CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret
Everyone has an uncle they’d rather you not meet.

Please allow me to introduce you to Uncle Rhabdo, CrossFit’s unofficial and disturbing mascot. Uncle Rhabdo is a cartoon commonly referenced in CrossFit literature and representative of a troubling trend among CrossFitters.

He’s a clown. Literally.

The “Uncle Rhabdo” cartoon depicts an exhausted, yet well-muscled clown, connected to a dialysis machine standing next to some workout equipment. Concernedly, his kidney has fallen out and lies on the floor underneath him, along with some portion of his bowel. He’s left a pool of blood on the floor below him, but it’s not clear if this is from the disembowelment, the kidney’s arterial supply, or the collection of fasciotomies he appears to have endured. Uncle Rhabdo, of course, has rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis, apart from being a subtly pleasant and melodic sounding word, is an uncool, serious and potentially fatal condition resulting from the catastrophic breakdown of muscle cells. We’ll get more into the specifics in just a bit, but first let’s begin with a story.

A Tale of Rhabdomyolysis

One day, a very fit, young, physical therapist colleague of mine went to CrossFit. She had been many times before. On this warm Texas evening, she performed a partner workout, where each would trade off performing sets of 10 for each exercise. The workout consisted of pushups. Lots of them. Copious amounts of overhead press were also included.

She performed hundreds of repetitions of each. She was a champ!

“I didn’t want to not match my partner. Normally I may have rested a little, but the partner workout kept me going.”

Both of these activities heavily involve the triceps muscles and so she wasn’t surprised to have her beautiful, sculpted arms feel like poorly set bowls of JELL-O on the way home from CrossFit. Perhaps it was the heat. Maybe it was the sheer number of exercises she did. Her muscles were in crisis. She iced and hydrated when she got home, like a good little exerciser, but the damage was already done.

As physical therapists, we’re finely tuned detection machines looking for normal versus abnormal response to exercise and activity. “Is this supposed to hurt?” is a question we respond to hundreds of times in a week. Sometimes the answer to this question is yes and we encourage the individual to press on, and other times it’s a signal to initiate some rest and recovery. This signal detection is one of the things that’s deeply embedded into physical therapists. We can’t help it. And so when my friend awoke the next morning, her abnormal response alarms were blaring. She couldn’t bend her elbows! She couldn’t even reach her mouth to brush her teeth.

Still entrenched in the CrossFit culture of deplete, endure, repeat, she quieted the alarms and stoically pressed on to go to work. It didn’t take long to realize she not only couldn’t bend her arms, they also had no strength. She wasn’t able to treat her patients. By that evening, her slender arms had continued to swell into plump hotdogs of ache and regret, and she was starting to come to the realization that the morning’s danger alarms were legitimate.

Unbelievably, it took another 24 hours for her professional sense to break through the grip of the CrossFit culture, and seek medical attention. She was diagnosed with acute rhabdomyolysis, and ended up in the hospital for over a week. While in the emergency department they tested her creatinine kinase (CPK) levels. Normal is about 100. Her CPK levels were more than 45,000, a number that indicated damage to the kidneys.

While in the hospital, she called to cancel her CrossFit membership. As is standard when something is cancelled, the CrossFit coach asked the reason for her decision. She replied, “I’m in the hospital.” The instructor quickly asked, “Is it rhabdo?”

And here we have arrived at CrossFit’s dirty little secret. The coach was unusually familiar with what is normally a very rarely seen disorder. It’s so rare that one study reported the overall annual incidence of rhabdomyolysis to be 0.06 percent. That represents single digits of cases out of hundreds of thousands of patients. How, I wondered, is it possible that the layperson exercise instructor is on a first-name basis with a serious, yet rare medical condition? Is this a thing with CrossFit? It turns out it is.

Rhabdomyolysis: As Told By CrossFit?

