The National Union of Students (NUS) has proposed a series of cuts under the threat of bankruptcy, including selling or renting out the NUS London building and pausing funding for the posts of Trans Officer and International Officer.The NUS’s proposal for the 2019/2020 year has drawn sharp public criticism from the NUS International and NUS Trans Campaigns.NUS International, which represents international students living in the UK, tweeted: “we are extremely concerned about @nusuk Trustee Board’s decision of defunding NUS International Students’ Campaign.”The NUS leadership has defended their decision to undergo “a transition year which re- quires extraordinary action to ensure solvency and deliver a degree of financial stability.”Responding to the cuts, the NUS LGBTQ+ Campaign issued a statement on the 21st January, stating: “the secrecy with which NUS has chosen to conduct the process of deciding which officer position is worthy of funding suggests that this is a political rather than a financial choice.“We believe it was wrong for the UK Board to make this decision, as the Trustee Board should not be setting the political direction of the organisation. There is simply nothing democratic or liberatory about this decision happening without a single conversation with a trans student or representative, especially as the VP Union Development is a member of the Turnaround Board.“We believe that trans students deserve to know how and why this decision was made”.Speaking to Cherwell, a spokesperson for NUS Transform said: “At the Joint Boards meeting, the NUS UK Board voted to defund the trans campaign.“We believe that this was politically motivated, not necessarily because there was an anti-trans agenda, but because the decision to defund trans officer as opposed to other officers is an inherently political decision made by a body that is not designed to make those decisions. “It would have been more appropriate for the UK Board to decide the number of officers and NUS NEC to decide which ones, as a body that is elected by students. Instead the decision was taken in a closed meeting with no consultation from trans students.”The NUS International Campaign also released a statement on the issue, writing: “Defunding the NUS International Students’ Campaign compounds the concerns of those students who naturally feel reticent about raising issues individually in a country in which they are not citizens, and such a move would have both long-term and short-term implications.“To lose our voice and visibility in an organisation that claims to speak for all students would be devastating, and there is no confidence that those who do not share our experience could command trust and speak for us on our issues, no matter how well meaning and committed to this work.“We recognise this is a difficult time but our need to speak for those facing considerable and urgent challenges means we must make clear our concerns and urgent request that the Trustees revise their approach on this issue.”As the proposed plan has been put into action, many employees have reportedly been offered voluntary redundancy, and the number of staff working for the NUS is expected to fall by half from the year of 2018/19.The student union is reportedly under severe financial pressure after seeing a £3.6m loss in 2017. The organisation revealed in its last financial statement that it owed £1.8m in bank loans and that it faced a pensions liability of £12.2m.Trans Officer for the Oxford SU LGBTQ Campaign Tori Mangan told Cherwell: “The Campaign is strongly opposed to the defunding of the NUS Trans Campaign. That this move has been made at a time when trans people are facing increasing vitriol in the mainstream press and individual activists have been targeted is also extremely concerning.“The findings of our 2018 Trans Report demonstrated comprehensively that trans students are in dire need of support, and this move will significantly reduce the support offered by NUS.”The financial troubles of the NUS have not been met with sympathy from all commentators. Right-wing political blog Guido Fawkes responded to the reports by writing: “The leftist students running the organisation are learning the lesson that profligate spending leads to both savage cuts AND more borrowing”.The NUS was contacted for comment.
