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Heroic Man Hears Voice Coming From Locked Shed, Makes a Lifesaving Discovery!

When you hear disembodied voices coming from your dark yard, what do you do? For Juan Vaquero, the question wasn’t what he should do, but how quickly he could do it. Juan Vaquero was renting a camper in a Dallas neighborhood next to a small home with a family living inside of it. During his time renting the camper, Juan had become familiar with the owner of the home as well as the landlord’s 6-year-old grandson. When Juan heard a voice that sounded just like the aforementioned grandson, he knew that he had to leap into action. Where was the child? Why was he calling out for help?

While Juan was ready to call the police, he wanted to investigate the source of the noise first. The soon-to-be-hero would bust out his flashlight in order to investigate the yard in the dark. As the cries for help grew louder, Juan was able to track them to a padlocked shed located behind his camper! Juan stopped before the padlocked shed where silence hung in the air. Calling tentatively out, Juan was shocked to his core when the voice called out again. This wasn’t a ghost and it wasn’t a prank, so Juan knew that he had to jump into action.

Juan would dial Child Protective Services while recording his interaction with the child. The child revealed that he had been locked in the shed with his hands bound at 6 PM. Nearly four hours later, the child would be discovered by Juan. Juan probed the child for answers by asking, “Why did she shut you in there?” When the child responded, Juan’s heart nearly broke in two. The child told Juan that he had been locked in the shed as a punishment. What was the punishment for? Well, the child had been scolded and punished for accepting a gift of pillows and blankets from Juan. The utter depravity of the situation shook Juan to his core.

Juan and the child continued to talk as he waited for the police and Child Protective Services to arrive. The child revealed that his hands were bound and that he could just barely walk. At only six years old, the way that the child described his predicament was enough to make Juan burst into tears. The child told Juan that his hands had been bound by his grandmother because she didn’t want him to ‘touch’ or ‘grab’ things anymore. The child would go on to explain that his hands were bound with rough rope “as the police do” and that he was only allowed out in the mornings to take a bath.

Fortunately, police officers would arrive in minutes and they would force the grandmother to open the shed. Once opened, the sight of the child standing alone in the dark with his hands bound was enough to cause everyone to fall silent. Inside the empty shed, the child was kept company by rats and insects. When probed why their child had been locked away, the parents had claimed that the child had stolen food. Juan interjected stating that he had been giving the child food because he would approach his camper claiming to be starving. Juan could not have known the extent of danger the child was in.

If Juan had not chosen to seek out the source of the disembodied voice, the situation could have turned even more tragic. Thank goodness for kind souls like Juan who reach out to those in need. This story serves as a reminder to always be aware of your surroundings as you can never be sure what is really going on.

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Searching for Happiness? Neuroscience Research Has Great Song Suggestions

Liz L

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Not everyone has the same taste in music, so we have many genres to choose from, and the list keeps growing. We must admit, though, that some songs are universal, and whether you’re old or young, or even religious, some specific songs are bound to light up the moment and have you jamming to the beat.

Studies by several neuroscientists prove that ten songs can help boost productivity and even draw you out of depression. Who doesn’t need that after the tumultuous year of lockdowns, job losses, deaths, and just a stream of negativity? By the way, how remiss of us to forget the election, phew!!!

Still, Covid doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, so we might as well indulge in a pick me upper playlist, that according to the experts, works like a charm.

This ten-song playlist is ideal for the workplace, but you can listen to it anywhere when you need a mood lift. With winter drawing near, we all need it. But first, how did it come about?

To begin with, why point to this study on a business site rather than, say, Rolling Stone? The simple truth is that music and contentment are inextricably intertwined, and research demonstrates that happiness improves brain function. It won’t only help you get over the gloom if you cheer yourself up. It will also assist you in thinking more clearly and completing more tasks.

That’s why it’s so helpful that a music-loving Dutch neurologist rendered us all a courtesy and worked out what qualifies for the best mood-boosting music back in 2015. An odd source sparked the investigation: Alba, a British technology brand. They wanted to discover what produced a joyful song, so they contacted Dr. Jacob Jolij for an answer.