A quick search of the Interwebs reveals copious amounts of information about rhabdo purveyed by none other than CrossFit trainers. Scouring the scientific literature in mainstream medical journals, however, reveals a only a few peer-reviewed papers. The science confirms that exertional rhabdomyolysis, as this form is sometimes referred to, is uncommon and normally reserved for the elite military trainee, ultra-endurance monsters, and for victims of the occasional psychotic football coach. Rhabdomyolysis isn’t a common condition, yet it’s so commonly encountered in CrossFit that they have a cartoon about it, nonchalantly casting humor on something that should never happen.

So what is rhabdomyolysis exactly? Under extreme conditions your muscles cells explode. They die. They leach protein out into the blood stream, including one form called myoglobin. Ever stalwart, your kidneys take up the job of clearing these dangerous proteins from the blood. Why? It’s just what they do. Unfortunately, myoglobin proteins aren’t designed to be in the blood in the first place and they can easily overload the kidney. This can produce injury or death to all or part of the kidney in a short amount of time, and is potentially lethal. Locally, the muscles are left damaged and dying. Swelling ensues and weakness occurs as pressure builds around the remaining muscle cells. Your body’s systems that normally can assist with this local muscle damage are now offline trying to help you not die. If you get to this stage, you’re in serious trouble.

In some cases, acute compartment syndrome ensues, which is an emergency condition that can result in loss of a limb unless your connective tissue is slashed open to release the swelling , a procedure called a fasciotomy. None of this is something that people should be handling in such a cavalier manner.

So what gives? As early as 2005, the New York Times documented rhabdomyolysis associated with the culture of CrossFit in a piece entitled, “Getting Fit, Even If It Kills You.” The article included this gem of a quote:

“Yet six months later Mr. Anderson, a former Army Ranger, was back in the gym, performing the very exercises that nearly killed him. “I see pushing my body to the point where the muscles destroy themselves as a huge benefit of CrossFit,” he said.”

What does CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman think of this?

“It can kill you,” he said. “I’ve always been completely honest about that.”

Fast forward to 2013 and this culture has changed little, perhaps even accelerated. As Jason Kessler pointed out in “Why I Quit CrossFit,” the elitist, push yourself to the limit culture of the discipline has increased in light of commercial interests taking hold. Regarding culture, Jason points out:

“If you ask a CrossFit coach, the injuries were all my fault. In a culture that drives you to go as hard and fast as possible, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the hype. You’re supposed to push yourself to the limit, but when you hit the limit and pay the price, you’re the idiot who went too far.”

In another psychotic example of how the overwhelming culture of CrossFit can diminish professional common sense, one gynecologist was quoted dishing this nonsense:

“Ladies, in my professional opinion, it is okay to pee during double unders.”

No, peeing during a workout is not alright. Ever.

To underline the point, MoveForwardPT.com, the official consumer information website of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), hosted an online radio show specifically responding to CrossFit’s irresponsible glorification of stress-induced urinary incontinence.

The Impact of Rhabdomyolysis

Sometimes rhabdomyolysis gets better with treatment. Sometimes it lingers. Sometimes your kidneys are never the same again. One message board commenter remarked:

“I seem to “flare” after any resistance training. I came into this by over training — I was in phenomenal shape. I have gained weight. I get swollen and puffy. I feel as though the quality of my muscle tissue decreases on a daily basis — more so than the lack of weight training — seems to be disintegration.”

My friend experienced a similar, though thankfully less severe long term effect. It’s been several months and her triceps strength is not back to normal. Her sculpted arms are gone, replaced by semi-swollen jiggly tissue. Once a muscle tears, damaged, fatty scar tissue replaces the injured muscle tissue. The result is a permanently damaged muscle, and a decreased ability to strength train. The irony of pushups causing flabby arms underscores the age-old mantra: There really is too much of a good thing.

CrossFitters, largely unaware of the rhabdo risk, will continue to charge ahead, pressured and happily coerced into exercising to depletion and exhaustion. My prediction: in a few years, the peer-reviewed scientific literature will be ripe with articles about CrossFit and rhabdomyolysis. Health providers will be there to scoop up the pieces, but who is there to protect those people unknowingly at risk?

