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For Walkers and Cyclists, A Swedish Road Planning Strategy Helps Save Lives

Photo by Ed Yourdon/ Flickr.

More than 4,500 pedestrians are killed and more than 68,000 are injured by motor vehicles every year on the streets of America. The victims are disproportionately children, seniors, and people of color.

A recent report from the National Complete Streets Coalition found that from 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people were killed crossing the street. That's 16 times the number of people who died in natural disasters over the same period.

“Vision Zero is about changing the culture of our dangerous streets.”

The pedestrian safety crisis is even more dire internationally. Worldwide, more than 270,000 people are killed while walking every year—that's 22 percent of a total 1.24 million yearly traffic fatalities, according to the World Health Organization.

“It’s like an airplane falling out of the sky every other day. If that actually happened, the whole system would be ground to a halt until the problem was fixed,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of America Walks, a coalition of walking advocacy groups. “We need to address this terrible problem with the same urgency.”

Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths—and all traffic fatalities—are viewed as an inevitable side effect of modern life. “People accept this as normal, just as 100 years ago most people accepted that women could not vote,” observes Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, an international organization that's working to make streets safe for people of all ages.

Yet recent history offers genuine hope for making our streets safer. A generation ago domestic abuse and drunk driving were seen as sad, unalterable facts of human nature. But vigorous public campaigns to prevent these tragedies have had remarkable results, offering clear evidence that destructive human behavior can be curbed when we put our minds to it.

Sweden paves the way for zero traffic deaths

From Philadelphia to Chicago to Oregon, campaigns to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist deaths to zero are now taking shape around the country.

The campaigns are based on a new safety strategy called Vision Zero, which is modeled on successful efforts in Sweden. Pedestrian deaths in Sweden have dropped 50 percent since 2009, and overall traffic deaths have been cut in half since 2000—making Swedish streets the safest in the world, according to the New York Times.

Campaigns to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist deaths to zero are now taking shape around the country.

The Economist reports that Sweden accomplished this by emphasizing safety over speed in road design, and attributes the impressive drop in traffic deaths to improved crosswalks, narrowed streets, lowered urban speed limits, and barriers that separate cars from bikes and pedestrians.

Sweden took a far different approach than conventional transportation planning, where “road users are held responsible for their own safety” according to the Vision Zero Initiative website. Swedish policy believes that to save lives, roads must anticipate driver, bicyclist, and walker errors, “based on the simple fact that we are human and we make mistakes.”

This is similar to the Netherlands’ Forgiving Roads policy, which has reduced traffic fatalities by 75 percent since the 1970s. In comparison, there's been less than a 20 percent reduction in the U.S. over the same period.

Utah, Minnesota, and Washington have adopted aggressive measures that are similar to Vision Zero to cut traffic deaths. All three states have seen traffic fatalities decline by 40 percent or more—25 percent better than the national average.

Streets of New York

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio won office last year on the promise of reducing traffic deaths in a city where someone is killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle every two hours on average.

“The fundamental message of Vision Zero is that death and injury on city streets is not acceptable, and that we will no longer regard serious crashes as inevitable,” he wrote in a letter to New Yorkers. “They happen to people who drive and to those who bike, but overwhelmingly, the deadly toll is highest for pedestrians—especially our children and seniors.”

To save lives, roads must anticipate driver, bicyclist, and walker errors: “We are human and we make mistakes.”

Traffic accidents are the largest preventable cause of death for children under 14 in New York, and the second highest cause of fatal injuries for people over 65.

In May, New York’s city council passed 11 bills and six resolutions to implement de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan across many city departments.

The plan includes teaching street safety in schools; allowing the city legislature to lower speed limits to 25 mph; increasing police enforcement for speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and dangerous driving; and creating a permanent Vision Zero Task Force at City Hall.

According to walking and bike advocates, one of New York’s biggest problems is that the police department focuses more resources on street crime than on street safety—even though in 2013, there were 356 traffic-related deaths (half of those killed were pedestrians or bicyclists), compared to 333 murders.

Advocates cheered when de Blasio chose as his police chief William Bratton, who has spoken out about the need to curb traffic injuries and deaths.

“It’s really impressive what Mayor de Blasio has done,” said Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “He has put his money where his mouth is” by finding funding for street safety projects and increased police enforcement in an era of tight budgets.

Streets of San Francisco and beyond

After New York, San Francisco has advanced the farthest with Vision Zero planning. The city saw a near-record high of 25 pedestrian and bike fatalities last year. To combat the rising number of fatalities, Walk San Francisco and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition launched the Vision Zero Coalition with the San Francisco School District and more than two dozen community organizations. Their mission is to encourage city officials to:

  • Fix dangerous intersections and streets;
  • Ensure “full and fair enforcement of traffic laws,” with an emphasis on curbing dangerous behavior;
  • Invest in training and education for all road users, focusing on helping frequent drivers share the road with walkers and bicyclists;
  • Eliminate all traffic deaths in the city by 2024.

