitting. …

“The performance is self-organized, cohesive, and perfectly synchronized; and distinguished by elaborate patterns of spirals, spheres, planes, and waves. What causes starlings to perform these displays? …

“Theories have evolved over the last century. In 1931, Edmund Selous, a renowned ornithologist and bird activist [sumised] that birds in a flock must all be ‘thinking’ as one; how else to explain the synchronization except by telepathy. …

“Later theories suggested that murmurations are ways to find food and keep warm. Those theories linger, but in the past 50 years the predominant explanation is predation, particularly the role of raptors, such as hawks and falcons, in triggering escape behaviors that involve particular patterns of grouping. …

“In the mid 1960s, researchers found that murmurating birds, particularly starlings, interact—not always, but often — with six or seven of their closest neighbors, who interact with six or seven of their closest neighbors. In recent years, studies posit that a network with seven neighbors optimizes the trade-off between ‘group cohesion and individual effort.’

One theory among researchers, in the context of predation, is that starlings are ‘managing uncertainty while maintaining consensus.’ …

“In a murmuration, the distance between fellow fliers is based on a set of rules also seen in certain kinds of fish and insects. These rules require birds to draw closer to birds farther away; at the same time, not to get too close to the nearest neighbor; and finally to join in directional flow. Add to these rules the aerodynamic factors in starlings — and the blistering speed at which the birds turn, climb, and dive — and you have a sense of the intricacy of flock synchronization. …

“In 2019, evolutionary biologist Rolf F. Storms at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences in the Netherlands, led a study on starlings that delved into the rules of murmurations. … The study [found] different patterns of escape by the starlings.

“For example, when a falcon attacked a flock from above — not from the sides or below, and at high speed — the starlings frequently [scatter] in all directions in the sky. … When a falcon attacks starlings at medium speed, allowing it to be detected, warnings spread through the flock, and the birds respond in a ‘wave.’ They turn right and left, zig and zag, creating ‘darkened bands’ that ripple through the flock, confusing the falcon. …

“Grainger Hunt, Senior Scientist Emeritus with the Peregrine Fund’s California Condor and Aplomado Falcon restoration project, underscores the fact that murmurations are emergent. …

” ‘The peregrine does not purpose the shapes and movements of the flock. Nor does any starling. The spectacle of wondrous shapes and movements is an unintended effect. The peregrine is trying to catch a starling, and each starling is trying not to get caught.’ ” More.

Would you agree that humans need to learn from the starlings how to maintain consensus while managing uncertainty? What a concept!

Video: Dylan Winter
A murmuration of starlings.

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Photo: Hong Seo-yoon 
Hong Seo-yoon is a South Korean advocate for accessible tourism. In her book Europe: There’s No Reason Not to Go, she even has a section on paragliding.

International tourism may be in a Covid-19 slump, but there are lots of people aching to get back to it. At Public Radio International (PRI), Jason Strother reports on a South Korean world traveler who uses a wheelchair and has shown through her life and writing that sometimes it takes only small changes to enable everyone to travel.

“Hong Seo-yoon maneuvers through shifting clusters of picture-snapping tourists outside of Deoksugung, a palace in downtown Seoul. Before passing through the former royal residence’s wooden gate, she adjusts her motorized wheelchair’s speed ahead of a gradual incline in the stone walkway that leads into a tree-lined courtyard.

“The 32-year-old explains that even small modifications, such as replacing a step with a ramp, give people like her access to places that otherwise would have been difficult if not impossible to enter independently.

“Hong says that many people are often unaware that when it comes to tourism, sightseeing or even extreme sports, many people with disabilities, whether they are blind, deaf or use a wheelchair, ‘all want the same things.’

‘They want to travel, they want to visit places, I don’t think there’s a difference,’ Hong said. ‘Having a disability is not something special or weird.’

“Hong is the founder of Tourism for All Korea, a nonprofit that advocates for greater inclusion in the country’s tourism industry for people with disabilities and makes policy recommendations for improvements in this sector. She’s also the author of Europe, There’s No Reason Not to Go — the first travelogue written by a wheelchair user from her country.

“Her work has informed Seoul’s efforts to make its streets, transit and tourism locations more inclusive for citizens and visitors with disabilities. … A generation ago, a person with a physical or intellectual difference might have been ‘a  shame to their family,’ she said, theorizing this attitude was a consequence of South Korea’s postwar trauma that placed economic growth and competition paramount to other concerns.

“The Korean War in the early 1950s left the South in ruin and poverty. In 2007, South Korea passed the Disability Anti-Discrimination Act, but Hong believes some people still hold onto old biases. …

“Her own experience facing physical and social obstacles underlie her advocacy. When Hong was 10 years old, she suffered a spinal cord injury during a swimming pool accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. At that time, ‘Korea wasn’t accessible at all’ for wheelchair users, she said.

“She recalls her brother pushing her alongside cars in the street since there were no sidewalk curb cuts in her provincial hometown. Hong says she also faced discrimination when her parents were told to send her to a distant institution for people with disabilities because there wasn’t an elevator in the local, four-story grade school.

“Her family instead moved to the Philippines, where a nurturing teacher told Hong that ‘being disabled was not abnormal,’ she said.

“When she returned to South Korea to attend the university, Hong had learned to stand up for herself. She got a taste for activism when her school’s administration refused to relocate a class to the ground floor. Hong fought back and won. …

“Her book idea was rejected by two publishers that told her ‘no one would read about disability stories,’ she said. ‘It really hurt me.’

“After promising to buy any unsold copies, Hong convinced the company Saenggak Bi Haeng in 2016 to take a chance with her book. But, she did not have to live up to her end of the deal — all 3,000 copies sold out, and now, the title is in a second-print run. …

“She believes travel and tourism are ways people with disabilities and the nondisabled can connect with each other and help nondisabled people overcome their biases.

“ ‘Suddenly, they meet a disabled person in their life and they change,’ she said. ‘They change their mind about what [are] disabled people and how to live with disabled people.’ ”

More here.

 

5760-2Photo: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
A music and performance space in Springburn Park, Glasgow, Scotland, was created inside a steel hut by repurposing old pianos.

