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Showing posts from August 9, 2020

The Church Forests of Ethiopia

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Over the past century, nearly all of Ethiopia's native forests have been cleared for farming and grazing. Now it is up to the Orthodox Churches--who for centuries have safeguarded pockets of primary forest that grow around them--to preserve Ethiopias quickly shrinking biodiversity and teach people how to live with forests.


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Our Littlest Helpers: The Captivating World of Miniatures!

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Can you imagine remodeling your entire home in a single day, using only a pair of tweezers to do the heavy lifting? Shrink small but think BIG as we explore the fascinating world of miniatures! These tiny houses are more helpful to people than you may know!

You’ll often find them on the floor of children’s bedrooms but in addition to being a vessel for endless joy, did you know that dollhouses can also be used to solve crimes and even heal trauma? Well, take a seat on that thimble over there and make yourself at home—the miniature villas we are about to explore hold the tiny key to unlocking a BIG world of possibility!

By Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Human Connections in 'This Brilliant Darkness'

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"This Brilliant Darkness is a book born of insomnia. It's a collection of snapshots and written profiles by author Jeff Sharlet that take us deep into other people's lives. And by doing that, Sharlet says, he's really trying to tell us his own story. "I originally sort of thought of it as a memoir through other people's lives. It's bookended by two heart attacks, my father's, and then two years later, my own," he says. "I'm a journalist, and my life was sort of falling apart and the only way I knew how to put it together was through stories. So it's a collection of the strangers whose stories I shared, they shared with me in those years between those heart attacks, and attempting to find a narrative together."" NPR shares more.


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The Soil's Story is the Story of Us

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"Thousands of years of taking have caught up with us--and our soil.

Approximately 40 percent of agricultural soils worldwide are degraded or seriously degraded; we lose an estimated 36 billion tons of topsoil every year. Scientists warn us that we only have about 60 years of productive soil left. What will happen when the Earth has lost all of its soil and can no longer produce food? While this is a dire future, it doesn't have to be our destiny. It's time to act. And the solution is under our feet. This is the story of how each of us came to see soil as a solution to one of our biggest environmental problems--and as a tool to build more resilient communities." "The Story of Stuff" creator Annie Leonard shares more.


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How to Make Birthdays Meaningful During a Pandemic

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While we may need to get creative to celebrate lockdown birthdays, science suggests that doing so is good for our well-being.

Birthdays are kind of a big deal in my house. Usually we celebrate by having a bunch of friends over, sharing great food and wine, and carousing into the wee hours.

By Jill Suttie


But when the birthday of my husband, Don, rolled around this year, we were in lockdown like everyone else—and creativity was needed. So, I posted love poems around the house the night before, baked his mother’s famous chocolate cake, and organized a surprise Zoom birthday ritual with a few close friends holding candles and sending heartfelt wishes to him.

Why go to all the trouble? As with weddings and other rituals, birthday parties are bigger than one person. They bring friends and family together, strengthening the ties that make up our society. They remind us that we are not alone in the face of our own mortality. They’re a great excuse to eat cake.

We’re all going to celebrate a birth…

When Is a Haircut More Than a Haircut?

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Where do you go where you’re welcomed like a true friend? COVID-19 has made these places really stand out, like our salons, for instance. But even with closed doors, some of these barbers and hairdressers are finding ways to keep that connection going. Here’s a fun look at why!

If there’s one thing that distancing during COVID-19 taught us, it’s the power of a good haircut. This was most apparent for those who wear their hair in short styles, who started February with close-cropped cuts and perfect fades, and by the end of March were resigned to baseball caps covering an untamed mess, or succumbing to the disaster of a DIY home haircut. In missing our appointments, though, we’ve been missing out on something else; a less appreciated, more important aspect of our lives!

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber


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Seven Ways the Pandemic Is Affecting Our Mental Health

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You’re not alone—people around the world are depressed, anxious, and stressed, some more than others.

As we speak, epidemiologists and virologists around the world are scrambling to understand and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. There is another group of researchers who are concerned about a slightly different foe: the mental health pandemic.

By Kira M. Newman


Facing an infectious disease, we have been forced to maintain distance from each other, all while going through levels of fear, uncertainty, job loss, and grief that are unprecedented for many people.

