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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

Exploring age-diverse retirement community options and their added benefits – Press-Enterprise

Posted: October 19, 2021 at 9:51 pm

Last week, we addressed part of A.B.s question about downsizing and whether to relocate to a 55-plus retirement community or one that has no age restrictions. Several age-restricted communities were described. This week well highlight ones that are age-diverse.

The LGBTQ community is a trendsetter in this regard. SAGE, an organization that supports the LGBTQ community, partnered with two affordable apartment buildings in New York City to build Stonewall House. Its a 17-story building with 54 studio and 91 one-bedroom apartments with a roof deck, landscaped terrace, communal lounge and laundry room. It is considered an LGBTQ + Age-Friendly Elder Housing residence.

Co-housing is another example. Some are multigenerational although there are co-housing models for those age 55 and older. Originating in Denmark, they were designed to create what is considered an old-fashioned community with semi-communal living. It typically consists of a cluster of private homes and shared community spaces. Designed by future residents, the community is self-governed. In this model, communities often share activities such as dining and childcare, carpooling and exercise and often gather during the week to prepare and share meals with one another. An economic benefit is the sharing of resources. California has at least three: Mountain View, Pleasant Hill and Southside Park.

University-based retirement communities also are designed for multigenerational opportunities. They typically consist of upscale apartments that are on or adjacent to a college campus. Some have requirements as well as many opportunities. Lasell Village at Lasell University in Massachusetts is the first senior living community that requires residents to commit to the educational goals of 450 hours of learning annually, believing that learning is a way of being. Residents of Mirabella at Arizona State University receive student ID cards that allows them to audit classes and use the university library.

A unique example of an intentional multigenerational community is Bridge Meadows in Oregon. Founded in 2005, it combines former foster-care youth, adoptive families and older adults into an intergenerational community that creates a place of permanence and shared social purpose. Located in several Oregon cities, it is designed to encourage connection between the generations and consists of family townhomes that accommodate three to four children and elder apartments. It has received many awards and has been featured in PBS NewsHour and the Wall Street Journal acknowledging its economic model and its social benefits.

More of these communities are to be developed. In Santa Clara, civic leaders and developers are planning a place that combines contemporary urban living with Santa Claras agricultural past. It is called Agrihood. According to a July 22 story in the San Jose Spotlight, it will consist of 160 mixed-income apartments, 165 homes for low-income seniors and veterans and 36 townhomes with a 1.5-acre farm where residents can grow produce. Retail space is included.

Chip Conley, author of Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder (Currency, 2018) and founder of the Modern Elder Academy is planning to replace the traditional retirement community with what he calls regenerative intergenerational communities. The first one will be located in Santa Fe with the intention of shifting the aspiration of leisure in retirement to one that cultivates purpose and connection. Conley intends to build a vibrant community that centers around a campus for midlife retreats and sabbaticals as well as housing opportunities.

Other considerations include climate and access to healthcare, family, friends, airports, religious institutions, cultural activities and more. Of course, affordability is key. Before making a decision, ask if you can spend a week or two at some of thecommunities to experience what life might be like for you.

So, what are the benefits? According to Paul Irving, Chairman of the Center for the Future of Aging, studies indicate such communities enhance a sense of purpose, health, positive attitudes and well-being as well as opportunities for continued learning.

An added note: one way to fight ageism is to create environments for older and younger generations to have shared positive experiences. If that were widespread, age discrimination might just disappear.

A.B., Thank you for your important question and enjoy that next chapter. In the meantime, stay well and be kind to yourself and others.

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging, employment and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Visit Helen at and follow her on

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Old National Bank redlining: discrimination may not be intentional – IndyStar

Posted: at 9:51 pm

Redlining of neighborhoods explained

Redlining is the process of denying mortgage loans based on the racial makeup of a neighborhood.

Michael Nyerges, Cincinnati Enquirer

A recent legal complaint against Old National Bank that alleges the company discriminated against Black borrowers in mortgage lending has raised questions among redlining experts about whether there is a lack of access to financial services in red-lined neighborhoods and majority-Black neighborhoods in Indianapolis.

The complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indianaalleges that just 3.86% of the bank's mortgage loans in Marion County went to Black borrowers in 2019 and 2020,even though Black residents comprise nearly 28% of the county'spopulation,according to census data.

Old National Bank is one of the largest mortgage lenders statewide and the largest bank headquartered in Indiana.Legal scholars saythat if the bank'spolicies disproportionately harmed Black residents,the bankcould be liable for illegal discrimination under the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

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Amy Nelson, the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, said the Old National Bank case may just be the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to this bank, she said her organization's investigations have found there are about a dozenlenders or mortgage brokers who originate a significant amount of loans in the Indianapolis metropolitan area and offer fewer mortgage loansto Black borrowers compared to others.

Old National Bank officials deny the company engaged in redlining.

"Old National strongly and categorically denies the claims made in this lawsuit. As a community bank, we are committed to fair, responsible and equitable lending practices," saidOld National Bank spokesperson Kathy Schoettlin in an email to IndyStar."That is simply who we are, and its one of the reasons we have been recognized for the past decade as one of the worlds most ethical companies."

