How Health Care Supports Sustainable Communities

Stethoscope and pen with medical records As the public hospital in Cleveland, and one of the city’s oldest institutions, MetroHealth has spent the past 180 years, turning around the lives of patients other people didn’t want to be bothered with.

One of our favorite turnarounds isn’t about a patient at all, it’s about Endia Reynolds, a junior at the high school inside our hospital. Endia is the youngest of eight. One of her sisters is a nursing assistant. Her brother owns a towing company. The rest of her siblings are just getting by.

Truth be told, Endia was just getting by, too. She didn’t like school, didn’t want to be there, didn’t care about her grades. Then, back in February, she spent half a day in our Life Flight communications office. And she fell in love.

It wasn’t the excitement of watching a helicopter land at the scene of a car crash. Or the adrenaline rush of doctors and nurses bandaging wounds and starting IVs inside the helicopter to save their lives. Or the Life Flight crew racing down a hallway as they rushed three gurneys, with the mother, father and their sobbing little girl, into our trauma center.

It was the teamwork.

“Everybody’s on their devices these days,” the 16-year-old told us. “You don’t see people working together anymore.”

After that day, Endia couldn’t wait to come to school, asking her assistant principal every day “When can I go back to Life Flight?”

She started studying harder, getting better grades, telling her brothers and sisters she was going to make their wish come true. She was going to be the first in their family to go to college. She was going to become a Life Flight nurse.

There are people who think a health care organization has no business opening a high school inside its hospital. There are others who think we have no business hiring employees with developmental disabilities, no business working to turn abandoned old buildings in our neighborhood into beautiful apartments, no business holding the city’s only transgender job fair, no business teaching healthy Spanish cooking to our Latino neighbors or spending money to improve the bus route along our hospital campus.

But our mission is to create a healthier community. And that means doing more than splinting broken bones and radiating tumors.

If you want a healthier community, you don’t just treat illness. You prevent it. And you don’t prevent it by telling people to quit smoking, eat right and exercise. You help them find jobs and places to live and engaging schools so they can pass all that good on, so they can build solid futures and healthy neighborhoods and communities filled with hope.

I’m not telling you about our programs to brag. It’s just the opposite. I’m telling you about them because we need to do more. We all need to do more.

Each of us has a social responsibility to bring people together from a variety of disciplines with the goal of developing solutions that work for everyone, that better our world no matter what line of work we’re in.

In Cleveland, we have hundreds of examples of these alliances from the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking; to a community-wide initiative to prevent infant deaths; to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s partnerships with more than 100 schools, churches, libraries and other organizations to make sure children have a healthy lunch in the summer.

Those programs do so much more than save people from hunger and trafficking and death.

Continue reading in Meeting of the Minds

Written by Dr. Akram Boutros

3 Driving Tips to Make Seattle Traffic Slightly Less Awful

A line of cars sitting in traffic with their brake lights on

Three years ago, we ran a story about a little-known traffic tip known as the “zipper merge.”

In short: Drivers should use all lanes leading up to a merge point, rather than clog up one lane. Arrived at the front of the line, drivers in all lanes take turns merging. This is not cheating! (See image above for why the seemingly polite way gunks up traffic.)

We wondered if there were other such counterintuitive tips, and there are! Behold:

The zipper merge

It might seem selfish, but the best way to ease congestion, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, is to drive right up to the closure before merging over.

“There can be the weird idea that goes through people’s head that, ‘Those people are cheating, they’re cutting in line,’” said spokesman Travis Phelps. “Well, it actually helps traffic flow if you can let folks in. Play nice with the other person, let them in. Treat traffic like a team sport,” Phelps said.

Phelps said that merging in the middle can create a small choke point. The trick is to put on your blinker, don’t make any sudden movements and don’t try to force your way in.

Also, make sure to give a courtesy wave to your fellow drivers.

“This is something we’re all in together,” he said. “So if we can play nice for four days, that’s great.”

Mark Hallenbeck, Director of the Washington State Transportation Center, specified that the zipper merge is great in slow traffic — not when you’re moving quickly…

Read the next two tips that will help reduce traffic jams in KUOW

 & Amy Rolph


The Effects of School Gardens on Children’s Science Knowledge: A randomized controlled trial of low-income elementary schools

This randomized controlled trial or ‘true experiment’ examines the effects of a school garden intervention on the science knowledge of elementary school children. Schools were randomly assigned to a group that received the garden intervention (n = 25) or to a waitlist control group that received the garden intervention at the end of the study (n = 24). The garden intervention consisted of both raised-bed garden kits and a series of 19 lessons. Schools, located in the US states of Arkansas, Iowa, Washington, and New York, were all low-income as defined by having 50% or more children qualifying for the federal school lunch program. Participants were students in second, fourth, and fifth grade (ages 6–12) at baseline (n = 3,061). Science knowledge was measured using a 7-item questionnaire focused on nutritional science and plant science. The survey was administered at baseline (Fall 2011) and at three time points during the intervention (Spring 2012, Fall 2012, and Spring 2013). Garden intervention fidelity (GIF) captured the robustness or fidelity of the intervention delivered in each classroom based on both lessons delivered and garden activities. Analyses were conducted using general linear mixed models. Survey data indicated that among children in the garden intervention, science knowledge increased from baseline to follow-up more than among control group children. However, science knowledge scores were uniformly poor and gains were very modest. GIF, which takes into account the robustness of the intervention, revealed a dose–response relation with science knowledge: more robust or substantial intervention implementations corresponded to stronger treatment effects.


