Saturday November 25, 2017

Tending the Dense Vegetation: Urban Gardeners Feed Body and Soul in Los Angeles

Let's take a peek into the lives of the "Guerrilla Gardeners" of LA

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Guerrilla gardener
Ron Finley has gained famed as a guerrilla or "gangsta" gardener for his efforts to beautify unused strips of public land. Local officials now support the effort, VOA
  • Los Angeles city officials approved community gardens on public parkways, the narrow strips of land between the street and sidewalk two years ago
  • From figs and Swiss chard to edible nasturtiums, a range of fruits and vegetables that are rare in the inner city are grown
  • Los Angeles is now dotted with dozens of gardens and small strips of vegetation outside the homes of residents

Los Angeles, June 24, 2017:  edgier description of a man who once defied local authorities to bring nature to the inner city.

Finley’s efforts to plant edible gardens on public property have earned him court citations, but they also brought a victory two years ago when Los Angeles city officials approved community gardens on public parkways, the narrow strips of land between the street and sidewalk.

Many mornings, Finley can be seen tending the dense vegetation in the sliver of a garden outside his house.

“This is a food forest,” he said, pointing to lemon trees, sunflower plants and tomato vines. “There’s fruit trees, there’s also weeds that are edible in here. And I want to educate people to the fact that there’s food all around you.”

From figs and Swiss chard to edible nasturtiums, Finley grows fruits and vegetables that are rare in the inner city, where he says residents have better access to fast food and liquor stores than to healthful produce.

He spends much of his time doing public speaking and urging people to start community gardens. But many in Los Angeles were already on board with the concept before he became involved.

A few miles from Finley’s garden in South Los Angeles, Tamiko Nakamoto walks through plots of edible plants tended by 22 gardeners.

This community garden is not far from the epicenter of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and Nakamoto said the community activist who set it up shortly afterward wanted “a place of peace and an oasis in this city that’s surrounded by turmoil.”

ALSO READ: Ten Trees that have Spiritual Significance Attached to them

There are “collard greens, sugar cane, bananas, tomato trees (vines), cabbage,” said one gardener, a towering immigrant from the Virgin Islands who uses his Rastafarian name, Makado. He is here most days weeding and watering.

Los Angeles is now dotted with dozens of gardens and small strips of vegetation outside the homes of residents.

Others are being planted. Los Angeles officials are in the process of approving tax breaks for owners of vacant lots if the land is used for community gardens. The City Council gave preliminary approval to the measure this month.

“I want them to do more,” Finley said of city officials. “I want them to advocate for this. I want them to put bulletin boards up. I want them to have workshops showing people how to do this.”

Slowly, patches of greenery and color are appearing amid the concrete, and Finley said these gardens make residents feel “healthy all over, not just your body, your mind-set, everything because looking at this, smelling this affects every sense in your body.”

Just as importantly, he said, these gardens are putting fresh fruits and vegetables on the tables of local families. (VOA)

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Is the US Getting Back to Bomb Shelters? North Korea threats revive Nuclear Bomb fear

North Korea threatens America

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Bomb shelter manufacturer engineers Vincent Carubia, left, and Eward Klein study specifications for a fiber glass dome shelter being installed on an estate in Locust Valley, N.Y
Bomb shelter manufacturer engineers Vincent Carubia, left, and Eward Klein study specifications for a fiber glass dome shelter being installed on an estate in Locust Valley, N.Y. VOA
  • He wondered how much good ducking under a desk could do if a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city fell nearby
  • Then there were backyard bomb shelters, which briefly became the rage during the missile crisis of 1962

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the era of nuclear bomb nightmares -of the atomic arms race, of backyard bomb shelters, of schoolchildren diving under desks to practice their survival skills in the event of an attack -seemed to finally, thankfully, fade into history. Until now.

For some baby boomers, North Korea’s nuclear advances and President Donald Trump’s bellicose response have prompted flashbacks to a time when they were young, and when they prayed each night that they might awaken the next morning. For their children, the North Korean crisis was a taste of what the Cold War was like.

“I’m not concerned to where I can’t sleep at night. But it certainly raises alarms for Guam or even Hawaii, where it might be a real threat,” said 24-year-old banker Christian Zwicky of San Bernardino, California.

People of his parents’ generation were taught to duck and cover when the bombs came.

“Maybe those types of drills should come back,” Zwicky said.

He isn’t old enough to remember the popular 1950s public service announcement in which a cartoon character named Bert the Turtle teaches kids how to dive under their desks for safety. But Zwicky did see it often enough in high school history classes that he can hum the catchy tune that plays at the beginning. That’s when Bert avoids disaster by ducking into his shell, then goes onto explain to schoolchildren what they should do.

“I do remember that,” says 65-year-old retiree Scott Paul of Los Angeles. “And also the drop drills that we had in elementary school, which was a pretty regular thing then.”

ALSO READ: US Military Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb on Islamic State (ISIS) underground complex in Afghanistan

Even as a 10-year-old, Paul said, he wondered how much good ducking under a desk could do if a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city fell nearby. No good at all, his teacher acknowledged.

Then there were backyard bomb shelters, which briefly became the rage during the missile crisis of 1962 when it was learned the Soviets had slipped nuclear-tipped missiles into Cuba and pointed them at the USA.

After a tense, two-week standoff between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that some believe brought the world the closest, it’s ever come to nuclear war, the missiles were removed and the shelters faded from public interest.

Now they, too, seem to be having a revival.

“When Trump took office it doubled our sales, and then when he started making crazy statements we got a lot more orders,” says Walton McCarthy of Norad Shelter Systems LLC of Garland, Texas. “Between now and a year ago, we’ve quadrupled our sales.”