S-l-o-w-l-y, there are changes afoot in the baking world. And when I say s-l-o-w, that’s exactly what I mean. Ever since the Chorleywood process (or ’no time dough method’) was developed in 1961, bread-baking has been revolutionised, dramatically speeding up a process which had existed for millennia. Suddenly, a raft of new ingredients began to be added to a product that used to be created almost alchemically, using simple flour, yeast, salt and water: ingredients such as E481 (sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate), E472e (mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids), E920 (l-cysteine), E282 (calcium propionate), E220 (potassium sorbate), E300 (ascorbic acid), E260 (acetic acid) soya flour, vegetable fat and dextrose, enzymes and I could go on. However, as bakers well know, many of those hidden processing ingredients do not have to be declared on the label.But now, there’s a move to slow it all down again and to return to transparency, as well as simplicity through a Real Bread Campaign, under the umbrella of the environmental group Sustain. (For a while, it looked like there were to be two similar campaigns running simultaneously, with the UK arm of Slow Food launching a crust-thrust of their own but the two have now joined forces, with Slow Food giving Real Bread its not inconsiderable support.) The campaign is now celebrating having secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme.As well as pointing bread-lovers in the direction of traditionally-created loaves, there’s even ’direct action’ suggested by the campaign: activists can download ’warning’ stickers from the internet to peel off and apply to loaves in supermarkets/convenience stores, declaring: ’This ’bread’ may be made using the following: L-cysteine, fungal amylase, hemicellulase, phos-pholipase, peptidase, xylanase, protease and a whole cocktail of other hidden enzymes’, and inviting ’unsuspecting’ bread-lovers to join up. It’s impossible to know exactly how many stickers have been downloaded, but the simple truth is that the Real Bread campaign taps into a growing desire for food to be local (ideally, ’gold-standard’ real bread will be made with 20% local flour) and without unnecessary additives.At my own business, Judges Bakery (in Hastings), we use ’overnight’ doughs anywhere from 18-24 hours, allowing loaves to rise almost at their leisure with flour, water, salt, and that’s just about it. (And in the case of the sourdoughs, without any yeasts other than the natural variety picked up from the very air itself). Our bread attracts customers from far and wide which is a slight ’food miles’ niggle for us, but we can just about live with it. It’s almost certainly completely impractical for the entire industry to return to pre-Chorleywood days. But many customers hanker after bread ’like it used to be’ with the enhanced flavour, texture and keeping power that only time, rather than additives, can deliver. Judging from the Real Bread Campaign’s success, a growing number of bread-heads are waking up to the differences between ’real’ bread and the factory type. And, if you ask me, about time too
Funding from the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has led to a micro SME, based in Devon, attracting their first military order from the Army Rapid Innovation and Experimentation Laboratory (ARIEL); delivering innovative bridging equipment to the Royal Engineers.At 85% lighter, 80% more compact, and many times cheaper than incumbent Infantry Assault Bridges, EasiBridge, the aptly named bridging concept, is a new range of man-portable, long-span rescue/assault bridges.DASA invested £77,086.80 in July 2018, tasking EasiBridge to adapt their product range for defence and wider government use. Under the expert guidance of DASA’s partner and project technical advisers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), EasiBridge products have undergone a series of rigorous military trials, deploying on international exercise.EasiBridge has already commenced work on the order to deliver 3 bridges, 3 conveyors, and 1 footbridge. The equipment will be supplied as trial structures for the Royal Engineers Trials and Development Unit (RETDU).Brigadier Kev Copsey, Head of Future Force Development, says: I cannot tell you the renewed impetus this project has given us. After 3 years scratching around the wilderness, the last several months have already started to change everything. Exactly what DASA was intended to do, I’m sure. EasiBridge is the world’s first user-portable, long-span, rescue/assault bridge and I am delighted that the Royal Engineers will be the first military unit to benefit from it. DASA support has been instrumental in developing a whole new range of gap crossing, force protection and specialist access capabilities. The Army is embracing emerging technologies and adopting innovation that eases the tasks of our people. We are delighted to be supporting a UK innovator, turning new ideas into military capability and putting it into the hands of soldiers quickly for trials and testing. The DASA funded EasiBridge project has rapidly proved its credibility, testing a wide range of new gap crossing, force protection and difficult access capabilities. Seven new capabilities were developed, from footbridges to materials-handling conveyors, fence-breaching frameworks to blast-resistant roofing systems – all from one “Super-Kit” of parts, using common, 5-foot ladder sections. The EasiBridge concept has received substantial international enquiries.Lucy Mason, Head of DASA says: This is a cross defence innovation success story. By embedding exploitation at the beginning of the innovation process and having the end user in mind throughout, it can lead to faster adoption of innovative ideas into Defence and wider Government. DASA is committed to supporting small businesses with great ideas and providing a platform upon which they can shine; EasiBridge did just this, attracting both UK and international interest. Stephen goes on to say: The defence trials provided further evidence that the innovation could also be adapted for other government uses, particularly for emergency and rescue services. The EasiRoof “Lite”, for example, could offer lower-cost, light-duty roof support for disaster relief or as emergency accommodation.Stephen Bright, Director, Bright Structures Ltd said: DASA is continually seeking to develop innovative ideas that have the potential to positively impact the operational effectiveness of the UK’s military. EasiBridge development was funded through a DASA open market competition looking for the next ‘generation troop protection, access and mobility systems’.Find out more about our Open Call for Innovation.