We had a parlor grand for many years, and I took lessons on it. It had belonged to my mother-in-law, who was much more musical than I. After I stopped playing, the piano sat forlorn a long time, drawing the attention only of toddler grandchildren. My husband decided maybe we could use the space. The piano did need work, and no one was buying a fixer-upper at the time, so he gave it away to a guy who would remove it.

What do you think that guy wanted a piano for? He planned to rent it to companies staging high-end houses before they went on the market. Ugh. What a sorry end for that piano! I like the idea in today’s article much better for an instrument that had once been loved.

Libby Brooks writes at the Guardian, “Inside a cavernous steel hut in the middle of Glasgow’s Springburn Park, the sweeping arc of keyboards, lids and carved panels has been taking shape, creating the UK’s first permanent auditorium made entirely of recycled pianos.

“Using mainly upright instruments, with a baby grand artfully sliced in half to make a corner balcony, about 40 pianos have been expertly disarticulated to create the tiered seating.

“ ‘When you dismantle a piano you end up with a kit of different parts, from the ornate front pieces to the strong planks normally hidden beneath the key,’ explains Tom Binns, who founded the Glasgow Piano City project in 2013, finding new uses for unwanted instruments in public places from hospitals to bookshops.

“It was Binns who brought together a Glasgow community activist with big plans and the Edinburgh-based instrumental innovators Pianodrome in what he says is a testament to the collaborative potential of social enterprise.

“Two years ago, Alex Docherty, a hip-hop artist and chair of Friends of Springburn Park, countered plans to demolish the site where the massive hut stands with a proposal for a community village with an event space, cafe and outdoor classroom.

“ ‘When I talk to my gran who grew up in Springburn, it used to have cinemas and places to go,’ Docherty says. ‘But since the decline in industry and the motorway demolitions [creating the unpopular dual carriageways and flyovers that bisect Springburn] they disappeared. We really need a community space in the area.’

“The area has its problems, including widespread unemployment and a high rate of drug deaths, but ‘there’s been an energy of change in Springburn over the last few years,’ Docherty says. …

“The plan to use old pianos for the seating came through Binns. He visited the team at Pianodrome, whose mobile amphitheatre has impressed audiences at previous Edinburgh festivals as a creative response to consumer culture, to see their initial constructions. ‘I thought: “This could work,” ‘ he says.

‘We were hired to design a permanent theatre space,’ says Matt Wright, a co-founder of Pianodrome. ‘It breaks down the division between audience and performer. You’re sitting on an instrument while you watch and listen to someone play.’ …

“Wright says the arrangement of benches rather than having separate seats is more appropriate to social distancing: ‘You can space people out but it doesn’t look so stark as having empty seats.’

“For Binns, the project has grown out of a respect for people’s deep connection to their individual instruments and the hopes they have when they pass them on. ‘People have an extraordinary emotional attachment to their instruments and would be heartbroken to see them go in a [dumpster]. We’re giving pianos a new life.’ ”

More here.

2020-07-24-disability-doll

Photo: Sam Butler
“Two-year-old Lula-Belle Butler-Wenlock-Simpson, who was born with heart problems and underwent open-heart surgery, poses with a Special Friends doll whose scar mirrors her own,” explains PRI.

At Public Radio International (PRI), a distributor of some of my favorite shows, I recently learned about personalized dolls for children with disabilities and other big challenges. Bianca Hillier reported the story at PRI’s “The World.”

“Dolls have come a long way since the 1950s. One of the first TV commercials for Mattel Inc.’s Barbie doll sang: ‘Barbie’s small and so petite. Her clothes and figure look so neat.’

“While modern-day dolls aren’t confined to quite as rigid looks, the industry still has room to expand its inclusivity — especially for children with disabilities.

“That’s the challenge Victoria Band faced when her son was growing up. He is deaf in both ears and uses hearing aids. When he was younger, she wanted to give him a doll that also used hearing aids to show that he was not alone.

“ ‘When he went to his [medical appointments], he’d say, “Mommy, it’s a scary place at first. You don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know what [the hearing aids] are going to look like,” ‘ Band said. ‘So if [only] there was a doll there and they could say, “Oh, look, this is what you’re going to have in your ears. Look at all the different colors you could have.” ‘ …

“Band, who has always been crafty, started making her own dolls last year. She called the business ‘Special Friends.’

Working from her home in Dewsbury, England, she now makes dolls who have scars, cleft lips, hearing aids, oxygen tanks, or anything else that matches a child’s special needs. Many of the dolls are custom-made. …

“Band’s handmade dolls have since helped hundreds of kids, including a little girl named Lula-Belle who was born with heart problems and had open heart surgery at 14 weeks old. Lula-Belle is 2 years old now and has a scar down the middle of her chest. Her mom, Sam Butler, found out about ‘Special Friends’ on Facebook. …

“ ‘When she got her first doll, she was like, “Mommy, scar! Scar! Scar! Me scar, me scar!” ‘ Butler recalled. ‘And she pulled up her top. And she was matching scars with her baby.’ …

“Special Friends has been up and running for less than a year, but Band has already sent dolls beyond the United Kingdom to Germany, the US, and Australia. She says seeing the reactions come in from around the world is priceless.

“ ‘You can’t ask for much more than seeing a child really happy,’ Band said. ‘That’s worth more than anything.’

“Band added that the dolls can also be used as an educational tool to teach kids about medical equipment, surgeries, and conditions they may not know about. People need to be ‘more aware,’ she said, so that other children aren’t made to feel different in the first place.”

More at PRI, here.

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Photo: Veronica Blaylock
Lucy Blaylock of Gallatin, Tennessee, makes blankets for kids who need a little extra love.

I’ve shared a lot of articles lately about kids stepping up to help people in distress, but I never get tired of them. Oftentimes, it’s not just the product that matters to recipients, but the sense that someone is thinking of them. Feeling connected to a kind stranger can be as comforting as a favorite blanket.

Andrea Sachs wrote about this at the Washington Post, “Blankets can keep you toasty on cold nights or clean and relatively ant-free on picnics. Lucy Blaylock and Tori Holmes make blankets for a different purpose: to comfort people going through difficult times. … We spoke to the girls, who each won a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, about their inspiration, who has received blankets and how kids can get involved in helping others.

