June 23, 2011

Surfing Madonna     Photo: rubywhite/Flickr

Surfing Madonna Mosaic Comes Down

Officials remove "save the ocean" glass

Officials in Encitas, California removed a stained-glass mosaic depicting a surfing Madonna that a local artist illegally installed under a railroad bridge. A crew took the mosiac down on Wednesday, following a spirited city-wide debate about what to do with the artwork. Ultimately, artist Mark Patterson agreed to pay removal costs of around $2,600 and find a new location for the piece, which appeared shortly before Easter and depicts the Virgin Mary on a surfboard. Patterson created the mosiac over nine months and used it to bring attention to ocean conservation. (The words "Save the Oceans" appear next to the Madonna.) Patterson stepped forward as the creator after his name was discovered at the top of the work. The mosaic was not damaged during removal, and Patterson says he'll now focus on finding it a permanent home.

Read more at the L.A. Times.

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As a 15-year-old growing up in South Central L.A., Juan Martinez rejected gang affiliation in favor of his school's Eco Club and a trip to the Tetons. Now 27, he is the Sierra Club's national youth volunteer coordinator and head of the Children and Nature Network's Natural Leaders Network. The L.A. resident spent time this spring ice-climbing in Montana with North Face athlete Conrad Anker     Photo: Courtesy of Juan Martinez

Promoting The Outdoors Pays Off

Nat Geo tags Martinez with $10,000 grant

Juan Martinez grew up in a tool shed in South Central Los Angeles. “In my neighborhood it was gang members who succeeded, had what I wanted, and could provide for their families,” Martinez says. But at the suggestion of a teacher, he joined his school's Eco Club, an experience that led him to a bigger idea—connecting disadvantaged youths with the outdoors. "I take kids who have been abused, heavily medicated for behavior problems, violent, distrustful, but after a few days outdoors they’re sharing feelings and fears, laughing, and thinking like a team," he says. Last weekend, Martinez graduated from California State University Los Angeles with a degree in history, becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree. And this week, National Geographic named Martinez a 2011 Emerging Explorer, which brings a $10,000-award for research and exploration. Outside invited Martinez to participate in a diversity panel for our July issue on adventure media and minorities.

Read more at National Geographic

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Tokyo in 2009     Photo: Kabacchi/Flickr

Cities Bad for the Brain

Research finds city living changes brain function

It’s no surprise that getting a little nature in your life helps you stay healthy, but research in published this week Nature explores how city living can actually affect brain function. Past studies have long shown greater rates of neurological disorders—including schizophrenia, stress, and mood and anxiety problems—among city dwellers. Now, a neurological study performed by scientists at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and released on Thursday finds that city living affects two important parts of the brain. According to the study, the amygdala, which processes memory and emotional reactions, was more active among people who live in cities. And the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, which in turn helps regulate the amygdala, was different in people who grew up in an urban environment. The study is the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the relationship between mental health and city life.

Read more at Wired

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Emperor penguin     Photo: xrayspx/Flickr

Penguin Gets Really, Really Lost

2,000-mile swim lands bird in New Zealand

Penguins, birds that regularly migrate more than 3,000 miles in the dark of winter, are among the more directionally competent animals in the world. That makes news that an emperor penguin has surfaced in New Zealand, 2,000 miles from its home in Antarctica, all the more puzzling. Biologists think the penguin was searching for food off the Antarctic coast when it became disoriented and headed north to New Zealand, a country that hasn't had a penguin sighting in 44 years. Most penguins eat sparingly, and the New Zealand bird appears well fed. For now, officials from the New Zealand Department of Conservation are hoping it finds its own way to Antarctica. The department has no plans to ship it back: First, Antarctica is totally dark, making travel to the region dangerous. Second, the penguin's journey through warm water may have exposed it to disease. Scientists don't want to be responsible if it brings something nasty back home.

Read more at The Associated Press

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Jeannie Longo     Photo: Ludo29880/Flickr

Ageless Wonder Wins Again

52-year-old cyclist claims French title over all-comers

French cyclist Jeannie Longo, a 52-year-old wonder, claimed her fourth consecutive French national time trial championship on Thursday, beating riders half her age en route to her 58th overall French title, counting road and track cycling. Longo finished the 19km course in 29 minutes and 45 seconds, 42 seconds up on 31-year-old Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, who was born the same year Longo won her first French title. The win was Longo's eleventh French time trial gold, the most recent in a long string of titles including an Olympic bronze, two silvers, and a gold from 1996. She also owns 13 world championship titles and the world hour record, which she set in Mexico City in 2000 with an average speed of 28.02 mph. "I'm a bit like a dog ... always willing to have a go," she told USA Today in February.

Read more at VeloNews

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