Three great stories we found on the internet this week.
Many Indigenous tribes in the U.S. are moving to shore up their food sovereignty in an effort to fight hunger, protect the environment and preserve culture. But reviving age-old agricultural methods requires something that not every tribe has in abundance: the seeds needed to grow traditional crops.
The Regional Indigenous Seed Growers Cooperative is working to fix that. The group provides seeds to tribal communities that want them — in the spring of 2020, it distributed 11,000 packets of seeds to 270 communities. But when demand exceeded their supply, the cooperative decided to expand its mission. It held a “seed census” to identify seed stocks and collect information on their locations and contents. Now, they’re creating a detailed seed sovereignty map of these stocks. The goal is to use seed sharing to cultivate stronger inter-tribal connections, as well as get seeds into the hands of as many growers as possible.
The effort also reflects a reverence for the seeds themselves. “That’s their sole purpose in life: to sacrifice themselves,” said one seed keeper from the Ho-Chunk Nation. “To not only be food for humans and wildlife but also to reproduce again. And what’s so beautiful about [seed-saving] work is that you get to be a part of that.”
A call for calm
Domestic violence is rife in Bogota, and the city has its share of systems to help the survivors: initiatives offering legal, psychological, medical and peer support. But now it has something else, too — a hotline for men at risk of perpetrating the abuse in the first place.
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The Calm Hotline is staffed by psychologists trained to de-escalate men’s emotions before they lead to violence. It was launched in December and has already fielded calls from 700 men. The mental health professionals who started it did so based on research showing that 77 percent of domestic violence incidents were associated with jealousy, trust issues or machismo. “If someone comes in for problems with jealousy, we ask him why and when he feels jealousy, and then we start deconstructing those variables and unlearning,” said the hotline’s team coordinator.
The hotline is similar to one launched in northwest Colombia a decade ago, in an oil town where domestic violence rates were twice the national average. After 18 months of taking calls, incidents of domestic violence there fell by 43 percent. “We were taught that men don’t cry, they don’t hug, and they don’t express emotions,” said a Calm Hotline coordinator. “Well, here is an opportunity for men to be heard.”
The latest addition to the list of pandemic-inspired urban enhancements is a linear park along an abandoned rail in Turin, Italy that may become permanent. The space, right in the heart of the city, had sat dormant for years — locals called it “the trench” due to the city-erected barriers around it preventing access. Then, last summer, it was spruced up and opened as a public park to give residents more space for socially distanced recreation. The city got the entire project for a song: $22,000. And while the conversion was supposed to be temporary, the city recently announced that the park will remain open through September 2021 — and perhaps permanently after that — so that local schools can hold classes there.