Diversely Sustainable Cities II: Philadelphia and Medellin

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In the second story of the Sustainable Cities sequence, we’ll look at two other diversely sustainable cities that may surprise you: Medellin, Colombia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Medellin, Colombia

Medellin has been long known as a city of turmoil — both immersed in filth and historically recognized as the most violent city in the world. Medellin’s most recent mayor, Alonso Salazar, however, has opted to shift Medellin in an entirely new direction.

Following the implementation of several new public transportation initiatives, the city has seen immense changes. Under Salazar, Medellin now boasts of a public bicycle system, ride-sharing programs, and a savvy 1,300-ft. escalator that links Medellin’s formerly poorest neighborhood, Comuna 13, to the city center….

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Notes from Virginia: We Share Responsibilty for Activists’ Deaths and Rainforest Destruction

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Dear Reader,

Today I read an article on the Huffington Post called Adelino Ramos Killed: Third Environmental Activist Murdered This Week In Brazil. In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t, there’s conflict in Brazil. Loggers, farmers, and ranchers are illegally laying claim to the rainforest. The most terrifying aspect is that environmental activists, 1150 recorded to date, are being killed by hit men hired by the companies that profit from the destruction of the rainforest.

It’s hard to think of a better reason to act on principles. I’m writing to get us started on thinking of how we can make a difference for those struggling to sustain the most vital piece of our planet’s environment, our life sources, and biological diversity. The enemy is obvious, and his power is too: money. What’s less obvious is how American consumers are responsible for the conflict….

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Ecotourists Save the World

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If you could help save wildlife and their habitats from destruction, would you do it? What if it involved traveling to a far-off location to live in relatively primitive conditions, work long hours, and complete difficult, sometimes dangerous, tasks? Oh, and you might have to pay to do it.

Is that your idea of a good time? Then Ecotourists Save the World is a book you’ll want to read.

In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, writer Pamela Brodowsky has compiled an extensive resource of volunteer opportunities to protect wildlife around the world. You’ll find, as the subtitle says, “More Than 300 International Adventures to Conserve, Preserve, and Rehabilitate Wildlife and Habitats.”

In the introduction, Brodowsky writes,

“Did you know … one in three amphibians, nearly half of all turtles and tortoises, one in four mammals, one in five sharks and rays, and one in eight bird species are now considered at risk of extinction? Habitat destruction, exploitation, pollution, and climate change are taking their toll on our world’s species and the places that they inhabit.”

The cool thing is, you can do something about it….

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Wembe Soaps – The “Wild Spirit of the Rainforest”

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Get “the wild spirit of the rainforest,” says Wembé about their handmade soaps. Each soap is crafted using plants native to Paraguay. The company sells 15 varieties of the Wembé soaps, ranging in price from $7.00 for the Coconut Exfoliating Blend to $10.85 for the Black Clay Exfoliating Blend.

I tested the Yerba Mate exfoliating blend, Green Blue River exfoliating blend, and White Rose cleansing blend. They all smelled beautiful and instantly softened my hands. Plus, they’re natural and made from organic ingredients. None of the soaps contain silicone, petroleum products, parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances and dyes.

The soaps’ outer packagings were so pretty, I didn’t want to open them at first. When I did, I found one of the most unique products I’ve ever seen. The interesting swirls of color make the soaps look like they came directly from the rainforest. Since they’re natural and handmade, they all vary in shape and size, though the standard weight is 3.75 ounces.

The Yerba Mate soap is vegan and rich in antioxidants. It contains essential oils, exotic weeds, and crushed yerba mate leaves. Plus, its ability to exfoliate the leftover winter dryness from my hands will make it an Iowa essential for the upcoming December and January months. The cost of the Yerba Mate bar is $9.45 for 3.75 ounces….

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Full-Circle Learning – Global Partnerships Unlock Potential

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After the 1992 civil unrest in South Central Los Angeles, a small grassroots group began an after-school program to show the children living in the area that diverse members of their community cared about them. Teresa Henkle Langness, who later founded Full-Circle Learning, was among them.

“Over time,” Langness says, “we began to see that what these children needed was to be a part of a community, to be a part of the solution, instead of feeling like victims of society’s ills.”

Langness adds, “When we began to incorporate character themes linked to local and global service within each lesson plan, the students’ scores suddenly began to leap. They became much better students, much better people. They began to teach their parents conflict resolution. Outside organizations in the community began to benefit from their work. Families wanted to replicate the model and began asking us for help in doing so.”

Today, Full-Circle Learning provides a full preschool-through-high school curriculum in 13 nations. Langness told Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), “The mission of Full-Circle Learning is to help young people embrace their role as humanitarians and change agents. We do this through educational programs that integrate and expand students’ character strength, academic excellence, creative capacities, and conflict resolution skills.” …

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Zamu – A Healthy Blend of Fruits and Herbs from the Amazon Herb Company

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The Amazon rainforest is full of plants, herbs, and wildlife. Because of this, the Amazon rainforest has gained a reputation as being one of the best natural pharmacies for not only known remedies that originate in the forest, but for its massive potential healing powers as well. The Amazon Herb Company is one organization using the power of exotic fruit to bring health benefits to its consumers…

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Acai – Amazon Wonder Berry or Just Another Craze?

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If you listen to the hype, you may begin to think that the acai (pronounced a-sigh-EE) berry is the wonder food for everything that could possibly ail you. The ads are all over the Internet, in magazines, on television. They lure you in with questionable (if not outright fabricated) celebrity endorsements, “free” sample offers, and broad claims of almost mythical proportions.

Although acai is most commonly advertised as a weight-loss product, marketers also claim that it provides increased energy levels, improved sexual performance, improved digestion, detoxification, high fiber content, high antioxidant content, improved skin appearance, improved heart health, improved sleep, and reduction of cholesterol levels…

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