AARP classes can make older drivers smarter and give discounts too

Story and photos by IAN SMITH

AARP Utah is located at 6975 S. Union Park Center in Midvale.

AARP Utah is located at 6975 S. Union Park Center in Midvale.

We’ve all been in this situation: we are driving and then we get cut off or start tailing another car and we get frustrated. You don’t have to think hard because most people automatically think it’s an older driver.

So you slam on the brakes and press the horn as you fly around the car. You might give them a gesture or something of that nature.

But, older adults who feel like their skills are slipping can be proactive. AARP offers classes that can help aging drivers revive and reboot their skills behind the wheel.

“It provides the focus on the important thing that driving is the most dangerous thing we do every day,” said Paulette Welch, Utah state coordinator for driver’s safety in a phone interview.

The four-hour classes aren’t held on a specific schedule. It varies depending on the demand for classes, which are held at different senior centers all around Utah.

The price for a class varies depending on membership. It’s $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. It also offers an online version of the class that costs members $17.95 and non-members $21.95.

The number of participants also varies. Laura Polacheck, communications director for AARP Utah, said there may be as few as two students in a certain class or as many as 30.

“It’s a safety concern, and it’s difficult because people want to keep their independence,” she said in a phone interview. “That shouldn’t be the prevailing reasons to keep their keys.”

The classes consist of a lot of questions. This helps instructors, who are certified to teach the course by AARP, find out where participants may be lacking in focus or skill. For example, do they place their hands on the steering wheel correctly? When a pedestrian is in the cross walk and you need to turn, when can you go?

Polacheck said aging adults hit the point where they don’t see problems that others may see. They may ignore stop signs and other road signs. As a result, they may receive tickets or have an accident. She said people develop bad habits but no one informs them. Also, they don’t see the problem because they are so used to what they’ve been doing for so long. “We really ask them to reflect,” she said.

Pamphlets contain more information about the driving program.

Pamphlets contain more information about the driving program.

The class reviews the safety of the road and aspects such as reaction time and vision. Instructors also teach participants about new technology that can help them keep their keys in their possession.

“We talk about changing vehicle technology,” said Welch, the state coordinator for driver’s safety. “Many of them know less than younger drivers do.” In fact, she said, people are often surprised by how much they don’t know.

Welch said participants have a great reaction to the class and think more carefully about driving before they get inside of a car. All the information that pours into their ears makes them better drivers once they leave.

Another reward for taking the class is that some insurance companies offer discounts on policies.

“It’s a bit of an incentive,” said Polacheck, AARP Utah’s communications director. “You might not think about signing up for a safe driving course. Insurance companies believe it works otherwise they wouldn’t give the discount.”

However, AARP also recognizes that some older adults are unable to drive safely or consistently. It encourages those individuals to consider alternate mode of transportation.

“You don’t process the information the same [as you age],” said Peter Hebertson, information and referral program manager of Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services.

Hebertson said it can be difficult for people to give up driving because it affects their independence. This will become an even greater problem as Utah’s population ages.

 

 

 

 

 

Shades of grey: understanding African-American voices on gun control.

Story and graphics by TREVOR RAPP

Break downs of the demographics of shooters in school shootings show the vast majority are not ethnic minorities.

What does a gun in a hand of a black man symbolize?

Three highly publicized photographs demonstrate the complexity and disparity of portrayals of the African-American gun culture.

In one, an African-American man stands alone in an apartment facing away from the camera, his head slightly bowed, enough to make out an outline but no details of his face. An AR-15 assault rifle with custom grips, a 30-round magazine and collapsible stock hangs from a sling off his back. His left hand grips a pistol of unknown make and caliber that he points at the ground.

In another, smoke explodes from the barrel of a shotgun being held by an African-American man with salt-and-pepper hair wearing a black Nike polo tucked neatly into blue jeans. He wears black sunglasses and ear protection.

In a third, a young African-American man’s face and upper torso fill the camera frame. Graffiti lines the background and tight braids slip out from underneath his black bandana. His chest is bare and he curls his bottom lip under to better show off the two rows of gold-capped teeth. Both his hands, with his index and middle fingers, form imaginary guns pointed at his head.

The first is of Colion Noir, a self-proclaimed “YouTube Personality, Gun Enthusiast, Budding Attorney, Regular Guy who happens to love Guns.” Noir is also a correspondent for the National Rifle Association.

The second is a photo released on the White House’s Photo Stream on Flickr with the caption, “President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).” Much debate followed as to whether the photo was genuine or a staged photo-op to appeal to gun rights advocates.

The third is of rapper A$AP Rocky, who was praised by the New York Times for his debut album, “Long.Live.Asap.” the Times described him as being “a Harlem native with an expansive ear … one of hip-hop’s brightest new stars,” and, “a peacock, [rapping] with flair and authority.” One of the hit songs on the album, titled “F**kin Problems,” describes putting “your chrome to your dome,” a reference to putting a gun to your head. Other descriptions include acts of fellatio as making “it pop like an automatic or a nine,” references to automatic weapons and 9 mm pistols.

So what does it symbolize? Does the image of the average Joe portray a means of protection or a sign of paranoia? Is the image of a politician a depiction of high-class recreation or calculated propaganda? And for young, black males and females struggling to create their own identity, does this “art-imitates-life” photo provide insight and inspiration surrounding a successful artist, or social commentary on the numbing allure of becoming someone by racking up “street cred” points?

The answer is multi-faceted, with similar local and national conversations but quite different realities. Most importantly though, it’s a complicated answer that must be looked at through the lens of history, socio-economic factors and influences of the African-American family culture and African-American pop culture.

In the Salt Lake City area the true story for African-American gun violence, or crime for that matter, is not much different than the story for whites, said Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Shawn Josephson.

“It actually is one of those misnomers,” he said. “People tend to think that there is a significant difference [in crime] in the east side [a more densely white-populated area] to the west side [a more densely minority-populated area] and there really hasn’t been over the course of the history of the police department.”

