Some Of The Many Things We Are Interested In:

The Real Lucy-in-the-Sky-With Diamonds

UPDATED: The Real Lucy-in-the-Sky-With Diamonds Honored by Childhood Pal Julian Lennon

By Good News Network

Lucy Vodden was the subject of a painting brought home from kindergarten by a young Julian Lennon, who showed it to his dad, John, and told him it was “Lucy — in the sky with diamonds”.

Julian got back in touch with Lucy a few years ago when he heard that she was battling Lupus, an auto-immune disease.

Now, a plaque commemorating the woman who inspired the Beatles’ hit, will be placed in Liverpool in memory of Vodden who died in 2009 at age 46. (See the drawing below)

Following her death, Lennon became heavily involved with St Thomas’ Lupus Trust, which commissioned the plaque, and he become the Lupus Foundation of America’s Global Ambassador.

The video below was made for World Lupus Day May 10. Julian describes knowing Lucy and tells how her death inspired him to help raise money and awareness for the terrible disease, which affects millions.

Lucy In the Skies With Diamonds - original drawingLiverpool’s City Council agreed to the placing of a ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ plaque in Mathew Street in Liverpool, which is the Mecca for fans of the Beatles. The sculptor of the bronze plaque will be Lauren Voiers, who is the young sculptor responsible for the John Lennon Peace monument in Liverpool.

This will take place alongside the launch of the ‘Lucy Vodden Lupus Research Fellowship’ a  lupus research project in Lucy’s name so all excess funds from the plaque will go towards that project.


Read More…

Grow your own clothes?

How to Grow Your Own Clothes

My project sprang from an idea in my book“Fashioning The Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe.”

I was questioning what science could “fashion” for us in the future.

As a fashion designer, I’ve always tended to think of making clothing from conventional materials. But then I met a biologist, and now I think of a completely different recipe — green tea, sugar, a few microbes and a little time.

I’m essentially using a kombucha recipe, which is a symbiotic mix of bacteria, yeasts and other microorganisms, which spin cellulose in a fermentation process. Over time, these tiny threads form in the liquid into layers and produce a mat on the surface.

Watch Suzanne Lee’s TED Talk

We start by brewing the tea. I brew up to about 30 liters of tea at a time, and then while it’s still hot, add a couple of kilos of sugar. We stir this in until it’s completely dissolved and then pour it into a growth bath. We need to check that the temperature has cooled to below 30 degrees Celsius. And then we’re ready to add the living organism, and along with that, some acetic acid.

We need to maintain an optimum temperature for the growth. I use a heat mat to sit the bath on and a thermostat to regulate it.

After about three days, the bubbles will appear on the surface of the liquid — the fermentation is in full swing. And the bacteria are feeding on the sugar nutrients in the liquid.

So they’re spinning these tiny nanofibers of pure cellulose. And they’re sticking together, forming layers and giving us a sheet on the surface. After about two to three weeks, we’re looking at something which is about an inch in thickness. This is a static culture. You don’t have to do anything to it; you just literally watch it grow. It doesn’t need light.

And when it’s ready to harvest, you take it out of the bath and you wash it in cold, soapy water. At this point, it’s really heavy. It’s over 90 percent water, so we need to let that evaporate. So I spread it out onto a wooden sheet. Silk, the ancient material of the future

As it’s drying, it’s compressing, so what you’re left with, depending on the recipe, is something that’s either like a really lightweight, transparent paper, or something which is much more like a flexible vegetable leather. And then you can either cut that out and sew it conventionally, or you can use the wet material to form it around a three-dimensional shape. And as it evaporates, it will knit itself together, forming seams.

I started to grow microbial cellulose to explore an ecofriendly textile for clothing and accessories but, very quickly, I realized this method had potential for all sorts of other biodegradable consumer products.

Read More…

Grow a Building from Seed

How to grow a building from seed

When Thomas Heatherwick competed to design the UK pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, he was sure about one thing: His team wasn’t going to showcase “the same cheesy adverts for Britain and promote some silly stereotypes of Britain as fog and rain and Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter and Beefeaters and phone boxes.”