“Lucy learned to sew three years ago, when she was 8. After she made a flannel blanket for a friend’s birthday, she started to think about other kids who might need a little extra love. She asked her parents if she could organize a giveaway and shared her idea on her mom’s Instagram account (lucysloveblankets). She received 16 responses from children facing issues such as cancer, autism, bullying, divorce and the death of a grandmother.

“ ‘It makes me excited when I think of the kids getting the package in the mail and opening it,’ said the 11-year-old, who just completed fifth grade in Gallatin, Tennessee.

‘I always hope they know someone cares about them.’

“Since 2017, Lucy has donated about 500 Lucy’s Love Blankets to kids living in 14 countries and nearly three dozen states. She spends about two hours sewing the fabric by machine and hand-stitching her name inside a heart — her logo, of sorts. During the coronavirus pandemic, she turned her attention to making masks for health-care workers, but she jumps back into blanket action when she receives a request from a child suffering from a terminal illness. ‘Even though it gets a little hard sometimes,’ she said, ‘it is always the right thing to do.’

“For kids interested in volunteering, she recommends they forge ahead without overthinking it. ‘Don’t wait until you have everything figured out. Just do it, and keep going,’ she said. ‘Even when you feel like it might not be making that big of a difference, serving other people always matters.’

“Tori knows firsthand the challenges of being separated from a parent. When she was 6 years old, her mother was hospitalized for six months with leukemia. Tori moved into her aunt’s house, leaving her Corning, New York, home so quickly that she had only enough time to pack an overnight bag.

” ‘I missed my blanket and, of course, I missed my mom,’ the 13-year-old said. … Last July, inspired by her own experience, Tori started to make pairs of blankets for family members kept apart by unfortunate circumstances, such as illness. The parents receive one blanket; the kid gets the other one.

“ ‘I wanted to make a magic blanket that connects people,’ she said. ‘This way they have hope that they will be together again.’ …

“She donates the blankets to a children’s hospital, the medical-care facility that took care of her mother and the school where her mother teaches. Families can also request the twin blankets at operationstarways@gmail.com. …

“Tori, who will enter high school in the fall, said … ‘I want to give people who are going through what I went through hope.’ ”

Summer Weather

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Summer heat means taking walks earlier and earlier.

Today I’m sharing a bunch of my recent photos, plus three from friends. It’s great that so many self-isolating people are sending pictures to each other now. Have you noticed?

Kristina sent the red flower below, which I believe is a Chinese Hibiscus. She lives in my town, but we don’t get to see each other as regularly as before Covid. The next two photos are from Melita, who is currently living in Madrid. Spain was hit hard by the virus, and Melita says she’s grateful for the relative safety of the gardens she can walk to.

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The rest of the photos are mine. For weaving bloggers, I took a picture of the handsome dishtowel a childhood friend made and sent me out of the blue. I positioned it on top of a pillow cover her parents wove many years ago. She carries on the traditional craft.

My local community garden is coming along beautifully and providing a temptation to more than birds. Hence the sign.

Funny to be regarding as art the commuter train that was part of my working life for decades.

Louisa’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is never short of writing utensils. I love checking it out. And every day that I take a walk near there, I see more gravestones I want to photograph. Shadowed ones for example.

The next four photos show art on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, courtesy of Umbrella Art Center artists. The painted doors are by Sophy Tuttle, and the woodland shelving is by Rebecca Tuck.

The various lilies belong to neighbors, and the bright pink flower is, according to the app PictureThis, a rose mallow, apparently a relative of Kristina’s flower.

The last three photos are from New Shoreham and include the historic home where the song “Smilin’ Through” was written — a fact, I fear, that only an islander would consider worthy of note.

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Photo: Library of Congress.
A New York City school around the time of the flu pandemic. History shows it’s possible to hold classes outdoors when the safety of breathing indoors is uncertain.

Photos taken in the 1918 flu pandemic show some schools holding classes with all the windows open or even outdoors. Could we do that today? Reporter Nate Berg at Fast Company looked into the question.

“Sharon Danks has been working for more than 20 years to get schoolkids outdoors,” he writes. “As a trained landscape architect and urban planner, she says too many schools across the country ignore the educational and health benefits offered by the outdoor spaces of their campuses. This is something she’s been trying to change through her nonprofit Green Schoolyards America, based in Berkeley, California. …

“In April, Danks began having conversations about reopening local schools with three other organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. … In early June, the organizations cohosted a webinar on responding to COVID-19 by using outdoor spaces for education. More than 1,000 people from 40 states and eight countries registered.

“[The organizations then] created the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, an effort to create guidelines schools can follow to use their outdoor spaces more effectively in order to bring back face-to-face learning. Volunteers from across the country are now participating in 10 working groups focused on different aspects of moving classes outdoors, from funding to safety to the physical infrastructure needed to seat and teach students outside.

‘The central problem that we were looking at is that none of our schools were built to be able to accommodate kids 6 feet apart inside the building,’ Danks says.

“But what most schools are equipped with is outdoor space and playgrounds — spaces that can be adapted for outdoor learning. Through the use of physical objects such as shade structures and weatherproof seating and adjusted lesson plans that reduce teachers’ reliance on computer screens and overhead projectors, outdoor classrooms can allow classes to continue with the space and fresh air that epidemiologists believe prevents transmission of the virus.

“Outdoor learning can move all students outdoors, or at least shift enough of the student population outside to make indoor classrooms safe with smaller class sizes. Distance learning, with its inherent difficulties, inequities, and access challenges, may become just a rainy day backup plan. …

“In 2017, the San Mateo County Office of Education started an Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative that focuses on increasing knowledge about environmental issues. It does so partly by integrating natural and outdoor spaces into school curricula. Andra Yeghoian, the initiative’s coordinator, says the program has been working to ensure that students at every grade level in its roughly 270 schools have daily access to outdoor learning and play spaces. … ‘Now COVID-19 has really flipped that to be that every kid at every grade level in every subject area can do the majority of their learning outside.’ …

“Danks estimates that only about 15% to 20% of schools in the U.S. have these kinds of facilities. ‘The other 80%, 85% of schools have probably never taken a class outside to do hands-on learning on their own site,’ she says.

