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Finding a Real Cup of Coffee in Brooklyn

Danielle S

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Coffee is not a new drink in terms of history. The coffee bean-derived drink has been in production and enjoyed for centuries. So, when a café in Brooklyn started producing coffee drinks using traditional methods versus the typical coffee machine brewing or fast production, it became a hit. Located on Fourth Avenue, Yafa Café utilizes the pour-over method of coffee making, which for many is really the true way of enjoying a fresh cup of premium coffee, even to the pricey tune of $7 a cup.

Where Everyone’s Coffee Came From

Unlike the TV myth that coffee came from the hills of Columbia via a fellow and his donkey, the birthplace of the oldest coffee is actually recorded in Yemen, a small country on the southeastern part of the peninsula mostly made up of Saudi Arabia. And it’s that same culture and heritage that Hakim Salaimani tries to replicate to some extent every day in his Yafa Café half a world away in Brooklyn.

The genesis of coffee back in Yemen is blamed on goats. An observant herder notices that the goats he was in charge of really got a kick and a boost of energy after they would munch on a particular red berry on a bush. As it turned out, that red berry was in fact a coffee bean. Figuring that it didn’t poison the goats, the herder decided to eat some himself. And, no surprise, he realized the same energy benefits, being able to stay up well into the night as a result.

Going to Brooklyn via Families

Today, whether true or not, the same knowledge of extracting coffee from coffee beans is now a cultural export from Yemen brought to Brooklyn. Hakim himself is a transplant to the U.S., but even his father was removed from both of their ancestral homelands in the highlands located in the Yafa region of Yemen.

However, Hakim didn’t learn his own country’s coffee heritage from his father. Instead, ironically, he was educated by an American TV channel dedicated to education, the Public Broadcasting Station or, better known as, PBS. When Hakim, at that time a boy of 7, realized where coffee had its origination, it sparked a bit of pride in him that stuck through his growing up.

However, Hakim didn’t learn his own country’s coffee heritage from his father. Instead, ironically, he was educated by an American TV channel dedicated to education, the Public Broadcasting Station or, better known as, PBS. When Hakim, at that time a boy of 7, realized where coffee had its origination, it sparked a bit of pride in him that stuck through his growing up.

Making a Vision a Coffee Reality

The dream stuck, and Hakim started making his way towards opening a Yemeni café with coffee made the same way it was done back in his family’s homeland. Granted, today, Yafa Café is one location, but Hakim has big ideas; he wants to create a coffee house chain based on Yemeni coffee the size of Starbucks. While Yafa Café has a long ways to go to match up with the West Coast chain, Hakim has managed to make his first operation a success. And for Yafa patrons, the coffee is to die for it’s so good.

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Hawaii Goes Coal Free, But Might be Going Too Fast

Sarrah M

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Hawaii has left behind the 19th century. For the first time, the island state will produce its energy coal-free. The last shipment of the black rock resource docked and no more will be arriving with the remaining coal plant closing its doors at the end of summer 2022.

Firing coal has been an energy resource for centuries, and Hawaii as no exception. Early town establishments quickly set up supply lines, trading exports for imported coal and factory power to produce greater and bigger agricultural product output as a result. Ultimately, coal energy was shifted to municipal power grids as well. Every shipment in modern times has been about 15,000 tons, all of it going into a power plant pumping out 180 megawatts for the local energy grid. In 2018, this resource still made up for about thirteen percent of total energy consumption.

The state has been heavily moving towards renewable energy since 2014. That year, Hawaii’s state government pledged to be 100 percent off of fossil fuels by the year 2045. That includes a complete redesign of the state’s energy infrastructure, which is no small task. That said, by 2020, the state legislature had passed and enacted a law basically making it illegal to burn any industrial or commercial coal on the islands entirely. The single plant left was already scheduled to be phased out, but if anyone was thinking about potentially changing their minds, the 2020 state law shut down that option entirely.

The alternatives for energy support, however, still leave the option open to use oil. That has been a heavy dependency, basically representing over 67 percent of the energy resource for the state’s power grid currently. Coal was a significantly smaller second-place resource at only 15 percent of the grid’s dependence. So, no surprise, it was going to be an easier fossil fuel to eliminate and replace with something like solar and wind instead.

Solar was already on the way up for the island residents. The number of solar grids for homes practically jumped 100 percent in five years by the time 2020 rolled around. The lower cost and far more standardization of roof panels made installation a lot easier and amenable for homeowners, and with a state that sees more sun than rain, it only made sense. Now that the coal plant is shutting down by the end of the year, folks will have no choice for their electricity but to shift to other source systems.

The shift is a challenge. While the state was quick to see the AES Corporation coal plant close, the replacement systems haven’t come online near as fast. So, there is a shortage in the overall grid, which is going to drive up consumer costs for a while. That’s not good news for a state that is already one of the most expensive to live in. Furthermore, Hawaii is a prime candidate for geothermal energy use, like Iceland, but there hasn’t been sufficient interest in that direction, or risk takers, so the lava fields go untapped. It’s a potential where Hawaii could end up being a poster child for trashing fossil fuels too fast without a solid game plan on how to move forward.

