OCTOBER 2016 NEWSLETTER    
Thrive Napa Valley encourages leadership through awareness, education, and outreach. We empower our community to connect and engage through inspired action to promote environmental sustainability, social equity and compassion. To learn more about these types of happenings in the Napa Valley and beyond, click on the links below.
THRIVING: a state of being characterized by balance, belonging, and harmonious relationships with other people and with Nature
COMPASSION: a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it
Definition from Merriam-Webster Incorporated
Napa Valley CanDo brings together people from all over the Napa Valley who want to help our communities thrive through volunteerism and community action. Check out their CanDo Spotlight where events & volunteer opportunities from other groups around the valley are listed. Read the latest issue of the CanDo Connection

THE LAZY PERSON'S GUIDE TO SAVING THE WORLD
LEVEL 2 - Household Hero

Things that you can do at home:
  • Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine. When washing your clothes, make sure the load is full.
  • Take short showers, Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5 minute shower.
  • Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you don't have the chance to eat them before they spoil. 
  • Composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients.
  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminum keeps landfills from growing.
  • Buy minimally packaged goods.
  • Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency.
These are only a few of the things you can do. Explore the Guide to find out more about the Goals you care most about and other ways to engage more actively.
THE FUTURE STARTS NOW
THE FUTURE STARTS NOW  A video about sustainable development and the journey ahead. "To leave no one behind, we must all lead." - Chief Oren Lyons
BADGER'S
PLASTIC FREE CHALLENGE
At Badger, we take a caring and mindful approach to environmental responsibility—a core principle that’s reflected in every aspect of our operations. This year, as part of our company-wide strategic goals, we wanted to focus on improving our sustainable purchasing practices while raising awareness by actively engaging employees in initiatives that reflect our company values.
 
Recently, our Sustainability Committee invited interested Badgers to refuse all single-use plastic for one week, an initiative modeled after Earth Carer’s Plastic Free July. Employees were also asked to deposit any plastic they were unable to refuse into a community dilemma bin.
 
Twenty-nine Badgers enthusiastically undertook the plastic free challenge and many lively discussions ensued. We talked about how to swap store bought peanut butter cups in plastic containers for yummy DIY recipes, the benefits of using mason jars to transport prepared foods from the salad and hot food bar, and why it’s good to refuse plastic drinking straws offered at restaurants or bring your own reusable straw. And that was just for starters!
 
Taking on this plastic free challenge as a community really opened our eyes and taught us how to think differently about the purchasing choices we make at work and at home.
 
We also learned that one small change could create many ripples, which in turn can have a big impact. And, that while we may be dreamers here at Badger, we’re also realistic and understand that swearing off all single-use plastic is not a viable choice for everyone. However, making a conscious effort to cut down on plastic consumption by seeking alternatives is a small step we can all take towards a plastic free life.
 
Ready to try your own plastic-free week at work, home, or school? Here’s how:
  1. In a communal space, post a sign-up sheet with challenge details. Make sure people know it’s a fun challenge, not a competition.
  2. Place a dilemma bin near the sign-up sheet for collecting any unavoidable single-use plastic.
  3. Get the conversation going using email, meet-ups, or by inviting people to share on a second blank sheet.
  4. At the end of the week, gather together to celebrate your efforts and share lessons learned. Be sure to recycle the plastic in your dilemma bin.
Please share your challenge ideas, stories, results and photos of your own plastic-free week with Badger on their Blog.
YOUNTVILLE READS
Thursday, October 13th at 5:40pm
Yountville Community Center Plaza

6516 Washington Street

Do you have a favorite story, poem, song, or book excerpt that you want to share? An invitation to one and all to come read, act, or share something you have written yourself is extended to all! Join us on October 13, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Community Center for “Yountville Reads”. “Yountville Reads” is presented by the literary arm of the Yountville Arts Commission, all are welcome and encouraged to participate. Wine and light bites will be provided. 

For more information, call 707-944-8712.
And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time. - Libba Bray
PHOTO CREDIT: © GUL DENIZ SALALI
 
TRACING THE PATH OF PYGMIES' SHARED KNOWLEDGE OF MEDICINAL PLANTS

When members of the BaYaka Pygmies living in the northern Republic of Congo get sick, they don't just go to the doctor for a prescription. Instead, they rely on their shared knowledge of medicinal plants to help them get well. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, last month, have examined shared uses of those plants to understand how Pygmies have passed their extensive plant knowledge along from one person to the next.
 
