Making a Farm Library Happen￼￼
When libraries are created, the idea is to share single resources with lots of people. It helps folks avoid the hassle of having to buy the actual book or media, and instead they can borrow it for a time until done. Then, after that, someone can do the same. The same book, DVD, movie or similar can instead be used and consumed by multiple people versus just one owner who buys it from a store. A similar idea has been created for farming.
When the COVID pandemic arrived as a novel virus, it did far more than just make people directly sick. It also had a profound wake-up call effect on society as well. Food systems became disrupted in terms of supply, and then costs started to skyrocket. Most basic foods two years later have gone up in price at least 50 percent if not more. While a $4.50 gallon of milk might not seem like much, multiply that cost times 100 gallons a year, and it starts to add up for every item of food. So, instead of watching their paychecks erode for every item bought, many folks are now trying to start farming on their own, adding food stock to their kitchen from their own backyards or fields. This is where things get challenging, however. Land is at a premium.
Most farming needs a bit of space to make things happen. In fact, one potato plant needs a radius of about two feet. 10 potato plants make that 20 feet and so on. The amount of space available and the number of plants one can put in the ground becomes limited very quickly. To offset this problem in cities and urban areas, empty lots were allowed to be taken over by urban farming. Basically, collectives formed to use the empty land, with the owner’s permission, always understanding that when the owner wanted it back the farming would go away. As it turned out, urban farm plots became extremely popular.
Borrowing from a city library model, some proactive folks also started creating the ability to join an agriculture-based experiment, a library farm. Interestingly, the farm library idea wasn’t the result of the pandemic. It actually started in 2011, with a library manager realizing something more could be done with an empty lot behind the Northern Onandaga Public Library, or NOPL. Meg Backus, the manager at the time, got about 40 library members together and started utilizing the land for farming, as a library collective. The project was a lucky start; the land was originally part of an earlier farm, so the soil was workable and could grow food naturally already. And that spark started getting adults in the same community to go deeper into gardening and farming knowledge.
Of course, the amazing thing about the library farm is that it didn’t stop with the local farmers. It worked, it produced food, and then it began contributing more food to the local food pantries for the poor. The model became a societal ripple effect, both direct and indirect. Today, the Library Farm continues, and the idea has now spread to 27 additional Syracuse projects. The goal then is to help the idea spread further, ideally connected to libraries where possible. The Library Farm has redefined the concept of a grassroots revolution, but this one involves food, farming and community help. And the farm idea is still growing in 2022.
Pookila Mouse Has Great Success In Captive Breeding Program
The Pookila mouse, also known as the Smoky mouse, is a small, nocturnal rodent found only in the forests of Victoria, Australia. These cute little critters are typically grey or brown with a long, bushy tail and big, round ears. They are highly agile climbers and can jump up to one meter in height. However, despite their impressive physical capabilities, Pookila mice are facing an uncertain future due to habitat loss and predation.
In response to the declining Pookila mouse population, a captive-breeding program was launched 12 months ago in Victoria. The program has already achieved significant success, with over 20 baby Pookila mice born in captivity. The birth of these pups is a cause for celebration as they will help to increase the genetic diversity of the species and may even be released back into the wild.
Dr Parrott, who leads the captive-breeding program, says that “depending on the genetics that we have in the program at the end of the breeding season, we’ll be looking at the best release locations for these animals out to current populations to increase their genetic diversity and their health.” This approach will help to ensure that the released Pookila mice have the best chance of survival in the wild.
The Pookila mouse is an important species for the ecosystem as they play a vital role in spreading seeds and fungal spores. Unfortunately, the species faces a number of threats, including habitat loss, predators like feral cats and foxes, and drought. The loss of genetic diversity also poses a significant risk to the long-term survival of the species.
With the success of the captive-breeding program, there is renewed hope for the Pookila mouse. The breeding program is a crucial step in preserving this unique species and ensuring its survival for generations to come.
Vacant Church Classrooms In Eau Claire To Be Made Into Veteran Housing Units
A nonprofit organization in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is working to convert vacant church classrooms into housing for veterans. Veterans Community Project (VCP) was founded by a group of veterans who wanted to help their fellow veterans who were homeless.
The organization found several unoccupied classrooms in a local church and plans to convert them into housing units for veterans. The church has agreed to lease the space to VCP at a reduced rate, allowing the project to happen.
VCP plans to build small, self-contained living units with private bathrooms and kitchens within the classrooms. The units will be energy-efficient, with solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and other eco-friendly features.
