Public Affairs

Logan Square teens preserve their Latino culture

By Alissa Anderegg and Stephanie Rothman

Logan Square is a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood that has seen thriving new businesses and rising rents. But gentrification is pushing out the Latino population that has lived there for decades. According to U.S. Census data, in the last 15 years, Logan Square has seen the most Latino displacement of all 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

Young teens at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association are getting involved to try to preserve their culture in the face of gentrification. These teenage activists are speaking out against the changes that are directly affecting their families, neighbors and local businesses.

Photo at top: An installation dedicated to the heritage of Logan Square families is on display at the XingonX Cultural Festival, sponsored by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. (Alissa Anderegg/MEDILL)

Sawdust carpets cushion Nicaragua’s streets on Good Friday

By Mariah Quintanilla

Boaco, Nicaragua – Nicaraguans marched across colorful sawdust carpets alongside their savior in the final carrying of the crosses Friday during the Catholic Holy Week.

The bright, fluffy carpets lined the lower main street of Boaco, a municipality in central Nicaragua with the slogan, “The city of two floors.” The “bleeding” crosses, orange suns, hearts, flowers and birds each represented the stations of the Viacrucis procession, signifying Jesus’ final walk toward crucifixion.

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Englewood couple opens home as a haven to children of all ages

By Alex Whittler

Quilen and Hannah Blackwell offer a place of refuge to children in an area that often makes headlines for its gun violence and crime rates.

“The Chicago Eco House is an anti-violence strategy and nonprofit that’s focused on using sustainable technologies to invest in the community,” Quilen Blackwell said while a group of kids ate s’mores in his backyard in Englewood, which ranks as the tenth most dangerous Chicago neighborhood.

Those statistics have deterred potential homebuyers in the past, but that’s exactly what drew the Blackwells to Englewood.

With a large tarp welcoming students into their home hanging from a black iron fence, the young married couple said they proudly live and serve through their nonprofit on South Peoria. The Blackwells said they don’t hesitate to offer their home to anyone in the community who needs a haven– especially the nearly 30 kids who are likely to stop by on their way home from school.

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Wicker Park Bucktown gets a new master plan

By Puja Bhattacharjee

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new five-year master plan for the Special Service Area (SSA) #33. It is an update to the award-winning 2009 master plan. The new plan will aim to improve pedestrian and cycling areas, and streetscape enhancement including public art elements below the Cortland/Ashland underpass. It also plans to create a new dog park on the vacant land along the south side of North Avenue by the Damen ‘L’ stop.

Photo at top: Intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee (Puja Bhattacharjee/MEDILL)

Will Japan’s ‘Womenomics’ work?

By Shen Lu and Rachel Newman

Tokyo — It’s not news that women across the world feel a lack of equality, but in Japan, the problem is particularly pressing.

Nearly 70 percent of Japanese women feel gender inequality — compared with the world average of 40 percent — three decades after the country enacted an equal employment law, according to a study published last week by Ipsos MORI, a British research firm.

Three in four women around the world believe there are unequal rights in their country, according to a newly published study. (Shen Lu/MEDILL)
Three in four women around the world believe there are unequal rights in their country, according to a newly published study. (Shen Lu/MEDILL)

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Fukushima: Six Years Later Is It Safe to Go Back?

By Urvashi Verma

Nearly six years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, environmental activists are raising alarms that radiation levels are still dangerously high, despite the Abe government’s reassurances that thousands of residents can return home.

Last week the Japanese government lifted the evacuation orders in the Fukushima prefecture citing radiation measurement levels under 100 mSv per year and pronouncing that safe for residents to return. mSv means 1 one-thousandth of a sievert, which is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body, according to a Wikipedia entry. But activists say 100 mSv is far from a safe level.

The primary contention of environmentalists regards the acceptable level of radiation for resettlement. “The notion that doses below 100 mSv are safe is not supported by science and contradicts internationally accepted standards,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner at Greenpeace in Tokyo.

Radiation levels of 530 sieverts per hour, considered by some as alarmingly high, were measured in Fukushima’s Daiichi reactor number two in a test conducted by Tokyo Power and Electric Co., known as TEPC0, just last month.
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Smartphones are revolutionizing diagnostics and disease management

By Teresa Manring 

The cell phone in your pocket may soon help you diagnose and monitor diseases.

As mobile phones become more advanced and ubiquitous, researchers are exploring technologies embedded within them to screen for, diagnose and manage health issues between office visits, said researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston last weekend.

Mobile phones and other personal devices allow for “more continuous measurements, measurements at home, measurements when you actually have a symptom,” said Shwetak Patel, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Washington, at an AAAS press briefing.

Tools such as the camera, flash and microphone on mobile phones keep getting better and better, Patel said.

“Those sensors that are already on the mobile phone can actually be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can actually use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases,” he added.
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Naomi Oreskes urges scientists to take a stand against attempts to ‘silence facts’

By Janice Cantieri

Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes urged hundreds of scientists to step beyond the objectivity of their data and embrace the riskier role as “sentinels” for scientific facts.

“We do need to speak for the facts because the facts don’t speak for themselves,” Oreskes said to an overflowing auditorium at the Boston conference of he American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We live in a world where many people are trying to silence facts,” said the author of “Merchants of Doubt.”

The book and documentary based on it show how the tobacco and sugar industries and climate change deniers cast doubt on scientific facts without ever needing to refute them.
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Solving world hunger for 830 million via satellite data

By Mariah Quintanilla

What do data and satellite imaging have to do with solving world hunger? Everything, it seems. New surveying techniques and open source imaging of diminishing, available and potential cropland are the first steps in assessing problems and solutions for global food security.

To prevent further hunger, researchers must identify factors that may lead to food instability, such as areas prone to frequent drought, floods, erosion or sea level rise. Researchers stressed the need for accurate data and efficient satellite imaging of small family farms and large agricultural systems in a seminar on monitoring food security at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Boston.

The World Food Programme of the United Nations estimates that about one in nine people – about 830 million of us – go to bed hungry every night. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that approximately 870 million people around the world do not have access to nutritious food. With advanced technology and modern open source databases, it’s hard to understand how even more data and better satellite imaging will help the problem of hunger.
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Climate extremes can ignite violence and more intolerant societies

By Janice Cantieri

Rising extremes of droughts, floods or food shortages can reduce a country’s political stability and cultural tolerance, warned scientists at the American Association for the Advancements of Science conference in Boston this weekend.

As global temperatures continue to rise, these and other environmental threats are expected to increase.

“What you have here is a model where different forms of ecological threat are producing stronger cultural institutions,” but stronger in the sense of more regimented, said Joshua Conrad Jackson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “That could carry over into intergenerational changes in cultural institutions.”

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