The delivery of the first of the drilling rigs is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2022 International Maritime Industries signs two rigs drilling contracts with ARO Drilling. (Credit: International Maritime Industries) International Maritime Industries (IMI) has signed two contracts with ARO Drilling for the construction of two LETOURNEAU Super 116E Class offshore jack-up drilling rigs in Saudi Arabia.A joint venture (JV) of Saudi Aramco and Valaris Companies, ARO Drilling is an offshore drilling contractor that owns, operates, and manages a fleet of high-specification and premium jack-up rigs in Saudi Arabia.IMI said that the delivery of the first rig is estimated in the first quarter of 2022, while the second rig will be in the second quarter of the same year.ARO Drilling CEO Kelly McHenry said: “ARO is committed to increasing our presence in the region and we are pleased to reach agreements that will enable us to use local manufacturing capabilities to support our fleet growth objectives.“Through these purchase agreements, ARO will acquire two state-of-the-art jack-ups and we look forward to partnering with IMI on the delivery of these rigs.”After the delivery, each rig is estimated to get an eight-year commitment with Saudi Aramco for operations in Saudi Arabia.IMI signs sub-contract agreement with Lamprell EnergyAdditionally, IMI has also signed a subsequent sub-contract agreement with long-term partners Lamprell Energy (LEL) for the construction of two Keppel LeTourneau Super 116E jack-up drilling rigs.IMI is situated in The King Salman Complex for International Maritime Industries & Services at Ras Al-Khair, Saudi Arabia.Upon completion, the facility is expected to have an the annual capacity of four newly constructed offshore rigs and more than 43 newly constructed vessels along with very large crude carrier (VLCCs), in addition to servicing over 260 maritime products.With production operations estimated to begin in the end of this year, the facility is expected to be fully operational by 2022.In September last year, IMI had signed a Vessel Purchase Agreement (VPA) with Bahri along with a subsequent sub-contract agreement with long-term partners Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the construction of one 319,000 DWT Class Crude Oil Carrier.
Father charged in connection with death of 2-year-old daughter found in suitcaseTravis Plummer, 37, of Richmond, Va., has been charged with allegedly dumping the remains of a child along the PATH tracks near Journal Square on April 11. Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said the child, who was found by Port Authority employees dead in a suitcase, has been positively identified as Te’Myah Layauna Plummer, born on May 19, 2016, in Richmond, Va.The investigation as to the exact nature of the infant’s death is still pending, but the preliminary investigation has led law enforcement to believe that Te’Myah Plummer died out-of-state. During the investigation, homicide investigators from the prosecutor’s office were contacted by the Richmond Police Department regarding a missing child case that they were currently investigating involving Te’Myah Plummer and her father.Her father was subsequently tracked by investigators to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was arrested without incident by FBI agents on April 19 and is currently awaiting extradition to Hudson County.Plummer has been charged by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit with Desecrating Human Remains. He had previously been charged in connection with a toddler’s drowning years ago while two children were under his care.Investigators are continuing to investigate this case and are urging anyone with information about this incident or anyone who remembers seeing something suspicious in this area to contact the Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345 or leave an anonymous tip on the Prosecutor’s website at http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential. Saint Dominic’s to host Spring Open HouseSaint Dominic Academy, Jersey City will host its Spring Open House for those interested in all grades 7-12 on Wednesday, May 2, from 6-8 p.m. The event will feature club and athletic demonstrations, including a performance by the award-winning Dominoes, presentations by academic departments and the administration, tours of the school and complete information about the Application and Admissions process for all grades 7-12, including transfers.Information will also be available about Summer Enrichment programs for rising eight and ninth graders (including HSPT Prep) as well as the Summer Rising Leaders Program for girls entering grades 4-7.Saint Dominic Academy is an independent, Catholic, college preparatory school for girls in grades 7-12, which has been empowering women for leadership in a global society for 140 years. Sponsored by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, Saint Dominic Academy is rooted in Christian values and embraces its richly diverse community of learners. It is located in an historic building at 2572 Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, on the internet at www.stdominicacad.com and on Instagram and Twitter both @SaintDomAcademy.Volunteer to help foster kidsLearn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be held at the Hudson County Courthouse, 595 Newark Ave. Rm. 901 on Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m.Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org. Jersey City resident gives birth in Uber outside Lincoln TunnelJersey City resident Sathya Priya Senthil gave birth to a six-pound three-ounce daughter in the backseat of an Uber car on Monday, according to media reports.The car was stuck in traffic outside the Lincoln Tunnel toll booths and the family did not have time to make it to Tisch Hospital in Manhattan.The driver pulled over and three Port Authority officers helped deliver the baby. Her husband Karthik Lakshmanan cut the umbilical cord before the family was detoured to Hoboken University Medical Center.“It has been a nervewracking day, an exciting day,” said Lakshmanan on TV. “I don’t think we’ll ever forget this day.” ×The Hamilton Square Condominium Association presents ‘Crossing: Paintings by Jasmine Hsu’ and will hold an opening reception May 9, 6-8 p.m., in the Hamilton Square lobby exhibition space, 232 Pavonia Ave., Jersey City. The paintings will remain on view until Aug. 26. The exhibit is curated by Enrico Gomez. The Hamilton Square Condominium Association presents ‘Crossing: Paintings by Jasmine Hsu’ and will hold an opening reception May 9, 6-8 p.m., in the Hamilton Square lobby exhibition space, 232 Pavonia Ave., Jersey City. The paintings will remain on view until Aug. 26. The exhibit is curated by Enrico Gomez. read more
Stubb’s Bar-be-que is one of the most recognizable music venues in Austin, Texas. The operational barbecue restaurant, which doubles as a high-profile music venue, recently found itself faced with a trademark lawsuit against the Baltimore-based McCormick & Co. and its Austin offshoot, One World Foods. One World, which sells its own line of Stubb’s barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades, was acquired by McCormick & Co. in 2015 as part of a $100 million deal, and the lawsuit was filed shortly after its sale after Stubb’s expanded with additional restaurants in Austin not covered by the original oral license.What Went Down During String Cheese Incident’s Three Special Nights In AustinAllegedly, the ongoing lawsuit has been highly contentious, with judge Sam Sparks noting, “The only meaningful message is that the parties do not like each other and are willing to pay incredible attorney’s fees rather than sitting down and working out a relatively simple solution that would conclude this case and allow both plaintiff’s and defendants’ businesses to continue in their profitable ways” back in December. Despite this animosity, on Thursday, a resolution was finally reached between the two feuding companies, with McCormick gaining exclusive rights to the Stubb’s trademark. As a result, the beloved music venue and restaurant will be changing its name, though no timeline for the changes has been announced. As Lou Reyes noted to The Statesman, “As a result of the sale of One World Foods in 2015, we will now begin a process of phasing out the name ‘Stubb’s. . . . While the name will change, it will still be the same owner/operator, same live music, same cold beer and great food for years and years to come.”Yonder Mountain String Band Releases Live Album From Austin, Marking The Band’s First Live Release Since 2008While no further details about the renaming process have been announced, as reported by Austin 360, documents indicate that Stubb’s may be changing its name to “Liberty Lunch,” after a well-loved Austin venue that closed in 1999.[H/T Consequence of Sound; Photo NPR] read more
On a cold January morning, our Media Agents video crew and I arrived at a modern Dallas office building housing Epsilon’s headquarters. You may be asking, “who is Epsilon?” They’re the quiet marketing powerhouse behind many Fortune 500 loyalty programs. According to Epsilon’s Chief Information Officer Robert Walden, Epsilon is happy to stay in the background servicing their Fortune 500 customers.As I sat down in the lobby, a promotional video was running that really brought to light the work Epsilon is doing for industry giants such as Dunkin’ Donuts, AMEX, FEDEX, and Walgreens. Have you ever considered who is behind the personalized email marketing communications and great offers you receive from loyalty programs, or how you can seamlessly redeem your loyalty points? That’s Epsilon.During this visit, we took a look into the intricacies of the complex world of data analytics and building multi-channel relationships with today’s customers.Our first video interview was with Robert. Robert articulated that Epsilon’s business is all about data, with a goal to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time through the right medium. Epsilon’s success depends on crafting and customizing messages to have the most value to their client’s customers. With a position as a Leader in the report: The Forrester WaveTM: Customer Loyalty Solutions, Q3 2017 and, as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Email Marketing Service Providers, Q3 2016, Epsilon is definitely at the top of their game. They single-handedly often deliver and handle a billion emails every day and manage more than 600 million memberships.To handle this volume of data, Epsilon built a multi-channel messaging platform called Agility HarmonyTM based on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers. This purpose-built platform provides the flexibility, scalability, and performance to meet the requirements of their customers and internal stakeholders. When it comes to one of my favorite new technologies, machine learning, Epsilon is using these methods to better understand their customers at a faster rate.Our second interview was with Jun Chen, the SVP of Operations for Epsilon. Jun is responsible for infrastructure technologies and operations, whether based in the cloud or on-site. She explained how, in the fast paced world of data analytics, the greatest challenge