Yes! In My Backyard Report: Appendix E – Videos, Program Websites, and Miscellaneous

ILSR’s report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government, profiles 11 home composting programs (10 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and is a guide for local governments starting their own programs. Appendix E features additional materials … Read More

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Yes! In My Backyard Report: Appendix C – Reports on Local Programs

ILSR’s report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government, profiles 11 home composting programs (10 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and is a guide for local governments starting their own programs. Appendix C features program reports … Read More

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Yes! In My Backyard Report: Appendix B – Sample Print Educational Materials

ILSR’s report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government, profiles 11 home composting programs (10 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and is a guide for local governments starting their own programs. Appendix B features sample print … Read More

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Yes! In My Backyard Report: Appendix A – Sample Outreach Materials

ILSR’s report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government, profiles 11 home composting programs (10 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and is a guide for local governments starting their own programs. Appendix A features sample … Read More

The post Yes! In My Backyard Report: Appendix A – Sample Outreach Materials appeared first on Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

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Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government

The report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Governments, profiles 11 home composting programs (10 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and is a guide for local governments starting their own programs. It makes the case that home composting should be a central component of every community’s residential food waste reduction strategy. The guide is not intended as a manual on how to compost at home.… Read More

The post Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government appeared first on Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

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Rural and Urban America Have More in Common Than You Think

It’s been more than a year since Donald Trump was elected president, and the “rural-urban divide” is frequently cited as one of the big reasons for his win.

But discussions often simplify the realities of America’s rural areas, cities, and suburbs, reducing these communities to monoliths with few overlapping experiences or attitudes. The findings of a new survey by the Pew Research Center complicate that narrative—showing that while rural, urban, and suburban communities have unique problems, they have surprising, perhaps often overlooked, similarities.

“Yes, there are deep divides,” said Kim Parker, Director of Social Trends Research at Pew. “But when it comes to the basic issues of life, there’s a lot that Americans across communities agree on.”

There are more similarities than we may have believed

How various communities across the American landscape imagine themselves, their ties to their homes, and their most urgent problems is pretty similar, the survey findings show. Some highlights follow:

Rural and urban America face some of the same local concerns

In recent years, the opioid epidemic has devastated a number of white, rural communities. But data shows that it is urban, black populations that have seen the steepest increases in overdose deaths. This epidemic is a shared challenge, and the findings of the Pew survey demonstrate that. In it, similar shares of rural (50 percent) and urban (46 percent) respondents report drug addiction being one of the biggest problems facing their communities.

Everyone pretty much agrees rural areas could use more help

About 71 percent of rural residents believe they get the short end of the stick as far as federal aid is concerned. But perhaps surprisingly, significant shares of suburban (61 percent) and urban residents (57 percent) agreed.

On the other hand, fewer than half of those living in cities said city residents received less than they deserve from the federal government; and only about a third of suburban and rural respondents agreed.

They have similarly iffy connections to home

Only one in seven Americans reports feeling a strong attachment to their local community, and that share is the same across cities, suburbs, and rural communities.

No one actually talks to their neighbors

Turns out it’s not true that country folks are more neighborly. The Pew survey finds that while it’s true that rural residents are more likely than urban ones to know who their neighbors are, they aren’t really more likely to chat them up.

Both rural and urban communities feel misunderstood

Urban and rural residents both believe that outsiders regard them negatively. Suburbanites, on the other hand, feel they enjoy a positive image in society.

Rural and urban residents both agree … that they disagree

When it comes to what they disagree on, rural and urban Americans are roughly on the same page. Around 60 percent of rural respondents say that their values do not align with the urban residents, and 53 percent of urban ones feel the same of their rural counterparts.

The popular theory that some of these differences in views stem from “economic anxiety” in smaller, more rural towns has been heavily challenged in the aftermath of the election. Economically, the picture is complicated. It’s true that rural populations have the lowest earnings—but they’re also living in the cheapest areas across the country. And in terms of poverty, it’s actually the suburbs that have seen the steepest increases: 51 percent since 2000, compared to 31 percent in urban and 23 percent in rural areas.

Of course, the perception of relative deprivation may still persist in these spaces, but recent research suggests that perhaps anti-immigrant sentiment and support for Trump are tied to factors beyond pure economics: They may have more to do with lack of exposure to diversity and fear of lost status because of the changing face of the country.

