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Category Archives: Intentional Communities
Analysis: Learning Pods Were Launched By Schools and Community Groups as a COVID Crisis Response. Could They Evolve Into a Sustainable Solution? – The…
Posted: September 8, 2021 at 10:18 am
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Over the past school year, the the Center on Reinventing Public Education has tracked how pandemic learning pods evolved from emergency responses to, in some cases, small, innovative, and personalized learning communities.
This summer, as COVID-19 vaccinations increased, it seemed like the major impetus for these efforts was fading from view. We turned to our existing database of 372 school district- and community-driven learning pods to answer this question: How sustainable is the learning pod movement?
That question has taken on greater urgency as new, more transmissible variants of the virus raise new safety fears especially for children too young to be vaccinated and school systems explore options for families who remain hesitant to return to normal classrooms.
Our analysis found clear evidence that a little over one-third of the learning environments we tracked operated through the end of the school year. But we also identified promising evolutions of the original concepts that will continue into next school year. While, in the short term, most students will likely return to some sort of normal school model, the lessons of these small learning communities have the potential to persist in new ways.
Public school learning models changed considerably between our last update in February and the end of the school year. Though there were school districts that remained fully remote through the school year, by the end of the year most districts had added at least some in-person options which would, in theory, minimize the need for many of the learning pods in our database since many of them were designed to provide in-person support and internet connections to students who were learning remotely. If pods continued after school districts resumed in-person instruction, that offers some evidence families valued the alternatives to traditional classrooms that they provided.
We found that 37 percent of all learning pods identified in the database operated through the full 2020-21 school year (figure 1). Half of the pods were unclear, meaning there was no clear end date to the pod-like offerings, but also no clear indication they continued through the end of the year. Only 12 percent had definitively closed at some point before the end of the year. Its possible that many of the unclear pods also ceased school-day support but never updated their websites or social media to make the announcement.
Over one-third of learning pods operated until the end of the 2020-21 school year (Center on Reinventing Public Education)
Many of the learning pods that existed before the pandemic as afterschool programs or summer camps switched back to their pre-pandemic programming. For example, as schools opened, some YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other afterschool enrichment clubs simply closed their school-day supervision.
But others continued on. Some, like the Equity Pods network, which supported culturally relevant community-based pods across the country for Black and brown students, finished out the school year even as districts in some locations opened for at least some of the year. Some virtual learning centers, such as the city-led options in Philadelphia or San Jose, likely continued based on ongoing need as schools reopened late in the school year and some families chose to stay remote.
Even as the school year came to a close, some organizations that emerged specifically to support remote learning are evolving to serve their communities in new formats. For example, The Real Minneapolis, a learning pod that provided whole-student support to BIPOC youth through the full school year, runs a summer program and continues to provide mentorship opportunities for teens. And a partnership program between a local nonprofit and the Jefferson County School District in Kentucky is leading summer learning hubs across the county with staffing support, including counselors and teachers from the school district, to re-engage students and prepare them for the upcoming school year.
These continuing programs provide glimpses of where the learning pod movement might go beyond the pandemic. Six school districts in the Community of Practice organized by CRPE and TNTP are developing plans for pod-like structures in the next school year, with goals like providing space for students to focus on their purpose and passion projects, or to create opportunity for mentorship and serve as a pipeline to develop a more representative teacher workforce. Programs like the new Great Hearts self-organized microschools, or the virtual learning pod program launched by KaiPods provide further examples of efforts to build intentional small learning communities into the futureand seed ideas for school districts that want to find new ways of supporting students who continue with virtual learning options.
In all of these examples, its clear some families and communities discovered something during the pandemic that they would like to preservedifferent ways to organize school, new approaches to supporting students, stronger ties between school and community. And while many learning pods simply launched to meet a specific need in a crisis providing in-person support to students learning virtually that function, too, is likely to remain relevant as school systems across the country create or expand virtual learning options.
Sustaining these crisis responses through the next phase of the pandemic will likely require shifts in funding and staff, as well as changes in policies governing everything from teacher credentialing to the definition of school. CRPE will continue to share lessons we learned from studying small pandemic learning communities. We cant afford to let the possibilities they uncovered simply vanish.
About this analysis: The CRPE database focuses on learning pods sponsored by school districts and community organizations as opposed to the learning pods some parents and independent educators offered in their homes. We checked the original sources for each of the learning pods in the database to identify whether the learning pods were still operational as of the end of the 202021 school year. As in prior analyses, the data here should be considered an estimate and is not representative of all learning pods across the country. For many learning pods in the database, we could find no updates from the original source. In these cases, we marked that it was unclear whether or not the pod continued through the school year. We only coded yesthat the pod continuedif we could closely ascertain that the pod was offering services through the end of the year by advertising program end dates, session schedules, or other evidence such as an end-of-year report noting that school-day learning supports had continued.
Alice Opalka is a research analyst with the Center on Reinventing Public Education. This analysis originally appeared at CRPEs education blog, The Lens.
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What does it mean to celebrate Pride month remotely?
At ActiveCampaign, a Chicago-based customer experience automation firm, the answer was to throw a month-long online festival of sorts. In June, ActivePride, an employee resource group (ERG) for the companys LGBTQ staff, produced a weekly series of events, including one featuring Jeffrey Marsh, a noted advocate for the nonbinary and gender fluid community. They gave a talk on living authentically says Jenny Coupe, executive sponsor of ActivePride and vice president of revenue marketing at ActiveCampaign, which ranked 14th on Quartzs 2021 list of the best large remote companies to work for.
For another gathering, Coleslaw, a Boston-based drag queen, graced a Zoom gathering to read A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,a childrens story about inclusion and same-sex marriage, supposedly narrated by Mike Pences pet rabbit. The entire company was invited to listen in, but ActivePride made a point of hosting Dads of AC and Moms of AC (two other ERGs at the company) and their kids. Then, at the end of the month, an ActiveCampaign client ran a webinar about what it means to be a small business owner who is part of the LGBTQ community.
Pride is normally a very in-person event, says Coupe. She doesnt think all of its glory can be fully replicated on screens. But I thought we did a good job of bringing in different voices and faces online to talk about things that all led back to diversity, inclusion, and equity at the company.
ActivePrides determination to make the month thoughtful, social, and entertaining, yet still tied to the companys day-to-day business, exemplifies the role ERGs now play in corporate culture, and why they will be influential going forward, particularly in remote settings. Besides ActiveCampaign, at least seven other companiesHashiCorp, Automattic, Coinbase, Modern Health, PandaDoc, Puppet, and Wizelinehighlighted their ERGs when describing their company culture and diversity strategies in their applications to our ranking of the Best Companies for Remote Workers.
Because they plug into issues employees care about, like diversity, equity, and social justice, todays highly active employee groups often serve companies by holding leadership accountablefor recruiting or promotion targets, for examplewhile signaling to prospective hires that leadership takes inclusion seriously.
Whether remote or in person, ERGS are also ready-made spaces for mingling and networking. They create a forum where people from different departments and geographies can strike up unexpected alliances. In that sense, they also address two deep concerns of employers as they look toward a remote-work future: that connectedness and morale will fall off a cliff as people continue to work cloistered in their home offices, and that innovation will suffer without workers from various departments randomly and organically striking up conversations.
During the pandemic, ERGs became metaphorical rooms where people could replenish their relationships with colleagues, whether by bonding over an identity connected to race, gender, or orientation, or a shared interest, like mental health or climate change activism. They were a place where Black employees found refuge in the wake of George Floyds murder.
Resource groups also became critical channels for communication where companies could share information about the pandemic, like where to find vaccines or how to manage distractions when youre working remotely, says John Dooney, an advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Denise Bindelglass, vice-president of people at ActiveCampaign, says she sees a huge ability for ERGs to make a really positive impact on a distributed or remote culture, because its just one more great way to come together as a community, or a sub-community, of the organization.
I think it helps us quite a bit, she adds, when we think about how to be a really effective remote distributed workforce with employees spread out across four continents.
People who have worked at large companies will be familiar with ERGs, which have existed since the 1970s. (They have been less common at smaller firms, although that is changing as more companies decide that headcount shouldnt dictate your ERG strategy, says Bindelglass.)
Black employees at Xerox were the first to form an employee resource group in the US. Other companies followed with Black alliances of their own, a response to racial unrest in the country at the time, writes equity consultant and coach Aiko Bethea in Harvard Business Review. Eventually, other racial groups, and other identity groups, such as women or veterans or members of a particular faith, built affinity networks, too.
Networking at after-work cocktails or luncheons was once the primary function of these clubs. But as theyve matured, ERGs have become more integral to companies diversity and inclusion strategies, says Dooney. Now members are contributing ideas about how companies can not only better manage their diverse employee base but also reach new customers by tweaking their services or adding new products; and they are driving political conversations that otherwise might not happen.
Lately, newer employee groups have emerged that reveal an expanded thinking about what diversity means, which helps to keep a company relevant and forward-thinking, too. For example, some companies have launched ERGs for the neurodiverse, or for boomerang employees returning to the company or the workforce in general after an extended break.
