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10 hours ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago Neighborhood to Become Energy Efficient with Microgrid

Chicago Neighborhood to Become Energy Efficient with Microgrid

A Chicago neighborhood has created a microgrid to become energy efficient. The Bronzeville Community Microgrid combines rooftop solar, natural gas-fired generators and batteries to produce and store energy at a local level. Once fully operational, it will render the entire neighborhood “energy independent,” giving it the ability to disconnect from and reconnect to Chicago’s citywide grid at will.

The microgrid is part of a $25 million initiative, including $5 million in Department of Energy grants and is the first neighborhood microgrid in the US. ComEd plans to have the system up and running by early 2023, not just for emergencies but also to balance and optimize the interplay of distributed energy resources with the larger grid.

The microgrid also has become a blueprint for reducing communities’ contribution to climate change. This is due to the fact that the system gives its operators the ability, at scale, to introduce more renewables into its energy mix while reducing “line loss,” the electricity lost as it travels across power lines.

Along with the microgrid, ComEd has sponsored community-related activities, off-grid and solar-powered streetlights and free Wi-Fi throughout the service area. The community will also have freestanding digital kiosks providing community-related news and energy-related information.

The neighborhood also has an advisory council, The Bronzeville Community of the Future, which is composed of approximately two dozen individuals and organization leaders from a broad range of organizations. They have formal sessions quarterly and frequent informal meetings to keep stakeholders and residents informed about the initiative. The initiative has been years in the making and ComEd also hosted an Ideathon in 2018, 2019 and a virtual format in 2020 for Bronzeville-area high school students to design smart city and smart grid projects using STEM skills.

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2 days ago · by · Comments Off on Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Makes $122 Million Donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Makes $122 Million Donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has made the biggest donation in the 118-year history of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization announced that the billionaire philanthropist has donated $122.6 million. The massive donation will be divided among 38 agencies, which is what the organization calls its local chapters.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization has been fostering one-on-one relationships between kids and their adult mentors across the country for more than a century. The goal is to help children achieve their potential through long-lasting, positive relationships. The organization has mentoring programs that are community-based, school-based, for children of military families and children with incarcerated parents.

With the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, they make meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 5 through young adulthood in communities across the country. Artis Stevens, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America said “We are incredibly grateful and humbled by MacKenzie’s generosity and acknowledgement of the incredible work of our passionate professionals and volunteers who are unwavering in their commitment to create meaningful outcomes for young people today and for generations to come,”

Scott’s donation is the latest in her extensive philanthropic work. Since pledging to give away most of her fortune, the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has given more than $12 billion to more than 1,200 organizations over the past three years. In March, Scott revealed she donated $3.9 billion to various organizations including Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity.

Last year, Scott announced giving away $2.7 billion to 286 organizations including the Children’s Defense Fund and National Equity Project. In 2020, Scott made two big donations of $1.7 billion to diverse organizations including historically Black colleges and universities, and another $4.2 billion to groups providing services including food banks and debt relief.

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6 days ago · by · Comments Off on Good Samaritans Recognized for Saving Florida Woman Having Medical Emergency In Her Car

Good Samaritans Recognized for Saving Florida Woman Having Medical Emergency In Her Car

A video of Good Samaritans in Florida rushing to help a driver experiencing a medical emergency in her car went viral. The rescue happened on May 5th and the video shows several people springing into action after witnessing a gray car slowly roll into an intersection with its driver, Laurie Rabyor, unconscious at the steering wheel.

A press conference was held where Florida’s Boynton Beach Police Department recognized Jannette Rivera, Juan Chavez Jr., Michael Edelstein, David Formica, DaVida Peele, Marko Bartolone, Muriel Vaughns and Robin Fox for their quick thinking and courage. The press conference was the culmination of tracking down those who had helped. Each person was awarded a Royal Caribbean cruise and a $2,000 gift card, plus flowers.

Jannette Rivera, a co-worker of Rabyor’s had seen Rabyor slumped over her steering wheel, jumped into the street and began waving her arms to attract the attention of other motorists.
Several individuals, including Edelstein, leaped into action to find a way to stop the car, put it into park and then push it into a nearby 7-Eleven parking lot. A nurse there helped Rabyor until the fire department arrived.

Marko Bartolone said “I saw a lady chasing a car through an intersection in South Florida … and I thought, ‘Wow, she’s really mad at that other lady!. I figured out what was happening and thought, ‘I really can’t stop a car.’ But then I see Chavez … and I thought, well, with a couple of people, we could probably stop the car. I feel like I just did what anyone would do.” Michael Edelstein said “I’m stunned to be standing here. I was in the right place at the right time. … I was the fool that jumped in front of the car and then tried to punch the window out.”