Jolij was eager to oblige, but he did point out the obvious: musical taste is subjective. What keeps your buddy dancing can send you fleeing the room with your hands over your ears. “Music appreciation is a very personal experience, heavily influenced by social circumstances and personal associations. In that regard, the concept of a “feel-good formula” is a little strange,” he commented.

You can, however, invite the public to send in samples of their favorite feel-good music and then evaluate the responses for patterns to see what traits commonly connect with songs that make people grin. That’s what Jolij did.

He discovered that the happiest songs are slightly quicker (approximately 140 to 150 beats/minute on average), composed in a primary key, and either describing pleasant events or total gibberish. Jolij integrated these criteria into an algorithm for the happiest music imaginable, then searched for existing hits that fit his blueprint.

Here are the top ten songs he identified to lighten up the tail end of what has been an all-around bleak 2020. (Alternatively, you may listen to the very same playlist on Pandora.)

1. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves

2. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

3. Livin’ on a Prayer -Jon Bon Jovi

4. Girls Just Wonna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

5. I’m a Believer – The Monkees

6. Eye of the Tiger -Survivor

7. Uptown Girl – Billie Joel

8. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

9. Dancing Queen – Abba

10. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

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Hamilton Local Launches Canoe Sharing Program to Bring Community Together

Sarrah M

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Matt Thompson with one of his two canoes he lends out.

Nestled in the heart of Ontario is the city of Hamilton, home to more than 536,000 people. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Hamilton would feel as if it were shut down completely. As a result of the more than year-long quarantine measures put in place by the Canadian government, with various let-ups sprinkled along the way, it feels like society is less connected than ever.

In order to fight back against this sprawling disconnected feeling, a member of Hamilton, Ontario, decided to do something special for the community.

Matt Thompson: Canoe Sharing For the Community

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a ton from people all around the world. A year of life, job opportunities, lost loved ones, all of these issues manifested and made worse by the pandemic itself. With so much loss and pain in the air, Matt decided to try and bring people together through something everyone seemed to enjoy, canoeing.

Thompson lives on the water and has been known around the community for his love of canoeing. In fact, Thompson is such a regular on the water that he has become a go-to source for canoes and information. Thompson says, “What if I put the canoe outside of my house and people could knock on the door?”

Matt’s idea was simple, to get more people out into the water to enjoy time outside. Thompson would decide to take his idea and make it a reality, purchasing a cart to transport his canoe while advertising its availability.

Michelle Diplock is one such member of the community who has enjoyed the canoe-sharing program. Michelle says of the available program, “It was really nice to be like, “Hey, I know a guy…”

While the idea is still relatively fresh, Thompson has already enjoyed success through the program. According to the canoe enthusiast, over a dozen of rentals have already been performed during the first segment of 2021. People would simply message Thompson, and he would t transport the canoe down via the bike path on James Street to the water access point.

Love and the Red Canoe

For Matt’s part, launching the Red Canoe Sharing Program has been a way to connect with the people around town that he has gone so long without seeing. Matt says of the past year and the year to come, “There has been a lot of loss and grief… Can I use this thing to bring people together?”

For the members of Hamilton and the surrounding area, the red canoe offered by Thompson is so much more than a simple trip onto the water, it is a chance to socially distance while reengaging with the world. Michelle Diplock, mentioned above, said, “It’s a great social distancing sport. The canoe is 17 feet long.”

While Matt doesn’t anticipate becoming the next great canoe rental company in Hamilton, he has plans to expand his new community engagement effort. Hamilton recently announced through social media that he purchased a second canoe to allow for further rentals in the future. The price, however, remains free.

Thompson has made a special focus to highlight the need for additional mental health services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The canoe owner hopes that his red canoe company can help people to normalize their return to daily life, reintegrate with the activities that they are comfortable with, all while finding a new normalcy in a post-COVID19 world.

While a single canoe cannot change the world, enough people like Matt can certainly make a difference where it matters the most.

