Sunday, July 20, 2014

ANS -- Two short positive articles

Here's two little short ones.  One is about Vancouver, B.C. going the opposite direction from everyone else and making life a bit easier for the homeless. 
the second, is about tiny floating islands that suck up pollution and clean rivers "naturally".  Sounds like a great idea.  It was sent to me by one of our readers.

Find them here:    

These Awesome Bus Benches Double as Homeless Housing

A Vancouver organization's pop-up shelters provide a dry spot to sleep.

[apparently you have to go to the website to see the photo....]

(Photo courtesy of RainCity Housing/Spring Advertising)
June 27, 2014 By Liz Dwyer
Staff Writer Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at GOOD.
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It rains a whopping 200 days out of the year in Vancouver, which isn't terrible if you have a cozy pair of galoshes and a warm, dry sofa to curl up on every evening. But what if you're homeless and spending the night sleeping on an exposed bus bench?

That's where some tricked-out transit seats are helping to save the day. Equipped with a pop-up "roof," the benches keep residents of the Canadian city with no place to go from getting drenched.

The benches were created in 2013 by local advertising agency Spring and grassroots advocacy group RainCity Housing, which provides progressive services to Vancouver's homeless. During the day, the benches serve as seating for those waiting for the bus to arrive. At night, the front lifts up and out to create an overhang. The back of the bench tells homeless people, "Find a home here," and it gives RainCity's address.

"We don't know if they have been used by homeless folks, but probably," Bill Briscall, the organization's communications manager, told The Telegraph. The need in Vancouver is certainly there: "In a park one block from my house I see people sleeping overnight almost every month throughout the year," Briscall said.

The benches are a welcome contrast to the trend of draconian laws and policies that negatively affect the homeless. Norway hopes to make begging punishable by jail time. Earlier this month, anti-homeless spikes sparked controversy in London; a posh apartment building had installed the pointy pieces of metal in an effort to keep people from sleeping on its grounds.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., cities have installed transit seats with dividers or have turned to impossible-to-lie-on curved benches to keep homeless folks from sleeping on them. While the goal is to help people get off the street and into permanent housing, this solution in Vancouver is nice to see.

These Incredible Tiny Islands Suck Pollution Out of Water

A Scottish company is building floating ecosystems to clean up rivers and lakes.

[there's a very short video on the website]

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(Photo: Biomatrix/Facebook)
July 12, 2014 By Kristina Bravo
Kristina Bravo is a Los Angeles–based writer. She is Assistant Editor at TakePart.
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Cleaning up dirty water has been on the agenda of many scientists lately. That's no surprise­water pollution poses a health risk pretty much everywhere, especially in developing countries, where kids play among sewage, workers toil in muck daily, and millions die from drinking contaminated water every year. Scotland-based Biomatrix Water offers one more innovative way to clean up the mess: installing islands that suck up pollution from the water they're floating in.

The islands look and work like wetlands. Man-made structures hold together their vegetation; the pollutant-sucking process works naturally. Roots suspended beneath the islands promote the growth of aquatic biofilm (the green slime you find on rocks) that "cleanse[s] the water through the breakdown, sorption, and metabolic transformation of nutrients and impurities," explains the Biomatrix website. Treatment plants have used biofilm filters for decades, reports Fast Company. But the company's engineering additions, such as columns of synthetic fiber, maximize the growth of the beneficial bacteria that absorbs pollutants.

The islands come in different shapes and sizes and can be modified to grow local greenery. Besides increasing biofilm in the water, they also serve as fish refuges and feeding zones, creating low-maintenance ecosystems that could improve the area's biodiversity while thriving for more than 20 years. The buoyant structures are also nice to look at: They can hold trees, driftwood, and even sculpture.

Partnering with conservationists and local governments, the company has already installed the pseudo-wetlands in the Philippines, India, China, and other countries.

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