Category: News (Page 1 of 78)

Farmers’ Market Supports Healthy Lawrence Community

Sophie Tate began her job as market manager of the Lawrence Farmers’ Market in early 2021.  She grew up in Lawrence, graduating from Free State High School before pursing  a degree at Skidmore College.  She then earned an MA in Public Health and Environmental Health.  

With its origin in 1979, Lawrence Farmers’ Market is the oldest continuously running market in Kansas.  From the start, it was a “producers only” market.  All product inputs are grown, prepared, or crafted in Kansas within 50 miles of Lawrence.  Shoppers will find artisans as well as food producers among the 50 vendors who will begin the season this spring. 

Tate proudly explains that the Lawrence Farmers’ Market supports social, physical, and economic health in the Lawrence community. 

Social:  The Farmers’ Market is a place to gather and to meet friends, to eat and to buy.  The crowd is diverse and family-friendly.  Find music, share information, and exchange ideas.

Physical:  The Market is a destination for all ages and all abilities. Enjoy the outdoors and green space while finding nutritious foods.

Economic:  After shopping for premier goods at the Farmers’ Market, buyers can  then spend time in Downtown Lawrence.  The low cost to participate allows more vendors to sell, introduces new products, and makes businesses more sustainable.  Double Up food coupons support the SNAP program with fresh produce.   

The Saturday market will begin for the season on April 10, 2021, and conclude on November 20.   A Tuesday market will run from May 4 to October 26.  The markets will be open in all kinds of weather. 

On Saturday, markets are located downtown on New Hampshire Street from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.  On Tuesday, shoppers can find the vendors in South Park from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  

Forestry and Insurgency

Rural Forestry Coordinator Bob Atchison spoke on the mission and activities of the Kansas Forest Service, located in Manhattan on the Kansas State University Campus.  

The State Forest Service serves rural land owners, rural fire districts, communities, forest industries and citizens throughout the state.  The Forest Service is an independent agency within KSU Research and Extension.  Thirty specialists and seasonal workers address a variety of areas of specialization:  forest utilization and marketing, water quality, wild fire prevention and management, community forestry, GIS communication, and outreach.  Ten percent of Kansas is in woodlands, and these vital resources are under constant stress from clearing for agriculture and other development. 

Bob Atchison, brother of LCR member Fred Atchison, earned a degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri and is a second generation Forester.  Bob has received the President’s Award for Excellence from KSU, the National Association of State Forester’s Achievement Award for Resource Management, and was Kansas Wildlife Federation’s 2017 Conservationist of the year.   

Three years ago Bob received a Forestry Grant to attend a two-month course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Participants included a variety of people working in national and state government, including elected officials, city managers, mayors and agency heads.  Classes focused on the historical relationship between citizens and their government.  Bob cited numerous historical examples of contentious citizen interactions with government.  

CASA Volunteers Monitor and Mentor

Douglas County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive advocacy for abused and neglected children who are in need of care and under the protection of the court system. Research has shown that kids assigned a CASA volunteer are more likely to do well in school and graduate and are less likely to reenter the court system. Contact with a supportive adult is the key element in improving circumstances.

Erick Vaughn, the new director of Douglas County CASA, noted that the pandemic has had a significant impact on an organization that relies heavily on volunteers. Presently, there are eighty active volunteers and volunteers in training. There is a pressing need for twenty-five additional volunteers as there is a large waiting list of children in need of assistance.

CASA volunteers are appointed by the court and meet regularly with the child. They review records and talk to family members and professionals involved in the case. Volunteers report information to the judge, make recommendations to promote the child’s best interest, and monitor compliance with court orders until the child has been placed in a safe and permanent home.

Volunteers must avoid further trauma for the child and help build resilience. Kids that have experienced neglect and abuse are especially vulnerable; sex trafficking is a particular threat to these kids. Unfortunately, the privatization of state child welfare services has contributed to the problem.

Volunteers are carefully vetted and undergo thirty hours of training and an additional twelve hours of advanced annual training. They come from all walks of life. They must be compassionate, culturally sensitive, and unbiased. Volunteers should be well-organized, and have good recordkeeping and computer skills. They must be reliable and make a good match with the child. A volunteer application form is available on the CASA website.

Understanding COVID: Facts and Nuance

Dr.  Neela Sandal, founder of the Atma Clinic in Lawrence, discussed the COVID virus and the public health response.  Dr. Sandel says it is important to distinguish between facts and anecdotes when trying to understand COVID. While the public health response to COVID maximizes safety, he believes a more nuanced approach is sometimes needed.

For example, it is understood that advanced age is a significant risk factor for a serious reaction to COVID. However, there are many people over age seventy who have contracted COVID who have experienced relatively mild symptoms. The elderly who do experience serious or life-threatening symptoms exhibit one or more of the following: compromised exercise tolerance, metabolic fitness issues, vitamin D deficiency, cellular nutrition problems, or compromised immune function.

We have learned that COVID behaves like other viruses in its class and is spread primarily by aerosol transmission rather than by touching hard surfaces.  Ninety-nine per cent of cases are asymptomatic.  Children who contract COVID are largely asymptomatic and are not big spreaders.  Mask use, social distancing, and vaccination continue to be important tools in fighting viral spread. 

It is very hard to prove immunity at present.  Evidence suggests that antibodies persist after infection from six months to five years.  Therapies and treatments continue to develop to assist the medical community. 

In conclusion, Dr. Sandal says age is too general an indicator of vulnerability. He emphasizes that asymptomatic spread is rare and that natural infection provides robust immunity. 

Dr. Sandal received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Kansas and did his Family Medicine Residency at the University of Arizona.  He took additional training in Interactive Medicine.  The Atma Clinic provides a personalized and holistic approach to medicine.

Sebelius: Political Divisions Make Governing Difficult

Kathleen Sebelius, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services and the 44th Governor of the State of Kansas, spoke with Lawrence Central Rotarians on February 3, 2021.

Sebelius is well known for her instrumental role in overseeing the development and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She is also remembered by Kansans as a popular and productive two term governor. Sebelius is a Kansas University graduate and presently resides in Lawrence. Upon leaving government service she founded Sebelius Resources, a company that provides strategic advice to businesses, nonprofits and higher education. The Secretary serves on numerous boards including the Dole Institute, Common Cause and the Kaiser Foundation. She is considered to be an expert on global health issues.

Sebelius is a long-time friend of Governor Laura Kelly and shared the challenge with her of working with a divided government. She spoke about the particular difficulties of advancing the Affordable Care Act.  She commented on funding  Kansas education, both for K-12 schools and for post-secondary institutions.  Sebelius answered questions ranging from child health care legislation to the fate of the state-owned Docking Building in Topeka. The former Secretary demonstrated an impressive range of knowledge and experience in state and national politics.

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