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Who Owns LOVE?

Robert Indiana, the sculptor whose most famous work charted the course for public art everywhere, died on Saturday on a remote island off the coast of Maine, where he lived in isolation. He was 89. While he gave the world LOVE—an image as ubiquitous, as pure, and as saccharine as the emotion itself—the work was a source of lifelong frustration for the artist, right up to his death.

On Friday, the day before Indiana (born Robert Clark) died, a company called the Morgan Art Foundation Limited sued the artist and several associates for copyright infringement. The organization claims that it has owned the copyright for LOVE and several similarly configured works by Indiana, including AMOR and YALE, since the late 1990s. The suit alleges that recent artworks produced by Indiana violate the copyright of the Morgan Art Foundation—an offshore company whose owners and interests are secret.

This case illuminates a bitter irony: When Indiana first sketched the chunky stack of blocky letters in 1964, he failed to properly file a copyright for LOVE as the law required at the time. The image went on to achieve fame when the Museum of Modern Art commissioned Indiana to design a Christmas card in 1965. The original LOVE sculpture was installed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1970. Three years later, the design found immortality when the U.S. Postal Service stamped out 330 million LOVE postage stamps.

Robert Indiana’s AMOR, which was loaned to Philadelphia for the visit by Pope Francis in 2016, is now a permanent feature. (Michael R. Sisak/AP)

Only after the law for intellectual property changed in 1976, did Indiana win some limited rights for the work. But by that time, the image had long since transcended the world of sculpture, becoming a stand-in for the worst overreaches in commercial public art, and an albatross around the artist’s neck. Global riches eluded Indiana; instead, he gained notoriety.

Now, the story of LOVE is fated to end in acrimony—and the owner of LOVE after Indiana’s death remains a secret.

In recent years, the fight over LOVE has intensified. Philadelphia—a city with a spiritual claim to the sculpture, which was first installed there as part of the Bicentennial celebration in 1976—has sold LOVE-themed tchotchkes for years without incident. But the city received a cease-and-desist letter in December, even as hundreds of fans lined up in Love Park to purchase a $50 limited-edition granite LOVE keepsake, with funds going to maintain the park.

Another artist, who said Indiana gave him permission to make a sculpture of “PREM”—Sanskrit for love—faced a lawsuit in 2012.

The Morgan Art Foundation has registered two federal trademarks for the design and reproduction of LOVE—“the letters ‘LO’ above letters ‘VE’ in a stylized form”—and has applied for a third. The existing trademarks apply to umbrellas, credit-card holders, backpacks, and more. (The pending trademark, for ceramics and crafts, seems designed to block Philadelphia’s Love Park fundraiser.)

“Given the artist’s death, it’s even more important to pursue the case and protect Robert Indiana’s legacy,” says Luke Nikas, an attorney for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan who is representing the Morgan Art Foundation.

The design for LOVE found immortality when the U.S. Postal Service stamped out 330 million postage stamps of it in 1973 (U.S. Postal Museum)

The lawsuit, which attorneys filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday, details a history of LOVE that centers around an art dealer named Simon Salama-Caro. In 1998, Salama-Caro came to Indiana at his home in Vinalhaven, Maine. The artist, then 70, had long since retreated from the art world. The dealer had a plan. “[Salama-Caro] had a strategy to revive Indiana’s career: years of hard work and investment, strict enforcement of Indiana’s rights, and a focus on quality,” the suit’s history reads.

The lawsuit claims that Salama-Caro and Morgan Art Foundation struck a deal with Indiana: exclusive rights to LOVE and other images, for which Indiana would receive 50 percent of the sales. The contract was later amended: first, to give Morgan Art Foundation the rights to all of Indiana’s paintings and sculpture from 1960 to 2004, and then to give Morgan Art Foundation the exclusive rights to produce or fabricate LOVE and related images. For these works, Indiana’s cut was limited to 20 percent.

