Family Foundations Today Want to Make an Impact – Barron’s

The influence of a younger generation of philanthropists on U.S. family foundations is moving these charitable organizations into more intentional, issue-focused giving and has led to greater diversity in governing boards, according to the Trends 2020 study from the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) released on Wednesday morning.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Bank of America which also provided fundingshowed that 70% of family foundations today were established since 1990, a striking fact thats influencing foundation governance, grant-making, and investing, says Virginia Esposito, NCFP founder and president.

Even family foundations that were founded before 1990 are including younger voices on their boards and in decision-making. The study found more than half have multiple generations serving on the board, while about 10% have three or more generations. They are also adding more voices to reflect the communities they serve, with 35% including at least one person of color, and 11% including at least one member of the LGBTQ community.

Also significant: mission and impact investing has doubled since the first survey was conducted in 2015. That includes program-related investments made as part of a foundations annual required payout of 5% of the value of their net investment assets, as well as impact investments made from the foundations endowment itself.

Youre talking about a doubling of the number of family foundations that are using new practices with a whole lot more ready to either institute them or expand them, Esposito says.

The study is based on a random, statistically significant sample of more than 500 family foundations with assets of at least $2 million or annual giving of at least $100,000.

The overall results are useful for peer-to-peer learning, providing a context for family donors, to try some of these alternative ideas of practices on for size and to determine what works best for them, says Claire Costello, managing director of Bank of America Private Banks Philanthropic Solutions Group. Often they dont have this broader context to see what others are doingit tends to be an insular practice.

Among several findings, the study found that family foundations today are giving fewer grants per year, but those grants are larger in size. They are also shifting toward giving more multi-year grants, and grants that support general operating expenses or provide capacity building funds, which help organizations strengthen their systems and operations.

This reflects the personal nature of the family philanthropy and the fact that they identify grantees whose values and vision and priorities they share, and theyre willing to invest in them, Esposito says. This may be why you are seeing less of a whole lot of small grants and people beginning to be more thoughtful and perhaps more generous in significant contributions.

When Armando Castellano and his sisters, Carmela Castellano-Garcia and Maria West, became involved in the foundation their parents, Alcario and Carmen, set up shortly after winning a $141 million California lottery jackpot in 2001, they, working with their parents, narrowed their focus to three issues: arts and culture, leadership development, and education, primarily focused on the Latino community in Santa Clara, Calif., where they grew up.

The second generation also shifted from making grants toward one-off programs and events to providing multi-year grants for general operations, Castellano says.

Its very hard for organizations of color, especially, to get general operations money, he says. Theres a distinct difference of the amount and the ability and access to the philanthropy as people and the dollars. Even larger ones that have been around a long time.

That the Castellano family remains focused on their home county is common especially for more established foundations, but the shift to a focus on a specific set of issues reflects a common generational shift, one that earlier research by the NCFP had noted.

Even of those [foundations] that are place-based, 95% are issue-based within the geography, Esposito says. Were seeing families more likely to not only build off of a sense of goodwill and shared purpose, but to the coming around of some issues that they can commit to over a longer period of time.

The study released Wednesday found that 82% of family foundations formed since 2010 are shifting their focus from giving in the specific geographic region where they are based to giving to issues that matter to them as a family. Only 40% of foundations created before 1970 have an issue focus.

People are making money these days in a global economy, so the notion of a hometown where the familys business was nurtured, where the family prospered, where they want [the foundation] to thank employees and customersthat kind of economy has been changing and people have become more issue focused, Esposito says.

The areas of concern for families, however, is shifting. While education remains a top issue for 38% of families surveyed, its only cited as the number one focus area for 23% of family foundations founded since 2010. Also, only 28% of family foundations established before 1970 put poverty at the top of their list of concerns, compared with 64% of the newest foundations, the study found. Among new foundations, economic opportunity was cited by 41%.

Eleanor Frey Zagel, vice chairman of the Frey Foundation in Grand Rapid, Mich., led her third-generation family members into an exploration of how they could support the homeless in Grand Rapids, and also in northern Michigan countiesareas facing very different dynamics.

They started late last year with a call for innovative ideas to accelerate access to sustainable, quality housing opportunities in Kent County, where Grand Rapids is located, ultimately awarding a $150,000 Housing Innovation Award to the Inner City Christian Federation.

While this approach to identifying a grantee was different to anything the Frey Foundation had done previously, Zagel says their efforts to improve housing and security for the community grew out of roots planted by the second generations focus on making an impact. They just have different tools at their disposal today, she says. Were moving the needle differently.

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Family Foundations Today Want to Make an Impact - Barron's

Coworking space in Edina hopes to attract minority women – KARE11.com

Progress on gender diversity at work still needs improvement. To achieve equality, some believe companies must turn good intentions into concrete action. But leaders with one co-working space in Edina are doing their part to help create a future where women of color lead at the highest levels across all sectors.

Its all part of the "The State of Womxn of Color Roadshow."

The Riveter, a Seattle based company with ten locations across the U.S., is creating an opportunity for that conversation across the country through a partnership with an organization called Future For Us.

The spelling of womxn is meant to show inclusion of trans, non-binary, womxn of color, womxn with disabilities and all other marginalized genders. Both The Riveter and Future for Us use this spelling to indicate that our spaces and platform are open to anyone who identifies as such.

Sage Quiamno, the co-founder of Future for Us, said she never saw herself included or felt like she belonged during various points of her career.

The problem we want to solve is creating better and intentional communities for women of color to get the resources that they need to advance at work. We want to solve the problem with the leadership gap, she said.

She is on a mission to uplift communities and arm people with data.

We are facing other issues within companies because we are not creating inclusive environments for us to do well. Twenty-one-percent of women of color feel like they can't be themselves at work. Forty-percent women of color feel like they need to downplay their ethnicity to succeed at work, she said siting dating from McKinsey & Company.

Jodi-Ann Burey is Riveters senior Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. She said you cannot envision or prepare for the future of work without women of color at the center of it.

Too often people claim that people of color and women of color specifically are too hard to find. This is not true. Even in the least racially diverse cities, there are vibrant communities of color who create spaces where they can be seen, heard and valued, Burey said. Gender bias unites womens experiences at work, but those experiences are not the same. Partnering with Future for Us and others as The Riveter continues to grow is part of a larger initiative to bring diversity and intersectionality to the forefront of our fight towards equity of opportunity for all women.

To learn more about the October 24th event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/state-of-womxn-of-color-advancing-community-culture-and-careers-mn-tickets-69759764333

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Coworking space in Edina hopes to attract minority women - KARE11.com

Beautiful Intentional Communities With Hiss Golden Messenger on Southern Songs and Stories – WNCW

From Program Director and Southern Songs and Stories Producer Joe Kendrick:

"Hiss Golden Messenger founder MC Taylor and longtime band mate Phil Cook started working together within a day of meeting each other, and while Phil frequently leads his own band, he is also regularly on tour and on records with Hiss Golden Messenger, the band that Taylor founded in 2007. Youll hear conversations with both of them along with new music from Phil Cook and from Hiss Golden Messenger, including a live version of a track from the new album Terms Of Surrender in this episode of Southern Songs and Stories"

Hiss Golden Messenger With WNCW Program Director Joe Kendrick

Songs heard in this episode:

My Wing by Hiss Golden Messenger - excerpt, from Terms Of Surrender

Happy Birthday Baby" by Hiss Golden Messenger - excerpt, from Terms Of Surrender

Hungry Mother Blues - Live At The Cave by Phil Cook from As Far As I Can See

Cats Eye Blue - live 8-24-19 by Hiss Golden Messenger

Southern Grammar (live 8-22-19) by Hiss Golden Messenger

Thanks to Hiss Golden Messenger tour manager Luc Sur for his invaluable help in coordinating my interview with MC Taylor and for sending the bands live songs heard in this episode!

Southern Songs and Stories is produced in partnership with public radio station WNCW and the Osiris podcast network, and is available on podcast platforms everywhere. Would you like to help spread awareness of the artists featured here on Southern Songs and Stories, their music, and this series? Simply subscribe to the podcast and give it a good rating and a comment where you get your podcasts.

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Beautiful Intentional Communities With Hiss Golden Messenger on Southern Songs and Stories - WNCW

The Quiet, Intentional Fires of Northern California – WIRED

In the wake of catastrophic wildfires like the one in 2018 that burned the California city of Paradise, wildfire management has become a pressing topic, to say the least. Especially under scrutiny is the US Forest Services hundred-year policy of suppressing fireon the surface it makes sense. Fire burns houses and kills people. Its a terrible, uncontrollable enemy. Right?

Not necessarily. The native communities across California have been practicing traditional, controlled forest burning techniques for 13,000 years. From the great grasslands of central California to the salmon runs of the Klamath River, the Miwok, Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, and other nations have tended and provided for those plant and animal species that were useful to them. To do this, they created a patchwork of different ecological zones using low-intensity fire, creating niches that support Californias unbelievable biodiversity. Some of the California landscapes that look like pristine wilderness to the nonindigenous are actually human-modified ecosystems.

And many species have come to depend on low-intensity fire at a genetic level. We have fire-dependent species that coevolved with fire-dependent culture, says Frank Lake, a US Forest Service research ecologist and Yurok descendant. When we remove fire, we also take away the ecosystem services they produce.

To understand how indigenous cultural fire management works, I attended a Training Exchange, or TREX, a collaboration between the Yurok-led Cultural Fire Management Council and the Nature Conservancys Fire Learning Network. A couple of times a year, firefighters from around the world gather to learn from the best of the best, the Yurok traditional fire managers. We learned about the traditional uses of prescribed firesthey aid the acorn and huckleberry harvestsbut we also worked with modern tools like drip torches and atmospheric weather instruments. When everyone returns to manage their own homelands, they bring with them a deeper knowledge of how to use fire holistically to heal the land while preventing catastrophic and out-of-control wildfire.

For me, as a photographer used to working almost exclusively in the Arctic, I found this story to be challengingit was hot in Northern California in October! The first day I was on assignment, the mercury hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and I tried my best to keep making photographs with sweat dripping down my camera. Thankfully, within a day, the weather shifted and I learned to navigate this dry, beautiful landscape with the same sense of wonder as I do up North. Its hard to walk around inside a Yurok-burned forest without a sense of awe at the renewal of life and the ingenuity of its indigenous caretakers.

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The Quiet, Intentional Fires of Northern California - WIRED

Intentional Integration: This School Has Lessons To Share In Navigating The Race Inequity Issues – BKLYNER

School District 13 is a classic example of gentrification in Brooklyn, representative of the last decade and a half in the borough. As local schools learn to navigate the challenges that come with rapidly changing demographics of neighborhoods that surround them, the Academy of Arts and Letters in Clinton Hill, has lessons to share.

The district serves the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and parts of Bed-Stuy. Back in 2010, the districts student-body was 61% Black, 8% White, 15% Hispanic, and 16% Asian. These days, Black students are 43.6% of the population, while 15% are White, 21% Asian, and 16.3% are Hispanic.

Academy of Arts and Letters is located in Clinton Hill, just a few short blocks from Fort Greene Park. Established in 2006, the school started off as a middle school, serving grades 6 through 8. Its students were nearly all children of color. But quickly, a lot of parents who came to tour the school were not.

It was like, oh my gosh, what happened here? says Principal John OReilly. You could see it in their facial expressions. Black and Brown kids are like, whoa! If all these people come in, do I belong here? So, thats hard.

With the student population changing, the school was also losing its Title 1 Funding, which is federal funding that gives financial assistance to schools that have high numbers of low-income students, under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

We lost Title 1 in 2009 when we dipped below 60% free lunch, OReilly says. We lost a bit more than $250,000. We were going from having all kids of color to a vastly majority white school.

Around the same time, UCLA released a study showing New York City schools were the most segregated in the country.

OReilly decided it was time to take action. A native New Yorker who grew up in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, OReilly has been part of the Department of Education for 22 years, nearly 8 of those as the principal of this school. He exudes enthusiastic energy that makes his role as principal of a K 8 school, especially one focused on integration, possible.

Located at 225 Adelphi Street, the Academy of Arts and Letters shares space with P.S. 20, which had plenty of space to be utilized back in 2006, when Arts and Letters opened. It became a K 8 in 2010 when it began to add two classes for both Kindergarten and 1st grade, allowing the school to nurture its student body over a longer time period.

We were inspired by the learning culture of a number of K-8 schools. They were incredibly warm and smart, OReilly explains.

On its website, Arts and Letters, which currently has 525 pupils, explains its mission is based in the belief that the purpose of public education is to work in partnership with parents and communities to raise young people who are strong and flexible thinkers, and caring, responsible stewards and leaders of a vibrant, democratic society, where all students should find and share their voices.

This mission has enabled the Arts and Letters to tackle integration head-on.

We were very responsive to the UCLA study, OReilly says. I would say we certainly lead the charge, we were a part of that.

Arts and Letters became proactive. It was among the first schools to take part in the DOEs pilot program that was trying to promote diversity, in this case, through admissions. Arts and Letters is an unzoned District 13 school that uses a lottery system for admissions. Because, as Principal OReilly explains, the schools Kindergarten admissions pool is disproportionately white and affluent, they have a goal to have 40% of its student body to be free lunch. Its a goal that has remained elusive. These days about 25% of Arts and Letters students qualify for free lunch and OReilly believes the competition with charter schools plays a role in attracting students.

Even so, the changes to the admissions method have made an impact on the diversity of the student body. Though white students began to outnumber the black students as the district gentrified, OReilly maintains that his school has always had a student-body of color.

The percentage of Latinx and Asian students at Arts & Letters has increased over the past years, he explains.

According to the DOE, of the 2017-2018 school year, Arts and Letters population is 32% Black, 37% White, 16% Hispanic, and 7% Asian.

Though many of the schools community supported the effort to make it more diverse, there were some concerns and reluctance.

The main counterforce, the push against integration, were white families, OReilly says. Their worry was that their childs education was going to decline because of whatever the code words they were trying to use if they were trying to be slick, and not overtly racist.