His competitor, California-based Atlas Survival Shelters, says it sold 30 shelters in three days last week. During its first year in business in 2011, it sold only 10.

Bill Miller, a 74-year-old retired film director living in Sherborn, Massachusetts, thinks these days are more nerve-wracking than the standoff in October 1962.

“I think it’s much, much crazier, scarier times,” he said. “I think the people who were in charge in the Kennedy administration had much more of a handle on it.”

Also Read: United Nations’ Wake Up Call: Another alleged chemical attack reported in Syria’s Hama province

Nathan Guerrero, a 22-year-old political science major from Fullerton, California, agrees, saying he learned in history class that the “shining example” of a way to resolve such a conflict was how Kennedy’s brother and attorney general, Robert Kennedy, brokered the tense negotiations.

“But knowing the way the current administration has sort of been carrying itself, it doesn’t look like they are keen to solving things diplomatically,” he said.

“As a young person, honestly, it’s pretty unsettling,” he continued.

Had he given any thought to building backyard bomb shelters?

“I’d be lying if I said such crazy things haven’t crossed my mind,” he said, laughing nervously. “But in reality, it doesn’t strike me as I’d be ready to go shopping for bunkers yet.” Instead, he studies for law school and tries “not to think too much about it.”

Other Americans are more sanguine about the possibility of nuclear war. Rob Stapleton has lived in Anchorage, Alaska, since 1975, and he is aware that Alaska has been considered a possible target because it is within reach of North Korean missiles.

“There’s been some discussion about it around the beer barrel and I’m sure the United States is taking it seriously, but we’re not too concerned around here,” he said.

Alaska is so vast and spread out, said Stapleton, that he and his friends can’t imagine why North Korea would waste its time attacking The Last Frontier. “I mean sure you’d be making a statement, but you’d not really be doing any damage,” he said. (VOA)

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World Police Games: West Bengal Police Constable Sushen Ray Wins Gold Medal in Long Jump in Los Angeles

Sushen Roy, a constable in the Bengal Police, has won gold medal in World Police Games held at Los Angeles

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World Police Games
Sushen Roy, gold medalist in Long Jump. Twitter
  • The city of Los Angeles hosted this year’s World Police Games
  • The West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced that a police constable from the state had won gold medal in long jump category
  • The constable named Sushen Roy was congratulated by the CM in a Facebook post

Kolkata, August 11, 2017: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced that Bengal police constable Sushen Ray has won the gold medal in long jump in the World Police Games in Los Angeles.

ALSO READ: This Dancing Traffic Man from Kolkata Makes People Smile!

“I am very proud to share with all of you that one of the members of Bengal Police, Constable Sushen Ray has got Gold Medal in World Police Games in Los Angeles, the US in the long jump,” she said on Facebook.

This is a great achievement for Bengal and also Indian police. My heartiest congratulations and best wishes to him,” she added. (IANS)

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Prince William and Lady Gaga FaceTime to Promote Mental Health Awareness

"It's OK to have this conversation. It’s really important to have this conversation and that you won't be judged," the royal said on Tuesday. "It's so important to break open that fear and that taboo, which is only going to lead to more problems down the line."

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Lady Gaga, Wikimedia

Los Angeles, April 20, 2017: Prince William and Pop Singer Lady Gaga FaceTimed to promote mental health awareness on Tuesday, April 18. A live stream of their exchange was shared on the Royal Family’s Facebook page.

William participated in a video call with the pop singer to promote mental health awareness. In the video, Prince William commended the ‘Born This Way’ singer on her open letter about her experience with post-traumatic stress. Lady Gaga said that for the longest time she felt ashamed to admit to mental health issues.

William told Lady Gaga in the clip, “Harry, Catherine and I really felt this was such an important area that throughout all our charitable work, whether it was the veterans, homelessness, addiction, most of it seemed to stem back to mental health issues.”

He said, “I read your open letter you wrote the other day, and I thought it was incredibly moving and very brave of you to write down such personal feelings.” Prince William asked the star how it made her feel to go public with her battle. She admitted she was “very nervous” but wanted to show her fans the other side of her that the public wasn’t aware of.

She admitted she was “very nervous” but wanted to show her fans the other side of her that the public wasn’t aware of.

Lady Gaga went on to admit that she often wakes up feeling both tired and sad. Prince William said that he feels that it’s important for many young people to talk about their mental health.

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“For me, waking up every day and feeling sad and going onstage is something that is very hard to describe. There’s a lot of shame attached to mental illness. You feel like something’s wrong with you,” she replies in the clip. “In my life, I go, ‘Oh, my goodness, look at all of these beautiful, wonderful things that I have. I should be so happy.’ But you can’t help it if in the

“In my life, I go, ‘Oh, my goodness, look at all of these beautiful, wonderful things that I have. I should be so happy.’ But you can’t help it if in the morning when you wake up, you’re so tired, you’re so sad.”

Prince William went on to invite Gaga overseas in October to work on his, Harry and Kate’s charity. “It’s OK to have this conversation. It’s really important to have this conversation and that you won’t be judged,” the royal said on Tuesday.

“It’s so important to break open that fear and that taboo, which is only going to lead to more problems down the line.”

Hours earlier, the Telegraph published an interview with Prince Harry, in which he opened up about the grief he felt following the death of their mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, when he was 12. He revealed that he “shut down all his emotions” for nearly two decades and has sought therapy in the aftermath.

“My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me,” Harry, now 32, said. “He kept saying, ‘This is not right, this is not normal. You need to talk to [someone] about stuff. It’s OK.'”

William, along with his brother Prince Harry and wife Kate Middleton have spearheaded a campaign to dispel the stigma that usually surrounds mental health. And it looks like they are trying to recruit as many celebrities to help them do it, too.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6