Archive for March, 2014

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Thanks to http://www.thextraordinary.org/ron-finley

Why Ron Finley is Extraordinary

“People need to realize how powerful the transformation of soil can be. We’ve gotten so far away from our food source. It’s been hijacked from us. But if you get soil, plant something in it and water it, you can feed yourself. It’s that simple.” (SOURCE: The New York Times)

Without the trappings of fame, Ron Finley is just a father who cares about his sons’ health. He fashioned a garden out of his front lawn, just as he embellishes bare walls with graffiti. The result is a free source of food and an amalgam of life in the form of plants.

TED Speaker

He was one of the founders of an organization, which was inspired by his “gangster attitude” towards gardening. Before his TED Talk, Ron and his organization had less than 30 volunteers; his TED appearance, however, gave it the media mileage it needed and multiplied its workforce more than ten-fold. According to Ron, we should break away from what food corporations dictate that we eat, as our growing indifference towards growing our own food only makes these capitalists richer.

Dubbed a “food desert,” South Central Los Angeles has one of the highest obesity rates in America. It’s a place where diabetes is also prevalent due to poor eating habits; without fresh fruits and vegetables around, people are left with few choices other than convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

Ron’s garden inspired his neighbors (and many others after his TED talk) to think about what they eat. But what’s important to him now is that his garden enables him to silently help people who have hardly anything to eat:

“I remember this time, there was this mother and a daughter came, it was, like, 10:30 at night, and they were in my yard, and I came out and they looked so ashamed. So I’m like, man, it made me feel bad that they were there, and I told them, you know, you don’t have to do this like this. This is on the street for a reason. It made me feel ashamed to see people that were this close to me that were hungry, and this only reinforced why I do this, and people asked me, “Fin, aren’t you afraid people are going to steal your food?” And I’m like, “Hell no, I ain’t afraid they’re gonna steal it. That’s why it’s on the street. That’s the whole idea. I want them to take it, but at the same time, I want them to take back their health.” (SOURCE: TED Talks)

Yes, aside from having a green thumb, this “gangster gardener” also has a big heart.

Top Reasons why Ron Finley is Extraordinary

  1. He planted fruits and vegetables in his front lawn to share with his neighbors.
  2. It inspired the founding of an organization in 2010.
  3. He owns his own clothing business, called “Dropdead Collexion.”
  4. He is currently working on “The Ron Finley Project” to help people get started with growing plants in their yards.
  5. He is a TED Speaker, and his videos have been viewed over one-million times.
  6. He is a graffiti artist.
  7. He owns a collection of “Black Entertainment memorabilia.”
  8. He designs fashion clothes for NBA players, Saks Fifth Avenue and Marcus Neiman, among many others.
  9. He has appeared on TV and been featured by reputable publications.
  10. He received the “Natural American Heroes Award” from Natural News.

Dean Ornish, MD

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Bio:

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned a B.A. in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

For over 34 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for this program, the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes. He directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of early4stage prostate cancer. His current research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease4preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as increasing telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which control aging (in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009).

He is the author of six best4selling books, including: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and his most recent book, The Spectrum.

The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, The Lancet Oncology, and elsewhere. A one4hour documentary of their work was broadcast on NOVA, the PBS science series, and was featured on Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Healing & The Mind. Their work has been featured in all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report. He has written a monthly column for Newsweek and Reader’s Digest magazines and is currently Medical Editor of The Huffington Post, which has 240 million unique readers per month.

Dr. Ornish was appointed by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. He is a member of the boards of directors of the San Francisco Food Bank and the J. Craig Venter Institute. Dr. Ornish was elected to the California Academy of Medicine and chaired the Google Health Advisory Council 2007-9.

The Ornish diet was rated #1 for heart health by U.S. News & World Report in 2011.

He has received several awards, including the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Berkeley, “National Public Health Hero” award; the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for distinguished contribution in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention from the International Academy of Cardiology; a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association; the Beckmann Medal from the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases; the “Pioneer in Integrative Medicine” award from California Pacific Medical Center; the Stanley Wallach Lectureship Award from the American College of Nutrition; the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement; a U.S. Army Surgeon General Medal; the Linus Pauling Award from the Institute for Functional Medicine; the Glenn Foundation Award for Research; the Bravewell Collaborative Pioneer of Integrative Medicine award; and the Sheila Kar Health Foundation Humanitarian Award from Cedars4Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles). Dr. Ornish has been a physician consultant to President Clinton since 1993 and to several bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress, and he consulted with the chefs at The White House, Camp David, and Air Force One to cook more healthfully (199342000). He gave a keynote speech reviewing the science of integrative medicine at the Institute of Medicine’s first Summit on Integrative Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ornish was selected as one of the “TIME 100” in integrative medicine; recognized as “one of the most nteresting people of 1996 by People magazine; honored as “one of the 125 most extraordinary University of Texas alumni in the past 125 years;” chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the fifty most influential members of his generation;” and by Forbes magazine as “one of the seven most powerful teachers in the world.”