OReilly says all students at his school have academically benefitted from integration, especially the children of color who may otherwise have been in more segregated schools, as he points to studies, such as Children of the Dream by Rucker C. Johnson of U.C. Berkeley, that have shown that integration helps all.

As OReilly and the schools staff aimed to confront race issues, they began to realize that there was more than just diversifying the population. There are students of color who dont do as well academically or participate as much as their white peers. Some parents and students of color told their principal that they didnt feel safe, visible or even heard at Arts and Letters.

It felt very racial, OReilly said. It is racial. And its something that we need to approach with open minds and open hearts, with like a quiet humbleness but with great determination that were going to keep going, despite making lots and lots of mistakes.

To fix those mistakes, OReilly and his staff which is currently half white, half educators of color began creating programs and opportunities to discuss race.

Although the DOE helped Arts and Letters with its initial diversity admissions program, there were no funds dedicated to supporting such programs. The school turned to the Neighborhood School Grants Program, funded by one of the largest Brooklyn real estate developers, the Walentas Family Foundation, to help get the programs going. Last year, and again for 2019, Arts and Letters were given $18,000 from the program to fund what they call Intentional Integration at Arts and Letters.

The grant money enabled Arts and Letters to truly focus on addressing race and white supremacy across its constituent groups the students, the faculty & staff, and parents. There has been professional staff development focused on this issue, workshops for parents, and a racial equity/anti-oppression working group led by faculty. Teachers are also focused on the racial gap in assessments and finding ways to create more equity to reduce it. Then theres a support team at the schools Student Life Center, where students, staff, and parents meet once a week to discuss race issues.

Seventh-grade science teacher Sasha Swift is part of the Racial Equity Team, which is dedicated to making sure that the school is integrated in all aspects. She leads staff advisory groups, which are smaller staff groups that gather to discuss classroom issues. During the last school year, the groups met about five times to do team building activities, talk about their own racial identities and what it meant to them.

In the beginning, it may have felt uncomfortable, Swift says. But I felt like at the end, the ideas to just build a space where people feel like they can say the things they need to say. Its a safe space, and you wont be judged. I think thats been really helpful. It also makes it clear to everyone in the school what our mission is and what the goal is.

Theres a similar group for the middle school students who also meet twice a week to discuss race 15 students sit in a circle with a teacher overseeing the meeting.

Theyre not afraid to talk about it, OReilly says. It can be playful, it can be fun. But it can be tense, too.

One thing that has been noticeable is that when it comes to identity, white students are far less likely to describe themselves according to their skin color compared to other students.

Kids of color label their cultural identity, their racial identity, OReilly snaps his fingers to indicate how quickly those students do so. Whereas white kids, their kind of ethnic connection is distant. And thats interesting, kids notice that.

There was one moment, OReilly remembers, where things got very tense when a 7th-gradegirl of West Indian heritage called out a white friend for not inviting her to her birthday party.

It didnt go so well, he says. But that was very courageous for her to say that. When she said that, she was tearful. They were tears of rage and hurt.

He also points out that such a discussion would not have happened in a segregated school.

Even in the classroom, there have been energetic discussions about race. When 8th grade humanities teacher, Liliana Richter, brought in a New York Times article about Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools as unconstitutional back in 1954, she asked her students what was more important: a good education or to be a diverse school?

It was a student-led discussion, Richter says with excitement. Kids really know you cant have a good education without diversity.

The staff is also conscientious to how the students interact with each other, from overnight school trips to being on the playground together.

Were constantly looking at how students play, Sasha Swift says. Are they self-segregating? What could we do about that? It is something we think of all the time.

As for the parents, there have been efforts in getting them to discuss race as well.

When it came to facilitating workshops at Arts and Letters for the parents, two mothers, Blanca Ruiz and Judith Jean-Bruce, volunteered. Both had been trained by the Center for Racial Justice in Education and are former teachers themselves. Starting two years ago, they began organizing monthly events where parents would meet in groups at each others houses. Over time, these events were solidified by the PTA as workshops.

Back in June, the two women explain, there was a popular workshop as part of a four-part series, where between 30 to 50 parents attended. It required self-examination in how racial trauma shows up and how to discuss racial messages in social media, ads and television.

It was a well-attended session, Jean-Bruce says. There was a desire to discuss race in an age-appropriate moment. People are triggered, and theres unpacking in front of everybody.

We named race as often as possible, Ruiz adds. Some missed the first three workshops and you could see the discomfort in their faces. People were saying, as a black man or as a white man.

There is a lot of work to be done, Ruiz points out. But, she says, the white parents are trying.

Im open to having conversations, she says. They ask, what can I do as a white parent? And they share their struggles with other white parents.

The two women also mention that Brooklyn itself is a deeply segregated borough, and schools are just a small portion of a bigger issue. They even bring up how gentrification makes the discussion of race uneasy.

Its pushing out a community, Ruiz says. Theres a lot to unpack there. Then theres the false white liberalism that say theyre all for integration until it impacts their child. So, are they all for achieving equity? Or just being cool? That is why we do work with parents.

Despite all the challenges, the Academy of Arts and Letters is determined to achieve full integration. That also means on an academic level. The school has no gifted and talented program, and there is no tracking of anyone. This is because, OReilly says, such classes are mostly white, and dont allow those white students to mingle with nonwhite students.

In order to have integration, OReilly explains. Every kid, family and staff member must feel like they belong. Our school model allows itself integration. Were committed to inclusion.

The school even communicates with other schools in Brooklyn about integration and how to do it. The staff also has strong beliefs about Brooklynites who are reluctant, or even against, any form of integration.

Why wouldnt you want all kids to have access to a great education? Sasha Swift would ask those people. What is the fear? Wouldnt you want to raise people who are sensitive to other races and also knowledgeable about other races? Its hard for me to understand. Why in 2019? In Brooklyn? And in New York?

Swift wants school districts who are hesitant to be considerate of what integration means, how it is beneficial to them, as well as to go in deep with it.

If the start of that initiative is just reserving a certain amount of seats, Swift says, thats not enough; it cant just be the seats. There has to be a commitment, not only to what the population looks like, but what the day to day feels at the school. It has to be an agenda.

Richter has this encouragement for other schools: Be prepared to lean into discomfort. Celebrate victories, and dont be afraid to go slow.

Its good for everyone, she adds. No one is hurt by integration. The Brown v. Board ruling shows segregation is bad for individuals and society.

As for Principal OReilly, his determination is as strong as ever for the coming school year.

We want to shrink the racial gap in assessments, he says. We want to develop a more trusting and positive relationship with our families. And work on more bridges than walls.

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Intentional Integration: This School Has Lessons To Share In Navigating The Race Inequity Issues - BKLYNER

‘Living the Way of Love in Community’ features small group facilitation guide and curriculum – Episcopal News Service

A year after the introduction by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of theWay of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life, The Episcopal Church continues to offer new resources for congregations interested in following the Way of Love as a way of life. New this fall are theFAQs for Small Group Ministryvideo, a social media infographic, as well as a postcard-sized infographic. These resources are availablehere.

The nine-sessionLiving the Way of Love in Communitycurriculum is designed for small groups organized for the purpose of exploring The Way of Love. Group members study and experience each of seven practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. These intentional small groups may choose to meet weekly, every other week, or once a month. The facilitation guide offers leaders a process for guiding an intentional small group for nine, 90-minute sessions with an option for extending a session 30-minutes should a group choose to gather over a meal. Each session includes prayer, a check-in process, discussion, practice time, a check-out process, and worship. Suggested scripture readings and hymns are also included.

In theFAQs for Small Group Ministryvideo, Jerusalem Greer, staff officer for evangelism and an intentional small group leader in her own parish, speaks to some of the questions she is frequently asked related to small groups: What is an intentional small group? Do small groups replace Sunday morning worship? How does our tradition show up in a small group? To illustrate the impact of being a part of an intentional small group, Greer invited parishioners fromSaint Peters Episcopal Churchin Conway, Arkansas to share their experience.

We believe that when parishes take the time to establish and members choose to participate in an intentional small group, they are better able to grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus, says Greer, A way that has the power to change each of our lives. And to change the world.

Participation in an intentional, faith-based small group is an ideal way to follow the Way of Love. In these settings, participants are given the opportunity to build trusting and transformative relationships with God and one another through regular and authentic conversation, practice, and prayer. The community created within these groups can support and deepen commitments to live a Jesus-shaped life at home, at work, at play, and in the world.

Download the curriculum, video, infographic, and social media graphic free of chargehere.

On the Web:New Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life resources support Living the Way of Love in Community Small Group Facilitation Guide and Curriculum

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'Living the Way of Love in Community' features small group facilitation guide and curriculum - Episcopal News Service

The residential colleges: progress or problem? – The Vanderbilt Hustler

Residential colleges are a core component of Vanderbilts FutureVU initiative, but some students have questioned whether the new living spaces actually create active and engaged communities, noting feelings of isolation in the new dorms.

The residential colleges were initially meant to address issues of self-segregation among the student population at Vanderbilt, according to Senior Director of Housing Operations Jim Kramka.

One thing that the university noticed was that Vanderbilt undergraduates self-segregated in various ways, Kramka said. That was not consistent with the university Vanderbilt wanted to be or wants to be.

Vanderbilt began the Residential College project in 2012 when the university broke ground on Warren and Moore Colleges. The initiative was inspired by the success of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, which first opened its doors in 2008.

In 2016, two years after the completion of Warren and Moore Colleges, Vanderbilt continued its expansion of the residential college system by beginning the construction of E. Bronson Ingram College (EBI). EBI was officially opened to students in fall 2018, and construction of a third residential college is currently underway.

According to Kramka, different housing patterns have emerged within subsects of the student population. Students involved in Greek life often chose to live in Branscomb or Towers suites, while other students were dispersed elsewhere on campus. The upper class residential college system was developed to intentionally bring these students together in diverse communities.

I would never want a single in Kissam or EBI, because people say that it is very isolating and quiet, junior Jenny Pigge said.

This sentiment was echoed by Kayla Bach, a sophomore EBI resident.

Im in a suite with three of my friends, which is so nice, but I do think if I was in a single or a double it would be different just because its so quiet, Bach said. In EBI, everyone keeps their door closed, and the halls are always quiet. You kind of have to know people and plan to go to their room versus just walking out and meeting people.

Mattigan KellyThe front of Branscomb, a dormitory built in 1962 that is described as loud, social dorm that is a popular choice for students in Greek life. (Photo by Mattigan Kelly)

The residential colleges are intended to diffuse the effects of student self-segregation, but it is possible that self-selection continues to play a role in this new student experience. According to Bach, many freshmen in Greek life did not even apply to the residential colleges because they wanted to live with their friends in Branscomb.

One student chose to leave the residential colleges due to its detached environment.

I left Kissam to become an RA, but my reason for leaving was also mostly social, former Warren resident Douglas Finnegan said. I had a hard time engaging with people in the common room, and people always kept their doors shut. It seemed like people werent looking to make new friends.

Finnegan is now a resident adviser in Branscomb. In his experience, the atmosphere in Branscomb is opposite that of the residential colleges, as it provides a loud, social environment that fosters new friendships and connections.

While some students find the residential colleges to be lacking in community and connection, others have enjoyed their time in the new dorms.

I think that theyve been very intentional by allowing for facilities that can help build community and have better programming, Warren College RA Dallas Wilson said. I dont think the top-down approach is going to be successful though, where people from the top say This is what the students need.

EBI RA Amaya Allen said that shes had an amazing experience in the residential college and thinks that students are beginning to create a sense of culture in EBI. For Allen, the residential college was essential in transitioning out of living on Commons.

For the first time, I felt like I had a base, and it was almost ripped right out from under me, Allen said. Res colleges stepped up and helped me build a new one, and for that Im very appreciative.

One student expressed that he didnt mind the quiet nature of the residential colleges. Moore resident Carson Fallon said that in the beginning of the year, the separation from friends in Branscomb felt more prominent, but the distance has become a positive of living in Moore.

Its nice to come back home to something thats more calm, Fallon said.

While Fallon said he felt connected with people on his floor, he thought that Residential Education programming events felt forced.

We are in an early phase of the residential college system and how to work with the facilities, and again, this is where we have to learn from students, Kramka said. We must ask What is it about the residential colleges that might make you feel isolated?

Kramka was optimistic about the future of the residential colleges and believed that students would eventually develop intentional uses for the various spaces in the new buildings.

Those patterns and uses have not yet been established by the students themselves, said Kramka. This will take time.

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The residential colleges: progress or problem? - The Vanderbilt Hustler

Two Hat: Stop tweaking your game and start fixing your community – GamesIndustry.biz

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With live service games increasingly becoming the norm, the industry has entered a community-driven age. Whether that's fan communities on third-party sites, or communities baked into the fabric of the experience, developers are placing increased emphasis on their importance.

While questions around who is responsible for user safety online often don't have very neat answers, there is a growing consensus that platforms should be held accountable for hosting harmful content. Starting in September 2020, under the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, UK communication service regulator Ofcom will be authorised to fine social media companies and online platforms up to 5% of revenue, or suspend operations, for failure to protect vulnerable users from harmful content.

Earlier this year, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture, and Sport in the UK produced its Online Harms White Paper, which also suggested that social media platforms be held accountable for hosted content, and outlined plans for an independent regulator to manage compliance.

Although the tides have been slowly turning, this is a problem Canadian tech firm Two Hat Security has a long history of tackling. Following a recent partnership with image and video classification software firm Image Analyzer, the two companies will work together to facilitate automatic moderation of live streamed video content "at unprecedented levels."

From left to right: Cris Pikes (Image Analyzer), Chris Piebe (Two Hat), and Carlos Figuieredo (Two Hat)

Two Hat and Image Analyzer are automating the moderation process, allowing individual communities and platforms to set the parameters for acceptable behavior or content, and let the system do the rest. For example, the tech can apparently identify content such as the Christchurch mass shooting, which was streamed over Facebook Live in March this year, and shut it down within seconds.