With six different power grids to support, Hawaii’s energy managers have their work cut out for them. If they can pull off a 100 percent renewable status, it will be a gamechanger well beyond the island state alone.

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Scotland’s Forests Grew Exponentially

Sarrah M

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Thanks to Hollywood and big blockbuster movies, Scotland has gained a reputation for being that country north of England with husky people running around in kilts from craggy peak to craggy peak, and lots of sheep, hard country and cold weather in between. However, in reality, Scotland historically had some very big forests before development started gobbling up all the resources. Now, some 1,000 years later, the Scotland of ancient times is returning as the country’s forests have been exploding in size.

In the Tweed region, trees, bushes and flora have been quietly taking over the countryside, growing and expanding in amounts not seen before. In the space of 100 years, the measurable forest land has expanded at least twelve percent from previous estimates. Today, the country’s forests make up almost a fifth of the landscape now.

A Lot Has Happened in a Short Period of Epoc Time

Given that people arrived in the greater area some 11,000 years prior, the forests had begun their shrinkage accordingly. By 2,000 years ago, with the arrival of the Romans, the rate of consumption shot up tremendously, leaving the country barren and scraggy. However, by the beginning of the 20th century Scotland’s government decided to do something with extreme foresight in the future. They started planting trees. The motive was somewhat selfish; the country expected to need timber in the near future for national security. What no one expected, however, was how fast the trees planted would grow.

Be Careful What You Plant

The particular trees added were non-native. They consisted of various pine species, a type of tree that grows easily in tough terrain and mountainous ranges with colder climates. Unfortunately, it also wreaked havoc on the local biology balance. Pine needles alone are acidic and burn the forest floor around them, wiping out food sources for smaller animals. So, by the 1980s, the government stepped in again and started a wave of planting of other tree types to fix things. Intensive planting of native trees pushed back the pine invasion and re-established tree types far more in line with local biodiversity.

Scotland is Green Land

The strategy of forest growth has not stopped. The government would like to see 21 percent of the country under the umbrella of local forests by the year 2032. It helps that 8 out of 10 people in Scotland are not just behind the movement but enthusiastic about it’s support as well. Had it been a less receptive audience, the rate of forest growth likely would have been a lot less.

So, in another decade, Hollywood may have its work cut out with re-framing Scotland’s image. With the amount of forest growth that will likely occur, the country can’t be portrayed as a wind-swept craggy locale anymore. It may end up being far more similar to Sherwood Forest, the way things are going for the Scots.

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Wildlife Refuge, Aussie Ark is Over the Moon Regarding Re-wilding Achievements

Danielle S

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Many people can only relate the Tasmanian devil to the cartoons they’ve watched over the years. It is understandable since they have not been on Australia’s mainland for thousands of years.

One organization has remained determined to re-establish the Tasmanian community, a mission it has been embarking on for a decade.

Aussie Ark, a wildlife refuge, breeding, and release organization situated on the Central Coast, is marking its tenth anniversary this year.

‘Devil Ark’ was formed in 2011 to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction but acquired a new name, ‘Aussie Ark’ in 2012. However, because of the organization’s tremendous victories since then, its mandate has grown.

It now has a mission to help save our fragile Australian species by helping to restore and rewild previously extinct or endangered wildlife.

In a statement, Aussie Ark President Tim Faulkner stated, “Our 10th anniversary offers an opportunity to look back and recognize all that we’ve been privileged to do for animals for the last ten years.”

Conservation in Australia faces a new decade that promises to be even more exciting than the prior ten years.

In the first decade of its existence, Aussie Ark has extended its land holdings by 500 percent, brought the Tasmanian devil back to mainland Australia for the first time in three millennia, created world-class turtle breeding centers, and raised over 400 Tasmanian devil joeys.

Migrating threatened turtles, saving ill platypus, and offering extra food supplies were only some of Aussie Ark’s duties throughout the dark summer calamity.

They’re proud of what they’ve accomplished in the last decade, but there is a lot more work to accomplish. Australian Ark wants to begin breeding projects for Broad-toothed Rat, Squirrel Gliders, Spotted-tail Quolls, frogs in the coming year. The latest refuge, the Mongo Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, is likewise in the planning stages.

Aussie Ark is holding an auction site for a piece of original artwork by Australian artist Warren J Fox to finance their mission partially. Australian Ark President Tim Faulkner has his arms depicted as cradling a young Tasmanian Devil named Joey. In January, the silent online auction opens.

Click here if you’d like to place a bid for the work.

It is the mission of Aussie Ark, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, to generate the cash needed to carry out its ambitious plan to save endangered Australian animals.

The money raised will build a zoo and predator-proof fences on the semi-wild territory. According to the Australian Philanthropic and Non-Profit Commission, Aussie Ark is an established ecological and charitable organization.

