As the clock ticks down, a look at how sequestration would deeply hurt our region’s governments [News, 2.20.13]

SEQUESTRATION | If federal spending cuts happen on March 1, our region is in huge trouble. Local governments are struggling to plan their budgets with so much uncertainty about what is going to happen, but here’s a look at the potential chain reaction (WaPo, 2/20):

If the worst is realized and jobs disappear by the thousands, the flow of money through the local economy could be choked off, leading to more foreclosures, slower growth among businesses and less spending among households.

All of that would greatly affect local governments, where budgets are inextricably linked to the health of the economy.

States and localities hit hard by cuts could have their bond ratings lowered, making it more expensive to borrow money for capital projects.

What are the chances that the can gets kicked down the road a few more months, and we get to look forward to more fire and brimstone stories like this? If I had to guess, I’d say approximately 100%. How about you?

Related: President Obama and Congress are pointing fingers at each other about who will be to blame if the spending cuts are triggered. (WaPo, 2/20) Ooh, ooh, Mr. Kotter! I have the answer: Congress and President Obama! That was easy.

DATA | The Atlantic looks at the massive rise in government spending on low-income populations over the last 40 years and through the next ten. In 1972, spending was at $55 billion. Now it is $588 billion and in 2023 it will be $877 billion. Most of the increase is related to healthcare programs like Medicaid. (Atlantic, 2/20)

Obviously there are a lot of factors related to these numbers to consider. But here’s a question: are these spending increases helping, hurting, or doing nothing for their target populations? It’s the same sort of question Carlos Slim had about philanthropy.

GIVING | Last week, the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation announced more than $1.2 million in grants focused on empowering youth with disabilities. Foundation director Kevin Webb says:

The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation is proud to be part of this national effort. By investing in innovative projects designed to empower youth with disabilities, they have more promising employment prospects as they transition to adulthood.

PERSPECTIVES | Earlier this month, Tamara challenged us to read an article from a publication outside of our routine and comfort zone. Have you taken her up on the challenge? You can read her column about shifting our perspective here: When was the last time you read Ebony Magazine? (Daily 2/6)

ENVIRONMENT | Today, D.C. Mayor Gray released a 20 year plan called Sustainable DC that has a very specific goal: “In just one generation – 20 years – the District of Columbia will be the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States.” Read the full plan here.

FOOD | What Food Desert Maps Get Wrong About How People Eat (Atlantic, 2/20)

EVENT | On March 13th, the Student Support Center will honor the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation at the 2013 Successful Students Campaign awards reception. More information and tickets are available here.

YOUTH | Six students in Prince George’s County have been murdered during this school year in unrelated crimes – two during this week alone. The county is starting a task force to address the violence. (WaPo, 2/20) In the meantime, how much progress has been made on reducing gun violence?

I usually don’t post anything from BuzzFeed because the site is mostly mindless garbage. However, after re-reading Tamara’s great piece on perspectives, I did enjoy this neat list of 28 visuals that might change yours. Give the page a few seconds to load so that the animations work. And click around that site at your own risk – brain cells are a a precious commodity. 

How local nonprofits are boosting our economy…Top 50 donors skewing younger, but giving still down…Examining the region’s class divide [News, 2.11.13]

NONPROFITS | How are local nonprofits affecting our economy? That’s the central question of a new report from Nonprofit Montgomery. Looking at the workforce in Montgomery County, the report finds (WaPo, 2/11):

- 10 percent of the county’s workers are employed by nonprofits
- 43,371 nonprofit workers earned $2.2 billion in 2011
- The nonprofit workforce grew 9.1% in 2011, compared to a 2.5% decline for total jobs across the county

The report concludes that the county’s nonprofit sector provides jobs, generates local spending, and supports growth in indirect ways like providing essential workforce development services for residents. The report is scheduled to be posted sometime today at Nonprofit Montgomery’s website.

WRAG’s vice president, Gretchen Greiner-Lott, was at the report release event this morning. She shared some quick thoughts:

A key discussion point was that nonprofits currently play a role in helping to prepare the workforce that the county needs. But more must be done – with all sectors working together – to prepare individuals for the county’s jobs of the future. Throughout the discussion, there was a repeated call for a collective effort to more strategically plan for and fill jobs.