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Two Hat CEO Chris Priebe says his work tackling harmful online content is deeply personal.

"I was bullied in high school, because I wanted to be different and do my own thing, and I didn't want to fit into the whole crowd, so they bullied me quite extensively, to the point where I had death threats and I had to leave town," he says. "So that gave me a passion for stopping bullying on the internet. I think everyone should be free to share without any harassment or abuse, which is our mission for our company."

The pressure to respond to toxic online content has intensified, as earlier this month another shooting was streamed on Twitch, this time in Germany, which left two people dead. But online communities elsewhere are facing similar problems, as social media becomes infected with extreme content, and fringe elements of gaming communities spread vitriol and hate.

This frequently boils over into industry workers' personal lives, as developers find themselves the target of online abuse, or even cybermobbing. The human cost of online toxicity is immeasurable to both the communities where it proliferates, and individuals actively targeted by it.

"How many billions of dollars are being lost because people quit playing, because they didn't feel welcome?"

Cris Pikes, Image Analzyer

Moderating toxic content isn't casualty-free either; earlier this year an investigation into working conditions at Cognizant-operated Facebook content moderation sites in America revealed staff developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after extended exposure to extreme graphic content, such as animal cruelty, violence, or child exploitation.

Even removing the human cost of it all, the cynical business case is reason enough to encourage healthy, positive communities. According to figures from Two Hat, people are 300% more likely to never return to games or platforms where they experienced toxic behaviour. Conversely, players are three times more likely to return after positive interactions.

"How many billions of dollars are being lost because people quit playing, because they didn't feel welcome?" says Image Analyzer CEO Cris Pikes. "The longer you stay, potentially the more you're going to pay because you're more invested in the game, so that long tail of building up your love for that game."

It's a position Priebe supports, saying that developers are "putting their time into the wrong thing" when there is a "giant looming sign" that points to problems with the community, rather than the game, limiting developers' potential.

"Stop tweaking your game. I hate your community, go fix your freaking community," says Priebe. "That's what [players] want. And that, I think, will move us from a $100 billion to a $200 billion industry."

"You can't assume that players and users know what is expected of them. So even in that sense, the industry needs to do a better job"

Carlos Figuieredo, Two Hat Security

Last week, Two Hat Security and Image Analyzer hosted a content moderation symposium in London to define and classify online harms, with the aim of tackling online toxicity. While it's a problem that won't be going away anytime soon, there are workable solutions, and plenty of things game developers can be doing in the meantime to help manage their communities.

Carlos Figuieredo is the Fair Play Alliance co-founder, and director of community trust and safety for Two Hat. He says one obvious thing that even large companies have failed to do is establish well-defined community guidelines.

"These serve as the baseline, the fundamental approach for everything else that you do in terms of player behaviour and understanding that player behaviour," he tells us. "So no kidding that we are completely, as an industry, unprepared to deal with threats coming from players on Twitter."

Figuieredo says that developers need to be intentional with how they develop communities. He mentions the recent A/B testing carried out by Twitch, which found that making people manually accept the community guidelines resulted in notable and positive change in general behaviour, just through the mere act of establishing expectations.

"You can't assume that players and users know what is expected of them," says Figuieredo. "So even in that sense, the industry needs to do a better job of really showing what is the expected behaviour, what is the unwanted behaviour, and they do need to enforce something."

With the rapid pace of technological advancement, basic steps like can be profoundly impactful. As Pikes says, it's "bit of an arms race," as companies like Facebook built mammoth platforms that quickly run out of their control.

"We haven't put the same effort into balancing the communities as we have balancing the games"

Chris Priebe, Two Hat Security

"They built this absolute machine," says Pikes, "and they had no idea how big it was going to be... They haven't thought about the securities or the educational pieces that should now be put back in as part of that design. So it's almost a retrospective thought... For us it's about enabling those tools and taking them to a market that has evolved too quickly."

There is a priority gap however, according to Figuieredo, who says there is a "lack of understanding" when it comes to the harm caused by toxic game communities.

"People don't necessarily have good stats or understanding that it affects their business, affects their employees as well," he continues. "How is it affecting their community? What is the user churn? There is a lack of understanding, a lack of white papers and good studies on this."

Priebe adds that companies are failing to adopt viable solutions to these challenges. Part of this he believes falls to an engineering backlog, as devs obsess over in-game balance while inadvertently de-prioritising the existential threat of a toxic community, and how that could significantly shorten a game's lifespan.

Community features like chat and audio are often ill-conceived, says Priebe, and the inclusion of poorly implemented communication tools effectively put a "powerful weapon" in the hands of bad actors.

"They can use it to drive everyone out of playing because they've made it miserable for everyone else," he says. "We haven't put the same effort into balancing the communities as we have balancing the games.... There is [the] technology that is actually available; let's participate in the solution, and let everyone get involved."

With the rise of extremist hate groups using gaming communities as recruitment grounds, there is a pressing need to address the threat, and ensure that vulnerable people in these spaces are protected. As Pikes says, it's about changing the community attitudes.

"Way back when, it was like people felt they had a safe haven where they could go and play a game, and that's what it was all about," he continues. "Whereas now all these far right groups, for example, have found this a potential grooming ground for radicalisation. But if we give [platforms the] tools and enable those companies to understand that the technology is available, those people will move on to another format, they will find another medium, but we've made this one safe and locked that one down."

As the largest entertainment sector in the world, and one which actively encourages online communities, the games industry is under an incredible amount of public scrutiny. The presence of toxic communities is one thing, but a failure to address the problem is arguably much, much worse.

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Two Hat: Stop tweaking your game and start fixing your community - GamesIndustry.biz

Approving I-1000 Will Help Correct Decades Of Inequities In Washington State – The Seattle Medium – Seattle Medium

Twina Nobles

By Twina Nobles President and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League

Since the passage of initiative 200 in 1998, Washington state has been prohibited from using affirmative action to dedicate resources for outreach, recruitment, training, and retention of qualified women, people of color, or individuals with disabilities into public employment and contracting. This prohibition extends to our public university admissions processes also. As 42 other states in the country have already enacted affirmative action policies to ensure better outcomes for communities that havent had equal access to economic opportunities, Washington remains an outlier on the national stage. Voters will soon have a chance to rectify this by voting to Approve I-1000, which will appear under the heading of Referendum 88, on their November ballot this year.

Communities of color have been particularly impacted by disparities in economic outcomes in Washington state. In 1998, the number of public contracts that went to certified women and minority owned business owners was at about 10%. Today, that number is closer to 3%. This represents a $3.5 billion-dollar loss over two decades. This troubling trend is right at the heart of why some communities experience generational disadvantages as they strive to succeed things like public contracting, employment, and education are the system-wide tools we have available to lift up communities that have been historically marginalized. When our public institutions are prohibited from being part of the solution, our whole region suffers, and too many working families fall through the cracks.

Leveling the playing field of economic opportunity for all Washingtonians is something we can and should strive for. This is particularly true for recruiting teachers who have similar backgrounds to the students they are charged with teaching. In the public-school system, teachers who are hired from the community where they teach help more students succeed over the course of their academic careers. A recent study conducted by John Hopkins and American University found that black students who have at least one black teacher during grade school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and aspire to secondary education. Washington state ranks close to last in the country when it comes to closing the opportunity gap between students from low-income families and their wealthier peers, and voting to Approve I-1000 would give the state more tools to address inequitable outcomes through more intentional teacher recruitment and hiring practices.

Providing fair access to higher educational opportunities for all communities is also an area where our state stands to improve. As Washington has become more diverse, our public universities have failed to keep up in student enrollment. Admission rates at public four-year universities for latino, black, native, and pacific islander students has fallen behind their representation in proportion to the state as a whole. The pipeline of economic opportunity for all Washingtonians depends on how accessible our primary and secondary education institutions are.

An approve vote on I-1000 will help qualified women, communities of color, and persons with disabilities to succeed in all these arenas- and ensure our states economy becomes fairer and more accessible for all residents.

Ultimately, voting to Approve Initiative I-1000 will help correct decades of inequity embedded in Washington states public employment, contracting, and university admissions practices. Creating a level playing field for all Washingtonians requires acting with intentionality and purpose. Understanding where certain communities have fallen behind, and dedicating resources to correct measured imbalances, is part and parcel of how we can work together to create a more just and equitable society. I hope voters will join me in voting to Approve I-1000, which will appear under the heading of Referendum 88 on the November ballot this year.

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Approving I-1000 Will Help Correct Decades Of Inequities In Washington State - The Seattle Medium - Seattle Medium

Gina Rodriguez Has Apologized After Deleting A Video Of Her Singing The N-Word – BuzzFeed News

"I really am sorry if I offended you," Rodriguez said in a video apology.

Last updated on October 16, 2019, at 11:16 a.m. ET

Posted on October 15, 2019, at 4:19 p.m. ET

A video of Gina Rodriguez saying the n-word while reciting lyrics to a song was removed from the actor's Instagram story on Tuesday, followed shortly thereafter with an apology from the Jane the Virgin star.

The video shows Rodriguez, who has been accused of being anti-black in the past, singing along to "Ready or Not" by the Fugees as she has her hair and makeup done.

"Voodoo / I could do what you do, believe me," the actor sang in the video, which appeared for at least three hours on her Instagram stories before being taken down. "Niggas give me heebie-jeebies."

Representatives for Rodriguez did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment, but the star later apologized using the same app.

"I just wanted to reach out and apologize. I am sorry," Rodriguez said later on her Instagram story. "I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to the Fugees, to a song I love, I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill, and I really am sorry if I offended you."

The star later posted another apology on Instagram, saying she had acted thoughtlessly. "In song or real life, the words that I spoke should not have been spoken," she wrote.

Rodriguez also spoke of learning a "public lesson" about the pain associated with the n-word. "I have some serious learning and growing to do, and I am so deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused," she said.

This gaffe is the latest slight, intentional or not, from Rodriguez against the black community. Last year, the Annihilation actor was accused of erasing black women during an interview she had with Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi while they promoted the film Smallfoot.

"You are just goals for so many young black women," interviewer BlogXilla said to Shahidi.

Rodriguez then cut in, seemingly correcting the interviewer, and said, "For so many women. Women."

"Yeah, for women too, but for black women we need people on a whole other level," BlogXilla responded.

Influential black culture website the Root later described Rodriguez's answer as "evoking the spirit of 'All Lives Matter.'"

Afterward, Rodriguez found herself making headlines once more when she was criticized for how she addressed pay inequality in Hollywood during a roundtable discussion with the outlet Net-a-Porter.

I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it, right?" Rodriguez said. "Where white women get paid more than Black women, Black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and its like a very scary space to step into."

As Selena Hill later wrote for the website Black Enterprise, "Although Rodriquezs comments are true in some regard, critics say her message was off-colored and glossed over the lack of representation and racial inequality black actresses face in Hollywood."

In January, Rodriguez appeared on Sway Calloway's radio program Sway in the Morning, where she broke down crying while attempting to tell her side of the story.

Rodriguez said pitting "two underrepresented groups against each other" is the last thing she'd want to do.

"Our unification is our rise," she said on the show. "Our unification is what's going to allow both of our communities to continue to flourish. I support and hope the reverse would happen."

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Gina Rodriguez Has Apologized After Deleting A Video Of Her Singing The N-Word - BuzzFeed News

2019 Election: CMS Board Of Education – WFAE

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has 13 candidates.

Bio information initalics is from WFAE's education reporter, Ann Doss Helms.


Annette Albright, who has worked for CMS and a charter school, is making her second run for school board. She is unaffiliated.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I believe what distinguishes me as a school board candidate is the fact that I am prepared to have the critical conversations needed to improve the leadership challenges facing the district. The need for integrity, transparency and open dialogue with the community must be at the forefront of any and all district improvement plans.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

The first priority I would bring is to ask my colleagues that we listen to the needs and concerns of our community. I would also ask that we work on building more collaborative relationships with the members of the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners in order that we can work as partners in planning for the needs of our residents. I would also ensure that student assignments decisions are made without prejudgments or biases.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

In order to ensure the right person is leading the district and the district has stable leadership the board should monitor the Superintendent's and district's progress towards set goals closely relying upon data based results. The BOE should also communicate frequently with the Superintendent to ensure he has the support and resources his needs to met the mission of the district. Lastly, the BOE needs to provide evaluations to the Superintendent based upon personal observations and data. If the Superintendent is not meeting set work performance criteria, the BOE must inform the Superintendent and communicate expectations moving forward.

ELYSE DASHEW (incumbent)

Elyse Dashew was elected to the school board in 2015 and is currently vice chair. She also chairs the boards Municipal Education Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of the countys municipal governments. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I am the only incumbent running for re-election. Serving on the school board is an immensely challenging job. I have been through the steep learning curve. I am battle-tested. I have spent four years as an at-large school board representative (vice chair for three years) building deep, collaborative relationships. Ive fought to make schools more equitable; improve the conditions of school buildings; raise teacher pay to top in NC; connect students to careers; provide a more rigorous, relevant curriculum; and collaborate with county and city to better serve our children. Supporting student success requires long-term commitment. There is more work to do and I want to see it through.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

We need to evaluate the outcomes of the current student assignment plan. We are still implementing the plan that was voted upon in 2017 and gathering lessons learned. (In fact, I had to chuckle at this question, because it the previous review feels very fresh!) A key lesson learned from the previous process is that we must make it a top priority to have a strong communications and community engagement plan in any future student assignment process.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

I and the rest of my board unanimously voted to promote Earnest Winston as the Superintendent of CMS. Here is why: He has deep knowledge of our district, our community, and our political environment. He is well versed in the CMS academic and equity initiatives guided by our Strategic Plan 2024. He was a trusted advisor to numerous superintendents. His experience ranges from classroom teaching to operations to communications. He is trusted by our cabinet, principals, teachers, and community partners based on relationships developed over many years. As ombudsman, he has worked with families to solve difficult problems involving their children. He is down-to-earth and self-aware. Most importantly, he is fiercely loyal to this district and all of our students, including his own two young daughters who attend CMS schools.