The legal complaint accusesthe bank of deliberately closing bank branches in majority-Black neighborhoods, making it more difficult forBlackhome buyers to access mortgage loans.

The legal complaint alleges the bank is guilty of 'redlining,' a term which refers to mortgage loan discrimination perpetuated by the government-sponsored Home Owners' Loan Corporation in the 1930s.The corporation created mapsthat purported to show the level of risk for mortgage lending inneighborhoods all over the country.

Majority-Black or majority-non-whiteneighborhoods were labelledred.The Federal Housing Authoritywould not insure home mortgage loans in the red neighborhoods, effectively denying loan access to prospectiveBlack homeowners.

The term now more generally refers towhen "lenders intentionally avoid providing services to individuals living in predominantly minority neighborhoods because of the race of the residents in those neighborhoods," according to a definition offered by the Department of Justice in a 2019 press release on redlining.

"Over the last decade, Old National has disproportionately closed branches located in Black neighborhoods, while maintaining its presence in neighborhoods serving white residents," the legal complaint states.

More: Our city, 317 words at a time: Introducing The 317 Project

All of the closed branches were located either in or immediately adjacent to a census tract with a 25% or higher proportion of Black residents,according to the complaint.

Unai Miguel Andres, adata analyst at the The Polis Center at IUPUI who researches the effects of redlining, said the lack of financial services in some majority-Black neighborhoods, along with the general lack of services such as grocery stores and shopping malls, is a legacy of the 1930sredlining and the subsequent underinvestment in these communities.

Miguel Andresand two other colleagues found in a June 2021 paper that individuals living in redlined neighborhoods in Indianapolis continue to have worse health incomes, lower incomes and higher violent crime rates than non-redlined neighborhoods.

"Redlining and discriminatory lending practices led to segregation being perpetuated," said Miguel Andres."(Residents in redlined neighborhoods)were denied loans and that affected their capacity to accumulate equity."

Florence Roisman, a legal expert in housing segregation and discrimination at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, said housing discrimination does not have to be intentional for it to be illegal, citing a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case.

As long as a practice has a discriminatory effect, which may include perpetuating segregation, and cannot be justified by a legitimate non-discriminatory purpose that could not be satisfied in another way, it is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, Roisman said.

This means the relevant legal question in a lawsuit against Old National Bank is not whether the company intended to discriminate against Black borrowers but whether its actions caused harms that disproportionately affected Black borrowers, Roisman said.

"Their intention isirrelevant," Roisman said.

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Incourt, it may be easier to prove that a company's policies had a disproportionate effect on Black borrowers than that that company intentionally discriminatedagainst Black borrowers.

"Its hard enough to prove what is the intent of a single human being, and when youre talking about multi-member entities, its even harder to prove intent," Roisman said."Courts dont like to say that a person or an entity committed an act of intentional discrimination; its like the reluctance to say somebody is a racist. Courts, like lots of people, are very reluctant to put that label on someone."

In the past five years, there have been two other major casesalleging banks were guilty of redlining inIndianapolis.

A 2017 case againstUnion Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bankalleged the banksengaged in redlining majority-Black neighborhoods in Ohioas well as the Indianapolis metropolitan statistical area. Similar to the Old National Bank case, this bank was accused oflocatingbranches to avoid serving majority-Black neighborhoods.The case ended in a settlement when the court ordered the banks to invest at least $7 million in a loan subsidy fund and open two full-service branches and a loan production office in majority-Black census tracts.

Two years later,the Justice Department settled a suit against the Muncie-based First Merchant bank, which it and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana accused ofredlining in Indianapolis by intentionally avoiding predominantly Black neighborhoods.

Contact IndyStar reporterKo Lyn Cheang or 317-903-7071. Follow her on Twitter: @kolyn_cheang.

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Hiding homelessness through hostile architecture only hurts the community – The Diamondback

Posted: at 9:51 pm

Views expressed in opinion columns are the authors own.

When I think of cities, I imagine a densely-packed, interconnected community full of public places that invite you to interact with new people and enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life. However, while visiting Washington, D.C., certain areas of the city dont fulfill this vision of a community-oriented space. As I walked the streets, benches and places to sit were few and far between and were often tilted or curved in an unwelcoming way. I quickly realized that this design wasnt a coincidence, but instead an intentional decision meant to discourage homeless people from using them.

What I encountered in Washington, D.C., is known as hostile architecture city amenities designed to limit the way the space can be used. This punitive approach doesnt solve homelessness, but instead deters homeless populations from occupying public spaces.

Hostile architecture weaponizes the built environment against certain users of public spaces deemed undesirable by businesses and governments. Hostile architecture can include sloped or curved benches, armrests in the middle of benches, and spikes covering areas protected from weather. It can also include ghost amenities, or a lack of amenities such as benches, fountains or buildings with protective overhangs.

Hostile architecture not only punishes the homeless, but other city residents as well, creating city spaces that are uncomfortable, unwelcoming and inconvenient for everyone. Instead of relying on reactive strategies that negatively affect everyone, cities should instead solve the problem at the source by housing the homeless and making cities more accessible and community-oriented.