“This is where the initiative’s working groups come in. Each is developing a set of two-page recommendations that will provide simple instructions for dealing with common outdoor complications like cold and hot weather, spatially distanced seating arrangements, dust, and insects. Eventually, the recommendations will be published as a free online guidebook. …

“Claire Latané is an assistant professor in Cal Poly Pomona’s landscape architecture department and is leading a group of volunteer landscape architects who are working directly with school officials to identify optimal spaces and sizes of outdoor classrooms. She says about 100 designers have signed up to help, and the first teams are using aerial imagery of campuses to find places with adequate shade, either under trees or carports, and ensuring any changes to school grounds comply with local fire and accessibility codes. They’re also advising on how the locations of outdoor classrooms can address weather concerns. …

“Three case studies have been published on Green Schoolyards America’s website, and offer suggestions for schools in different climates. … At a low cost of just a few thousand dollars, schools use only their existing outdoor shade and tree-covered areas, augmented with affordable seating such as hay bales and additional clothing for unexpected cold or wet weather. …

“The whole process of transitioning to outdoor education doesn’t have to be tortuous, Danks says.

‘In the last pandemic in 1918 to 1920, with tuberculosis and the Spanish flu, schools around the world went outside … even just moved their desks right outside their buildings,’ Danks says. ‘They didn’t overthink it, they just moved their space to where the air was fresher.’ ”

More at Fast Company, here.  Hat tip: ArtsJournal.

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Photo: Volcano Discovery

I love stories about volcanoes that change the flow of history. The really big ones, you know, darken the skies for months — even years — and disrupt the sea like a tsunami.

As Katherine Kornei reports at the New York Times, there are other effects that researchers are just beginning to discover.

“Chaos and conflict roiled the Mediterranean in the first century B.C.,” she reports. “Against a backdrop of famine, disease and the assassinations of Julius Caesar and other political leaders, the Roman Republic collapsed, and the Roman Empire rose in its place. Tumultuous social unrest no doubt contributed to that transition — politics can unhinge a society. But so can something arguably more powerful.

Scientists [in June] announced evidence that a volcanic eruption in the remote Aleutian Islands, 6,000 miles away from the Italian peninsula, contributed to the demise of the Roman Republic.

“That eruption — and others before it and since — played a role in changing the course of history.

“In recent years, geoscientists, historians and archaeologists have joined forces to investigate the societal impacts of large volcanic eruptions. They rely on an amalgam of records — including ice cores, historical chronicles and climate modeling — to pinpoint how volcanism affected civilizations ranging from the Roman Republic to Ptolemaic Egypt to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

“There’s nuance to this kind of work, said Joseph Manning, a historian at Yale University who has studied the falls of Egyptian dynasties. ‘It’s not “a volcano erupts and a society goes to hell.” ‘ But the challenge is worth it, he said. ‘We hope in the end that we get better history out of it, but also a better understanding of what’s happening to the Earth right now.’ …

“Joseph McConnell, a climate scientist at the [Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev.], and his collaborators are in the business of looking for debris [from long ago eruptions]. …

“Volcanic ash, more generally known as tephra, sometimes hides in ice. It’s a special find because it can be geochemically tied to a specific volcano. … The ice also carries a time stamp. Dr. McConnell and his colleagues look for variations in elements like sodium, which is found in sea spray that’s seasonally blown inland. By simply counting annual variations in these elements, it’s possible to trace the passage of time, Dr. McConnell said. ‘It’s like a tree-ring record.’

“Dr. McConnell and his collaborators recently analyzed six ice cores drilled in the Arctic. In layers of ice corresponding to the early months of 43 B.C., they spotted large upticks in sulfur and, crucially, bits of material that were probably tephra. The timing caught the scientists’ attention. Researchers have previously hypothesized that an environmental trigger may have helped set in motion the crop failures, famines and social unrest that plagued the Mediterranean region at that time. …

“Gill Plunkett, a paleoecologist at Queen’s University Belfast, set out sleuthing. After extracting 35 pieces of tephra from the ice, she pored over the rock chemistry of likely volcanic suspects. Nicaragua’s Apoyeque. Italy’s Mount Etna. Russia’s Shiveluch.

“But it was Okmok, a volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, that turned out to be the best match, at least on paper. Sealing the deal would require testing two tephra samples — one from the ice and one from Okmok — on the same instrument.

“Dr. Plunkett arranged for a tephra handoff at a conference in Dublin. A colleague from the Alaska Volcano Observatory, Kristi Wallace, packed four bags of Okmok tephra in her carry-on luggage. The match was spot on, Dr. Plunkett said. …

“This eruption was one of the largest of the last few millenniums, Dr. McConnell and his collaborators concluded, and the sulfate aerosols it created remained in the stratosphere for several years. These tiny particles are particularly good at reflecting sunlight, which means they can temporarily alter Earth’s climate. …

“There’s good evidence that the Northern Hemisphere was colder than normal around 43 B.C. Trees across Europe grew more slowly that year, and a pine forest in North America experienced an unusually early autumn freeze. Using climate models to simulate the impact of an Okmok eruption, Dr. McConnell and his collaborators estimated that parts of the Mediterranean, roughly 6,000 miles away, would have cooled by as much as 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit. … Rain patterns changed as well — some regions would have been drenched by 400 percent more precipitation than normal, the modeling revealed.

“That climate shock came at precisely the wrong time, Dr. [Jessica Clark, a historian of the Roman Republic at Florida State University] said. ‘This was a period of Mediterranean-wide political, social and economic upheaval.’

“These cold, wet conditions would have almost certainly decimated crops, Dr. McConnell and his colleagues said. Historical records compiled by Roman writers and philosophers note food shortages and famines. … For a society already reeling from the assassination of Julius Caesar the year before, such trying conditions might have exacerbated social unrest, the researchers concluded. They might even have kick-started transfers of political power that led to the rise of the Roman Empire.

