Yale Students Build Affordable Housing for the Homeless

Design and advocacy go hand in hand. There are many ways that design proves itself to be beyond aesthetics; it targets sustainability, promotes awareness, juggles being eco-friendly and multi-functional, and generally allows for an explosion of ideas. And sometimes, it doesn’t just save the planet. It saves the people in it, too. Witnessing to that are some great projects such as these portable origami tents or this efficient flooring system, especially built for refugees and the homeless.

Architecture students from Yale have worked on the same advocacy as they designed and built an affordable shelter for homeless people. The affordable housing project is part of an ongoing university tradition.

The 1,000-square-foot house for the homeless is a handsome prefabricated structure clad in cedar and topped with a standing-seam metal gable roof. According to the project statement, students were “challenged to develop a cost-efficient, flexible design that tackles replicability in material, means, and method of construction.” The house comprises two separate dwellings: one is a studio, while the other is a two-bedroom apartment with built-in storage.

Every year, the university tasks first-year architecture students to design and build structures that will benefit the community. The tradition has apparently been going on since 1967. For the project’s 50th iteration in 2017, some students that participated in the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project chose to explore cost-efficient and flexible design in giving affordable housing to those who need it the most. They executed their plans and successfully constructed the building at New Haven’s Upper Hill neighborhood.

The project also marked the first partnership between the Yale School of Architecture and the non-profit Columbus House, an organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area since 1982.

If all school projects had this much impact and advocated this strongly for the betterment of the community, I probably would’ve been more motivated to get that A.

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2 Birds in 1 Beep: Getting Help and Getting to Know Your Locale

The BeepBeep Nation app not only provides a platform for people to get the help they need and others to help out, it ultimately aims to create a culture of kindness and make the world a better place. It does this not only by motivating people to participate in a helping economy, it also fosters the potential of fulfilling face-to-face social interactions to turn into something more, like friendship.

But what else can it do? Perhaps another “little” thing it provides that can ultimately change the world is urge you to get to know your locale better or to explore a new place on a whole new level. There are always unfamiliar but fascinating things to discover about one community, whether it’s your own or another one that you’re just visiting for a while.

BeepBeep Nation connects you to everyone within a 1-5 mile radius who happens to have the app on their phones. If you’re beeping for some kind of help near your own home, chances are you’ll get a helper who lives in the vicinity. Maybe it’s someone from the home owners association of the village. Maybe it’s the mom of Kaylee, your daughter’s schoolmate, whom you never really talked to before. Maybe it’s the owner of that tea shop a few blocks down where your mother-in-law likes to get her chamomile.

Let’s say one weekend, you have your hands full because of spring-cleaning, and so you need a little assistance in picking up an item from the grocery. The BeepBeep Nation app will connect you to someone who can provide that help, and chances are, it might be someone from around the area. Grab that chance to talk to your helper. You never know, you might just make a friend you have been previously missing out on. There are always new ways to know your locale better through the people in it, no matter how small the place is. Bonding better with the people in the community will help you feel more in touch with your surroundings.

Now let’s say work has been extra tedious this week, and you and your co-workers just want to chill out for finally surviving it. You’re looking for an interesting place to have a few cocktails, and the usual just doesn’t seem to cut it this time. Use the BeepBeep Nation app in getting the freshest, most accurate recommendations. You might discover a new hole-in-the-wall that’s perfect for your bunch of peers. You might discover a new brunch place for a weekend with your mom. You might even fall in love with places in the community you’ve never paid attention to before.

Then again, BeepBeep Nation is not only good for getting help within your own community. You can also use it to explore a new place. Let’s say you have a business conference coming up cross-country, and it will last two days. After which, you have an extra day for sightseeing, but you don’t have the time to make an itinerary as you are busy preparing for the conference itself. BeepBeep Nation can help you specify your current location and beep for relevant requests, such as having a tour guide to take you around. Get a travel experience like no other by strolling around like a local citizen. You might just make the most of an unfamiliar city, and gain new contacts in a locality besides your own.

Soon to launch worldwide, the BeepBeep Nation app can truly help you hit two birds in one beep. You can know your locale better or explore a new community, all while getting the help you need. To participate, check out the EMINENT (EMN) token, fuel for BeepBeep Nation. Pre-sale is live now, and it has a current bonus offering of 10% extra tokens. Changing the world for the better has never been this fun.