Exercise is just about the best thing you can do for your body, but in the case of CrossFit, we’re left to ponder the question, is this workout worth the risk? Can the culture adapt to one that embraces safe training principles? Do coaches truly have the ability to detect what a proper training load is for their athletes? Only time will tell, but the future of CrossFit may depend on it.

Eric Robertson is assistant professor of physical therapy at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He operates and writes for the website PTThinkTank.com. This piece first appeared on Medium.

Bed-Sharing With Infants Makes Breastfeeding Easier, But Could Still Raise SIDS Risk (STUDY)

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK | Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:07pm EDT

(Reuters Health) – Sharing the bed with baby may make it easier for mothers to breastfeed for the full time that health experts recommend, suggests a new study.

But it could also raise the baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers caution.

“My bottom line,” said study author Dr. Fern Hauck from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, “is that yes, we now see with more evidence that breastfeeding is supported by bed-sharing, however we don’t recommend it, because the risk of SIDS and sudden death is still there.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be put to sleep close to their parents – such as in a crib in the same room – though not in the same bed, to reduce the risk of SIDS. About 2,500 babies die from SIDS each year in the United States.

But low rates of breastfeeding are also recognized as a problem in the U.S.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and that mothers continue breastfeeding with the addition of solid foods through age two.

Only one in six U.S. babies is breastfed exclusively for six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For their report, Hauck and her colleagues looked at data from a large infant feeding study and they focused on about 1,800 mothers who were breastfeeding when their baby was two weeks old.

Women were surveyed 10 times during their infant’s first year, including about whether and when they had stopped breastfeeding. They also reported on whether they were sharing a bed with their baby at seven different time points during the study.

About 42 percent of the new mothers were bed-sharing at two weeks and 27 percent were still doing so at one year.

Among all women, the average duration of any amount of breastfeeding was about seven months. Breastfeeding exclusively lasted just under 10 weeks on average.

The more surveys in which women said they were bed-sharing, the longer those women tended to breastfeed, the researchers reported Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Of the women who frequently shared the bed with their infants, more than half were still breastfeeding at the end of the year-long study period.

In contrast, among the women who reported never sleeping with their baby, just half were breastfeeding at all at 30 weeks.

“You can understand this in terms of convenience for moms,” Hauck told Reuters Health. “The baby is lying in bed with them, they don’t have to get up and get the baby in and out of the crib or bassinet.”

However, women in the study were disproportionately white and well-off and all the babies were born healthy, the team points out in their report, so the findings may not apply to mothers of infants with health problems, for instance.

Pete Blair, who studies SIDS at the University of Bristol in the UK, said studies suggest bed-sharing is hazardous in particular situations – such as when parents have been recently drinking alcohol, are smokers or sleep with their infant on a sofa.

In the UK, “bed-sharing is acknowledged as a common infant care practice and the specific circumstances that put infants at risk are highlighted,” Blair, who wasn’t involved in the new research, told Reuters Health in an email.

“I think it is important we don’t demonize the parental bed but nor do I think we should be promoting bed-sharing for the sake of it.”

“There’s definitely not full agreement out there among researchers,” Hauck said. “We want to be cautious, and not encourage a behavior which could potentially increase the risk of death.”

Dr. Debra Weese-Mayer, chief of the Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, told Reuters Health she worries that in light of the new study, parents may forget the success of the so-called Back to Sleep Campaign, now called Safe to Sleep.

The nationwide program, launched in 1994, is credited with a 50 percent drop in SIDS deaths.

“The logical decision is to breast feed and have the baby sleep in the same room with the parent – but on a safe sleep surface and NOT in the same bed,” Weese-Mayer, also a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, added in an email.

