Habitat for Humanity is famous for providing housing to needy families in cities all over the U.S. However, the non-profit now goes down in history as being the first charity organization to build and give away a 3-D printed home for a family in need as well.
In most cases, Habitat for Humanity homes are built with a preset plan and design, either already designated by the organization or provided by a local, donating builder-partner. However, for one Virginia family, they are the recipients of a full fully tech-designed home, with every major component designed and then crafted with 3-D printing. And unlike what people see in videos crafting plastic parts, the home that was built looks like a real home!
Similar to other skills involved, Habitat for Humanity worked with a partner to develop the 3-D plan to be used for the expected home. That partner, Alquist, had a deep level of experience already working as a 3-D printing business, and the partner managed all of the design and print production to make the components of the house possible.
The size of the home built is modest. The total dimensions add up to 1,200 square feet, provides for a total of three bedrooms with two complete bathrooms and material worked with involved concrete. The total build duration for the home plan took basically a half day, 12 hours, shaving off at least a month from a typical regular home build.
April Stringfield ended up being the lucky candidate that won the ability to buy the home from Habitat at a significant discount versus what it would have cost her in the regular market. Without Habitat’s help, Stringfield would not likely have been able to be a homeowner, which is the goal of the program helping families in need. Instead, April Stringfield and her teen son will have their own new home through the holidays instead of living in an apartment.
Stringfield commitment and “purchase” followed an age-old barter method in which her work time calculated up to a purchase value to buy the home being built. This followed Habitat for Humanity’s set program that candidate families engage in, commit their work time, have good credit and keep it good without any new issues, and qualify as low to moderate income in their earning power. For Stringfield, all the time and energy was worth it; she has a new home with a backyard, her son now has roots and a place where they can finally have a puppy, and Stringfield now feels connected to her community. In short, April Stringfield and her son are now engaged with what is becoming the elusive American Dream.
Being concrete, the home will likely stand up far better to the weather, elements and natural disasters, and Stringfield also gets a dedicated 3-D printer with the home so she can fabricate additional parts as she needs to for replacement and maintenance.
Habitat for Humanity expects the new approach to home building will continue in their projects, both due to efficiency as well as taking advantage of newer technology to build families more durable homes.
The Return of the Valuable American Chestnut Tree
An aggressive fungus killed away billions of American chestnuts a hundred years ago. Scientists are now striving to bring the tree back to its former splendor after years of neglect.
Director of the American Chestnut Foundation’s restoration Sara FitzSimmons knows she won’t be able to see the final product of her efforts. Trees have a considerably longer life cycle than that.
Fitzsimmons has spent over two decades attempting to resurrect the American chestnut (Castanea dentata). The eastern USA and southern Ontario, Canada’s woodlands were initially dominated by these essential species. An invasive pathogen was mistakenly spread by imported Asian trees, mainly employed as ornamental plants and in farms over a century ago, resulting in chestnut blight exposure.
The number of chestnut trees in the United States has decreased from between three and five billion to a maximum of 435 million, a decrease of 84 percent.
The American Chestnut Foundation, for example, is working to create a new variety of chestnut trees that is immune to blight and may get reintroduced to the wild. What is the date? To have an environmental effect with millions of sprouts on the terrain, Fitzsimmons estimates that it will take between 150 and 200 years.
Humanity and their mode of living relied heavily on American chestnut trees before the blight. Farmers could feed their pigs and turkeys chestnut nuts when the trees were plentiful. In addition to gathering nuts for food and commerce, they did a lot of foraging.
They found that the trees’ wood was strong enough for use in constructions such as shingles and beams, as well as for flooring in residences, railroad ties, and telephone poles.
Better Chestnuts for the United States
Contrary to popular belief, chestnut trees aren’t extinct despite the widespread destruction. They’re not even on the endangered species list.
A protective layer of soil microorganisms keeps the blight fungus from reaching the trees’ roots. As a result, American chestnut trees have a unique ability to persist deep in the ground.
Chestnut trees now are dwarfed by their progenitors, who grew up to 100 feet tall and had trunk diameters of 10 feet or more.
For its efforts to save the American chestnut from blight, the organization uses a breeding and biotechnology-based strategy. The American Chestnut Foundation uses backcross breeding as one of its methods. Select and transfer desirable traits from one variation to another using this strategy.
The ultimate goal is to use a different species’ blight-resistance genes to improve American chestnut trees. Backcross breeding is explained by US Forest Service research ecologist Leila Pinchot, specializing in returning chestnut trees to forests.