Rabynor says she doesn’t remember any of it. “They all just came together to help a little old lady and I appreciate it so, so much. … It is so wonderful to see something nice today instead of all this crap that’s going on in the world and even in our community. … It’s so nice to see something nice” she said.

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Planned Bronx Housing Complex Will Have Biodigester Turning Food Waste Into Fertilizer

Planned Bronx Housing Complex Will Have Biodigester Turning Food Waste Into Fertilizer

A new community housing development in the Bronx will feature an on-site biodigester that can turn 1,100 pounds of food scraps into 220 pounds of high-quality fertilizer every single day. A biodigester is basically a big stomach filled with bacteria that breaks down food scraps and wasted food into their component parts. Producing fertilizer right there in the city reduces the need for it to be trucked in from afar.

The Peninsula, organized by Gilbane Development Company, was selected to transform the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in the Bronx’s Hunts Point community into a 5-acre campus featuring 100% affordable housing, good jobs, and recreational space. The complex
will feature 740 units of affordable housing, 50,000 square-foot light industrial space and equal sized green space, and 15,000 feet of commercial space, all of which will send their food scraps into the digester.

Built by Harp Renewables, the biodigester will be the first ever in a New York residential building. Each year, nearly 4 million tons of New York’s organic waste end up in landfills. Digesters have the potential to turn one of building owners’ biggest problems into a payday and have the potential to become a standard part of all apartment units as the amount of food waste in America reaches 30% of the total mass of all trash collection.

Another problem these aerobic or bio-digesters could potentially help is pollution and greenhouse gas emissions since fertilizer is a big emitter of all three of the most-targeted GHGs. Food scraps emit more greenhouse gasses in the U.S. than airplanes but biodigesters are clean eaters. They don’t emit carbon dioxide or methane, and their output replaces synthetic fertilizers. Bio-digesters by design keep the CO2 and methane in the fertilizer produced, rather than it entering the atmosphere.

Fertilizer, like quarry dust and ammonia is often imported from countries who specialize in its production, such as Norway, but also Russia and Ukraine, whose conflict has recently highlighted the fragility of the supply chain with sharp price increases. This importation means thousands of tons of CO2 gets emitted during transportation.

The U.S. has over 2,200 biodigesters in all 50 states; 250 digesters on farms, 1,269 water resource recovery facilities are using biodigesters and 66 stand-alone systems. More than half of those used on farms and in industrial facilities are an energy resource for producing electricity or usable heat for operations at the facility. Biodigesters are slowly making their way into residential and industrial spaces around the country because they combat several issues. Digesters can last for decades if used correctly, paying off their initial investment and generating long-lasting returns.

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on 2019 EuroMillions Winners Say They’ve Given Most of Winnings to Charity

2019 EuroMillions Winners Say They’ve Given Most of Winnings to Charity

Frances and Patrick Connelly won more than $145 million (£115) million in the lottery in 2019 and the self-confessed charity addicts say they’ve already given away half of it. Frances is a former social worker and teacher. She said winning the EuroMillions 2019 jackpot gave her all kinds of ideas on how to help people so after helping friends and family-the couple immediately set up two professional charities.

One is named after Frances’ late mother Kathleen Graham in her native Northern Ireland and the other is PFC Trust which supports organizations that support the elderly, refugees and others in her hometown. Connelly has been helping people since childhood. She volunteered with St. John’s Ambulance as a child and set up an AIDS helpline while a student in Belfast. She runs several community groups that do a variety of work—from helping refugees to providing seniors with tablets so they can video call their families.

In an interview, Frances said “Helping people… it just gives you a buzz. I’m addicted to it now.” Patty said when they won the couple sat down and he told Frances to go ahead and make a list of her charity ideas. In terms of personal treats, they did buy a new house—a six-bedroom home in Durham with seven acres of land. Frances said that most of the big money ideas have already been given out and that she has a yearly charity budget for the allocation.

She said she wasn’t overwhelmed with the large winnings, but rather recalled all those conversations she had had throughout her life about what would you do if you won the lottery so the hierarchy of helping was well established. She said she balks at the idea of spending money on luxuries like yachts, saying reports of people spending $25,000 on a bottle of champagne make her think the money could have helped someone buy a house.

The Connolly’s agree that winning a huge amount of money might change a person’s life but it does not alter their personality. Frances said “If I had any advice for a winner… I’d say money liberates you to be the person that you want to be. If you’re stupid before you get it, you’re going to be stupid afterwards.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Cape Town Bartender Hailed Hero For Saving People Swept Out to Sea

Cape Town Bartender Hailed Hero For Saving People Swept Out to Sea

Tongai Matandirotya, a bartender turned hero, who works at Brass Bell Restaurant near Cape Town South Africa left behind any thoughts of his own safety to dive into the cold Atlantic ocean to rescue a mother and daughter swept off the pier by a rogue wave. It was a relatively calm day and several people were walking by the window of Brass Bells looking out to the water when a huge wave came over the harbor and pulled them into the ocean.