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Volvo’s First Fossil-Free Load Carrier

Sarrah M

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As soon as sustainability became a marketing term that could sell products, companies jumped on the bandwagon to claim theirs could do just as good for the Earth as anything else green in design. In reality, a good amount of product being sold with the moniker was simply repackaged stuff that had no improvement whatsoever and, in many cases, was harmful to the environment directly or indirectly.

However, the Swedish carmaker, Volvo, has long been an automotive player that struck out in a different direction than the mainstream crowd. When carmakers opted for lighter weight, cheaper materials, Volvo went stronger and was the first to reinforce their cars with a survival cage system. So, today, it’s no surprise that Volvo would also be one of the companies seeking a viable path for not just an autonomous vehicle, but one made from metal that has no combustion harvesting from the Earth, i.e. entirely free of fossil-fuel burning to extract the metal and refine it.

The new vehicle and prototype design brought into reality showed up in a joint venture between SSAB, Ovako and Volvo. Featured in a Copenhagen press release and event, the new fossil-free metal vehicle has become a first in the industry, as well as a eye-brow raiser internationally.

The first question on the fossil-free vehicle’s capability goes right to the heart of automotive design – how strong is it? There was no mistake in Volvo choosing to design a load-carrying truck for its first fossil-free vehicle as a result. Expected to be used in industrial settings in mining and quarrying, the new vehicle runs on a fully electric motor, completely driverless, and has no emissions-pollution to speak of. Set on a programmed route to the destination and back, the vehicle is pretty much a robot come to life in a modern, practical setting. More importantly, the Volvo truck was quite able to carry its heavy load as well.

Of course, the vehicle isn’t 100 percent fossil-free metal. A good amount of the chassis and frame qualifies, but the engine parts for the electric motor are traditionally fabricated. However, Volvo’s new load carrier is definitely a huge leap forward compared to anything anyone else has put on the market, even in the industrial sector. With both an autonomous function, a fuel-free motor, and an environmentally-friendly assembly, the Volvo launch is going to set the pace for what’s to come. And by then, Volvo will likely be working on the next evolution again. Sources

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Parachute Dresses and World War II Ingenuity

Danielle S

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World War II was a time of massive change across the known world, and it was also a time of rationing. Whatever usable resources existed, they were generally redirected to the war effort by every country involved. For the folks on the home front, that meant both doing without in terms of regular conveniences as well as being far more creative with what was available. Interestingly enough, military aviation parachutes were just one of those items.

A Unique Design First Made for Aviation Safety

World War II parachutes were designed to be highly durable but also extremely lightweight. That allowed them to be packed and carried easily inside the tight confines of a military plane, which already didn’t have much room to move around in. When things were going badly, and the pilot and crew needed to jump out, the tight confines made it challenging to get from the seat to the exit quickly. Every second counted, so the parachute design had to be compact. That produced a fabric that served dual purposes.

On the home front, however, parachutes were also a convenient material from which to make a wedding dress as well. The material was extremely soft, and it could essentially be crafted, sown and shaped like any other fabric. As a result, the idea of a parachute wedding dress was not only quite common, it was also symbolic. By the mid to late 1940s, the trend had picked up and was regularly used by brides whose soon-to-be husbands had been saved by a parachute or were expected to be protected by one going off to war.

Parchute Weddings Become Vogue

Starting in about 1943, brides started appearing in wedding photos with visible and obvious parachutes for wedding dresses. Lois Frommer appeared in the local papers of St. Paul, MN, being married to Captain Lawrence Graebner. The dress was crafted from his parachute that ended up not being needed during his tour. Bold and visible, the dress was still labeled with its serial number and the letters, “U.S. Army,” right across the broad part of the dress. However, unlike typical military garb, Frommer remembered the dress being extremely soft and luxurious to wear.

Other weddings came along shortly, with profound ones including dresses made from parachutes that actually served their purpose during wartime. Major Claude Hensinger was shot down over Yowata, Japan, when his B-29 caught fire. The Captain was able to parachute out, get to the ground, and survived hidden using the parachute for a blanket and pillow during sleep until he was rescued. Hensinger saved the parachute and then gave it to his bride when he proposed to her for marriage. Ruth Hensinger used the dress at their 1947 wedding and later passed it on to her daughter. The dress is now in the Smithsonian as a historical archive.

Similarly, Evelyn Braet crafted a dress from a less than complete parachute. As it turned out, her husband’s chute not only saved his life but took damage from his plane being shot up while he was flying. Holes and all, the perforated chute turned into her wedding dress to George Braet.

Any Parachute Will Do

Other brides were just as industrious, even if the chute they used was not as heroic. Again, everything was in short supply in the 1940s, so anybody’s parachute would do for a wedding dress. Deany Powers got her own parachute to make a dress out of when her brother gave her a German soldier’s chute that he brought back home after the war. No surprise, the chute did just fine as a dress in 1947 for Deany.

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