Have you ever been walking down the street when you noticed a bit of graffiti? Graffiti is a form of art that has been ingrained into our society since it first began. With that being said, our concept of modern graffiti can probably be traced back to a young student from Philadelphia named nicknamed Cornbread, way back in 1967. Even though graffiti can be used to wreck public spaces and cause business owners serious headaches, the art can also be used for good. Stamy Paul is a citizen of Cleveland, OH, who fell in love with graffiti. Wanting to have a custom mural painted for her home, Stamy began to reach out to graffiti artists in the city. Despite having a town covered in the art, she couldn’t find anyone to take up her commission. This is what led Stamy to establish the nonprofit foundation, Graffiti HeArt.
As a fan of graffiti, Stamy wanted to create a situation where these street artists could flourish without fear of repercussions. Stamy decided to establish Graffiti HeArt in 2013 with the goal of helping to revitalize Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Stamy’s work with Graffiti HeArt has helped to put a spotlight on the hard work of talented artists in the area. The funds gained through the nonprofit are given to children from underserved communities who have had an interest in graffiti. Stamy, like many others, believes that graffiti can translate to a real-world career with a variety of similar professional tracks available. Through Graffiti HeArt, Stamy is able to give these talented artists an outlet and a road map to future opportunities.
Along with her work on the streets, the team at Graffiti HeArt has partnered with the Cleveland Institute of Art and their pre-college program. The course lasts for two weeks and is designed around helping the aforementioned underserved artists to improve their skills while establishing a professional portfolio. Rather than simply allowing these children to get punished for their love of art, they now have a safe and legal place to practice it with a potential career just around the corner. Graffiti HeArt is also accepting of interns through their volunteer internship program. Through this program, chosen artists get the opportunity to create murals that will be promoted and elevated by the city as well as the Graffiti HeArt non-profit. One example of such a mural is the Welcome to Cleveland piece that was created by Victor Ving, an artist from Brooklyn.
Thanks to Stamy’s continued efforts with the non-profit, more people than ever are being introduced to graffiti as a valid art form rather than a public nuisance. The kids practicing the art are being afforded new opportunities while Stamy helps the city of Cleveland to nurture and reinvigorate aspects of the urban area. All told, Stamy Paul is doing her best to bring Cleveland together through art and communal collaboration. We could always use more stories like this!
Walmart Aims to Save Pollinators, Makes Massive Change to Supply Chains
Were you to tune in for any number of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic films in the past decade, you’d likely hear a storyline or two revolving around bees. Specifically, you’d hear stories about how the loss of bees in the wild can lead to wholesale catastrophe to ecosystems far and wide.
Bees play a pivotal role within our environment as pollinators, joining butterflies, beetles, and birds. Without these pollinators, the ecosystem as we know it would no longer function. As Walmart is one of the largest corporations on the planet, even the smallest change within their supply chain can have a butterfly-like effect across the planet. A new announcement from Walmart would reveal that they are introducing a pollinator health effort to support these important creatures.
Largest Pollinator Health Effort
As Walmart is one of the largest corporations on the planet, it stands to reason that they’d opt to produce one of the largest pollinator health efforts as well. Walmart announced a new commitment to reduce the threats aimed most directly at pollinators. These efforts by Walmart are going to take many different forms, though one area of focus is on integrated pest management, or the habits and practices revolving around expanding these key habitats while reducing pest threats.
According to Walmart, the U.S. branch of the company will pull 100% of its floral and fresh produce from suppliers that adopt and integrate the pest management practices highlighted above. As America’s largest retailer, what Walmart decides to do can potentially set the tone for discussions revolving around pollinators and corporations in the future. Right now, the alleged goal is to integrate these IPM practices by 2025, at least according to an unnamed third party.
More than just focused on a single aspect of their supply chain, Walmart is actually taking a shot at several areas where they can reduce potential pollinator threats. According to Martin Mundo, Head of Produce Sourcing at Walmart U.S, Walmart is pushing suppliers to phase out and eliminate their use of nitroguanidine neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos pesticides. Phasing out these problematic pesticides could lead to an industry-wide shift as consumers expect more from corporations.
