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Rebuilding Helicopters to Rebuild Lives

The Columbia Metro Airport has seen a lot of action over its lifetime, but what it doesn’t expect to see in 2021 is the return of Vietnam-era helicopters not just being parked at the facility but actually taking off and being functional. The decades-old flying craft have caught more than one eye of passersbys, especially those who know what they are looking at.

Three Bell Cobra attack helicopters sit in various conditions at Columbia Metro missing odds and ends by obviously being looked after and handled. Some are missing the various parts needed just to get off the ground. Others have no engine or components to operate with. There is even a Cessna O-1 sitting on the tarmac as well as Beechcraft T-34. Both saw extensive military use earlier in their lives and could tell lots of stories ranging as far back as World War II. Today, they watch the sun go up and down without change. And, behind all the assembly another helicopter sits that is practically in almost complete and perfect condition. This Bell UH-1 Iroquois is otherwise known as a Huey, the quintessential aerial transport that saw action all over Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 70s. All of these relics have long been dismissed from military action, but they are still serving military personnel.

All of the aircraft mentioned above are part of the inventory that belongs to the Celebrate Freedom Foundation. This organization involves the work and coordination of 200 plus veterans who also attend regularly and work as volunteers in restoring the aforementioned aircraft. The large majority of these veterans do the work for far more than just the fun of working on old aircraft, however. Most of them have some version of post-traumatic stress disorder. The work keeps their mind off of old memories and the nightmares that would otherwise haunt them from the past. Instead, their energy is transformed into positive work renovating the aircraft, one bit or part at a time, slowly but methodically rebuilding the old aircraft to completion and operation again. As the aircraft are finally finished, they are them put back into flight, serving as demonstration aircraft for school programs in South Carolina. The complete assemblies aren’t just towed around. They are literally flown from one location to the next to show what is possible in terms of restoration engineering.

Young generations love the helicopters. They get a real-time exposure to career possibilities in both aviation mechanics as well as the military, as well as rare chance to see some 50-year-old helicopters fly again like the real thing from an era generations before. So far, Celebrate Freedom Foundation has finished two vehicles. There’s a lot more work to go, and the Foundation survives entirely on donations to keep functioning as well as find the parts, supplies and rented space to keep the projects going.

Not all the aircraft the Foundation have ended up being flown. Some are transported by truck in partial form, allowing high school student to get an authentic sense of what a helicopter feels in the cockpit and potentially convincing a student to pursue an aviation career. Given the country’s continued military activities internationally, there’s no slow down in the number of potential recruits for the Foundation’s program. Staff and management regularly push awareness of the program as well as its therapeutic benefits of former military veterans as well as a chance to be in the company of other former military and camaraderie. Since 2020 the need has been greater than ever; COVID has had a dramatic effect on therapy centers and programs, shutting them down and cutting off PTSD sufferers from needed company and counseling. The Foundation’s programs has stayed active, however, providing a key resource for affected veterans as well as getting them out of depression-prone loneliness stuck at home.



Los Angeles Unveils Roadmap to 100% Renewable Energy

Kevin Wells



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.

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School in Birmingham Pilots ‘Build UP’ Graduate Housing Program

Kelly Taylor



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.”

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Psychedelic Wellness Company Aims to MAP the Mental Health Revolution!

Kevin Wells



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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Landowner Leads Initiative In Utah To Protect Five Thousand Acres Of Forestry

Kevin Wells



Some people love nature, and there are those who will use whatever means possible to ensure that the wildlife is protected.

Every year you read reports of more animals becoming extinct and others on the verge of extinction due to human intervention or sometimes wildfires.

The Simonsen family in Utah, however, have been adamant that the wildlife in the vicinity of their home, spanning thousands of acres, are worth protecting.

They made a very bold step which has been welcomed by environmentalists and the community as a whole.

Thanks to the conservation-minded landowners, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service, nearly five thousand acres of prime elk habitat in north-central Utah has been permanently secured.

This is a joint effort, which also includes the Division of Forestry in Utah, the Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), and a foundation known as the Rocky Mountain Elk.

All parties saw the importance of the venture and decided to come on board without reservation.

The Simonsen family’s decision to put a preservation easement on their property to protect its wildlife values demonstrates their knowledge of and commitment to elk and other wildlife, according to Kyle Weaver, president, and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Mr. Weaver says they value and honor the family, in addition to the FFSL partners who will handle the easement.