Clair Gardiner and her 8-year-old daughter Arya van Hilten were two of the people swept away. Gardiner knew they were being pulled into the water as soon as the wave rushed over them, and she managed to wrap her arms around little Arya. Matandirotya saw it happen and dropped the drink he was pouring, ran outside and dove into the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The ferocity of the waves had pulled Gardiner and Arya apart. Matandirotya used his belt to rescue Arya who wasn’t able to stay afloat by herself. Gardiner said she went back to the restaurant to thank him “I didn’t know who saved us but my daughter recognized him immediately, and we all embraced each other. We are so thankful to Tongai and the tourist man who risked their lives to save ours; we’ll forever be grateful to them.”

Matandirotya, along with another man, also saved Angela Campbell, 75, who was also swept away that day while taking a stroll with her family. “I looked around and realized I was in the water. I panicked! Eventually, I managed to turn over, but I then started sinking. I remember talking to myself, saying ‘God make it quick, I’m scared’. Campbell said that besides her life being saved, she was more thankful that her grandson was not in the buggy that she was pushing when the wave hit her.

Matandirotya told news outlets he dove in because he saw a child (Aryna) go in and he has a very soft spot for kids and his instinct to help just kicked in. Brass Bell restaurant spokesperson Ethan Govender said the staff and management team were impressed by Matandirotya’s bravery. “We applaud him for his braveness in jumping into action to save those that fell into the ocean. Tongai is a wonderful, loveable, fun human being. His character speaks volumes, and we are immensely proud of the risk he took in saving lives.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on California Community Composting Program’s Success Spurs Other States To Follow

California Community Composting Program’s Success Spurs Other States To Follow

California leads the nation in food production, which requires a lot of water and new water restrictions issued for millions of residents of Southern California highlighted the need to make agriculture more efficient.  A new statewide composting mandate is providing the solution.  They became the second state in the nation after Vermont to make large-scale composting required by law.

Food waste makes up nearly 20% of the stuff in our landfills. When that food decomposes, it releases methane; tens of times more potent than carbon dioxide, it’s one of the main greenhouse gasses fueling the climate crisis, and landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

More than 200 cities across the country, and many universities, have followed San Francisco’s lead and implemented curbside collection of food scraps for composting. In compliance with the new law—(SB 1383) requiring California cities to reduce landfilling of compostable materials by 75 percent by 2025—cities up and down California are establishing curbside programs that provide bins for food scraps, sticks, and leaves, so they can be turned into ‘black gold’ compost for farmers.

City composting programs produce thousands of truckloads of finished compost that go onto farms, orchards, and vineyards, creating a natural sponge that attracts and retains moisture. When citizens dump their coffee grounds and banana peels into a bin for pick up, they are feeding the soil, while guarding against water shortages and farms can grow up to 40 percent more food in times of drought when they use compost.  

San Francisco’s pioneering food scrap collection program, which was labeled as something that would never work, created momentum for the statewide program.  That citywide green-bin program has diverted 2.5 million tons of compostable material from the landfill, which not only saved landfill space and eliminated thousands of tons of methane emissions, but also helped local farms grow more healthy food, using less water and less fertilizer.

Delegations from 135 counties have traveled to San Francisco to view this program firsthand, which was implemented later at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, in Marin County and 11 cities in San Mateo County. Other cities adopting the trend—Portland, Seattle, Denver and Boulder, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Baltimore, Anchorage, Eugene, Cambridge, and Ann Arbor, Michigan—proving the program is a WIN for landfills, farmers, and the planet.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on 12 Year Old Boy Raises $325,000 for Children of Ukraine

12 Year Old Boy Raises $325,000 for Children of Ukraine

A 12 year old British boy’s woodworking project went viral so he seized the opportunity to raise money for the children of Ukraine through Save the Children.  Richard Clarkie knows of his son Gabriel’s love for woodwork and decided to post a tweet to encourage others to order his son’s creations.  The proud father posted a link to his son’s hobby of carving wooden bowls and posting them for sale on Instagram.

Richard’s tweet read “Lovely twitter people – I don’t know how many of you are also #instagram users but I’m looking for a wee favor. I’ve a 12yr old who loves woodwork. He spends hours on his lathe making bowls and creating chopping boards which he sells to save up for a mountain bike. So I was wondering if any of you fancied giving him a boost and following him on instagram at clarkie_woodwork it would make his day. Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet!”

Neither of them expected much from the tweet, and they certainly didn’t expect Clarkie’s Instagram account to grow from a modest 6 followers to 227,000 in just 48 hours.  Gabriel, who lives in Cumbria in northern England, quickly received 20,000 orders. But rather than fulfilling so many orders, he decided to make just a single bowl.  To symbolize the Ukrainian Flag, the wooden bowl was etched with blue and yellow rings.