Behind often fun monikersTwitters Black employees go by Blackbirds, for example, while people of color at Slack call themselves the EarthTonesERGs are increasingly professional and intentional about their goals, whether they want to boost representation at a company or build awareness of how its operations impact the wider world. For motivated employees, they have become another forum for activism, a place to introduce causesor culturesclose to their hearts or in their lives outside the workplace.
In the past few years, some firms, including Twitter and LinkedIn, have begun paying ERG leaders for their time, while also beefing up budgets for ERGs. (This is true of ActiveCampaign, where ERG leaders earn $1,500 per quarter.) SHRMs Dooney says this isnt exactly a runaway trend, but the shift does show how companies are recognizing that the associations arent just about getting together for chit-chat, he says. Rather, theres a real outcomethe organization hopes that ERGs, overall, will contribute to the company.
Management teams that are most serious about ERGs assign a business sponsor to the groups, someone who can relay intel that bubbles up from the groups to the company leadership teamwhere, unfortunately, many members of ERGs for Black or Latinx communities, for example, are still underrepresented. This is another reason that ERGs will matter in a remote environment: C-suite executives need to establish as many points of contact as possible to stay in touch with a diverse employee base. They also might look for new company leaders among the heads of ERGs who demonstrate their skills as informal managers of remote and diverse teams.
Leadership also benefits when ERGs take up an important message, such as the need for self-care and stress management during the pandemic, says Dooney. It was useful that employees heard these things from their peersit wasnt just their supervisors talking to them.
When they were forced to move online, groups like ActivePride discovered some of the ways that being remote enhanced the ERG experience. For example, scheduling an in-person event for parents and children to join would have meant asking families to shoehorn a trip to the office into their complicated schedules, but when everyones remote you can invite peers and families across time zones to join for storytime.
ActivePrides co-leaders also were able to reach out to their local networks in three cities to find partners and guest speakers, expanding the ERGs reach and scope in a way that wouldnt have happened if everyone lived in the same place. Coupe, for example, reached out toAbout Face, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps teens navigating adolescence, inviting them to one of the groups weekly sessions. A huge focus of this nonprofit is about helping LGBTQIA teens because its very hard to navigate adolescence, particularly if youre coming out, she says. Leveraging that relationship allowed attendees to learn and understand what it means to be an ally, and then, of course, it brought awareness to the organization, which is just a win-win.
From the perspective of Gen Z workers, who are 26 and younger, employee resource groups have always existed. Indeed, they are seen as critical, whether young employees are joining a startup or a multinational, according to Casey Welch, CEO of Tallo, a South Carolina-based recruiting and talent development site that largely caters to students from minority communities. Tallos recent surveys have found that 86% of Gen Z workers expect employers to have ERGs.
Young employees have come of age in a time of heightened awareness around diversity issues and social justice, says Welch, so theyre naturally asking detailed questions about ERGs in recruitment meetings. What groups could a potential new employee join? How much influence do the ERGs have? How do they measure their success? Looking ahead, companies with a top-notch ERG game will have a competitive advantage, according to Welch, who says Its not [just] a nice-to-have for these employers.
Tallo has also surveyed Gen Z members about their personal experiences of discrimination in the workplace. In 2019, about 40% of respondents said they had experienced bias, and that number rose to 48% in 2021.
When you think about why ERGs are so important to Gen Z, a population known for seeking jobs that have purpose and impact, says Welch, not only do they know discrimination and experience it, but they want to be part of the solution.
That aspiration is unlikely to change, whether a company is all-remote, in-person, or some combination of both.
Get buy-in from senior leadership. This is always important, but more so in a remote environment, says Tallo CEO Casey Welch. The business champion, Welch says, makes sure that the ERGs are staying on track, meeting goals, being impactful, and that employees have the time that they need to actually be able to be part of it. ERG meetings should be prioritized to be part of the work day, he adds.
Raise awareness about existing ERGs internally and externally. Companies need to publicize that they have employee groups and will support them, says Welch. He has found that workers often dont know whether their company has ERGs or which ones are active.
See ERGs as just one resource for underrepresented groups. In the wake of George Floyds murder, equity consultant Aiko Bethea cautioned against relying solely on employee resource groups to provide mental health support to Black employees. Companies needed to provide racial trauma support through EAPs,she wrote in Harvard Business Review, where she also suggested that employers fund memberships in external organizations, such as the National Association of Black Accountants and similar groups in other sectors, and pay for Black employees to attend conferences designed to support Black professionals.
Recruit members who know what healthy ERGs look like. Jenny Coupe at ActiveCampaign says engagement was low when she first joined ActivePride, and it was unclear how the ERG was aligned with the companys business mission. Coupe tapped two newer employees who came from organizations known for their strong ERGs, including one woman who had worked at Uber. We were pretty confident that Uber probably had some things figured out that we maybe hadnt figured out, says Coupe.
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Posted: at 10:18 am
The idea behind the HBCU Open House staged annually by the NFL is simple: providing opportunities.
Reactions from the recent event indicate the league is on the right track in opening off-the-field paths for students and alumni from the historically Black schools that provide so many players to pro football.
The event was timely and strategic, says Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), one of three conferences in attendance.
It confirmed that over the past two years that there have been intentional efforts to support and identify opportunities with the HBCU conferences collectively. I appreciated the NFL Football Operations team creating space for thought leaders to share and be heard while identifying shared values to support meaningful opportunities that bring value, and added value, to both organizations.
The Open House featured one-on-one and group opportunities with a variety of NFL executives and personnel from departments in football strategy, development, data and analytics, talent acquisition, experience programs and more.
Participants came from the CIAA, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA).
A partnership with the MEAC and SWAC begun in 2016 has been expanded to include the other two conferences. More than 3,000 students in the past five years have participated in programs carried out by the NFLs football ops department.
The NFL is one of the best in branding and telling stories, McWilliams notes. We both recognize there is a need for more Black and Brown professionals in the industry. HBCUs have one of the strongest recruiting bases for talent. HBCUs traditions and values align perfectly in assisting with focused programming on student development, career exposure and networking. It is always our goal to increase opportunities for students and athletic administrators from our HBCU institutions and the power of the NFL will assist in providing access and opportunities.
Indeed, students from HBCU institutions have taken advantage of advancement opportunities through the Careers in Football Forum, the NFL Campus Connection and the HBCU Open House. Some of them are working for NFL teams or in the league office.
Natara Holloway, the NFLs vice president of business operations and strategy for football operations, cant hold back her excitement when speaking about the symbiotic relationship created by these initiatives.
HBCUs have a long history of diverse students coming out with so much talent, and to add value to companies, and theyve been overlooked for a long time, she says. Not a lot of companies have traditionally recruited from HBCUs. We found on the field you can find great talent from the HBCUs, of course, and when we started the 2016 programs, found so much more talent. And we have more people from HBCUs in the offices around the league than on the field. People would be surprised to find out that.
There were 32 HBCU players making opening rosters in 2020. The number for this season is uncertain because final rosters remain fluid until late next week.
One emphasis of the programs is making HBCU students and alumni aware of positions on the business side of the game. The vast majority of students wont be emulating Darius Leonard, the Colts All-Pro linebacker from the MEACs South Carolina State.
Instead, they will be pursuing jobs that can range from the communications field to analytics to accounting to, well, pretty much anything involving the running of a franchise.
We wanted to have a concentrated effort to help people become aware of what careers are available in football, Holloway explains. Its an eye-opening experience for us, too. If we dont know about these students and they dont know about us, we have issues.
McWilliams is confident the partnership between the HBCUs and the NFL will continue to grow in size and impact.
There is strength and power in creating an HBCU platform for all four conferences with the NFL, she says. My hope is that we can brand and market the rich legacy and tradition of players in the NFL, that we build on the leadership through the programs available, and we are intentional in identifying ways to impact our communities through the programs and beyond in our HBCU footprint.
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Posted: at 10:18 am
The recent drug-related deaths of several high-profile celebrities have renewed attention to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States.
Emmy-nominated actor, Michael K. Williams, 54, who was best known for his role as Omar Little on "The Wire" and Albert "Chalky" White on the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," was found dead of a suspected overdose at his Brooklyn apartment on Monday with what appeared to be heroin on his kitchen table.
Popular Los Angeles comedians Fuquan Johnson, 43, and Enrico Colangeli, 48, were among three people found dead from overdoses at a party Saturday after ingesting cocaine that was laced with fentanyl, the CBS Los Angeles affiliate reported.
Public health experts say that their deaths are among a rising number of overdoses across the country as the US continues to battle an influx of fentanyl-laced street drugs during the pandemic.
Philip Rutherford, Chief Operating Officer at the nonprofit Faces & Voices of Recovery, told Insider that there are no strong data that show more people are currently struggling with substance use disorder, but rather that more people are dying from drug use.
"I think the short version is that we are absolutely seeing more overdoses," Rutherford said. "I think the sad part is we're actually not seeing a corresponding change in the amount of substance use disorder. Overdoses are going up, but substance use disorder itself has been a fairly durable number."
Drug overdoses increased by 29.4% in 2020 over the prior year, according to data from the CDC.
Drug policy experts predicted a rise last year partially due to the strain of the pandemic on social services and COVID-19 related isolation keeping individuals from getting the help they need.