While Walmart is uniquely focused on pesticides, that is far from the only area that they are addressing pollinator threats. Mundo wrote on the Walmart website that the chain would also begin to phase out and avoid selling “invasive plant species” within their retail locations. Mundo went on to add that Walmart would begin working with solar developers in order to craft pollinator habitats, similar to those found in Laurens, South Carolina.
Working With the Walmart Foundation
Leading the way in the philanthropic fields hasn’t been what Walmart is most known for. With that being said, the Walmart Foundation continues to work with farmers and cultivators around the country to enact positive changes for the environment. Most recently, the Walmart Foundation pushed funding toward the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in order to further its studies and work collecting science data from citizens and local monitors.
Acquiring local data and inputting it at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will allow scientists and researchers to better approach conservation planning in the future. Conservation planning is vital to the long-term health and vitality of our natural wonders, including the animals and insects therein.
Bees are known to be vital to our plane and if corporate leaders like Walmart understand that, hopefully, others will too. For now, we look to Cornell and to the various pollination partners under the Walmart umbrella while we wait to see if results begin to manifest!
13% Drop In Repeat Offenses Attributed To Parole Officer Empathy Training
One thing that family members of ex-convicts and the population hope for is that the offender is rehabilitated and does not go back to a life of crime.
This is not an easy feat, but according to a new report, empathy or sensitivity training for correction and probation officers will help clients avoid repeat offending.
Large workloads, stress at work, and prejudices can harm relationships between officers and their offenders, increasing the probability of inmates returning to prison.
Empathy training without judgment, according to a positive thinking strategy produced by UC Berkeley, makes court-appointed monitoring officers feel increasingly compassionate and empathetic to the offenders, which, according to the new report, can prevent them from crime relapses.
The results, which were reported recently in the publication “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” indicate that clients of probation and prison guards who engaged in the empathy training trial had a 13 percent lower risk of recurrence on average.
According to research writer and lead author Jason Okonofua, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, “If an officer obtained this empathic instruction, real-world behavioral results for the people they monitored improved, and they’re less likely to return to jail.”
The findings are especially important because the United States’ criminal justice system has one of the greatest rates of recidivism in the world, with nearly 66 percent of incarcerated individuals being arrested again in about three years after their release, with 50 percent of them being sent back to prison.
“Ongoing criminal justice changes are diverting more people away from prison and into probation or parole, which is why we need to find scalable ways to keep pace with this change,” says Okonofua, who has led similar interventions for school teachers to check their prejudices before disciplining students.
The analysts polled over two hundred parole and probation officers that supervise over 20,000 individuals charged with crimes stretching from serious offenses to petty larceny for the report. They ensure that their clients do not skip a drug screen or a court date, and they have a program to assist them in keeping a low profile and out of custody.
The researchers created and conducted a half an hour digital empathy questionnaire that asked officers about their work motivation, biases, and perspectives on rapport and responsibilities.
Using Suggestion To Elicit Empathy
The UC Berkeley poll asked what aspects of their work they find rewarding in order to elicit their sense of self and beliefs, as well as tap into their empathy. “When I run across those guys, and they’re doing well, I’m like, ‘Awesome!’” said, one respondent. Others said it was most essential to them to become a voice for those who need it.
In terms of biases, the study highlighted extreme circumstances wherein probation/parole officers exploited their authority over anybody under their watch, which include perceptions that some individuals are habituated to a life of crime.
Participants were also asked to rank how much accountability they share for their colleagues’ wrongdoings as members of a profession. The majority of people said they had no liability.
Researchers discovered a 13 percent reduction in recidivism among offenders whose release and correctional officers finished the empathy study ten months after the training was provided. The department and its venue are not to be revealed as part of the research policy.
Although the research did not include information about what kept parolees and individuals on probation from reoffending in the months following the officers’ empathy training, the findings indicate that a shift in relationship dynamics was significant.
Okonofua said, “As our research demonstrates, the interaction amongst parole or probation officers and the individuals they oversee is crucial and can contribute to positive results if attempts to be more accommodating are made.