SOURCE: bit.ly/PogxGc JAMA Pediatrics, online September 23, 2013.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Amevive, Psoriasis Drug, Shows Promise For Treating Type 1 Diabetes
A new treatment for type 1 diabetes may lie in an existing drug for other autoimmune diseases, according to a new study, published today in The Lancet. Researchers from the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University found that the drug alefacept, used to treat psoriasis for more than a decade, can also help treat type 1 diabetes and reduce the need for insulin injections. But with the drug manufacturer ceasing production, the finding may serve more as a proof-of-concept than a promising new treatment.

Researchers tested alefacept, sold under the brand name Amevive, on 33 people over the course of a year, and compared them to 16 people who were given a placebo. After 12 months, insulin use was much higher in the placebo group than in the group that was given alefacept, according to the study. But the drug didn’t reduce their need for insulin, researchers said, it simply stopped it from getting worse.

“It is the first targeted biological drug assessed in patients with new-onset type 1 diabetes that significantly depleted the T cells which attack the pancreas in type 1 diabetes, while preserving other immune cells which are important for pancreatic function,” study author Mark Rigby, MD, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Indiana University, said in a statement.

But while the drug showed promise, it’s unclear just how effective it was, said Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, a diabetes specialist and executive vice president of scientific affairs for Coronado Biosciences.

“It’s great to see this mechanism, but just showing that insulin requirement is reduced is extremely difficult to prove,” Dr. Hehenberger said. “There’s so much that drives insulin use. One person might start exercising or eating better, so controlling for this in a study is very difficult.”

Hehenberger said it would be more promising if the study showed consistent, reduced A1C levels, a biomarker that shows how well blood sugar is controlled.

In addition, while the drug showed promise, it was voluntarily taken off the market in December 2011, Hehenberger said.

“They took it off because it just didn’t really work well,” she said. “It wasn’t really effective for psoriasis.”

Previous studies have tried at least four other drugs similar to alefacept, Hehenberger, but have had mixed results.

“Some of these drugs that have failed may have an effect in certain patients, but when you look at the population as a whole, they’re so varied,” she said.

Type 1 diabetes causes the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells, and Hehenberger said focusing on identifying diabetes earlier would yield better results than trying to stop the destruction after it’s happened.

“When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, the cells you want to save are already gone,” she said. “You need to start treatment as early as possible so you can save as many as you can.”

“Insulin is a lifesaver, but it’s clearly not enough,” she added. “If we could effectively identify and treat this disease, we could save so many people.”

Uses For Milk: 11 Nifty Ways To Lifehack Dairy
From Networx’s Katie Marks:

Mmm, milk. For those who aren’t allergic or refraining for ethical/religious reasons, milk is pretty awesome. But you don’t just have to put it in your mouth (and there are uses yet for that jug in the back of the fridge that went off when you weren’t paying attention). Welcome to the rundown of some brand new uses for milk, some of which might surprise you! (Don’t forget, milk jugs have their uses too.)

List and captions courtesy of Networx

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Brené Brown On The One Thing More Terrifying Than Being Vulnerable (VIDEO)
Shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown says we all have a choice in life whether to put our true selves out there or hide behind our fears. While many people are afraid to be vulnerable, Brown explains in this clip from “Oprah’s Lifeclass” why the alternative is far worse.

In the video, Brown starts by reciting a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt that she says changed her life and inspired the title of her book, Daring Greatly:

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …”

After reading that quote, Brown says it made her realize three things. First, she wanted to be the person in the arena. “If we want to be courageous and we want to be in the arena, we’re going to get our butts kicked,” she says. “There is no option. If you want to be brave and show up in your life, you’re going to fail. You’re going to stumble. You’re going to fall. It’s part of showing up.”

The second thing she realized is that comments from “Twitter thugs” — people who never risk anything but criticize the people who do — don’t matter. “If you are not in the arena also getting your butt kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback,” Brown says.

The third thing culminates everything Brown has learned over the past 12 years of studying shame and vulnerability. “Vulnerability is not about winning, it’s not about losing — it’s about having the courage to show up and be seen,” she says. “It’s about willingness to say, ‘Look, I don’t have all the answers.'”