With clear guidance, support, and collaboration from the Board of Education, Superintendent Winston will lead our district successfully for years to come. I have personally told him that I pledge to provide this, using all the lessons that I have learned in my first four years on the board and I make this pledge to my constituents as well.


Jennifer De La Jara, director of education for International House, is a CMS parent making her first run for office. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I have a clear understanding of what the At-Large role entails. I have worked primarily with Title I schools across the county, plus I recently moved to the North Meck area, which has given me a broader view of the needs of county. I have been working hard to build relationships throughout which will lay the groundwork for better collaboration. I also have a unique background in working with our immigrant communities. Their voices also need to be part of the greater CMS conversation.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

We need to incorporate the new strategic plan, along with input from our equity committee that will be establised soon, together with intentional conversations with other stakeholders representing all four corners of our county to achieve the best results. I believe communication and seeking input from the community is the best approach. I intend to work on building trust and providing more transparency about our processes.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

Helping Mr. Winston be successful will be one of my number one goals. I believe he already brings many talents and a great understanding of the inner-workings of CMS. I will pledge to him and his staff to be approachable so we can help support the goals of the District while also providing oversight and accountability.


Gregory Denlea, the only Republican in the race, says hes running to serve as a voice for the suburbs. He teaches at University of Phoenix and has grown children who went to CMS. This is his first run for office.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

Gregory Denlea (votedenlea.org) is a consistent and reliable vote for the suburban communities. I will not ignore any town, community, or school. I have 30 years experience in business supporting very large budgets. I have 15 years in higher education where I witnessed first-hand how underprepared students were for college math. I have a doctorate in educational leadership (the same licensure required for a CMS superintendent). I am passionate about giving the gift of education to all. I support parent choice and will commit myself to making our public school option a primary choice. In supporting our schools we will better the quality of our communities. Student success ensures our domestic, national, and global success as a nation.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

I am committed to ensuring that the local public school option accommodates neighborhood boundaries. My kids went to CMS and I know how traumatic it is when parents are not assigned to the closest school in their neighborhood. No student should travel for an hour on a school bus. No student should have to spend their elementary school years in a trailer. Schools with the most overcrowding should be the top priority for capital funding.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

The CMS School Board is singularly responsible for the failure of the superintendent. The Board should perform governance - not leadership. The superintendent and their team are charged with leadership. The School Board continues to let down both the superintendent and the community by telling others what to do (for example #1. ordering 4 towns to not build charter schools for a period of 15 years and #2. instructing the superintendent to ignore the municipalities of Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews, and Mint Hill for prioritized capital funding). When elected I will commit to establish a governance committee to perform evaluation of the performance of the school board, educate board members in their governance duties, ensure the proper rotation and assignment of board members, and establish performance measures for the board). Until the board functions as a board the superintendent will not be able to lead.


Jenna Moorehead, a newcomer to Charlotte, is former president of the board of the Bellefonte Area School District in Pennsylvania. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I am a career long social worker, including school social work. Im also a past president and former member of a school board in a high achieving school district of another state.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

I fully believe in equitable neighborhood assignment to ensure all students have access to higher achieving schools while insisting that areas who are underachieving bring necessary intervention to accommodate every student regardless of academic performance. It is imperative to recognize the socioeconomic challenges of many of our students and understand their limitless potential.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

My previous school board and business leadership experience tells me that we must gain leadership stability within CMS. As a board, we must trust the current leadership structure and decisions while providing appropriate support and supervision to ensure that CMS gains such stability.


Donna Parker-Tate is a retired CMS principal who has also coached principals around the country. This is her first run for the board. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

As a candidate for School Board at Large, I come with a rich background experiences in education with documented evidence as a highly qualified instructional leader. Im very confident I understand how important effective educational policies, open community and parental conversation and support, as well as ensuring schools are provided with the needed tools (advance classes in all high schools, students are college ready to compete in our global society and are provided a skill for the workforce at Large, if chosen.) will advance the overall students academic achievement.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

Student assignment is very crucial to the overall success rate of our school district. The priories I will bring to this process are to have early deep community conversations, easy accessibly for students and families to schools assigned (parental support is crucial), and that our schools mirror our global/diverse society.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

In facing systemic stability in our leadership, finding the perfect/right person to lead our district is ensuring we ( the school board, teachers, parents and the community at large) dive deeply into conversations with one another as we engage and are transparent at the looks fors, qualifications and indicators for our leader. Our leader must also understand the uniqueness of CMS and is highly capable and committed to the success of this district. Very difficult situation even though we may think we have follow the right pathway.


Jordan Pineda is a former CMS teacher who works with Teach For America and is trying to launch a group to work with boys of color. He is a Democrat making his first run for office.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

Proximity to the issue. I have committed my career to pursuing equity in education. No other candidate can say that. As a sociologist, I specifically studied the theories, policies and practices that go into creating effective and equitable school systems for students of color and/or from low income communities. I taught at a Title I school where I saw the reality of the disparities within CMS and not just the data points, but the real faces of our kids. I earned my teaching license and for the last two years I have been recruiting and coaching teachers into CMS Title I schools. I coach 20 teachers across 11 different schools in our system. I am in the work every day and I know that this work is more than just a 30 second soundbite. Its more than buzz phrases. Its about utilizing my professional career that is centered on synthesizing education-centric data and objectively analyzing policy and theory that is derived from hard sociological fact. Its about being the person who can speak for teachers because I taught or represent the kids who we have committed to providing a more equitable education because I have lived their lives.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

We have the most segregated school system in the state and one of the most segregated systems in the country. My priority is ensure that the next phrase of student assignment is focused on the intentional integration of our schools. But, it is difficult to integrate schools that are not performing at the same level, so we need to concentrate on bolstering up our failing, low income schools in CMS (which are predominantly Schools of Color). That, I believe is the true intent of the boards decision to prioritize the pursuit of equity and why I am so committed to effectively implementing equity while we prepare for another reassignment conversation. Successfully implementing equitable policies will make clear that there are still gaps to close between these schools and the only remaining solution is integration. There will be many challenges in our pursuit of a more integrated CMS and we need to make it clear that this is impacting our city, as a whole. The funding disparities between affluent schools and low-income schools directly correlate to race and housing and contribute to Charlottes ranking 50th out of 50 in terms of upward mobility. School reassignment needs to impact us all.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

I believe that the school board is at fault when it comes to the perpetual leadership turnover. The lack of transparency, failure to communicate effectively, to accept responsibility or be open to an audit is what is expected from our board. To undo this reality the board needs to work with the community to clearly articulate the functioning role of school board; what their responsibilities are and what they are not. It also needs to be much more clear and vocal in the objectives and goals that it brings to the superintendent as he can only be as good as his board. Our board needs to accept that CMS is one of the largest school districts in the country and it needs to operate like a well-functioning government entity, not as a private club that makes decisions behind closed doors. Lastly, school board members need to understand how to make personnel decisions that are best for students and teachers. This means implementing clearly defined hiring practices that focus on diversity, equity and inclusivity. These hiring decisions need to be made by professional educators who have experience in hiring and selecting leaders to teach/lead in our schools, like myself.


Olivia Scott is on the ballot but says she is not actively campaigning. She is a Democrat making her second run for the board.

Olivia Scott did not respond to this questionnaire.


Lenora Shipp is a CMS graduate and retired principal making her second run for the board. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I have history of the past and a focus on the present that will lead my work moving the school system forward into the future. I was a student in the school system before integration and during integration. A Teacher at the Elementary and Secondary level, Professional Development Specialist , Assistant Principal, Principal for 15 years/over 33 years of service in CMS working with students, teachers, parents and communities throughout the county. I clearly understand what the work of educating all students with a sound quality education to compete in the global society looks like. I have seen the successes andfailures - what worked, what didn't work in CMS. I have been trained in the Broad Foundation process of strategic schools/ strategic staffing to turn around schools. An accomplished leader with a proven track record of advancing academic achievement for all students. A parent that has seen the challenges of educating a child in CMS Pre-K-12. These experiences along with my strong commitment to this district, and a public school advocate distinguishes me as a school board candidates.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

My priorities are to increase the level of equity and diversity throughout the school system. We must do so by looking at facilities in the neighborhoods to ensure that they are brought up to standards with a focus on matching magnets program throughout the district, higher level course offering, and a wide array of CTE courses in all schools. We must ensure quality materials and human resources( highly qualified , teachers, staff, strong instructional leadership) that will even the playing field. I would also look at rezoning to widen the zones for transportation to provide more choice options to all families. Then, parents would have real choice in student assignment.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?As a former Administrator, with experience working under 10 different superintendents, here are some of my recommendations for hiring the right person in the position for stability of leadership in this district: The board should have clear goals and objectives for the superintendent that aligns with the school systems mission and vision. There must be a match between the district and superintendent; The board and the prospective superintendent should have a joint set of agreements ; Along with having a search firm, the board should also conduct a comprehensive review of the superintendent candidates to understand handling of successes and failures, management style, hiring practices and treatment of employees and the community. This should be a critical part of the superintendent screening process; An oversight committee must be effectively in place to govern the work and performance of the superintendent on a quarterly bases with a neutral training partner to reach mutual understanding and stronger accountability.STEPHANIE SNEEDStephanie Sneed is a lawyer who is active in education advocacy groups in east and west Charlotte. She is a Democrat making her second run for the board.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

As a former trial attorney for child protective services, I have experience advocating for the health, safety and welfare of children. With prior employment law experience, I am well versed in policies/practices that make for successful organizations and the practices that are pitfalls to large organizations. This is unique from any candidate or board member and will allow me to have an immediate impact on moving CMS forward. Examples include: human resources practices (recruitment, retention, training), execution/revision of employment policies, and providing distinct guidance on setting quantifiable standards/objectives for the superintendent and staff, which would coincide with quantifiable goals to be established for each school year. I also uniquely discuss short and long term goals, as evidenced above, while most other candidates focus on slow moving plans. As project lead for Westside Education Think Tank and founding member of Eastside Education Think Tank, I have had significant opportunities to engage directly with vulnerable communities, resulting in increased parent/community school engagement. I am a Girl Scout and CMS volunteer, member of numerous PTAs and CMS parent of two children, one at a low performing school. I want to evolve these experiences into effective policies to make CMS a premiere district.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

The first priority is always to look through the lens of what are the best steps that will advance ALL students to be college and career ready. Secondly, the process must be transparent, and input must be received from all interested parties no matter their socioeconomic status. The process should also be collaborative and include dialogue from other governmental bodies including county commission and city council in that the city and county is highly segregated because of issues of lack of economic mobility and affordable housing. Most importantly, at the implementation of any reassignment, measures must already be in place to provide the appropriate support to those students that need it most. Reassignment is not a magic wand for success of all students.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

First, the Board needs to set forth quantifiable goals (i.e. increase 3rd grade reading levels; 20% improvement in the recruitment and retention of teachers, including male teachers of color; 20% increase in parent engagement, 25% increase of students graduating college or career ready, etc.) that must be accomplished within a 4 year period. The Board must consider candidates that have experience that is in the line with the predetermined goals of the Board. The Board must then be diligent in its selection of a candidate that can provide a specific, unique and fresh approach to accomplishing these predetermined goals. Moreover, once the superintendent is in place, s/he must be provided clear and measurable goals to accomplish for each academic year, so that there is clear notification of what must be accomplished on a yearly basis. Often overlooked, but critical, the Board must consider leadership style of any Superintendent, including his ability to interact and engage with all levels of CMS staff and has the ability to meet all parents where they are.

DUNCAN ST. CLAIRDuncan St. Clair is a first-time candidate and unaffiliated voter. He is a CMS graduate who owns a coffee business.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

In 1996, I graduated from West Charlotte Senior High with a homegrown K-12 CMS education. In 2000, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to becoming a business owner, I worked for extremely large corporations, the federal government, non-profits, a family-owned company, and was self-employed. I see enormous challenges ahead, but I also envision incredible opportunities for success. In many ways, I am excited about what I hear from other candidates and surprised by what I dont hear as well. I want to emulate the Countys Adopt-A-Stream clean-up program for our schools so they look good from the very outset for students, parents, and teachers. Additionally, the School Board has not significantly acted on the issue of climate change and adopted its role in mitigating the effects. Investigating efficiency, promoting renewable energy, and enhancing optimization of all aspects within CMS may distinguish me as a candidate for now, but a grasp on the urgency of these issues from any Board Member will ultimately improve our school system and have far reaching benefits for both our area and world.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

Prioritizing every student education is the ultimate remedy for assignment. While it seems obvious geography will always remain the most vital factor to consider, education in the 21st century is changing. But when parents view neighborhood assignments as unappealing and either enter the magnet lottery, select a private school, or search for a charter, addressing the fundamental issue that CMS has limited ability to provide access to excellent education is the critical component for parental support and student success. Increasing CMS magnet options within neighborhood schools scales up the unique and advanced learning these programs bring to multiple locales and families. Likewise, expanding magnet subject studies to create unique and diverse educational offerings magnifies the value of our community as a whole. Further, ask every parent: Where do you want your child to attend school? Because ultimately it should be the parents decision where their child goes and access to quality education should be regarded as a right, not a gamble. Prioritize students instead of assignments. Maintain and gain the confidence of parents. And increase teacher compensation in all ways from finance to pure respect. Student assignment is definitely more about providing choice schools than choosing boundaries.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

As growth in our area expands enormously, so do the massive responsibilities of CMS. The invariable complications arising from operating and maintaining a complex network of schools across a geographically, economically, socially, and culturally diverse area constantly and quickly changing itself makes the job of a superintendent hardly applicable to one person. The past decade alone at CMS clearly indicates one superintendent is "not working out." Further, the relentless search for "one superintendent" wastes time and has, unfortunately, squashed transparency and confidence in the School Board to do just that. Growth in student enrollment coupled with the head-spinning whirlwind of turnover inexorably suggests dividing CMS into smaller, more manageable zones enables problems to be identified more swiftly and remedies adopted more effectively - benefiting everyone. Optimizing management by employing a small group of superintendents perhaps two or three establishes the stability necessary for the system to meet its current and increasingly difficult obligations.