While hostile architecture pushes away the homeless from wealthier and tourism-driven areas, governments and planners euphemistically justify the acts as protecting public safety and increasing tourism and consumerism. Those designated as non-consumers are alienated from free public spaces through an uncomfortable and hostile environment.

Put simply, these practices have no place in modern city planning. Hostile architecture is not only irrational, but also morally repugnant and detrimental to all of society.

Hostile architecture doesnt solve homelessness far from it. Instead of solving the socio-economic roots of the problem, it just moves homeless people out of sight. And, from a moral standpoint, it seems wrong that governments are more focused on harassing and punishing those who need help, rather than establishing the supportive programs needed to solve the problem. Through this mindset, homeless people are not treated as humans, but as public nuisances that must be removed from public spaces.

In addition to the ineffectiveness and moral repugnance of hostile architecture, it is also a net-negative policy for everyone who uses public spaces. It fundamentally transforms public spaces from places of community, where people can chat with neighbors and enjoy the scenery, to unwelcome environments intended to prevent people from using it for too long. This approach creates discomfort and inconvenience for everyone, but especially neglects the accessibility needs of many. Why do we as a society tolerate harming everyone for an immoral policy that doesnt solve the homelessness problem?

The ideology of punishing vulnerable populations for issues often out of their control shouldnt be the status quo.

Governments can and should invest in housing the homeless and providing the support they need to get on their feet. Studies have shown savings for local governments when the homeless receive housing instead of spending the money on the punitive approaches currently used across the country. In addition to solving homelessness at the source, cities should remove uncomfortable hostile architecture that divides us. They should instead focus on creating functional public spaces that connect people together and create a sense of community.

Hostile architecture does not make sense and has never made sense for solving societal problems. Its primary goal is not to solve the problem of homelessness, but to exclude and isolate people from public spaces. It is unethical, ineffective and has the simultaneous effect of ruining the community aspect of shared spaces. Public space is meant for everyone, and designating it for only socially desirable people who can spend money reflects poorly on our supposed morals. Our country must move past apocryphal anti-homeless policies and instead create thriving, sustainable and supportive communities that work for everyone.

Zach Wandalowski is a sophomore government and politics and economics major. He can be reached at

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Publisher’s Letter: Our Newspaper and Reader Response – North Forty News

Posted: at 9:50 pm

By Blaine Howerton, PublisherNorth Forty News

We often receive reader feedback, both positive and negative. I am grateful for that as it means that folks in communities throughout Northern Colorado are reading our newspaper!

With our focus on solution-driven journalism sometimes our content may seem mild by that I mean that some of our articles could have more personality, even written in the first person. You may have noticed a shift in a few of our recent articles and its intentional. But when it comes to politics, complex community issues, or anything where our readers need to make an informed decision, based on facts, we make every effort to center our reporting, providing both sides of the issue. And if one side of the issue isnt available, we publish only the facts.

This leads me to thePublishersLetters.

As with so many people, the pandemic led to a major change in my life circumstances where I needed to make some significant decisions going forward. My two young sons, (whom I have custody of every other week) and I talked about the fun times we spent up on our mountain sanctuary and whether we could make that arrangement a more permanent lifestyle. Living off-grid is challenging and always seems to be a work in progress there is so much to learn. But we agreed to take it on.

My sons and I couldnt be happier about the decision we made that made one of the most challenging times in our lives more bearable so many new adventures to focus on! And as we met each new challenge of living off-grid, I decided to share my journey with our readers and the feedback we have received is that many readers look forward each week to reading the next installment perhaps because it may encourage them that they too can face change and uncertainty and master it, no matter how challenging it may seem at first.

As the season transitions into winter, life at 6,300 feet always presents new challenges but living off-grid has reduced my living costs.

And like so many people in these times of Covid and uncertainty, I am struggling. This newspaper takes everything I have to keep it going. Well before the pandemic, 4 years ago before I took it on, the newspaper was about to close and that would have left many towns and rural areas throughout Northern Colorado news deserts.

I am grateful for the people in our community who have supported us with their readership, their subscriptions, and their advertising. They are THE reason that North Forty News still exists today. And that includes people who write to us your feedback helps shape this newspaper.


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Publisher's Letter: Our Newspaper and Reader Response - North Forty News

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Mayor Brandon Scott Announces Plans To Reauthorize Three Tax Credits – CBS Baltimore

Posted: at 9:50 pm

BALTIMORE (WJZ) Mayor Brandon Scott along with the City Council announced Tuesday plans to reauthorize three tax credits set to expire.

The tax credits include the CHAP Tax Credit, the Newly Constructed Dwelling Tax Credit and the High-Performance Market Rate Tax Credit.

Officials said the reauthorization bills associated with the credits were introduced by the City Council Monday evening. They will now begin to move through the councils process for approval.

Mayor Scott is also set to establish a Tax Credit Review Committee that will evaluate the citys existing tax credits and ensure the incentive program sustainably and equitably grows the tax base.

