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767     2017-10-13    Local Seed Libraries Expand From Tucson Throughout the American Southwest.

The Pima County (Tucson, AZ) Public Library’s ‘Seed Library’ first started in 2012 and now checks out over 28,000 packets of native seeds a year at its main downtown branch. The first year the library circulated about 7,000 seed packets. The Seed Library is a free service where patrons can check out seeds just like they would check out a book. When they have harvested the fruit or vegetable, they can return their new seeds to the library. According to the Seed Library Social Network, some 280 Western communities ranging from Anchorage, Alaska, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, have launched or are considering launching seed lending programs, many in public libraries. Interested communities often call Pima County’s libraries for advice. When its seed library began, only a handful existed around the country, generally run by gardening clubs or other community organizations. Pima County’s was one of the first to be run by a public library system.

Reference(s):   (High Country News, September 22, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: communities-tucsons-seed-library-fosters-food-sovereignty-in-a-desert/print_view         

767     2017-10-13    Non-Profit Helps Feed Hungry Denver Public School Students.

“Food For Thought,” a low- key nonprofit, working from its “headquarters” under the Colfax viaduct near Interstate 25 in Denver, provides weekend meals for thousands of the city’s poorest kids. Since its inception in 2011, Food For Thought has supplied food to 5,300 students enrolled at select Denver Public Schools institutes who otherwise might go hungry from Friday night until Monday morning. In its six years, Food For Thought has raised more than $500,000 to buy more than 903,000 pounds of food that it has handed out to the city’s neediest children. In the past, weekend meals were few and far between for many of the kids, said Bob Bell, a Denver-area real estate broker who started Food For Thought with friend John Thielen. The average income for a family of four at the schools served by food program is about $29,000, he said. Many of the children served by the organization live in motel rooms and have little access to nutritious food, or means of cooking food, during weekends.

Reference(s):   (Denver Post, October 5, 2017,   )
Link(s)*:  http://         

767     2017-10-13    Monsanto Lobbyists Now Banned From Entering European Parliament.

Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference. It is the first time the European parliament has used new rules to withdraw parliamentary access for firms that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or hearings. Monsanto officials will now be unable to meet members of parliament, attend committee meetings or use digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg. The lobby ban will be a bitter blow to Monsanto’s advocacy campaign ahead of a decision later this year about the relicensing of glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer by one expert WHO panel. Martin Pigeon, a spokesman for the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, said it was “extremely important that parliament has been prepared to meet Monsanto’s unbelievable arrogance with real retaliation and consequences.”

Reference(s):   (Organic Consumers, September 28, 2017,   )
Link(s)*:  https://         

766     2017-09-29    Stanford Student Develops Chatbox Helping Automate Legal Tasks for Free.

Stanford undergraduate Joshua Browder originally developed DoNotPay as a chatbot using artificial intelligence to beat parking tickets. Browder estimates the chatbot has beaten 375,000 tickets in the U.K., New York, and Seattle, avoiding about $9.7 million in penalties. DoNotPay has now graduated from parking tickets, recently adding about 1,000 consumer categories to its portfolio for all 50 states. Browder thinks chatbots can automate many of the tasks that lawyers have no business charging a high hourly rate to complete. Some matters relate to legal claims, but much of the help is simply with writing strongly worded lawyerly letters for things like formulating requests for compensation from airlines, requests to landlords, reporting discrimination, filing for maternity leave, dealing with defective products, or disputing a credit report entry or credit card charge. "One of my projects is expanding the technology to assist asylum seekers -- Syrian refugees in the U.K. The way it will work is the bot will have to understand Arabic inputs and produce documents in English and also answers to their questions back in Arabic," Browder said. Browder has no plans to charge for any of his products and does not sell advertising.

Reference(s):   (Washington Post, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: want-to-hire-a-lawyer-this-chatbot-does-it-for-you/?utm_term=.943b68856941         

766     2017-09-29    Engineers Deliver a Mobile Water Treatment System to Off-Grid Navajo School.

University of Arizona engineers, partnering with the consulting firm Apex Applied Technology, recently delivered a mobile water treatment system to an off-the-grid school in a water-scarce Navajo community near Flagstaff, AZ. The system is built into a refurbished operational school bus outfitted with solar panels, which also houses a laboratory, adding an educational component. A multicultural research team, developed the solar water purification system for STAR School, a preschool through eighth-grade public charter school operating completely off-grid. In the system, water is drawn up from wells into a feed tank on the bus where it passes through three filters with progressively lower micron ratings. Next, the water is forced through a series of semi-permeable membranes where it achieves drinking water quality.

Reference(s):   (University of Arizona, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: navajo-nation         

766     2017-09-29    90% of New Wind Capacity in 2016 Came in Rural “Red” States.