Los Angeles Unveils Roadmap to 100% Renewable Energy
The largest city in all of California, Los Angeles hosts a population north of four million people as well as nearly 3.8% of the nation’s economy. Revered as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and Hollywood aspirationals alike, Los Angeles also has earned a reputation for its smog and pollution.
Fortunately for LA locals, it looks like there is a plan being put in place to transition away from burning coal for electricity. If this goal is enacted, eventually Los Angeles could see itself achieving more than 98% of its clean energy within the next ten years.
Clean Energy to Combat Pollution
A first-of-its-kind study was commissioned by the city of Los Angeles in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The study would go on to reveal that Los Angeles has a legitimate opportunity to attain 98% clean energy by 2031 and 100% clean energy by 2035, both plans that fall in line with the promises made by President Biden on climate change. The report went on to conclude that clean energy can get produced at an efficient level so that rolling blackouts and economic disruptions are no longer required.
According to the NREL, a federal research agency, the path toward clean energy involves the construction of solar farms, batteries, and wind turbines. These clean energy solutions have been around for years, but they’ve only just recently become embraced at a federal level under the Biden Administration, continuing plans put in place by President Obama preceding him. Included in the construction goals listed in the report is a focus on energy efficiency and something known as ‘demand response’, a program that would pay people to utilize energy when the solar and wind farms are producing plentiful amounts.
Not only would the efforts put in place by the NREL study help combat pollution, but it would also go directly toward slashing the traumatic pollution that comes from cars, power plants, furnaces, and trucks all throughout Los Angeles County. These changes would have a dramatic and direct positive impact on lower-income neighborhoods as well as communities of color.
While the NREL study is incredibly optimistic, it is also incredibly feasible. According to researchers and professionals who have absorbed the NREL study, the energy efficiency plan allows for year-round power, with lights on every hour out of the year. Additionally, the commissioned report proposes that homes would even be protected from energy loss due to wildfires and downed transmission lines.
Discussions surrounding clean energy and how to implement it have risen dramatically since the power outages that plagued Texas in early 2021. Power grid failures and an over-reliance on fossil fuels would highlight a natural disaster that saw millions of native Texans without power, forced to boil snow to gain access to life-saving water. With continued weather extremes to come due in large part to climate change, these issues are only going to get worse as time goes on.
Mayor Garcetti spoke on the issue citing a need to keep medical equipment powered, refrigerators running, and the city operational in the face of extreme weather. Garcetti pointed to “top scientists” from “around the world” that have helped to create an actionable plan that is as realistic as it is potentially effective.
The NREL created a study team of more than 100 participants in support of the Eagle Supercomputer located at the Golden, CO, Research Headquarters. The program has incorporated millions of simulations since 2017 while generating reliable data for use with reference to jobs, weather, power lines, solar panels, and electrical use throughout L.A. County.
School in Birmingham Pilots ‘Build UP’ Graduate Housing Program
From the 2008 housing crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, the younger generations are having a tougher and tougher time finding their footing with regard to real estate. As housing becomes a more and more difficult proposition for students and new graduates, a school in Birmingham, AL, is seeking to make a difference for fresh graduates looking for a chance.
Build UP (Urban Prosperity) was established in Birmingham by Mark Martin, an educator, in 2018. The program was conceived after Mark Martin came to realize just how poorly equipped modern schools were to tackle some of the larger issues in life, including the dangers intrinsic to homelessness. Build Up is a school unlike any other in the country as it caters to low-income students looking to earn their high school degree and then their associate’s degree before training in construction through various apprenticeship programs.
While working through the Build UP school program in Birmingham, students will remodel homes in Ensley, a neighborhood adjacent to the school with the intention for students to purchase them in the future. Mark Martin said of the program and students he is targeting have “very limited options” and that this referred not just to upbringing, but also food security, mental health and wellness, and even simple access to education.
The Build Up school is in its third year of operation in the Ensley neighborhood, an area constructed for steel miller workers. After the Ensley mill shut down, the neighborhood saw populations decrease, families fleeing to the suburbs, and homes left to rot before getting torn down. Martin says of the children still living in these areas, “Most are below the poverty line… but all of them are renting somewhere, and many are renting from slumlords.”