“In an ironic twist, many of the strategies that are critical to ensuring our collective public health during this pandemic may put people at greater risk for . . . mental health issues,” write Frederick Buttell and Regardt J. Ferreira at Tulane University in a recent, special issue of the journal Psychological Trauma.

In brand-new studies coming out of China, Spain, the United States, and other countries, researchers are d…

Connect & Find Joy While Social Distancing

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"Social distancing recommendations will remain in place for months to come, and until there's a vaccine, limits on big gatherings will likely continue. For the elderly or those who live alone, the isolation can be particularly grueling. But, people are finding new ways to interact with each other, even under extraordinary circumstances." NPR offers some strategies to connect with others.


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How a Body Scan Can Help With Strong Emotions

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Even a short meditation practice can make you more resilient.

We are living through a time of uncertainty, a sky-high pile of question marks. It has become increasingly difficult to make plans because the state of our world today is so volatile due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are adapting to their homes becoming their offices indefinitely, or in danger of losing their jobs, while others long to embrace loved ones they are stuck six feet away from.

By Sophie McMullen


In a time when emotions like stress, anxiety, boredom, and anger are hard to avoid, a new study suggests that a particular meditation practice can help us face them.

Catherine Juneau, of Clermont Auvergne University in France, and her colleagues examined how mindfulness meditation practice affects equanimity, the ability to maintain a calm and balanced state of mind even in the face of difficult situations.

Eighty-nine college students with minimal meditation experience were split into groups who either did a bod…

The Fascinating Secret Behind How Birds Sing!

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From the beauty of the dawn chorus to the strange wonder of hearing a parrot talk like one of us, birds never cease to amaze us. But how do they make such an astonishing array of sounds? You will never walk through a park or your yard the same after this!

Have you ever wondered how birds sing their elaborate songs without lips? Or how parrots can seem to speak our language? Thanks to a very special feat of evolution, they have a unique ability (yeah, even more so than flying!) all thanks to something known as the syrinx! Because of this extraordinary voice box, they’re able to hit some serious notes that any opera singer would be jealous of, all with a little neck dance.

By Sam Burns


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Celebrating Wendell Berry

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"Wendell Berry has been an Orion contributor and advisor since the magazine's beginnings in 1982. Berry is the author of over forty books of poetry, fiction, and essays, and has farmed in Port Royal, Kentucky, for over forty years." Orion celebrated Wendell Berry's eighty-sixth birthday by compiling their all-time favorite writings from Berry, published in Orion over the past four decades. Check it out here.


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Where There’s a Weevil, There’s a Way!

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Here’s a story that shows what’s possible when we use our strengths to solve big problems. When a Texas lake and way of life were threatened by an invasive species, scientists, community members, and weevils teamed up to save their beloved waters!

What do you do when 6,000 acres of your favorite place disappear?! When the lake you love becomes an endless expanse of floating green ferns? Fear not: with the power of community and a few underappreciated insect superheroes, not all hope is lost!

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber


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Finding Balance in an Unstable World

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"The present pandemic, which in a few short months has wreaked havoc across our world, is most likely caused by an imbalance in the natural world, as loss of habitat and biodiversity is not only driving animals to extinction but directly causing animal viruses to spread to humans. In response our leaders are using the images of conflict: We are at war with Covid 19, we keep hearing; it is an invisible enemy we need to vanquish. But although this virus is disrupting our lives, causing sickness, death, and economic breakdown, it is itself a completely natural phenomenon, a living thing reproducing itself in the way nature intended. Are these images of conflict and conquest appropriate or even helpful? Do they help us to understand and to respond, to bring our world back into balance?" Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee shares more on finding balance in an unstable world.


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Milford Zornes: An Artist's Life

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When I met Milford, he was 97 and blind. I met him on Friday and on Saturday he was going to give a watercolor workshop. Earlier that Friday, I'd asked his art dealer, "How does a painter give a workshop if he's blind?" "I don't know," the dealer said, "But he does!" I liked Zornes's paintings and asked, "Does he live around here?" Cutting to the chase, three hours later I was at Milford's door. As we shook hands, I handed him a copy of works & conversations thinking, too late, as the magazine left my hand, "How's he going to see it?"


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