Last weekend wrapped up the seventh annual Panic En La Playa at the Hard Rock Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The late-night schedule for the Cloud 9 Adventures-produced event included some truly star-studded performances, following massive shows from host band Widespread Panic that saw collaborations from Eric Krasno & Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr., and Marcus King.On Saturday and Monday nights, the NOLA-flavored “Playa Allstars” took the late-night stage, featuring guitarist Eric Krasno, bassist George Porter, Jr., keyboardist Ivan Neville, percussionist Cyril Neville, drummer Terence Higgins, trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, and saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum, most of whom also contributed on vocals.On Sunday night, The Cleaners closed the show, featuring Eric Krasno and Marcus King on guitar/vocals, Kevin Scott on bass, Duane Trucks of WSP on drums, DeShawn “D’Vibes” Alexander of the Marcus King Band on keys, and special guest appearances from New Orleans legend Cyril Neville (percussion) and rising singer/songwriter Leslie Mendelson (vocals).Now, you can enjoy full show audio from all the performances below.Saturday Playa Allstars[Audio: RL Bayers]Setlist: Play Allstars | Panic En La Playa Siete | 1/27/18I: Cabbage Alley, Hey Pocky A-Way , Come Together, Deal*, Dreams To Remember*, Africa, Tell Me Something GoodII: Fortune Teller> People Say, Eyes Of The World> Rock Steady#, Go To New Orleans^, Ain’t No Use #^> There Was A Time #^, Get Up Off Of That Thing#^* w/ Leslie Mendelson^w/ Marcus King#w/ DeShawn D’Vibes AlexanderSunday, The Cleaners[Audio: Z-Man, uploaded to SoundCloud by Jam Buzz]Setlist: The Cleaners | Panic En La Playa Siete | 1/28/18Stratus, For My Friend, Dreams, Good Man, Unconditional Love, Compared To What*#, Scarlet Begonias*@> Fire On The Mountain*> Legalize It*> Soul Shakedown Party*> Manic Depression*, That’s What Love Will Make You Do*#@, Them Changes> War Pigs> Luke’s Wall* With Cyrille Neville on percussion# With Cochemea Gastelum on [email protected] With Leslie Mendelson on vocalsMonday, Playa Allstars[Audio: RL Bayers]Setlist: Play Allstars | Panic En La Playa Siete | 1/29/18I: Pungee, No More Okie Dokie, Yes You Can Can, Gimme Shelter*, Heartbreak Road*, Sweet Little Angel^, GossipII: Brickyard Blues#, The Dragon (He Bite Me)> Doodle Oop (The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather), Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), I Need More Time, Love Slip Upon Ya>Drum Solo> Turn On Your Lovelight**w/ Cris Jacobs^w/ Marcus King#w/ Leslie Mendelson
Read Full Story The global economy last year spent an estimated $300 billion on newly diagnosed cancer cases, $400 billion on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and billions more on diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, and other noncommunicable diseases that are increasing in the developing world. The increase is thought to be related to rising risk factors, such as tobacco use, obesity, unhealthy diet, inactivity, and alcohol use in addition to aging of the population and negative effects of urbanization, international trade and marketing. The figures were announced at a United Nations (UN) press briefing June 20, 2011, featuring HSPH’s David Bloom, chair, Department of Global Health and Population, and reported on June 21 in The New York Times and other media.Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) cause about two-thirds (or 36 million) of the 57 million deaths annually in the world. About 80 percent of the NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Nearly 30 percent of those deaths are in people under age 60. Unless action is taken, NCDs are predicted to claim 52 million people annually by 2030, according to an April 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) report.Preliminary data from a World Economic Forum sponsored study that Bloom leads estimates a $35 trillion economic output loss from 2005 to 2030 due to diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, and COPD. Bloom discussed the study at the UN briefing held to preview an upcoming UN summit on noncommunicable diseases in September. Early study findings indicate that the economic burden from these diseases “will evolve into a staggering economic burden over the next two decades” and could greatly impact economic development and take away funds available to fight poverty. More resources should be directed to prevention, screening, and treatment throughout the world, Bloom said.