REGION | The Atlantic’s Richard Florida dives into data from the American Community Survey to look at how the Greater Washington region is divided into three classes: creative, service, and working. Here’s the big takeaway (Atlantic, 2/11):

The most striking thing on the D.C. map is how much purple there is. More than any other metro we’ve covered, greater Washington, D.C. is a creative class region. That’s not surprising actually. The creative class — which includes people who work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture, media and entertainment, law and healthcare professions — make up nearly half of the metro’s workforce (46.8 percent), which is the third highest percentage in the nation (14 percentage points above the national average of 32.6 percent).

The article zooms in on different parts of the region. As is typical of most discussions about division in the city, the District is basically split down the middle with creatives to the west and the service class to the east.

GIVING | The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released its annual list of America’s top fifty donors and two trends stick out. First, the bad economy is still putting a damper on things. The median gift from donors on this list was $49.6 million in 2012, nowhere near the pre-recession median of $74.7 million in 2007.

Second, the demographics of major donors are changing (Chronicle, 2/11):

Among the five top philanthropists last year, three were couples under 40. The youngest was Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook co-founder, who is 28, and his 27-year-old wife, Priscilla Chan.

Drawn to the possibility of influencing social issues for decades to come, the young and super-rich are turning philanthropy into a newlywed activity instead of a deathbed one.

It’s worth clarifying that most of the donors on the top fifty list aren’t actually on their deathbeds, though the age gap between the younger donors and olders ones is noticeable. Here’s the full list of donors and profiles for each.

EDUCATION | Following last week’s data on the growth of charters and decline of traditional public schools in the District, politicians and education advocates are debating what the numbers mean for the future. (WaPo, 2/11) The article also mentions that Rocketship Education has applied to open eight charters here. Hopefully they will allow me to go back to school so I can tell people that I go to school in a rocketship.

HEALTH | Baby boomers are less active and more obese than researchers previously thought. A new report on their general health finds that they are in worse shape than their parents’ generation. (WTOP, 2/10)

Hope you all had a nice weekend! I’m never going near the ocean again because apparently scientists have confirmed that squid can FLY.

Once (or rather if) you get over that terrifying news about sea monsters, you might enjoy seeing the trailer for Pixar’s prequel to Monsters Inc. Here’s a question for you. Which do you prefer, Monsters Inc. or Up

Horizon Foundation launches Better Beverage Finder…D.C. neighborhood ranks among the best for arts in the country…State education policies graded [News, 1.8.13]

HEALTH | The Horizon Foundation leads a group that has launched a project called the Better Beverage Finder, an online database that compares sugar content in hundreds of drinks. The database aims to help parents find alternatives to sugary drinks like soda. The project also features facts that seek to discourage consumption of health drinks. For example (WaPo, 1/8):

[I]f each student in the typical Howard County middle school drank just a single 12-ounce can of soda each day, they would consume approximately 10 tons of sugar over the course of a year.

ARTS | ArtPlace released a report that names 12 communities nationwide that “most successfully combine art, artists and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, retail shops and restaurants, and a walkable lifestyle to make vibrant neighborhoods.”

Ranking up there with San Fran’s Mission District, NYC’s Manhattan Valley, and Seattle’s Pike-Pine Corridor is our very own intersection of Adams Morgan, U Street, and Dupont Circle! Check out pages 31-32 in the report to see what makes this neighborhood so unique. Also included in the longer list of top 44 metro areas is Alexandria. (ArtPlace, 1/8)

- Michelle Rhee’s nonprofit, StudentsFirst, has released a list of grades for education policies across the 50 states and D.C. The District ranks 4th (C+) while Maryland is 17th (D+) and Virginia 38th (D-). The rankings are based on categories including teacher quality, parental involvement, and financial management. (Examiner, 1/8) D.C. was graded well thanks to the IMPACT evaluation system, which Rhee created.

- Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has proposed $336 million in spending for school construction and improvements next year. (WaPo, 1/8)

- Federal complaint details cheating allegations at D.C. public school (WaPo, 1/9)

HIV/AIDS | Whitman-Walker Health has announced that it will open a new health care facility on 14th St. in mid-2014. Executive Director Don Blanchon says:

Whitman-Walker has nearly doubled our patient base over the past six years and we expect growth to continue as more residents access care through the new health reform law…This new facility will enable WWH to meet the health care needs of our community and provide the highest quality care in a 21st Century health care home.

- If you see a helicopter buzzing a few feet over your head, don’t worry – you aren’t about to be abducted as part of some ultra-secret government conspiracy (probably). The National Nuclear Security Administration is just testing D.C. for gamma rays using a specially outfitted helicopter. Which leads me to believe that we could have a real hulk of a problem on our hands. (WaPo, 1/8)

- Our region’s natives and those who have lived here for a while are probably familiar with Randy Lokke, either by reputation or from seeing him around town. Randy, who passed away recently, was a local legend. He rode his bike all over the region and supported high school sports teams.

He was a good luck charm for many of the teams, a cherished community member, an avid volunteer, and the subject of so many wonderful stories. My favorite is the urban legend that Randy wound up on the front page of the Post standing behind Bill Clinton at a press conference. You never knew where he’d pop up. Read more about him here. (Georgetowner, 1/8)

EVENT | Over the last year, a group of WRAG members have been convening as the Convergence Partnership – funders who, as the name suggests, are interested in the ways in which various issues affecting our region converge with each other. The group has been exploring food systems as an intersection of issues like health, obesity, and workforce development.

This Friday and Saturday, WRAG’s Convergence Partnership is excited to co-sponsor an Agricultural Planning Conference that will look at how the next generation of farmers in Montgomery and Frederick counties can be productive and profitable. Read more and register here.

As our country’s infrastructure continues to crumble, the Netherlands is implementing an efficient, effective, inexpensive, and really freakin’ cool new road project – glow in the dark roads. Photo-luminescent powder will line the roads. It charges with sunlight during the day and glows for ten hours in the dark. Plus, snowflake shapes will show up on the road when there is a danger of ice. Amazing stuff!

The “hunkered up” edition [News, 10.31.12]

After days of preparing to hunker down, followed by the actual days of hunkering down, our region can finally hunker up. And hopefully stop using the word “hunker” for a long time. It seems like we were largely (though not completely) spared from the wrath of Frankenstorm, but folks up the coast from us we not so lucky. Here are some potentially useful resources:

- The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has launched a Neighbors in Need relief fund for Hurricane Sandy victims in our region.

- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Hurricane Sandy hub.

- From the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, a disaster and planning response guide for funders.

- Charities Scramble to Raise Money After Sandy Hits (Chronicle, 10/31)

- How to help after the superstorm (CNN, 10/31)

- How Sandy hits the homeless (Salon, 10/29) “Cities stretch resources, but many people will face the elements without shelter.”

And related items:

- Crazy footage of flooding in NYC – watch until the creepy end.

- Some before-and-after pictures from the storm. Wow. (WaPo, 10/31)

- Finally, there were lots of bogus pictures being sent around during the storm. WTOP looks at the fake ones, but this is the craziest real one that I saw.

- Last week, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation held its annual Leadership Luncheon. At the event, the foundation launched a new $6.5 million fundraising effort called The Campaign to Prosperity. To kick off the campaign, the Morris & Gewndolyn Cafritz Foundation made an $800,000 gift. (WBJ, 10/27)

- A new study from Bank of America and Indiana University finds that while “95 percent of the country’s wealthiest households gave to charity last year, the average dollar amount they donated declined by 7 percent.” (Chronicle, 10/29)

JUVENILE JUSTICE | WAMU takes a look at juvenile justice reform in the District by looking at the transformation of the Oak Hill detention facility into the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. (WAMU, 10/29)

HOUSING | Passionate testimony fills 4-hour Housing Task Force hearing (GGW, 10/30)

HALLOWEEN | No Frankenstorm is going to ruin Halloween!