If you’re afraid to be vulnerable, Brown says you’re not the only one –- but there is something even more terrifying.

“I think being vulnerable feels dangerous, and I think it feels scary, and I think it is terrifying,” she says. “But I don’t think it’s as dangerous, scary, or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and wondering, what if I would have shown up?”

“That, to me, is what daring greatly is,” Brown says.

“Oprah’s Lifeclass” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

Why It Is Good to Feel Competitive
Being competitive can have an ugly connotation in our society. It has become, in some ways, synonymous with greed, envy and narcissism. But feeling competitive isn’t always about climbing the ladder, winning the race or getting ahead. Competitive feelings are completely natural. Moreover, they’re unavoidable. Like it or not, we all feel competitive a lot of the time.

Most of us are uncomfortable with our competitiveness. Competitive thoughts are rarely nice. They’re usually exaggerated, and often unsettling. And why wouldn’t they be? Competing itself is, by nature, fairly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, allowing ourselves to feel our competitive feelings cleanly and directly is not only acceptable, it’s actually healthy. Our competitive feelings are an indication of what we want, and acknowledging what we want is key to getting to know ourselves.

Competitive feelings don’t discriminate. They can be felt toward distant strangers or our closest friends: that attractive co-worker we’ve only heard about or our best friend since we were toddlers. However, because these feelings often feel unacceptable to us, we tend to ward them off or disguise them in ways that can be hurtful to ourselves and to others. When we suppress these feelings, we leave them to fester and impact us in a variety of negative ways.

It’s important to get comfortable with our competitive feelings. We can do this by recognizing that thoughts and feelings are separate from actions. We can allow ourselves to feel whatever we feel, then choose how we behave. By applying this principle to our competitive feelings, we can avoid their many negative manifestations. These include:

Cynicism — When we fail to acknowledge our competitive feelings, we are more likely to become cynical. This may sound counterintuitive. Wouldn’t putting someone else down or wanting what they have make us more cynical? Actually, competitiveness is very different from cynicism. Cynicism arises when we won’t accept our competitive feelings simply for what they are. If, for example, our boss was to acknowledge a coworker in a meeting, we may think, “Wait! I want that recognition. I work just as hard and am worthy of just as much praise.” We may turn against our coworker. “What a kiss up! She doesn’t even deserve this. She’s barely competent. Why am I even trying at this company when idiots like her reap all the rewards?”

When this less-than-pleasant thought process arises, we can take one of two courses. We can accept that we are competitive. We can feel outright that we want acknowledgment in our career. When we let ourselves experience these feelings, fully and directly, in the moment, we can more easily move on. We can even channel these feelings into being more motivated, working harder or setting specific goals for ourselves.

On the flip side, we can distort our competitive feelings into cynicism. We can allow them to well up or fester within us. We can confuse them with our real point of view or turn against the person with whom we feel competitive. Instead of seeing that we simply want what the person is getting and moving on, we can engage in a destructive thought process that negatively colors the world we live in.

Gossip — When we deny our competitive feelings, we may slowly start to distort those around us through a negative lens. Gossip is a way we attempt to release or relieve our anger or cynicism. Instead of feeling competitive with that very attractive woman who is friendly and confident in her demeanor, we may comment on her “slutty style” or refer to her as a “phony tease.” We may even gossip about people close to us, saying one thing to their face and another behind their back.

Our feelings toward a person aren’t black or white. In fact, the people we most respect are the people we are bound to feel most competitive with. We can be happy for them and hate them all at the same time — often for the same thing. We may be thrilled that they just bought their stunning dream house and simultaneously wish that it would get termites. If we face our feelings directly, we can get some relief, even laugh them off. If we don’t, we may start taking less respectful actions, maybe calling our friend a “social climber” when he isn’t around or criticizing his “materialistic goals” or “superficial interests” to a mutual friend. This commentary or gossip may feel good in the moment, but it leaves us feeling pretty lousy within ourselves.

