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One Person’s Love of Street Art Changes Cleveland Forever Through Non-Profit and Advocacy Work.

Shannon Jackson

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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!

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Culture

Are There Any Different Characteristics Between Left And Right Handers?

Shannon Jackson

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The dominant handedness for the population is the right hand, with 10% of the population is left-handed.  This statistic has been consistent for at least five thousand years, which is in the early Paleolithic phase of the Stone Age.  

*  Left-handed people were considered evil or not lucky,  and the Latin word for left is “sinister.”
*   Because of the right-handed dominance, the typical spiral notebook opens right to left with the spiral on the left side.  Those who are left-handed writing is not convenient. Spiral notebooks are also available for left-handers, which opens left to right with the spiral on the right side. 
* Research published in Brain at the University of Oxford, which reviewed the DNA of 400,000 people in the U.K., found that right-handers’ verbal skills were inferior to that of left-handers.  A study of the brain images from 10,000 people supported by the fact that the left and right sides of the brain communicated with each other. 
* Further, genetic studies found that the genes between right and left-handers were different, which resulted in the difference in their brain structures. 

A genetic component in handedness is apparent, according to Dr. Gwenaëlle Douaud, associated with Oxford’s Welcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging as a Fellow.  However, more research is needed to study in more depth the difference in verbal tasks between left and right-handedness, according to Dr. Akira Wiberg, a fellow at the University of Oxford. The question must be thoroughly investigated relative to the coordination of the left and right hemispheres of the brain using more sophisticated verbal-ability testing.

Studies continue to look at factors other than genetics that contribute to determining the differences between left and right-handedness.  One line of research is to determine the general factor of nature/nurture.  Nature generally refers to genetic factors, while nurture refers to environmental factors. For instance, studies have found that your dominant hand is 25% determined by genetics, and 75% determined by environmental factors. However, handedness is far more complex based on genetic factors alone.  The scientist used a population that would be better predictive as to the main factor which determined handedness.   Twin studies were conducted based on the hypothesis that the main factor is genetics and not the environment (nongenetic). Australian and Dutch families were studied with twins (25,000 people).  But to the surprise of scientists, only 25% of the study participants, handedness was explained by genes.  The conclusion was that influential environmental factors determined the handedness of 75% of the population.  

A study performed by  Carolien G. F. de Kovel from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen based on 500,000 participants.   This study concluded that:
a. Left-handedness is determined in the first few years of life, 
b. Handedness can also be determined before birth using ultrasound.
c.  Left-handedness was suppressed later in life by such environmental factors as forcing left-handed children to relearn handedness because of the bias towards right-handed children that were taught writing in UK schools which practice was common in the UK.
d.  Because of the forced relearning of handedness, standardized handedness tests did not account for the environmental factor of bias against left-handedness because of social taboos.
e. Environmental factors that increase left-handedness were birth weight, whether the infant was breastfed (i.e., not being breastfed increased chance of being left-handed), and mothers who gave birth in the summer increased chance of having left-handed children. 

 Conclusion

There are multiple factors, both nature, and nurture, that are factors in determining handedness.  One can argue that the determination of handedness may depend upon the biased hypothesis of a scientist based on their non-scientific point of view.  However, it is easy to dismiss the principal reason as opposed to research results. The fault is probably not the design of the research studies, but the inherent complex question of the ultimate cause of handedness, which means that there are multiple causes of handedness and the research studies cannot control the various nature and nurture factors that are intertwined. 

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Culture

A Florida High School First: Dissecting Synthetic Frogs

Renee Yates

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Dissecting frogs has been part of the curriculum for high school students in the United States since the 1920’s. It’s an essential part of a Biology requirement because it offers a hands-on learning experience for students in animal anatomy. J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida has just tapped into a new synthetic option that might just save students from the dubious and grossly controversial dissecting practice. 

Why Dissecting is Controversial?  

Dissecting animals in the classroom is controversial for a number of reasons, but the education validity of this practice is what is being called into question more than anything else. If it is really important for educational purposes, why have so many schools already chosen to rely on alternative methods to fulfill the requirements?  

Here’s an overview of the key points to consider.  

Unethical.  

Dissecting frogs and other animals is controversial because of animal welfare concerns. Students are uncomfortable with the requirement, but the process has caused concerns that it encourages callousness toward animals. An estimated 20 million animals are used for dissection every year in the United States. Those are animals that are used once in a classroom setting and then discarded as waste.  

Alternatives.  

Eighteen states now allow students to choose dissection alternatives without penalty. The earliest forms of alternative legislation date to 2000 with the Illinois’ Dissection Alternatives Act, but there are other laws on the books that allow alternatives. Dissecting alternatives now include computer programs, life-life models, and high-quality videos. So, it’s no longer strictly essential for students to dissect animals.  

