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Joy

Portland neighborhood addresses gun violence by transforming a turning lane into a park. It's working!

'You can see the smiles of the community and what they will always remember is that they were heard and we tried to help.'

Portland; gun violence prevention; Southeast Portland; rainbow park
Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash

Portland neighborhood transforms turning lane into park.

Amid a spiraling gun violence problem in America, one neighborhood in southeast Portland, Oregon, has done something to address a serious problem. Its actions have dramatically decreased gun violence at a particularly active intersection. The local neighborhood association worked with city leaders to take the radical step of removing the turning lane and turning it into a park. Yeah, you read that correctly.


Shootings at the intersection in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood were increasing dramatically. It also saw a lot of car crashes and pedestrians threats, according to Portland Mercury. Now, what was once an area prone to violence has been transformed into a community space with an eye-catching rainbow painted on the ground. City and neighborhood leaders made the community space by taking the Arleta Triangle, which had been a tree-lined traffic island separating the turn lane from the intersection, and expanded it, completely cutting the turn lane out.

According to Local Today Washington News, this specific area in Portland saw a drastic increase in gun violence after the start of the pandemic. Chair of the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association Matchu Williams told Portland Mercury, "We went from two or three shootings a year, to daily [shootings] for two or three months. Some of these exchanges weren’t just firing off a couple bullets in drive-bys, but 25 to 93 shell casings recovered by police. Terrifying.”

Living in an area that is subject to so much gun violence has to not only be terrifying but traumatizing for families and other community members. Parents, especially, have their children's safety front of mind and a solution such as this is so important.

Getting this community space built was truly an effort of neighbors working together for a common goal. Residents see this as a way to reduce gun violence without adding more police presence in the area. Local resident Nadine Salama took it upon herself to get input from other neighbors on safety concerns and together they brought those concerns and ideas to the city commissioner, Jo Ann Hardesty. The neighbors and Hardesty worked to address concerns such as low lighting and reckless driving in a nearby church parking lot.

Within a month of meeting with Hardesty, who also oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the safety concerns were beginning to be addressed, according to the Portland Mercury. In that short time frame, the church parking lot was roped off, leaving only one entrance, lighting was installed around the intersection and trees were trimmed back to address the visibility issues. The group was even able to add "local access only" cones at other intersections to decrease traffic, as well as add park rangers. If other governments moved this fast, who knows what could be accomplished?

It's a great demonstration of what quick work and listening to your community looks like. Hardesty was presented with a problem and she listened to the community members to address all of their concerns.

Amazingly, with just those relatively small changes, gun violence dropped by 64% in the area within three months. The community was happy to celebrate the achievement with a block party at the newly built community space that replaced the turn lane.

Hardesty told Portland Mercury, "You can see the smiles of the community and what they will always remember is that they were heard and we tried to help. And had it not worked, we would have tried something different. That’s what we have to be unafraid of—trying things that we don’t know will work.”

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


www.youtube.com

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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