However, the African-American population in Salt Lake City is extremely low. According to the United States Census Bureau, only a mere 2.7 percent of the population of Salt Lake City is African-American compared to 75.1 percent white. When taken in the context of the entire state the amount drops to 1.1 percent.

This makes it very difficult to get a statistical perspective on things like gun violence in the African-American community, Josephson said.

“As far as African-American [population], we are very, very low as far as our percentages go. … One person that’s a bad person can skew the whole percentages,” Josephson said. “I don’t believe [statistics] tell the true story most of the time.”

The same story seems to hold true in local school districts.

Jason Olsen, communication officer for the Salt Lake City School District, said, “We don’t see a greater propensity for violence in schools with a lot of minority students or schools without a lot of minority students. Our concern for school safety spreads across the entire district. It’s not really based on the ethnic diversity of certain schools.”

Olsen admits that concern for school safety was heightened in minority communities post-Sandy Hook, but also says it’s hard to gauge how much.

For example, though an astounding 200 Utah teachers poured into a single concealed weapons class right after the Sandy Hook incidents, Olsen has no way of knowing which teachers have concealed-carry permits, much less how the demographic breakdown is.

“In the Salt Lake School District we abide by the state law, that teachers with a concealed-carry permit are allowed to bring their weapon to school, but that weapon has to remain concealed and in their control at all times,” Olsen said. “Also the key point of what a concealed-carry permit is, is that it is concealed. We don’t necessarily know who would have a weapon and who wouldn’t.”

Later Olsen said, “Were there concerns in those [minority] communities? Yes. Were they greater than any concerns in any other communities? I didn’t get the feeling they were. I think the one thing that especially Sandy Hook has taught us is that acts of violence like this can happen anywhere. … It’s going to take the districts, the students, the community, community leaders, businesses, organizations, it’s going to take everybody to end this problem.”

But even in the apparent lack of a local problem, some Salt Lake City groups have expressed deep concerns about a very different reality of the effect of gun violence on the African-American community on the national level.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch and tri-state conference of Idaho, Nevada and Utah, wrote a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch detailing the epidemic proportions of gun-related deaths.

“The leading cause of death among African-American teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun related homicide,” Williams wrote on April 12, 2013. “African-American children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun related deaths in 2008 and 2009 but were only 15 percent of the total child population. Clearly we have a stake in the debate.”

Earlier in the same letter, Williams “strongly” urged Hatch to “support the strongest policies possible, including implementation of a universal background check system; a ban on military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips; and tough new penalties for ‘straw purchasers’ of any size.”

But the presence of strong African-American voices like Williams’ hasn’t been seen much on the national stages. Since the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children, the debate over gun control has raged like a white man’s Nor’easter blizzard, causing a whiteout in the mainstream media that has marginalized the African-American community. It’s a sea of Caucasian talking-heads with only a Black “blip” here and there. It leaves many wondering not just what is the African-American perspective, but where is it?

President Barrack Obama has probably been the most visible African-American in the debate. He made similar comments when he returned to Newtown on April 8, 2013, the place of the Sandy Hook massacre, to drum up support for more active gun control measures.

“I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promises we made in those dark days … once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were gathered up,” the Huffington Post quoted Obama as saying. “We will not walk away from the promise we’ve made.”

Since the attacks on Columbine rocked the nation until realizations of the Sandy Hook massacre, hundreds of people have been injured or died.

Since the attacks on Columbine rocked the nation until the more recent horrors of the Sandy Hook massacre, hundreds of people have been injured or died in school shootings.

Those promises included 12 Congressional proposals and 23 executive actions, according to a Jan. 16, 2013, New York Times story, “What’s in Obama’s Gun Control Proposal.” Some of the more controversial points included universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles and pistols that have more than one military characteristic (such as pistol grips, forward grips, detachable or telescoping stocks and threaded barrels), a ban on all rifles or pistols that have a fixed magazine that can take more than 10 rounds and a ban on all magazines or clips that hold more than 10 rounds.

In stark contrast to this opinion are other African-Americans like Colion Noir.

“No one wants to fight for their protection, they want the government to do it,” Noir said in a video posted on the NRANews YouTube channel on March 1, 2013. “The same government who at one point hosed us down with water, attacked us with dogs, and wouldn’t allow us to eat at their restaurant, and told us we couldn’t own guns when bumbling fools with sheets on their heads were riding around burning crosses on our lawns and murdering us.”

But all Noir’s bluster hasn’t necessarily allowed him to break through any publicity ceilings. Noir’s YouTube videos for the past month have averaged 60,000 total views, while Piers Morgan, a white male and frequent gun control advocate and commentator on CNN, still beat out those numbers in spite of drawing an all-time low of 87,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic for his show “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

Still, Noir’s comments prompted a firestorm of blog and Twitter comments from various people. Among them was Russell Simmons, a business magnate who founded Def Jam recordings and Phat Farm clothing.

“Our community is not interested in a corporate sponsored gun group telling us what to do, when their real mission is to make more money for the corporations that line their dirty pockets with rolls of cash and silver bullets,”  Simmons wrote in “The NRA & Black People: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!” posted on globalgrind.

If the composition of the NRA board of directors is a reflection of its level of commitment to African-Americans, then perhaps Simmons’ mistrust is not off base. Of the 75 members, only four are African-American. Of these four, one is Karl Malone, the former NBA star who played for the Utah Jazz.

“We’re much smarter than that and certainly can see through their motives,” Simmons wrote. “Until they show a real interest in solving the violence problem in our community, they can keep their Yankee hat-wearing spokesman and their African-American ‘campaigns’ for themselves. In the words of another internet star, ‘ain’t nobody got time for that.'”