is keeping up with rapidly evolving technology, as well as ensuring her people have the necessary skill sets. One of the key differentiators for Epsilon is speed to delivery, whether they are delivering a solution or new feature to their customers. She explained that by working with Dell EMC, Harmony’s platform capacity can be expanded in a matter of a few short weeks vs. a previous timeline that took months.Next, we spoke to Prashanth Athota, SVP of Platform Engineering. He talked about Epsilon’s goal of making lifetime connections with their customers. The Harmony multi-channel messaging platform isn’t about sending bulk email, but building a story and intelligently creating connections based on individual preferences, interest, transactional history, off line activity, and cross channel activity to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right device. The Harmony platform using advanced data analytics, allows Epsilon to meet their client’s challenges and aggressive requirements.Prashanth discussed the details of how Harmony big data clusters run on the Dell EMC R740XD. It was captivating to learn about the different big data technology stacks running on Harmony, including Hadoop, Cassandra, and memcached big data clusters. Epsilon chose to partner with Dell EMC because our technology allows them to support multiple types of workloads and horizontally scale on- demand. The flexible and scalable architecture of the Dell EMC PowerEdge servers allows Epsilon to support different types of workloads based on rapidly changing requirements, whether they need more CPU power, memory or storage data clusters.Whew, what a fascinating journey. And these were only our morning interviews! Follow us at @DellEMCservers for the upcoming Epsilon video, and to learn more about this global marketing solutions team and the Dell EMC solutions that power its success. read more
Rebecca Hall came across Nella Larsen’s novel “Passing” at a time when she was grappling with her own family history. She’d become aware that her maternal grandfather was “white passing,” and it might have gone back even further. Then someone handed her this book, from 1929, about two childhood friends who meet again as adults. Both Clare and Irene are light-skinned Black women and Clare has been living as white. And it was the beginning of a lengthy journey to making her first film, “Passing,” starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson, which premiered this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival to wide acclaim.
The not quite as smokey Smoky Mountains.Your outdoor news for March 13, 2013:Smoky Mountains Less SmokyAnd that’s a good thing. According to a new report from the Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CSU CIRA), the Clean Air Act is working – at least in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Between 1990 – the last amendment to the act – and 2010, sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped from 23 million tons to 8 million tons and nitrogen oxide emissions were cut in half. What this all means is that when you are on top of a Smoky Mountain peak, you will be able to see farther than two decades ago (See photo above). CIRA used atmospheric conditions from present and the 1990s to simulate what the park looked like way back when and compare it to present day. The results are dramatic. While the scientists involved in the study stress there is still a lot to do and long way to go, this is a good sign that policy in Washington can affect real and good change.New Climbing Gym Opens in RoanokeA climbing gym has opened in Roanoke. The River Rock offers 4,500 square feet of bouldering with over 140 problems and 4,000 square feet of rope climbing with over 30 routes, and will offer lessons, host birthday parties and community events. This new gym is significant for a few of reasons. Roanoke was the winner of our Best Mid-Size Mountain Town reader poll in part because both the community and local government is committed to developing projects like a new climbing gym along their already established greenway. The River Rock sits inside the River House, a converted ice factory in the historic Wasena Neghborhood, which also houses the Wasena City Tap Room plus other commercial space and residential units. This is truly a unique development in the heart of Roanoke, and is exemplary of the strides a city can make from dying industrial center to emerging outdoor mecca. Through mixed use, outdoor recreation/residential/commercial spaces like this, the future is only looking brighter for the the Star City.Pope on the SlopeUsually when we talk about white smoke, we are not talking about Catholicism, but another religion favored by dreadlocked islanders (cough, cough). In this case, however, white smoke billowing from the Vatican signals the election of a new head of the Catholic church. Specifically, that new pope is 76-year-old Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now known as Pope Francis. Whether you give a flying Franciscan about who the next pope is or not, the occasion was an excuse for Outside to retread a 2002 piece cleverly titled Pope on a Rope Tow. The article by Lisa Anne Auerbach is a fun little jaunt to Poland to ski and investigate Pope John Paul II’s history with skiing, rumored to be extensive. A good read, especially given the news of the day which is very much Pope-heavy. read more