Clarkie Woodwork——announced Gabrial would make one single bowl, Gabriel’s Bowl For Ukraine, to be given out in a lottery to anyone who makes a donation to Save The Children Ukraine.  His instagram page went viral again and with a little help from celebrity retweets by the likes of J.K Rowling, Nick Offerman and Stephen Fry. The $6,260 donation quickly grew to $325,000 with nearly 15,000 people donating.  

The lucky winner was Renuka Chapman who said “When Gabriel rang me to let me know I’d won the bowl, I was completely overwhelmed— I’ve never won a single thing before!  This bowl will be one of my most treasured possessions. It represents hope, compassion, and kindness… It will have pride of place in my home.”  Richard Clarkie said “I never imagined that my tweet would turn into this amazing thing… Somehow, it’s resulted in people donating over $325,000 to help children in Ukraine, it’s just incredible!” 

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Henry Richard, the brother of the youngest victim in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, has completed the Boston Marathon in honor of his brother. He was emotional as he completed his first Boston Marathon. As he neared the end of the race, an emotional Richard stopped at the Boston Marathon memorial on Boylston Street for several moments. He then turned and ran to the finish, pumping both fists in the air as he crossed the line.

Henry ran with Team MR8, to raise money for the Martin Richard Foundation, which promotes inclusion, kindness, and peace in Martin’s legacy. The foundation invests in community programs that broaden horizons for young people and encourage them to celebrate diversity and engage in positive civic action.

Henry was 10 years old when his 8-year-old brother Martin was one of three people killed that day. Hundreds of people were injured that day including his 6 year old sister Jane who lost her left leg in the bombing. Jane survived that day after Matthew Patterson, from Lynn Fire Department, grabbed a stranger’s belt and made a tourniquet for her. Patterson then lifted her into his arms and raced through the devastation carrying her with her father, Bill Richard, by his side.

His sister, Jane, his parents and other family members were there at the finish line. “It’s great to get here finally. It’s been years in the making for me so I’m just so happy I could finally be here. I know Martin would have been doing it with me — so happy to finish it, that’s all I can think about. So many people were out there for me, all my friends, my family. Motivation was the least of my worries. There were so many people there to support me. It was wonderful and I couldn’t believe it. It meant the world to me that they were here waiting.” Henry said.

Finishing the Boston Marathon is an incredible achievement by itself, but crossing the finish line meant even more to Henry Richard. It also brought back a lot of emotions for the entire Richard family. Henry plans on running the marathon again in the future. “I love this city and I couldn’t be more grateful to them and everything they’ve done for me,” he said.

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Georgia Teen’s Project Helps Preemies Thrive

Georgia Teen’s Project Helps Preemies Thrive

When a Georgia teen learned that babies staying in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) only received two hours a day with their parents during the pandemic, she knew she wanted to help provide some extra comfort to the infants. Bryn Hammock, 18, a Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten, had been looking for an inspiring project to help her earn the Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor, and knew helping NICU babies was the right choice.

Hammock’s grandmother, a pediatric nurse, told her about hand-shaped gloves filled with beads often placed with NICU babies, so the infants feel like their mothers are holding them. Preemies in the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) need a touch from mom or dad, but when parents can’t be there, “Tiny Hugs” are a good substitute.

The soft, snuggly mittens, weighted inside with a pound of poly bead stuffing, are used to help these early arrivals feel like they’re still in the womb. Mothers are asked to wear the glove close to their own bodies so the fabric will retain her unique smell, which is calming to an infant. And the weighted hands are also helpful for holding tubes and assorted wires in the hospital.

Some hospitals in the Atlanta area had the gloves, but the facilities near Bryn were looking for more. Despite not knowing how to sew and the lockdown just starting, Hammock set her sights on helping the NICU babies. She raised funds for all of the sewing supplies and created a pattern for the stuffed gloves — which she calls Tiny Hugs.

Hammock spent a year learning to sew and gathering a team to make weighted mittens. The teen crafted several Tiny Hugs herself and with her mom’s help, created a how-to video so that a team of 18 volunteers could help make even more. The volunteer team planned to make 30 Tiny Hugs but ended up sewing 140. Bryn distributed the gloves to seven Georgia hospitals, including the one where she was born.

Bryn received several thank you letters from hospitals that received her team’s Tiny Hugs and the project earned her the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award. Bryn says “It felt really good to earn the award doing this. I’m the third generation girl scout and the third in my family to do it. I love babies and kids, so this was just a perfect project for me. It felt really good.” The high school senior will head to Auburn University in the fall and plans to do something in the medical field.

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