Queen Thompson is a former CMS employee making her fourth run for the board. She is a Democrat.

What distinguishes you as a school board candidate?

I am the most experienced candidate for school board, with inside information about some of the actual problems and concrete solutions to offer. Awarded CMS Ben Craig Outstanding Education Award for outstanding and innovative programs.

1. Platform Quality schools for all children under the law, I will offer a series stories and illustrations in a publications called School House Secret, that have resulted in problems faced in CMS. Additionly, I will offer concrete solutions on How to Fix Public Education. The solutions must come about quickly as not to lose another generation of children.

2. My platform calls for mandated professional staff development. A large percentage of CMS staff members are not trained. Most have never had a course in Public School law.

3. Support fair and equitable personnel policies.

4. Address discipline by teaching social and behavioral skills. Everyone assumes that children are born knowing how to behave and manage conflicts. Social and behavior skills need to be taught. Children are treated like robots/machines and it is not working.

5. Fiscal Accountability and Transparency. Comprehensive oversight to address waste, mismanagement and the abuse of power is needed.

Recognized as a CMS a strong advocate, effective advocate for all children.

The board is likely to conduct a student assignment review in the next four years. What priorities would you bring to this?

With the collaboration of the board and staff, I plan to bring to the board, a plan to make all schools equitable and quality schools under the law, within the next two calendar years. My plan will bring quality education to all children through mastery learning, thereby dismantling the labeling of children, schools and communities failing and low performing schools.

After 50 years, I have never met anyone who wanted to be a failure. School failure destroys people, children, neighborhoods and economic growth. Who wants to work at a failing school? Who wants to attend a school, labeled failing or low performing? The label of failing becomes the self fulfilling prophecy.

CMS now has its sixth superintendent in 10 years. What should the board do to ensure the right person is in the job and the district has stable leadership?

There is no one person that is the right person in for the job. Decisions are made by a team of qualified individuals (staff members, board of education members and the community) committed to equal access to a quality education under the law in Mecklenburg County. In order to solve CMS problem puzzle, all pieces of the puzzles must be at the table. The stabilization will come when as a county or a community we are find common ground, and work together, where everyone wins.

Mecklenburg County must decide if we as a schools system stay the way they are, failing and low performing. Do continue to have our residents run, across the county in search of quality schools? Do we continue to run children to neighboring counties in search of quality schools?Do we take a wait and hope for the best attitude?Or do we unite together NOW to make Mecklenburg County Public Schools Q.U.E.E. N. Quality schools, regardless of your address and incomeUniting the community to stand togetherExperienced problem solverEducation equality, reform advocate and visionaryNow, no compromising on school failure

Where everybody wins.


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2019 Election: CMS Board Of Education - WFAE

The ‘Glasgow effect’ implies cities make us sad. Can the city prove the opposite? – The Guardian

If you live in Glasgow, you are more likely to die young. Men die a full seven years earlier than their counterparts in other UK cities. Until recently, the causes of this excess mortality remained a mystery.

Deep-fried Mars bars, some have speculated. The weather, others suggested. For years, those reasons were as good as any. In 2012, the Economist described it thus: It is as if a malign vapour rises from the Clyde at night and settles in the lungs of sleeping Glaswegians.

The phenomenon has become known as the Glasgow effect. But David Walsh, a public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who led a study on the excess deaths in 2010, wasnt satisfied with how the term was being used. It turned into a Scooby-Doo mystery but its not an exciting thing, he says. Its about people dying young, its about grief.

You have to understand what sort of shape Glasgow was in. They thought the best approach was to start afresh

He wanted to work out why Glaswegians have a 30% higher risk of dying prematurely that is, before the age of 65 than those living in similar postindustrial British cities. In 2016 his team published a report looking at 40 hypotheses from vitamin D deficiency to obesity and sectarianism. The most important reason is high levels of poverty, full stop, says Walsh. Theres one in three children who are classed as living in poverty at the moment.

But even with deprivation accounted for, mortality rates in Glasgow remained inexplicable. Deaths in each income group are about 15% higher than in Manchester or Liverpool. In particular, deaths from diseases of despair drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related deaths are high. In the mid-2000s, after adjusting for sex, age and deprivation, there was almost a 70% higher mortality rate for suicide in Glasgow than in the two English cities.

Walshs report strongly suggested a theory: that radical urban planning decisions from the 1950s onwards had made not just the physical but the mental health of Glasgows population more vulnerable to the consequences of deindustrialisation and poverty.

Studies have consistently linked city living with poorer mental health. For example, growing up in an urban environment is correlated with twice the risk of developing schizophrenia as growing up in the countryside. And the unintended legacy of some urban planning exacerbates the already considerable challenges of living in a city something 68% of the worlds population will be doing by 2050, according to UN projections.

Are these urban dwellers doomed to poor mental health, or can planners design cities that will keep us healthy and happy? Can we learn from what happened in Glasgow?

Postwar Glasgow was severely overcrowded. The 1945 Bruce report proposed solving this by housing people in high-rises on the periphery, while the following years Clyde Valley report suggested encouraging workers and their families to move to new towns. In the end, the council did a combination of both: New Towns like East Kilbride and Cumbernauld are now among the most populous towns in Scotland; many of those who stayed in Glasgow were relocated to large housing estates such as Drumchapel, Easterhouse and Castlemilk.

This rapid change in the citys makeup was soon recognised as disastrous. Relocating workers and their families to new towns was described in mid-1960s parliamentary discussions as skimming the cream. In an internal review in 1971, the Scottish Office noted that the manner of population reduction was destined within a decade or so to produce a seriously unbalanced population with a very high proportion [in central Glasgow] of the old, the very poor and the almost unemployable

Although the government was soon aware of the consequences, these were not necessarily intentional, says Walsh. You have to understand what sort of shape Glasgow was in, in terms of the really lousy living conditions, the levels of overcrowded housing and all the rest of it, he says. They thought the best approach was to just start afresh.

Anna left the tenements for a high-rise in Glasgows Sighthill estate, where she has lived on and off since the mid-60s. She was a teenager when she moved with her mother and sister to a brand-new fourth-floor flat, picked from a bowler hat. It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a glass partition in the hallway. It was like Buckingham Palace, remembers Anna. She is now 71, dressed in jeans and a denim shirt, with a blonde bob and a raspy cough that doubles as a laugh.

Youre more likely to have violence, youre more likely to have conflict; even sexual abuse is much higher in households where there are drinkers

Sighthills 10 20-storey tower blocks were meant to herald the future. Set in parkland, with a view over the city, they would house more than 7,000 people drawn from the tenements and the slums.

Until then, the family had lived in a tenement building in nearby Roystonhill. I slept with my mammy and my sister in a recess, she says. The toilet was shared.

But when the tenements went, something else went, too. There were communities which had a social fabric, if you like, which were then broken up by these processes, says Walsh.

Anna recalls the change. When we were in the tenements, youd shout up to the window: Mammy, I want a piece of jam! Before you knew it there was a dozen of them being thrown out of the window. In the tower block, she did not let her own children play unsupervised. Neighbours only spoke if they took the same lift. Her daughter was threatened with a bread knife.

By the 2000s, the tower blocks were infamous for deprivation, violence and drugs. Many residents had moved out, including Anna and her family. Empty flats were used to rehouse asylum seekers. Fractures within the community were worsening. Glasgow Housing Association eventually decided to condemn the buildings, and the towers were demolished over eight years; the last one came down in 2016.

But the roots of Glasgows excess mortality stretch back further to the Industrial Revolution, argues Carol Craig, who has written two books on the subject. In Glasgow, then called the Second City of the Empire, factories and the docks needed workers. Overcrowding coupled with a culture of drinking produced an explosive situation.

Faced with the prospect of returning to a cramped tenement, many men preferred to visit the pub; there were few other public meeting places. Youre more likely to have violence, youre more likely to have conflict; even sexual abuse is much higher in households where there are drinkers, Craig says.

Being exposed in childhood to stressful events like domestic violence, parental abandonment, abuse, or drug and alcohol addictions is thought to be linked to poor mental and physical wellbeing in later life. The higher a persons number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the more likely they are to suffer from mental illness or addiction. In turn they are more likely to expose their children to similar types of experiences, she says: ACEs tend to cascade through the generations.

In the early 20th century, cities were meant to show us how to live. Modern urban planning would make people in the worlds cities healthier and happier. In 1933, the influential Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier published his blueprint for the ideal city. In contrast with the past, he said, the city would now be designed to benefit its residents on both the spiritual and material planes.

In his Radiant City, industrial, commercial and residential zones would be segregated to allow workers to escape pollution; homes would be surrounded by open green spaces to allow residents to meet; wide roads would be set out in a grid system; and high-rise blocks would help clear the slums, overcrowded and unsanitary places where the inhabitants were, as the architect put it, incapable of initiating ameliorations.

Glasgow enthusiastically adopted these new buildings. In 1954 a delegation of councillors and planners visited Marseilles to see the Le Corbusier-designed Unit dHabitation, an 18-storey block of flats and amenities resting on concrete stilts. Glasgow soon had the highest number of high-rise dwellings in the UK outside London.

Since Le Corbusier, we have learned more about how the design of buildings can affect behaviour. In an oft-cited study from 1973, the psychologist Andrew Baum looked at how the design of two student dormitories changed how the residents interacted. In the first design, all the students shared common lounge and bathroom facilities along a corridor. In the second, smaller groups of four to six each shared bathrooms and lounges.

Baum found that the first design was a socially overloaded environment that did not allow residents to regulate who they interacted with and when. Being faced with too many people, at times not of their choosing, led students to experience stress; they became less helpful and more antisocial than those in the second design as the year went on.

Mental health is almost uniformly worse in cities thats just what the data shows

Perhaps the most famous example of buildings effects on their inhabitants still referenced today is the PruittIgoe housing complex in St Louis, USA: 33 towers of 11 storeys each, inspired by Le Corbusier and designed by the modernist Minoru Yamasaki. Finished in 1956, it was initially seen as a miracle solution to inner-city living. Less than 20 years later, the social problems the blocks seemed to have spawned were deemed so irreparable that the local authorities imploded the buildings.

The architect Oscar Newman toured PruittIgoe in 1971, a year before demolition started. He argued that the design of a building affected the extent to which residents contributed to its upkeep. If people feel responsible for both keeping an area clean and controlling who uses it, it is likely to be safer. He called this sense of ownership over a territory defensible space.

The larger the number of people who share a communal space, the more difficult it is for people to identify it as theirs or to feel they have a right to control or determine the activity taking place within it, Newman wrote. PruittIgoe was not designed to accommodate defensible space, he argued. Landings shared by only two families were well maintained, whereas corridors shared by 20 families were a disaster they evoked no feelings of identity or control.

Part of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing development in St. Louis, Missouri, being demolished by dynamite charges in 1972. Photograph: Fred Waters/AP

Tower blocks with wealthier residents are less likely to have issues with defensible space: they can pay for cleaners and security guards. Children, on the other hand, are often most affected: these common areas communal corridors, or landings, or the nearby park are usually spaces for play.

During his inauguration as rector of Glasgow University in 1972, the Clydeside trade unionist Jimmy Reid argued powerfully that working-class communities left behind by economic advancement were being stored out of sight. When you think of some of the high flats around us, he said, it can hardly be an accident that they are as near as one could get to an architectural representation of a filing cabinet.

Inequality is at its most conspicuous in cities: the very poor and the very rich live side-by-side yet separately. Relative social status is more likely to be the first measure by which we judge people in places where communities are more transient and inequality starker. This has been shown to have an impact on our psychological wellbeing.

In their book The Inner Level, epidemiologists Kate Pickett and Richard G Wilkinson argue that inequality not only creates social rupture by highlighting peoples differences but also encourages competition, contributing to increased social anxiety. They cite a 2004 paper by two psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles Sally Dickerson and Margaret Kemeny who analysed 208 studies to find that tasks involving some threat of social evaluation affected stress hormones the most.

Pickett and Wilkinson argue that this type of stress harms our psychological health: The more unequal countries had three times as much mental illness as the more equal ones. This affects people of all social classes. In high-inequality countries, such as the USA and the UK, even the richest 10% of people suffer more anxiety than any group in low-inequality countries except the poorest 10%.

Research has also shown that living in a city can alter our brains architecture, making it more vulnerable to this type of social stress. In 2011, a team led by psychiatrist Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of Heidelberg Universitys Central Institute of Mental Health looked at the implications of urban living on brain biology, scanning the brains of students while they were given arithmetic tasks and simultaneously subjected to criticism on headphones.

The results of the test, designed to simulate social stress, were stark: the participants who lived in a city demonstrated a greater neurophysiological reaction, with the amygdala, an area of the brain which processes emotion, activated more strongly. Those whod grown up in cities also displayed a stronger response in their perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates the amygdala and is associated with stress and negative emotion, than those brought up in towns or the countryside.

Meyer-Lindenbergs previous work on risk mechanisms in schizophrenia focused on genes. But these are only thought to account for a 20% increased chance of developing the illness at most and growing up in a city is associated with double the risk. His research has shown that stressful experiences in early life correlate with reduced volume of grey matter in the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, a factor often seen in people with schizophrenia.

Mental health is almost uniformly worse in cities thats just what the data shows, Meyer-Lindenberg says. There isnt really a bright side to this.

Lack of agency the feeling that we dont have control over a situation is one of the core mechanisms determining how strongly social stress is experienced, says Meyer-Lindenberg, adding: People who are in leadership positions tend to cope better with a given amount of stress.