Animal Assisted therapy – Photo credit: Sarah Vogel At that point, I was struck by how many connections I had noticed during my research for this article. Some people already knew each other through the mental health field and academic circles, but many other connections were unknown until I started putting the pieces together. Artist Ann Cheeks paints scenes from the Blue Ridge Mountains, paintings that have been used by her sister, Pat Cheeks, for ecotherapy interventions. These paintings have also made their way to the walls of UVA Hospital, selected by the Art Committee, on which Professors Dennis Proffitt and Reuben Rainey have both been long-standing members. Ecotherapists and Resources in Virginia Children explore EJC ArboretumPhoto courtesy of EJC As we become an increasingly urban society, it’s important to ask: Where can we find green spaces and how can we protect them? As it turns out, ecotherapy may be the answer not only to our individual well-being, but also to well-being of our communities and our planet. “But don’t they see the long-term payoff?” I asked in frustration. James River Park Pipeline Walkway. Photo credit: Sarah Vogel Perhaps we need to stop looking at our personal impact in the form of numbers like kilowatt hours, pH levels, pounds of carbon emissions, or degrees Celsius. Because when we look at things that way, the impact of the individual seems insignificant. But movements aren’t built on numbers. They are built on the strength in numbers. And if nature reconnection gives us back our ability to care, I don’t see what we have to lose. The fossil fuel industry is dying — oil and gas stocks are at their lowest since 1979, largely due to increased cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources. Electric car-charging stations have popped up in parking lots, and in the last decade, solar power has experienced an average growth rate of 50% per year. Veganism, vegetarianism, and flexitarianism are becoming more widely accepted, with plant-based meat substitutes like Beyond Meat hitting major grocery stores this year. People are starting to get louder about protecting the environment, and politicians and investors are starting to listen. Although nature connection itself carries little risk of harm, nature can indeed be dangerous. Please be sure to understand and prepare for the risks before venturing into the wild. Furthermore, it is important to note that the field of ecotherapy is still relatively new, and not regulated by the American Psychological Association. Ecotherapists can gain training and certification through organizations such as the Earthbody Institute and other reputable organizations. Do not be afraid to ask ecotherapists about their qualifications and experience in order to get the highest quality of care. Finally, remember that ecotherapy is not a replacement for medical or mental health treatment by licensed professionals, but rather a supplement to a complete, holistic approach to well-being. Said Mahon, “Really, we all want the same things. We all want love, we all want to be loved, we all want to live a good life; to have control over our lives. And the truth is, beyond this human veil, we are all one as well. We just separately reflect a truth that is, underneath, shared by all.” Horticultural: This therapy uses plants and gardening, usually done in community gardens and greenhouses. Maintaining indoor plants can be similarly healing, if access to a community garden or outdoor space is not available. This type of therapy can be very helpful for the elderly, improving memory, mobility, and socialization.Animal-assisted: Interacting with animals is proven to reduce stress and improve well-being. Equine-assisted therapy is a more formal style that can be very effective in treating children with autism. If you have a pet, consider carving time out of your day to bond with your fur-baby, teach them some tricks, take them for a walk, or just give them an attentive snuggle.Green exercise: Exercise done outdoors is good for the body and mind, and the extra Vitamin D doesn’t hurt either. You can go for a walk, run, cycle, or do yoga in the park. Even doing yard work can feel great after a sweaty day of mowing the lawn or raking leaves. Parks in every city need volunteers to help maintain trails, fix fencing, and otherwise beautify the natural landscape. The bonus of volunteering, of course, is that you feel great about helping the community.Nature arts and crafts: Making art in nature is a great activity for people of all ages, but may be particularly engaging for parents and children. You can stack cairns, make a natural Mandala, create a rock garden, make wind chimes out of sea shells, or paint with juice from berries and red clay. Nature photography can be another great way to notice the little things, like rock textures and bark, soft lighting in sunrise and sunset, or the the ripples when a fish strikes at a water strider.Adventure therapy: Adventure therapy should always be undertaken with the guidance of professionals, as it comes with greater risks than the options listed above. Adventure therapy involves participation in different challenging activities such as caving, rock-climbing, ropes courses, white-water rafting, or strenuous hikes and camping excursions. Often used to treat people suffering from addiction, adventure therapy is a way for people to challenge themselves in new ways, improving self-concept, self-esteem, problem-solving skills and empowerment. Wilderness therapy: Wilderness therapy is similar to adventure therapy, but typically lasts longer (approximately six to ten weeks). Traditionally used for teenagers and young adults, this form of therapy challenges participants to use coping skills, communication, cooperation, and self-reliance to survive in the wilderness. Like adventure therapy, it is vitally important to find a reputable