The findings show the important role of marital bonds in passing information to otherwise distant families. There were some surprises, too.
 
"I wasn't expecting that plant uses would be so diverse," says Gul Deniz Salali of University College London. She hadn't expected to find that plants would play an important role in executing social norms, either. "But many Pygmies told me that they used particular plants to detect and punish cheaters."
 
Salali was interested in exploring how hunter-gatherers accumulated the vast repertoire of plant uses that have helped them to survive in tropical rainforests. To find out, she and her colleagues examined the reported co-occurrence of plant uses between pairs of BaYaka Pygmy individuals based on extensively conducted interviews. Their study included reported uses of 33 different plants by 219 individuals living in four camps.
 
"We found that long-term pair bonds between men and women allowed otherwise distant families to combine information on medicinal uses of plants," Salali says. "Living in multi-family camps, on the other hand, enabled Pygmies to exchange and accumulate plant knowledge related to cooperative foraging and social beliefs."
 
The most commonly reported medicinal uses of plants were for treating digestive and respiratory disorders. The BaYaka also use some plants for collecting caterpillars or honey and as a poison for killing monkeys or fish. Other plants were used to regulate social life, including matters concerning lying or sexual taboos.
 
As an example, Salali says, some Pygmies use the juice extracted from a particular type of tree bark to detect and punish cheaters. "If someone cheated their partner, camp members would squeeze the poisonous juice into the person's eyes which could affect his or her vision. If his or her vision was affected, then people thought the person was guilty. I found that the knowledge on this type of plant use was widely shared among the campmates."
 
Knowledge of medicinal plants is mainly shared between spouses and other relatives, they found. But plant uses associated with foraging and social norms were often shared more widely among campmates, regardless of relatedness, playing an important role in camp-wide activities that require cooperation.

The researchers also found that BaYaka mothers who used more plants for treating certain diseases had healthier children.
 
Salali says her next step is to compare plant knowledge and use in hunter-gatherers living in varying proximity to market towns in Congo. "I have lived in some Pygmy camps that were located in the forest, and some larger ones that were located in a logging town," she says. "I am interested in exploring the biological and cultural adaptations of groups in transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more sedentary farming way of life."

Journal Reference: Salali et al. Knowledge-Sharing Networks in Hunter-Gathrers and the Evolution of Cumulative Culture. Current Biology, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.015
Photo Credit: L.A. Cicero
 
ENGINEERS DEVELOP A PLASTIC CLOTHING MATERIAL THAT COOLS THE SKIN
 
Stanford engineers have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, if woven into clothing, could cool your body far more efficiently than is possible with the natural or synthetic fabrics in clothes we wear today.
 
Describing their work in Science, the researchers suggest that this new family of fabrics could become the basis for garments that keep people cool in hot climates without air conditioning.
 
"If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy," said Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and of photon science at Stanford.
 
This new material works by allowing the body to discharge heat in two ways that would make the wearer feel nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than if they wore cotton clothing. 
 
The material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through the material, something ordinary fabrics already do. But the Stanford material provides a second, revolutionary cooling mechanism: allowing heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile.
 
All objects, including our bodies, throw off heat in the form of infrared radiation, an invisible and benign wavelength of light. Blankets warm us by trapping infrared heat emissions close to the body. This thermal radiation escaping from our bodies is what makes us visible in the dark through night-vision goggles.
 
"Forty to 60 percent of our body heat is dissipated as infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office," said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering who specializes in photonics, which is the study of visible and invisible light. "But until now there has been little or no research on designing the thermal radiation characteristics of textiles."
 
SUPER-POWERED KITCHEN WRAP
To develop their cooling textile, the Stanford researchers blended nanotechnology, photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene -- the clear, clingy plastic we use as kitchen wrap -- a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material: It allows thermal radiation, air and water vapor to pass right through, and it is opaque to visible light.
 
The easiest attribute was allowing infrared radiation to pass through the material, because this is a characteristic of ordinary polyethylene food wrap. Of course, kitchen plastic is impervious to water and is see-through as well, rendering it useless as clothing.
 