I look forward to working closely with Council President Mosby, Councilman Costello, Shelonda Stokes, and the Tax Credit Review Committee to ensure our incentive structure is fit for todays Baltimore, while simultaneously benefiting our residents, homeowners, local business community, and overall strategy for growth, said Scott.

Growing Baltimore in a responsible and equitable way is paramount, and getting our tax code right plays an important role in achieving that goal and ultimately transforming our city, said City Council President Nick J. Mosby. As Baltimores leaders, we must always be intentional about developing sustainable solutions that bolster smart and equitable development. I am excited to help establish this review committee and will do all I can to support and extend tax credits that deliver results.

The reauthorization of these three tax credits would build predictability into the process and aid projects in moving forward.

The reauthorization of these credits is critically important to growing our City, creating new jobs, and ensuring opportunity across all neighborhoods, said Councilman Eric T. Costello, chairman of the Councils Ways and Means Committee. By establishing the Tax Credit Review Committee, the Mayors deliberate approach will make sure that we continue to offer credits that have demonstrated results in growing our city and that we act in a fiscally prudent manner to drive economic development in all communities.

These tax credits have fueled development across the city so its important to keep them going while we perform a comprehensive review of whats working, whats not, and where we have unmet needs, said Downtown Partnership President, Shelonda Stokes. The process matters moving forward, as we create new tools to stimulate investment, equity, and economic opportunity.

Officials said more information will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Tennessee Educators Lead the Nation in Literacy Focus –

Posted: at 9:50 pm

Reflections from the Reading 360 Summit

By: Dr. Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officer

The inaugural Reading 360 Summit resonates in my mind as one of the most powerful learning opportunities of my career. Listening to several Tennessee leaders in the sessions over the three day summit highlighted and reinforced the incredible literacy work that is occurring in across the state. I am incredibly humbled that almost 2,000 educators attended and shared the literacy focus on Tennessee that is occurring in schools and districts over the past 18 months. Social media has been filled with quotes, comments of appreciation, and the recognition that the Reading 360 work outlines the literacy accomplishments in Tennessee.

Launched in January 2020, the Reading 360 Initiative provides a comprehensive focus on literacy improvements for educators, universities, families, and communities. District-facing strategies include early reading trainings for Pre-K to grade 5 educators and focused implementation networks to support district literacy improvements. Supports to districts also include Communities of Practice, implementation grants, and video models. Families have had the opportunities to order decodables and receive weekly text messages supporting literacy. Community partnerships for literacy tutoring will occur in Tennessees urban settings as well. Finally, a Tennessee Reading Research Center is launching this fall to analyze the focused work of Tennessee and study each of these initiatives and their impact on student achievement. The Reading 360 Summit was designed to highlight these efforts and celebrate the work of districts within Reading 360.

The Reading 360 Summit was designed intentionally. The conference began by reflecting on the success of the summer early reading training and the commitment of 11,000 educators; the presenters focused on how to support educators to implement the practices, protocols, and research learned. The panel focused on the neuroscience of the training and the importance of intentional foundational skills instruction. The conference sessions then moved to set Tennessees focus on literacy opportunities for every child and discussed the importance of access points that high-quality instruction materials provide that allow all children to have grade-level literacy opportunities every day.

On the second day, the conference focused on district and school leaders. District leaders spoke to their own vision-setting, building a theory of action, and equipping leaders and teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to execute the plan of action. The district leaders described the importance of working shoulder-to-shoulder with school leaders to ensure a collaborative culture where leaders are chief learners to support growth in classrooms.

The final day defined the vital roles families and communities play in ensuring all children have strong daily literacy experiences. Community partners across Tennessee shared their focus on grassroots collaboration to connect with families and elevate the focus on literacy. The conference closed with discussions with education preparation leaders and their focus on growing our newest educators to use cognitive reading science when teaching children to read along with the importance of using high-quality materials as the foundation for instruction.

I am so thankful for the conversations, the chats, and the connections that were sparked in the Reading 360 community that were made over the three-day summit.

Our schools and our children are so lucky to have the educational leaders who have spoken, engaged, and shared their practice during the summit. It is clear that our district leaders are creating a vision for success, ensuring the why is clear in the work, and that they are working shoulder-to-shoulder with their school leaders and teachers.

Sumner Countys Chief Academic Officer, Scott Langford, explained principals need feedback just like teachers do to Norma Gerrell, Director of Schools from Paris Special Schools, who reminded us that you have to put faces with data and be transparent. Our leaders truly shared how important honest and focused leadership is to improving literacy experiences for children. Clint Satterfield from Trousdale County encouraged school leaders to own their instructional changes, not just create buy-in. Hamilton Countys Yvette Stewart noted that school principals are the drivers of the bus. These leaders also discussed the use of Tennessees Instructional Practice Guide to dive deeply into the content, student learning, and actionable feedback that fosters growth in practice.

