Tags >> research
Apr 28
2010

Ghosts from the Nursery

Posted by Bruce Robinson in women , teens , students , speaker , Santa Rosa , research , public safety , nonprofit orgs , Health , families , education , children , author

Bruce Robinson

The roots of violent behavior can be traced back to the earliest stages of childhood, even before birth. But steps to shape positive development can also start just as early.

Robin Karr-Morse and her co-author, Meredith Wiley, are now at work on a new book, The Monster in the Closet, that takes a deeper look at the physiology of infant brain development. A key part of the process, Karr-Morse explains, is the gradual maturation of the cortical brain.

When a child’s development is impaired, whether through neglect, abuse, poor diet, exposure to drugs or any other sources, the consequences can sometimes be countered or mitigated if positive interventions become available. But Karr-Morse says their effectiveness varies so widely, it becomes virtually impossible to generalize about outcomes.

Robin Karr-Morse was the featured speaker April 28 at the the annual Blue Ribbon lunch for Child Abuse Prevention month in Sonoma County, an event co-sponsored by the California Parenting Institute and Prevent Child Abuse, Sonoma County.

 

 

Apr 22
2010

Luther Burbank's Farm

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , trees , Sonoma County , Sebastopol , research , parks , nonprofit orgs , history , food , farms , environment , California , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

Luther Burbank’s greenhouse is an icon of Santa Rosa, but the famed horticulturalist actually did most of his ground-breaking work at another site—his 18 acre Goldridge Farm in Sebastopol.

Burbank is justly renowned for his botanical innovations, but not everything he worked with was a success. In fact, explains horticultural historian Bob Hornback, Burbank also is the source of two highly conspicuous “escapees” that are now ubiquitous in our local landscape, including the one shown here.

The Open House at Goldridge Farm this weekend is part of the annual Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival, which primarily celebrates the area’s Gravenstein orchards. Hornback says that was one variety of apple that Luther Burbank didn’t do much with, although he did create the later-ripening Winterstein variety (seen in photo).

With hundreds of new fruit varieties, vegetables and ornamental plants and flowers to his credit, Burbank’s farm (including the cottage, as seen in this drawing) was the scene of constant multiple experiments, graftings and new hybrids. During so much required maintaining detailed records, says Hornback, which is something Burbank doesn’t get enough credit for doing.

 

 

Apr 21
2010

Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park

Posted by Bruce Robinson in unions , Rohnert Park , research , protest , policy , jobs , employment , California , business , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

Critics of Wal-Mart who oppose the retail giant’s plans to expand in Rohnert Park are fighting an uphill battle, especially on labor issues, warns a University of California historian who has studied the company.

Knowing they will face local opposition in many communities, Nelson Lichtenstein (left)  observes that Wal-Mart has recently turned to a new tactic to minimize the regulatory review they must undergo—moving into existing but empty big box buildings.

That didn’t work so smoothly for the company in Santa Rosa, but the vacated space next to the already-established Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park apparently prompted their bid to expand into it.

In his recent book, The Retail Revolution, Lichtenstein  charts the history of Wal-Mart from its  origins in Arkansas and Alabama, detailing how the attitudes of founder Sam Walton became enmeshed into the core culture of the company. And, he says, they didn’t change as the retailer expanded and grew, and now lie at the heart of many of Wal-mart’s battles with local communities.

Opposition to the  proposed Wal-Mart Supcercenter in Rohnert Park (seen here in an artist's drawing of the project as it might look)  is being led by the Living Wage Coalition. The city's planning staff has recommended approval of the Environmental Impact Report for the expansion.  Read the full staff report here. The city's original approval for the store in 1991 allowed the store to occupy up to 225,500 square feet; is it currently using just 131,500 square feet, and the proposed Supercenter would increase that to just under 178,000 square feet.

 

Apr 15
2010

National Priorities Project

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , technology , research , policy , peace , nonprofit orgs , news , legislation , journalism , government , finances , education , current events , Congress , budget , activism

Bruce Robinson

If you’ve ever wondered just where the taxes you pay actually get used, The National Priorities Project can tell you.

To see where your personal tax payments are going, visit the Tax-Day website hosted by the National Priorities Project. You can also track the war spending totals, and what that money could have funded instead for Sonoma County,  Marin County, or the state of California as a whole. They are far from new to this issue, explains National Priorities Project spokesman Chris Hellman. In fact, they’ve been at it, as an organization, longer than many, maybe even most, members of Congress have been in office.

On the occasion of their 25th anniversary, the Project produced the video below that summarizes their approach and their history.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPA0B-ai0D8 360x240]

Over the years, Hellman adds, the Project has tracked budget details for many years. But to keep the information more easily digestable, they don’t try to identify long-term budgetary trends.

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