Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Eyes as an indicator of age, a dreamy newsletter for cabin lovers, a future for difficult-to-recycle plastics and more

Black Farmers Rebuild West Virginia’s Farming Economy

As reported in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, there are two million farms in the US but only 35,470 of them are Black-owned. In West Virginia, military veteran and farmer Jason Tartt is trying to change that. Having grown up in the state, Tartt recollects how Black people from his community used to always have a hand in agriculture. However, as the Black population in the Mountain State has dwindled—a consequence of jobs in coal mining decreasing—much of West Virginia’s fertile land has become overlooked. For Tartt, farming is a way to build an enduring agriculture economy while empowering other Black people. Besides cultivating the land with fruit orchards and apiaries, he—along with late farmer Skye Edwards—founded a farm, joined forces with West Virginia State University Extension Service to create a program for Black and Brown farmers and then created the non-profit American Youth Agripreneur Association to develop young Black farmers. Read more about Tartt’s inspiring work and the efforts to redevelop agriculture at Yes! Magazine.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Haddix/USDA

Indigenous Communities Restore Oceans With Seaweed Cultivation

From Hawaii to Alaska to British Columbia, Indigenous communities cultivate seaweed in order to restore it, fortify ancestral knowledge, support food sovereignty and mitigate climate change. While each community has their own initiative specific to their culture and environment, all follow Indigenous understandings of interconnectedness. In Hawaii, for instance, community group Limu Hui seeks to rehabilitate the Hawaiian red algae known as limu kohu, which has become scarce. To do so, Limu Hui are testing methods of transplanting limu species from tanks to the ocean. Meanwhile in Alaska, Cordova-based Native Conservancy focuses on kelp farming and testing with a total of nine test sites along a more than 160km stretch of Prince William Sound. They aim to create a reliable food source, sellable product and job opportunities for Alaska’s Indigenous community. Learn more about these critical projects—and how other Indigenous groups are working to support the ocean and their culture through seaweed—at Mongabay.

Image courtesy of Tesia Bobrycki/Native Conservancy

“The Leaked Recipes Cookbook” Interweaves Food + Internet Privacy

Human rights and technology researcher Demetria Glace recently compiled The Leaked Recipes Cookbook, a collection of over 50 recipes found in the world’s biggest email leaks, from Hillary Clinton to Emmanuel Macron. In sifting through these emails, Glace uncovered how food, internet privacy and corporate culture intersect. She tells MOLD, “Along with these recipes, I found a lot of strange coincidences and stories, and gained an understanding of how these emails were leaked or released in the first place. It also made me think about my emails, and how much personal information I have within them.” These intricacies inform the cookbook, whose compelling, voyeuristic photography and personal recipes shed unique insight on surveillance and digital footprints. Learn more about privacy in relation to food, the cookbook and how Glace combed through emails to construct it at MOLD.

Image courtesy of Emilie Baltz for the Leaked Recipes Cookbook

Remembering Trailblazing Fashion Icon André Leon Talley

Fashion industry icon André Leon Talley has passed away at the age of 73. As a fashion journalist and former Vogue creative director—the first Black person to occupy this position—Talley pushed for a more diverse industry, helping to pave the way for designers and models of color to gain more visible, prominent and numerous positions within the industry. His pioneering eye, extravagant style and flamboyant capes created a lasting impact in the fashion industry and general culture at large. To honor his work—and the sacrifices he made to an industry whose predominately white demographic owed him much more—Vogue compiled over 80 photos that commemorate his extradorinaiy life, outfits and influence. Scroll through Talley’s life in pictures at Vogue.

Image courtesy of Getty

Eyes Can Express an Individual’s True Biological Age

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers analyzed over 130,000 retinal images from UK BioBank participants between the ages of 40 and 69. As retinas can offer unique insight into the body’s health, researchers set out to compare how one’s biological age—gleaned from eyes—may differ from one’s chronological age. They found a “retinal age gap,” which can work as a biomarker for health risks. If an individual’s biological age is higher than their chronological one, they are more at-risk; with a 2% increase in the risk of death from any cause for each year of difference between the two ages. “This study highlights that simple, non-invasive tests of the eye might help us educate patients about their overall health, and hopefully will be useful in helping patients understand changes that they can make to improve not just their eye health, but their overall health,” Dr Sunir Garg, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tells CNN, where you can learn more about the study.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Difficult-to-Recycle Plastics Comprise this Concrete Block Alternative

The city of Boise, Idaho partnered up with ByFusion—an LA-based processor that uses steam and compression to squeeze plastic into blocks—to find a new way to reuse plastics that can’t be recycled. These blocks, dubbed ByBlocks, are the same dimensions as concrete blocks (eight by eight by 16 inches) as well as the same R-Value. Unlike concrete, however, ByBlocks are 10 pounds lighter, have Lego-like protrusions that make them easily stackable (either directly or staggered) and, most importantly, they’re carbon neutral. No chemicals or additives are used to construct them. If 30 tons of plastic go into the processor, 30 tons of ByBlocks are processed. This makes them workable for building sheds, retaining walls, dumpster enclosures, fencing and furniture. Already, they’ve been used to create a bench in Boise’s Manitou Park. Learn more about this innovative alternative and see them in action at Core77.

Images courtesy of Core77/ByFusion

How to Step into Sundance 2022’s Festival Village, Main Street and Community Hub Online

Presented online 20-30 January, the 2022 Sundance Film Festival includes an impressive roster of feature films, short films, indie episodic programming, “Beyond Film” performances and a virtual and augmented reality division—all of which is accessible through festival.sundance.org. For those who have come to love the festival or dreamed of attending (for the spirit on the streets of Park City, Utah and the swirl of social activities that bring filmmakers and cinema fans together) the festival has brought all of their pop-ups to the internet through their Festival Village site, which includes a Main Street and Community Hub landing page. These destinations—each of which has its own specific access requirements—allow those interested to attend insightful LA Times talks presented by Chase Sapphire, join watch parties or an Outfest Queer Brunch (now in its 26th year) from Acura, view presentations from The Blackhouse Foundation, craft an official Sundance cocktail from Rabbit Hole, pop into musical performances at the ASCAP Music Café, listen to the conversations at the Latinx House and more. Head over to Festival Village to register and explore it all, and to learn how to participate in each.

Image of New Frontier’s space ship courtesy of Sundance Institute

Field Mag Debuts Dreamy “Cabins Etc” Newsletter

The outdoor aficionados at Field Mag have debuted an inspiring, informative bi-weekly newsletter dubbed Cabins Etc, featuring exclusive content to subscribers (for $5 per month to support the independent publication or for free). The first installment, a dreamy deep-dive into the history and cultural cache of A-frames, went out last week; future stories will also appease an audience of “cabin lovers, dreamers, owners and obsessives.” From tips on building your own getaway to rental listings and appropriate cabin-adjacent gear, the original content is an adventure itself. Read more about the newsletter at Field Mag.

Image courtesy of Field Mag

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of Emilie Baltz for the Leaked Recipes Cookbook