While Noir isn’t the only prominent African-American to reference historical violence enacted upon blacks to promote gun rights, such disparate opinions speak not just to the divisive nature of the debate, but also the depth and complexity that underlies the debate about the role guns should play in the African-American community.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the second African-American to serve on the United States Supreme Court, used various references to black history when he wrote in partial support of a 2010 court opinion. In the case involving a Second Amendment challenge to a Chicago ordinance that “effectively bann[ed] handgun possession by almost all private citizens,” Thomas observed that “organized terrorism … proliferated in the absence of federal enforcement of constitutional rights” following the Civil War. In particular, he addressed the Ku Klux Klan and its reign of terror. Thomas wrote that “the use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves from mob violence.” He added that Eli Cooper, “one target of such violence,” reportedly explained, “‘The Negro has been run over for fifty years, but it must stop now, and pistols and shotguns are the only weapons to stop a mob.”’

Thomas also quoted another man whose father had stood armed at a jail all night to ward off lynchers. That empowering experience, Thomas wrote, left the man feeling hopeful that mob violence could be halted by individual acts of “standing up to intimidation.”

Others have noted the necessity of being armed during the civil rights movement.

“It is a myth that the civil-rights movement was exclusively nonviolent,” wrote Akinyele Umoja, a professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University, in “Black Ambivalence about Gun Control.”

Umoja detailed some of the provocations African-Americans suffered during the summer of 1964. Workers and volunteers in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a civil rights organization trying to register local African-Americans to vote, were being harassed by “night riders,” white vigilantes who terrorized the SNCC. One night as a posse of night riders followed SNCC workers from the registration office, an 89-year-old woman armed and organized her children, grandchildren and neighbors and formed an ambush which so surprised the night riders that they never returned.

Umoja said in a phone interview that there was a shift between the 1950s and ’60s in how children got guns. Where before the “elders” took an involved role in teaching their children how and for what purposes to use guns, shifts in the general American culture that made it easier to obtain a gun illegally put more guns in the hands of “unstable elements.”

“It was a rite of passage for rural black families to teach children to use arms as a means of survival, for both food and protection. And black girls were trained to shoot to protect themselves from white rapists,” Umoja wrote in the article, which was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

But even deep-seated traditions of armed heroism don’t make for clear delineations among African-Americans on issues of gun control.

“There are some people in our community that don’t identify with either of the positions put out by the NRA or liberals,” Umoja said in the phone interview.

Though the rhetoric can be polarizing, the views certainly are not just black and white among the African-American community. Rather, the nuanced grey areas have to be understood through the many factors shaping and influencing the African-American community.

Umoja wrote in the article about social issues including the destabilization of families due to cuts in the federal government’s welfare system, increased individualism among blacks, declines in the manufacturing economy which employed many blacks, and increases in gang activity and the influx of drugs — all of which have led to an increase in cycles of poverty and gun violence, and by extension a motivation to support gun control.

But the fear of violence among under ground elements within the black community hasn’t erased the memory of violence from outside the black community, Umoja wrote. “Gun control for many black activists is at heart an issue of self-determination, self-reliance, and self-defense. But at the same time, we need to provide economic alternatives for black youths trapped in the drug economy; end the ‘war on drugs’ through decriminalization and the treatment of substance abuse as a public-health issue, and provide accessible and culturally relevant education that prepares black students for professions and entrepreneurship.”

 

From the Journalist’s Notebook, some reflections:

What does a gun in a hand of a black man symbolize?

For Utahns afraid of an overspill of violence from the 1 percent — a non-issue.

For those tired of being political puppets of a national white gentlemen’s club — white ignorance.

For those tired of being in the crosshairs of white oppressors — power.

And for those tired of looking down the wrong end of it — a call to find more peaceful way to build a community.

Getting Dirty: Why children need to be outdoors

Story and photos by KATIE HARRINGTON

A semi-weathered copy of Thoreau’s “Walden is perched on the top shelf of an IKEA bookcase in Nick Harrison’s bedroom, next to a collection of guidebooks, a stack of old climbing magazines and a French pocketknife — the handle made from the trunk of a cork tree. Harrison’s name is engraved on the blade.

A large, unfinished painting of southern Utah’s Castleton Tower is nestled into the corner of the room, near a box of paintbrushes and a piece of notebook paper with the title “2012 TO DO LIST” written across the top:

Keep a clear mind. Visit a different continent. Finish Castleton painting. Push my physical limits. Change someone’s life for the better.

Harrison, a 20-year-old student and a “liftie” at Alta Ski Area, grew up with the Wasatch Mountains in his backyard, inspired by their mystifying allure.

“I am drawn to the outdoors,” Harrison said. “These mountains are my constant source of motivation. I draw them. I climb them. But I didn’t fully appreciate what they had to offer until I got older. Survival, self-reliance, serenity: these are all things you can only truly learn by getting outside.”

But kids today don’t seem to see the outdoors the same way Harrison does.

Crowson (left) and Harrison pack their car for a climbing trip in April.

According to a national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages eight to 18 spend an average of 7.3 hours engaging in entertainment media in a typical day. This amounts to more than 53 hours per week.

Be Out There — a National Wildlife Federation campaign that hopes to reconnect children to the natural world — notes that a study in 2005 revealed that children are spending half as much time outdoors than they did 20 years ago.

Neil Crowson — Harrison’s roommate and adventurer counterpart — grew up down the street from Harrison, spending his childhood skiing in the Wasatch Mountains and rock climbing with his father.

“It’s really important for a kid to go out and get himself in the dirt, jump off rocks and cut his knees up, and get on the mountain at a young age,” Crowson said. “If kids do that, then they come to develop ambitions and learn to respect the mountains.”

Both Harrison and Crowson say they have — in one way or another — been defined by their outdoor surroundings, that growing up with the mountains as their playground has given them a sense of place and purpose in a seemingly uncertain world.

The walls of their living room are covered from ceiling to floor with personal photographs that share a common theme: being outside.

The gear room in the basement of their bungalow-style house is crammed with racks of ropes, climbing gear, bikes, skis, backpacks, tents and camp stoves—and a looming odor that can only be created from years of adventuring outdoors.

“I can’t ever see myself leaving the Wasatch completely,” Crowson said. “The people that founded these canyons, both in skiing and in climbing, have also founded tons of areas around the west coast. But you always see them coming back to Salt Lake and that’s because we hold the mountains with such high regard. They define us.”