organization due to the dangers of wilderness survival and the sensitive nature of working with minors. Wilderness therapy should always be overseen by licensed mental health professionals with special wilderness training to ensure safety. Make sure to look for programs accredited by the Outdoor Behavioral Health Council for high quality care.Nature meditation: Meditating in a natural setting can improve mindfulness and reduce stress. Sounds of flowing water, birdsong and insect chatter, the smell of pavement after a heavy rain, the feeling of cool dirt under your bare feet, the sight of a sky full of stars — they are visceral reminders of our part in the circle of life. It can be calming, enlightening, and humbling. “It’s important to remember that nature is all around us,” said Mahon. “There are parks and trails everywhere in this region of the state, and abundant opportunities to get back in touch with the natural world.” Toad Triullium at EJC ArboretumPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel “Nature is not a frill,” Professor Rainey told me more than once. “It’s good medicine, and it’s one of the keys of dealing with urban issues. I’m not particularly upset that were are turning into an urban civilization because it could have great benefits as long as we design our cities so that we flourish.” Although Professor Rainey has researched extensively about the design of hospitals to heal medical patients, he is particularly interested in salutogenic health, an approach that focuses not solely on the factors that cause disease, but also on the factors that generate well-being. “We are trying to create flourishing. If you design a place with a garden, for example, people will gravitate to that place, promoting socialization, exercise, and exposure to nature. We can design streetscapes with tree canopies. We can encourage building parks. Neighborhood parks, community parks, larger trail systems — these all contribute to a healthy community.” SO WHY LET IT DIE NOW? Standing at the bottom, a man doesn’t just see a hill. He sees what it takes to climb it. In that brief, unconscious moment he measures himself against the world, even if no one ever asked. Time and time again, we have risen to the challenges we assign ourselves because we’ve had no choice — we were never the fastest or the strongest. And yet, we’ve summited mountains, built pyramids, dove the oceans, and sent radio signals into space. What makes us most human is not the strength of our bodies, but the strength of our spirit. As we walked the footpaths under the arboretum’s lush canopy, Mahon occasionally stooped to the forest floor, identifying plants in bloom. She squatted and caressed the speckled green leaf of a toadshade trillium, noting the recently budded wine-red flower at its center. “By the way, have you heard of fungal mycelium?” she asked, looking up at me. First, let’s explore the most popular forms of ecotherapy. No one size fits all — we all have different lives, different commitments, and depending on where we live, different access to the natural world. But nature is all around us and I believe there is something for everyone. Note that many of these forms of therapy are available with the assistance of a professional, but can also be done independently. “Well, you just put your finger on it,” he replied. “In this culture, it’s very difficult to measure long-term benefits. Some people think it’s in our DNA as creatures. We have a hard time thinking beyond today, beyond the saber-tooth tiger that’s going to take a nibble out of us. The cost of some of these interventions could be recouped in two or three years, but you’re going to have a hard time getting people to see that.” Even as cities and populations grow larger every year, the world grows smaller. Our propensity to innovate and problem-solve has given us the ability to communicate instantly across continents, to mobilize millions with a few clickity-clacks on the keyboard. And while all this new technology may dominate our lives, it is not what defines us as a species. I believe it is much simpler than that. For plants that are unable to gain enough sunlight beneath a thick forest canopy, excess nutrients from a large tree can be transferred through this underground network to help the survival of smaller seedlings. Mycelium will also transmit nitrogen and phosphorus from dying plants to healthy neighbors, and send warning to nearby trees of attacks from insects or pathogens. It is not yet fully understood by science, but has challenged the meaning of intelligence in living species and plant life. Click here to read the whole article Mahon and I strolled through the grounds, watching ducklings trail behind their mothers in the pond, listening to kids shrieking in delight in the nature family garden. Located on the grounds of James Madison University, the EJC Arboretum is the only arboretum on the campus of a Virginia state university, its 125 acres of mature Oak-Hickory forest home to hundreds of native plant species. JMU students often visit the arboretum for quiet solace or research, but the sanctuary remains open to the community and visitors year-round, dawn to dusk. Like with forming any new health regimen, the best activities are the ones you are most likely to continue doing. Some people will love gardening, but others may prefer the adrenaline rush of rock-climbing. If you’re a gym rat, outdoor exercise may be a simple transition to a routine you’ve already established. If you love yoga and meditation, you could try moving it outside or to a place with access to window views of nature. If you already walk your dog everyday, consider