“We want a tree that looks and acts like an American,” she explains. Therefore this is an “attempt to merge the resistance genes from the Chinese chestnut with our Chestnut.”
The tree’s survival is not only dependent on backcrossing. SUNY-ESF professor William Powell, who directs the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project, has utilized genetic engineering to create a tree that is immune to blight.
He mixed Wheat DNA with the American chestnut DNA. Over three decades, Powell has discovered a gene from wheat capable of fighting the blight fungus. One of the best things about this gene, according to him, is that it serves as an antifungal agent.
Indian Jungle Seeing Return of Once Extinct Cheetahs After Seven Decades
Since cheetahs have been extinct in India for at least seven decades, the Environment Ministry hopes to use the cheetah as a tool to help revive green areas and increase carbon capture potential as a means of dealing with climate change.
Conservationists first proposed in 2009 that cheetahs relocate from Africa to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ unveiled recently details the government’s action plan.
“KNP’s cheetah population will be free to roam across the park and the surrounding area. In addition, the KNP cheetah population would face restriction as a metapopulation with up to three other stable Indian cheetah communities, with periodic ‘immigrants’ carried in from Africa, whenever necessary,” according to Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav’s Action Plan,
An essential first plan is to create breeding colonies across their ancestral homeland and regulate them as one metapopulation.
“Using the cheetah as an amiable flagship and blanket lifeforms to seek resources for the rehabilitation of forested areas and grassland frameworks that will support biodiversity and ecosystems from these natural systems” and “To help boost India’s potential to mitigate climate change via ecosystem recovery exercises in cheetah wildlife reserves and therefore play a role to international climate mitigation objectives” are two of the document’s other priorities.
As a direct consequence of the resulting possibility for eco-development and eco-tourism, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change intends to improve the livelihoods of local communities and to handle any disturbance by a cheetah or other species with the help of the local population.
Importation of 12 to 14 cheetahs (8-10 males and 4-6 females) from South Africa/Namibia/other African nations would set up a new cheetah community during the first five years of the project and then as needed.
The cheetah introduction effort will be supported financially and administratively by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). A separate budget has been set aside for Project Cheetah as part of the overall Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT) of the Indian government.
“The Central and State governments must promise a long-term (at least 25 years) Cheetah Program encompassing monetary, education and training pledges to comply to the Action Plan. There should be cheetah protection in the NTCA’s mandate and the Forest Ministry’s Project Tiger financing.
To accommodate reasonable modifications in the relocation and habitat development plans during execution and subsequent monitoring, financial obligations need to be fluid, “the previously cited piece of writing.
In addition, success criteria (for the project) and an alternative plan are under discussion in the Action Plan.
Cheetah reintroduction should be reconsidered if the new animals do not live or reproduce within five years, according to the report.
An Breakthrough Eye Drop Prescription For Aging Vision Gets FDA Approval
For the longest time, anyone who wanted to recover clarity in their eyesight for reading had to do one of two things: either they started using reading glasses and contact lenses or they got eye surgery to restore the eye lens. Now, with the first government approval for release, there is now an eyedrop prescription that can be used instead, providing temporary clarity to the eye for reading without the inconvenience of glasses or contact lenses as well as the risk of surgery.
Given a market name of “Vuity,” and specifically intended for eye vision cases of presbyopia, the prescription will go into full production and can be obtained from any major pharmacy at a doctor’s direction.
A presbyopia condition is fairly easy to confirm with a doctor’s eye exam, and it’s not unique. Well over 128 million Americans have it; the number represents close to half of the adults in the country. The access to Vuity is a first, as literally the vision issue of presbyopia has never been treated by a medical solution before. Some might think it’s simply a costly approach to convenience, but anyone who has worn glasses or contact lenses knows how limiting they can be throughout the day when trying to be active or moving around and then having to fish for glasses to read something or prepare lenses every morning.
Presbyopia generally affects folks after age 40, often being associated with age-related vision degeneration. Folks start off with basic reading glasses and, over time, find themselves progressing to stronger and stronger vision tools to see detail up close. The Vuity product has received significant raves from experts and Optometry associations nationwide, and it is expected to be a major ground-breaker in terms of functional vision restoration.
Vuity is only available through prescription for the foreseeable future and will not be available through any over-the-counter channels. Anyone selling it as such is likely offering a fraudulent version or blackmarket product and should be avoided, including online discounters. Vuity as authorized is extremely effective at helping the eye pupil adjust to improve focus and sight clarity up close. That said, the product will be new, and will likely produce measurable trends of side effects over 2022 as it sees broader use and application. In short, folks should not expect it to be a “perfect” solution, but it does provide a daily replacement for glasses and lenses without affecting long-distance vision, such as when driving.