“ ‘It’s an incredible coincidence that it happened exactly in the waning years of the Roman Republic when things were falling apart,’ said Dr. McConnell, who published the team’s results in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

This was a long, fascinating article. For additional details, including details about the effects of distant volcanic eruptions on the Nile River in Egypt, click here.

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Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Carlos Omar Montes keeps all the equipment and supplies for his mobile barbershop in a 5′ X 5′ storage unit. With support from entrepreneurship programs, he’s building a new life after serving his time.

When I edited a magazine focused on low- and moderate-income issues in New England, I liked to acquire articles on helping former inmates lead a decent life after serving their sentence. Dumping someone on the side of the road with a toothbrush is hardly the way to help him start supporting himself and giving back to society (in the form of taxes, family stability, community service, etc.).

Although retired for four years, I am still drawn to such stories. Here’s one from Kelly Field at the Hechinger Report via the Boston Globe.

“Standing before a roomful of CEOs, angel investors and foundation representatives at Boston College Law School late last year, Carlos Omar Montes pitched his idea for a mobile barbershop.

“Omar’s Barbershop, he told the audience, would fill a niche in the grooming market, offering the ‘old-fashioned experience’ of hot lather and warm towels to men who are confined to group homes and nursing facilities.

“ ‘Omar’s will connect people to the happiest time in their lives, bringing them freedom, convenience and happiness,’ said Montes, dressed in a vest and tie for his presentation.

“A year and a half earlier, Montes, now 31, had been an inmate at the South Bay House of Correction in Boston. He served almost eight years in all, there and elsewhere, for possession of drugs and a firearm. Now he was in a lecture hall on the pastoral suburban campus of Boston College Law School, for the final day of an entrepreneurship boot camp that paired former inmates with law student mentors.

“Covid-19 would arrive a few weeks later. Still, Montes spent the lockdown positioning himself to move forward with his business as soon as reopening allowed — amid a recession that otherwise would have made it considerably harder for him to get any other kind of job.

“The idea of bringing higher education inside prisons got considerable momentum in the years leading up to the pandemic, becoming the subject of books, documentaries and extensive media coverage.

“But if ex-inmates weren’t getting hired before coronavirus, they are unlikely to be in the front of the line now that millions of Americans are unemployed, no matter how much education they received.

“The stigma against candidates with criminal records is so strong that, even with the skills they may have learned behind bars, many find it easier to start a business than get hired by one, said Marc Howard, a professor of government and law who helped start Georgetown University’s Pivot entrepreneurship program last year. …

“Project Entrepreneur at BC, launched last year, is one of a small number of similar efforts that take place both inside prisons and on college campuses and attempt to provide inmates and ex-inmates with the skills, confidence and contacts they need to start their own businesses. They also aim to open traditional students’ eyes to the stigmas and systematic barriers to employment former prisoners like Omar face. …

“Many employers are wary of hiring ex-convicts. According to one widely cited study, a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The result: More than a quarter of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed, and nearly half are re-arrested within eight years of their release. …

“Thirty-five states, including Massachusetts, and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ‘ban the box’ policies that bar questions about prior convictions from job applications. …

“Said Kevin Sibley, executive director of Boston’s Office of Returning Citizens, which helps formerly incarcerated people find education and employment, even in ‘ban the box’ states, many employers still run background checks late in the hiring process and drop any candidate who has committed a felony, ‘even when it has nothing to do with the work assignment.’ …

“Elizabeth Swanson, who has led a Babson College entrepreneurship program for prisoners for a decade, said the lessons of these prison entrepreneurship programs are not only for the inmates.

“When she asks students, at the start of each semester, what they think about prison, Swanson said, they’ll often say something like, ‘I’ve seen “Orange is the New Black.” ‘ Some are terrified to step inside a jail. But when they get to know the inmates, through letters or visits, ‘they do a complete 180.’ ”

More at the Globe, here.

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Photo: CBS News
Blind architect Chris Downey explains to CBS News correspondent Lesley Stahl on
60 Minutes how his disability has made him a better architect.

Talk about making lemonade if life hands you lemons! This story about a man who suffered a devastating loss and eventually came out ahead of the game is inspiring.

Lesley Stahl reported on Chris Downey’s saga for 60 Minutes.

“Several mornings a week, as the sun rises over the Oakland estuary in California, an amateur rowing team works the water. It’s hard to tell which one of them is blind. And Chris Downey thinks that’s just fine.

“CHRIS DOWNEY: It’s really exciting to be in a sport where nobody looks in the direction they’re going. You face this way in the boat and you’re going that way. So, okay even-steven.

“It’s not exactly even-steven in this design meeting, where Downey is collaborating with sighted architects on a new hospital building. But he hasn’t let that stop him.

“LESLEY STAHL: Here you are in a profession that basically requires you to read— read designs and draw designs. You must’ve thought in your head, ‘That is insurmountable?’ …

“DOWNEY: Friends that were architects and anybody else would say, ‘Oh my God, it’s the worst thing imaginable, to be an architect and to lose your sight. I can’t imagine anything worse.’ But I quickly came to realize that — the creative process is an intellectual process. It’s how you think, so I just needed new tools.

“New tools? Downey found a printer that could emboss architectural drawings so that he could read and understand through touch. …

“At age 45, Chris Downey had pretty much constructed the life he’d always wanted. An architect with a good job at a small housing firm outside San Francisco, he was happily married, with a 10-year-old son. He was an assistant little league coach and avid cyclist. And then — doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. He had surgery, and the tumor was safely gone, but Downey was left completely blind. As we first reported in 2019, what he has done in the decade since losing his sight, as a person and as an architect, can only be described as a different kind of vision.

“And he came up with a way to ‘sketch’ his ideas onto the plans using a simple children’s toy — malleable wax sticks that he shapes to show his modifications to others. And he says something surprising started to happen. He could no longer see buildings and spaces, but he began hearing them. …

“DOWNEY: I was fascinated — walking through buildings that I knew sighted. But I was experiencing them in a different way. I was hearing the architecture, I was feeling the space. … It was sort of this — this excitement of, ‘I’m a kid again. I’m— I’m relearning so much of architecture.’

It wasn’t about what I’m missing in architecture, it’s what— was about what I had been missing in architecture.