 

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Why Stephen Ritz is Extraordinary

Stephen Ritz is passionate about inciting passion among his students. Yes, he is a teacher, and calls himself the “oldest sixth grader.” He founded the “Green Bronx Machine,” a non-profit organization which had its humble beginnings at the Discovery School in the Bronx. This part of New York City is home to many gang wars, disturbed teens and endless fast-food chains; it’s certainly not an ideal place to raise healthy, promising kids. But lo and behold! Stephen transformed his once-violent students into responsible kids, building homes for the residents of the community and planting edible walls across the neighborhood. Stephen is a proud “conductor of this orchestra” of talent.

The “Green Bronx Machine” Stephen founded the “Green Bronx Machine” in 2010, rather through serendipity. He had always loved gardening, and considered maintaining one in his school to attract more students. The school had a dismal attendance rate of 40% at the time, but the garden worked, and was improved further by the edible walls of Green Living Technologies.

How did it change lives? Stephen explains:

“For many, the first thing that changed was attendance. We went from 40 to 93 percent — kids come early and stay late. School became a destination to attend as opposed to one that was avoided. Then, parents and the community got involved and it really took off.

Consequently, we are changing the way people think about their world and their relationship to it while moving people who are traditionally “apart from” success to becoming “part of” success in ways that are wholly inclusive and beneficial to all. Closer to home, we are changing eating habits, health outcomes, transforming landscapes and mindsets and driving academic engagement and competencies in ways we never imagined. It is all very visible – the students see it, grow it, feel it, taste it and own it; as a result it is self-sustaining and very inspiring! 25,000 pounds of Bronx vegetables later, my favorite crop remains organically grown citizens, graduates, voters and the next generation of “Amer-I-Cans!” We are proving that the Bronx CAN – Change Attitudes Now – and that we are poised, ready, willing and able to export our talent and diversity in ways that make dollars and a whole lot of sense. Realize this, we’ve been able to move Individualized Education Program (IEP)/English Language Learners (ELL) students – almost all formerly living in poverty with many homeless and/or in foster care — into living wage opportunities while attending school and doing it in ways that transform and benefit our entire environment. That is the promise of education and America. The greening of America starts with wallets, then hearts and then minds.” (SOURCE: Daily Edventures)

His initiative has created 2,200 youth jobs, which led to him winning the “US EPA Award” for transforming mindsets and landscapes in NYC. He also won the “ABC Above and Beyond Award” and received the “Chevrolet National Green Educator Award” in 2012. He is also now a Poptech Fellow.

 

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Thanks to http://www.thextraordinary.org/kakenya-ntaiya

Why Kakenya Ntaiya is Extraordinary

Kakenya Ntaiya underwent female genital mutilation at the age of 13. She opted not to run away, however, to avoid putting her father in a bad light. Another reason why she stayed was the allure of education; not a single woman in her Maasai community had made it to college. Rather, they are usually married-off at an early age. Kakenya herself was engaged to a six-year-old neighbor when she was only five years old. But this woman became the first to complete a college degree with the help of the Maasai community, and gave back by founding a school for girls called “The Kakenya Center for Excellence.”

Undergoing FGM

Kakenya grew up fully aware that she would soon marry a boy who lived next-door and, just like the other women of her Maasai community, serve her family for the rest of her life. But that did not sit well with the young girl who dreamt of becoming a teacher; getting married would stall her, if not stop her altogether, from becoming the person she wanted to be. Rather than walk away, however, she agreed to go through the rite of passage to prepare her for married life in exchange for a few more years in school.

When her father got sick, Kakenya braved to try her luck further. This time, she convinced all 16 of her community’s leaders to allow her to attend a college in the U.S. with the promise of returning one day to help her people.

Founding “The Kakenya Center for Excellence”

It was in the United States where Kakenya came across political terms such as “female genital mutilation,” “human rights” and “child marriages.” She realized that her people’s lack of education had kept them behind. Even worse, thousands of young girls are losing their clitorises and being forced to bear children, in spite of practically being children themselves. Kakenya decided to take on a whole nation and fight against ignorance by providing education to girls like her, and, once more, she appealed to the men who called the shots. They supported her, and “The Kakenya Center for Excellence” was born.