Cost.  

The cost of dissecting “real” animal cadavers is much higher than alternative options. The cost for animal dissection has been estimated at $6,850 over five years, compared with the $900 for a site license for Digital Frog 2.5. For those schools and teachers who still prefer a more “real-life” experience for students, there’s now the SynFrog, a synthetic frog that was designed by SynDaver as an alternative to dissecting “real” animals.  

What About the SynFrog?  

The SynFrog is the latest synthetic alternative to frog dissection, spearheaded by PETA in partnership with SynDaver. These synthetic frogs are priced at $150 per frog, and they are reusable. The students at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida became the first students to use the synthetic frogs as a viable solution to the gross and controversial “real” frogs.  The high school students have been offered this opportunity through a partnership with SynDaver

Education is always important, but the SynFrog demonstrates that there are ways to accomplish the goals of education without unnecessary destruction and cruelty to animals. These synthetic frogs are designed to be as “life-like” as possible, with a synthetic skeleton, organs, skin, muscles, and even a reproductive system to mimic the real deal—minus the gore, guts, and discarded critters at the end of the lesson.  

Perhaps instead, teachers can reiterate the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm,” as they offer alternatives for learning with synthetic learning options.   

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Culture

Stunning Snow Art Created By 60-Year-Old During Nature Walks.

Renee Yates

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Looking at the world from an aerial view can unveil some amazing scenery. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, it is possible to get a birds-eye view of just about everything in life. So when 60-year-old Simon Beck began performing as a snowshoe artist, the world began to take notice. Now, we know what you are probably thinking. What in the heck is a snowshoe artist? Who is Simon Beck? How can any of this actually be any cooler? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to all of your questions.

Simon Beck hadn’t dreamed of becoming a snowshoe artist when he was a child, it was just something that happened. Beck is actually a former cartographer, a profession dedicated to drawing and producing maps. Beck had earned his degree in the field while attending Oxford for engineering. Working as a cartographer would give Beck the training and attention to detail that he would need to shock the world as a snowshoe artist. 

For the better part of the past decade, Beck has been using his elaborate technical skills to create mind-blowing snowshoe art.  These images can be seen from the air, as well as all over the internet, and Beck’s results are simply staggering. To accomplish some of the more intricate patterns that he develops, Beck can spend up to 12 hours carefully walking through the snow. Beck will end up taking nearly 40,000 steps to create the perfect piece of snowshoe artwork.  The job is as intense as it sounds, and we have to imagine that Beck is physically exhausted by the time that he is done working on his art. While the output speaks for itself, we have to imagine that there is something bittersweet about watching the wind blow it away.

There are many challenges that Beck has to overcome while attending to his snowshoe art. For starters, the elements are always a factor for the duration of the project. As snow and sand can blow away at the slightest breeze, Beck spends much of his time re-working older segments of his art. Other obstacles include the grueling physical work, the massive time sink, and even destruction caused by visitors who don’t realize that Beck is working on something.

Even though Beck has been making a name for himself for years, his work is finally getting even more exposure. Beck as interviewed for a column on Artsy, and he was able to unveil some of his thoughts regarding the art form. Beck admitted during the interview that his work was fleeting, but he countered the idea by pointing to the longevity of a photograph. Beck made the insightful point that the vast majority of people will never see the Mona Lisa in person, but almost everyone has seen a photograph. Beck says, “Most people will only ever see (…) artwork as photographs.” For Beck, the fame is clearly not what he is after. Instead, it seems like Beck just wants to share his passion with the world.

Simon Beck has created more than 300 drawings across Europe. He has used his special shoes to craft artwork in the sand, in the snow, and in countries throughout the world. Each piece of artwork presents a unique challenge to Beck, thus always keeping his craft fresh.

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Cute

Delivery Drivers and Their Canine Friends

Renee Yates

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Since the start of Amazon, the number of packages being delivered by United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service, FedEx and other couriers, has skyrocketed. As delivery drivers approach a home (AKA dog’s territory) with a package for delivery they must be very cautious. It’s estimated that there are 52,000,000 dogs in the United States. Annually, there are roughly 800,000 medically treated dog bites reported by the Centers for Disease Control.

As a mail carrier for the USPS I’ve been trained to read a property for signs of a dog’s presence and to practice a variety of safety measures. Carriers are required to carry “dog spray” with which we can use to spray a ferocious dog in the event of an attack. Personally, I believe carrying pepper spray is ineffective, largely because many of the packages I carry to a door are large and cumbersome. I must also carry a scanner so I can scan parcels as “delivered” at the front door. Many carriers must also carry a cross-body satchel.