The VCP will also offer counseling, job training, and financial assistance to veterans living in the units. To ensure that veterans have access to the resources they require, the organization will work closely with local veterans’ organizations and government agencies.
According to the organization’s founder, VCP is dedicated to providing veterans with a safe, stable, and affordable place to live. They recognize that many veterans face unique challenges, such as PTSD and physical disabilities, and they want to ensure that the housing units are designed with veterans in mind.
The organization is raising funds for the project through grants and donations from local individuals and businesses. Volunteers are also needed to assist with the construction and operation of the housing units.
The VCP has already received community support, and the local government has provided a grant for the project. The organization hopes to break ground on the project in the coming months and has housing units ready for veterans to move into by the end of next year.
Ukrainian Service Dog Among Scores of war prisoners Released From Russia During Prisoner Exchange￼￼
Dogs are not only a man’s best friend, but are critical aides during armed conflicts. Therefore, when Adik, a Pit Bull Terrier from Ukraine was captured alongside hundreds of other soldiers during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war last year, no stone was left unturned for his safe return.
Indeed he was returned on New Year’s Day along with many soldiers in a prisoner swap which has brought much relief to the Ukraine military, family members, and the country as a whole.
In a prisoner swap over the New Year, a dog that Russian soldiers had taken and delivered to Chechen commander Kadyrov as a “trophy” has finally been released and given back to a Ukrainian servicewoman.
Adik, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was allegedly given as a “trophy” to Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, by a Ukrainian service member in June.
But as part of a prisoner exchange over the New Year that saw 140 Ukrainian troops released from Russian custody, Adik has now been handed back to Ukraine.
Along with his owner who is a Ukrainian service woman and Mariupol’s defenders, Adik, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was captured at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.
During a prisoner exchange over the New Year that saw 140 Ukrainian troops extricated from the custody of the Russian military, Adik has now been handed back to Ukraine.
He was given to the special services until Kadyrov received it, and has since named the dog Adidas, by volunteer Yuriy Kovanov.
Adik’s picture appeared in a tweet that read, “Ukraine needs everyone! A pit bull terrier was freed from Russian captivity while defending Mariupol with our men!
The prisoner exchange, which occurred at unspecified locations, resulted in the release of 200 plus Ukrainian as well as Russian soldiers.
The joy on the faces of the Ukrainian soldiers as they shared their freedom was captured on camera.
On New Year’s Day, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that more than 80 Russian soldiers had already been freed by Ukraine.
Along with his owner and Mariupol’s defenders, Adik was captured at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.
Ramzan Kadyrov (left) received Akin as a “prize” from volunteer Yuriy Kovanov after having been given to the secret services.
Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff for the Ukrainian president, reported that 140 Ukrainian service members had been sent to Russia in exchange.
According to the Telegram channel Yermak, some of the released Ukrainian soldiers—132 men and eight women—had fought to protect Snake Island and Mariupol, a Black Sea coastal city. A large number of soldiers suffered wounds during the battle.
Despite a total collapse in larger diplomatic negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, the two parties have swapped hundreds of seized soldiers in many waves of prisoner exchanges over several months.
At the unknown location on Saturday, a stream of military soldiers from Ukraine emerged from several buses wearing military fatigues.
As they were freed as captives of war recently, the now-free warriors hugged their loved ones.
As they exited the buses and entered freedom, the troops shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” and lifted their fists in the air in jubilation.
They were greeted with smiles by family members and Ukrainian officials, who gave them white tote bags that looked to hold necessary supplies and paperwork.
They then posed for a picture while carrying several Ukrainian flags in a line. Glory to Ukraine! was shouted once more as they clapped and cheered together.
The Comeback of a Brazilian Air-Breathing Fish Monster￼
In the Amazon, one particular fish is king of the waters. It’s giveaway tends to be the amazingly loud racket of splashing the fish creates simply because of size alone. However, unlike the other denizens of Brazilian waters, the Pirarucu is an air-breathing animal, requiring a new batch of air every quarter of an hour. And, it’s that particular vulnerability that has been the Achilles Heel of the fish, being caught easily as it surfaces to breathe.
Some of the Pirarucu are sizeable, but an average adult can easily reach over 10 feet in length and have a 450 pound drag when pulled out of the water. They are ideal for eating and frequently targeted by poachers looking to make some good money off of local fish food markets. No surprise, the Pirarucu have been decimated as a result, with their population numbers shrinking rapidly across the region.