Today six Buddhist monks — including one nun — studying at HDS from countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh are adapting to a new way of life in Cambridge, while keeping an eye on what they plan to do with their Harvard education upon returning home.Nestled on a sofa in the lounge of Rockefeller Hall, Upali Sraman, a second-year student and Bangladeshi Buddhist monk, said that his robe has a funny effect on people. “I have to be more conscious of everything I do, because I realize that I’m being judged,” he explained.Upali — who abstains from drinking alcohol, eating meat, and engaging in sexual activity — said people think monks are supposed to be perfect. “But underneath our robes, monks are very human,” he said, sipping a cup of green tea as the mercury outside dipped to 18 degrees on a snowy afternoon.Monks have their temptations and moments of weakness like anyone else, Upali said, and it is unrealistic to expect them to be more. “Worse,” he said, “you might be putting that monk in danger of having to lie or be dishonest so that they can live up to your expectations.”Chang Gan Shi, a Buddhist nun from Taiwan, agreed, adding that as a first-year HDS student she too has her challenges. “Like being the only Buddhist nun around here,” she said with a laugh. “I wish I could have a companion, someone to relate to. Sometimes it can get lonely.”Wearing a long gray robe and sporting a black beanie over her clean-shaven head, the 44-year-old Shi spoke in a cafeteria at Harvard Law School (HLS) while enjoying a large slice of cheese pizza, fries, and a bottle of Coke, a problematic habit she picked up from living part of her life in New York.Shi (who is not a Robert Ho Scholar) said another challenge is figuring out the proper social distance to keep with her Harvard peers. Can she go with them to a movie, or to a party? Should she tell them up front that she would rather not be hugged?Seated almost shoulder-to-shoulder with students in Harkness Café, which was swarmed by the boisterous noontime crowd, she said, “You can come off pretty unfriendly if you tell everyone not to hug you. But yet, I’m a Buddhist nun, and I need to keep some social distance. But it’s not always easy.”Sporting a crimson robe, blue sneakers, and a hearty laugh, 25-year-old Tajay Bongsa, a first-year HDS student, might not look or sound like the stereotypical monk, but, “Every monk has their own personality,” he declared.Bongsa said many Americans assume all Buddhist monks are calm, quiet, and always peaceful. “But come on,” he said. “Before most people even meet a monk, they have an idea of how we should act, behave, and be. But we might be different than what they expect.”As a member of an indigenous minority community fighting for its land rights in Bangladesh, Bongsa said he comes to Harvard with a double mission. He wants to study religion at HDS while also taking classes at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) to help synergize a political, economic, and spiritual solution for his people’s land rights campaign in Bangladesh. “I come from a poor family,” Bongsa explained, “so to have this opportunity to come to Harvard — through the Ho Scholars program — and learn something that might better help the lives of my people is both gratifying and humbling.”Bongsa is not alone in having big plans for his education. Shi would like to work with Harvard’s Chinese scholars to translate ancient Buddhist scriptures into English. “There is a neglected treasure of human knowledge in these documents that could be shared with the world,” she said. “And Harvard has the expertise and clout to get something like this started.”Ishwor Shrestha, a second-year HDS student and Tibetan Buddhist minister from Kathmandu, Nepal, is also on a mission. While forging his way through the snowy campus, the blue-jean-clad Shrestha said that at HDS he is learning how to spiritually counsel the dying. “There is a great need for this type of ministry in my country,” he said. The 38-year-old, whose dark hair is flecked with gray, explained that people die in Nepal without proper medical care or someone to help them face their end. “There is no program for this in my country, but I want to change that.”Shrestha wants to coordinate with non-governmental organizations in his country to develop Nepalese spiritual counseling and end-of-life care programs. “Everyone deserves to die with dignity and respect,” he said. Shrestha said a course at HDS on interfaith caregiving, taught by Chris Berlin, is now preparing him for this type of chaplaincy.Enjoying a veggie burger at Cambridge Common, Berlin, an instructor in ministry and pastoral counseling — and himself a practicing Buddhist — said that HDS benefits just as much from having the monks as the monks do from studying at Harvard. Berlin said that in his “Buddhist Polity” class, for example, when the monks talk about their spiritual community, students listen. “Because it’s not coming out of a book, it’s not an opinion. It’s coming right out of their own lives,” he said. “It’s hard to beat that for a source.”Asked how he feels about the impact his teaching has