Three great stories we found on the internet this week.
In a decision one advocate hailed as “a win for all imperiled invertebrates in California,” the State Supreme Court has ruled that insects are eligible for protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).
The decision rests on a bit of legalese. As the law is written, only “birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants” can be protected by the CESA. However, the California Fish and Game Code defines “fish” as any “mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate or amphibian.” As insects are invertebrates, they are now considered akin to fish for the purposes of legal protection.
The ruling couldn’t have come soon enough. Already, 28 percent of North American bumblebees are at risk of extinction, and one-third of food production relies on pollinators like bees. Since the ruling, conservation groups have moved to have several species of bees declared endangered in California — they’ll be granted interim protections while their official designation is processed.
A new chapter
Mass incarceration, the history of the KKK and the n-word — these were all topics discussed between California students as part of a virtual literacy society known as Black is Lit. Through weekly video chats, the program is creating a safe space where Black kids can fall in love with books and interpret literature that reflects the Black experience.
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A California teacher created Black is Lit after noticing a decline in reading and language arts scores. Focusing on a book each year, the selections hone in on a social justice topic that impacts the Black community. Some students have found that analyzing the texts has allowed them to translate those skills to other classes, while others have said it has made them more empathetic to others’ lived experiences. In the fall, the program will be expanded to more public schools in California.
“This was one of the first clubs that I felt connected to or that I could relate to,” said one student. “We were able to just express ourselves, and that’s not something that a lot of students get on campus.”
On a 13-acre permaculture farm in rural North Carolina, formerly incarcerated women are rebuilding their lives in a place where post-prison opportunities are often hard to come by.
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Even though they have less crime than urban areas, rural communities have higher growth in incarceration rates due to rising rates of pretrial detention and financial incentives to jail more people. Benevolence Farm has been striving to change that by providing safe housing, a guaranteed agricultural job, career-building classes, health appointments, and transportation for formerly incarcerated women since 2008. The need is particularly acute in these regions, where basic needs like health care, jobs and housing can be scarce. As of May, the farm has helped 32 residents, 84 percent of whom continue to live freely in Alamance County.
“They literally saved my life. And not only that, they helped me rebuild a relationship with my children,” said a mother of four who stayed at the farm for nearly 14 months before moving into her place.