The Brazilian government has, with targeted conservation, been making a significant effort to reverse the damage of over-fishing of the Pirarucu, which has begun producing positive results. It’s a significant challenge considering that the fish is within a 4,300 square mile range of jungle the government is trying to protect.
Now, the Pirarucu are allowed to be fished within a government-approved three-week window, i.e. a limited fishing season. Local villagers take full advantage of the short time, grabbing as many of the Pirarucu as they can during the short harvest season. They generally sit in boats quietly, waiting for the fish to surface to breathe. When it does, the fishermen encircle the location of the fish and drop their nets, basically cutting off escape until the given Pirarucu is caught in a net and pulled up.
That said, the Pirarucu don’t give up easily. With their heavy body size, the fish puts up a hell of a fight trying to get loose. To stop resistance, the fishermen essentially bludgeon the fish with bats and clubs to make it easier to finish the catch. Then the fish, knocked out, is dragged into the boat.
Out of the water, the Pirarucu looks like something out of a sci-fi movie thrown back in time. It’s far more similar to an oversized eel than a typical fish. The long body, red-tinged scales and big mouth make the Pirarucu seem more like a dinosaur-age fish than a modern one. The body tends to be so big and heavy that when the water level is low, the harvest has to be dragged on a stretcher out of the boat so it can still float back to the village.
For a good day in the harvest window, catching eight or more Pirarucu is like winning the lottery for the local villagers. The catch is counted, inventoried and reported to the government to adjust population numbers. Once the harvest window is closed, then local conservation regulators and researchers track the remaining live population to make sure it stays stable and continues to grow. There is also a keen awareness and proactive search for poachers as well.
For all involved, the current program works better and makes more sense. Some of the older villagers remember things being so bad, they would fish for days on end and maybe get lucky if one Pirarucu was caught at the end of a week. The program has clearly become a model of how local fishing and conservation can work together for improvement overall.
Toronto Puts Forward a New Paradigm in Senior Care Homes￼
Looking for a care home is not something seniors look forward to. It’s a bit of acknowledging that the end of one’s life is coming, and you’re on the bus toward eventually being separated from normal life and becoming a cared-for senior waiting for the end, at least that’s how many look at it. However, the simple fact is that many families don’t have the time, training or availability to take care of a senior relative, especially one that needs regular medical attention, and many seniors also can’t take care of themselves anymore either.
Louis Capozzi was now facing the same situation; he was not looking forward to moving into a care home, and he knew he didn’t have a choice in the matter. At the age of 70 and suffering from a form of ALS, personal care was going to be essential for Capozzi just to survive. As it turned out, however, his fears were unfounded. The Lakeshore Lodge at Toronto was going to be an entirely different experience versus what Capozzi had heard about care homes as well as the rumors he himself was germinating after reading too much on the Internet.
Capozzi has now been a resident of Lakeshore Lodge since June 2022, and he hasn’t regretted a day of it. The difference is in how the facility is being run. The goal of the system is very different from the typical managed care approach. Instead, Lakeshore Lodge is “resident-centered,” which means the residents get to make most of the choices of how they are cared for, what they eat, how to stay active, when they wake up and even the decor of the interior design. Capozzi himself is well-involved; his former career was in construction, so he’s regularly involved with building discussion and decisions on changes. Plus, he also gets to work on his hobby, cooking.
Dubbed, “CareTO,” the resident-centered program is an intentional move for a different approach in senior care, especially in a care home setting. Where the traditional model was about treating all the senior patients as cogs, running them through the same course, schedule, food and events for maximum efficiency and cost control, the resident-centered approach focuses on giving seniors their freedom again. Of course, that costs extra, and it’s only possible because Toronto is providing the extra money with $16.1 million via the next five years to support the efficacy of the new treatment model. It doesn’t just go to Lakehouse Lodge; some 272 positions are being supported in 10 different care homes to make this new program work. It’s a split-funded program between the Province and city with two-thirds carried by the Province’s support.
The change is more than appropriate. As the Boomer generation is crashing headlong into their senior years, the demand for senior care and care home beds has increased exponentially. Because the issue is so pressing, Toronto’s government decided 2022 was the year to really push a different paradigm in senior care. CareTO became the answer to that call. The recent COVID pandemic also demanded a different approach. Too many caretakers in the old system had been burned out by the COVID strain, workload and losses. More importantly, the new program is working.
The seniors in the program are doing better, they are happier, healthier and the staff feel they can successfully do their jobs again. Nothing is ever perfect, but the majority, patients and staff agree, the CareTO program is a game-changer.