“Chris Downey’s upbeat attitude doesn’t mean that he didn’t go through one of the most frightening experiences imaginable — and struggle. He and his wife Rosa were living in this same home with their son Renzo, then 10, when Downey first noticed a problem while playing catch with Renzo. The ball kept coming in and out of sight. The cause turned out to be a tumor near his optic nerve. Surgery to remove it lasted nine and a half hours. He says his surgeon had told him there was a slight risk of total sight loss, but that he’d never had it happen. … The next day half his field of vision disappeared. And then —

“DOWNEY: The next time I woke up it was — all gone. It was just black. …

“After days of frantic testing, a surgeon told him it was permanent. Irreversible. And sent in a social worker.

“DOWNEY: She says, ‘Oh, and I see from your chart you’re’— you’re an architect, so we can talk about career alternatives.’ …

“Alone that night in his room, Downey did some serious thinking. About his son, and about his own father, who had died from complications after surgery when Downey was seven years old.

“DOWNEY: I could quickly — appreciate the wonder, the — just the joy of, ‘I’m still here.’ …

“He knew that how he handled this would send a strong message to Renzo. … Motivated to set an example, he headed back to work only one month later.

“Just nine months after going blind, the recession hit and he lost his job. But he got word that a nearby firm was designing a rehabilitation center for veterans with sight loss. They were eager to meet a blind architect.  …

“DOWNEY: It took my disability and turned it upside down. All of a sudden, it defined unique, unusual value that virtually nobody else had to offer. …

“Starting with that job, Downey developed a specialty, making spaces accessible to the blind. He helped design a new eye center at Duke University Hospital, consulted on a job for Microsoft, and signed on to help the visually impaired find their way in San Francisco’s new, and much-delayed, four-block long Transbay Transit Center, which we visited during construction. …

“DOWNEY: I’m absolutely convinced I’m a better architect today than I was sighted.

“STAHL: If you could see tomorrow, would you still wanna be able to feel the design? …

“DOWNEY: I don’t know. I would be afraid that I’d — I’d sorta lose what I’ve really been working on.” More.

Hat tip: Kristina.

 

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Photo: Dazzle Club/Cocoa Laney 
Members of the Dazzle Club in February 2020 demonstrating techniques to subvert facial-recognition technology.

In my early online years, I naively thought I could protect my privacy by using a different photo at all my social media sites: the blog, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … Now I know hiding my face is a lost cause.

Interestingly, there are young people in England who don’t believe the cause is lost. A March PRI (Public Radio International) story explains how you can go to a protest and not be tracked when you exercise the Right of Assembly (US term). I couldn’t resist sharing the story because recently individuals that Dickens’s Sam Weller would call “The Law” have started covering their own faces despite demands to see yours. Irony.

So if you are a Yellow-Vest Mom and your Covid face mask seems insufficient, consider makeup.

Orla Barry reports, “It’s a rainy evening in East London and a group of people with their faces daubed in bizarre make-up is making their way silently through the neighborhood’s busy streets. Nobody speaks although many commuters and tourists stare. This is The Dazzle Club.

“Set up by four artists, the group dons camouflage make-up and leads a silent public walk once a month in protest of live facial recognition police cameras in London. The make-up is called CV Dazzle and, when applied correctly, it tricks the cameras into being unable to detect a face. Artist Evie Price, who leads the walk on a February night, worries about what the police do with the information the cameras observe.

” ‘What are they doing with the data that they’re collecting?’ said Price. ‘They say it’s for safety purposes and preventative policing, but we have no evidence that what they’re actually using it for is working.’

“London is already one of the most surveilled cities in the world with around 420,000 CCTV cameras in operation. Washington, D.C., has around 30,000 in comparison. …

“Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch believes the technology could alter how the police view members of the public. Director Silkie Carlo compares the cameras to a police line-up.

‘It actually starts to reverse the presumption of innocence. It means that members of the public in our everyday lives are effectively being subjected to a constant police lineup, constantly having our identities checked to make sure that we’re not criminals,’ Carlo said.

“The cameras [work] by scanning people’s faces and then comparing those images to a list of suspects police have already inputted into the system. London’s assistant police commissioner, Nick Ephgrave, said the technology does not store images of people’s faces, unless they are on the list. …

” ‘The only images that are retained are those where there has been an alert. And they are retained for a maximum of 31 days,’ Ephgrave said.

“London police claim the cameras are 70% accurate, but that does not concur with the findings of an independent study into the technology. Professor Pete Fussey, an expert in surveillance with Essex University was commissioned by the police to review the effectiveness of the system. His results differed greatly from those of the police.

‘On the six trials that I observed, there were 42 times in which the facial recognition system alerted operators that someone passed the cameras, who matched the database. In only eight of those cases, was it verifiably correct that the person was without any doubt the person that had been matched,’ Fussey said.

“That’s an accuracy rate of 19%.

“But despite the independent report, London police are not the only ones pushing for the technology to be expanded. Retailers across Britain have also started to use live facial recognition cameras in their stores. Facewatch, one company that provides facial recognition technology, says the failure of police to tackle low-level crimes, like shop-lifting, is driving more shop-owners to use the cameras. Facewatch CEO Nick Fisher says they’re proving very effective. …

“The Dazzle Club doesn’t yet know if the camouflage makeup will truly fool police cameras. Artist Georgina Rowlands, a fellow Club founder says they haven’t been able to access the software the London police use. …

“After an hour, the silent walk comes to an end and the group all head to a local pub to have a beer and chat. Claudia and James, who didn’t share their full identities, joined the walk that night for the first time. Claudia says she found the experience uplifting. …

“James said he was worried about the extent to which the cameras are already being used around the world. ‘Facial recognition is a huge thing already and especially when you look at what’s happening in China. [The walk] just seemed a really nice way of, you know, pushing back against that.’ ” More here.

Note that “a beer and a chat” probably went on lockdown shortly after this story was published.

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When my summertime neighbor opens her front door in the morning, I know it’s OK to go over there even if it’s only 6:30. We like to take our walk early, before there are too many mopeds and before it gets hot.