Rutherford and Dr. Adam Scott Wandt, an attorney and Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Insider that the growing prevalence of fentanyl being used as an additive in most street drugs is likely also responsible for the uptick in fatalities.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, is used by manufacturers of illicit drugs to cut their supply.
The synthetic drug is much cheaper to produce and lighter to transport, so it is economically beneficial for those producing the drugs, Rutherford and Wandt said.
While the presence of fentanyl in other opioids, like heroin or illicit pain pills, has been a well-known threat in certain parts of the country for the last five years, it's now starting to show up in less suspecting street drugs like cocaine and cannabis.
"It's lucrative because its a smaller by weight so you don't need as much for the desired effect," Rutherford said. "It's more valuable than cocaine."
But it's also far more dangerous, especially to those individuals who haven't built up an opioid tolerance.
Wandt studies how illicit drugs make their way into consumers' hands over the dark net. Through the research, he has learned that dark net vendors are supplying a large amount of the drugs that end up making their way to neighborhood dealers, as well as directly into the hands of users.
"There's no doubt looking at preliminary data that there is a significantly large amount of drugs coming from these darknet markets shipped from both the United States and internationally that are making their way into our communities," he said.
The vendors produce a wide range of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, illicit pills, and cannabis, he said.
The market for individuals using heroin or cannabis who are seeking the effects of a drug like fentanyl is small, so oftentimes if these drugs are found to have been laced with the synthetic opioid it's not intentional, Rutherford told Insider.
The fact that manufacturers are often producing fentanyl in the same facilities they're making other drugs leads to a high risk of cross-contamination, which can be especially dangerous to casual users of cocaine or other non-opioids.
"Not only are they not the typical user, but they haven't built up the tolerance to opioids," Wandtsaid. "Someone that has had little to no tolerance for opioids could have an extremely serious reaction just to the smallest amount of fentanyl."
In the early days of the opioid epidemic, it was largely white Americans who were dying from the drugs. These days, though, it's Black men and women who are overdosing at disproportionate rates, Rutherford told Insider.
"I think the Black community is just catching up. It's about the theory delivery method," he said.
At first, opioids were getting into the hands of those with substance use disorder or dealers through healthcare providers in the form of pain killers.
"Because in the Black community, access to quality healthcare is systemically a problem, the group was probably protected a little bit from pill form of opioids," he said.
Studies have shown that due in part to racial bias Black Americans were less likely to be prescribed opioids for pain management such astreating stomach pains, migraines, or backaches. However, the pandemic has seen a spike in drug overdoses, including in the Black community, as the opioid crisis persisted.
Last year in Florida, during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic, overdoses among Black people increased by 110 percent, according to Project Opioid. In San Franciso, the overdose rate among black Americans more than tripled during the pandemic.
These days, doctors are more strict about prescribing narcotics and that supply has been replaced with illicit opioids which are often laced with fentanyl. This form of drugs is now infiltrating urban centers, including Black and poor communities, he said.
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Posted: at 10:18 am
Editors note: Donald Thompson, a veteran entrepreneur and investor, writes a weekly column exclusively for WRAL TechWire about leadership as well as diversity and equality.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK Lara Stein grew up white and Jewish in apartheid South Africa, an experience that gave her a personal lens on systemic change, education and oppression. Later, she went on to found the grassroots initiative TEDx and build Singularity Universitys global expansion and implementation strategy.
Now, she is founder and CEO of Boma Global, an international network of local partners that offer transformative learning experiences to help people be more intentional and intelligent about the future. As she told me, I spent the first half of my life in the for-profit sector, and the latter part sort of straddling the two: nonprofit and for-profit. Now, Im working on systemic change that could bring the two together.
TEDX Raleigh logo
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to interview Lara for my podcast. Lara and I share a guiding belief that education is key to solving big, global problems, and we each work to show other leaders whether business executives or emerging professionals how to be ready for the future. Through Boma, she is democratizing global problem solving. At The Diversity Movement, my team tackles the same work from within organizations, teaching people how to nurture diversity and inclusion for better innovation and stronger decision making. Lara and I have a lot in common. Our conversation left me feeling energized and hopeful.
Heres an excerpt that I hope will make you feel the same way. Listen to the full interview on The Donald Thompson Podcast.
DT: Tell me about Boma Global and its mission. Why did you start this firm, and what are you looking to accomplish?
LS: In ancient Africa, the Boma was a wooden enclosure where the tribe would come together to have hard conversations and then, ultimately, take action. The world right now is so complicated. There are all these vectors coming together: COVID, climate change, geo-political change, social change. And as COVID has shown us, we need local solutions, or at least alignment, to roll up globally if were going to move forward as humanity in a way that matters. It doesnt matter what zero admission rules you put in place in the U.S. if we are not aligning with China. So, we have to think about these big, global problems and how we solve them through both bottom-up and top-down systems.
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The original vision for Boma, just symbolically, was this idea of humanity coming together in both bottom-up and top-down ways, using community circles to design emergent and agile outputs for some of these big global challenges. Essentially, Boma Global is a decentralized network of partners all around the world that are designing and implementing solutions and learning journeys for how we get leaders to think more intentionally and intelligently about the future.
Were doing that primarily through large-scale impact events that focus on some of our big-level challenges, then working with corporate leaders on what they need to know and who they need to be to design a more intentional, intelligent, inclusive, and sustainable world.
DT: That is really, really powerful. I want to drill down a little deeper. Tell me about a specific line of instruction or an event that someone would go to.
LS: Yeah, sure. We recently did an event in New Zealand on regenerative agriculture and the future of food systems.
It was called E Tipu 2021. We had 600 people live in the room, and we also livestreamed it to our Boma community and our Boma community circles around the world. We also put a number of tickets aside for groups, young people, startups, nonprofits and etc. so that we could ensure access to lots of people who would not usually have access to events like this. So, you had CEOs of big, Fortune 500 companies sitting next to high school students and talking about how we could redesign our food systems.
Ultimately, we would like to do that in a global way so were able to highlight and elevate innovation all over the world around that topic and make it very much an inclusive conversation. In everything we do, we try to attack things from a cross-disciplinary, cross-stakeholder, cross-economic point of view. We try to get multiple complex inputs so we can really get a great output.
When it comes to the work were doing in the corporate training sector, we really focus on what you need to know and who you need to be to be a future-forward, sustainable, inclusive leader. Because 90% of leaders right now say theyre totally re-evaluating both themselves and their businesses because of COVID. So, who do they need to be as human beings in order to lead future-focused organizations?
DT: One of the things I want to give you some space to share is, how does someone reading this get involved in Boma? What should they do next?
LS: Again, our theory of change is cross-stakeholder. What were really focused on right now is how do we get corporate leadership to think differently about designing a more inclusive and sustainable future? If youre a big organization, we would love to work with you and take you through our corporate training or collaborate with you on creating modules that are bespoke to your organization. But, we also design large-scale events. So, to the degree you want to participate in any of our events, we have amazing work both online and digitally.
And then finally, we have a platform right now that allows communities to have these completely self-organized initiatives and bring people with diverse points of view together to help them have and work with them on having a conversation where they are able to listen respectfully to each others points of view.
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DT: We work on that at The Diversity Movement too. We teach leaders the importance of inclusive language and how to use inclusive language so that we can really have a conversation. So we can put pressure on the debate of ideas, not the vilification of each other.
One of the final questions I have is what would you like to share with our audience that I havent been thoughtful to ask? What would you like to have as that final thought?
LS: You know, I really believe in shared humanity and that we all have more in common than we have different. But we have to create a softer, gentler society to allow for those commonalities to come out. We have to figure out how to harness technology to not divide us, but unite us. And so my final thought is, you know, South Africa at the end of apartheid could have gone the same way as every other country on the African continent and ended up in a civil war.
But because of Mandelas leadership, they had the foresight to create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where you could air your grievances, then forgive and move on.
In order to build the future, we need to have truth, reconciliation and forgiveness so we can move on. And in order to do that, we need some great leadership on this planet.
DT: Thank you Lara. I am thankful and humble that you took some time to spend with us.
Donald Thompson is an entrepreneur, public speaker, author, Certified Diversity Executive (CDE), executive coach and host of The Donald Thompson Podcast. With two decades of experience growing and leading firms, he is a thought leader on employee-focused cultures, goal achievement, influencing organization-wide change and driving exponential growth. He is also co-founder and CEO of The Diversity Movement, a results-oriented, data-driven strategic partner for organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Donald serves as a board member for several organizations in marketing, healthcare, banking, technology and sports. His autobiography, Underestimated: A CEOs Unlikely Journey to Success, launches in 2022. Connect with Donald on LinkedIn and at donaldthompson.com.
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LISTEN: Tatiana Height on the importance of cultural perspectives in environmental education – Environmental Health News
Posted: at 10:18 am
Tatiana (Tots) Height, joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to discuss intersection of urban planning and environmental health, and how's she pushing for equity in environmental access and education.
Height, an EdD candidate in the Agricultural and Extension Education program at NC State University, talks about her meticulous approach to figuring out where she wanted to live, fostering a positive sense of self and community, and how environmental education needs to take cultural perspectives into account to be effective.