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Edible Packaging Offers Disruption to Modern Packaging, Limit to Pollution

Jolie

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There are few things in the world more universally condemned than pollution. As we watch corporations pump untold greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere, the rest of the population will struggle as a result. We can look closer at our day-to-day habits to see how we impact pollution on an individual level, often wastefully going through packaging while shopping. Just think of how many packages you order every year online and the waste that can produce!

In an effort to address modern wastefulness through packaging, one company is aiming to change the entire industry altogether. Dr. Anne Lamp is an engineer and physician from Germany who made headlines when she announced the launch of her company, Traceless. Traceless seeks to impact the level of plastic used in modern packaging while addressing the long-term implications that pollution causes.

Introducing the World of Traceless

Dr. Anne Lamp established Traceless with a relatively focused point of view. Her goal was to transform agricultural residues into plastics which can then be brought back into the food chain. The goal is to create packaging that can be consumed and brought back into the cycle, reducing carbon emissions by an enormous amount along the way. According to Dr. Anne Lamp, Traceless can cut carbon emissions by up to 87% versus traditional plastic production.

Due to her efforts in developing a ‘cradle to cradle’ cycle, Lamp has been able to commercialize her concept while bringing customer interest from all across Europe. This comes at a time when the European Union is presently trying to ban single-use plastics, a decision that will become fully realized in 2021.

Traceless seeks to change our relationship with packaging, waste, and recycling. Consider the plastic that we have from shopping trips years ago. This plastic ends up in landfills where it can sit waiting to decompose for up to 500 years. No, that was not a typo! Dr. Anne Lamp’s attempts to change this industry could fundamentally alter our relationship with packaging waste. Traceless would make packaging easy to ditch in a compost bin where you know it will decompose in a safe and controlled manner. This is cyclical recycling and it is one of the most fascinating industries in the world right now!

Welcome to the Green Alley Awards

Traceless hasn’t gone unrecognized in the larger world outside the EU, either. The company already won the Green Alley Award, an honor that underscores startups focused on circular economic solutions. According to CEO Jan Patrick Schulz, owner of the Landbell Group and founder of the Green Alley Awards, the focus is on “fostering business models that … combine resource conservation with economic success.”

The 2021 Green Alley Awards saw more than 180 entrants from startups in 30 nations around the world. These selections were carefully pared down until only six finalists remained, including Traceless. Among the other finalists were Carbonauten, a wood-to-plastic substitution company, and TrusTrace, a digital platform angling to illuminate the fashion supply chain. All the companies in competition for the coveted Green Alley Award have introduced circular solutions that address modern dilemmas in retail and commercial spaces.

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From Polluted Coastlines to Cleaner Harbors: The Story of a Diver Named Shawn Bath

Sarrah M

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There are few careers more intriguing, intimidating, and potentially as rewarding as that of diving. Shawn Bath had spent more than 21 years in the position of a professional diver, working in and around the bays and inlets of Newfoundland. During that time of his life, Shawn was tasked with handling and harvesting sea urchins from the ocean floor — a job brimming with risks as great as its rewards.

While there is nothing wrong with working as a diver harvesting sea urchins, that wasn’t where Shawn found his attention while diving along the bottom of the ocean. Instead, as a diver, Shawn couldn’t dismiss the murky waters brimming with hazards, including junk, trash, and the sharp spines of those yearned after shellfish. Of course, that’s to say nothing of the potential for frostbite or decompression sickness.

All things considered, Shawn had been enjoying his career until he felt a calling. Something had to change, and he knew just who was going to lead the way.

Changing His Career Path

Recalling his youth, Bath admits that he used to litter as a dumb kid. Bath says, “I didn’t even think about it.” It wasn’t until Bath became a professional diver, and started spending more time around the water that he began to put ‘two and two’ together. Admitting that he was a part of the problem, Bath would become absorbed by how polluted the waters off Newfoundland were becoming.

Assuming that the government would step in and fix the equation, Bath waited by his phone to receive a call for work. That call never came. For years Bath waited before finally decided that he was called there to force the change himself. This would lead Path to focus on his newest film, Hell or Clean Water.