But that defining power of the mountains — of the outdoors in general — is becoming increasingly sparse among today’s youth, as an increasingly technology-fueled lifestyle drives kids indoors — and keeps them there.

“It’s hard to learn a key set of morals as a kid when the world is changing so rapidly and technology is always advancing,” Crowson said. “It’s always hard to know how to become a man. But the beautiful thing about the outdoors is that it’s a constant. It’s timeless. So the same set of values that existed 100 years ago still exists today.”

Outdoor Nation — a community-based program created by young people, for young people — was founded in 2010 to address the growing disconnect between today’s youth and the outdoors.

“America is in a current state of crisis where its youth are choosing technology over nature, Xboxes (check the proper spelling on X box) over healthy lifestyles,” Outdoor Nation said on its website. “Green spaces in urban areas are either unsafe or non-existent. Families, schools, and media have failed to engage and excite youth about the benefits of the outdoors.”

Judy Brady, a licensed clinical social worker in Salt Lake City, said being outdoors is especially important for a child’s development because it fosters self-esteem.

“One of the ways in which we gain self-esteem is through task mastery,” Brady said. “When a child is outside, he or she gains personal self worth by problem solving, by completing new and challenging tasks.”

A series of studies published in a 2009 edition of Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.

“In vital states people demonstrate better coping and report greater health and wellness,” the study reported. “Being outdoors has been proposed to be good for health and well-being because when outdoors, people tend to both interact more with others and get more exercise.”

The sunlight also triggers serotonin and dopamine production, neurotransmitters that help maintain positive feelings in the brain, Brady said. Cases of seasonal depression are seen more often in the winter months because there is less sunlight and people spend less time outdoors.

“When we are surrounded by all man-made objects and man-made ideas — products of our own society — we become dysfunctional,” Crowson said. “We forget how to respond. We are alienated from each other because we are constantly around each other. When you are in the outdoors and there’s nothing but organic sounds, it gives you a chance to really bond with other humans.”

Allison Librett — a lawyer and fitness instructor in Salt Lake City — said that exposing her children to the outdoors at a young age has helped them establish and maintain relationships.

Librett has a nine-year-old and an 11-year-old, both of whom spend their summers at outdoor camps with children of diverse abilities and backgrounds.

“Fresh air, exercise, mental stimulation — these are all such important things for child’s development,” Librett said. “My kids have had the opportunity growing up to interact with the world around them, to know what their imprint is and that they have a purpose.”

Librett said that when her children spend long periods indoors — especially when they are on the computer or playing video games — she notices that they are much more anxious, emotional and frustrated.

Those emotions disappear when her children are engaged in outdoor activities.

Harrison said he hopes that today’s youth will realize what adventuring outdoors has to offer.

“Kids should be excited to get out, to be outside, to breathe fresh air, to see a full moon and a bunch of stars, and hear the coyotes,” Harrison said. “That’s the sickest thing to me: just hearing and seeing and feeling the world as it is. ”

And if Harrison’s convictions about the benefits of nature aren’t heartfelt and persuasive enough, then perhaps a passage marked in his copy of “Walden” is:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

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One World Café heightens the food expectations of the non-profit world

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by Tricia Oliphant

Imagine a menu that offers so much variety it actually changes on a daily basis. You choose your portions and then pay what you are able or what you think your meal was worth. If you do not have money to buy a meal, you can volunteer an hour of your time and eat for free.  Those who serve your food are also the people who helped prepare it, allowing you to find an immediate answer to the age-old question “It looks good, but what’s in it?”

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Such is the organization of One World Café, a non-profit community café in downtown Salt Lake City.

Denise Cerreta founded One World Café in 2003. It is now part of several non-profit cafés nationwide that make up the One World Everybody Eats Foundation. The café provides delicious, healthy meals to all who desire to eat, regardless of their financial situation.

When I heard about this revolutionary idea of choosing my portions and what I wanted to pay for them, I was curious about how it worked. I decided to give it a try with a friend.

Upon entering the café, we immediately noticed the friendly atmosphere. We were greeted kindly by one of the cooks/servers who directed us to choose our plate size. Although we were only required to pay what we deemed fair, we did see price suggestions according to the size of plate written on a blackboard (small: $4 to $6, medium: $7 to $9, large: $10 to $12.)

Our server then described each of the dishes laid out in front of us, buffet style. The main dishes included sweet curry over brown rice, a unique asparagus quiche on a potato crust, and seasoned beef bursting with flavor.

An assortment of fresh salads complimented each of the main dishes, including a zesty marinated carrot and cucumber salad, and a wild rice salad with celery and tomato.

We tried a bit of everything. We also chose a drink from a selection of coffee, tea, soymilk, almond milk, or water.

The One World Café offers a cozy, “feel like you’re eating in your mother’s dining room” atmosphere.  Each of several dining rooms contains only a couple of dining tables to provide a sense of privacy. A patio in front allows for dining al fresco.
In addition to the warm, inviting atmosphere and the plethora of food and dining options, the food itself at One World Café was simply succulent and mouthwatering. The ingredients were clearly fresh. Most were organic.

“I believe in getting food as close to the source as possible,” One World Café manager David Spittler said.

Sunflower Farmers Market donates many of the ingredients used at One World Café.  The café also participates in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where a monthly fee is paid to a local farm for its fresh produce.

Spittler became an advocate of fresh, organic food while he worked on a peach farm after high school.  The peaches they shipped to places such as Wal-Mart, Spittler said, were picked while they were still green, thus robbing the produce of many vital nutrients.

Using several of their favorite cookbooks, Spittler and a group of regular volunteers decide how to use the fresh ingredients as they prepare a weekly menu — about a week in advance.

“We try to make the menu as friendly to everyone as possible,” he said.

“My favorite cold dish was the Cucumber and Carrot Zest,” said customer Lauren Snow on a recent visit. “The ingredients were so simple but it had so much flavor, and it’s something I can make at home.”