The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows, as well as others in the field. You can see all of the past episodes here.
Listen below to our discussion with Height, and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Today's guest, hanging out with me is Tatiana "Tots" Height, a Doctor of Education candidate in the Agricultural and Extension Education program at NC State University, and current Agents of Change fellow. Height talks about the importance of urban planning when thinking of environmental health, her meticulous approach to figuring out where she wanted to live, and how she's pushing for equity and environmental access in education. Enjoy.
All right, now I am joined by Tatiana "Tots" Height. Tots, how are you doing today?
I'm well, how are you?
I'm doing excellent, and where are you today, where are you talking to us from?
I'm in my home office in Graham, North Carolina.
Graham, North Carolina, give me some geography there. Where, if I was familiar with Raleigh or Durham or, where's it at?
Graham is halfway between Durham and Greensboro.
Awesome. Excellent. Is it hot?
Yeah, a little bit. I haven't been outside too much other than to let my dogs out.
So Tatiana, Tots, you come from Chicago, and then, Gary, Indiana. So I was wondering how did you become interested in science and natural resources coming from very, you know, very urban environments.
Yes. So, I, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was taking AP Chemistry, not because I wanted to but because I had no choice. And during the class, our teacher told us about this program that if you go through it you typically get a summer job so I just wanted a summer job. The program was called "Competitive Edge," it was a summer science program. And while I was in the summer science program, it did indeed lead to a job after, called the Green Team, where we would do raised bed gardens, we would go around and pick up litter, we did some invasive species removal at the National Park. And it ended up leading to me helping with an after school program about brownfields and all of this stuff. So by the time that I got to be a senior in high school I was looking at political science, pre-law but then I was like "man, it'd be really cool if I could study the environment, like if there was something like environmental studies," and I found out that that actually existed. So I was like "okay I'm going to do that instead." So then I started applying to schools with that major instead of my initial plan of doing pre-law.
That, that's so great that so early on you had a program that influenced your career like that. I mean sophomore in high school I feel like I still thought I was going to be a baseball player at that point.
I mean, I didn't know what I was going to do with it. And I actually feel like my, in terms of engaging with the environment, I feel like it happened very late. But, I mean, I always cared about the earth and things like that, but in terms of actually thinking about it as a career path and actually getting to engage in outdoor activities and stuff. I know so many people were like, "oh I was five years old and I grew up on a farm and all this stuff and I used to go fishing with my grandpa" and whatever. And I didn't have those experiences so I felt like it was very late. But, but I didn't know what I was going to do in terms of environmental studies. I was like "oh I'll do consulting" because I heard people say consulting, but I didn't actually know what that meant. And so I was then not, and then I ended up not, I pursued all these extra degrees because I started to hone in on what I actually wanted to do later.
Was there one aspect. So you mentioned raised beds, kind of litter cleanup and, was there one aspect of it that that you remember really touching you that feeling very meaningful? Or was kind of the whole program that?
I, so, I, something that stands out to me was, so later on when I continued, there were actually two of us who were invited to continue working with the organization for longer. And we were invited to attend a youth summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, with all of the other Green Teams from other places throughout the United States who are doing this stuff. And during that time, you know, we were, it was after Hurricane Katrina, and so we were, I saw a lot of abandonments and things like that. But then I also saw some of the redevelopment that they were doing, they were doing all this green building and things like that, that I thought was so cool. I experienced my first campfire on that trip and we did all these fun things. We went canoeing and all this stuff, and so that trip to me was really really impactful on my memory. And actually seeing those green buildings and things is what later on when I was like, "you know, I want to do work like that." That's, that's what then led me to the city planning aspect of environment. So, just because I saw this cool green development that they were doing in New Orleans, because of my participation in that program.
So this leads me nicely into my next question and maybe you answered it a little bit, but it sounds like, originally the acute interest was in the environment, the natural world. But you've transitioned into focusing more on the intersection of people and the environment, which you know, truthfully my career was the same way. I wrote about the Great Lakes, and then realized that a lot of these stories were environmental justice stories, these were about the communities around the Great Lakes. So can you tell me a little bit about how and why this people-centered approach appealed to you and when the environmental justice aspect came into your work.
Yeah, there's so many things that, it's so hard to talk about how, how I got to this point because there's all these overlapping experiences. So it's actually a totally different thing that led me to the justice aspect. It was a class that I was taking my junior year of undergrad. Um, oh I can't remember what the name of the class was. I think it was Intercultural Perspectives on the Environment or something like that. And so we had done a one week module on environmental justice in that class, we had watched a documentary where they were talking about fracking that was happening in Colorado and Wyoming. And there are people who were getting sick and they were getting cancer, people were actually able to set their water on fire, they showed in the movie they weren't able to drink their water, and I was just like, "this is crazy." You know, this was my first time hearing about this, and I was just incensed I was like, "this is ridiculous." And mind you, I was there trying to figure out what I was going to do with environment, because I was, at that time I was still over here "oh consulting" without knowing what consulting meant. Um, and so we had to write a reflection every time we did a different module in that class and I wrote a reflection paper about, you know, my thoughts about what we learned in terms of environmental justice that week, and the TA in the class wrote on the top of the paper "It looks like you found your passion," and I've been doing environmental justice ever since.
That's, that's excellent. And again, this question, maybe you just answered it or maybe there's another, another answerif you have a defining moment that shaped your identity, a defining moment or event?
My identity, my general identity, not as an environmental?
Professional, personal whatever you're comfortable sharing.
Yeah, I, identity is a is an interesting question, because for me I feel like my identity is deeply rooted in my Blackness, and that has not always been the case. You mentioned earlier, oh you know Chicago and Gary, Indiana. So I felt like growing up in, in particular in Gary. So we moved there after my mom was ill and we could no longer afford to live in Chicago. I ended up moving back to Chicago lived with my grandparents, but when we moved there. I actually experienced a lot of depression. It was such a struggling community. It was so, and it's still, being there actually, especially as a city planner now, going through that community is very depressing for me. But I saw a lot of negative examples of Blackness, and it made me feel like that, that to be Black, had all these negative connotations and it made me want to get away from that. So, I did not apply to any HBCUs for that reason, I ended up going to a PWI. But it was actually while I was at my PWI that I became closer connected with my identity because I realized how uncomfortable I was. I had grown up in my school, I could count the number of non-Black students on my two hands. And a lot of people say you know "I didn't have a Black teacher until college," most of my teachers growing up were Black. And so then all of a sudden I was experiencing microaggressions, people who couldn't connect to me, people who didn't understand my experience in life, and I was so uncomfortable that I was like "wow," thisAnd also, on the flip side of that to, the Black friends I did have, I was now in a different environment, it wasn't a struggling community, so there were positive examples of Blackness that made me grow closer to that part of my identity. So now I'm like, now when I work with youth and things, I'm always trying to make sure they have a positive perception of self because it took me into my adulthood to get to that point. And now I'm like no, I love my community, I want to be closer to my community, I want to help my community, it is not some sort of curse, it's just that that was a struggling community and that's not all we are.
What, I'm unfamiliar with the term "PWI."
Sorry! Predominantly white institution.
Okay, I should probably know that, I went to one of those too.
Yeah, so you got your MSIs, minority serving institutions, or HBCUs historically Black colleges and universities, and your PWIs are predominately white institutions, yeah, sorry.
Got you, no that's okay, well thank you so much for sharing that. You know, I was gonna ask if, if some of your, some of your education and experiences since you left have have had you looking differently on your time in Gary, or Chicago. Because I lived in Chicago, I lived in the Ukrainian village for a while, and coming from Michigan, you know, you drive right through that northwest corner of Indiana, and it is very industrial. It looks like one giant brownfield in a lot of places. So I, you know, and you talked about this a little bit, but have your some of your education and experience, do you look back differently on your time in Gary in Chicago?
I mean, I love Chicago. Like, Chicago is home for me. The only reason, really, that I don't live in Chicago now is because I really really do not like being cold. Winters in Chicago are super brutal. I, you know my last winter in Chicago it was like 24 inches of snow and I had to wear hand and foot warmers, it was consistently in the negatives. And, you know, that, that was just the norm, so I don't, I don't even, and here in North Carolina, I don't even own a real winter coat. To me these winters are not real winter so. But Chicago I love. Gary was still very depressing. I actually went back and looked at some of my journals living in that time and I was like "man I was a very unhappy person in that community." Um, I would like to, I don't know that I look back on my time there any differently. I mean I don't regret anything because I think everything that I've experienced has led me to who I am today, and I'm very proud of who I am today, and I love myself and have a lot of self esteem and self worth. I don't regret anything really. But, and that, you know, and this is getting into an aside, but when I was in, when I was a senior, I wrote a, an essay, "what are you going to do for Gary when you graduate," like help the community better. And I had all of these ideas, all these grand ideas that I still stand by even though I was 18. And so I actually, when I was a senior in undergrad I did my senior thesis on like a redevelopment plan for Gary. Because I was thinking back, I'm sure, many people enter those essay contests and don't, you know, do anything with it. But I was like, you know, they gave me this money I won like $500. And I was like, I wrote out these ideas and I want to actually take my ideas and so I had done my thesis, I went to the city council meeting and shared my ideas and I was so nervous. I'm, I'm ranting now at this point, but like, I don't necessarily look back on the time differently but I do wish that I could do more for that community.