Self-denial — One of the worst results of denying our competitive feelings is that it can cause us to reject what we really want in life. Because feelings of desire or jealousy make us uncomfortable, we may pretend that we don’t want whatever we once longed for anymore. If someone we had a crush on goes out with someone else or if a job we interviewed for falls through, we can easily turn against ourselves and become self-denying. Instead of thinking, “I really wanted that, and I’m furious that I didn’t get it,” we might think, “I don’t even care. I never really wanted that. I’m not going to put myself out there to embarrass myself again.” When we engage in this pattern, we become increasingly passive. Rather than going after what we desire, we avoid it, all in the interest of denying our “unacceptable” competitive feelings.

Jealousy — Competitive feelings can be full of jealousy. Allowing ourselves to have competitive thoughts will not leave us falling victim to unstoppable fits of envy or suspicion. When we hold back our healthy and natural competitive feelings, we strengthen the negative parts of those feelings — jealousy included. Instead of building a case against someone, we can face the reality of our feelings and adopt a healthier attitude.

For example, a guy I know recently revealed to me a thought process he went through at a party with his girlfriend. He noticed that she was happily chatting with other people, including a few men throughout the night. At first he thought, “She is totally flirting with my friend. Why does she light up around him? Is she more into him than me? I should just dump her before she makes a fool out of me.”

At a certain point, he realized that what he was really feeling was competitive. He wanted her to respond to him the way she was responding to other people at the party. His thinking quickly changed to, “I love when she is fun like this. I want to share that with her.” Instead of listening to the voice in his head that told him to pull away and act cold to her, he joined her and engaged in joking around with her. By being lighthearted and fun himself, she was naturally drawn to him, and they were both able to feel closer and happier with each other. If he’d acted on his jealous insecurities, rather than admitting he felt competitive, he would have achieved just the opposite.

Self-hatred — Another risk of burying our competitive feelings is that we may turn them around and use them to feel bad about ourselves. A straightforward competitive thought like, “I hate that he is so smart and always says the right thing,” may turn into an attack toward ourselves like, “You are so stupid. You never know what to say. He is so much more engaging than you.” When we turn against our competitive feelings, we turn against ourselves. We feel ashamed of who we are and what we want. Instead of seeking to emulate the people we admire, we simply tear ourselves down in relation to them.

With so many negative manifestations of suppressing our direct competitive feelings, how can we face them more honestly and make sure to use them in healthy ways? First of all, we have to remember that feeling competitive is not about letting these emotions take over or ruminating in negative thoughts. It’s about accepting our naturally occurring competitive responses, feeling them fully and moving on. We can accept that we have these feelings a lot of the time. We can even have fun with them, letting ourselves have the nastiest thought possible, then letting that thought go.

Doing this as an exercise can feel clean, healthy and even refreshing. As illustrated by the above examples, when we suppress our competitive feelings, they have a way of seeping into and influencing our behavior. Yet, each time we acknowledge that we have these thoughts, we can consciously choose how we want to act. We can be much more proactive in becoming the best version of ourselves, both accepting ourselves and evolving, as the motivated (and competitive) individuals that we inherently are.

Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at PsychAlive.org

For more by Lisa Firestone, click here.

For more on conscious relationships, click here.

Time Out Tip Of The Day: September 24, 2013
Need a time out? You’re in luck. In honor of Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Month, HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul has teamed up with Bliss spa experts to provide the best tips to take a rejuvenating time out each and every day for the month of September. We want to help you make the next 30 days a time of reflection and renewal. Make sure to check back here every day for your new Time Out Tip, and learn more about Bliss’ new line of Triple Oxygen products by clicking here.

bliss 24

Good News – The Huffington Post
Liberal Learning: A Pragmatic Education for Social Good
I spent Sunday at the 92nd St Y in New York at the Social Good Summit. The Summit is “a three-day conference that unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.” The summit is presented by 92 Street Y, Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ericsson. Coinciding with United Nations Week, the conference brought together business leaders, NGOs, activists, diplomats and technology people (to name just some of the groups). The talks were all fascinating, whether they were focused on improving sanitation, on action oriented journalism or on climate change. I was there to talk about liberal learning as a form of pragmatic education with deep roots in American history. These roots still bring forth powerful results — such as Shining Hope for Communities or Refuge Point (to take just two Wesleyan examples). Here’s video of my presentation:

Sole Food Street Farms Opens North America’s Largest Urban Orchard (VIDEO)
This just in: You CAN make something from nothing.