The Morgan Art Foundation’s lawsuit alleges that Jamie L. Thomas, a fisherman and Indiana’s caretaker (and former studio assistant), had isolated Indiana, preventing the dealer and his son, Marc Salama-Caro, from seeing the artist. “[Thomas] refuses to permit visitors to Indiana’s home,” the lawsuit reads. “He writes aggressive and threatening emails from Indiana’s email account—including an email sent to Marc Salama-Caro shortly after Marc visited Indiana at Indiana’s request, telling Marc to ‘FUCK OFF’ and to never return to Vinalhaven.”

The New York Times published a story on Friday on the lawsuit that suggested that Indiana had vanished, and perhaps not entirely of his own will. In the story, Salama-Caro and Barbara Haskell—the curator who assembled a redemptive 2013 retrospective for Indiana at the Whitney Museum of American Art called “Beyond Love”—both cast doubt about Indiana’s participation in an email interview with Wine Enthusiast. The magazine’s May issue bears the likeness of LOVE on its cover. (An editor for the magazine says the interview and permission were arranged by one Michael McKenzie, who is a defendant in the suit.)      

The new lawsuit claims that McKenzie, the founder of an art publishing company named American Image Art, has issued unlicensed editions of Indiana’s work that violate copyright. The case darkly insinuates that McKenzie has taken advantage of an infirm creator. “The public narrative surrounding these forged works also reveals the shift from Indiana’s voice to the voice of his exploiters,” the lawsuit reads. “Indiana, when of sound mind, sought to distance his legacy from the relentless focus on LOVE.”

Yet the Morgan Art Foundation is fighting for the right to make LOVE—and to profit immensely on its reproduction—not to discontinue or destroy it. Even as the company calls McKenzie’s motives into question, the identity of the Morgan Art Foundation remains a secret.

Indiana’s LOVE now has two owners: Robert Gore and Felippe Grossglauser. According to the attorney who represents the Morgan Art Foundation, an offshore limited liability company, those are its only two executives. He declined to say any more about their identities, except that Gore lives in London and is not the Robert Gore of Gore-Tex fame. Salama-Caro is the company’s advisor, not a claimant in the suit itself.

Neither the suit nor the article in The New York Times discusses the Morgan Art Foundation or how it came to be associated with Indiana. But the contracts that the artist signed gave the company great authority over his work. Late amendments clarified that Indiana’s 20 percent would come after deductions for expenses incurred by the Morgan Art Foundation. The agreement gave the company “exclusive authority to fabricate the Sculptures”—binding even after his death.

A search of the Panama Papers—a database of leaks on offshore accounts, which is maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists—shows other interests. In addition to two unknown “bearer shares,” a search for the Morgan Art Foundation reveals other officers, including Sofidev Fiduciaire S.A., an entity linked to a wider web of offshore accounts.  

This diagram shows the officers (in orange), entities (brown) and intermediaries (red) associated with the Morgan Art Foundation. The numerical figures on the spokes show the number of other connections to those accounts or individuals. (Panama Papers)

It may well be the case that McKenzie and Thomas are acting outside the best interests of Indiana’s estate. A two-over-two sculpture of “WINE” or “HOPE” might obscure what Indiana hoped to accomplish. The artist struggled mightily to escape from under the shadow of LOVE; no doubt the public conservation about his life and work in the days and weeks to come will focus on what he accomplished despite the power of LOVE.

But the two men who now own LOVE have another immediate concern: preventing the trademark dilution of one of the most lucrative brands on earth.

The value of LOVE owes almost entirely to the fact that it’s a public artwork, its status maintained at considerable expense by Philadelphia and other cities and museums where editions of the sculpture exist. The good fortune of its investor-owners is excluded from public taxation, enhanced by every selfie, and protected by what must be a dusk-to-dawn campaign of cease-and-desist letters.

Much to Indiana’s chagrin, LOVE—a progenitor of the sensation of Instagram art that can be seen in every city today—was never truly his. But by the time he signed over the legal rights to the work, LOVE belonged to the world. Just never on paper.

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The ‘Barefoot Doctors’ Serving America’s Cities

According to acupuncturist and herbalist Julia Bennett, her interest in the practice started when she was a child in 1950s North Carolina, where a knowledge of herbs was of vital importance in her community. “I grew up during Jim Crow and the height of segregation. We didn’t have access to doctors and hospitals,” she explained. “We were third people, so we had to use herbs.”