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Blind Woman Represents US in International Triathlon

Constantly reading and writing about the kindness and heroism of some people inevitably make me reflect upon their stories. And I’ve noticed an important pattern. First, age doesn’t really matter — a 58-year-old woman can save factory workers from a fire, a 4-year-old girl can donate her tiny allowance to a cancer patient, and a 99-year-old man can even break a world record on swimming. And neither can status hinder people from being kind or heroic — a multi-billion company can surely fund children’s hospitals, but an ordinary ticket agent can save children from human trafficking.

Today’s reflection involves another thing that cannot hinder people from achieving extraordinary things: disability. This is proven by a blind woman from San Diego named Amy Dixon, who will represent the United States in the 2020 Paralympics, to be held in Tokyo. She will be competing in the triathlon.

When Dixon is not working to improve her best personal race time, she is working on improving the lives of those in our community. For the past two years, she has held camps that teaches the visually and audibly impaired how to race in triathlons. Additionally, Dixon has been able to raise enough money each year to provide this camp at no cost to its participants.

Also known as “Super Woman,” Amy Dixon only has 2% of her vision left. But looking at her community work and sports career, this has not left the blind woman helpless. In fact, it seemed to do the opposite, as she has been inspired to accomplish so much, not only in the field of sports.

While working to better the lives of those impaired, she is actively working on saving the sight of others through her work as the Vice President of the Glaucoma Eyes International Foundation . . . Since she is such an inspiration to San Diego, Senator Joel Anderson recently honored Dixon’s efforts by presenting her with a certificate of recognition for her tremendous athletic achievements and her dedication to better the lives of those in our community.

If we cannot let age, status, and disability be significant in performing great deeds and becoming our best selves, then what else matters? I think, if you have time to reflect upon many people’s lives (and I hope you do), then you’ll be quick to answer this. For now, here’s a clue: it starts with an h, ends with a t, and in the middle, has a bodily organ used to listen. To really find the answer, maybe you should listen to your heart. Wink.

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Air Force Veteran Builds Homes For Other Vets

Even after the war, veterans continue to be heroes for us, animals (Google Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas!), and each other. Moved by the staggering number of PTSD-sufferers, air force veteran Donnie Davis decided to dedicate his retirement to building homes for other vets.

“The whole idea is to give them a chance to stabilize,” [says] Davis… “They don’t want handouts, but we are offering a hand.”

The cabins stand at only 300 square feet but are part of a 277-acre lakeside community. It may not be spacious, but it comes with a view — and at no cost. Organizers also assist in job hunts and counseling, and with no timeline on healing, there is no pressure to leave the village. Completely run by volunteers, funding is scarce, but Davis remains hopeful.

“When we bought this, someone asked how I am going to do this, and I said I don’t know,” Davis [says]. “It’s just faith. Everyone’s coming together and supporting this, and it’s great.”

Vets — we thank you for your service. Now it’s our turn to serve you.

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Indian Startup to Produce Water from Thin Air

These days, the challenge of sustainability elicits many different creative responses: leather out of wine, air purifiers made of algae, even energy from cow and turkey poop. Truly the stranger, the better. A new project from an Indian startup company makes the sun and the wind come together to create water. How does that sentence make sense? Uravu answers our question.

The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India. “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.”

The process of producing water from vapor has already been developed and utilized before, mostly for industrial and agricultural purposes, but the outdated versions of this technology had to consume large amounts of energy and humidity—innovative, yes, but not yet as sustainable as the above-mentioned Aqua Panels. Uravu wants their device to suit domestic use.

“Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity, such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.”

Ultimately, the Indian company aims to make the process more simple to make it more accessible for people who lack resources. Sustainability takes many different forms, but surely it is best when it answers to society’s greatest needs.

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Canadian Village To House Dementia Patients

For lack of a better label, exclusive villages aren’t what they seem. In fact, one in the Netherlands exists primarily for transients. Even better — it runs on solar power! As the trend gains traction, Canada has slithered its way into the updraft, inaugurating its first “dementia community.”

“We’ve really designed and tried to build communities where people could be independent and live their own life their way,” [project leader Elroy] Jespersen said… “We thought we should add another piece to that to allow them to stay within, if you will, our ‘family’ of communities.”

The single-story, cottage-style homes will act as humble abodes to 78 residents. If there is one thing The Village isn’t, it’s a nursing home. Inhabitants will be able to shop, grab an Americano, and avail of regular services. Nonetheless, living costs remain a pressing issue.