Where schools are equipped with gardens … opportunities exist for reproducing situations of life, and for acquiring and applying information … Gardening need not be taught either for the sake of preparing future gardeners, or as an agreeable way of passing time … [gardens] are a means for making a study of the facts of growth, the chemistry of soil, the role of light, air, moisture … (Dewey (1916 p. 235)

School gardens are far from new as a pedagogical tool. School gardens (along with outdoor and experiential learning more generally) have a long history in a variety of educational philosophies including those of Rousseau, Montessori, and Dewey (see Desmond, Grieshop, & Subramaniam, 2002Subramaniam; 2002; Trelsta 1997). John Amos Comenius (1592–1670), the father of modern education, advocated that ‘A garden should be connected with every school, where children can at times gaze upon trees, flowers, and herbs, and be taught to enjoy them’ (Weed & Emerson, 1909 p. 42). Although school gardens were promoted in the late 1800s and early 1900s—both in Britain and in the USA—with aims to address issues of city beautification, public health, and the development of good citizens, with relatively little focus on educational outcomes, prior to that era the initial school garden movement was sparked by the Nature-Study Movement, with the central aim to make learning interactive through the use of nature (Hayden-Smith, 2014; Trelstad, 1997). Dewey endorsed gardening as part of his ‘object teaching’ pedagogy employing hands-on learning rather than rote memorization (Dewey, 1916‘ Trelstad, 1997). School gardens are one way to bring learning outside the walls of the school and to employ engagement with nature as an experiential learning strategy (Desmond et al., 2002; Moore, 1995Subramaniam, 2002(see Figure 1; The Brookline Connection, photo 1916). The potential for garden-based learning has, more recently, been described as ‘encompass[ing] programs, activities and projects in which the garden is the foundation for integrated learning, in and across disciplines, through active, engaging, real-world experiences’ (Desmond et al., p. 7). And yet, aside from a brief reappearance as part of World War II victory garden efforts (Hayden-Smith, 2014; Ossian, 2011), the current resurgence of school gardens follows a long period of relative dormancy since World War I (Trelstad, 1997).

Figure 1. Students from Brookline elementary, Brookline Massachusetts work the school garden, 1916 (Source: The Brookline connection)

Continue reading in International Journal of Science Education 

Originally written by Beth M. Myers, Lauren E. Todd, Karen Barale, Brad Gaolach, Gretchen Ferenz, Martha Aitken, Charles R. Henderson , Jr, Caroline Tse, Karen Ostlie Pattison, Cayla Taylor, Laura Connerly, Janet B. Carson, Alexandra Z. Gensemer, Nancy K. Franz & Elizabeth Falk

The Service Class Deserves Better

Our nation’s future depends on our ability to provide the largest segment of our labor force with stable, family-supporting work.

More than 65 million Americans toil in precarious, low-wage service class jobs, preparing and serving us our food, assisting us in stores, supporting our office and professional work, and taking care of our kids and aging parents. The service class is the largest class of Americans by far, making up about 45% of the entire workforce. In terms of the jobs they do and the economic functions they serve, in many ways, its members represent the 21st century analog of the old blue-collar working class. And just like we upgraded those once dirty, dangerous, and low-paid manufacturing jobs during the postwar years, we must now rebuild America’s middle class by turning service jobs work into higher-paid, family-supporting work.A new report released today by me and my Martin Prosperity Institute colleagues, Karen King and Charlotta Mellander, entitled Building 65 Million Good Jobs, outlines the size and scope of America’s service class, and describes how we can begin to upgrade their jobs.
The chart below shows the transformation of the American workforce over the past century or so. In the early 1900s, the working class made up nearly 60 percent of the American workforce. Today, it has declined to roughly a fifth of the workforce, while America’s two other major classes have surged—the highly-skilled and highly paid creative class and the even larger service class.Graph: The changing structure of the American labor force, 1900-2010

The changing structure of the American labor force, 1900-2010 (Martin Prosperity Institute)

Members of the service class make just $32,272 per year on average. That’s 30 percent less than the national average of $46,440 and less than half the $75,759 average for the creative class, who work in science and technology; business and management; arts, media, and culture; and healthcare, education, and law. The lowest paid members of the service class—the 16 million workers who toil in food service and personal care work—average less than $25,000 a year.

Service class work is disproportionately performed by women, who hold 62 percent of service class jobs, compared to less than half of all jobs. And the gender pay gap for service class work is substantial: service class women make just two-thirds of what service class men make.

Minorities also make up a disproportionate share of the service class. Half of Hispanic-Latino workers and 55 percent of black workers do service class jobs, compared to 45 percent of whites and 40 percent of Asians.

The service class varies considerably by geography, as the map below shows. Service class jobs make up more than half of all jobs in Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, Tampa, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Providence, Phoenix and New York, and a whopping 62 percent in Las Vegas, as the map below shows.
Continue reading in City LabOriginally written by