GOOD

How Simple Nature Images Are Changing Solitary Confinement

A new project offers prisoners the opportunity to decompress in a room full of faux plants—with amazing results.

A Blue Room in Washington State, via youtube screencapture

The 216 inmates of the Snake River Correctional Institution’s Intensive Management Unit (IMU) dealt with some of the harshest punishment meted out in Oregon. Twenty-three hours a day, the prisoners were on their own inside their cells; the single hour they were allowed outside was still spent in solitude. Nearly two-thirds of the inmates suffered from mental illness, the Oregonian reports, and the isolation didn’t help. In fact, the IMU suffered from the one of highest suicide rates in the prison.


"I've seen over the years how an inmate will come into the facility, and they'll almost appear to be completely normal," Capt. Randy Gilbertson, who oversees the IMU, told the paper. "After a phase of isolation, those guys—especially those guys with mental health issues—tend to decompensate. They break down and go a different route. And it brings out a whole different person in them."

Could nature—even faux nature—help those inmates survive prison?

University of Utah biologist Nalini Nadkarni first tackled that untraditional question in 2007, at the start of her partnership with the Washington State Department of Corrections. A number of studies have found that interactions with nature are a serious mood booster. So Nadkarni’s program trained inmates to raise—what else?—endangered frogs.

Biologist Nalini Nadkarni works with inmates in Washington State's correctional system, via youtube screencapture

Then the Snake River facility called in late 2012 or early 2013. A prison official had seen a TEDTalk on nature rehabilitation that Nadkarni had given a few years before, and he wanted the biologist to bring her approach to some of the most dangerous prisoners in Oregon.

That’s when Nadkarni came up with the Blue Room. Equipped with a $1,500 projector, the windowless Blue Room plays loops of National Geographic documentaries, accompanied by the sounds of nature: the soft hiss of the breeze, the crash of waves against a beach.

From the Washington Post:

The results were staggering. The inmates filtered in for an hour. When they emerged, they felt calmed. “When I’m irritated, it’s something soothing to me,” one inmate said in a questionnaire that Nadkarni administered. “I have pent up tension. Sometimes, [this helps] my mood mellow out.” Others said it gave them an “escape,” and helped them sleep better.

But officials saw something else. It became a tool to defuse a potentially volatile situation. If an inmate was stressed over something, they would recommend some time in the Blue Room. Or the inmates would request it.

Nadkarni is still writing up Blue Room experiment’s initial results, but she says they indicate that individual prisons could save “thousands” by using nature imagery to calm down otherwise violent inmates. She and Oregon officials say the Blue Room could change the way prisons handle solitary confinement.

A Blue Room in Washington State, via youtube screencapture

After all, many of these inmates will one day reenter the wider world. “Whatever we can do to men and women while incarcerated to make them more human, less violent, less anxious, it seems that benefits society as a whole,” Nadkarni told the Seattle Times.

(Via Washington Post)

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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