Heroes

I never realized how dumb our cities are until I saw what a smart one looks like.

There's community and there's commuting. Let's not confuse the two.

I never realized how dumb our cities are until I saw what a smart one looks like.

With the population growing and most of it happening in cities, these Canadian journalists wanted to take a closer look at whether our sprawling modern villages are up to the task of housing more humans.

Over half of the world lives in urban areas. That includes over 80% of people in the United States and 81% of folks in Canada, where this report was produced. Therein lies the problem.


A lot of modern cities are being described as obesogenic environments.

Dr. Karen Lee can tell you what that means:

Lee says our living environment has shaped public health for the worse:

"The ways in which we've been designing our cities have been making us sick. ... We've inadvertently designed physical activity out of our lives."

A healthy diet and regular physical activity are some of the most important things we can do for our health as individuals, but flawed city design has restricted opportunities for people to make those choices, which has contributed greatly to what are essentially public health epidemics — ones that require public health solutions.

Most cities have been designed for cars, not for people.

Look out your window and see for yourself. Brent Toderian, former chief city planner for Vancouver, says it's a big problem:

Toderian says city design that makes it easier for people to get around instead of cars is one way to make physical activity a more natural part of our lives. And a lot of major cities are beginning to look to Latin America for ideas about how to achieve that.

In the 1990s, Medellín, Colombia, was one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The constant threat of drug-related violence made it a place people wanted to escape.

But today, Medellín stands as a model of creative urban design.

The city was desperate for change. And they may not have had the resources of the world's richest city, but with a few smart infrastructure investments, like outdoor escalators, suspended gondolas, and public gathering spaces, Medellín has been transformed into a place where people are proud to live.


Medellín's escalators cost only $6 million to build — "peanuts in the scheme of modern infrastructure projects."

Architect Carlos Escobar sees these developments as much more than just infrastructure upgrades:

"The new transportation system in Medellín ... is not only a physical solution. It is not only transportation. It is also a social instrument that involves the community, that integrates the community in all the city."

Medellín is more connected than it's ever been, which makes it easier for workers to get to their jobs, and it brings more action to the local economy, strengthens the community, AND encourages people to be physically active.

If you'd rather spend more time in your community than in your car, give this post a share and help spark more people's imaginations. The solutions are out there. And they're not as costly or far-fetched as a lot of us might think.

This was a fantastic news report by CBC News (great job, Canada!). Here's just a snippet, but check out the whole video if you wanna nerd out a little more like I did:

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Maria Oswalt /Unsplash (left), Wikimedia Commons (right)

Few topics are as politically polarizing as the issue of abortion. Those of us who are middle aged and younger have always known the abortion debate divided between the political right and left, conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats.

But that has not always been the case.

In fact, it was mostly Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justices who made the case for choice in 1973.

Roe vs. Wade was decided with a 7-2 vote, and not along partisan lines. Those who ruled in favor were as follows, with the president who nominated them and the party of that president indicated in parentheses:

  • Harry Blackmun (Nixon, R)
  • Lewis Powell (Nixon, R)
  • Warren Burger (Nixon, R)
  • William Brennan (Eisenhower, R)
  • Potter Stewart (Eisenhower, R)
  • Thurgood Marshall (LBJ, D)
  • William Douglas (FDR, D)

Those who dissented on Roe vs. Wade:

  • Byron White (Kennedy, D)
  • William Rehnquist (Nixon, R)

So five Republican-nominated justices and two Democrat-nominated justices ruled for choice, while one Republican and one Democrat-nominated justice ruled against.

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Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

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