making the trip to a park with tree canopy or a body of water. Options are limitless, but give careful thought to which activity you’re most likely to maintain. Nature disconnection is a part of today’s culture, which means that habits may be hard to form. Make it easier on yourself by doing something you love. In my quest to find local green spaces, I reached out to Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture Reuben Rainey at the University of Virginia. Professor Rainey has dedicated much of his career to understanding how different environments can heal individuals and the community as a whole. Click here to read the whole article In my research for this article, I found a deeply interconnected web of people impacting each other in profound ways, some visible and intentional and others invisible and unforeseen. Health professionals, city planners, activists, parents, children, academics, law enforcement, legal entities, hospitals, schools — our society is its own circle of life, and one in which we all play a part. In a world so full of life dependent on each other, we never stand alone. I asked Professor Rainey what we as individuals could to do protect and promote green spaces in our own communities, but was met with a disheartening answer: “The problem is always financial. Changes are not being done by the state or city, but by private-government partnerships. And that’s the way it’s going to be done.” I’d seen it before in search of firewood after turning over logs and large branches — pale, web-like networks of white fungus, spreading beneath the dark peat of the forest. It is the root system of mushrooms but plays a much larger part of our woodland ecosystems. Like an underground internet or ‘wood-wide web,’ as others have dubbed it, it connects hundreds of trees in a single ecosystem, helping them communicate and share resources. Giving in to apathy ensures that nothing changes. Believing change is possible, however, at least gives us a chance. Air filtration masks in Seoul, South KoreaPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel Maybe. But I’ve got a wager. But, he assured me, that’s doesn’t leave us powerless. “As a nation, we are good at forming interest groups. Two impressive examples of private-public partnerships are the restoration of New York’s Central Park and the creation of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. Citizens coming together can make a big difference.” Author Sarah Vogel. Photo credit: Ben Sarten The impacts of these kinds of city improvements are profound, and go far beyond aesthetics. “For example, controlling for variables like ethnic background and economic status, a city with greater tree canopy has a considerable reduction in crime rate,” said Professor Rainey. Unfortunately, he explained, people don’t know about these studies and don’t recognize their importance. “In medical facilities one of the first things to go in a budget cut is the garden.” Humans have come a long way since we cropped up a few hundred thousand years ago, but one thing has always remained the same: from Clovis points to Clonazepam, we’re always searching for new solutions to our problems. Our love of tinkering took us to new heights of innovation our ancestors couldn’t have fathomed, setting us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. But pulling ahead of the pack made us forget we are still part of it, and in our search for answers, we may have lost ourselves. The big question remains: What can you do about it? Recommended Reading But are we so far gone that we’ve also forgotten what makes us most human? Professor Rainey is not alone in the belief that we can make a difference. I made my way back across the mountain to Harrisonburg to meet with Jan Sievers Mahon, Director of the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum where I walked through the labyrinth in my exercise with ecotherapist Pat Cheeks. Years ago, Mahon watched Professor Rainey’s documentary series on PBS, Garden Story: Inspiring Spaces, Healing Places, doubtlessly impacting the operations of the EJC Arboretum. Mahon’s daughter worked at Wildrock, the natural playscape founded by Carolyn Schuyler. Schuyler is a board member of The Women’s Initiative (TWI), a counseling center in Charlottesville that offers ecotherapy workshops free of charge to the community. And counselors from TWI volunteer at the Center for Earth-Based Healing (CEBH) to facilitate ecotherapy camps. “So science is beginning to realize that a tree doesn’t stand alone,” said Mahon. “The forest acts together as a single organism — trees communicate with each other, sending nutrients, water, and information to one another. Where one individual begins and ends becomes increasingly impossible to untangle. This interdependence is helping the whole to be stronger. Nature has figured it out. If we would go to nature to ask for guidance, we might realize how connected we as human beings also are.” With such busy lives, another important question to answer is: How much is enough? More is better, but scientific research has determined that 120 minutes per week of nature exposure is the threshold at which people report feeling improvements in health and well-being. This could be a two-hour hike on the weekend, or 20 minutes per day of sitting in the park. Quality does matter — spending time by the beach or on top of a mountain can have more profound effects, but sitting in an urban park is far better than sitting in front of Netflix. For people who want a full mental reboot, evidence suggests our cognitive abilities improve significantly after three days in the wilderness. A TREE DOESN’T