Sure, and you know, there, I think there's something about, as you inch toward adulthood, at least for me, there was a lot of push and pull between living in a community that was kind of that needed help, that there was maybe opportunity to be part of this groundswell of, of activists and thinkers. And like you said, make a positive change. Or moving to a community that kind of already had it figured out where things were comfortable. Because I lived in both, and I think, I think both have their, their merits, but skipping ahead a little bit. So after some education you worked at the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. And you, you ultimately moved to North Carolina and I'm wondering, what was it about North Carolina that prompted the move and tell me a little bit about the PhD work that you're pursuing there.
Yeah, so I, again, this is the planner me, but I, I moved around a lot in my adult life. And I was just trying to find out where I wanted to settle. So when you're talking about this whole thought process of, go to a community that you want to help, or go to a community that's already great, like definitely things that I've thought about before. But when I was in Nebraska. I love Nebraska for the record, I love it. But there were some things that didn't jive with where I found myself, long term, and so because I have moved around so much, I was like, I really want to find somewhere that I can go and stay for a while, so I want to be intentional about my next move. So I had done this whole spreadsheet where I did an analysis, I called it my relocation analysis. And I looked at one city from every state in the country and DC, and I looked at primary indicators in those areas of things that I would want to see in somewhere that I wanted to live. And so, Charlotte, North Carolina was actually number six on my list. I was gonna go and visit all of my top 10 places and see how I liked it so I had gone out to the area to see a concert and just explore for the weekend and I was like, I just love it here. And so that's why I've been applying for jobs in North Carolina. Charlotte is, is you know, it's the biggest city we have in the state, it's beautiful, and it was just a hard market to penetrate. So I ended up expanding my search to just all of North Carolina and not just Charlotte and so I landed in Kingston, when I first got here. So that is kind of what brought me here and I, I had been thinking about doctoral studies, I had applied for some other doctoral programs before I came to North Carolina, that I ultimately was actually not admitted into. But everything happens for a reason, so I had come to North Carolina and then I was like, well I want to, now that I'm here and this is my home, let me look at if there are some programs around here that might be of interest to me. And so I applied and I was admitted, and I have full funding for my first two years, and so that's kind of. So people oftentimes think because I'm enrolled in school that I came here to be a student but that's not the case. I came here because I wanted to be here and I applied to go to school later. So now I, I do multicultural environmental education which is deeply rooted in environmental justice, so to me, I still consider myselfA lot of times people, I do all this education stuff and people kind of think I'm more in the "EE," environmental education world, but I really still see myself as an environmental justice practitioner, because the type of education that I gravitate towards is deeply rooted in environmental justice. When I first came into the program I was really interested in looking at community engagement strategies, because my program is agricultural and extension education, and so extension is very much about you know, community based education and that's really what I was, what I was thinking about focusing on. But then I took some classes about diverse practices with teaching or theory to practice and teaching populations. Wait there so "Theory to Practice and Teaching Diverse Populations" was the title of the first course that I took. And it led me to take so many more classes on how do you actually work with students from marginalized backgrounds or underrepresented or whatever terminology you want to use, how do you work with those students most effectively. And I started learning about all these practices that would help me with my work. And then I was, you know, trying to figure out how I can merge that with the kind of work that I already do, because a lot of what I was reading and learning about was really centered towards classroom educators and that's really not where I am. I'm a community educator an informal educator. But then I came across multicultural environmental education and I was like, yes, yes, this is what people need to be doing. I've been doing environmental education, sort of since 2009 but really seriously since 2013 and I've never heard of this. People ... are not doing this, I've done it in several states, I've read a lot about it, I've gone to a lot of workshops, and I'm not hearing people talk about this. And so that's how I sort of started to get into that space in terms of my research.
I want to hear more about that, but I have two very quick little questions. One, what was the Michigan City that you looked at, and two, what was the concert you went to when you visited North Carolina.
Oh, so Michigan. So I think, if I'm correct, the city that I looked at in Michigan was Detroit. And I actually lived in Cassopolis, Michigan for a while. Nowhere, it's not near Detroit. But I looked at, I think, if I'm correct there may have been, or it may have been, you know what, I don't know. I was looking at, I think the largest city in each state I was looking at. I wanted to have a population of at least 100,000 for me to even think about it, and, I'm like I'm pulling up my, my spreadsheet. Yeah it was Detroit. Yeah, that was my handy dandy spreadsheet. And the concert that I went to when I visited here, actually I visited Detroit too, but the concert that I went to here was Anthony Hamilton. Tamar Braxton was opening for him, The Hamiltones were performing with him, there was a comedian there. It was like one of the best concert I've ever been to in my entire life, and I actually became a Hamiltones' fan. I just saw them this past weekend at the you know, River Fest. The Hamiltones, I had pictures taken with them, and I only know about them because I saw them performing with Anthony Hamilton.
Excellent, that is, that is awesome. What a great introduction to a new state. So I want to hear more about this. So when you, when you talk about, I want to hear about the multicultural aspect of this. So, what does that look like when you're, when you're practicing. Because you know, I think we kind of understand environmental education, but on that side of things and this, the fact that you're saying you're not seeing this elsewhere, what does that look like?
Oh man, so this is so many things, but so, multicultural environmental education has three different areas: environmental justice, critical pedagogy, and then multicultural education. So, the multicultural education is actually something that I learned about too in that first class that I took, has then five dimensions. So it's, and don't ask me, I'm gonna try to remember them, but it's like: content integration, so we're looking at how are we weaving in content in our courses. For example, how are you, are you referencing literature of people from the communities with that the students identify with or whatever identities that they identify with, are you bringing a lot of different voices and identities into the classroom. It's empowering school and community culture so making sure that students feel empowered to make change in their communities. It's incorporating the communities into the work that you do, it's incorporating the parents into the classroom, bringing them in. Oh, and then there's also, there's just so many things, too. Because I get so rooted, there's all of these different practices that I'm sort of weaving together, and so for me, I'm also rooted in Gloria Ladson-Billings' work of culturally relevant teaching and so for her, it's also this idea of believing that all students can succeed and so you're not having this sort of deficit ideology that some students are just inherently not capable, which in environmental education is a big deal because so many times if you're working with urban students, or students who, like me, didn't grow up spending a lot of time in traditionally what we think about when we think about outdoor spaces like, oh wilderness and stuff like that. They're like, "Oh, those students don't know as much or not coming with that foundation and I think those students are not interested, students from those communities don't want to do this stuff," that's a deficit ideology and, and in terms of my practice and what I do, that's really antithetical to what, you know, I would support and want to do. Um, so yeah, it's, it's a lot of it's a lot of different, it's a lot of different things. But I'm definitely incorporating environmental education, you're looking at being really fluent in helping students to be fluent in, in their own culture, but also at least one other culture. You're, you're trying to make yourself knowledgeable about their culture and background, so that you can foster and encourage it and, and make a comfortable environment for those students, which I recently just got schooled and because I just did a program where I had predominantly Indian students, I'm talking Southeast Asian. It was not intentional, that's just sort of how the program happened. I had like 80% Southeast Asian students, and I had never worked with that population before. I did a simulation activity that's supposed to like, it's supposed to lead students to this certain thing and what they did in the simulation activity went in a totally different direction than when I did that same activity with white and Black folks. And she was like, and she was like, "well we're Asian, like this is what happens in our households." So when I asked them to do the simulation, it didn't work very well. We still were able to have, we still had a conversation, but they didn't go where I thought they were gonna go, because they were coming from a different cultural perspective that I wasn't familiar with, and I acknowledged out loud, I was like this, you guys went somewhere totally different because I wasn't, I didn't think about this, and that's something that I need to be better at. If I'm trying to work with populations, I need to make myself more familiar and think about your perspectives as I'm planning programs.
That sounds, I even think of my own experience, if environment classes growing up wouldn't have been focused on things that seemed so not tangible to me. If they would have focused, if I grew up in the Detroit area, and if it would have focused on the Great Lakes and things I was seeing, the Detroit River, you know, of course you do these field trips, but the idea of making it geographically and culturally relevant just seems like such a no-brainer but I think it probably makes a lot more work for people on your end instead of a one size fits all approach. Right?
Um, I don't want to call it more work but I do want to call it more intentionality. You have to be more intentional with your with your practice. And I will say, the only time that I think it will be much more difficult is for folks, a lot of folks are doing educational programs where they're only meeting with those students once, like let's say it's a field trip, and they're coming through. So they don't, they might not know who's coming. They might not have opportunity to build rapport with those students, build relationships in order to, they may not have time to get a lot of that background, education, unless you're repeatedly working with students who might be from the same, from similar populations but not necessarily the same students. So for those instances, it might be a little less attainable. Or maybe for those educators that might be a little less attainable to do that. But I just think you just have to be more, more intentional in terms of learning from the students, giving them space to educate you, trying to break down the dynamic of who's in charge, who has the knowledge, who's right, and understand those students have some sets of knowledge in their own experiences that they can help you. But I don't think that by, by me trying to do those things it's been even more difficult. It's just been me having to be more thoughtful.