Bath’s film would find itself screened at the Toronto Festival, Hot Docs, where an audience of documentary lovers was ready to interface with the project. Leading up to the project, Bath admits that he had pulled more than 15,000 pounds of trash from the ocean, all by himself. Realizing the government was never coming to save the day, Bath would go on to establish the Clean Harbours Initiative.

The Clean Harbours Initiative

Realizing that the ocean was never going to be cleaned by the government was a powerful moment for Bath. It didn’t take long for the commercial diver to pour his savings into the venture, leaving the man reeling and at a loss as to what was next.

Bath says of the early days of the Clean Harbours Initiative, “I was broke and at a loss.” The diver would go on to admit that he needed help spreading not just awareness, but also the additional gear to continue his works. Meeting Cody Westman, owner of a production company in St. John’s, would end up being the change that the Bath needed.

After meeting Cody, the two would put their heads together to fully develop Hell or Clean Water, premiering on April 29 at the Hot Docs festival. It would take nearly 17 months for the project to finish, highlighting the serious concerns of oceanic pollution along the way. In fact, the depth of pollution and how far it reached would leave Bath not just depressed, but completely baffled. Bath says, “Newfoundland’s harbors are covered in stubby beer bottles.”

From boat engines to old fishing gear, Bath has helped to remove just about everything that he can find polluting the seas off Newfoundland. Hopefully, his work catches on and more volunteers join in on the efforts.

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Transforming Coal Country: New Startup Aims to Create Agricultural Hub in Appalachia

Danielle S

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The coal economy of Appalachia has been integral to the overall health and vitality of the region for generations. Despite this fact, the area has suffered from widespread economic anxiety as coal energy has begun to get phased out in today’s modern working environment. With that being said, Appalachia will need to find alternatives for energy creation and the jobs that go along with it and a new company is looking to do just that.

Based out of Kentucky, AppHarvest intends to operate as the largest indoor farms in the world. The company, which features Martha Stewart as a board member, is focusing on bringing resources and jobs to communities that have been suffering in the wake of a coal economy that has abandoned them. At the time of this writing, AppHarvest is already enjoying its first production run with a crop of beefsteak tomatoes sent to stores such as Kroger and Walmart.

A New National Leader in Alternative Farming

Nestled in the heart of Morehead, Kentucky, the AppHarvest headquarters can currently handle more than 45 million pounds of pesticide-free, non-GMO, and annually reproducing tomatoes. The state-of-the-art facility features extraordinary sustainable measures like recycled rainwater which gives AppHarvest the opportunity to focus on year-round cultivation.

Martha Stewart has taken the point on many of AppHarvest’s latest press releases, allowing her noted record to reinforce the words that she has been saying. Martha said of the agriculture company, “AppHarvest’s high-tech and sustainable approach is the future of food.”

Stewart would go on to detail the benefits that AppHarvest crops can provide to consumers, focusing heavily on the pesticide and chemical-free nature of an AppHarvest yield. Stewart would go on to describe that AppHarvest’s produce features nutrient-rich and enormously flavorful produce, highlighting tomatoes specifically by saying, “I’m already looking forward to integrating them in my kitchen.”

A Look at the Landscape

What makes AppHarvest truly special in this space is that they are endeavoring to accomplish something larger than craft a business, they are looking to change the entire area. Proud of their Appalachian roots, the three farms that AppHarvest has opened thus far have all been located within a day’s drive of nearly 80% of the American population. AppHarvest believes their convenient location and massive production scale will help to bring fresh produce to markets throughout Appalachia.

Collaborating with high schools throughout Kentucky, AppHarvest is also helping invest in the future of the state through investing in schools. The team at AppHarvest has already invested in teaching students how to grow food in container farms while properly providing nutrition throughout the process.

AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb said of his company’s efforts, “We are determined to build a climate-resilient infrastructure.” Webb went on to detail how their crops are grown with 100% recycled rainwater as well as zero chemical pesticides. Webb says of the process his farms undergo, “It’s better for them and the environment.”

At the time of this writing, AppHarvest has already secured more than $1 billion in funding and financing. The goal at AppHarvest is to create at least a dozen farms within the next four years, a mark that the company is already on track to meet.

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