The Stanford researchers tackled these deficiencies one at a time.

First, they found a variant of polyethylene commonly used in battery making that has a specific nanostructure that is opaque to visible light yet is transparent to infrared radiation, which could let body heat escape. This provided a base material that was opaque to visible light for the sake of modesty but thermally transparent for purposes of energy efficiency.
 
They then modified the industrial polyethylene by treating it with benign chemicals to enable water vapor molecules to evaporate through nanopores in the plastic, said postdoctoral scholar and team member Po-Chun Hsu, allowing the plastic to breathe like a natural fiber.
 
MAKING CLOTHES
That success gave the researchers a single-sheet material that met their three basic criteria for a cooling fabric. To make this thin material more fabric-like, they created a three-ply version: two sheets of treated polyethylene separated by a cotton mesh for strength and thickness.
 
To test the cooling potential of their three-ply construct versus a cotton fabric of comparable thickness, they placed a small swatch of each material on a surface that was as warm as bare skin and measured how much heat each material trapped.
 
"Wearing anything traps some heat and makes the skin warmer," Fan said. "If dissipating thermal radiation were our only concern, then it would be best to wear nothing."
 
The comparison showed that the cotton fabric made the skin surface 3.6 F warmer than their cooling textile. The researchers said this difference means that a person dressed in their new material might feel less inclined to turn on a fan or air conditioner.
 
The researchers are continuing their work on several fronts, including adding more colors, textures and cloth-like characteristics to their material. Adapting a material already mass produced for the battery industry could make it easier to create products.
 
"If you want to make a textile, you have to be able to make huge volumes inexpensively," Cui said.
 
Fan believes that this research opens up new avenues of inquiry to cool or heat things, passively, without the use of outside energy, by tuning materials to dissipate or trap infrared radiation.
 
"In hindsight, some of what we've done looks very simple, but it's because few have really been looking at engineering the radiation characteristics of textiles," he said.

 
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Stanford University.
The original item was written by Tom Abate.
Researchers have engineered a low-cost plastic material that could become the basis for clothing that keeps people cool in hot climates.
Video by Yi Cui Group
IS OUR INCREASING USE OF THE INTERNET
HARMING OUR MEMORY?
Our increasing reliance on the Internet and the ease of access to the vast resource available online is affecting our thought processes for problem solving, recall and learning.

In a new article published in the journal Memory, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that 'cognitive offloading', or the tendency to rely on things like the Internet as an aide-mémoire, increases after each use. We might think that memory is something that happens in the head but increasingly it is becoming something that happens with the help of agents outside the head. Benjamin Storm, Sean Stone & Aaron Benjamin conducted experiments to determine our likelihood to reach for a computer or smartphone to answer questions. Participants were first divided into two groups to answer some challenging trivia questions -- one group used just their memory, the other used Google. Participants were then given the option of answering subsequent easier questions by the method of their choice.
 
The results revealed that participants who previously used the Internet to gain information were significantly more likely to revert to Google for subsequent questions than those who relied on memory. Participants also spent less time consulting their own memory before reaching for the Internet; they were not only more likely to do it again, they were likely to do it much more quickly. Remarkably 30% of participants who previously consulted the Internet failed to even attempt to answer a single simple question from memory.
 
Lead author Dr. Benjamin Storm commented, "Memory is changing. Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don't bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives."
 
This research suggests that using a certain method for fact finding has a marked influence on the probability of future repeat behaviour. Time will tell if this pattern will have any further reaching impacts on human memory than has our reliance on other information sources. Certainly the Internet is more comprehensive, dependable and on the whole faster than the imperfections of human memory, borne out by the more accurate answers from participants in the internet condition during this research. With a world of information a Google search away on a smartphone, the need to remember trivial facts, figures, and numbers is inevitably becoming less necessary to function in everyday life.

 
Credit: © Sergii Mostovyi / Fotolia
Taylor & Francis. "Cognitive offloading: How the Internet is increasingly taking over human memory." ScienceDaily.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. - Jane Goodall
BENEFITS OF VACATION / MEDITATION
Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School used a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation compared to vacation. They examined the effect of meditation on gene expression patterns in both novice and regular meditators. The researchers found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short-term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress. A meditation retreat, for those who already used meditation regularly, was associated with molecular networks characterized by antiviral activity. The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers. The study was published in Springer Nature's journal Translational Psychiatry.
 