Right. And you don't just have this environmental background, but as you mentioned you have an urban planning and development, you know, skills and training. And how do you think those skills help someone, you know, working on environmental justice issues at the community level?
Yeah, at the community level, it's definitely good. I mean, I feel like people, sometimes lay people don't understand planning processes. And so when these things are happening, when environmental injustices are happening in their communities and they're trying to figure out how these things happen, they might not always be knowledgeable about the processes that are happening from a government perspective. And so for me I do. For instance, I've been in environmental meetings where people are talking about, or environmental justice meetings, I should say, when people are talking about their land being taken through imminent domain, and imminent domain is a planning process. And so, for those who don't know, that's a process by which folks can acquire your land, they can take it, it's a taking, but they have to provide just compensation, so they can't just take without compensating you, they do have to compensate you, based on you know whatever evaluation they have of the land. But imminent domain is supposed to be, you know, if something is happening for the greater health, safety, and welfare of the community, like it's going to, it's going to be, it's going to better the community. Your land is where this thing really needs to be, because of whatever reason, it kind of needs to go through your arealet's say it's electrical lines or something like that, they can't go around your house, they need to go through your property. And so they might exercise imminent domain to take a portion of your property to put, you know, whatever they're doing. So things like that. Understanding zoning, another planning process, how is it that things are allowed to be developed in certain areas. For me in my community regional planning studies, I sort of made my own environmental justice focus, but also the community engagement aspect, so that was really, I tried to learn a lot about community engagement and meeting facilitation. Going through consensus building process with communities. And I use all of that stuff, you know, if I'm organizing meetings, or to try to talk to or learn from people in the community. Because I made sure to weave that into my understanding, and it's definitely something that is key in planning, not that everybody focuses on that, but it's something that is a big area of planning, is how do you engage with the community. How do you get feedback from the residents and the community about things. So it just becomes, the skills are still useful, but it just becomes who am I representing when I'm using those skills?
Right. And so you're obviously here now as an Agents of Change fellow which is designed to bring this kind of work that you're talking about and your ideas to a wider audience, you know, kind of lay folks, so to speak. And less in the scientific realm or on the local level. And I'm just curious, first of all, before we talk a little bit about, you know, your, your ideas and kind of science communication and getting your work out, when it comes to media coverage of environmental justice, environmental access, what are your thoughts? What are your thoughts, what have you seen, you know, where could the industry improve when they cover the issues and communities that you're, you know that you're currently working in and engaged with?
You know, I think what I have seen is that, when I usually see coverage about things like that like environmental justice issues, there might be blogs or articles that are coming from environmental justice organizations, not from the mainstream media. So they're reaching their audiences and not necessarily a broader audience. Typically when things do make their way into the mainstream media, it's because there's a big coup happening. Like for instance, a lawsuit, somebody is suing some sort of organization for whatever damage they're doing to their community. And so I think that I would like to see more coverage of these things just in general, not just when there's, you know, a big coup happening. But also those things only tend to get covered for a couple of weeks, and a lot of these battles go on for several years, if not decades. So people just kind of talk about it while it's hot. And then they don't realize, people from the public then don't realize that, that is still happening because they're not talking about it anymore. So that's I would say something that I think is a problem.
You know, the first thing that comes to mind is, we, so we've covered, like many have covered, the hog farming industry in North Carolina, and they're in the southeastern part of the state, which is cited in communities of color. Most often Duplin County and other places, and it just creates all kinds of environmental and nuisance problems. And I've talked to, when I was a reporter I talked to editors, now that I'm an editor I talk to reporters, and I've always said, you know, part of the story is that it's still happening, right. And the you know, if you say like "oh that's already been covered," well, that's part of the story. Why is it still going on, it's been 20 years since, or whatever, since it first happened, so I think you're totally right. And just an aside, I think, personally, I think one of the biggest issues with media coverage of not just environmental issues but communities in general is the erosion of local media, and the ability to have people embedded on a beat. You know so much of our media now, including EHN to be perfectly honest, is national, we're scattered. So we go to North Carolina and then we go here, but to have that local reporter who can dig into an issue and keep on it, I think, is invaluable. So I totally agree with you there. So again you're in this program so you have at least some passing interest in writing and communicating your work. Tell me about any experience you've had with that, if any, and how you see science communication fitting in your broader work moving forward, and what role social media plays, and kind of just where all this is fit into your work and where you see it going.
Oh, um, in terms of a writing, that is something that I, so for me, my primary interest has been, how do I write for the broader population. Because in an academic program they're very much encouraging you to publish in peer-reviewed journals. People have this perception that if your work is somewhere that's not in those places that it is not as valuable, it's not as useful. And I just don't like that. That's just plain and simple. I don't like it. Do I want to be published in a peer reviewed journal, yes. But do I want my, my value to begin in there? No. Also I just really don't have experience with doing that in general, you know. I never published any, unless you count my thesis, or like research projects that are published in a digital commons at The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, of which there are three. I had never really published anything prior to my doctoral studies, and I don't feel like I've been extremely supported in that aspect in terms of writing, either. Also, when I came into the program, you know, and as I was talking about doing community change and things like that, you know, I was talking about, you know, how do we communicate with people in such a way that it resonates with them and helps them to produce change. A lot of times, and especially education programs have a communication sort of focus, and I was told you know we don't have that focus here. So there's really no avenue for you to do that. So I took, you know, a climate change communication class but, um, and I had asked to take a lot more communication classes and they were kind of like, we don't think you should be taking all these communication classes. But then I ended up, I went in a different direction and doing more of the culturally relevant teaching and multicultural education anyway, instead of the communication focus. And they pushed back on me on that too, but I was like I'm not listening anymore, I'm gonna do what I want to do. So, for me, my interest in this has been mostly that, getting that support in that area that I don't feel like I've gotten really, and I don't really feel like I know what I'm doing. But, um, but yeah, social media, I'm very finicky about social media. I do give a lot of talks and people are always asking for my social media, and I never give it to them, because my social medias, are personal social media, they're not professional social medias, and I just don't want people looking at my personal life. I'm kind of like, you can look at me on LinkedIn, I really don't want you to look at my, even with my dissertation. You know, there's a faculty member who was like, can we have your Twitter? No, she said, "Are you on Twitter, because I want to tag you when I tweet about your dissertation." I said, "Yes, I am on Twitter but I'm not giving you my handle." I don't want faculty at the university looking at my Twitter. I said when I graduate, then you can have my Twitter. So, um, I've been on Twitter since 2009, I don't want people going back and lookingI'm not necessarily embarrassed about what I have up there now, but I don't want people going back through the archives and trying to find what I posted in 2009 that may have been unsavory. Like, I don't, it's a personal Twitter it's not a professional Twitter. So, um, I will say that I met with somebody about my brand and things like that as I was looking into doing business ventures and consulting and public speaking all these things. And she was like, "you have to stop hiding on social media." She was like, "you can't do that, you can't be over here with your private Instagram, like, you have to stop doing that." So, at some point I'm gonna have to get over it, but at this point I've not really been, I don't really intertwine social media with my work.
Yeah, you know, everybody has their own comfort level and I think there are, there's something really healthy about having clearly defined boundaries, whatever your boundaries are. And it sounds like yours are very defined right now, and maybe they'll, maybe the goalposts will move later. I don't, I don't have social media. I have a LinkedIn. And when I was an early reporter 10 years ago or so, it was like, "you gotta, you got to have Twitter," you know. It was all about marketing yourself and branding and, you know, they're very useful tools, and you know, hopefully during this program, you know, we can, we can have some training and learn a little bit more about it. But I think those kind of clearly defined boundaries are healthy, nowadays.
Yeah, well, I'm saying that for myself too. So, it's for both of us.
It's an unpopular opinion.
That's right. So, Tots, this has been fantastic. I've really enjoyed talking to you. I have one final question, and that is what is the last book that you read for fun.
Okay, so the last book that I finished, and I'm a super avid reader, so I'm always reading something. The last book that I finished was "Parable of the Talents" by Octavia Butler. Because for a book club we had done "Parable of the Sower" and then I just had to do the sequel. But right now I am reading "The Mothers" by Britt Bennett and I'm usually more into, I do probably, I do probably 75% nonfiction and like 25% fiction, but sometimes I just get on these fiction kicks, so.
The last one you finished, tell me, tell me just a little bit about it without, you know, spoiling it for us if we read it.
Posted: at 10:18 am
Dear Ascension Public Schools Family,
As promised, we are providing you an update regarding the status of school reopening in Ascension Parish from the current closure due to Hurricane Ida. As of this afternoon, 30% of our schools do not have power. However, we do believe significant progress is being made each day, and we are hopeful that we will continue to see power restored to all schools as well as neighborhoods and businesses in the very near future.
Tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, is our regularly scheduled Labor Day Holiday. We will be closed as scheduled for Labor Day. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, we intend to reopen for all Ascension Public Schools staff only. All employees should plan to report to work on Tuesday and will receive details regarding responsibilities and the location to report from their immediate supervisors by late afternoon Monday. Employees that work in schools or district offices that remain without power will be provided instructions about an alternative location to report for our work on Tuesday.
There will be no instructional services provided to students on Tuesday, either in-person or online. Staff will be working to organize our reopening efforts so that when students return, the reopening is as smooth as possible. As always, a crisis or a disaster typically presents many challenges that require intentional planning in order to overcome those challenges and minimize frustration. We will be working to anticipate and remediate those obstacles we can identify as best we can prior to students arriving later this week
At this time, we are targeting Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, for the return of students to buildings for in-person learning as well as providing online instructional services for our Blended Learning Program. However, at this time, we are unable to be absolutely certain about Wednesday as the date for reopening. More details about our anticipated opening on Wednesday will be provided Tuesday afternoon as we continue to monitor the restoration of the power grid and work through any challenges we identify with mechanical services and technology as the power to buildings is restored. We will allow after-school activities to resume for students involved in extracurricular activities as early as tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Details regarding those activities will come from school principals, coaches, and sponsors.
In summary, the following are our plans, thus far:
We continue to be grateful for the progress being made for this recovery effort. We know the community and its citizens will be back on their feet very soon. As is always the case in Ascension Parish, we continue to witness how citizens of a community rally around their neighbors to overcome the challenges and frustrations that result from these kinds of events. We all continue to pray for our neighboring parishes who experienced even greater impacts and are faced with even greater challenges. We are confident that, with patience and continued support of each other, we will see these communities completely restored.
Ascension Public Schools
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East West Partners, BCDC, and EcoVest Capital Bring One Riverfront Distinctive Luxury Living Condominium Development to Avon, Colorado -…
Posted: at 10:18 am
AVON, CO - One Riverfront, a luxury townhome and condominium development on the Eagle River at the base of Beaver Creek, has broken ground in Avon, Colo.
The new project by East West Partners, Batson-Cook Development Co. (BCDC) and EcoVest Capital is the capstone of Riverfront Village, a grand resort complex anchored by the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa one of the nations finest mountain resort hotels.
The 13 townhomes and 40 condominium units connect to endless outdoor activities, first-class owner amenities, proximity to the riverside trail and direct access to the Riverfront Express Gondola, which connects to the Beaver Creek ski resort.
East West Partners is laser-focused on creating special places and they have outdone themselves at One Riverfront, said Litt Glover, President and CEO, BCDC. The views, amenities and premium finishes are just world-class and the East West Partners team are absolute experts in the Vail Valley. We couldnt be more excited about this project and to be their partner
We truly value our partnership with BCDC and EcoVest Capital, and are thrilled to be partnering with them on One Riverfront said Jim Telling, Managing Partner at East West Partners. Having their experience alongside ours is part of what will make this community great.
One Riverfront is the last developable site at Riverfront Village in the rising mountain town of Avon, Colo.
The luxury townhome and condominium development will feature a resort pool and spa pools, complementary to the existing pool at the hotel. It will also have a rooftop bar and lounge on top of the condominium building offering towering views to Beaver Creek and the iconic Game Creek bowl in Vail. The One Riverfront amenities plus the full suite of Westin amenities including fitness center, Spa Anjali, and ski valet to name just a few, makes it unique from any other for-sale product in the Vail Valley.
The units will feature stunning finishes paired with welcoming, open floor plans designed for flexible living. Oversized operable windows will bring in generous amounts of natural light and fresh air, and ample decks extend living space outdoors.
East West Partners, BCDC and EcoVest Capital are the sponsor joint-venture partners.Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate is the exclusive sales agent. Alpine Bank is providing financing. Patterson Real Estate Advisory Group served as the capital broker. Evans Chaffee is the general contractor, and Zehren & Associates is the architect.
The first units will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022.
About East West Partners:East West Partners is devoted to building, selling, managing and supporting high-quality real estate and life experienceswith a focus oninnovation, sustainability and community. Since 1986, the firm has developed and sold over $8 billionof residential and commercial real estate across the country. East West Partners is one of only two companies to have received three Urban Land Institute AwardsForExcellence for their projects Beaver Creek VillageinBeaver Creek,Colo.;andUnion Station NeighborhoodandRiverfront Park,bothinDenver,Colo.For more information on East West Partners, visitwww.ewpartners.com
About BCDC:Founded in 1963, BCDC is a fully integrated real estate organization providing development and capital solutions, primarily through partnerships on commercial real estate projects in the Southeastern United States. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, BCDC offers a wide variety of real estate services from development and construction to equity and credit enhancements, to brokerage and property management. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kajima USA. Visit http://www.batsoncookdev.com for more information.
About EcoVest Capital:EcoVest Capital, Inc. is an ESG Real Estate investment firm that creates value for Single-family and Multi-family Offices through its private real estate investment programs. EcoVest believes that you no longer have to sacrifice purpose for profit as they identify, develop, and offer real estate investment programs that support their ESG values. They are intentional about improving communities and habitats, while delivering competitve, risk-adjusted returns for investors. Learn more about EcoVest Capital at http://www.ecovest.com
Posted: at 10:18 am
SALT LAKE CITY They were just children and adolescents on that September morning at school, riding in a car, being awoken by their parents trying to understand what they were seeing and hearing. Trying to understand a moment that would change history.
They were an entire generation who would grow up in a post-9/11 world, marked by the events of that day and the world that shifted in its wake, like those who reeled after Pearl Harbor almost 60 years before them. But 20 years on, they remember it as the children that they were.
In Oregon, where Erica Marley grew up, it was still dark outside on Sept. 11, 2001, when her parents woke her up, the old box TV in their bedroom blaring the news.
Erica Marley remembers being woken by her parents on Sept. 11, 2001 while it was still dark outside. She says the old box TV in her parents bedroom was blaring the news.
I just remember seeing replays of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, Marley recalled. And it was, it just kept replaying, and replaying. And I just remember, I was just so confused as to what was happening.
She doesnt remember her parents showing any emotion, but she does remember feeling scared because they kept her home from school. And the part that really struck her, the part that made the confusing news hit home, was hearing that Disneyland was closed.
I remember thinking in my 10, 11-year-old mind: Oh, my gosh Disneyland is closed. This must be really bad, she said. And it just kind of sunk in that this was something serious, even though I didnt really understand what it was.
Omar Rauf was in 7th grade and already at school at Riverview Junior High in Murray, when he remembered a teacher turning on the TV. At first, they thought it was some sort of terrible accident.
Omar Rauf (middle) was in 7th grade when the Twin Towers were hit on Sept. 11, 2001.
Then, the second plane hit the second tower and reality set in.
Thats when the teacher was like, Ok, this is, like, organized. This is planned, this is not an accident. And were under attack, Rauf said. And I just remember sinking in my chair, you know, that first period and just feeling scared and afraid.
Julianne Horsley was 10, riding in a carpool to her elementary school in North Salt Lake, when they heard the news over the radio.
Words were jumping out of the news reports: planes, crashes, buildings.
I think we were young enough to not quite understand. But we were old enough, I think, to figure out, Okay, something isnt right, Horsley said. As a kid, we didnt quite understand. We thought: Oh, thats bizarre. Thats weird. And then, when we got to school, it was the only thing that teachers were talking about, and everyone was confused. And if you werent confused, you were scared.
Julianne Horsley was on her way to school in North Salt Lake when she heard the news about the plane crashes.
With the initial fear and confusion came the questions about what this all meant and what might come next.
Were like, is this close? Horsley remembered thinking. New York is so far away from Utah, but, at the same time, when, you know, theyre talking about these different states, its hitting all these different states. Were now wondering, are they going to come and attack us?
Like so many other students in schools across the country, they took in the events in real time, with their peers and teachers.
Rauf remembers the emotions of that day running the gamut.
Some teachers are crying, you know, they couldnt even carry on class, he said. Other teachers just kind of made it a free-for-all day, you know, just to do whatever I dont think they knew how to respond. For some teachers, I think they tried to compartmentalize and, you know, business as usual.
He said, for his part, he could not take his mind off what had happened.
I was 13 years old, Rauf said. Its a very formative age. It was kind of an awakening moment of like, whats going on in the world? I think that was the time that sort of was a catalyst of the realizing that, hey, theres people on the other side of the world that dont like Americans, or theres extremism in the world, theres fundamentalism within my own faith.
That night, Rauf said he went home full of questions: Who could have done this? Why would they do something like this?
Rauf said his parents listened and talked to him, tried to comfort their children, the only Muslims in their school. Still, Rauf said his mother questioned whether she should continue wearing her headscarf.
When Omar Rauf returned home from school, his parents comforted him and listened to his questions.
At first, he said, his peers mostly had a lot of questions and wanted to learn and understand more, but he said that there were also assumptions made that, though his family was Pakistani, that they were one of them.
There was some teasing. The neighborhood he had lived in from the time he was six years old, shifted.
People would shout things, he said. We would be walking down the street and people would shout things outside the window.
The day after the attacks, Horsley said they went outside their school and sang songs.
Julianne Horsley remembers singing songs at school the day after the Sept. 11 attacks.