It’s a school for girls that not only gives them quality education, but also allows them to just be kids. Then the magic started happening – the once-timid children became confident. They discovered their talents, and now aim to become pilots, teachers and doctors, and dream just like Kakenya. Now, we hear men say this of her:

“We have several sons who have gone to the United States for school. Kakenya is the only one that I can think of that has come back to help us. What she tells us, it touches us. … She brought a school and a light and is trying to change old customs to help girls get a new, better life.” – Naleke, Maasai Tribal Leader (SOURCE: CNN)

Top Reasons why Kakenya Ntaiya is Extraordinary

  1. She underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) at age 13 to continue going to school rather than shame her father by running away.
  2. She made it to a U.S. college as a scholar.
  3. She gave back to her Maasai Community by establishing “The Kakenya Center for Excellence.”
  4. The prize money she received as a Vital Voices Global Leadership awardee was used to complete the institution.
  5. She was honored as a “National Geographic Emerging Explorer.”
  6. She was also named as one of the “2013 CNN Heroes.”
  7. She was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
  8. She was a featured speaker at TEDx Midatlantic Conference.
  9. She was honored with the “Global Women’s Right Award” from the Feminist Majority Foundation and counted among the “Women Deliver 100: The Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women.”
  10. She received the “Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award” and was named by Women in the World as a “Woman of Impact.”

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“If you can grow good soil, you can grow good food.”

That was Will Allen’s philosophy when he began his adventures in urban farming 18 years ago in Milkwaukee, Wisconsin. The community food center that he founded, Growing Power, now serves as a model for how to grow food with no chemicals and no fossil fuels—and with favorable cash-flow.

Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, Allen spoke at the Bloomberg School on Wednesday, March 7, sharing information and insight into how his farms produce a high volume of food in urban communities, profitably, and to the communities’ benefit. Labeled by some as an “urban farming visionary,” Allen is the son of sharecroppers from South Carolina, and he grew up on a vegetable farm in Rockville, Maryland. After a career as a professional basketball player, he went on to a career in urban farming, which earned him a James Beard leadership award, a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and a role in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

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Growing Power not only grows food, but it produces all the soil it uses in food production, composting more than 22 million pounds of food waste collected from breweries, coffee companies and corporations such as Walmart every year. The organization, which operates as a nonprofit, provides outreach, technical assistance and on-the-ground training for thousands of volunteers, workshop participants and community members. Having started as a youth service organization that worked with kids from the juvenile justice system, it now employs more than 100 people, many of whom have a history of incarceration, and is growing, with plans this year to build a five-story vertical garden, the first of its kind in the world. The organization sells fresh food to local high-end restaurants, public schools and farm stands in areas designated “food deserts” and “food swamps,” and has thus contributed to food security in the cities where it operates—Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago, primarily.

A key tenet put forth by Allen is that urban gardeners must grow their own soil, and use that soil to grow food. Existing urban soil, he contends, is far too contaminated to risk growing food. When you dig in urban areas, he says, “All you’re doing is stirring up lead, arsenic, all the bad guys in the soil. And the food takes up the contaminants.”

At Growing Power farms, Allen is conducting research—through practice—on many farming innovations such as aquaponics systems, vermicomposting, water catchment, anaerobic digestion to create energy, vertical farming and more. The farms collect food waste and convert it to soil 365 days a year, and, with hoop houses, they grow food every day of the year as well. The organization has 40 different revenue streams, and generates 50 percent of its own income. Growing Power’s food production would bring in a positive cash-flow if run as a for-profit business, says Allen.

The farms produce and sell compost, compost tea, worm castings, 40 types of greens, fruits, vegetables, goats’ milk, artisanal cheese, eggs and honey. “We’re adding 50 more hives next year,” says Allen. “We can’t keep enough honey.”

Recently, Allen co-authored an afterword with Eric Schlosser for The Prince’s Speech: The Future of Food (Rodale, 2012), the text of a speech delivered by Prince Charles of Wales on the principles of agroecology. Allen’s talk on Wednesday drew about 300 audience members from the Bloomberg School and from the Baltimore food system community; more than 100 watched online. About one hundred copies of The Prince’s Speech were sold at the event, and signed by Allen.

Media contact: Tim Parsons, director of Public Affairs, at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.

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Great kid, great story, I got this from: http://finestextraordinarypeople.weebly.com

Why Peyton Robertson is Extraordinary Peyton Robertson, at 12 years old, was the youngest-ever winner of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in 2013, taking home 25,000 dollars in prize money. He is the proud inventor of the “Sandless Operation Sandbag,” or the SOS. But before you conclude that this boy is going to be a one-time wonder, please note that he has been inventing since he was eight years old! The SOS was his third invention, after the golf ball canister and retractable trainer wheels.

Trained to be a Problem-Solver When he first discovered his love for math and science, Peyton was encouraged by his parents to think differently. Instead of seeing problems only as just causes of trouble, he was made to search for solutions; it sure helped that Peyton was a genius from birth.