One other point in One World’s favor: very little food at the café goes to waste. Because customers choose their portion sizes, they eat most of their food.

Furthermore, the food that is left over at the end of the day, such as salads, can often be reused in another dish the following day. Although the hot dishes are not reheated, Spittler said, they are often reused in a soup. Any leftover waste is recycled as compost.

One World’s kitchen is small, but out in the open for all to see.  Customers can watch their meals being cooked. With only one six-burner stove in operation, something is always cooking.

“We can’t prepare large quantities [of food] at one time,” said volunteer Isaac Hoppe. “This is a good thing because it’s fresh.”

Whether you’re looking for a pleasant dining atmosphere, a delicious variety of well-prepared dishes, or would simply like to help feed the hungry of Salt Lake City, the One World Café has something for everyone.

One World Café

41 S 300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Hours: Wed -Sun, 8 a.m. -7 p.m.; Fri –Sat, 8 a.m. -9 p.m.

Phone: 801-519 – 2002519- 2002

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City Creek Center opening brings thousands to downtown Salt Lake City

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by Tricia Oliphant

Crowds lined the walkway. Parents gripped the hands of their squirming children, who were eager to run off and explore. The shutters of cameras repeatedly clicked.

In one corner a musician put his soul into playing the blues on his saxophone.  In another, musician and performer Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys entertained a crowd with playful tunes on his cello. The laughter of a nearby group of adolescents resonated as they talked about their plans and what they wanted to see first.

That overflowing excitement most often only theme parks can create filled the masses swarming downtown for the opening of Salt Lake City’s first downtown mall in three decades.

City Creek Center opened on Thursday, Mar. 22, 2012. Like many others, I was drawn to the novelty and newness of City Creek. I decided I had to join thousands of others in visiting City Creek on its opening day so I could answer the question posed by a dear friend of mine, “Is it really as big a deal as it has been made out to be?”

Although City Creek offers ample parking in a giant, heated three-level underground parking garage, I chose to take the TRAX (Utah’s light rail system) to the new shopping center.  In spite of the train being loaded with anxious shoppers of all ages who were also heading for the mall, I thought it offered the convenience of not fighting downtown traffic or hunting for a parking place.

City Creek Shopping Center was funded entirely by cash reserves of the LDS Church and built on three church-owned blocks in downtown Salt Lake City. A sky bridge over Main Street connects two of the blocks and allows shoppers on the second level of the center to cross from one side to the other.

Upon arrival, I was impressed by the classy architecture and design of City Creek Center. I quickly realized this wasn’t just any ordinary mall when I noticed the glass roof is actually retractable. City Creek opens the roof when the weather is just right, providing a view of the open sky and surrounding skyscrapers.

Along with over 90 stores and restaurants, the shopping center offers a wildlife landscape downtown with the re-creation of the historic City Creek that winds through the shopping center’s walkways and plazas—complete with live fish.

In addition to the creek, the shopping center offers a variety of waterfalls, ponds and fountains (one of which is open to children who would like to cool off while splashing in the choreographed blasts of water.) I found each water feature to be quite beautiful and each added a sense of natural serenity to the busy shopping center.

“Standing at the base of the skyscrapers surrounded by rivers and waterfalls was a striking experience of both outdoors and the big city at the same time,” shopper Matt Argyle said. “It’s really breathtaking.”

Benches and tables rest on the edge of the creek and beside the waterfalls. These provide places to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Some believe the quality of the food court can often make or break a shopping center.  City Creek’s food court is nothing to scoff at.

The massive food court is located next to the creek and a waterfall. Diners can eat inside (with many of the tables located next to giant windows in front of the water features) or can dine al fresco.  Both options offer a relaxing place to eat.

The food court is made up of everything from Subway to the Taste of Red Iguana to the Great Steak and Potato Company. Other restaurants, such as The Cheesecake Factory and Texas de Brazil Churrascaria, are also located in the shopping center.

By wandering through City Creek Shopping Center, it soon became clear that people came for much more than shopping and spending. This was a public event, a place for relaxing and enjoyment with friends and family. While taking all this in, I wondered about the future of City Creek and its potential impact on surrounding malls (such as The Gateway, a mere two blocks to the west).

Although City Creek attracted large numbers of people opening weekend, The Gateway was not left completely desolate.

“We were actually pretty busy opening weekend,” said Kara Johnson, an employee at Down East Basics, at The Gateway. Down East Basics, a moderately priced casual apparel store, is not duplicated at the new City Creek Center. “I expected it to be dead,” Johnson said.

Despite the crowds of people at City Creek Center opening weekend, many realized the stores at City Creek were more expensive than they had expected. “They came to Gateway because they knew what to expect,” Johnson said.

Unlike The Gateway, City Creek Center is closed on Sundays. This gives the older mall an extra day to attract shoppers and therefore compete with the novelty of the new shopping center.

Furthermore, although some of the stores are duplicated at both shopping centers (such as Forever 21), many are not. This gives a distinct shopping opportunity at each location.

Johnson said that because she has never been to many of the stores now located at City Creek, she would like to go there just to see what they’re like. “I just want to say I’ve been in a Tiffany’s.”

The uniqueness of the new stores to Utah clearly attracted crowds to City Creek Center.  However, many Utahans are known for being “frugal” and “resourceful”. Higher-end stores may not sit so well with a thrifty people.

“I love City Creek. It’s just so nice,” said Jannali Ouzounian, a new mother from Holladay. “I just wish I could afford to shop at all the stores. A wallet at Tiffany’s [costs] $600.”

“I think Utah could do a lot better by bringing in the outlets,” said University of Utah student Kelly Wolfe. She said that putting in stores such as the Tommy Hilfiger Outlet and Bloomingdale’s Outlet would not reduce the classy appeal of City Creek and would attract a greater portion of the Utah market.

Being a bargain hunter myself, I would love to shop at classy outlet stores downtown. However, I find the higher-end stores at City Creek to be alluring.

How long this allure will last remains in question.