- Don’t lose your head over this costume.

- The greatest music video of all time: John Landis’ 13-minute video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

- If you want a spooky ambiance for your work day, check out Pandora’s Halloween station.

- And, if you need something to watch tonight after the Trick-or-Treaters have gone to sleep, head to Hulu to check out NBC’s re-envisioning of The Munsters - re-titled Mockingbird Lane. I haven’t watched yet, but the reviews were great.

Buried in between the coverage of the storm and the election yesterday was one of the biggest announcements in the history of Hollywood – George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion. Disney now owns Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and special effects pioneer Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM). Even more shockingly, they have announced that a new Star Wars trilogy will be released between 2015 and 2019 – without much creative input from the franchise’s creator!

Wyclef Jean’s foundation failure offers lessons…District launches senior-focused HIV/AIDS education…MoCo parents lobby for later school start [News, 10.18.12]

PHILANTHROPY | The demise of Wyclef Jean’s Haiti-focused foundation has taken on an aura of tabloid scandal thanks to some truly bizarre claims made by the singer coupled with huge sums of wasted money. But beneath the drama, Arabella Advisors’ Chris Hobbs – who directs the New Venture Fund - points out that there are philanthropic lessons to be learned about the benefits of fiscal sponsorship (Greater Good, 10/17):

To realize the impact he presumably wanted, Jean could have housed an initiative benefiting Haiti within a fiscal sponsor and lent his name to support it. In doing so, the sponsor would have provided oversight, and the $16 million that Yele largely squandered could have actually benefited Haitians.

Those with varying philanthropic goals, from celebrity social entrepreneurs to institutional foundations, can benefit from a fiscal sponsor. The real payoff comes in more effective and efficient philanthropy across the industry, which in turn yields greater impact.

HIV/AIDS | The District has launched a new program that targets older adults, a demographic that represents 40 percent of the HIV population in the city but doesn’t necessarily consider risks in the way younger people do (WTOP, 10/18):

Some seniors are less comfortable discussing sexually transmitted diseases, yet they’re engaging in the same risky behavior that adolescents do that lead to HIV infection, said Michael Kharfen, who oversees outreach for the Department of Health branch tasked with HIV and AIDS programs.

REGION | When Metro was extended to Capitol Heights three decades ago, the connection to D.C. was expected to spark huge growth in the neighborhood. It didn’t, but hopes are high that a planned WalMart store might have the effect that community members once hoped for with Metro. (WaPo, 10/18)

EDUCATION | A few thousand Montgomery County parents are pushing the county to move the start of the high school day from 7:25am to 8:15am. Research shows that the extra sleep would be beneficial for teens. (Examiner, 10/18)

ECONOMY | Greater Greater Washington is running a five part series on the importance of housing for our region’s economy. The second part was posted today and says, “The region needs more than 700,000 new housing units by 2030.” (GGW, 10/18)

SEQUESTRATION | ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Impact In Maryland Will Be Very Grim, General Assembly Analysts Say (HuffPo, 10/18) “‘The Maryland economy would go into a recession,’ analyst Theresa Tuszynski told lawmakers.”

If you’ve never heard the legend of the Comte de St. Germain, here’s a good primer for you. Was (is) he an immortal alchemist? Or was he a scam artist? Umberto Eco made him a central character in the fantastic novel Foucault’s Pendulum, and he’s rumored to have shown up at various key points in history.

We won’t have a Daily tomorrow, so I hope you all have a great weekend!

MoCo school funding cuts into other services…Murder rate down 55% since 2000 in the District…Fairfax Board approves transportation plan for Tysons [News, 10.17.12]

BUDGETS | Montgomery County is facing a 5.2% drop in funding for public safety, transit, and social services due to a law requiring a certain amount of spending on education. The details are wonkish, but worth reading. (WaPo, 10/17)

GIVING | The Gates Foundation has done some reorganizing in 2012. The foundation’s CEO, Jeff Raikes, talks about the changes – and reflects on criticism of the foundation’s U.S. education reform strategy. (Chronicle, 10/17)

CRIME | The murder rate in D.C. has dropped 55% since 2000. The Post has an interactive map that shows the changes, demographic information, and even method of death. (WaPo, 10/17) I searched the database but couldn’t find “Prof. Plum in the conservatory with a candlestick.”

AGING | Here’s an interesting idea – the Bronx has created an “Aging Improvement District” to help improve housing, transit, and health services for seniors. (AARP, 10/10)

HEALTH | Inova Health System is planning to announce a new $250 million cancer center in Fairfax. (WBJ, 10/13)

- Fairfax Board Approves $2.3B Tysons Corner Transportation Plan (WAMU, 10/17) Did you know that Tysons was originally called Peach Grove? Its name changed after the Civil War when William Tyson, a Marylander (gasp!), purchased a tract of land there.

- Metro was supposed to have wireless service installed across the entire system by this week. The agency couldn’t get its act together, so they were granted an extension by Congress until March of 2013. But that’s not going to happen either, so now they want until December 2015. (WaPo, 10/17) Why does Metro even bother setting expectations for anything?

This is not a prank. It’s all I can muster today because I’m laughing too hard to type anything more.

- Christian

New report on affordable housing in the District…Dr. Susan Raymond talks to WRAG about innovation in philanthropy…Robert Egger to leave D.C. Central Kitchen [News, 10.10.12]

HOUSING | The Coalition for Smarter Growth has released a new report on housing called Public Good for Public Land: Making the Most of City Land to Meet Affordable Housing Needs. The report includes detailed housing and demographic data about the District and makes 11 recommendations for how the city should capitalize “on public land redevelopment to provide substantial numbers of affordable homes for moderate, low and very low income households.”

The report was funded by Prince Charitable Trusts, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the MARPAT Foundation, the Share Fund, and Enterprise Community Partners. Cheryl Cort, a principal author of the report, recently spoke to funders during a tour of Langley Park, Maryland, that was sponsored by WRAG’s Affordable Housing Task Force.

Related: DCHA to Close Waiting List for Public Housing (City Paper, 10/3)

- Tenants allege abuses at Langley Park apartments (WaPo, 10/10)

- At 10, DC’s housing trust fund has had a tough childhood (GGW, 10/9) “Ideally, the next ten years of the Housing Production Trust Fund will be easier ones.”

PHILANTHROPY | Last Thursday, Dr. Susan Raymond of Changing Our World spoke at WRAG’s Brightest Minds 2012 colloquium on innovation in philanthropy. If you missed it, she recapped her three big ideas in the video below:

Related: Download Dr. Raymond’s presentation here.

NONPROFITS | Pablo Eisenberg digs into the Independent Sector’s new report on advocacy and takes issue with the report’s suggestion that one organization should be a central voice for the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits will never share a broad consensus about which issues are most important. The best that nonprofits can accomplish is to strengthen their individual advocacy and lobbying activities and join with other organizations in coalitions that fight for specific policy changes.

He also looks at the report’s key issues and suggests four major alternatives. (Chronicle, 10/9)

FOOD | Jaw dropping statistic of the day: “Supermarkets, restaurants and other nonresidential establishments in Montgomery County throw away 56 million pounds of food a year.”

The Montgomery County Council is looking at ways of using this unused food to help feed the hungry. (WaPo, 10/10) I hope every other county and city in the U.S. is doing the same thing. How can we waste so much?

PEOPLE | On the food front, D.C. Central Kitchen founder and president Robert Egger has announced that he will leave his 25 year post to open a new project in L.A. Under his leadership, D.C. Central Kitchen has served 27 million meals to low-income individuals in our community. Egger leaves behind a tremendously impactful legacy and Los Angeles is truly fortunate to be his next focus. (WBJ, 10/10)

EDUCATION | Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe asks a provocative question: Does D.C. need UDC? He comes on strong by saying that the University of the District of Columbia is “a failed experiment, ” but he follows with some ideas worth considering. (Examiner, 10/10)

LOCAL | Here are some seasonal spooks – haunted buildings on Capitol Hill. (Examiner, 10/10)

For any parents with small children, here’s some hilarious Halloween costume help. Why not dress your kids like famous artists?