States such as Indiana, Iowa, Texas and Wyoming that in 2016 voted heavily the Republican column have embraced wind energy for the jobs and revenue it brings. Nearly 90% of the wind capacity brought online in 2016 was in states that voted Republican in the presidential election, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group. Wind produces more than 36% of Iowa's electricity, nearly 7 gigawatts of capacity in all, second only to Texas' 21 gigawatts. Indiana is an up-and-coming wind competitor, with nearly 2 gigawatts of wind capacity. The falling price of wind power, along with its environmental benefits, helped persuade companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to open data centers in the state. As wind becomes an economic force in rural communities, it is changing the political conversation around renewable energy in many parts of the U.S.

Reference(s):   (Investor Village, September 7, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: smbd.asp?mb=5028&mn=80257&pt=msg&mid=17506046         

765     2017-09-22    “Hempcrete” Emerges as a Non-Toxic, High-Performance Insulating Infill Alternative.

Hemp Hollow is a Vermont based design/build company specializing in industrial hemp construction using hempcrete. Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp core has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with lime. This property is unique to hemp among all natural fibers. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete. It is not used as a structural element, only as insulating infill between the frame members as all loads are carried by internal framing. Hempcrete was discovered in a bridge abutment in France built in the 6th century. Since its rediscovery it has seen growing use in Europe where Hempcrete buildings ten stories high have been built.

Reference(s):   (Hemphollow, September 2017,   )
Link(s)*: future-of-organic.html?m=1         

765     2017-09-22    Paris on Track to Become the World’s First Post-Car Metropolis.

Paris is on track to become the world's first post-car metropolis as plans accelerate to introduce driverless shuttle buses throughout the city. Paris was built pre-car, and never had the space for the 20th-century technology. Now, as private cars start fading out, pre-car cities will come into their own. Paris is already unrolling the future: raising the price of parking, adding bike lanes and planning to ban diesel cars by 2020. By 2024, driverless taxis will be making ride after ride, almost never parking. Paris’ parking spaces will become bike or scooter paths, cafe terraces or playgrounds. France’s car industry has been steadily shedding jobs since the 1980s and is now too small to lobby against the future. Already nearly two-thirds of the 2.2 million Parisians don’t own cars because the city has the best public transport of any international city. By 2024, Grand Paris Express, Europe’s biggest public-transport project, will bring an additional 68 new stations and thousands of homes built on top of them.

Reference(s):   (Financial Times, September 6, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: content/1b785f3e-9299-11e7-a9e6-11d2f0ebb7f0         

765     2017-09-22    Nanomachines Drill Into Cancer Cells, Killing Them in Minutes.

In a recent test at Durham University scientists used nanomachines to drill into cancer cells, killing them in minutes. The tiny spinning molecules are driven by light, and spin so quickly that they can burrow their way through cell linings when activated. In the test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly. Dr Robert Pal said: "We are moving towards realizing our ambition to be able to use light-activated nanomachines to target cancer cells such as those in breast tumors and skin melanomas, including those that are resistant to existing chemotherapy. The scientists, whose work is reported in the journal Nature, created several different light-activated motorized molecules designed to home in on specific cells. They found that the nanomachines needed to spin at two to three million times per second to overcome nearby obstacles and outpace natural Brownian motion, the erratic movement of microscopic particles suspended in fluid. Without an ultraviolet trigger, the motor molecules located target cells but then remained harmlessly on their surfaces.

Reference(s):   (The Telegraph, August 30, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: science/2017/08/30/nanomachines-drill-cancer-cells-killing-just-60-seconds-developed/         

764     2017-09-15    Rutgers Scientists Find Fungal Spores Help Concrete Infrastructure Repair Itself.

Rutgers’ Ning Zhang and associates say they have discovered an ingredient that could one day keep the nation moving by repairing crumbling concrete automatically. Materials scientists have long hoped to find a secret sauce that helps concrete repair itself. Zhang says they’ve found it in the form of a fungus called Trichoderma reesei. It can germinate in a wide range of conditions, forming a fibrous fungus that promotes the formation of calcium carbonate. Their idea is that fungal spores are added to the concrete when it is mixed and then lie dormant until the concrete cracks. Water flowing into the cracks causes the spores to germinate, filling the cracks with fungal fibers that trigger the formation of calcium carbonate— which eventually fills the void. Trichoderma reesei is benign as far as humans are concerned, and the process of forming calcium carbonate fixes carbon from the atmosphere.

Reference(s):   (Technology Review, 2017,   )
Link(s)*: infrastructure/         

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Sustainable Practices is a weekly information service, which has been highlighting innovations in technology, social, and governance models, and sustainable best practices since 2000. It is compiled from publicly available sources and provided by David Schaller, 520-665-1767,