STAND ALONE On the first Earth Day in 1970, millions of people mobilized across America, demanding legislative changes to protect the environment. Within the next five years, the government created the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. And that was only the beginning. In that same decade, scientists raised the alarm about our thinning ozone layer, prompting legislation to phase out certain aerosols and other chemicals responsible for the damage. In 2018, it was announced that the ozone layer was finally healing and could be repaired by 2060. I can appreciate that these are big issues, and difficult to solve. I can appreciate it doesn’t seem productive to take a walk in the park, to go fishing, or to catch butterflies with your kid. I’ve heard people grow cynical about fixing the planet. What’s the point? The actions of one person don’t matter, they say. “I’m an optimist,” said Professor Rainey. “Even the most modest thing can build into something bigger.” I’m not a philosopher, but I’m going to borrow an idea from someone who was. In the 17th century, Blaise Pascal argued that our best bet is to believe in God because if God actually exists, the nonbelievers will suffer eternal hellfire, and the faithful will be rewarded with an eternity in heaven. If you don’t buy in and you are wrong, you have everything to lose. On the flip side, if you do buy in, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. His argument has some logical fallacies which I won’t explore here. But let’s swap God for the belief that we can make a difference — and I think his argument holds water. I don’t want to live in a world where they sell Hello Kitty branded pollution masks at the local pharmacy. There’s a lot wrong with that — maybe it’s just me, but using the most commercial mascot of all time to market a product that filters toxic air to children feels wrong. Last year, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down two vital permits for construction, indefinitely stalling development of the pipeline. The fight isn’t over, but it’s a win. I’m proud to say the people of Appalachia haven’t taken it lying down. At the end of the day, a handful of people from rural Appalachia threw a wrench into the money-making scheme of a 65 billion dollar company. So tell me again that we can’t make a difference. The Nitty Gritty There is a humbling future ahead. The choice is ours whether we humble ourselves or nature does it for us. Already, glaciers are shrinking, sea ice is melting, summer heatwaves and natural disasters are sweeping the globe, and we’re facing the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs got wiped off the map. People are starting to experience emotional fatigue as the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident. They’re calling it enviro-depression. And unfortunately, depression gives way to apathy — it’s just easier not to care. Professor Rainey has seen success in retro-fitting industrialized cities to promote green space: the Atlanta BeltLine (formerly a railroad corridor), Seattle’s Gas Works Park (formerly a gasification plant), New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park (formerly shipping docks) and High Line Park (formerly the NY Central Railroad). In Richmond, one of my favorite parks is the James River Park Pipeline Walkway, a riverfront trail along the pipes below the railroad. “You can reclaim major industrial areas,” explained Professor Rainey. “Extinct infrastructure can be transformed into green infrastructure.” So far in this series, I have talked about the benefits of nature connection and why it heals and enriches our lives. Perhaps, I hope, I’ve convinced you of the power of nature in healing and well-being, in helping us remember to play, in helping understand ourselves, and in helping us remember that a world also exists outside ourselves. I’ve thrown statistics and science at you, but at the end of the day, it’s all words on a screen. And if that is the only thing I leave you with, I’m afraid all I’ve done is kept you in front of that screen rather than in the real world, where all the magic happens. Professor Rainey has seen these kinds of changes in Charlottesville since he moved to the city in the 1970s. Ivy Creek Natural Area was founded thanks to the efforts of a lone kayaker, Babs Conant, who saw a strip of red surveyor tape along the shoreline of the Rivanna Reservoir and jumped into action. Conant rallied other citizens to enlist the help of The Nature Conservancy to transform the former farmland into a protected reserve. And in 2018, with the efforts of volunteers and envrio-activists, the city of Charlottesville signed off on the construction of an 8-acre botanical garden at McIntire Park. Things are starting to change. The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creativeby Florence WilliamsVitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life by Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard LouvCommuning with Nature: A Guidebook for Enhancing Your Relationship with the Living Earth by John L. SwansonForest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li Where I live in Nelson County, you can’t get more than a few miles down Route 151 without seeing the same big, blue sign: “No Pipeline.” As many readers likely already know, if completed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will send fracked gas 600 miles across two national forests, the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, and thousands of acres of private property in three states: West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Opponents argue that the pipeline will