Haywood Countys Director of Schools, Joey Hassell, discussed the focus on all learners and reminded us that just because a student is struggling to read doesnt mean that they are struggling to think and Rachael Cornett from Rutherford County asserted that high-quality instructional materials level the playing field because all students are given access to rich instruction. Jeta Donovan, the principle Early Reading Training course designer, explained to teach our youngest readers to how to read, we have to understand more than just what reading is. We have to understand the processes behind it. Instructional leaders, Carissa Comer from Putnam County and Shannon Tufts from Lenoir City Schools, shared the importance of key tools to support educators in implementing foundational skills including collaborative lesson preparation and focused clear walk through feedback and Penny Thompson from Lebanon Special Schools showed us that early literacy starts in Pre-K.

One of our community leaders, DeMarrus Miller from the Salvation Army advocated, If a parent cannot read well, it is likely that their child will struggle as well and StandardsWork CEO, Barbara Davidson, explained we have a great opportunity here in Tennessee; there is nowhere else in the country with such a comprehensive and coherent approach to literacy instruction. In the discussion around preparing tomorrows teachers to teach reading, Dr. Carolyn Strom from New York University explained everything we do should be aligned to science and what we know about teaching reading. Our teachers need knowledge, skills, and mindsets to be successful. And University of Tennessee Knoxvilles Dr. Zoi Philippakos stated if we teach students to break the code and understand the system of reading, we give them the opportunity to access a world full of knowledge.

Recordings from all sessions will soon be available on Best for All Central. You will be able find these discussions and many other experts with empowering quotes, discussion points and strategies. As a next step, I encourage you to watch these recordings again and share these with your colleagues and extend this weeks learning into your own districts journey. Download the reflection guide and start a discussion and think about what is next for your school or district.

My dear friend, Millicent Smith from Lenior City, reminded us that we have to get uncomfortable to change and improve our practice. So, I hope you get uncomfortable, see students in the data, own your change, and use neuroscience to ensure every child in Tennessee has high quality learning experiences every day, every week, every month, year over year!

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Work of female filmmakers, primarily women of color, to be featured in Unorthodocs festival – The Columbus Dispatch

Posted: at 9:50 pm

Peter Tonguette| Special to The Columbus Dispatch

Filmmakers Melissa Gira Grant and Ingrid Raphael knew there was a story behind the wave of killings of young people, most of them Black, by police officers in Columbus.

I would be at the protests, and the families would be telling their stories, but when you would read and try to find more information, the media outlets that were covering the stories would only be giving the stories from the perspective of the police reports, said Raphael, a 28-year-old artist then living in Columbus.

Then Raphael, now living in Philadelphia, was introduced to Grant, a 43-year-old journalist based in Brooklyn, New York, who had been traveling to Columbus to write about police violence in the city.

I had started covering the story of Donna Dalton, who was shot and killed by (former police officer) Andrew Mitchell and then some months later, he was charged with murder in her death, said Grant, a staff writer at The New Republic magazine.

More: Columbus intends to pay family of Donna Castleberry $1 million in wrongful death case

That story really stuck out, because, at that time, before Mitchell was indicted, no Columbus police officer for the entire tenure of former prosecutor Ron OBrien had been charged with murder, Grant said.

More: Everyday Heroes: Adrienne Hood turns pain into purpose as a social justice leader

The two colleagues joined forces to co-direct a new 20-minute documentary being shown at Mershon Auditorium on the campus of Ohio State University at 7 p.m. Oct. 22. They Wont Call It Murder examines the topic through the perspective of surviving female family members of victims of police shootings namely, Adrienne Hood, the mother of Henry Green; Bobbi McCalla, the older sister of Dalton; Malika King and Derrea King, the mother and grandmother of Tyre King; and Jamita Malone and Maryam Malone, the mother and younger sister of Julius Tate Jr.

More: 5 juveniles have been fatally shot by police in Columbus since 2016. Here's a look at their cases

More: Opinion: "We cannot achieve social justice without environmental and climate justice."

The screening to be followed by a discussion with guests Grant, Raphael, Hood, Derrea and Malika King, and Jamita Malone is part of the Unorthodocs documentary film festival presented by the Wexner Center for the Arts (where the other screenings will take place).

(The film) really spends time with especially the women in the families of victims of police shootings mothers, grandmothers, sisters and how they build communities of support and try to figure out how to get justice, said Chris Stults, Wexner Center associate curator of film/video.

The goal is to give voice to figures whose perspectives might be omitted from official accounts of their loved ones deaths.

We knew that we had the ability, because of the relationships and the trust that we had, to tell the story in a really different way and in a way that gave these women and their families the power back, Grant said.

The film began production in December 2019 and wrapped toward the end of February 2020, but Grant and Raphael revisited the project following the death of George Floydin May 2020 while in police custody in Minneapolis.

We had yet again another unfortunate event in American history where a Black man was killed by police and we had these national uprisings, said Raphael, who decided that Columbus protests needed to be documented, too.

They Wont Call It Murder is the centerpiece of the fifth installment of Unorthodocs, which was originally intended to have a larger scope.

The pandemic curtailed those comeback plans just a bit: Instead of taking place over as many as five days, as in years past, the in-person component of this years festival is set for two days, Oct. 22 and 23.