In this plague year, we put on our masks and walk six feet apart. If there are no cars or other people, one of us walks in the middle of the road. Otherwise, one is in front and one six feet behind.

A few other people prefer the early hours, too. It can be a good time to paint the rock and have the work last more than half an hour.

We always check to see if the lotus on Lakeside has any buds. This year looks bad. Sandra notes the little pond is almost dry.

The marker honoring New Shoreham’s early indigenous residents, the Manisseans, is near their old burial ground. We usually pause and turn around here.

On the way home, we check on how the potential ingredients for Sandra’s jellies are coming along. Will the wild blackberry crop be good this year? How many many jars of beach plum jam is this spot likely to provide?

Last year, in between hunting for Monarch caterpillars on milkweed, we picked a lot of Queen Anne’s Lace, and Sandra made a batch of “Jelly a la Thelma,” which has a slightly lemony flavor.

You can probably tell our walk is not aerobic exercise.

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Art: Liu Xiaodong
“Thank you 2020.4.9” (2020), watercolor on paper, at New York City’s Lisson Gallery.

People from around the world often perceive New Yorkers as brash, rude. But if you have spent any time in the city, you know there’s another side, a side that is helpful and kind, that will drop everything to give a stranger detailed directions to the Empire State Building or a place to buy the freshest lychee nuts.

During the height of the pandemic, artist Liu Xiaodong seems to have seen the generosity, humanity, and vulnerability of New Yorkers and to have captured it in his watercolors.

John Yau writes at Hyperallergic, “Charles Baudelaire said in his 1863 essay that the ‘painter of modern life’ is the ‘passionate observer’ who can be ‘away from home and yet […] feel at home anywhere.’

“Among contemporary artists, the Chinese observational painter Liu Xiaodong is the closest embodiment of Baudelaire’s ideal that I know. For years, he has been, in the words of Baudelaire, an ‘independent, intense, and impartial spirit’ who observes the ‘ebb and flow’ of the world around him. This has led him to set up a temporary studio near an orphanage in Greenland and one among Uyghur jade miners in China’s harsh northwest. …

“In 1978, when Liu was 15, his family sent him to live with his uncle, who had studied Western painting at the Jilin Academy of Fine Arts and had gone on to become the art editor of a magazine. His uncle taught him watercolor, and showed him the books he had about English watercolors, European oil painting, and the Peredvizhniki, a group of late 19th-century Russian realists who believed that Russia and its people possessed an inner beauty.

“The date of 1978 is significant: it is two years after the death of Mao Zedong, the end of the Cultural Revolution, and the Tangshan earthquake, which devastated the region where he and his family lived. Born in 1963, Liu belongs to a generation that has both witnessed and been directly affected by the convulsive social, political, and economic changes that China has undergone during Mao’s lifetime, and since his death. …

“His instinct to respond to what is directly in front of him with whatever medium he has on hand endows his views with an unrivaled propinquity. He is, to cite Baudelaire, at the very center of the world he is depicting, and unseen by it. …

“[A recent exhibition provided] a visual and written record of a specific area of Manhattan, determined by what he can walk to.

Liu made his watercolors during an extreme period in New York’s history, starting with the empty streets during the first months of the COVID-19 quarantine, and including the Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations in response to the video-recorded murder of George Floyd.

“Even in this acute moment in our history, he is able to slow down his looking to find and celebrate the beauty of human determination, as well as recognize feelings of wariness and displacement. …

“The watercolor ‘Kitchen Paper cannot be flushed down the Toilet, right, 2020’ [is] a wonderful tonal view of a roll of paper towels resting on a toilet tank, a quick yet careful placing of pale yellows, blues, off whites, and grays. …

“[But] the range of subjects and views underscores a person who is remarkably open to the world, from a blooming tree, to children’s toys left at a park, to an evening view of the top of the Empire State Building, seen between two buildings, to a homeless man’s legs sticking out of a doorway. … You never get the feeling that he is looking for something; there is no hierarchy to what he chooses. …

“As Manhattan transitioned from the largely empty streets of the quarantine to demonstrations and large groups of police, Liu kept looking, kept going out, and kept making watercolors and taking photographs, to work on later.  His attention to detail, to the color and light, is masterful and precise. … The merging of mark and color, and his sensitivity to light and dark, feel effortless, though we know they are not. This is Liu’s genius; there are no signs of hesitation in his work.

“In Liu’s watercolors and painted-over photographs, the viewer encounters scenes in which hand, eye, and intelligence work in astonishing tandem. … We are the lucky beneficiaries of a vision at once candid and sophisticated, open and sincere, witty and compassionate — an unlikely combination in this dark, nerve-fraying, and isolating period in history.”

To see an array of Liu Xiaodong’s New York paintings, go to Hyperallergic, here. And fall in love with that city all over again.

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Photo: via Good Morning America
Michelle Brenner, pictured here in an undated handout photo, has been dubbed the “Lasagna Lady” in Gig Harbor, Wash., for making her grandmother’s lasagna and donating it to first responders, laid-off neighbors, and others.

Isn’t lasagna one of the all-time most American comfort foods? It’s the kind of thing you deliver to someone who has just had a death in the family. It has pretty much all the food groups, too.

This is a story about a woman who really loves baking lasagna and decided to use her stimulus check to feed people after she was laid off.

As Cathy Free reported at the Washington Post in June, “After Michelle Brenner was furloughed from her job at a menswear store in Gig Harbor, Wash., because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, she turned to comfort-food therapy.

“Brenner, 45, made herself a huge pan of lasagna using her grandmother’s recipe. Then, in a moment of pride after shopping for groceries (including frozen lasagna) for some of her neighbors, she got on her community Facebook page and wrote that frozen, store-bought lasagna could not compare to the real Italian homemade deal. …

“ ‘If any of you want some fresh homemade, no calorie counting lasagna, please let me know and I will gladly prepare it,’ she wrote. Brenner set aside her $1,200 stimulus check to buy ingredients, and the requests soon began to trickle in. [Soon] so many people started showing up, including strangers, that Brenner lost track. …

“Nearly three months and 1,200 pans later … about eight hours a day, seven days a week, she helps feed people in her community — from hospital workers and first responders to single parents struggling without paychecks. …

“Initially, Brenner set up a pantry in her front yard where people could pick up an assembled lasagna and bake it at home.

