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Nature Valley

When's the last time you spent time in nature?

[rebelmouse-image 19529934 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Image by Sonja Guina/Unsplash." expand=1]Image by Sonja Guina/Unsplash.

Real nature — not you standing under a tree for shade so you could see your cellphone screen better before hopping your city's subway system.


When was the last time you actually sat on some real green grass, surrounded by living trees, plants, and wildlife that doesn't consist of the pigeon you've named Joe that hangs out on your apartment window?

If it's "been a while," you could actually have something called "nature deficit disorder."

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If you have never heard of nature deficit disorder, you're not alone.

While it's not exactly a medical term, according to the man who coined the term — Richard Louv — there are very real problems that result from people losing their connection to nature. "[It’s] a useful term — a metaphor — to describe what many of us believe are the human costs of alienation from nature," he explains over email.

Louv in his garden. Image via Richard Louv, used with permission.

"Human beings have been moving more of their activities indoors since the invention of agriculture then, later, the Industrial Revolution," he explains.

Urbanization has only made the problem worse. Today, over half the world’s population live in urban areas, and according to the World Health Organization, over the next few decades, that number is expected to keep rising.

This means more and more people are living in crowded cities with very little access to parks, grass, or even a playground — which can take a huge toll on health.

Technology also makes everything harder — causing us all to spend more time staring at a screen than a real, live tree. This can wreak havoc on our mental and physical health.

That’s why Louv has spent his career trying to raise awareness for this issue and convince people to spend more time outdoors.

Growing up in Missouri and Kansas, Louv spent much of his childhood playing in the woods with his dog. But as he grew up, he began to realize just how difficult it was for him to find the time to spend outdoors.

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Work, family and technology demands just made it tough for him to step away.

In fact, the only way he could "build" nature into his schedule was to take full-on "techno-fasts" with his wife, leaving all electronics behind as they disappeared into the mountains for a few days at a time.

Image by René Reichelt/Unsplash.

Of course, it didn’t take Louv long to realize this struggle to find time for nature wasn’t unique to him or his family, so he decided to throw himself headfirst into researching this problem.

The result was three books, and numerous articles in publications like The New York Times, to plead his case with parents everywhere to make time for nature.

He also co-founded the Children and Nature Network, an organization dedicated to connecting families and communities to nature and the tools they need to make "nature time" a reality.

The good news is that it isn’t hard to "treat" nature deficit disorder — it just takes a little effort and, obviously, some time outdoors.

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"We all can create new natural habitats in and around our homes, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, cities and suburbs, so that, even in inner cities, our children grow up in nature — not with it, but in it," Louv says.

And the truth is, you don’t even have to spend a ton of time outdoors to start feeling the benefits of nature.

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Start by looking for your closest park and go there. Take the whole family, and spend the day exploring. Take a hike if you’re up for it, or spend the whole day lounging by a lake.

"We need to schedule nature time," Louv says.

Every little bit helps.

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Research shows that even a small dose of nature can reduce stress, lessen negative thoughts, and have positive effects on psychological well-being.

Some studies even suggest that bouts with nature can boost short-term memory, reduce inflammation, and improve your vision.  

And for kids, the benefits are even better.

"Studies strongly suggest that time in nature can help many children learn to build confidence in themselves," Louv explains, and it can help calm them down and focus in school.

[rebelmouse-image 19529942 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Image by by Annie Spratt/Unsplash." expand=1]Image by by Annie Spratt/Unsplash.

He notes, "Time spent in nature is obviously not a cure-all, but it can be an enormous help, especially for kids who are stressed by circumstances beyond their control."  

Contact with nature, Louv continues, allows children to see they are part of a larger world that includes them.

"Studies show that people who care deeply about the future of the environment almost always enjoyed transcendent experiences in nature when they were children," he says.

Spending time outdoors doesn’t just benefit us individually, it can also transform our relationship with the world around us.

[rebelmouse-image 19529943 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy." expand=1]Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

"If nature experiences continue to fade from the current generation of young people, and the next, and the ones to follow, where will future stewards of the earth come from?" Louv says.

It is his hope that by getting parents involved in bringing nature to their kids early and frequently that we can all, collectively, change our relationship to the natural world for the better.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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