But, as if by design, this leaner version of the festival has a focus it might not have otherwise had.

I didnt even realize this until after we finished the lineup, but at least in terms of the feature (documentaries), theyre all made by women and primarily women of color which wasnt intentional at all, but just seems like the most exciting work that we had planned to show, Stults said.

And, while last years Unorthodocs festival was entirely virtual, this years in-person screenings boast five programs that will make full use of the big screen; just one film, the documentary Prism, featuring contributions by three separate filmmakers, will be shown online this year (starting Oct. 24 and continuing through Oct. 30 on

They are just overwhelming cinematic experiences that really needed to be seen on a screen, Stults said of the films selected to be screened in-person.

The festival opens at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 22 with Unorthodocs Shorts, a 75-minute program of short documentaries. Two filmmakers featured in the lineup Rasel Ahmed and Lydia Cornett will speak afterward.

After the screening of, and discussion related to, They Wont Call It Murder later that evening, the festival will resume on Oct. 23.

At 2 p.m. Oct. 23, Jessica Beshirs Faya Dayi will be screened. The documentary offers a look at the Ethiopian crop khat, which, when chewed, can lead to a feeling of euphoria.

Its the most lucrative crop in Ethiopia, Stults said. The film enters an appropriately meditative dream state. Its not one of those issue films, where you learn facts and figures like you would in a magazine article.

Also on Oct. 23, showing at 4:30 p.m. is Rosine Mbakams Delphines Prayers, which draws on the filmmakers interviews with a woman who had been a sex worker in Cameroon before relocating to Belgium; and at 7 p.m., Natalia Almadas Users, which utilizes sweeping cinematography to capture the role of technology in the natural world.

Despite being shorter than usual, the festival promises a thorough look at some of the most exciting voices in documentary filmmaking.

You can see a lot of the most striking documentaries all in one sitting, Stults said.

The Wexner Center for the Arts Unorthodocs documentary film festival will feature in-person screenings Oct. 22-23 at the arts center, 1871 N. High St.

They Wont Call It Murder will be shown at no charge at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 inMershon Auditorium. A discussion with the filmmakers and those featured in the documentary will follow.

Other in-person screenings cost $9, or $7 for Wexner Center members, $5 for students.

Visit for more information.

Masks are required.

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Regaining STEAM, a beloved annual competition returns to in-person event in 2022 – Jagwire Augusta

Posted: at 9:50 pm

A year ago, the STEAMIFY competition, spearheaded by Dr. Ashley Gess, needed to go virtual due to COVID-19. Instead of canceling, the problem-solving competition lived up to its moniker and found a way to continue its growing tradition.

Last year, when we had COVID, the STEAMIFY board really looked at it like, this is a problem, were going to do what were asking the kids to do, said Gess, assistant professor of STEAM Education in the College of Education at Augusta University.

Fortunately, however, this years competition will once again be in person on March 26, 2022, on the Summerville Campus. There will be a synchronous virtual aspect for those unable to travel to Augusta University due to COVID-19 or other reasons.

STEAMIFY is a fun problem-solving competition that gives students in grades four through eight a chance to take what they are learning in class and apply it to their daily lives.

The competition capitalizes on a STEAM educational approach, which leverages the design process to help students apply their everyday learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics toward solving a meaningful problem or issue that is important today.

Those participating are assigned a grand challenge in advance, and need to come up with a design to solve the challenge.

This opportunity, by not only giving them science, math, engineering and technology opportunities, but by engaging the art in an intentional, deep and meaningful way, we can really train the whole mind of the students in that liveliness that is needed as they move through school and the workforce.

This years event will also introduce additional fields of study.

We have a new cybersecurity challenge this year, which we are really excited to roll out. We also have music, which is new this year.

Besides the grand challenge, there is also a spontaneous problem solving exercise on the day of the competition.

Our goal is to really target those kids and let them know they can do it, said Gess. They can be engaging and meaningful, and what they are learning in their everyday classes is important and applicable and they can make a difference in their community.

Watching how the participants work in teams is also important, according to Gess. Competition leadership isnt looking for individuals to take on the challenges, but rather, teams and they want to see how those teammates interact.

The last in-person event in 2019 had almost 1,000 student participants taking part on campus, and this year, the goal is 2,500. And according to Gess, its not just students in school who can take part, but kids in after-school programs like Scout troops can also form a team.

I think were the only STEAM competition in the Southeast that I know of, so were really hoping to touch people well beyond the CSRA and well beyond our two states.

This years competition is inspired by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Livable Communities Initiative. Together with the AARP, the STEAMIFY team believes residents of all ages should have equal opportunities to participate in community life.

Registration for the March event has just opened and Gess said theyre already getting interest from all over the Southeast. They are looking for about 350 volunteers to ensure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Besides the COE and AARP, other organizations supporting the competition include the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Art and Design department, Ingevity, Textron Specialized Vehicles, South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, Georgia Cyber Center, Augusta Regional Airport and John Deere.

Gess said they are always looking for more sponsors to keep cost at a minimum for the participants and their families. Email Gess for more information.