Earlier this year, a Canadian nonprofit called Sole Food Street Farms took an old gas station and turned it into the largest urban orchard in North America.

Sole Food transforms vacant spaces into sources of sustenance and livelihood for the Vancouver community.

“We believe healthy food systems foster healthy communities,” their website states. “We envision a future where good food is accessible and grown sustainably, where farms thrive in an urban setting and where the community comes together to connect directly with their food and their neighbors.”

Its newest farm was previously a Petro-Canada gas station in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an area known as Canada’s poorest postal code, according to Fast Company. Sole Foods reopened the site as an urban garden in July, and the formerly vacant lot now has 500 fruit trees that will go a long way toward producing the 60 tons of fresh produce that Sole Foods expects to net this year between its four existing sites.

In addition to producing artisan quality fruits and vegetables for local markets and restaurants, Sole Foods aims to employ nontraditional farmers — individuals, for example, who may have struggled with addiction or mental illness and are looking for ways to turn their lives around.

This is a production model,” co-founder Michael Ableman told Global News. “It’s designed to produce production quantities of food and jobs, two of our primary goals.”

Sounds like a win, win to us.

H/T: Reddit/r/UpliftingNews

Green – The Huffington Post
And Then the Summer Ended…
2013-09-23-andthenthesummerended.jpg

The Best Internship on Earth is just about done, and I still find myself asking the same question I asked after my very first day on the job: is this real life?

There are so many cool parts of this internship it’s a little absurd.

What are the highlights of the summer? What AREN’T the highlights of the summer is a better question. Delays, and babies on planes. But that’s what you get when you sign up to travel the country for 10 weeks, and if that’s the price, I’m happy to pay it.

I’m tempted to turn this last blog post into a faux Academy Award winning speech and thank every single person who’s helped us, until theoretical music begins to play and you click the red x button on this browser. I’ll settle for saying that there are so many cool peeps involved in the Sierra Club, one way or another, and they made my summer. Hats off to all of you.

Anyway, back to the highlights. I’ll give the obvious ones first, like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time and then hiking down into it, being a part of the Havasupai ceremony, literally camping in Chicago, being licked/kissed by wolves in Colorado, watching the sunset over the Sierra Nevada in Sequoia National Park.

I’d bet good money that the brightest shooting star was seen by us Best Interns in Lassen National Park. Rockin’ out to Ben Folds Five with the city of Philly in the distance wasn’t bad, either. But now I’m repeating myself from other blog posts.

There were the in-between moments, too, the turning points, the long hours posted up at the airport during delays, the lesson learned that it’s more about the journey than the destination. Backpacking in Sequoia really brought that point home. The delirium from being on the road, and getting into SFO at 2am only to turn around and catch a train at 8am the next morning, brought Daniel and me many laughs along the way.

Let’s not forget Mother Nature’s role in this experience, too. Mountains take the cake, closely followed by volcanic craters, dramatic valleys, and last but not least, city parks.

Weather should get some recognition. Yo summer heat, thanks for making a grand appearance. We owe our sweat-drenched clothes in DC to you; much love.

And then there’s the Sierra Club, and what it’s all about. I think they did a pretty good job summing it up when they created the motto “Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet.” We got to experience all three, with a heavy emphasis on explore. If only I could spend my entire life being the Best Intern on Earth, I’d be an eternally happy camper.

I just realized no one ever ate a bug. To next years’ Best Intern(s), I triple dog dare you to do this.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo

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