Designing what to build instead presented some challenges. “An expo is a kind of bonkers event,” the London-based architect said in an interview following his talk at the TED2011 conference in March in Long Beach, California. There were more than 240 pavilions competing for the attention of the millions of visitors to the expo last year.

“It’s the equivalent of going to all the main museums in New York, L.A., London and every shop in Oxford Street in London. You’d be absolutely frazzled by the time that you might get anywhere near the UK pavilion. So we were very struck that in that context, one of the most important things a pavilion could be would be quite calm and experiential, simple and in some way be a kind of break from what other pavilions might be like.”

Taking a cue from the Expo’s theme of “Better City, Better Life,” Heatherwick decided to focus on how British cities, particularly London, had integrated nature into urban life. At Kew Gardens, London had “the world’s first major botanical institution. … And London for its size is one of the greenest cities in the world,” he said.

The result was the “Seed Cathedral,” a strikingly different pavilion that commanded attention from visitors with its 66,000 optical tubes, each embedded with a different seed from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank, which is seeking to collect and preserve seeds from a quarter of the world’s plant species by 2020.

By Heatherwick’s account, the project required a different approach from designing a national pavilion. “Normally one person designs a fancy box and someone else scratches their head and says ‘Oh my God, what are we going to put inside it?’ We really wanted the main architecture that you experience to grow out of the content, but how do you grow a building out of seeds?”

Read More…

A Generation Without Fear

A Generation Without Fear

The Meningitis Vaccine projectis a fantastic success story. Prior to December 2010, the approach to protecting people from meningococcal epidemic meningitis in Africa was inadequate and reactive. This preventable disease was needlessly killing lives. A vaccine is now available for 50 cents per dose.

I was in Africa when the largest meningitis epidemic on record hit in 1996 causing over 250,000 cases and 25,000 deaths. The epidemic caused social and economic activities to grind to a halt.

The health officials at that time were overwhelmed. They contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) to request a new approach for dealing with this problem. The WHO brought together an international coalition including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PATH, and other stakeholders and they arrived at one recommendation—a new vaccine model needed to be produced that would prevent epidemic meningitis from occurring again. That led to the formation of the Meningitis Vaccine project—a partnership between WHO and PATH with funding from The Gates Foundation.

After ten years of research and development a vaccine was licensed in June 2010 and has been introduced in three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Within two weeks of introduction, over 10 million people were vaccinated in Burkina Faso, 4 million in Mali and 3 million in Niger. To date nearly 20 million people have received the new vaccine and only 8 cases, who were unvaccinated persons, have been reported in these 3 countries.

Read More…

Golden Rice

The Need

Rice is the staple food crop for more than half of the world’s population, and is especially important in Asia. While it is ample in calories, it lacks vitamin A, which plays an important role in maintaining good health. Because millions of people in the developing world don’t have access to a variety of nutritious foods, millions are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Enriching rice with vitamin A is one potential solution that can help end this chronic health condition. 

The Project

The foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and partners to develop Golden Rice, a type of rice that contains beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This grant builds on previous foundation funding, and supports a range of activities to develop Golden Rice varieties that are suited for the Philippines and Bangladesh. It is hoped that Golden Rice will help improve the health of millions of children and adults across the Philippines and Bangladesh.