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ISU community celebrates the opening of the Multicultural Center – Illinois State University News

Posted: at 9:50 pm

In a moving ceremony, the Illinois State campus community celebrated on October 15 the new Multicultural Center, a recently renovated space dedicated to providing support for students and strengthening the Universitys commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Center Director Dr. Christa Platt, M.S. 09, Ph.D. 17, began the event with an acknowledgment of the Indigenous Peoples whose homelands Illinois State now occupies, closed the ceremony with a ribbon cutting, and in between reflected on what the new center means to the campus.

Its a special day, and honestly, its an emotional day, Platt said. Its a special day for us, the collective, the campus community, not just for me and my colleague Kwame (Patterson), who worked for the last year and a half together to make this venture be what it is, but its for the campus community, a moment in history that is special for us.

About 100 students, faculty, staff, donors, and university and community leaders gathered at the Multicultural Center for the celebration, which was held during Homecoming Week. The event was moved inside due to the weather forecast and was livestreamed on the centers Facebook page and on a big screen in the Bone Student Center, where about another dozen people watched the hourlong event.

Watch the celebration and ribbon cutting for the new Multicultural Center on Facebook.

Students Caleb Mangruem and Daisy Rodriguez welcomed attendees with a statement read in English and Spanish: Welcome to the sacred moment for our community, a moment to reflect, a moment to remember, and a moment to honor, Mangruem said in part. Welcome to an opportunity to share in gratitude with our communities who have asked, advocated, protested, demanded, and planned for this center. We welcome you to honor the mission and the vision to the center that seeks to equip all Illinois State University students to be change agents and enact a culture of anti-racism, equity, and justice.

After the event, center staff offered attendees tours of the facility, which opened in August in the former Instructional Technology and Development Center at 301 South Main Street. The 16,200-square-foot building underwent a $4.4 million renovation and now includes spaces for events and culturally- and community-based student organizations, conference rooms, a social justice library, a media room, staff offices, a kitchen, all-gender restrooms, and a reflection room.

Illinois State administrators spoke about the crucial role students served in pushing for and developing the concept of the center.

While were excited to complete this construction project and the opening of the center, were even more proud of the commitment to the student experience throughout the entire planning process, said Dr. Levester Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs. Our students asked for the Multicultural Center, and we listened. We were intentional about listening to their feedback and making decisions that will ultimately make their experience at Illinois State even better.

Illinois State President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy called the centers opening a momentous occasion.

For some, this center is a symbol of our dedication to equity, Kinzy said. For some, this center will be a refuge, a place to recharge, to have the energy to continue important work. But for me, the center is a promise to forge ahead for infusing equity into the infrastructure of the Universitys practices, policies, and initiatives. It is also a place where we must have constructive dialogue, including on difficult topics and between different views.

The event also featured an Interfaith Blessing, a thank-you to the alumni who have financially supported the center, a rendition of the song The Blessing by the Interdenominational Youth Choir, and readings by the student leaders of the Black Student Union, Asian Pacific American Coalition, Pride, and the Association of Latinx American Students.

As current student leaders on this campus, we commit to serving our student body by recognizing the humanity of the most marginalized students, we affirm their Blackness; their Asian identity, their Latin histories; and their gender, sexual, and romantic identities, said Ximena Sanchez-Ramirez, president of the Association of Latinx American Students. We welcome each intersecting identity of our peers and invite them into the Multicultural Center. We center the experiences of minoritized students. We envision the possibilities for them, and the possibilities of what this space can and will offer students. We envision what the center would have been for a Black man graduate student, like Jelani Day. We will continue to foster community that Jelani would have wanted to belong to.

Dr. Khalilah Shabazz (assistant vice chancellor for student diversity, equity, and inclusion at IUPUI) has served as a consultant to the Multicultural Center. During her keynote speech, she said cultural centers provide a safe haven for students who often find themselves existing along the margins on college campuses.

Look at these amazing students. These are your why. These are the faces of our future. These are your why. And for you all students, this is your place, this is your space, Shabazz said.

Learn more about the Multicultural Center.

Julie Mana-ay Perez contributed to this story.

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Sculpting Wellness and Well-Being for the Community –

Posted: at 9:50 pm

Hamilton, New JerseyGrounds For Sculpture is following a path of health and wellness that is both unique and beneficial for residents of the mid New Jersey region. As part of an extended initiative to make Grounds For Sculpture more accessible and inviting to a wider array of visitors, guests, and museum members, the sculpture park is working hand-in-hand with local leaders and artists to further develop its wellness programming, and is doing so through a thoughtful process incorporating ideas from the public and from groups who may have been excluded in the past.

Grounds For Sculpture welcomes, surprises, and engages visitors in its 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Opened to the public in 1992, it is one of the premier cultural destinations in New Jersey, and has embraced and enchanted over three million visitors. Traditionally, tourists travel from places like New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to see and experience the immense collection of larger-than-life outdoor sculptures and indoor beguiling art installations and exhibits. However, after a deep review of who is benefitting from the museum's offerings, the administration and the board felt they could do more to reach out and work with residents throughout New Jersey.