“I think once all the hype wears off, City Creek will be just another mall,” said Utah State University student Elise Olsen. However, once all the hype does wear off, Olsen said she plans to shop at City Creek with hopes of finding good sales on high-priced items.

Only time will tell the fate of City Creek Center and whether it will continue attracting large crowds of people to the downtown area. In spite of this, I found City Creek Center to be beautifully constructed and thought it added class to Salt Lake City.

In answer to my friend’s question, City Creek is quite a big deal — for now.

Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective offers Community Bike Shop programs to west-side youth

Story and photo by CECELIA FENNELL

The University of Utah Community Bike Shop has a bike on the roof.

The Community Bike shop, located at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, offers tools and know-how for people to fix their bikes. In addition to providing basic bike repairs, The Community Bike Shop offers youth programs.

Middle-school aged students residing on the west side of Salt Lake City volunteer at this community bike shop and teach other children from that community how to fix and repair bikes. Students learn how to teach the children by taking classes taught by bicycle instructors from the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, a nonprofit organization located at 2312 S. West Temple.

Thanks to University Neighborhood Partners of the University of Utah, the Community Bike Shop and the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective — two organizations with similar missions — were able to partner.

“Through this partnership, volunteer instructors from the collective teach student volunteers how to fix bikes,” said Sarah Munro, associate director of UNP.

According to its website, UNP’s mission  is to “redress historical inequity by understanding systematic barriers that have prevented access to higher education and to rewrite that history so residents of the west side see themselves as holders and creators of knowledge.” UNP serves as a bridge between organizations with similar goals and interests, Munro said.

The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective was founded in April 2002 by five bicycle enthusiasts: Jonathan Morrison, Edward Whitney, Brenton Chu, Brian Price and Jesse Ratzkin. Its mission “is to promote cycling as an effective and sustainable form of transportation and as a cornerstone of a cleaner, healthier and safer society.” According to the website, the “Collective provides refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on children and lower income households.”

The Collective offers seven programs and services, two of which are youth programs for children living on Salt Lake City’s west side. One, Earn-A-Bike, helps kids learn bicycle mechanics and confidence.

“Kids get to come in, pick out a bike and they get to keep it. The catch is they have to take it all apart and put it back together themselves,” said Jonathan Morrison, executive director of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective.

Bike mechanical skills aren’t the only skills learned through Earn-A-Bike. According to the Collective’s 2009 annual report, “In addition to learning bike mechanics, the children are mentored in time and resource management and many students become valuable mentors to their classmates.”

Morrison sees the impact his instruction has on his students, how it affects not only them, but also the kids they will teach.

“The best part was when they used their extra time and knowledge to become a peer-mentor,” Morrison said. “As an Earn-a-Bike instructor, those moments where the student becomes the teacher make it all worth it,” he said.

Another youth program, Trips for Kids, reconnects city youth with Utah’s mountains through mountain biking. Participants are able to take trips to Bonneville Shoreline Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail and Liberty Park with the help of adult and youth volunteers. According to the annual report, “Trips for Kids opens up the world of cycling to at-risk youth through mountain bike trips, which include lessons in personal responsibility, achievement, environmental awareness, practical skills and the simple act of having fun.”

Locations of the Bicycle Collective have extended to the Day-Riverside Library, the Ogden Bicycle Collective and the University of Utah community bike shop, located near the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Each location shares its volunteers and other nonfinancial resources. While services are limited to low-income youth and families on the west side, everyone is invited to volunteer. Students at the U may wish to volunteer at the campus bike shop.

For more information, call 801-FAT-BIKE (328-2453).

U’s Sill Center pushes sustainable building efforts

Watch a multimedia video about the University of Utah’s Sill Center and their sustainability efforts.

Story and multimedia by JENNA LEVETAN

Construction all over campus causes students to pay a $17 fee in their tuition every semester. But one older building is adding new and innovative methods to save money and also energy.

The Sterling Sill Center is where the office of undergraduate studies is located and is a leader in housing sustainable projects on campus. It has solar panels on top of the building, organic gardens in front and the most recent project is in their backyard and is called an ice ball.

The ice ball is an experiment that could be a breakthrough in air conditioning.  The experiment is happening 40 feet underground behind the building. Professor Kent Udell spearheaded the idea of the ice ball with students from the department of mechanical engineering. An ice ball is a method of taking the cold winter air and saving it underground.

There are 19 pipes sticking out of the ground behind the building called thermosyphines. The pipes are what bring the cold air down underground.

“The basic concept is that we are trying to TIVO the seasons.  We are trying to store the winter cold that we are experiencing right now, take advantage of it in summer and get free air conditioning,” Udell said.

A special coolant fluid similar to Freon is put into the pipes that have both the liquid and vapor phase. The liquid is in the bottom of the pipes and the vapor is on top.

“What happens in the winter is that when the temperature outside drops below the temperature underground, that liquid in the bottom starts to boil.  As it boils the vapors come up, go to the condenser, condense, and the liquid runs back down. Then comes summer and we reverse it,” Udell said.

When the cold liquid comes back into the ground, it freezes the soil around the pipes, forming what people are calling an ice ball. The cold liquid will be pumped into the air conditioner and will be used to cool the building as the ice ball melts. The ice ball will grow to be about 35 feet in diameter.

Sill Center employees are hoping to use the energy gained by their solar panels to pump the liquid into the air conditioner making the ice ball truly environmentally friendly by using no electricity at all. St. Andrew personally asked Udell to use the backyard of the Sill Center for the ice ball.

“If this works it has immense potential for saving lots and lots of money and preventing a lot of pollution. And if it works hopefully we can expand the idea and not only change the way this building gets its air conditioning, but the world,” said St. Andrew.

Building the ice ball has cost just over $20,000, but Udell believes that the cost of installing the ice ball will be paid back in three years with all the money the school will save in air conditioning bills and it should last for decades.

The installation is now complete and Udell hopes it to be operational by summer 2011. If the ice ball turns out to be successful, Udell will work on a similar but separate project to keep the warm summer air stored to help them heat the building during the winter.