She said the teachers, having had a day to process, tried to help them understand what had happened.
Horsley said realizing that the attack was planned and intentional shifted her worldview.
As a child, she said she thought bad guys were in the movies and the world was a fairly simple place. The events of Sept. 11th changed that.
Theres people who hate us? Theres, you know, this world isnt as safe as we think? Theres people who, you know, dont mean well, Horsley said. For lack of a better term, it seemed like your innocence was lost. And its, you know, we cant go back to thinking that everything is great, everything is safe, unfortunately.
One year later, Marley made a patriotic entry in her journal drawings of flags and eagles but she also noted that she was scared and sad. She said she felt her heart sink on Sept. 11, 2001, and a fear crept in.
It wasnt necessarily like fearing another terrorist attack or fearing for my life or fearing, or anything like that, like, consciously, but I think there was just a little bit of a looming sense of like, something bad could happen on my home turf, just like anywhere else, she said.
It has been twenty years now and the children are adults.
Horsley has visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and finds it to be a favorite place to visit in a city she loves.
Julianne Horsley says the 9/11 memorial in New York City is one of her favorite places to visit.
There is a unique spirit there, she said, and its always more devastating than she could fathom as a child.
Each time I go back, and Ive been there a few times, I realize (that) this is a lot worse than I remember, she said. It was bad then, but its even worse.. No matter how many times you see pictures, no matter how many times you see videos, its more haunting than you remember.
Rauf grew up to become an active member of the Utah Muslim community and serves on the board for the Utah Muslim Civic League.
Omar Rauf grew up to become an active member of the Utah Muslim community and serves on the board for the Utah Muslim Civic League.
Despite the horror and tragedy of the attacks and the jokes and harassment that sometimes followed, there was also increased discussions and engagement.
I think there was some silver linings, he said. I think people wanted to learn about, you know, the Muslim community more. They wanted to learn about whats going on in other parts of the world. I think interfaith dialogue greatly increased during that time, especially in Utah, which is a relatively younger community. I think there was more kind of sharing of ideas.
Marley said Sept. 11, 2001 was a day that changed her life, and the lives of countless others. But she said, in many ways, she thinks that change was for the better.
Im really impressed with millennials and even Gen Z, even though a lot of them werent even born, for being compassionate people and trying to better their communities and being very open to people who are different from them, she said. I think it says a lot, because I think you could easily see that day as something that could harden a person or make someone incredibly angry, but Im just really impressed with how so many people have just taken the road to compassion. And I think thats been really, really beautiful.
Posted: at 10:18 am
You will know who they are, what they are doing, and what they represent.
Get wellness tips, training trends, healthy eating and more directly to your inbox with the Be Well newsletter.
You can get a glimpse of the work these local health leaders are doing and the nonprofits they support.
Last week we introduced you 5 out of 10 semi-finalists For this years Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge Presented by Independence Blue Cross. Today you can meet the rest!
Remember, you can Please vote Once a day, daily, until September 30th, you will need to win a $ 15,000 donation to a charity of your choice, named 2021 Health Hero. (The two runners-up will each win a $ 2,500 donation to the charity of their choice!)
Below you will meet the remaining members of the 2021 Health Hero Challenge Semifinalists.
Who: Christina Burke, the wife of Jim Burke, a local restaurant owner, breast cancer survivor, and Wm executive chef. Marherins son.She founded TAG Time Happy Hour, A series of fund-raising events for lung cancer research after my husbands stage IV lung cancer diagnosis last year.
Selected nonprofit organization: Pennsylvania Hospitality Support Response (HARP) provides hospitality workers with immediate emergency funding and one-time individual grants to front-line employees in the industry in the event of unforeseen difficulties.
What motivates you to make Philadelphia a healthier place? Also, what kind of policy would you make if possible?Philly is more than a map location for me and our family. Where we grew up, where our kids go to school, where we volunteer as Little League coaches, and fortunately my husband and I Its also a place to get. The best health care for our family. We feel we are part of a community that cares for each other. We about our cancer journey By sharing the story, we were able to see the impact on our community [Ive heard] It encouraged many women to get their daily mammograms. TAG Time Happy Hour is also a great connection for the local food and beverage community to get out of the particularly difficult and isolated COVID season. Health comes in many shapes and sizes. Ive already won if TAGTime motivated me to feel personal connections, schedule regular screenings, and fund important cancer studies.
I carry out free regular health checkups for everyone. This is especially useful for people who do not have health insurance or who have a genetic predisposition to a particular cancer. Early detection can save lives! We also want to develop policies to prevent food waste in restaurants and supermarkets by providing safe alternatives for reusing and repackaging food in poorly serviced areas.
Who: Founder of a non-profit organization based in Lynette Medley, sexual health counselor, and Mount Airy No more secrets, Mindbody Spirit. Co-founder with SPOT period, Menstruation hub and uterine wellness center.
Selected nonprofit organization: No more secrets, Mindbody Spirit.A sexuality awareness and counseling organization aimed at combating physiological poverty and increasing menstrual equity throughout the Philadelphia region.
What motivates you to make Philadelphia a healthier place? Also, what kind of policy would you make if possible?My community is arguably my greatest source of inspiration in continuing this relentless battle for menstrual equality and justice. I want people to deal with the natural parts of life. I sincerely believe that life should not be at risk. The sad reality is that socially constructed systems are exposed to health risks by denying access to free or affordable menstrual products. In addition, it prevents the entire population from reaching its full potential.
Poverty is high in Philadelphia, but poverty is more than just food insecurity and the homeless. Not being able to buy menstrual products such as tampons and pads is a problem that exists here in Philadelphia: health insurance and menstruation. Because there is no federal funding for care, thats why I help young people in school age experiencing menstrual anxiety through comprehensive menstrual health and uterine care services, and the provision of free menstrual supplies. It provides direct and intentional funding for policies that mandate.
Who: Local visual and performing arts artists, youth art teachers, mental health advocates, and Embryo Exhibition series..
Selected nonprofit organization: Urban art gallery, West Philadelphia Art Exhibition, Performance, Workshop Hub. The organization also offers free youth programs in visual arts, music, chess and storytelling to help local children and adolescents live a happier and more productive life.
What motivates you to make Philadelphia a healthier place? Also, what kind of policy would you make if possible?Changing a community story about mental health motivates me. People feel safe and lack access to places where they can trust the guidance provided on emotional and behavioral health. In our homes, classrooms, workplaces, churches and other community groups, we need unconditional positive consideration. In the mental health of invisible illness, everyone It is important to note that it can have an impact.
I ask that art and wellness classes are available and needed at all public schools in the city. By doing so, young people living in communities identified as BIPOC, LGBTQ +, and / or marginalized can be exposed to alternative therapies and maintain an exit for healthy expression themselves.
Who: Tahirah Austin-Muhammad, co-founder and chief operating officer of a tissue focused on sickle cells, Crescent Foundation..
Selected nonprofit organization: Crescent Foundation, A local non-profit organization that provides resources to people affected by sickle cell disease. This includes free webins on medical transitions and patient support, immersive programs for medical students, and psychosocial and case management support for people living with sickle cell disease.
What motivates you to make Philadelphia a healthier place? Also, what kind of policy would you make if possible?I had an episode of sickle cell disease and my first experience trying to get help was trauma I was in pain in a cold waiting room for 12 hours before receiving care. From that experience, I will be fighting for compassionate, impartial and timely medical care for patients with sickle cell disease, especially those affected by an unequal system. I knew.
To ensure that patients with sickle cell disease are properly cared for within federal guidelines, we will introduce a system to examine patients who will give the department a letter grade after a visit through a patient satisfaction survey. The investigation is then reported to the institutions funding sources and the leadership salary is affected until the institution receives a B or higher. Establishing quantifiable and leadership-responsible standards encourages everyone to reach their full potential to benefit the quality of life of their patients.
Who: Tasnim Sulaiman, a licensed professional counselor, a marriage and family therapist specializing in sex therapy, and the founder of a local therapy group. Black man heals..
Selected nonprofit organization: Black man heals, A non-profit organization that aims to provide free treatment to black men living in and around Philadelphia and eliminate both the stigma and costs of mental health care. The organization also has color providers, so clients should work with therapists who feel they equate with unique cultural stressors such as racism, prejudice, and economic disparity. I can.
What motivates you to make Philadelphia a healthier place? Also, what kind of policy would you make if possible?I am motivated by my daughter (and all my children). We believe that it is the responsibility of adults to set a better example for the next generation and lead a healthy diet and life, including mental and emotional health. Last year also focused my Ultra Lens further on the health inequalities that exist in the color community. The murder of George Floyd, the resulting racial riots, and the pandemic have made me ten times more committed to destroying and changing the existing broken healthcare system.
I have health insurance for everyone. Many uninsured or uninsured people in Philadelphia do not have equal access to quality care at affordable prices, and also mentally, especially for health care providers. We hope that health care insurance and restrictive regulations will change. For example, it is difficult for therapists to even join the insurance panel, and even if they do, the repayment rate is low. These barriers (existence) Many therapists do not accept insurance, and as a result, people are unfairly prevented from receiving quality off-network treatment.
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