The study involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60. Sixty-four women were recruited who were not regular meditators. Participants stayed at the same resort in California for six days, and randomized so that half were simply on vacation while the other half joined a meditation training program run by the Chopra Center for Well Being. The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self-reflection exercises. It was designed by Deepak Chopra, MD, who did not participate in data collection or analysis.
 
For greater insight into the long-term effects of what scientists dubbed the "meditation effect" compared to the "vacation effect," the team also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators who were already enrolled in the retreat that week. Researchers collected blood samples, and surveys, from all participants immediately before and after their stay, as well as surveys one month and ten months later.
 
"In the spirit of other research efforts we have pioneered with other groups, this work underscores the importance of studies focused on healthy people," said Eric Schadt, PhD, senior author on the paper and the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Founding Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology. "By combining an interrogation of gene networks with advanced data analysis and statistics, we have generated clinically meaningful information about stress and aging that is relevant to the broader population."
 
The research team examined the changes in 20,000 genes to determine which types of genes were changing before and after the resort experience. Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis, comparing gene expression networks across all three groups of participants and finding unique molecular profiles and pathway enrichment patterns. Study results show that all groups -- novice meditators, experienced meditators, and vacationers -- had significant changes in molecular network patterns after the week at the resort, with a clear signature distinguishing baseline from post-vacation biology. The most notable changes in gene activity were related to stress response and immune function.
 
Researchers assessed self-reported measures of well-being. While all groups showed improvements up to one month later, the novice meditators had fewer symptoms of depression and less stress much longer than the non-meditating vacationers. The psychological effects appear to be enduring and it is unknown how much of this longer lasting benefit may be due to continued practice or lasting changes in how people view events in their lives.
 
"It's intuitive that taking a vacation reduces biological processes related to stress, but it was still impressive to see the large changes in gene expression from being away from the busy pace of life, in a relaxing environment, in such a short period of time. These findings will have to be replicated to see if the changes are reliably invoked under the same circumstances, in future studies, and compared to an at-home control group," said Elissa S. Epel, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and first author of the study.
 
"Based on our results, the benefit we experience from meditation isn't strictly psychological; there is a clear and quantifiable change in how our bodies function," said Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Meditation is one of the ways to engage in restorative activities that may provide relief for our immune systems, easing the day-to-day stress of a body constantly trying to protect itself. The prediction is that this would then lead to healthier aging."

Reprinted from materials provided by Mount Sinai Health System. E S Epel, E Puterman, J Lin, E H Blackburn, P Y Lum, N D Beckmann, J Zhu, E Lee, A Gilbert, R A Rissman, R E Tanzi, E E Schadt. Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes. 'Translational Psychiatry', 2016; 6 (8): e880 DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.164
Oktoberfest and Car Show
  • Sat, Oct. 1, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Napa Valley Museum - Presidents Circle, Yountville
  • Free to attend
Get out your lederhosen for the Napa Valley Museum Oktoberfest & Car Show, a fundraiser for the Museum on October 1st from 11am-3pm. The Car Show will feature classic, antique, sports cars, hot rods and motorcycles. Come enjoy live music, beer from Northern California breweries, pretzels, brats and more. 
Rain Date: October 8 - A benefit for Napa Valley Museum
supporting education and exhibition programs. 
The ABC's of Living Green
Each month we will spotlight letters of the alphabet with suggestions for living a sustainable lifestyle:

T - Take Trains, Thoughtful, Think Before You Print, Turn Off The Lights, Take Shorter Showers, Travel Green

U - Un-plug! Use LED Lightbulbs, Use Compact Fluorescent, Upcycle
 
Purchase this beautiful 24" x 36" poster and start living the green life. Sassy and fun images and words by Donna Tarbania, Karen Kerney (illustrations and design), Dik Cool and many friends. SCW © 2010
If you would like to have similar items of interest posted in our monthly newsletter, send us a tip or please send a brief description, a photo, logo or link to ThriveNapa@gmail.com
Copyright © 2015-2016 Thrive Napa Valley
All rights reserved.

2016 NEWSLETTER
All sources have been reviewed and, where applicable, permission to reprint has been obtained. Active links have been provided and are current at time of publication.
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