During a recent strategic planning process, the organization developed a long-term vision that set its aspirations "to be a leader, magnet and vibrant forum that invites a diverse public to create, learn, and discover personal meaning in their interactions with art, nature and one another." Their new strategic plan identifies impact, relevance, and capacity as their key strategic priorities.

Over the summer, part of this vision was actualized when Gary Schneider, Grounds For Sculpture's Executive Director announced his hiring committee's choice to invite Kathleen Ogilvie Greene to become the organization's first Chief Audience Officer. As an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of creating sustainable institutional impact through program creation, community engagement, and audience development, Kathleen was the perfect match for the work ahead. She will play a critical role in prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and wellness, initiatives across Grounds For Sculpture and the broader arts community.

Kathleen describes herself as an advocate for cultural workers and living artists and is skilled in inclusive programming, intentional partnerships, and nonprofit management. She arrived at Grounds For Sculpture from The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia where Kathleen excelled as a team and systems builder, created and managed a wide range of programs in response to the collection while established fruitful and long-standing partnerships within the greater region of southeast Pennsylvania.

The function of museums is evolving, with many now playing a significant role in the well-being of their community. Grounds For Sculpture engages the premise that the arts, resonating deeply with the human experience, are saturated with the potential to promote healing and wellness, not only in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, but also within the fabric of the region. Wellness-focused programming began at Grounds For Sculpture nearly ten years ago and the museum recognizes that the two elements, art and nature, united on its premises are healing. The sculpture park is in an ideal position to become a cornerstone for wellness in the community. While Grounds For Sculpture has made strides in achieving this goal, the staff and board members alike are in agreement that there is still much work to be done.

Late this summer, during a sunny Saturday afternoon, a convening of invited stakeholders, medical professionals, leaders, artists, staff members, and volunteers, congregated under an outdoor tent to brainstorm wellness programs, each participant sharing ideas from their own perspective and areas of interest. Kathleen stated, "The hope was to end the day with ideas that considered audience, partners, and purpose. We were fortunate to have the Michael Graves Architecture & Design firm lead the process and the group created an amazing range of possibilities! The convening has the potential to expand and deepen our participation in, and creation, of wellness programs throughout the region. It also provides the opportunity to expand our audiences across ability, zip code, economic and racial classification. Broadening our audience, and ensuring our work are beneficial to them is center to this work, as we want to increase our benefit to the community. One of the many goals to deepen our relationship and accountability to the convening attendees. They made an investment in us, by sharing their expertise, and we need to ensure that gift grows. So, another beneficial outcome is this suite of stakeholders who are already looking to us asking 'what are you going to do now?' Moving forward, the goal is to shift all these wonderful possibilities into actionable next steps, ensuring our strategic plan stays central in our decision making."

The recent wellness convening at Grounds For Sculpture generated ideas which ranged in scope from developing an accessible greenhouse to be utilized by communities who have mobility and/or visual impairments as well as the broader community, to providing opportunities for visitors and local residents to enter the grounds for free and participate in Tai Chi, meditation, and/or "Wellness Walks" while enjoying soothing live music provided by local musicians.

Focusing on community engagement and the expansion of wellness initiatives was on the docket for Grounds For Sculpture well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the experience of enduring and then surviving a lockdown further solidified the need to initiate activities, events and programming that pushed the envelope on what is typically offered by similar cultural destinations. According to the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), "Museums preserve heritage for future generations, promote lifelong learning, provide equal access to culture and spread the values on which humanity is based." Their purpose in terms of inclusion is also critical to help bridge communities and cultures, and museums play a significant role in both the creative and tourism industries. The entire cultural sector was severely affected by the pandemic, and is still experiencing losses, with museums hit particularly hard." On UNESCO's website, it is reported that "90 percent of museums had been closed for an average of 155 days, and since the beginning of 2021, many have had to shut their doors again, due to surging infection rates. This has resulted in a 70 percent drop in attendance on average, and a 40 to 60 percent decline in revenue compared to 2019."

Rising from the COVID pandemic lockdown ashes, Grounds For Sculpture survived being closed for several months and is continuing the process of looking into diversified revenue models as the typical membership and visitor ticket sales paradigm was severely challenged in 2020. In a recent survey of 1,004 museums, "15 percent of museum directors said that there was a 'significant risk' of closing permanently in the next six months or that they were unsure whether they would survive through that period." Fortunately, Grounds For Sculpture's outdoor oasis has visitors, volunteers and staff bouncing backslowly and steadily with increasing attendance. Their goal of intentionally activating the outdoor space to support mental and physical well-being will help the guests to stay connected with each other and with the healing energy of art within nature.

Lucky for all of us living in the mid New Jersey area, residing within easy driving distance of Grounds For Sculpture, we can continue to cherish our hometown cultural jewel and support future programming. To sign up for and receive the organization's newsletter and get up-to-date announcements on events, exhibits, wellness programs, and educational offerings, go to: Grounds For Sculpture Newsletter Link Sign Up. To see a calendar of events, including wellness activities, go to: Grounds For Sculpture Calendar.

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