on many of the monks at HDS, Berlin said, “You couldn’t ask for more of a reason for why I teach. It almost brings tears to my eyes. It’s very humbling.”Not everything is smooth sailing for these Buddhist practitioners, of course. Last year at a student event, Shrestha said a Christian undergraduate told him that Buddhists go to hell after they die. Shrestha said he was shocked, because in his faith such a view is antithetical. “The Buddha said never degrade any other spiritual teacher; if you degrade them, then you’re not my disciple,” Shrestha explained.Nevertheless, Shrestha said that the positives of attending Harvard far outweigh the negatives. “What I have learned at Harvard will improve the lives of many in my country, and what can be more important than that?”Seated amid the imposing buildings at HLS, Shrestha was asked if he worries that his studies at Harvard might cause him to doubt or even lose his faith.“I don’t have faith that the Buddhist practices work,” he said. “I know the Buddhist practices work.” Shrestha explained that when a friend and a close family member died, it was Buddhism that taught him about impermanence. He said the idea that nothing in the world lasts forever helped him to let go of his sorrow and find peace again.“If you’re hungry and you eat,” Shrestha said, “you don’t have faith that the food will satisfy your hunger; you know it will. My faith is safe at Harvard.”Anthony Chiorazzi, who has an M.Phil. in social anthropology from Oxford University, is studying for a master of theological studies degree (M.T.S.) at Harvard Divinity School. He has researched and written about such diverse religious cultures as the Hare Krishnas, Zoroastrians, Shakers, and the Old Order Amish. Bhante Kusala says being a Buddhist monk at Harvard has its quirks.Leaning forward and adjusting his cinnamon-colored robe in the crowded Rock Café at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), the shaven-headed Kusala confided, “In this culture, people like to give a hug in friendship, but monks don’t do that. We don’t even shake hands.” When asked what he does when hugged by a Harvard student, the Sri Lankan monk and first-year HDS student laughed and said, “We’re supposed to hug back, or I believe it’s very rude.”Thanks to the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Scholars fellowship, Kusala is one of a growing number of monks from Asia invited to study at HDS. The one-year scholarships cover all tuition and living expenses. Now in its second year, the Ho fellowship program increased the number of scholarships from three to five. The fellowship is part of the Buddhist Ministry Initiative program now in its fourth year.The Ho Foundation scholars program welcomes Buddhist students who are from Asian countries. Priya Rakkhit Sraman (left), a Buddhist monk from Bangladesh, speaks with Seng Yen Yeap (holding beads), a monk from Hong Kong. Chang Gan Shi, a Buddhist nun born in China and raised in the U.S., is seen at Andover Hall. Harvard Divinity School students Priya Rakkhit Sraman (from left), a Buddhist monk from Bangladesh, and Bhante Kusala, from Sri Lanka, share a laugh with fellow student Katrina Peterson. The hands of Priya Rakkhit Sraman, a Buddhist monk from Bangladesh, and Seng Yen Yeap (holding beads), a monk from Hong Kong. Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Amongst the monks Ishwor Shrestha (left), a Buddhist minister from Nepal, chats with Bhante Kusala, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka.
Economics professor David Ruccio discussed the current economic crisis through commentary on his blog “Occasional Links and Commentary on Economics, Culture and Society” Thursday evening in Geddes Hall. Russio said his blog considers local and global inequality through the presentation of data. He started his blog while on sabbatical in the summer of 2009 and previously wrote commentary on a personal website with little public exposure. Since then, his blog has grown to average up to 1,000 views daily and has had more than 300,000 views since its creation. The blog has led to many media appearances and his posts are frequently featured in the “Real World Economic Review” blog. “Occasional Links and Commentaries” focuses on American macroeconomics. Ruccio said research for the blog was challenging since his specialties in Marxian economics and development economics, did not cover macroeconomics. Ruccio said he thoroughly researches issues prior to writing a commentary. These investigations result in four-to-eight blog entries a day. “I don’t write about it unless I think I have something to say,” he said. Ruccio said the most satisfying part of his blog is to hear people have found the information useful. “Clearly, with 300,000 views, I reach a lot more people with this blog than I have through any book or article I have written, or any lecture I have given,” Ruccio said. In the future, Ruccio said he hopes to apply for funding to pursue his research further. He said he would use the funding add long-term assistants. The lecture was a continuation of the ongoing series sponsored by the Higgins Labor Studies Program.