“But when the requests began multiplying faster than she could restock her refrigerator with ground beef and cheese, the president of the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club offered the clubhouse kitchen for her project.

“ ‘We saw what a great thing she was doing, and we have this nice commercial kitchen that wasn’t being used because of Covid,’ said [the] club’s president. …

“After Brenner used her stimulus check to buy lasagna ingredients for her first 60 giveaways, she decided to start a Facebook fundraiser that quickly netted more than $10,000 — enough for more than 500 pans. Then people began donating what they could — from $1 to $100 — when they picked up their orders.

“ ‘When word got out on social media, people from all over the world started donating to my cause,’ said Brenner, who is single and moved to Gig Harbor from Port Orchard, Wash., six years ago.

“People have contributed more than $22,000 so far, and she said she hopes ‘to be making lasagna for many months to come. … It’s a pan of love,’ said Brenner, who has been living on unemployment assistance since she was furloughed. ‘A lot of the people I make lasagna for have lost their jobs,.’ …

“When she initially started filling her grocery cart with lasagna ingredients, other shoppers sometimes raised their eyebrows as she was clearing store shelves of lasagna noodles and canned tomatoes, she said.

“Then a neighbor dropped off a specially designed T-shirt at her house one day that read, ‘Lasagna Lady.’ The name stuck like wet noodles flung on a wall.

“ ‘Now when people see me loading up, they know that I’m not hoarding,’ she said. ‘And when there’s a shortage of something, like ground beef or pasta, all I have to do is put the word out and somebody will find it for me in another county.’

“She expects to return to work at some point this summer but said she’ll still make time for lasagna.”

More here.

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Photo: CNN
Eugene, Oregon, a town of 170,000, replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It’s worked for more than 30 years.

Often when society wants to find a better way of doing something, it’s possible to find a model with a track record showing what works and what doesn’t. Consider this non-police response to crises.

Scottie Andrew writes at CNN, “Around 30 years ago, a town in Oregon retrofitted an old van, staffed it with young medics and mental health counselors and sent them out to respond to the kinds of 911 calls that wouldn’t necessarily require police intervention.

“In the town of 172,000, they were the first responders for mental health crises, homelessness, substance abuse, threats of suicide — the problems for which there are no easy fixes. The problems that, in the hands of police, have often turned violent. Today, the program, called CAHOOTS, has three vans, more than double the number of staffers and the attention of a country in crisis.

CAHOOTS is already doing what police reform advocates say is necessary to fundamentally change the US criminal justice system — pass off some responsibilities to unarmed civilians.

“Cities much larger and more diverse than Eugene have asked CAHOOTS staff to help them build their own version of the program. CAHOOTS wouldn’t work everywhere, at least not in the form it exists in in Eugene. But it’s a template for what it’s like to live in a city with limited police.

“CAHOOTS comes from White Bird Clinic, a social services center that’s operated in Eugene since the late 1960s. It was the brainchild of some counterculture activists who’d felt the hole where a community health center should be. And in 1989, after 20 years of earning the community’s trust, CAHOOTS was created.

“It stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets and cheekily refers to the relationship between the community health center that started it and the Eugene Police Department. …

“Said David Zeiss, the program’s co-founder, ‘We knew that we were good at it, [and] we knew it was something of value to a lot of people … we needed to be known and used by other agencies that commonly encounter crisis situation.’

“It works this way: 911 dispatchers filter calls they receive — if they’re violent or criminal, they’re sent to police. If they’re within CAHOOTS’ purview, the van-bound staff will take the call. … It always paired one medic, usually a nurse or EMT, with a crisis responder trained in behavioral health. That holistic approach is core to its model. …

“White Bird’s counterculture roots ran deep — the clinic used to fundraise at Grateful Dead concerts in the West, where volunteer medics would treat Deadheads — so the pairing between police and the clinic wasn’t an immediately fruitful one. There was ‘mutual mistrust’ between them, said Zeiss. … ‘It was an obstacle we had to overcome.’

“And for the most part, both groups have: Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner called theirs a ‘symbiotic relationship’ that better serves some residents of Eugene:  ‘When they show up, they have better success than police officers do.’ …

“Police encounters with the homeless often end in citations or arrests. Of homeless people with mental health conditions, anywhere from 62.0% to 90% of them will be arrested, per one journal review of homelessness studies. They may end up in jail, not in treatment or housing, and thus begins the cycle of incarceration that doesn’t benefit either party. …

“Most of CAHOOTS’ clients are homeless, and just under a third of them have severe mental illnesses. It’s a weight off the shoulders of police, Skinner said.

” ‘I believe it’s time for law enforcement to quit being a catch-base for everything our community and society needs,’ Skinner said. ‘We need to get law enforcement professionals back to doing the core mission of protecting communities and enforcing the law, and then match resources with other services like behavioral health.’ …

“June Fothergill, a pastor at a Springfield church, [calls] CAHOOTS to pick up the homeless people or people with substance use issues that stop by for free meals.

“Fothergill said while CAHOOTS does its part well — providing immediate services to someone in crisis — there’s still a void when it comes to long-term solutions.

” ‘You can call someone for the crisis, but what are they supposed to do for it?’ …

“They’re better equipped than police to care for the people she serves, she said. But if there isn’t space in affordable housing, Eugene’s detoxing center or mental health facilities, those clients will turn into regulars.’They’re doing what they can do,’ she said. ‘There’s wonderful work going on, but it isn’t adequate at the moment.’ …

“Advocates for limiting the role of police have pointed to Eugene as an example of social service providers and law enforcement working in harmony. But a growing group of dissenters feel there’s little room for police in the movement to fundamentally change the American criminal justice system. Services like CAHOOTS, they say, may function better and more broadly without the assistance of police. Zeiss isn’t sure he agrees.

” ‘Partnership with police has always been essential to our model,’ he said. ‘A CAHOOTS-like program without a close relationship with police would be very different from anything we’ve done. I don’t have a coherent vision of a society that has no police force.’ ”

More at CNN, here.

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