Another green project the Sill Center houses are the solar panels that were installed in December 2009. There are 30 plates of solar panels on the roof with three rows of 10. It only cost the university about $17,000 out of pocket to buy and install them after they got a grant from Rocky Mountain Power.

“We got a grant through Rocky Mountain Power for $30,000,” said Mark St. Andrew, assistant dean of undergraduate studies. “It is going to take us nearly 50 years to pay off these panels in the amount of energy that they are going to produce.”

Though the goal of solar panels are to save energy, the ones at the Sill Center produce much less then some may think.

According to the data from the Rocky Mountain energy manager, last year the panels only produced three percent of what the building uses in a year. The university will be in debt to the panels for so long because of the large out of pocket expense for the panels and the small dent of energy they actually produce.

The panels are only guaranteed to last for 30 years, meaning the university may be paying for them for nearly 20 years after they are gone. The employees at the Sill Center are aware that there are some conservative fiscal people who think they were a waste of money, but they stand by their decision of getting them because even without a return on investment the panels get people talking about alternative sources of energy.

The organic garden is a project funded by the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund. When Alex Parvas, founder of gardens, asked the Sill Center if she could grow the gardens in front of the building there they were more then pleased to say yes.

“The gardens are perfect at the Sill Center,” said Parvas. “Once they get fully in bloom it is going to be really pretty and hopefully a conversation starter since the building is so central on campus.”

The Sill Center and garden coordinators have also set up a patio area along side the building so students and faculty can have a spot on campus to picnic around the gardens.

The Sill Center will continue to look for innovative ways to improve sustainability on campus and remains optimistic about the future.

“There is no overall plan or master plan that we have hatched,” St. Andrew said. “It is just stuff that makes sense to do.”

Utah agencies prepare for the “big flood”

Watch a multimedia video about Salt Lake County’s flood preparations.

Story and multimedia by ROBERT CALLISTER

Salt Lake County Flood Control is preparing for the potential upcoming flood season due to last year’s heavy flooding. The floods resulted in millions of dollars of damage and the removal of a 20-foot-long bridge in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Experts from Flood Control Services say the levee failure was due to cracks and spillage from unattended creeks.

Salt Lake County Flood Control is preparing for the potential upcoming flood season. Politicians, police and fire authorities and county safety officials met today to coordinate efforts for this year’s possible flooding.

Nearly $3 million were appropriated to the state’s Flood Control and Emergency Services during this year’s legislative session to prepare for and prevent possible flood damage.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon believes county officials will ready and have learned from 2010’s experience.

“Mother nature will ultimately decide what the flooding will be like this season,” he said. “But we have learned from last year and we want to be prepared. We will be prepared.”

Due to the rising concern and last year’s damage, the county currently has over 5,000 sandbags filled on pallets and plans to have 10,000 by the end of this month. It also has over 400 tons of large, angular rocks (rip rap) stockpiled and ready for distribution.

Scott Baird is the director of Salt Lake County Flood Control and Engineering. He is encouraged by the cooperation among the various active organizations.

“The most significant change of this year from last is the preparation and coordination system among the counties and local safety organizations,” he said.

Last year, the Little Cottonwood Creek flooded over its banks, causing millions of dollars of damage to surrounding residential areas. Over 1,500 volunteers helped by laying down sandbags to control eroded areas.

City officials are worries that this year’s weather patterns are much like that of last year’s. Intense snow storms, especially in the mountain regions, followed by rapid warming caused last year’s flooding. Officials say this year could possibly produce similar snow-melt patterns.

Baird believes there has been an adequate amount of work done to repair affected areas.

“We have done repair work to the channel,” he said. “We have got about $2 million of repair work that has gone in so far. With all of the resources we have stockpiled over the few months, there is not doubt we will be ready.”

Even though there were sizeable budget cuts this legislative session, there was still money appropriated to fund this moderately expensive project. This money has been used to coordinate efforts to gather thousands of tons of supplies and prepare heavy machinery.

Salt Lake County’s Flood Control and Operations Divisions have inventoried numerous pieces of heavy equipment, including back hoes, track hoes and more than 60 trucks available for hauling.

“We have been coordinating with surrounding cities to get their inventory of resources that we can use to augment our resources. On top of that we have contracts with contractors who can haul mobilized equipment and bring in materials.”

Michael Jensen, chief for the SLCO Fire Department, said they learned from the devastating floods of ‘83 and are ready for this year.

“It is night and day from the intense floods of 1983 and right now. We will be ready for whatever mother nature has to throw at us.”

County officials have advised citizens to be specifically cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers. Also, the instructed parents to never allow children to play around high water, storm drains, viaducts, or arroyos.

Additional safety tip information can be found in the Utah Department of Public Safety website.

University grants students money for sustainable projects

Watch a news broadcast about the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund.

Story and multimedia by JENNA LEVETAN

The Office of Sustainability is making students green ideas a reality with the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund. The program also known as SCIF oversees competitive grants for student projects focused on sustainability, education and energy efficiency at the University of Utah.

SCIF’s mission is to provide funding for real-world projects that improve the University of Utah’s environmental quality and make the campus more sustainable. Student funding like these are often known to get the ax because of school budget cuts. However, SCIF coordinator, Whitney Williams, says the program is safe because it actually creates jobs once the ideas are approved.

“I would say that we are in a little bubble,” Williams said. “We are not really affected by the economy. If anything we are more attractive because some students can use this as funding their own research, so it is sort of a job opportunity.”

A $2.50 fee in every student’s tuition solely funds the projects. The students involved in the Association Students at the University of Utah (ASUU) approved the charge in 2009, and they voted very much in favor of the campaign. With an estimated 30,000 students who pay tuition it designates about $75,000 to be granted to students.

Myron Willson, Director of the Office of Sustainability, believes that even though students have to pay a fee in the long haul they are actually reaping the benefits.