If you can see children, its probably a healthy and happy city

In a city, and particularly if you are poor, you are far more dependent on other people and the urban infrastructure, whether waiting impatiently for a bus or a lift, wondering who youll have to share a lift with in your high-rise complex, or hoping the local council will not choose your neighbourhood for redevelopment.

Cities can also of course be liberating. The flip side of being more stressful is that they may be more stimulating, Meyer-Lindenberg says. This tighter community that you have in a village, say, can be very oppressive if you dont feel like you belong, if youre an outsider of some sort.

Inequality has been shown to lower trust in others and damage social capital the networks between people which allow societies to function effectively. People are so worried about security that theyre mentally building walls around themselves, says Liz Zeidler, chief executive of the Happy City Initiative, a research centre based in Bristol. We need to be doing the opposite: we need to be creating more and more spaces where people can connect, learn across their differences.

Happy City has designed a way to measure the local conditions shown to improve well-being. Its Thriving Places Index looks at housing, education, inequality, green space, safety and community cohesion.

Perhaps a good measure for the happiness of a place, Zeidler says, is the status of the indicative species, an idea borrowed from the author and urbanist Charles Montgomery. For ponds, she says, it might be that the presence of a certain type of newt tells you whether or not the water is healthy. In cities, the newts are children: If you can see children, its probably a healthy and happy city.

The way a city is laid out can foster this environment, she says, by closing of streets, making it more pedestrianised, more green spaces, having more what urban planners would call bumping spaces, where you can literally bump into people. Slowing places down is really good for everybodys wellbeing and, obviously, you then see more children on the streets.

Without looking at the car swinging towards him, the urban planner Christopher Martin crosses the road. Thankfully, the car slows down. Martin continues, blithely, discussing the priority of pedestrians and rule 170 of the Highway Code.

The Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman used to perform a similar trick in the early 2000s. He would walk, usually with a journalist in tow, backwards, eyes closed, into a four-way crossing with no traffic lights or signs. Monderman believed roads were safer without traffic signs; in order to navigate unfamiliar routes, cars would slow down. The common sense of the drivers would act as a more powerful safety guard than any sign.

What were trying to do is to get people to interact with each other be human beings, Martin says as we continue to walk up Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

Sauchiehall Street is the first area to be worked on as part of the Avenues, a 115m project to form an integrated network of pedestrian and cycle routes on 17 roads and surrounding areas in the city centre between the Clyde and Glasgows infamous motorway, which forms a near noose around the area.

Glasgows central grid is mostly made of four-lane roads. When you walk across the city, the roads, some at a steep incline, others stretching towards a grey horizon, seem solely taken up with cars and buses. The city will get what it invites, says Martin. Now parts of these roads will be given over to those walking and biking, and to trees and benches.

Its very antisocial being sat in a metal box by yourself. The rise of urban loneliness and mental health [issues] to do with that disconnection is vast

City planners the world over have a history of favouring the needs of cars. In 1955 Robert Moses, New York City parks commissioner, was planning to build a four-lane road through Washington Square Park. Some of the residents demurred, including the journalist Jane Jacobs. In 1958, three years into what would become a successful 14-year fight to save Greenwich Village, she wrote an article in Fortune magazine that eventually formed the basis of her book The Death and Life of American Cities.

To keep downtown activities compact and concentrated, Jacobs advocated removing cars: The whole point is to make the streets more surprising, more compact, more variegated, and busier than before not less so. She argued against grand schemes that sought to demolish and redevelop, instead saying that cities should grow in line with what people want and how they use the spaces that already exist: There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.

Giving priority to cars has distorted cities proportions, Martin says: If you build at the scale of cars, you get wide roads, you get wide streets, you get cities which stretch out because cars are fast and cars are big. Taking space away from cars gives the public realm back to the people. Its very antisocial being sat in a metal box by yourself, he says. The rise of urban loneliness and mental health [issues] to do with that disconnection is vast.

In Glasgow, Sauchiehall Street is being used as a proof of concept, while the other Avenues will be implemented over the next eight years.

If designed well, cities can be good for us. If you look at urban dwellers epidemiologically, says Meyer-Lindenberg, they tend to be richer, better educated, [with] better access to healthcare. And they also tend to be somatically healthier. They also tend to have a smaller carbon footprint. You cant raze cities to the ground and rebuild them, he says. You have to find ways to maximise peoples wellbeing.

Meyer-Lindenberg is currently tracking how different parts of the city affect our mental wellbeing, using a technique called ecological momentary assessment, in which participants repeatedly report on the environment around them in real time. Various studies have suggested that nature be that a tree or a park has an important impact on peoples mental health. The app he is currently designing will allow people to plan their routes through the city in order to maximise their exposure to nature.

The most beneficial nature is the one that looks like the kind of nature that humans would have encountered during their early evolution, he surmises. Perhaps the manicured parks of the type preferred by urban planners may not actually be that effective at improving our wellbeing.

In 2012, Emily Cutts realised the importance of these kinds of green spaces when the meadow overlooked by her second-floor flat in west Glasgow was threatened with development. Once used as an informal football pitch by locals, the meadow had mostly been frequented by dog walkers and drug addicts since the council, who wanted to sell the land, removed the goalposts. Now it finally looked as if a plan to build 90 deluxe flats might pass.

Cutts decided that the only way to save the meadow was to launch a campaign. Over the next few years, the community organised petitions, events and a three-month vigil in St Georges Square in the city centre. Eventually the Scottish government stepped in. On 21 December 2016, it was determined that the meadow would remain undeveloped. It is known locally as the Childrens Wood and is managed by a charity.

But why did Cutts and her fellow campaigners fight so passionately for this dingy meadow? Her neighbourhood, about 10 minutes north of the Botanic Gardens, already had plenty of green space. Was it simply a case of not wanting development on her doorstep?

When I meet Cutts in the community garden, she is deep in discussion with the gardener, Christine, about the possibility of using a wormery to transform dog faeces into compost for the trees. There are raised beds for planting, a bathtub with upturned earth for children to dig and an edible teepee (pea shoot tendrils will soon be climbing up the twigs). It was planted by a 12-year-old boy who, Cutts tells me, is regularly excluded from school.

Reclaiming the land for community is definitely the way forward. You can tell theres a need but its not happening all over and it could be

Cutts is slight with long blonde hair, a soft Glaswegian accent and an eager countenance. She has an MSc in positive psychology. It was while working as Carol Craigs researcher, compiling and presenting research on how to improve wellbeing, that she grew to understand the meadows potential to make her community healthier and happier.

Today, more than 20 schools and nurseries from the local area use the meadow. During my visit, Kelvinside Academy is having a forestry lesson. Children are playing around the thin birch trees, tying ropes around them, swinging friends vigorously in hammocks that look like laughing body bags, and digging in the earth. They learn to use knives for woodland tasks.

Cutts collaborated with a researcher at the University of Glasgow on a series of tests comparing the attention spans of children who spent their lunchtime in the meadow with those who stayed indoors or played in the schools concrete playground. The attention of children exposed to nature was significantly better.

Attention restorative theories argue that nature can have an impact on our attention span by engaging our indirect attention; this allows the type of attention we use for more challenging cognitive tasks, such as mathematical problems, to recuperate. The team also performed a similar experiment looking at childrens creativity in art. Children who came here used more colours, used more texture, made more depth to their pictures than those who hadnt played outside, says Cutts.

Richard Mitchell, a professor in the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, has also been looking at how exposure to nature affects stress in deprived communities. Despite previous research showing a beneficial impact, his own findings have shown it to be slight.

These are all very deprived communities with a whole range of other problems going on, and the detrimental impact of life in poverty and other stressful situations is not outweighed by access to green space, he says. I think what we have to understand is that at a population level it may not have an absolutely spectacular impact straight away, [but] it is important.

Further study, however, showed that one aspect of exposure to nature had pretty strong protective effects on mental health in adulthood, Mitchell says. Those who had been Scouts or Guides, and had repeated contact with nature over a long period of time where theyre learning a whole variety of skills including being outdoors and appreciation of nature, were less vulnerable to mental ill-health.

The Childrens Wood charity runs a regular youth club where they bring young people to help with the gardening. Many of the children come from deprived families. Thats what always interests us about the space, says Cutts. Its bang right in the centre of inequality theres so much poverty and theres a lot of affluence around. So, we feel its sort of a level playing field and everybody is welcome. Unlike in parks, which can be anonymous, here you have a committed community who are involved in the space, she says.

We go up the road together to visit a GP at home who works in Possilpark, one of the poorest districts in the city. She prescribes visits to the Childrens Wood, in addition to other treatments, due to the benefits of peer support, getting out of your house, talking to others, getting more engaged in your community, watching things grown, nurturing other things, nurturing oneself and self-care. She says that when her patients talk about the wood, it is one of the few times she sees them smile.

Over 60% of Glasgows population live within 500 metres of a derelict site. A 2013 study found that vacant land and deprivation were linked to poor mental and physical health. It recommended that the city council grant the more than 700 hectares (1,730 acres) available to highly deprived communities to be used for community good.

Reclaiming the land for community is definitely the way forward, Cutts says as we both look over the meadow in the drizzling rain. You can tell theres a need but its not happening all over and it could be.

In the evening, Cutts shows me the youth programme where 40 or so children are learning how to trampoline. As I wait for the bus, I see some of the children leaving, mostly boys who are about 13 or 14, jostling and pushing each other playfully in the middle of the wide road. They are the newts in the city.

This is an edited version of an article first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence. Sign up to the newsletter at mosaicscience.com/newsletter

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The 'Glasgow effect' implies cities make us sad. Can the city prove the opposite? - The Guardian

ASCSU senate votes for action against hate speech – Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Associated Students of Colorado State University voted on two resolutions Wednesday evening meant to condemn and hold accountability for hate speech, as a result of the Universitys recent blackface incident.

Hundreds of students, community members and interested groups attended the meeting to push for senators and University administration to take action.

ASCSU President Ben Amundson spoke in favor of action against acts of racism and showed support to the affected communities.

We can do so much more, and we know that, Amundson said. There are students here who are hurt, and, to me, thats something I take to heart. As a Black student, its not your job to solve racism when white students are creating racist acts on campus.

Resolution 4902: Condemning the acts of hate speech of the Colorado State University campus

Im sorry that we cannot end racism. However, we can take steps to alleviate some of the pain of the effects of racism, sexism and the disrespect to all marginalized communities. -ASCSU Senator Jaquikeyah Fields

Resolution 4902, presented by Senator Tristan Reyez, was expedited and passed with a 37-1-0 vote.

The focus of the resolution was to reject the act of racism in its entirety and to recognize its impacts on students, according to the resolution.

Tonight, I cried, Reyez said. I cried at hearing students tell me about how awful they feel to be a Ram and how awful they feel to experience racism every single day.

Reyez said the act of blackface was not an isolated incident and that he wants students to know the resolution is about opening the dialogue about other effects of racism on campus.

We, as students from across the nation, must work together to form a collective stance on racism, Reyez said.

Senator Diego Tovar said this resolution is just the start.

Saying no to this resolution just halts everything, and we start over, Tovar said. Do we want another incident on our campus? Just think about who you represent.

Resolution 4903: Accountability for hate speech against students

In this conversation, there is no room for extension or objection because we are beyond the times of objection and extension from elected officials on these issues. -Tim Hernandez, teacher

The second resolution of the evening was also expedited and passed.

This resolution, presented by Senator Jaquikeyah Fields, asked for there to be accountability for those who partake in hate speech, particularly the blackface incident.

This resolution was created with all of you in mind, Fields said. We are senators, and we represent you all. Im sorry that we cannot end racism. However, we can take steps to alleviate some of the pain of the effects of racism, sexism and the disrespect to all marginalized communities.

Senator Ethan Burshek asked about the ethical implications of the resolution.

I have listened and heard your thoughts and your pain; I am willing to look for a solution, Burshek said. But I want the right solution, and I want a solution that does not cause even more pain.

Burshek said the incident is protected under the First Amendment and is free speech and that the University must follow the dictates of the Constitution above all else.

Senator Austin Fearn said the Supreme Court has held up that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, but they can still say the Supreme Court is wrong.

It is within our power to say that that is not correct, Fearn said.

Tim Hernandez, a teacher from Denver, said this is what the discussion and dialogue on race has needed to be for hundreds of years.

In this conversation, there is no room for extension or objection because we are beyond the times of objection and extension from elected officials on these issues, Hernandez said. Some of my students drove an hour and fourteen minutes from Denver, Colorado, and paid their personal gas money to came to this meeting to express their thoughts.

Hernandez said this resolution does not just impact the climate and campus of CSU.

You, right now, at 12:22 in the morning, have an intentional role in building a culture of higher education in the state of Colorado, Hernandez said. So, I ask you today, are your actions and what you are speaking about conducive to the future of higher education, or is it your personal opinion?

The resolution was passed in a 31-5-2 roll call vote.

Charlotte Lang can be reached atnews@collegian.comor on Twitter@chartrickwrites.

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ASCSU senate votes for action against hate speech - Rocky Mountain Collegian

College Avenue can do better and for that, we’d like to share your stories – Rocky Mountain Collegian

Dear readers,

Within the first weeks of the school year, weve already witnessed an incident involving four White students in blackface. A week later, a swastika was found next to a community coordinators door in Aggie Village. These recent incidents have certainly shocked the campus community, but it is ultimately just the latest iteration of discriminatory behavior persistent within the past three years at Colorado State University. The fact that such incidents have been a mainstay on campus for the past four years is irrevocably heartbreaking.

An incident of racism has been a highlight of every semester since 2016. Since then, Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation College Avenues parent company has reported over 20 incidents related to bigotry; from a noose found hanging outside a Black resident assistants dorm room in 2017 to clashes between White nationalists and anti-fascist protesters in 2018. Intentional or otherwise, these incidents perpetuate racist and racially-ignorant beliefs, none of which have any place on our campus.

As journalists, we acknowledge our roles as storytellers and conversation leaders and the responsibilities these roles carry within our community. We also recognize our deficiencies in reporting about campus diversity and fostering its discussion. As a first-generation immigrant and person of color, Ill be the first to say we havent done enough as a publication to address these issues and share the voices of those most affected on campus.