scar the natural environment, cutting through rivers, streams, and untouched forested areas, compromising the safety of drinking water and endangering sensitive native species. Painting of Sugar Hollow by Ann Cheeks, currently in the waiting room at UVA’s Endoscopy CenterCourtesy of Ann Cheeks Pat Cheeks, private business owner of Natural TransitionsBeverly Ingram, private business owner of Go Into NatureThe Center for Earth Based-HealingThe Women’s InitiativeWildrockThe Edith J. Carrier Arboretum FINAL THOUGHTS — I took this picture in Seoul, South Korea. It’s easy to give up — on ourselves, on others, on the world. It’s easier not to care. It’s easier to blame our problems on technology and screens and the media. Our aggressive problem-solving has come to bite us in the ass, and created an entirely new problem of its own. Perhaps we deserve this fate we’ve brought upon ourselves. “The Arboretum serves as a bridge to the community,” said Mahon. “Here people have a way to get away from their busy lives and connect with the natural world. You don’t need to drive hours to be out in nature when it’s right in the middle of the city.” Putting aside political differences, bipartisan collectives like “All Pain, No Gain” have come together to raise awareness about the pipeline by running opposition advertisements on radio and television. Friends of Wintergreen, Friends of Nelson County, the Sierra Club, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Appalachian Voices have also expressed opposition, citing the infeasibility of construction and the dangers to the environment and residents. Private landowners have blocked surveyors from their property, even in the face of lawsuits from Dominion Energy. Ecotherapy may be the cure for our ailments. For some people I met on my journey, it saved their lives. Nature can remind us of our strength and adaptability, to have gratitude for the little things, that it’s okay to play, and that none of us are ever truly alone. But most importantly, it may be a cure for our collective apathy, and subsequently a cure for the planet. Harrisonburg, a sprawling town stretching across the Shenandoah Valley, has expanded substantially over the years. But the EJC Arboretum has remained a peaceful, green haven for residents and out-of-town visitors to get away. For children, they offer story time in the understory of the forest, soil and water workshops, educational tours, art classes, planting ceremonies, bug hunts, and summer camp. Adults can enjoy sound bathing, forest bathing, outdoor yoga, tai chi, birding workshops, wildflower walks, butterfly tagging, and more. PASCAL’S WAGER Ecotherapy is something we never knew we’d need. Not that long ago, life was ecotherapy. We were intimately connected to the earth, aware of its blessings and dangers, dependent upon the literal fruits of our labor. Now we are an urban species sequestered indoors, our food packaged neatly in plastic containers so we never need to think about where it came from. As a species, we are not well. Mental illnesses plague a huge percentage of the population, particularly with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Maybe, rather than searching for new solutions to our problems, we should look to the oldest medicine shaman of all time: Mother Nature. read more
CHRIS D’ELIA at The Space at Westbury – Thursday, September 18, 2014 – Doors: 7pm – Show: 8pm Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Comedian Chris D’Elia, also known for his role as Alex Miller in the NBC comedy Whitney, will bring his unique brand of humor to The Space at Westbury for a one-night engagement on Thursday, September 18, as part of his “Under No Influence” tour.D’Elia, who has appeared on several Comedy Central specials, including his own, White Male Black Comic, which first aired in 2013.Click here to purchase tickets to see Chris D’Elia at The Space at Westbury, the wonderful new venue in the heart of downtown Westbury.In addition, The Island Ear and Long Island Press are giving away a pair of tickets to see Chris D’Elia perform at The Space at Westbury!All you need to do is fill out the form below and submit. We will contact the winner by the end of the day on Tuesday, September 16.Good luck, and thank you for reading The Island Ear, the Long Island Press’ Live Theater Guide for Long Island. Name:* Email:* Phone* * indicates required field read more
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 53-year-old man was fatally struck by a vehicle while crossing Sunrise Highway in Freeport on Tuesday night.Nassau County police said the pedestrian was walking across Route 27 at the corner of North Long Beach Road when he was hit by a westbound Subaru shortly before 9 p.m.The victim was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His identity was not immediately released.Homicide Squad detectives conducted a safety check on the car and found no apparent criminality on behalf of the 49-year-old driver, police said. Detectives are continuing the investigation.
Complying with new requirements under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act was among credit union and bank executives’ leading regulatory concerns, according to a recent survey.On Oct. 15, the CFPB released new HMDA reporting requirements, under which credit unions will have to collect new facts, including an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio, the interest rate of the loan and the discount points charged for the loan. They will also have to report information about loan terms, property values, and teaser or introductory interest rates. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr