Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - September 12 Edition

Voter Registration, Elections

Automatic voter registration, a new reform that will modernize voter registration and dramatically increase registration rates, is gaining momentum around the country. Ten states and the District of Columbia have already approved the policy. So far in 2017, 32 states have introduced legislation to implement or expand automatic registration (and one more state has an AVR bill that carried over from 2016). A full breakdown of these bills, as well as those introduced in 2015 and 2016, is available below.

Automatic voter registration makes two transformative, yet simple, changes to voter registration: Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline, and agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials. These two changes create a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for both voters and government officials. This policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, makes voting more convenient, and reduces the potential for voter fraud, all while lowering costs.

Arts, Technology, Personal Development

Think of the most artistic people you know. Now, call to mind the geeks in your circles--engineers, programmers and IT pros. The two camps are polar opposites, right?
Not so fast. People with a background in music, theatre and art are actually well suited for technical careers. That's according to Jacob Smith, head of engagement and cofounder of Packet, a NYC tech company that provides cloud infrastructure for developers and large enterprises. A professional bassoonist by training, he played with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and various opera companies before cofounding Packet in 2014. Here are his words on why artistic training helps kids grow into adults who rock at technology.

1. The best artists are disciplined.
An arts training helps build people that are self-driven, self-motivated, and are constantly searching for ways to improve and stretch. This is essential for tech innovation, where (just like in the Arts), perfection is an unobtainable goal that you strive for while racing for that new discovery around the next corner.

Food, Economy, Communities

Despite being an area rich in agricultural knowledge, Letcher County is ranked nearly the lowest in Kentucky for overall health factors and outcomes, including access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and resources are scarce to help feed young people and seniors. The local meal program for seniors has been cut back so far that for years meals have been mailed to seniors from the closest well-funded hub—in Iowa.

A new partnership between Mountain Comprehensive Health Corp., a local hospital, and the Community Farm Alliance, a grassroots organization that supports independent farmers, is helping remedy that. Community Agricultural Nutrition Enterprises is a project that supports the livelihoods of local farmers, increases access to fresh healthy food, and improves health outcomes for Letcher and surrounding counties.

The intent is for CANE to become a full-fledged community hub for nutrition, health, and wellness, with a community kitchen, preschool day care, and medical providers all under one roof—and it’s already well on its way.

Inspiration, Hurricane Harvey, Heroes

(Video included)

During the height of the flooding in the Houston area caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Coast Guard and Texas Children’s Hospital coordinated “mission impossible,” a plan to rescue 33 children with kidney failure who were stranded throughout southeast Texas.

They needed immediate transport to the hospital for dialysis; without it, they might die.

Zaiden lives in Bryan, Texas, about 100 miles from the hospital where he receives treatment four times a week. Gardner, alongside three other Coast Guard personnel, planned and executed the boy’s rescue by Blackhawk helicopter last Tuesday, Aug. 29. 

By Wednesday morning, all 33 children in need had made it safely to dialysis units at Texas Children’s Hospital and neighboring Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, thanks to the daring mission.


Domestic airports will be packed this holiday weekend. U.S. airlines expect 16.1 million passengers to take to the skies over Labor Day—a 5 percent increase over last year—at the same time as airlines work to reroute travelers impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The one upside: Fun, new amenities at airports across the country can make the journey more enjoyable once you're through security. If you’re traveling through one of these hubs this weekend, look for these new perks. 

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