I’ve never had to use pepper spray to stop a dog attack, but I can’t imagine having great precision or success in dropping the package and scanner, reaching the dog spray, finding the correct position for spraying, and making contact in the dog’s eyes as a snarling, drooling, ferocious beast prepares to rip me apart on his lawn.

I like to refer to my route as “the Golden Retriever Capitol”. My route is peppered with friendly, tail wagging dogs who sometimes jump in my truck to say “hello”. I don’t have many dogs on my route that I have to exercise great caution with. Every dog, however, can have a bad day and just because I haven’t met a bad dog doesn’t mean they’re not around. 

The United States Postal Service prohibits letter carriers from offering treats to dogs. It can be dangerous for the animal, as it becomes conditioned to approaching the truck. Bellow, a light brown poodle mix, has been conditioned over the years to approach delivery trucks to wait for a treat. Bellow was hit by a bus as a result of running into the road to greet the driver. Bo, short for “Beauregard” is an older golden retriever who’s now hard of hearing. Somehow, he hears my truck coming from three boxes away. He greets me at the mailbox waiting for a treat. I no longer give him one, as he has, on several occasions, sauntered down the center of the road to follow me. My concern is that he may be hit by a car while chasing me for a treat.

Despite being forbidden to feed dogs on the route, I always carry dog cookies. I find it a good way to gauge a dog’s temperament. If I approach a house and a dog I don’t know is there, on alert, not wagging his tail, I whistle cheerfully, speak nicely, and make kissy noises before I approach the house. If that doesn’t have an optimal result, I offer the dog a treat. Usually, when a dog sees there’s a cookie, he lets his guard down and gets happy. The cookie can make me the dog’s best friend, at least until I drop the package at the door and make my way back to the mail truck.

If, when I offer the cookie, the dog is still not happy with me, I know that dog isn’t going to let me deliver the package without a fight. I write up one of those peach slips that we give to customers to let them know they need to go to the post office to pick up their package. 

Lucy and Luna are two wonderful dogs who get happy when they see my truck. I put a daily dog cookie in the mail box with the mail. My favorite dog, Piper, is a black lab mix. She loves me because I love her. I don’t give Piper dog cookies. I do get out of my truck when she’s in her yard, even if I don’t have a package at her house. I’m slowly training her to play fetch. When she sees me, she runs to go get her stick. I take a few minutes to thrown the stick three times, then pet her and say nice things to her. I think I look forward to the play time more than she does!  

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Culture

Photos are Used to Capture the Struggles and Rewards of Being a Caregiver

Kelly Taylor

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It is important for everyone to spend time with the members of their family because they may not know just how much time they have. A caregiver who, about ten years ago, realized that time with her ather was coming to an end, learned how to value every moment she has with her family. First, she noticed that something was strange about her father. She says that her face wasn’t as reactive as it used to be. Her father came from Egypt and moved from the United States in search of a better life. He got a job as a successful professor of mechanical engineering. This allowed him to provide for his family. His daughter realized that it was time for her to give something back to her dad who had given her such a great life in America.

At the same time, this young woman also appreciated his smile and laughter as well. She noticed that this was changing. His personality had changed. His vibrant laugh was gone. She was worried that her father had suffered a stroke. She took him to see a doctor and then, about two years after the first event, she finally got the answer. He had Parkinson’s Disease. Initially, the symptoms were relatively manageable. He was stiff from time to time. His emotions were flat. At the same time, he was still himself on the inside. Unfortunately, this was not meant to last. Things started to get worse about two years later.

She learned that she was going to have to take care of her father full-time. The roles of parent and child had been flipped. She would have to bathe him, calm him, and make sure that all of his daily needs were taken care of. This took a toll on her because she saw the person that she had known her entire life was starting to evaporate before her very eyes. At the same time, she still had to take care of herself as well. That is why she developed a few rules that can help her, and others, serve as caregivers for members of their family.

First, caregivers need to take breaks. This is a necessity. Just because she is the primary caregiver for her father doesn’t mean that she isn’t allowed to take breaks. Parents take breaks when raising their children and caregivers can take breaks as well. Research has shown that caregivers can get stressed. When this happens, they also tend to make bad decisions. Therefore, take breaks and time for self-care. This will make someone into a better caregiver because they are going to feel more rested.

Next, remember that there is an age difference. Try to bridge this difference using love. Take pictures. Bring up old memories. Try to find a way to help a parent who is aging. By reminiscing about the good times, those who are being taken care of are more likely to have positive moments and interactions that will make everything else worth it. Try to focus on the positives.

Finally, remember that the disease and the person are not the same thing. The two are different things. By remembering that the person and the disease are different, caregivers are going to avoid placing blame on the person or resenting them. In order to remember that the person and the disease are different, remember the good times that were shared. This is going to help the caregiver fight through the bad times by remembering that their loved one is still in there somewhere.

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