Students who join the Build UP program do so after having been targeted based upon their needs. The Build Up program seeks out students who appear to be at risk of dropping out of school, instead paying these students a stipend to help remodel homes. As students work through levels of the program, their pay will rise alongside. From making $125 every two weeks all the way up to $200 for that same period, students are finally being afforded opportunities to both learn and earn while working their way into a better situation.
After spending at least two years in the program, students are eligible to move with their families into a remodeled home where their rent will be matched from their prior home. The goal is for students to have completed the program with a job in construction or a bachelor’s degree waiting for them. Some students opt to start their own business while all applicable4 students can opt for a no-interest loan to purchase the remodeled home that they have been living in.
Mark and the Build UP team are looking to change the way that society provides support to those in need. Rather than giving rental assistance to students and families in need, Mark’s program endeavors to put ownership on the menu because this is where value and equity are in the future. Martin says, “If we are going to change racial wealth gaps, we have to think of equity differently — not just in terms of fairness but also in terms of ownership.”
Psychedelic Wellness Company Aims to MAP the Mental Health Revolution!
The healthcare industry in the United States of America has been put under a renewed microscope in the past several decades. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages around the world and continued efforts are made to legalize recreational cannabis at a federal level, nobody should be blamed for looking into alternative medicinal solutions. One of these alternative medicinal solutions is a Psychedelic wellness company, one of the first-ever to become publicly traded.
Today, let’s explore the work of Delic Holdings and its founder, CEO Matt Stang of High Times Magazine.
Delic Holdings Seeks to Push Mental Health Solutions
Just under 20 years ago, Matt Stang was working at High Times Magazine as he helped the magazine pioneer the push for legal recreational cannabis use. As Matt’s work continues to pay off at a state level and the federal government considers wholesale changes, another industry has captured his attention – psychedelics.
Stang spoke in an interview with GNN on his work with Delic Holding as well as his goals for the business in the future. Stang pointed to the ‘overwhelming’ positive response to cannabis in both the 2016 and 2020 elections as proof that there was ‘no putting the genie back in the bottle.’
After realizing that there was potential for further growth in the psychedelics field, Stang would pull himself away from the cannabis industry to start purchasing treatment centers throughout California. The ketamine-infusion centers established by Matt and his wife Jackee have been operating for 15 years now, conducting more than 4,000 treatment courses while creating $1.5 million in revenue.
When Stang decided to establish Delic Holdings, he knew that there really wasn’t anything like what they were doing on the market. Stang says, “We think similar pathways have been blazed for cannabis… that will help psychedelics.”
Even though Stang and Jackee are excited about the future for Delic Holdings, they understand that there is a lot of work to do still. As one of the very first publicly traded corporations working with psychedelics, Matt and Jackee is looking to lay the groundwork for the rest of the industry to follow. Stang pointed out that they were at the forefront of the ‘nascent psychedelic revolution’.
Center for Psychedelic Research
While the cannabis industry continues to normalize itself within western marketplaces at a recreational level, there is still some work to be done for the acclimating of psychedelic-use in the medicinal field. Stang is a strong proponent in research, and he has looked to the last 20 years of medicinal research as proof of Delic’s potential in the future. Research over the last twenty years has centered on using psychedelics to treat depression, PTSD, trauma, and much more.
Studies conducted at the Center for Psychedelic Research at Johns Hopkins have repeatedly demonstrated that psychedelics have performed comparably to antidepressants in clinical research. One such study backed by Johns Hopkins indicated that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy led to more than a 71% reduction in ‘treatment-resistant depression.
Ketamine is one of the few psychedelics approved for work in clinical trials, and it is there that Stang has centered his focus. Stang pointed out the ‘amazing power’ of psychedelics while highlighting their impacts on treatment-resisting conditions like PTSD. Stang pointed to a veteran he worked with in San Diego who stated, without the psychedelic wellness treatment he wouldn’t “be alive”.
In addition to their work in the corporate world, Jackee and Matt have worked with Delic Holdings to raise money, organize, and lobby in midterm elections around the United States. The goal for Stang and Delic Holdings is to get psilocybin on the ballot in key progressive states.
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