Read More…

Greyhounds Wonderful with Families

Greyhounds great for more than just a day at the track

On her blog, Animal Attraction, Journal writer Jamie Hall invites readers to share their pet-and animalrelated stories and photos. In exchange, she’ll pass along the latest pet information, news, health care and trends. Here are some of the week’s highlights from her blog, on the Pets page at People in the dog world call greyhounds the world’s fastest couch potatoes. At top speed, they’ve been known to hit upwards of 60 kilometres an hour, but what they love almost as much as running is sleeping -preferably on a nice couch or a soft bed. They’re a highly intelligent breed and incredibly sensitive. They’re sight hounds, so if they spot something moving and they’re not on a leash, they are gone, gone and gone. “That’s the big worry about greyhounds,” says Bilinda Wagner. “No matter how much you train them, they have the potential to escape from you. They need to be on a leash, unless you’re in a completely fenced area, so they’re really not good off-leash park candidates. They make good running companions, though.” Greyhounds discovered on a Saskatchewan farm recently were not leashed, but chained up, in a muddy yard, without proper shelter and with no access to water. Already overwhelmed with dogs from another seizure, the Saskatoon SPCA turned to the Edmonton Humane Society for help -and to Wagner, who has 25 years’ experience with the breed. “They knew we had a member of our management team with experience raising and educating others about greyhounds, so transferring the dogs here was a natural fit,” says Shawna Randolph, society spokeswoman. Wagner was among the first Canadians to become involved in Adopt-a-Greyhound. The program started in the U.S. in the ’70s to find good homes for retired racing dogs, which were often abused or left to languish in kennels at tracks. She has owned greyhounds and whippets -a smaller version of a greyhound -since she was 13. She now has a greyhound cross, a pit bull and a chihuahua. Altogether, 17 greyhounds and greyhound cross dogs were brought to the Edmonton shelter last week. Six have since been transferred to Chinook Winds Greyhound Rescue, one has been adopted and the others are undergoing behavioural assessments and being spayed or neutered in preparation for adoption. “Some of them have broken teeth and scars,” Wagner says, “but bit by bit they’re getting better. They’re very gentle dogs and they love to be around people.” Ideally, the dogs will be adopted by people who have experience with the breed, or who are willing to be educated about their special needs. With their instinct to hunt and chase, Wagner says, one of the most important needs is a special collar -regular collars can easily slip off their long, slender necks. She says people sometimes mistakenly believe the dogs are too slim and end up overfeeding them. “It’s not healthy for them to carry too much weight -it can really damage their legs. They’re built to be streamlined.” She says greyhounds are wonderful family dogs. They need rules and consistency. What they don’t need is tons of exercise; a couple of good walks a day will suffice. “I think a lot of people have this misconception that these dogs need lots of exercise. They like to sleep most of the day. And they love soft spaces, so they need someone who won’t get angry when they jump up on the couch or the bed.”

Why Blogs Matter

Gotta Blog – Why Blogs Matter for Your Nonprofit.

You probably have heard more and more about nonprofit use of blogs over the last year. And you may have read my article, “Should your nonprofit launch a blog?,” last fall. It’s a great introduction to blogging for nonprofits.

A quick reminder – a blog is a website that takes the form of an online journal, updated frequently with running commentary on one or many topics.

Why blogs matter

There are few who will discount blogs’ role as a key component of online culture. If anything, blogs are quickly becoming popular with established users of the Internet, according to a late 2004 study on blogs by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Pew conducted two telephone surveys of nearly 2,000 Internet users, and found that 32 million Americans, or 27 percent of Internet users, say they read blogs– a 58 percent jump from the prior year (with a huge growth in readers 30-49 years old). More than 8 million Internet users have created a blog or web-based diary. Twelve percent of Internet users have posted comments or other material on a blog.

Nonetheless, the blogging concept is still evolving among the majority of Americans. Sixty-two percent of online Americans do not know what a blog is, according to the Pew study.

Other results found by the Pew organization indicate the blogging community is still far from average, even among Internet users. Blog creators are more likely (82 percent) to have been online for six years or more and have broadband (70 percent) at home.

This study, paired with a prior Pew report indicating 59 percent of Americans access the Internet as of 2002, begs the question: What, if any, impact do blogs have on how the public gets their news and information?

The answer, not surprisingly, appears to be mixed. But what’s clear is that blogging (writing and reading), like Internet usage, is growing at a phenomenal rate. Even if your nonprofit isn’t blogging, organizations that are competing for the same donors, members, volunteers and participants are likely to be doing so. As a result, it’s a venue you can’t ignore any longer.

Read More…