These days, Bennett lives in Brooklyn and is a founding member of Third Root, a community health center in the Ditmas Park neighborhood. The center’s mission is to provide healthcare with an orientation towards social justice, offering acupuncture, yoga, therapeutic massage, and herbal medicine on a sliding payment scale. “Acupuncture has become a moneymaker,” Bennett says, “So we want to make sure that everything we do is accessible and affordable to all people.”

While the price of an acupuncture session in cities like New York and San Francisco can reach hundreds of dollars, Chinese medicine in the Unites States historically has been used to provide care for communities who were denied access to mainstream health services. When Chinese immigrants to the United States arrived en masse during the mid-19th century Gold Rush, their medicine was mostly used to serve Chinese populations. The immigrants had brought herbs with them, and systemic racism confined them to local Chinatowns—even for medicine.

“Buying medicine was like doing groceries,” said Donna Mah, an acupuncturist and the guest curator of “Chinese Medicine in the US: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices,” an exhibition at the Museum of Chinese in America, running April 26-September 9. “You can go to any Chinatown and there’s always an herbal dispensary.”

The use of Chinese medicine expanded in the 1970s, when the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and other activist groups started looking for an inexpensive way to provide health care for their members and to poor neighborhoods. According to Tolbert Small, who was the Panther’s medical advisor and physician, the poor and people of color were intentionally underserved by the United States government. “They have the worst statistics and mortality rates, which is still the case today,” he says. “These communities started providing free clinics for themselves since our government wasn’t interested.”

The Panthers’ activism was partially inspired by the Communist model in China, and, when Chairman Mao Zedong invited a delegation of the group—including Small—to tour the country in 1972, they witnessed a model of healthcare they were eager to implement back home. The Chinese government used “barefoot doctors”—healthcare providers trained in basic acupuncture and herbal medicine—to serve its growing population. Contrary to academically-trained doctors—the few of whom were mostly concentrated in big cities—these providers served their communities without the need of many resources or extensive training. On top of that, their roots in folk expertise blurred the boundaries between laypeople and the educated elite.

This influenced the network of People’s Free Medical Clinics the Panthers were setting up in American cities—including Oakland, where Small helped lead the efforts while completing his medical residency at Alameda County Medical Center. Following the Chinese model, the volunteer-led clinics provided free medical care and trained members in basic healthcare techniques that didn’t require much previous knowledge. In China, Small had witnessed surgeries where acupuncture was used as a complement—including a patient who, with the help of acupuncture, kept talking throughout his eye operation. Back home, Small organized sessions where activists could come together to practice. “Barefoot doctors learned by practicing on themselves,” he said. “When I got back, I used a book called Basic Acupuncture Techniques and did all the points on myself.”

Activists also were turning to acupuncture for relief on the East Coast. In the South Bronx, the Young Lords worked to reform the dilapidated Lincoln Hospital—which had become known as the “butcher shop of the South Bronx” by some—to better serve the neighborhood’s mostly black and Puerto Rican residents. Together with the Panthers, fellow activists, and acupuncturist Mutulu Shakur, the group established the the Lincoln Detox Center, where an ear-based technique was introduced to help battle addiction. Shakur would go on to cofound the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture, where he continued to train community-minded acupuncturists until he was arrested in 1986 and subsequently convicted for his role in the 1981 Brink’s robbery.

Bobby Seale in front of the Panthers free clinic in Berkeley on Sept. 8, 1972. (AP Photo/RWK)

Though the clinic was evicted in 1978, the staff moved to a nearby location and continued providing care. That’s also where Bennett, in the early 1980s, was introduced to acupuncture. The crack epidemic had started devastating the surrounding area and other inner cities neighborhoods, and addicts were neglected by the government at best and incarcerated at worst. “It was amazing to walk into the space and see all these people in lounge chairs, relaxed and calm, with needles in their ears.” For Bennett, the current state of health and addiction care in New York is still lacking. “There are drop-in centers where people can get their methadone, but the goal is never about cleaning people up.”

The legacy of community acupuncture continues to serve cities today. Though government persecution forced most of the People’s Clinics to close—and the Panthers to disband—Small now works at the San Francisco and Oakland sites of the Native American Health Center, which provides community healthcare for Native and other underserved populations. Established during the same period as the Panthers’ clinics, it is part of a network of community health centers holding fort in a gentrifying city—one of its neighborhoods was recently named the “hottest” real estate market in the US.