“There is a lot of student involvement and even though the program has only been going for one year I believe they will start seeing the evidence of sustainability soon,” Willson said.

Since the programs launch in January 2010, SCIF has funded 24 student projects; however, last year they did not use all of their money leaving them with $160,000 to award this semester.

“The average amount that usually goes to one project is $4,000,” Williams said. “So take that divided by $160,000 and that is a lot of projects we hope to fund.”

There is no set number of projects that will receive funding. It depends on how much money each project asks for.

SCIF funds projects that address financial, environmental, educational, visibility, creativity and longevity. With the economy hitting a lull, the financial aspect is considered the most important factor to the committee who determines which projects will receive funding. Student projects should be able to either make or save money and all projects should have a return on investment.

The organic gardens located at the Still Center were one project that was approved and is now in bloom. The project was submitted by a masters in science and technology graduate student, Alex Parvaz who was also an intern at the Office of Sustainability. She was given $2,828 for garden tools, compost bins and seeds. Her project is helping the university’s campus financially because the gardens produce organic food that are being sold to on-campus dining facilities, such as Chartwells as well as selling them to the community at the U’s farmers market.

“Selling the food at the farmers market has given us the money to help pay for basic maintenance, and students being able to eat the very food that they grow has been cool and delicious,” Parvaz said.

Another invention that you can see cycling around campus is the recycle cycle made by environmental studies undergraduate Derk Harris. He was given $4,200 to make five bicycles retrofitted with a bucket on the back to be used at campus events, especially football games.

“It is projected that eight tons of trash per game is thrown into our waste stream,” said Harris. “So the idea of the bike being able to have our volunteers at lease being able to have fun while they are riding around putting recycles in the bike.”

The bike is being made with the help of local bike shop Madsen Cycles. The owner of the bike shop, Jared Madsen, opted to split the cost of each bike. Because of this each bike only cost the Office of Sustainability and Harris $850 versus $1400.

Harris’s vision of the recycle cycle is to raise awareness of recycling on campus and increase the amount of goods recycled at campus events. So far only one bike has been made, but the other four are on the way. Any student can volunteer to ride the bike around campus to help clean up.

Because of all the money the SCIF program now has to give, Harris plans on applying for more grants and suggests that students to do the same. “The money is there and the office is willing to hear whatever as long as it helps students and campus,” said Harris. “Even if you do not have a complete idea they are willing to work with you to bring it to life.”

Every student is eligible to apply for funding to start a sustainable project or business on campus. Grants are awarded once a semester and students must find a facility member to sponsor them. To find out more information on how to apply visit the Office of Sustainability website.

Recycle-mania kicks off at the University of Utah

Story and photos by JENNA LEVETAN

The economy is affecting almost everyone, including the recycling market.

Joshua James, recycling coordinator for the University of Utah, talks about recycling on campus.the University of Utah campus the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management are doing everything they can to keep students excited and involved with recycling. They hope the recycling competition, Recycle-mania will positively affect the way students think about where they put there trash.

This year the University will be competing with 630 other colleges and universities to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most on-campus waste. Recycle-mania is set up to create student involvement in recycling. Recyclables are removed at a lower cost than trash bound for the landfill, meaning if students are recycling more, the school spends less, and saves money.

The competition takes place over an eight-week period. All the schools will track and report how much is being recycled on campus by weight each week. Schools are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or the highest recycling rate.

This is the University of Utah’s fourth year competing in the competition. The school began tracking recycling weights on February 6 and will do so until March 27.

Recycle-mania coordinator Joshua James has committed himself to making campus more sustainable. He wants the university to be a leader in sustainable efforts.

Recycling centers are used across campus to promote recycling.

“Students thinking more green is definitely happening,” James said. “Students becoming more involved with recycling has been easy with our poor economy.” James also says he hopes this competition will help expand economic opportunities while addressing environmental issues in a positive way.

Each year the university places higher in the competition. After a 75th-place finish in 2010 they are now hoping to get into the top 50. This year the university will be competing in the paper and plastic reduction category because they are the university’s most recycled materials.  According to the Recycle-mania website, on average, the University of Utah recycles about 8,000 pounds of paper and 300 pounds of plastic per week.

The Office of Sustainability is also reducing the waste of plastic by providing a water bottle filling station in the Union cafeteria. When students use the fountain it documents the number of water bottles saved per use.

To get more students involved, coordinators are amping up promotion this year by starting a Facebook page and twitter feed. Increased promotion of the competition will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to respond and boost their recycling habits to earn the higher ranking they are shooting for.

Rob Wallace, vice president of communications for Recyle-mania, says making recycling appealing on college campus is important because students are an extremely influential demographic.

“I like to say that every 40-year-old wants to be 22, and so does every 12-year-old,” Wallace said. “Recycling is good for the environment, good for the economy, creates jobs and saves energy. If college students are saying it’s the right thing to do, others might start to pick up on it.”

The University of Utah’s recycling program was launched in July 2007. Since then, the program has continued to grow and is expected to increase by 40 percent this year.

Recycling has been made easy on campus with portable recycling centers. Each center has a bin for trash, paper, plastic and aluminum and some have bins for glass and cardboard. There are recycling centers in all of the 853 buildings on campus.

Putting the recyclables in the correct bin is crucial. If inappropriate materials are placed in the bins the stream will be contaminated and then rejected. James encourages everyone to look for the triangle reduce, reuse, recycle logo when recycling there products. To help prevent recycling contamination, if your trash does not have the triangle symbol do not put it in a recycling container.

If students and faculty commit to recycling there waste it will decrease disposal volumes in landfills. The good news is that recycling is growing. Just 30 years ago, very few facilities or campuses had any access to recycling at all. In 30 years, a strong and vital industry has grown with the help of students who want to protect natural resources. Though the future is still to be determined, this generation of youth can be the ones to take recycling to the next level. It can create more jobs, more supply and more demand. This generation can help innovate new products and processes, and create new uses for recovered materials. It’s a wide- open opportunity and it all starts with the commitment to do more. That’s what Recycle-mania is all about.

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