For about 150 Georgia 4-H’ers and their parents, a weekend trip to Rock Eagle 4-H Center turned into a mission to the moon as they participated in Georgia 4-H’s Mission Make-It engineering challenge.The annual event, which started in 2016, brought together Georgia middle school students from more than 23 counties on Aug. 17. The students were asked to recreate rockets and space modules that could have been used as part of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission. The mission celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer.The goal of Mission Make-It is to help the students learn about potential careers in the STEM fields and develop teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills through fun engineering challenges.“It’s inspiring to see so many young people interested in STEM programming,” said Kasey Bozeman, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist for science and environmental education programs. “Science is all around us. It doesn’t just happen in a laboratory. Mission Make-It is a great event because it allows young people to work alongside their peers to test their ideas. They brainstorm, plan, and build.”During this year’s Mission Make-It event, the 4-H members worked in small groups to use the five-phase engineering design process: ask, imagine, plan, create and improve. This year’s theme focused on aerospace design in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.The teams built rockets and launch pads to send rockets to inflatable moons. They also constructed space modules designed for splashdown in the ocean, represented by a miniature pool. The event also included presentations from professionals to encourage the students to continue learning and explore potential career paths.“The best thing about today was working as a team with new friends while learning about science,” said Ayden Plummer, a Bryan County 4-H’er.In addition to the hands-on activities, students heard from Loris Magnani, a UGA professor of astronomy, about the future of space travel and astronomy research. They also heard from Benjamin Calhoon, a U.S. Air Force reservist, who spoke on GPS and aerospace-related careers in the military and beyond.Plans for the 2020 Mission Make-It are already underway. For more information, visit the Mission Make-It website. Parents can contact their local UGA Extension office by calling 1-800-ask-UGA1 to find out how their children can be involved.Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org.
Spanning 962 miles across North Carolina, the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) includes the highest mountains east of the Rockies down to the lowest points along the Outer Banks. It traverses three national parks, three national forests, two wilderness areas, and the highest sand dune on the East Coast. And unlike other long-distance treks, biking, beach-combing, and ferry-hopping between islands are part of the trail experience.Conceived in the late 1970s, the trail has taken shape over the last few decades to include a surprising mix of remote footpaths, suburban greenways, and back-road bicycle routes. Here are 19 of the trails most important waypoints.1. Clingman’s DomeAt 6,643 feet, it’s the highest mountain in the Great Smokies Mountain National Park, with views stretching for 100 miles on a clear day. “It’s a good feeling when you’re up there,” says Scott Ward.Follow in the Footsteps of the President and First LadyPresident Obama became the first Commander-in-Chief in modern history to go hiking. He and the First Lady vacationed in Asheville in April, and their first stop was the Mountains to Sea Trail. The Obamas hiked between Bull Gap and Craven Gap for about an hour. The 2.3-mile stretch is one of the flattest sections of the Mountains to Sea Trail in Western North Carolina. Park at either the Craven Gap or Ox Creek parking areas (mileposts 377.4 and 375.6 respectively) along the Blue Ridge Parkway to access the presidential stretch of the MST.2. Craggy Gardens and Mount MitchellThis 44-mile stretch from the Folk Art Center outside of Asheville to the north side of Mount Mitchell is one of the most spectacular. Craggy Gardens offers an entire mountaintop of blooming rhododendron in June—and panoramic views year-round. From there, it’s high-elevation ridge-walking to 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell. A short spur trail takes you to the Mitchell summit, the highest point east of the Rockies.3. Linville GorgeThe MST drops down the west side of the gorge, taking hikers on a mandatory 50-yard ford of the Linville River. It then climbs up the eastern rim to Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys and Table Rock Mountain for even more 360-degree vistas.4. Beacon Heights The 24-mile section of the MST between NC 181 and Beacon Heights on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the wettest, with 15 creek crossings. Check out Harper Creek Falls and North Harper Creek Falls, the