Dec. 6, 1947 - Everglades National Park, Florida dedicated by President Harry S Truman

"Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country." With these words, Truman formally dedicated Everglades National Park. This event culminated years of effort by a dedicated group of conservationists to make a national park in the Florida Everglades a reality. For a fascinating and comprehensive history of this amazing wetland, check out Michael Grunwald's The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise. Thinking of visiting the park? Check out Hidden Florida Keys and Everglades or Adventure guide to the Florida Keys & Everglades National Park.

The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest

Researcher and explorer Dan Buettner follows the trail of isolated communites where there is an unusually high incidence of centenarians. Those are the lucky few who live to see their hundredth birthday and beyond. Not so lucky, perhaps, if they are lonely and unhealthy, but in The Blue Zone these folks still live with their families, socialize with friends, prepare their own meals, work, garden, and sometimes walk many miles a day. And there lies a piece of the answer.

The four "zones" Buettner examines include communities and villages in Sardinia, Okinawa, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California. It is truly impressive to read descriptions of the purposeful, vibrant, happy and disease-free lives these elders live. He combines extensive interviews with dozens of these "blue zoners" and contemporary research from numerous longevity experts and finds common ground in each zone.

And what are some of the secrets? Well, you can imagine. The prescription is not an easy one for modern Americans: slow down; move naturally; eat good food at home, some of which you have grown or prepared yourself; put family first. Buettner presents all of the lessons learned from the elders with a plan for how to work them into your life. And, for a long and healthy journey to a satisfying and healthy end, choosing at least some of these habits seems worth it. L'chaim.

Help for tough times

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The Washtenaw Area Council for Children is presenting a series of monthly lectures by local professionals titled, "Tough Times: Helping Children, Families, and Those Who Serve Them Through Economic Hard Times." The Council's mission is to provide educational services to those serving youth to prevent child abuse. On Thursday, November 20, local physician Bethany Mohr will speak on "Neglect: When Do You Intervene?" Lunch is also provided. The series is held at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Bldg., 1819 S. Wagner Rd. $15 (students, $10) per lecture or $50 (students, $35) for the series. Reservations requested. 434-4215.

The Library has a number of books that may be helpful with this topic. One that's been published recently is Stolen Beauty: Healing the Scars of Child Abuse:One Woman's Story by Amy Madden, an ultimately hopeful story of her recovery from years of abuse by her stepfather.

National Survivors of Suicide Day Teleconference at Malletts Creek

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November 22nd is National Survivors of Suicide Day and the 10th annual teleconference sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reaching over 170 sites across the country.

You can register to watch the conference on your computer at home or you can attend the teleconference at the Malletts Creek branch from 12 to 3 pm. Registration is not required for the teleconference at Malletts Creek. The 90 minute conference will broadcast from 1 to 2:30 pm EST.

Thomas A. La Veist will speak at the University of Michigan

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Research Scientist, Author and Public Speaker Thomas A. La Veist will be in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health on Tuesday, November 18th 3:30 - 5:00 pm. The event is sponsored by the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health and co sponsored by the Program for Research on Black Americans and the MICHR(Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research)/Health Disparities Research Program at the University of Michigan. Mr. La Veist will be speaking on Disentangling Race and Socioeconomic Status: Advancing Understanding of Race Disparities in Health.

Think local first

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Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia and co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies will be speaking at Think Local First's annual meeting. Wicks' 25 year tenure with the White Dog Cafe has led to numerous other ventures and community collaborations that support local economies. She is the recipient of many awards including the The James Beard Foundation's 2005 Humanitarian of the Year award. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. and the talk will be at 7 at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance at Nicola's Books, Shaman Drum Bookshop and The Peaceable Kingdom.

To supplement Wicks' talk, read The Small Mart Revolution: How local businesses are beating the global competition by Michael H. Shuman.

October 14, 1964 - Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you ever wondered about the Nobel Prizes? We all know them as a mark of prestige, but where did those world-famous awards come from and who decides the winners? Check out The Nobel Prize : A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige and wonder no more. Burton Feldman relates the lively history of the awards, touring their century-long existence forward from the will of dynamite mogul Alfred Nobel. Readers will learn about the quirky preferences of the award committees, winners who really didn't deserve to win, losers that should have been winners, and amusing bits of Nobel trivia (like the awarding of the prize in medicine to the inventor of the lobotomy). For details on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his award, the AADL has a GIANT collection of MLK materials for you to peruse. Enjoy!

Mudbound

Every two years, Barbara Kingsolver funds a prize for the best work of fiction by a new author writing about social change. Called the Bellwether Prize, the 2006 recipient was Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. A darkly brooding story, told in alternating, first-person narrative by each character, the events reveal the scarring and devastating effects of both racism and war on two families in rural Mississippi. The long-standing hatreds of the community, combined with two returning soldiers' crippling experience of violence in World War II, beget the final betrayal for each character.

Why would one want to read such a stark-sounding, downer of a book, you may wonder? Because, frankly, it is a stunning story, told in a strong, clear voice, with characters you may never forget, and, though it unveils the dark, frightening forces at work in the human soul, it also celebrates the fierce allegiances to family, land and love. Jordan’s first book is a compelling journey with the characters to a chilling and inevitable conclusion. What surprises and satisfies is how she shines a light of hope at the end.

National Coming Out Week

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Cities and universities all across the country are celebrating National Coming Out Week. This annual observance takes place during the week of October 11, National Coming Out Day, which marks the anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. National Coming Out Week is a week in which people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or allies celebrate their identities and remember the efforts and obstacles of the pioneering GLBT people who made a difference in this country.

The University of Michigan has an extensive list of GLBT-related events this month, including panel discussions, lectures, a Coming Out Rally, and even a performance by David Sedaris! A complete list of events can be seen at the University's Spectrum Center website. Some events are free and open to the public, and some events require tickets. Check it out and have fun supporting your GLBT friends and family!

As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial

Is there anything funny about global warming? Derrick Jensen, a committed and very serious environmental activist, manages to find some thin threads of humor behind the despair in As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial. In the format of a graphic novel, he tells a fable-like story of the Earth versus big business; environmentalists versus profiteers; creatures (yes, snails and foxes and a one-eyed bunny) versus dam builders. The result manages to score the point: if we don’t change our direction, we will end up where we are headed. Other titles by Jensen include Thought to Exist in the Wild, which presents the case against zoos, and How Shall I Live My Life?, interviews with ten progressive thinkers about resisting the dominant culture of excess.

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