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As her class project, Veronika spent hours at a homeless shelter and with the help of their residents, developed a coat that also doubles as a sleeping bag at night and a shoulder bag when not in use. The Element S (survival), now called the EMPWR Coat, is self heated, and waterproof . The coat not only filled a need in the community, but became a way for Scott to improve the lives of others.
Ms. Scott stepped up and decided to do more than help the homeless stay warm in the cold Michigan winters, she began to hire people from local shelters and help them work their way out of homelessness. Her nonprofit organization, “The Empowerment Plan“, centers around lifting single parents out of homelessness by providing them with training and work making coats.
Over 34 families now have permanent housing thanks to a 20-something with a good idea, and a good heart. Together they have made over 15.000 EMPWR coats distributed across North America.
Good for you Veronika! Thanks for keeping us all warm for the holidays.
2016 MacArthur Fellow, Rebecca Richards-Kortum is amazing. The Rice University bioengineering professor has inspired her students to invent new low cost medical technologies for the third world that are remarkable.
New medical technologies created by BTB students include an LED-based phototherapy light for treating jaundice in newborns that can be made for less than $100, and a bubble continuous positive airway pressure machine (bCPAP) for premature infants unable to breathe on their own. The bCPAP decreased mortality rates in a Malawi neonatal ward by 46 percent at a cost of nearly 38 times lower than the standard model.
Committed to improving access to quality health care for all the world’s people, Richards-Kortum is not only developing novel solutions but also training and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to address our shared global challenges.
For more about the work of the good professor and her students at Rice University in Houston, see the following:
MacArthur Foundation: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/970/
NPR Morning Edition segment: ‘Genius Grant’ Winner Is A Genius At Inspiring Students
Exhibit displays instruments from remarkable group
Amid a massive landfill in Cateura, Paraguay, children find hope by making music on instruments built from recycled trash. In a slum town where families survive by collecting and reselling garbage (and where a violin can cost more than a house), a visionary music teacher gathered a small team to plunder the landfill for materials and construct an ensemble of “recycled” instruments. In just a few years, their innovation has led to a thriving music school in Cateura and a youth orchestra that performs internationally. For members of the Recycled Orchestra, material poverty is not an obstacle to a life rich with music. They have each learned to value greatly how music impacts their lives, helping them express creativity, build self-confidence, and strengthen community.
The Musical Instrument Museum features the inspiring story and the innovative instruments of the Recycled Orchestra through a Latin America gallery exhibit and docent mini-tours. The Recycled Orchestra exhibit features eight recycled instruments from Paraguay as well as video and images of the youth orchestra and the environment of Cateura.
The scorching temperatures mean 2016 is all but certain to be the hottest year ever recorded, beating the previous hottest year in 2015, which itself beat 2014. This run of three record years is also unprecedented and, without climate change, would be a one in a million chance. Scaife says: “Including this year so far, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since 2000 – it’s a shocking statistic.”
Shattered records show climate change is an emergency today, scientists warn
Unprecedented temperature levels mean more heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and hurricanes as experts say global warming is here and affecting us now
Read more about the science and realities of climate change in this article by Damian Carrington of The Guardian.
April 6, 2016|
New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive
Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.
For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.
Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:
The right to survival prevails over property,” Italy’s highest court of appeals ruled this week when reviewing the case of a homeless man who had been given a six month jail sentence and a €100 euro fine for stealing cheese and sausages.
The man was caught before leaving the store and returned the goods, so the state prosecutor argued for the sentence to be reduced from “theft” to “attempted theft.”
But when the court of appeals heard the case, they radically upended the decision. This wasn’t worthy of punishment, they argued. In fact, taking food to stave off hunger should not even be considered a crime.
The judges wrote that the food had been taken “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment.”
They also rebuked the entire process that brought this case before them–an attempt to take less than €5 of food went through 3 rounds of court hearings.
Italy, like large parts of the world, is coping with a recession. Each day, 615 people in Italy fall into poverty, according an op-ed in response to the ruling, many of whom struggle to find housing and food. Forgetting about these people is not an option, the piece argued.
Another op-ed argued that the ruling aligned with one of the most fundamental pillars of Western legal thinking–the concept of humanity that says a person’s dignity should be protected and that dignity rises when basic needs like food, water, housing and security are met.
On one level, this ruling attempts to return sense, discretion and an appreciation of context to criminal justice. Why, after all, was it necessary to spend so many resources to punish a man suffering from hunger, especially when this punishment will only deepen his poverty? Why not, instead, provide food for this person?
On another level, this ruling is a radical rethinking of human rights. Sure, it connects to ancient ideas of “humanity,” but these ideas have never fully been practiced on a large scale. The thought of a homeless person walking into a grocery store and just taking food without paying for it is, in a way, a radical affront to the market-based logic that rules most societies. If you want food, you pay for it just like everyone else, right?
Then there’s a more mundane explanation to all of this. Recently, Italy passed a law requiring all sellers of food to donate unsold food to charities rather than throw it away. So this decision may have been made under the aegis of the new legislation.
But even still–in a world of abundance, should the vagaries of circumstance–job loss, illness, traumas–ever leave a person without the ability to get food?
When grocery stores around the world are stuffed with food, is it moral to allow someone to suffer from hunger?
These are challenging questions that strike at the core of many societal arrangements. But they’re questions that are worth asking, and finding some compromise for, in a time when inequality is rising and more people find themselves in economically distressed situations.
Globally, 795 million people do not have enough food to lead normal, healthy lives. Many more people struggle to buy and find food every day.
It’s unlikely that this ruling in Italy will lead to widespread theft from grocery stores and it’s cynical to suggest that a breakdown in the rule of law will follow (as some critics have suggested).
The more likely result will be an evaluation of what really matters in life and how much another person’s humanity should be respected.
In an ideal world, there would be consensus that a person’s dignity is the top priority in any situation and from there other rules based on other, secondary considerations would apply.
Read More @ Global Citizen