biggest waterfalls along the trail.5. Boone, N.C.This trail town is Scott Ward’s favorite along the MST: “The attitude, the cool people. App State. I get stuck in that town for weeks at a time.”6. Blowing RockTwo trail crews are working on completing a 30-mile section of the MST between Blowing Rock and NC 16 along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is the biggest unfinished gap in the mountains, and Friends of the MST expects to have 15 miles completed by October.7. Stone MountainTake the 4.5-mile diversion on the Stone Mountain Loop, which summits the 600-foot granite dome and gives you a chance to play in a 200-foot waterfall.8. Pilot MountainThe MST follows the North Line Trace bike route from Stone Mountain State Park to Pilot Mountain State Park. For 43 miles, you’ll pedal low-traffic country roads, some of which have views of knobby Pilot Mountain in the foreground.9. Hanging RockThis 40-mile stretch rises 1,400 feet from the surrounding piedmont to Hanging Rock State Park, known for its sheer cliffs and massive rocky peaks. Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain are connected via the Sauratown Trail, a 22-mile equestrian trail that cuts through privately owned forest and farmland. There’s no camping on this 22-mile stretch, but the Friends of the NCMST can arrange for a shuttle to campgrounds nearby.10. Watershed LakesThis 21-mile section of the MST connects six different footpaths around three lakes near Greensboro. Lake Higgins, Lake Brandt, and Lake Townsend were built to collect water from a 105-square-mile watershed. The MST hugs the lake district, cruising through a 750-foot-wide wooded buffer. The terrain is flat, the tread is smooth, and frequent road crossings and connector trails allow you to break this section into smaller pieces if you’re not up for the full 21.11. World’s Largest Tea PotThere is some dispute whether it’s a tea pot or a coffee pot. Decide for yourself in Stokesdale, N.C.12. Haw RiverCrews are working on a 70-mile multi-use trail along the Haw River. The Mountains to Sea will share half of that distance. Ten miles of trail are in place.13. Falls Lake State Recreation AreaMore than 50 miles of contiguous trail are now open along the shores of Falls Lake near Wake Forest thanks to the recent efforts of trail builders from the Triangle. The terrain is surprisingly diverse, moving from farmland to a hilly, hardwood forest. There are only two campsites along this stretch. Call the Friends of the Mountains To Sea for shuttle requests or camping options.14. Neuse River GreenwayRaleigh’s mayor has repeatedly pledged to finish the 28-mile Neuse River Greenway, which is part of the MST, by 2012, which would get hikers off of county backroads and onto this paved, multi-use trail.15. Buffalo Creek GreenwayThis newly-minted greenway takes hikers along a three-mile multi-use path bordering the Neuse River and Buffalo Creek in downtown Smithfield.16. EurekaThe 21 miles of the MST from Eureka to La Grange is entirely on back roads through scenic farm country. Bike this portion and knock it out in a fast, flat two hours.17. The Neusiok TrailThe Mountains to Sea follows the Neusiok Trail for 20 miles through the underrated Croatan National Forest, which is a prime example of a coastal floodplain forest. Take a ferry across the Neuse River to kick this section off, then walk on dirt and wooden boardwalk through the swamp and loblolly pine forest.18. Cape Hatteras National Seashore The final stretch of the Mountains to Sea is predominantly a beach walk along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The 113-mile route meanders from one island to the next. There’s some road walking involved, as well as some coastal forest stretches, good camping, friendly towns, surfing, and ferry crossings. Hikers can climb the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse between April and October, tackling 248 stars on an iron, spiral staircase.19. Jockey‘s Ridge State ParkThe eastern terminus of the Mountains to Sea Trail is atop the tallest sand dune in the Eastern United States. After summitting the 140-foot dune, take a plunge in the Atlantic Ocean.
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Whether a seasoned leader or taking on the role for the first time, there is always room to grow managerial and organizational abilities. However, on the path to growth, it can be easy to fall into poor habits that reflect badly on our organizations and team members.To prevent these habits from creeping up, it is good to reflect on our leadership styles every now and then to ensure we are on the right path. With that in mind, here are six mistakes often made and the strategies necessary to steer clear of them.Creating a habit of over-complicating. As leaders are pulled in many different directions each day, we need to be mindful that we are not clogging internal processes or organizational results. Instead, we should be looking for inefficiencies to weed out.