At our core, College Avenue is a lifestyle magazine for the campus and Fort Collins community. Sometimes perhaps more often than were aware of lifestyle includes experiencing discrimination and microaggressions: the everyday slights, behaviors and statements which marginalized groups experience. Thus, wed like to make the first steps in becoming a media outlet that engages with the full spectrum of the CSU community and the issues that define us.

We want College Avenue to be a publication underrepresented communities on this campus can trust to tell their stories accurately. Our reason-for-being as a lifestyle magazine is, after all, tied directly to the rich collection of lived experiences within our community.

So, this year, were making a stronger commitment to sharing the stories of underrepresented groups on campus. To do that, we intend to schedule and attend meetings with the Student Diversity Programs and Services to have honest, thorough discussions about making College Avenue an inclusive platform for underrepresented voices. Based on these discussions, we will craft a diversity statement, which we will then send to the students and staff of the SDPS offices to receive feedback.

We want College Avenue to be a publication underrepresented communities on this campus can trust to tell their stories accurately. Our reason-for-being as a lifestyle magazine is, after all, tied directly to the rich collection of lived experiences within our community.

College Avenue meets weekly on Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. Starting Oct. 2, meetings will take place in the Student Media newsroom, ground floor of the Lory Student Center.

We honor those who share their pain and glories and respect that there are people among us who experience battle fatigue as a result of microaggressions. We endeavor to make this publication not only a safe space but a brave space, too.

Its about time College Avenue started cultivating relationships with those in the community who feel their voices arent being heard or just wish to be heard. We invite everyone to join this conversation and help us be a better magazine for the community.

College Avenue meets weekly on Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. Starting Oct. 2, our weekly meetings will take place in the Student Media newsroom, ground floor of the Lory Student Center. If you cant make the meetings, prefer to meet in a personal safe space or just to inquire about our work, send us an email at collegavenue@collegian.com. Well gladly take the time to listen.

We hope you as readers will aid us in our goal to be a better form of media one that accurately tells the stories of everyone at CSU. This is only the first step, but we want to help make a difference on campus.

Sincerely, and on behalf of the College Avenue editorial team,

Gabriel Go, Editor-in-Chief

Endorsed by:

Taylor Sandal, Executive Editor

Haley Candelario, Features Editor

Mackenzie Pinn, Photography Director

Meg Metzger-Seymour, Creative Director

Caleb Carpenter, Creative Director

Gabriel Go and the College Avenue editorial team can be reached at collegeavenue@collegian.com or on Twitter @collegeavemag.


College Avenue can do better and for that, we'd like to share your stories - Rocky Mountain Collegian

Safety through oasis on the Midtown Greenway – Southwest Journal

Donovan Harmel is ready to pass on responsibility for managing Veras Garden, which he has cared for since 2001. Submitted photo

After 18 years of pouring love and spilling sweat along the Midtown Greenway, Donovan Harmel is ready to step away from his role as manager of the much-beloved Veras Garden. Named in honor of the former Veras Cafe on the corner of 29th & Lyndale (a building now occupied by Lago Tacos), Veras Garden was the brainchild of some local gardeners with a few extra plants and a desire to find them a community home.

The result is an impressive project of neighborhood beautification, one that attracts visitors to rest among the flowers and invites Greenway travelers to slow down during their morning commutes.

Veras Garden broke ground less than a year after the first section of the Greenway opened to foot traffic in 2001. Harmel and his fellow gardeners worked with the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) to draw up plans for the space and put together a lease agreement (Veras Garden leases the plot for $1 per year).

Over time, Veras Garden became known in the gardening community in Minneapolis and beyond. In 2015 the Southwest Journal declared it an oasis on the Midtown Greenway. In 2016 it was a featured stop on an annual garden bloggers tour bringing together writers from across North America. As the Midtown Greenway Coalition noted in a recent newsletter, Veras Garden is considered by many to be the most beautiful garden in the entire Greenway.

While Harmel spoke modestly about his contributions, he suspects that Veras Garden has had reverberations down the rest of the Greenway. I think it has helped get other beautification projects going, he said.

Chris Durant, a longtime friend, is less modest when he reflects on the impact of Harmels commitment to Veras. It started from just an idea to an amazing oasis that has really pushed other people to get involved in doing stuff along the Greenway, Durant said. I see [Harmel] as inspirational.

Veras Garden is more than just a project of beauty. Its a piece of infrastructure that impacts how people access and interact with communal space.

Public safety has always been part of the discussion when it comes to the Greenway, prompting concerns over who is using the trail and how. Even when Veras Garden was first putting together a proposal for the lot, Harmel remembers opposition to evergreen trees out of fear that people could hide behind them.

But Harmel did his research. He actually called a lead gardener with the Central Park Conservancy to ask about safety disparities between evergreen and deciduous trees and found no evidence that a safety disparity exists.

Harmel also built relationships with academic greenspace researchers, including Dr. Frances Kuo, founder of the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kuo has been a longtime leader in studying the connection between increased greenspace access and safer communities. Her research has demonstrated, for example, the relationship between urban greening and reduced aggression.

The City of Minneapolis and HCRRA, two entities that share operation and maintenance responsibilities over different portions of the Greenway, agree that gardens, landscaping and other beautifying infrastructure can have big impacts on user experience of the Greenway and can help connect the trail to the surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2015, Hennepin County Community Works and the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) jointly published a report on East Lake Street/Midtown Greenway placemaking and urban design. This report features proposals for public art installations and landscape designs along the Greenway, all with access, connectivity and user experience in mind.

Over the last several months, Greenway-affiliated organizations including HCRRA, the Midtown Greenway Coalition and the office of Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano (Ward 9) have all noticed an uptick in the perception of safety risk, particularly with respect to homeless encampments and drug activity. New fencing has gone up in response, both under the Bloomington Avenue Bridge on the Greenway and under the I-94 overpass along the Blue Line Trail in Cedar-Riverside. All the while, the trail has been quiet with respect to city and county involvement in placemaking and intentional design, as recommended in the above report.

But when it comes to creative placemaking, official bodies arent necessary to lead the effort. Veras Garden is a perfect example of this creative spontaneity.

And sometimes, this spontaneity is more defiant. If people want to go someplace, theyll go there, whether theres fencing or not, Harmel said.

The same is true for an informal cattle trail down to the Greenway trench from 29th Street. The trail was constructed for hillside maintenance purposes, explained Curt Gunsbury, owner of Solhem Companies, which operates the nearby Lyndy Apartments. Its not designed to become public access to the Greenway, although we assumed it would become one, he said.

According to Harmel, not only is fencing a waste of money, but it could pose a danger in and of itself. Recently the HCRRA opened up a gate in the fence that separates the Greenway from a HCRAA-owned access road to the south. The fence gap, located across from Veras Garden between Garfield and Harriet avenues, provides a new entry point for visitors coming down to the trail from the street above. People were climbing over [the fence] before, Harmel said. It was more of a danger for someone to get hurt.

Gunsbury understands that the Greenway fencing is important for HCRRA to maintain access to the property they operate. But as you can imagine, its hard to limit access to a trench that runs through a densely populated area, he said.

Luckily for Greenway users, Harmel has put in 18 years of dedicated work to create an accessible space of respite and safety, a small example of community placemaking come to life.

Veras Garden is on the lookout for a new garden manager. If you are interested in learning more or volunteering with the garden, please email Donovan Harmel at donhmpls@gmail.com.

Check out the next Green Digest for a deeper dive into community safety and infrastructure along the Midtown Greenway.

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Safety through oasis on the Midtown Greenway - Southwest Journal

Sitka: An unlikely player in the national food scene – KCAW

A leading food systems researcher and author has identified seven unlikely cities that are changing the way Americans eat.

Even more unlikely: One of them is in Alaska.

Surprise. The unlikely city in Alaska helping shape the national food scene is Sitka. But Sitkans arent riding this wave out of choice, necessarily. Author Mark Winne was in the community last year, and reports that Sitkas food strategies are the result of several factors most importantly, the price.

Ive seen numbers about the cost of food in Sitka not just compared to Seattle and Portland but also compared to places like Anchorage, said Winne. Its very, very expensive here, and people know that.

Sitkas groceries are 35-percent higher than the US mainland, and 10-to-21 percent higher than other urban communities in Alaska, according to data in Winnes latest book, Food Town USA: Seven Unlikely Cities that are Changing the Way We Eat. Winne is a senior advisor to the John Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future. Hes spent his career studying food systems and Sitkas is unique in his experience.

At least 95-percent of the food that people eat here is coming from the Lower 48, coming in via barge, said Winne. Thats an idea thats brand new to me. Id never heard of people getting most of their food via a barge.

But its not as if Sitkans are totally at a loss if a barge fails to arrive. Often on a Sunday night prior to a Monday barge landing, youd find the dairy shelves in the towns three grocery stores nearly stripped bare. Sitka is the largest community in Alaska that also has a rural designation under Federal subsistence rules. Winne says that nearly 60 percent of Sitkans eat some fish or game every week. Even before there was such a thing as a foodie scene, wild foods were at the heart of Sitkas.

This is how the community earned a chapter in Food Town USA, alongside places like Boise, Idaho; Portland, Maine; and Jacksonville, Florida.

I was looking for a place that was different from all the others all the cities that I was going to in the Lower 48, Winne said. A place that was more isolated, more rural, and also had a strong fisheries connection. And also had a vital food scene, a food culture. People really interested in different ways with food, from beer to salmon to berries to whatever! And Sitka really fit the bill in that regard.

During his visit to Sitka in 2018, Winne spent time at one of Sitkas farmers market, took a skiff ride out to a Andrea Fragas massive Middle Island Gardens, toured the community with the organizers of the communitys thriving food co-op, and studied the Fish-to-Schools program. He also gathered people at the library to talk about his work, and to hear local concerns over food security of which there are plenty. Many Sitkans wonder if the town shouldnt create and maintain a food reserve, in the event catastrophe prevented the arrival of a barge for several weeks. Or if there should be a local food center, to consolidate efforts to promote healthy, affordable eating in the community.

Winne says that Sitkas intentional, collaborative approach toward its food system is noteworthy, and a lesson for the rest of the country.

If people who really care about good food for everybody, and food security, and health, and maybe most importantly the sustainability of the planet, said Winne, if they dont work together and start to set aside differences, and start to create more planning, more coordinated activity, then we wont have the capacity we need to face the challenges that we have there.

Food Town USA: Seven Unlikely Cities that are Changing the Way We Eat is Winnes fourth book on food systems. Published by the Island Press, its available in bookstores everywhere.

Erin Slomski-Pritz contributed to this story.

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Sitka: An unlikely player in the national food scene - KCAW

Religious Coworking Spaces Encourage Faith, Careers – Word and Way

People work in Epiphany Spaces open workspace in Hollywood. RNS photo by Heather Adams

LOS ANGELES (RNS) For Melissa Smith, who is from the South and has worked in the hospitality industry,community is a big part of who she is.

I didnt know anything about coworking, I just knew there was this need to gather, Smith said. Its very easy to feel isolated in Los Angeles.

But another big part of Smiths life is her faith, so six years ago when she started Epiphany Space, a coworking office for creative professionals in Hollywood, she did so through a Christian lens.

You can go to a coffee shop, you can go to a library, but those places youre not necessarily building intentional relationships, Smith said.

The number of coworking offices in the U.S. has grown exponentially over the past few years. According to the 2019 Colliers International flexible workspace report,there were fewer than 300 coworking spaces in the U.S. in 2010. At the end of 2017, there were more than 4,000.

In Dallas, Raleigh-Durham, Boston and Seattle, the number of coworking spaces has doubled in less than two years.

People are flocking to coworking spaces because they are often less expensive than renting out a dedicated office for your business. Plus, many coworking offices come with administrative staff, access to printers, Wi-Fi and meetings rooms. But they are also popular for the social benefits: free coffee and snacks, regular happy hour events, Zen rooms and showers.

Building community among the many freelancers, remote workers and small businesses that work in these shared offices is part of the goal for most coworking spaces. It was the goal for Smith too when she started Epiphany Space.

Melissa Smith, the owner of Epiphany Space. RNS photo by Heather Adams

In LAs Epiphany Space those relationships are built with both Christians and non-Christians, through workshops, open-mic nights and simply working alongside each other. Only about half the community at Epiphany Space is Christian and theres no mention of it on the website.

I never designed Epiphany to be a Christian Club, Smith said. We have conversations about God, we pray for one another, but we dont force our beliefs or perspectives on anybody.

Instead, Smiths faith and Epiphany Spaces Christian connection come out through how she runs it.There are Bibles scattered around and there is a prayer room (though it can also be used for meetings or phone calls). She encourages Christian members to pray for one another. Even so, a visitor might not identify it as having Christian roots until starting to work there and talking to the people. Thats how Smith wants it.

I think its easy for a Christian to create a bubble and stay in it and not have a sense of whats happening in the world, Smith said. Our purpose is to create space for people to be able to thrive and for art to be able to be cultivated.

Smith also tries to approach her members with Christian values in mind. One monthly member was out of a job. She knew that at the end of the month shed also be out of money and her time at Epiphany Space would come to an end.

I looked at her and said, Just come, Smith said. At some point you can pay it forward.

That member soon started getting freelance work and is now back on her feet.

If we had just said, Were a business, too bad, see ya, she wouldve spiraled into depression and isolation and it wouldve made that journey a whole lot more difficult, she said.

All the Epiphany Space users are artists, so Smith understands the importance of affordability something shes able to provide by keeping things modest. While some coworking offices offer high end coffee, nice desks and a rooftop deck, Epiphany Space has mostly mismatched, donated furniture and most of the office is dedicated to open common areas. It might not be for everyone, but for the artists at Epiphany Space it has charm.

In Los Angeles, WeWork, an established coworking franchise, can cost more than $400 a month to access the offices open floor plan in the common areas and more than $5,000 a month for team offices. But Epiphany Space charges $20 per day, $75 per week or $200 a month for its packages.