“People will say that’s a lot of money, and it absolutely is a lot of money,” he said. “It’s about the same amount of money we would get from the government if the government funded us to provide care. That’s what it costs to do what we’re doing.”

Where money gets in the way, hopefully others vie for change.

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Swiss Town To Pay Families £50,000 To Move In

In a new age of technology, tradition is becoming outdated. Still, small, independent groups are attempting to keep bits of history alive. Just recently, students from a Hong Kong university paid tribute to bamboo weaving in Peitian. The project proved impactful but modest, whereas other communities are taking a more urgent approach. To keep afloat, the Swiss village of Albinen is offering potential residents up to £50,000 to migrate in.

The council will soon be voting on the new initiative, which aims to repopulate a community that has dwindled to just 240 residents.

Like with all attractive propositions, the move comes with a catch — several of them. Takers must be below the age of 45 and live in a 200,000-franc residence for at least 10 years. You’ll also need to learn German. And while you may still be salivating over the promise of a hefty check, there is little to do in Albinen.

There’s little going on in the town’s centre, save for its narrow cobbled turns, centuries-old houses, a church and a shop.

That being said, with good company and a zest for the outdoors, Albinen may be the place for you.

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Detroit Natives Turning Empty Lots Into Bee Farms

After a months-long bout of trending, #SaveTheBees is finally making an impact on beekeeping communities. Where locals have banded together to repair equipment, governments have banned harmful pesticides. Building even greater hype for the movement, Detroit natives are transforming vacant lots into bee habitats.

“I thought that it would be new and different in the city of Detroit,” [beekeeper Timothy Paule] said. “We want to educate people about bees and spread the knowledge of medicinal properties of honey, and to preserve the bee population, all while removing blight.”

Paule, along with partner Nicole Lindsey run Detroit Hives, dedicated to honeybee preservation. The pair have purchased their first lot for $340 and neighbors are all for it.

“This is important because we’re changing the city, we’re cleaning out the blight in Detroit turning into beautiful bee farms with gardens,” Lindsey [said]. “We’re also helping save the lives of the bees… educating the community on the difference between honey bees and wasps and how important honeybees are to our lives.”

Remember, kids — honey bees are friends. Protect their hives and forget stinging!

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The Chow Train Feeds Homeless Customers

In an age of pervading poverty, food titans do what they can to give back. In the absence of a refrigerator-mishap-gone-right, market chains usually distribute leftovers. But for a noble Texas couple, giving back is a full-time job. Joan Cheever and Dennis Quinn run The Chow Train, a food truck for the homeless.

“It started off as a family thing,” says Cheever, 60, a former journalist. “Then mothers of my friends’ kids started calling and saying, ‘Are you going to go out and serve people food? Can I send my kid over [to help]?’”

Since picking up in 2005, The Chow Train has served over 100,000 meals to needy customers. Recipes are spontaneous, depending on donations. While it can be worrisome, it makes for an exciting food adventure. The truck also caters to disaster sites, often with an extra serving of surprise goodies.

“Everyone who comes out on the Chow Train is a volunteer and they just feel wonderful afterwards,” [Cheever] says. “There are always going to be hungry people, and I think that we as a community need to do our part to help people.”

Paying it forward never ceases to put a smile on anyone’s face — and a satisfying lump in anyone’s stomach.

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Military Mom Sends 10,000 Goodie Bags To Soldiers

In rare instances, people put their lives on hold for others. For troops, it’s an everyday thing. Where military parents have prolonged time away from their children, military couples have postponed weddings. Many have since figured it’s time to give back. Mother to U.S. troops Michael and David Scott, LeAnn Boudwine began sending care packages to her sons and their comrades. Since 2007, Support the Troops WI has mailed 10,000 bags to deployed soldiers all over the world.

“Every box is different,” [Boudwine] says. “I always tell people when we are putting them together, make them neat and make it a ‘gift’ from you … around the holidays this may be the only box they receive, make it special.”

Support the Troops WI is run entirely by volunteers and shipping is covered by donations. Boudwine shops according to a wish list, giving packages a personal touch.

[Boudwine] goes on to say, “I really can’t believe that we have come this far. I never take for granted the donations … no one could do this alone, it takes a village. Or in my case a caring, giving, compassionate community.”

The group’s slogan is “They’re Still There, We Still Care” — a mantra that volunteers clearly, religiously live by.

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