“I used to do house calls in West Oakland, and people used to call that the ghetto,” Small said. “For my patient there now, all their neighbors are white.” For him, this makes it particularly essential that Oakland’s community-style health centers continue to operate.

Though its previous locations closed, the Lincoln Detox Center, also known as the Lincoln Recovery Center, now operates at a new Bronx address. Bennett still treats addicts who come to Third Root for support, and continues to train others in National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol, the acupuncture detox method that came out of the Lincoln legacy. According to the organization’s estimates, this technique of auricular acupuncture is used in over 2000 clinics worldwide (including locations in all American states).

The need for these alternative practices became even more important when the Trump administration tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, sending many of Bennett’s patients into a scare for losing their healthcare. “As they shared their testimonies with us, we realized that our sliding-scale services have been a saving grace for so many people,” she said. Community-style practices have been growing in Brooklyn and Harlem, where they continue to treat the poor, most of whom are of color. “People just can’t afford healthcare anymore,” Bennett continued, “so the need for community practices is at an all-time high.”

Mah said she has witnessed an increase in community acupuncture practices in the city, including efforts like that of the New York Harm Reduction Educators, an organization dedicated to support those who engage in drugs or sex work, partially through free acupuncture sessions in East Harlem. “Many who are called to this mode of healing have a sensitivity to the impact they can have on the least served,” Mah said.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine with roots in Chinese culture might still be thought of as “alternative” care, yet for more than a century, it has been one of the few accessible options for marginalized communities in the United States.

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CityLab Daily: Keep an Eye on This

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.


What We’re Following

Eyes on the streets: Orlando is testing a different kind of streaming video service from Amazon: a real-time facial recognition system that can track and identify people on the street.

As NPR reports, the ACLU uncovered the information on Amazon’s Rekognition software and its potential applications. Amazon’s Ranju Das recently highlighted the pilot at a conference in Seoul, saying Orlando has “cameras all over the city… If they want to know if the mayor of the city is in a place or if we have a person of interest that we track, we can send the response.” The software could even be used to reconstruct an individual’s past movements, as shown in a video demo of the software.

An Orlando Police Department spokesman told The New York Times they don’t have plans to use it that way, and that it isn’t currently being used in investigations or public spaces. Still, privacy advocates are sounding the alarm. “Amazon Rekognition is primed for abuse in the hands of governments,” the ACLU wrote in a letter to Jeff Bezos on Tuesday, saying it’s especially threatening to immigrant communities and people of color.

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

Revisiting the New Urban Crisis

The shift toward a more inclusive urbanism has begun. But it will require time, commitment from city institutions, and political agency at the local level.

Richard Florida

The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

Allan Richarz

The Ancient Forests That Have Defied Urbanization

In cities around the United States, old-growth forests have survived against the odds. But preserving them is not as simple as roping them off from the public.

Allison C. Meier

Federal Law Leaves Marijuana in a No-Fly Zone

Federal regulations mean that passengers flying from one weed-legal destination to another with their personal stash may still be breaking the law, but in at least one U.S. airport, that weed can fly.

Leslie Nemo

Mapping Palestine Before Israel

A new open-source project uses British historical maps to reveal what Palestine looked like before 1948.

Mimi Kirk

Slow Your Roll

(Yonah Freemark/The Transport Politic)

Don’t sound the transit death knell yet. Yonah Freemark argues on The Transport Politic that while we’re seeing a steady decline in transit ridership, there are reasons to believe it won’t be a permanent shift. As the chart above shows, the share of commuters using transit to get to work in major transit cities has been shrinking for decades. The current decline, though, comes after a peak, when ridership increased 35 percent from 1996 to 2014. CityLab context: What’s behind America’s decline in transit ridership?

What We’re Reading

In Jersey City, it’s a race between Kushner and Kushner to develop (New York Times)

How architecture can rebuild itself post-#MeToo (Curbed)

The more prestigious your college degree, the farther you’ll move after getting it (Slate)

Diverse schools do more to promote tolerance than simply living in a diverse community (Quartz)

The unusually powerful perch of the MTA chief (New York Times)

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