The Wasatch Mountain Rangeland, divided into two different tracts, is about sixty-four kilometers to the east of Spanish Fork.

The National Forest, which is known as Uinta-Wasatch-Cache, surrounds it on three sides. That allows it to provide the elk with spring, summer, and winter range as well as a critical calving area.

It is also a significant migration corridor for both elk and mule deer. The property includes four kinds of forest stands, including aspen, as well as several miles of the

White River’s Left Fork and Center Fork, as well as miles of seasonal and sporadic streams, meadows, and riparian areas with wetlands that support several birds, animals, and fish species.

The USDA says it is grateful to the Simonsen family and all the entities involved for their support and dedication to Utah’s private forest resources.

According to Janet Valle, manager of the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy and Forest Stewardship Program, the conservation easement provides valuable habitat for several fish and wildlife species.

Ms. Valle went on to say that the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program is thrilled to be able to assist in this conservation initiative.

RMEF had conserved more than 8.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife since its inception more than thirty-six years ago.

The Rocky Mountain elk was designated as Utah’s state mammal in 1971 in honor of its recreational, economic, and intrinsic importance to the state’s residents.

The elk are noticeable in mountainous areas in Utah. They live at really high points during the hot summer months, typically between six thousand and ten thousand feet. In late autumn, the majority of them move down mountain slopes to lower elevations with less snowfall.

They congregate in valley bottoms throughout the winter, where the melting of snow occurs faster, and winds keep the deep snow from accumulating. Other sources of food are available as a result of these circumstances.

Winter range refers to the elk’s winter habitat. Both big game species depend on the accessibility of winter range to live. Adult bulls (males) weigh 700 pounds. — At the elbow, 5 feet Cows (females) weigh 500 pounds and stand 412 feet tall based on shoulder level.

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Solar Power Cars May Be a Reality Sooner Than You’d Think





Solar-powered cars have long been a dream of many throughout the industry. Tapping into the sun’s power would provide a level of efficiency that no other source could provide. And while a few advances have been made in recent years, no mass-produced solar-powered cars are available on the market. That could all change in 2021 if a new startup’s promises are met.

Solar Cars Under $26,000 — How This is Possible

Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro (owners of Aperta Motors in California) had one dream when they started their business – to decrease vehicle emissions as much as possible. However, they found that gasoline combustion was very inefficient (with up to four-fifths of the energy produced going to waste). Electric vehicles also had 15-30 percent energy waste, an issue that they wanted to overcome.

And they found that the easiest way to overcome this burden was to create a solar vehicle — the Aperta. This three-wheeled car has over 30 feet of solar panels on its surface that could power the car over 40 miles running on just the panels alone. However, the Aperta also has an electric battery that, when plugged in for only 15 minutes, provides over 150 miles of transportation possibility.

How the Aperta Operates

The Aperta generally operates like a standard electrical vehicle and requires regular charging after the battery dies. However, the Aperta helps to cut back on electrical waste by using solar panels to charge the battery as it runs. In a sense, it is much like an alternator on a gasoline vehicle in that it charges the battery and keeps it as fully charged as possible. However, it cannot provide a full charge.

That said, it can minimize electrical waste by providing the battery with a consistent flow of electricity that cuts back on how much is used as the car drives. Fambro and Anthony state that up to 90 percent of the power produced for the Aperta will be used to control the vehicle. This efficiency level is unheard of in the market and could transform it if the Aperta takes off in a big way.

Challenges to the Aperta’s Success

Although the Aperta has already made some waves in the auto industry, it does have a few challenges that it must overcome. The first is customer cynicism towards a new product. While many people will buy this relatively inexpensive vehicle based on its promise, others will want to hold off until proven effective. This type of market jitteriness is likely common in the Covid-19 era and even after the pandemic is managed.

And the Aperta may also have to deal with some perception issues based on its appearance. Simply put, the Aperta is an odd-looking vehicle that is relatively compact. Those looking for a car that provides a fashion statement may find that it doesn’t work for their needs or may end up struggling to feel comfortable riding one of these cars without feeling silly.

That said, if the Aperta is adequately marketed and targeted to those who want to cut back on their emissions and increase their fuel efficiency, this may be the vehicle for their needs. Proper focus on the right demographics is critical here, as is creating messaging that feels on point for buyers’ needs. It may even help inspire other automakers to integrate solar panels on their electric cars.

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