A typical dosage regimen involves a single drop in each eye, which provides the expected clarity benefit for the majority of the working day. The most common side effect is eye redness or a mild headache in test patients. Cost-wise, patients can expect a charge of approximately $75-90 per month for a 30-day prescription. Whether that’s addressed by one’s health insurance will depend on their specific plan versus what is out of pocket.
Saving Three Pigs From A Pen That Kept Flooding
Pigs don’t necessarily get to enjoy anything remotely close to a high life. They are relegated to pits or pens, they often wallow in mud, and the food they eat tends to be garbage from humans or other animals. However, there is even a cruelty level for pigs, it turns out. A countryside owner had for years kept three pigs in a pen in the woods near his house. Unfortunately, not only were the animals exposed to the elements the whole time, they were also subjected to periodic flooding of their pen.
The local People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chapter, or PETA, had regularly visited the pen and provided better food and straw for the animals to sleep on, but there was only so much they could do that wouldn’t end up being washed away when the local waters rose and reached the pig pen. Finally, things got to the point that the local chapter management decided to have a talk with the pigs’ owner and see if there was something they could do to take over ownership of the animals. Unlike the myths of PETA being aggressive and opting for illegal tactics, the local chapter was committed to addressing the challenge legally. Fortunately, it worked out pretty well as the pigs’ owner decided to let PETA have the pigs altogether.
The PETA chapter wasted little time rescuing the flooded pigs. All three of them were rounded up, crated and trucked over to a partner sanctuary in North Carolina. The owner was probably surprised how fast the PETA crew was able to pack everything up before he could change his mind, but they weren’t going to stick around to see if that happened. The pigs were safe and sound at their new home, the Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary & Rescue, well before the end of the day.
No one can argue that animals don’t have behavior impacts from the way they are treated, and that applies even to pigs. The three animals gingerly sniffed and explored their new area, clumping together for safety. But, soon enough, they figured out the open field area is theirs, and they were off and running chasing food as well as dunking themselves in a small pool. The simple fact that they have room to spread out and not be saturated in water was a huge improvement.
And, according to the local PETA chapter responsible for the rescue, the three pigs are doing just fine and clearly far happier in their new home versus the old one.
Newly Bought California Coastline to be Preserved as Rare Redwood Forest
Most folks who have visited California and done any driving on the coast are familiar with the Pacific Coast Highway. Technically referenced as Highway 1, the PCH runs along the entire west coast edge from Washington to Southern California, with one particular pocket as an exception. This odd deviation, located on the western edge of Mendocino County in California, has been a longtime home for bears, nature, logging and forest life for decades. It’s a prime spot for hard-to-access remote beaches as well as undeveloped wild forest, an increasingly rare environmental gem in a state that continues to develop with more and more land use.
Given recent changes, part of the remote pocket is going to remain that way for years to come thanks to a land purchase that will essentially create a legal barrier to any development, ironically through the means of private land ownership. The Save the Redwoods League has successfully completed a land purchase agreement that effectively gives the non-profit property title to a huge span of the area. The organization has to meet the funding requirements of $37 million by the end of the calendar year 2021, but if successful, Save the Redwoods will be the primary controller of the land and be able to preserve it from any development, future logging or new encroachment. The span includes the DeVilbiss Ranch area above Rockport and covers a five mile length of California coastline to the water as well.
The area to be preserved is a favorite for hikers, campers and explorers, both for enjoying unmolested redwood forest area as well as seeing thick Mendocino timber and ocean views. Much of the area is very similar to the old growth style redwood forest that was highlighted in the third Star Wars movie on the imaginary forest world of Endor. The area is also a favorite for wilderness fishers who have an interest in catching wild salmon or trout and photographers, as well as wildlife enthusiasts interested in elk, deer, bears and even mountain lions. All of this access will continue as public use thanks to the goals and purchase by the Save the Redwoods League.
The zone involved has been one of the last large plots of private property on the California coast, an aspect that has been regularly turned into a hybrid of private property and public use beachline under state law. Times have changed, and the original owner, a logging company, is liquidating the property from its assets to end its involvement in the industry.
Given the above approach, the Save the Redwoods League may very well set the model for how to preserve large tracts of natural land in the future. A lot will depend on the immediate ability of the non-profit to achieve its purchase funding and then, in the long term, being able to hold onto the property and maintain it accordingly. However, if successful, the approach may very well be copied by other environmental non-profits using a strategy often used by the private market to acquire new resources for production.
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