And staying in the realm of kids, Disney has released its latest Toy Story short film – Partysaurus Rex. As can be consistently expected from Pixar, the film is hilarious and worth your seven minutes!

Public Welfare Foundation’s Mary McClymont on legal services…Billionaires convene to discuss philanthropy…Over-reliance on urgent care could cause problems [News, 9.18.12]

PHILANTHROPY | The concept of “legal services” is a frequently misunderstood one in philanthropy. People hear the term and immediately equate it with crime, but the term actually relates to the civil needs of people living around the poverty line – serious needs related to housing, healthcare, family services, and income security, among other things.

Mary McClymont, president of the Public Welfare Foundation, sat down with Tamara Copeland, WRAG’s president, to debunk misconceptions and explain why legal services are a critically important area for funders to support.

See the full video here and visit the Public Welfare Foundation’s website for more information and resources on legal services.

GIVING | In June, Forbes convened 161 billionaires and near-billionaires for a symposium on philanthropy. My invitation was lost in the mail, but Forbes magazine has just published extensive recaps, interviews, and photos from the event. (Forbes, 9/18)

HEALTH | Since 2008, our region has seen a huge increase in the number of urgent care centers. While the facilities offer quick access to care, their popularity is problematic (WaPo, 9/18):

Some physicians groups warn that the overreliance on the centers can complicate efforts to improve health through better coordination of care.

NONPROFITS | Executive Pay Increased by Median of 3.8% in 2011, Chronicle Survey Finds (Chronicle, 9/17) Which isn’t much better than the 3% rate of inflation.

Related: Here are the top 20 places for raises between 2006 and 2011. Our region led the pack with an average of $10,460. (Atlantic, 9/18) If sequestration happens, we’ll probably lead the list of top 20 places to get laid off. Speaking of which…

SEQUESTRATION | The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward says that we should all be scared out of our minds about the “fiscal cliff” that we’re about to fly off. The bottom line, he says, is that our political leaders in both parties are refusing to cooperate with each other in an unprecedented way. (WTOP, 9/17)

Here’s a relaxing song for a rainy day – a live version of Paul Simon’s Afterlife. And here is a little history quiz to keep you alert.

See you all tomorrow. 

Promoting a new vision for affordable housing…How Romney and Obama compare on nonprofit issues…District has worst black/white student achievement gap in the country [News, 9.10.12]

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | As Enterprise Community Partners works on renovations of nearly 400 affordable housing units near H Street, NE, the nonprofit’s local leader, David Bowers, sees the project as an opportunity to highlight a new vision for affordable housing (WaPo, 9/10):

[Enterprise] has grown its focus from just creating and preserving low-income housing to addressing transportation and energy costs for poor and working class residents…In Washington — where real estate near Metro stations fetches a steep premium — Bowers has a goal of preserving 1,000 units within a half-mile walk of transit stations, giving residents easier and more affordable access to job centers.

David Bowers is also a member of WRAG’s Affordable Housing Task Force which has spent the past few months exploring possibilities for philanthropy’s role in supporting affordable housing. We’ll have some exciting developments to share with you soon.

- The Post takes a look at the student achievement gap both locally and across the country. Among the findings (WaPo, 9/10):

According to 2011 national testing data, the gap between white and black students is wider in Washington, D.C., public schools than in any other urban district…The persistent gap in the District reflects on the questionable nature of some of the “reforms” that have been implemented locally and elsewhere around the country — which too often ignore the outside-of-school influences that affect how well a student does in class.

- The closure of 23 District schools in 2008 ended up costing more than four-times as much as projected. This happened under the previous administration, but the Examiner points out that the Gray administration is on track to close more schools and should keep the cost in mind. (Examiner, 9/10)

- DCPS Aims To Grow Leaders From Within (WAMU, 9/10) Doesn’t it seem like the opposite of “within” should be “without”? That would make no sense in a sentence though. English is confusing.