Religious posters and books adorn Epiphany Space in Hollywood. RNS photo by Heather Adams

Its also important to Smith that Epiphany Space stay in Hollywood. She hopes to continue to grow but has no intention of becoming the next WeWork type franchise.

Hollywood is an idea. It is an industry. It means something in culture, she said. Hollywood means so many things.

Christians arent the only religious faithful who are pioneering these types of coworking communities.

Shahed Amanullah co-founded Affinis Labs, recently acquired by Frost Capital, to help cater to businesses with Islamic values by connecting them to like-minded entrepreneurs and offering classes and networking opportunities.

Some of these companies, for example, are in modest fashion or charitable giving, such as LaunchGood.

Modest fashion, he said, is an Islamic value but the company doesnt market it that way its for anyone who wants to dress modestly.

Shahed Amanullah. Courtesy photo

Even though it comes from this space that was informed by Islamic values and heritage and tradition, maybe theres something in it for everybody, Amanullah said. Were trying to connect like-minded people so we can have a conversation.

For Amanullah, though, he isnt interested in supporting businesses that only cater to the Muslim community, adding that Affinis Labs turned down people who have come to him with ideas or business ventures like a Muslim Facebook or a Muslim YouTube.

Are you just seeking to wall yourself off from the rest of the world? he asked. Or are you seeking to blossom as a religious community so that the rest of the world can benefit from it?

He said all religious businesses will come to this fork in the road when they have to decide if they are cutting themselves off from those outside their tradition or trying to benefit a wider community.

But for those who want to be included in Affinis Labs, The whole point is by us, for everybody, he said.

For Amanullah its more than the physical building, which is why Affinis Labscreated a virtual building, connecting people through a platform all over the world.

If we have a coworking space in DC, thats a tiny piece of the global market that can actually come to our physical space, he said. We realized early on we have to think way beyond a coworking space.

But for SketchPad, a coworking space in Chicago dedicated to Jewish nonprofit companies with a social mission, the physical location is important.

For many of the people now at SketchPad, their organizations were already working together constantly but their offices werent near each other and many of them were in buildings that didnt fit their needs. Irene Lehrer Sandalow, SketchPads director, had a vision to bring the companies together to fit all their needs and be able to easily collaborate on projects that overlap.

We spend so much time scheduling, Sandalow said. Instead, people here can just walk over and say, Im thinking about this. What do you think? Can we talk about it?

Its also useful to know what companies are out there, so they arent duplicating efforts, Sandalow said.

Beyond encouraging collaboration, SketchPad puts a significance on Jewish values in how the coworking space is operated.

One such Jewish value is hospitality hachnasat orchim. SketchPad works hard to make sure everyone feels welcome. For example, the bathrooms are ADA accessible and gender neutral. SketchPad also values environmental justice, so the coworking space recycles and composts.

SketchPad plans to keep expanding who and what it embraces.

We keep bringing it up, Sandalow said. Everybody here is involved in the different elements that makes Sketchpad Sketchpad.

Cortney Matz, an artist working at Epiphany Space in Hollywood. RNS photo by Heather Adams

For those invested in these faith-based coworking communities, they can be life-changing.

When Cortney Matz first moved to Los Angeles in 2014, her work wasnt taking off like shed hoped, and she quickly felt lonely and depressed.

Epiphany Space, she said, gave her the freedom to just create without a destination in mind.

She knew she was artistic and good at singing always singing in the church choir but, she said, she thought that being good at art meant painting the church walls or being good at writing meant helping with the church newsletter.

I love all of my church experiences growing up but somehow I got this idea creativity was for Sundays, she said.

The people at Epiphany Space helped her see past that. Now a singer and songwriter, shes learned that doing what she does best as a career is just as valuable as helping at the church on Sundays.

Being an artist is what I do, Matz said. To try to ignore that and try to pick something more useful, like a pastor or a missionary, is just not the plan. Its not Gods plan for me and Ive tested that.

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Religious Coworking Spaces Encourage Faith, Careers - Word and Way

Face to face, in the street and elsewhere – Frederick News Post

I got to thinking about reviving neighborhood block parties about the time of last weeks In the Streets celebration, when thousands filled Market Street in Frederick and spilled onto Carroll Creek Linear Park. The really neat part was that people were out of their vehicles, walking around, and in some cases I actually witnessed this talking to each other. They were interacting.

Some of us live in splendid isolation in splendid developments where neighbors are a distant blur. We drive by ourselves down the road to work in a splendid little cubicle or even better, a corner office, with windows. We even take advantage of all those nifty time-saving self-checkout stations at the supermarket, the gas station and the bank where we dont have to deal with actual people.

Or we buy online to really save time, more driving or having to deal with even more people.

Maybe thats an ideal version of the American dream. Being independent, strong, standing tall. And alone. Not only the American dream, but increasingly, the American way of life.

Is it not possible. then, that by seeing less of each other, but interacting as little as possible with each other, that we eventually will understand each other even less, appreciate our differences even less? That could apply to close-by neighbors and to even a greater extent, distant neighborhoods and those neighbors we never see. We can just be comfortable in our own cocoons, our own worlds, neatly wrapped up and secured with automatic garage door closers.

Blame our modern society. Both parents work long hours because they have to, never have as much time with the kids as they would like, and socializing is a rare commodity. Blame our planners and builders that have traditionally created spaces more like a haphazard conglomeration of boxes centered on our vehicles with little regard for walking or that most

basic of human needs interaction with others. If they do consider opportunities for human interaction, its rare.

One successful effort that I know of is Liberty Village, a small co-housing community project in Libertytown.

According to its website, its where running into neighbors is intentional. There are others. I had the privilege of experiencing a genuinely neighborly neighborhood when I volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program a number of years ago.

One of my stops, on Thursdays, was at the home of Mrs. Edith Jackson, who lived on Madison Street in an older section of Frederick. Mrs. Jackson was nearing 100 years old at the time, loved to keep up with the news in the local newspaper, loved to sit at the kitchen table and chat, and loved Shirleys banana bread.

She might have been old, frail and lived alone, except when her grandson was home, but she was hardly alone. The first time I made a delivery, the lady in the house across the street rushed over to check on who I was and what I was doing there. She, and the rest of her neighbors, kept a close eye on things. The next-door neighbor, Perry, also did his part in making sure Mrs. Jackson was OK.

I went back for Mrs. Jacksons 100th birthday, in 2009, a year before she died, when the mayoral candidates were trying their best to take advantage of her popularity. Part of Madison Street was blocked off, and the neighbors turned out for an old-fashioned block party and birthday celebration. It was great to see. I was envious that our neighborhood never had a block party, but blocking off busy Bowers Road would be like trying to block off Interstate 270.

We re forever whining about our hectic, frenetic pace, being a reluctant part of what we call the rat race, or never having enough time for the things we really want to do. Never enough time for people. Maybe thats on us. Maybe a lot of that day-to-day pressure is self-inflicted. Do we really need to rush through life that way and die too soon?

Probably too much to ask to schedule more frequent In the Streets events. Maybe we could rotate them among outlying communities. Not very likely, but we could have more neighborhood block parties. If that wont work, how about something simpler, like visiting a friend, or even a neighbor? Itll be a start.

Slower by nature Bill Pritchard, who worked too fast in community journalism for 30 years, writes from Frederick. Reach him at billpritchard.1@gmail.com.

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Face to face, in the street and elsewhere - Frederick News Post

Kroger makes large donation to urban farm in South Dallas – KCENTV.com

DALLAS An urban farm thats dedicated to addressing food access challenges and food insecurities is getting help with its mission from a new community partner.

Bonton Farms is receiving a donation from Kroger. The grocery company and its associates presented the team from Bonton Farms with a check for $70,000 during a special volunteer event at the farms South Dallas operation.

This has been a day in the making, said April Martin, Public Affairs Director of Kroger Dallas Division.

Partnerships and people are powerful. A large group of Kroger associates spent time volunteering at the farm as part of the grocers Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative.

Bonton Farms Founder and CEO Daron Babcock explained, "Food is a really important part of being a human being. Without it, we suffer. Our lives becomes something smaller."

The donation from Kroger will allow Bonton Farms in its efforts to expand food production and services. Martin says the company has been intentional in expanding its reach in Southern Dallas.

Were trying our best to expand partnerships for greater customer value, Martin explained.

A few weeks ago, Dallas City Council members approved incentives to allow Kroger and its partner Ocado to open a large robotics based online grocery distribution center at the corner of Telephone and Bonnie View roads in Southern Dallas. That site is bringing about 400 jobs to the area.

RELATED: Council approves $5.7 million in incentives to bring Kroger online grocery warehouse to Dallas

"Its this innovative technology fulfillment center which is going to expand our footprint and give accessibility to food to more and more people in the state of Texas," Martin said.

The team at Bonton Farms says the donation will also help as it continues providing fresh food options and jobs at the on-site market and caf. A coffee house is opening next week. There are also plans in the works for a daily farmers market.

Babcock said, "My dream has always been to do something here that works, so that we can empower and give hope to communities that dont have it."

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Kroger makes large donation to urban farm in South Dallas - KCENTV.com

Biz leaders say focus on neighborhoods results in more significant impact – Indianapolis Business Journal

IBJ illustration/Brad Turner

Cummins Inc. employees have raised money to repair the bridge over Pogues Run, organized a food pantry for Westminster Neighborhood Services Inc., and taught professional development classes for the John Boner Neighborhood Centers.

Later this month, they will pull invasive plants out of Brookside Park.

The volunteer initiatives might be wide-ranging, but the efforts all have something in commonthe work is benefiting Indianapolis near-east side, and thats intentional.

Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins started targeting the neighborhood several years ago as it prepared for its distribution headquarters, which opened in 2017 on the east side of downtown.

I think it was just natural to continue looking east, said Travis Meek, a lawyer for Cummins who leads the companys Indianapolis community involvement team.

Cummins isnt alone in its neighborhood approach. Multiple Indianapolis companies are choosing to focus their philanthropy on a particular neighborhood as a way to make a greater impact.

We think our business is stronger when our communities are stronger, Cummins spokeswoman Katie Zarich said.

Just a few examples: Bank of America Indianapolis has zeroed in on the near-west side, investing more than $500,000 in not-for-profits working to improve that area; Kinney Group is focused on the River West neighborhood within the near-west side, and helped revive the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament in 2017; and Fifth Third Bank has aligned with South Indy Quality of Life, investing about $150,000 to help establish a neighborhood advisory council.

We could sprinkle this all over town, but if we focus this here were going to make an impact, said Karen Pipes, senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America Indianapolis. It allows us to really help them move that needle forward.

Neighborhood leaders are enjoying the partnerships, but say its important for companies to be willing to make the investment long term and to get to know the areas needs before jumping in.

Eric Cervantes with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana tells Cummins employees about their need for more mentorsor bigson the near-east side. (IBJ photo/Lindsey Erdody)

Meeting with the neighborhood leaders is just so valuable, said Michelle Strahl Salinas, South Indy Quality of Life plan director. Because they know what the obstacles or concerns might be.

Fifth Third, for example, has a representative that regularly meets with Salinas throughout the year.

Its really exciting to see how theyre growing, said Jadira Hoptry, Fifth Third vice president and community and economic development manager.

John Franklin Hay, executive director of Near East Area Renewal, said Cummins also took the time to learn about the areas biggest needs and opportunities and has developed strong relationships with neighborhood leaders.

Hay said Cummins is a company that gets it.

Ive really appreciated how Cummins has tried to listen and understand rather than drive a project from the outside, he said. Its inspiring to have partners from a major corporation that are helping us address our challenges and our opportunities.

Today, Cummins has 15 near-east-side partner organizations focused on three areaseducation, environment and equality of opportunity.

The real driver is the actual partnerships that we develop with these community organizations that are doing excellent work, Meek said.

Many neighborhood and company relationships have come together through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Indianapolis, which has targeted five neighborhoods through its Great Places 2020 program.

We often play the role of connecting the dots, said LISC Executive Director Tedd Grain.

Pipes said thats how Bank of America Indianapolis decided to focus on the near-west side, which is one of the neighborhoods LISC serves. There was really an alignment to our foundation and the ability to quickly invest and engage, she said.

Grain also said he cautions companies against parachuting in and launching a philanthropic effort in a neighborhood without any conversations or research.

Its helpful to have relationships that are meaningful and interactive and back and forth between neighborhoods and the entities that want to engage with them, he said.

Pipes said she met with many leaders from community groups and other not-for-profits working in the neighborhood before making any investment.

The biggest investment so far from Bank of America Indianapolis has been $200,000 to Hearts & Hands of Indiana last year to support the organizations mission of helping individuals and families obtain affordable housing.

Bank of America of Indianapolis has also provided grants to partners like the Westside Community Development Corp. and River West Theatre and to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana for a school-based food pantry in the neighborhood.

Grain said business leaders should pinpoint their core values, identify how they want to have an impact, and look at where they already have relationships and connections when selecting a geographic area.

For example, Kinney Group targeted River West because its the IT service providers home.

Jim Kinney, CEO of the company, said he believes the area has the potential to grow and succeed. This area that we are at is the biggest diamond in the rough in the entire city, Kinney said.

The company has managed a community garden on its property and helped with a beautification project that added artistic lighting to the New York Street bridge.

Kinney and his wife also started a not-for-profit called Near West 21 that supports revitalization projects in the area.

Id rather focus specifically on an area and deliver tangible results, Kinney said. Do I think weve helped move the needle? You bet.

Neighborhood leaders also say its important to invest both time and moneynot just one or the other. For example, Salinas said Fifth Third has helped her develop relationships with other business leaders in the community and helped send her to a week-long professional development training recently.

The way I look at it is, the checks are never enough, she said. Its about the programs they have, the resources they can bring to the table.

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Biz leaders say focus on neighborhoods results in more significant impact - Indianapolis Business Journal