After seeing how poorly the sandbags performed as flood deterrents, he set out to revolutionize their design and components. The first thing to go was the sand; instead of heavy sandbag content, he replaced it with light polymers, which expand when wet and absorb the liquid. He then added salt to make the contents denser than the saltwater it needed to keep out. To optimize blocking efficiency, he also fashioned his sandbags with plaster to keep them interlocked and ensure no salt water would find its way into the gaps.

Peyton was named the overall winner of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for his invention. He is now seeking to have SOS patented openly so that others can replicate his design and perhaps even improve it.

Two years prior to winning the 3M Young Scientists Challenge, Peyton also received the National Kids’ Science Challenge Grand Prize. He now attends Pine Crest School and IMACS. A professor at the University of Florida has expressed his amazement and willingness to have Peyton enroll at his university.

Right now, Peyton is busy with other problems that await solutions; he tells young inventors:

“Failure is progress and a normal part of the process. Whether it’s science or life, you have to start, fail and just keep pushing. In a football game, time runs out, and a golf match ends after the last hole. But when you are working on something and it doesn’t work, you just extend the game – and give your experiment or your prototype another go.” (SOURCE: TED Blog)

Top Reasons why Peyton Robertson is Extraordinary

  1. He invented the light and reusable “Sandless Operational Sandbag” (SOS) at only 12 years old.
  2. The SOS won him first place in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in 2013.
  3. He was the youngest-ever winner of the challenge.
  4. He received the National Kids’ Science Challenge Grand Prize in 2011.
  5. He began solving puzzles and math problems at only three years old.
  6. He invented a golf ball warmer at age eight.
  7. He also invented the retractable trainer wheels.
  8. He currently has three pending patents.
  9. He plays golf competitively.
  10. He appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and was also interviewed by TED.

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Thanks to http://www.thextraordinary.org/shigeru-ban

Why Shigeru Ban is Extraordinary

Shigeru Ban is the only architect who builds structures using paper. He used his building genius not only to create breathtaking monuments, but also to build cozy homes for refugees and evacuees. He founded the “Voluntary Architects’ Network” (VAN) to put his gift to good use. The architect once thought to be crazy for using unconventional material is now the renowned “Architect of the People.”

“No-Waste” Philosophy

The idea behind using paper as a building material came to Shigeru in the mid-1980s, long before environmental causes became the talk of the town. What led him to discover the use of paper was his disdain for waste:

“I started developing the paper tube structures in 1986, when people were not talking very much about recycling, ecology, and sustainability. But the truth is that I just didn’t want to waste material—it’s as simple as that. And then the so-called fashion of sustainability or “green” came afterwards in the 1990’s, and so I was put under the label of “environment-friendly architect,” but that is not my strategy. I just want to use any material where it is.” (SOURCE: National Building Museum)

“Architect of the People”

Shigeru has been called the “Architect of the People” for his efforts in building homes for refugees and evacuees. For him, victims of wars and natural disasters need better housing to help them move on quickly. He began doing this in his homeland, Japan, after the Kobe earthquake rendered thousands of people homeless. The evacuation center did not afford tenants privacy, so his solution was to install cardboard tubes and create partitions using curtains. By doing so, women became more comfortable doing things that needed privacy, like changing or breastfeeding. He also built homes for Rwandan people to prevent them from cutting down trees to use as housing material. He did the same in Italy, China and Turkey.

He believes that architects have the capacity to help, and continues to urge fellow designers to find ways to contribute to the good of humanity rather than only use their talent to build affluent homes and buildings. Shigeru explained why he volunteers his services to help build homes for victims of misfortune:

“If I can build the kind of thing I want to build, and if people are happy with that, then that is enough for me. It doesn’t matter if I get money for it or not. There are more important things than that.” (SOURCE: The Japan Times)

Shigeru is one-of-a-kind not only for using paper in building grand structures; his legacy is his love for his craft and his willingness to use it to help others.

Top Reasons why Shigeru Ban is Extraordinary

  1. He was the first to use paper as a building structure material.
  2. He was the founder of the “Voluntary Architects’ Network” (VAN).
  3. He built homes for refugees in Rwanda and evacuation homes in China and Japan. He also helped build churches and schools for victims of natural disasters.
  4. He is the architect behind the “Musée d’art Moderne Georges” in Pompidou, Metz, France.
  5. He was commissioned to design a building for an expo in Germany called the “Japanese Pavilion.”
  6. He won the 40th annual “Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture” from the University of Virginia.
  7. He received the “l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” in France.
  8. He has been called the “Architect of the People.”
  9. He was profiled by TIME Magazine in its projection of 21st century innovators in architecture and design.
  10. He holds Honorary Degrees from Amherst College and the Technical University of Munich.