BUDGETS | The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has a big budget gap for social services programs in FY2013 and their appeals to the state for funding assistance have been denied. (Examiner, 9/10)

NONPROFITS | More election coverage from the Chronicle – how Obama and Romney compare on (some) nonprofit issues. (Chronicle, 9/8)

HEALTH | Opinion: Greater Greater Washington’s Dave Alpert penned a piece for the Post that discusses the importance of putting Prince George’s County’s new hospital near a Metro station (WaPo, 9/8):

A hospital near a Metro station would draw more economic activity to the county and provide accessible health care to more residents, while saving the state countless transportation dollars and minimizing the negative health effects of the pollution produced by those driving to the site.

- Americans spending more on prescription drugs (WTOP, 9/10)

TRANSIT | Finally, we have somebody to properly channel the rage caused by Metro – WMATA Hulk! Some genius is operating a Twitter handle that sees the Incredible Hulk, uh, hulking out over various transit related issues. My favorite so far was tweeted this morning:


If you’re on Twitter, you should follow WMATA Hulk so he continues to tweet! (Express via GGW, 9/7)

LOCAL | Who knows what will happen over the next few weeks, but for the moment we have a new hometown hero – Robert Griffin III. The Nats are in first place and the Redskins knocked out one of the best teams in the NFL. Strange things are afoot in our region…but it sure feels good! (WaPo, 9/10)

Thanks so much to Rebekah for filling in while I was out.  I haven’t had enough time to filter through the fun things I missed on the internet while I was gone, but here is one that jumped out – a photo essay of the natural beauty in the Pacific Northwest. The shots of the night sky make me utterly resent all of the light pollution we have around here!

- Christian

Social media and homelessness…Back to school 2012…How Lance Armstrong’s doping charges affect his foundation [News, 8.27.12]

SOCIAL MEDIA/HOMELESSNESS | A new study finds that free social media tools like Twitter and Facebook are helping to connect homeless individuals to family, friends, jobs, and services. The University of Dayton’s Art Jipson conducted the study and points out (WaPo, 8/27):

We assume that we have nothing in common with people who are different from us — by whatever means we might measure that difference…But a study like this demonstrates that we have more in common than we do in difference.

So, folks, how do we increase internet access for the homeless?

LOCAL | D.C.’s downtown drives city’s population growth (Examiner, 8/27) “More than half of D.C.’s roughly 30,000 new residents over the past decade chose to live in the city’s downtown core as development there boomed….”

EDUCATION | It’s back-to-school week for many of the region’s kids. Prince George’s got an early start last week, but the rest of Maryland and the District start today. Most NoVA schools start after Labor day.

- Back to school time in D.C. and many suburbs (WaPo, 8/27):

- Some schools are getting rid of traditional homework and instead encouraging students to do unstructured activities – like recreational reading. The shift is being met with some skepticism and one educator’s explanation is certainly confusing enough (Examiner, 8/27):

We’re moving away from the repetition of skills…We’re focused on making sure 21st-century learners have the skills they need.

Learn the skills, but don’t repeat them?

YOUTH | Children’s Law Center’s Judith Sandalow illustrates the importance of early-childhood education in preparing kids for school – especially for kids with special needs (HuffPo, 8/25):

Children starting school should have certain cognitive capacity, socio-emotional skills, and verbal abilities…If a child arrives on the first day of kindergarten without these key abilities, even the best teacher in the world will find it difficult, if not impossible, to teach that child.

PHILANTHROPY | Over the weekend, Lance Armstrong lost all of his Tour de France titles over doping charges. He still denies wrong-doing, but there has been a question about how the situation might affect his foundation. Quite positively, it turns out. (Chronicle, 8/27)

Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong. It is hard to think of many others who have inspired our imaginations and strengthened our sense of American pride like Armstrong. Here’s video of his legendary moon landing. I think we are generally jaded by how easy and trivial special effects make things look. But on a clear night, stare at the moon and try to wrap your mind around how truly impressive Amstrong and company’s achievement really was.

For something else fascinating, and regardless of your opinion of Lynyrd Skynyrd, you have to check out this rendition of Sweet Home Alabama. I promise you’ll be amazed.


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