“Vision Zero is about changing the culture of our dangerous streets,” wrote Nicole Schneider of Walk San Francisco and Leah Shahum of the San Francisco Bicyle Coalition. “[It] is also about empowering historically under-represented communities that are disproportionately burdened by traffic injuries.”

The plan has already been endorsed by the San Francisco Police Department.

A number of local advocacy organizations around the country are working with the national Alliance for Biking and Walking to launch the Vision Zero Strategic Collaborative. The collaborative will push for these policies across the nation.

America’s emerging walking revolution

America is on the verge of a walking revolution. After many decades in which walking continually lost ground to other modes of transportation and recreation, there’s growing interest about restoring walking as a way of life.

A diverse network of organizations came together last year at the first-ever walking summit to champion walking as one solution to our health care crisis (one-half hour of walking each day reduces the risk of many major diseases); as a tool for strengthening our hometowns (people out walking heighten the sense of community and security); and as a clear route to reducing climate change (more folks walking means less CO2 emissions).

“We won’t increase walkability—which is good for people’s and communities’ health—until we make the streets more safe and comfortable for walking,” said Katherine Kraft, America Walks’ National Coalition Director and Coalition Director of Every Body Walk!

Vision Zero, Kraft says, is the path toward a better life for all of us.

Jay Walljasper is the author of the Great Neighborhood Book; he writes, speaks, and consults about how to create safer, sustainable, more enjoyable communities.

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Categories: Economics

The Tiny House Infographic Proves That Less is More

Shareable Magazine - 12 hours 49 min ago

Shareable loves tiny houses. Whether they are for off-grid living, homeless communities, short-term rentals, or retirement makes no difference.

Categories: Economics

How to Fix the Tragedy No One Talks About

Shareable Magazine - 12 hours 54 min ago

Photo credit: Jerolek / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

More than 4,500 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles every year on the streets of America -- more than those who died in the horror of 9/11.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/2 - When Labor Day Meant Something, 'Limits To Growth' Was Right

Chris Martenson - 13 hours 2 min ago
  • Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse
  • When Labor Day Meant Something
  • Childhood Diet Habits Set in Infancy, Studies Suggest
  • Tabloid Version of Financial and Political News
  • Coalgate: India urges supreme court not to close coal mines
  • Return to the Arctic: Shell Looks Set To Take Another Run
  • Mexico baffled by sudden death of thousands of fish in Lake Cajititlán
  • More than one in three wild boar in Germany are too radioactive to eat

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Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: Warming Up The Helicopters

Chris Martenson - 14 hours 35 min ago

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish discuss:

  • Winter Is Coming
    • Russia's trump card
  • Europe Back In Recession
    • The EU's structural weaknesses are re-emerging
  • Bond Market Madness
    • Risk is terribly underpriced right now
  • Helicopter Drop Trial Balloon
    • Yes, they're now talking about giving cash to citizens

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Categories: Economics

Will You Be Our 20,000th YouTube Subscriber?

Chris Martenson - September 1, 2014 - 13:42

As of this morning, the subscriber count to PeakProsperity's YouTube channel stands at 19,984.

Who will be our 20,000th subscriber? You?

Subscribers are notified whenever a new podcast is uploaded to YouTube, as well as the new weekly video updates we started recording this summer. Those weekly updates give a window into what's at the top of Chris' mind each week.

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Categories: Economics

How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

Chris Martenson - September 1, 2014 - 13:19

Potatoes are an excellent source of calories that can be easily stored up for the winter. All you need is a cool, dark, humid place free from any rodents.

1. Dig up your potatoes after the plant has died back. Pick a dry day, and use a potato fork to carefully uproot your mounds of potatoes.

      

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Categories: Economics

End-of-Summer Food Preservation Guide

Chris Martenson - September 1, 2014 - 10:09

A great overview of the many different techniques to preserve food and put away the bounty of your garden.

http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/food-preservation/food-preservation-guide-zm0z14sozpit.aspx

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/1 - The Evolution Of Diet, Will Wages Ever Start Rising?

Chris Martenson - September 1, 2014 - 09:09
  • Labor Day Anxiety: Will Wages Ever Start Rising?
  • More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’
  • Syria’s violence prompts worst humanitarian crisis in a century
  • Ebola threat to Norway: Sweden fears first case
  • Surge In U.S. Oil Production Finally Reflected At Pump
  • Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change
  • The Evolution Of Diet
  • Water War: Dry In Detroit

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Categories: Economics

Sharing Activists Reveal Plan to Turn Los Angeles into Sharing Mecca

Shareable Magazine - August 31, 2014 - 11:11

As a founding member of the Sharing Cities Network (SCN), Shareable interviewed Arroyo Sustainable Economies Organization (ASECO) to get the scoop on their recently released plan to create Share LA. It's a bold plan to turn notoriously unequal and sprawling Los Angeles into a community-oriented, resource sharing city for all.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/31 - The Foundation of Integrity, UK Terror Threat Level Raised To 'Severe'

Chris Martenson - August 31, 2014 - 09:04
  • Ukraine President Says Europe’s Security Depends on Stopping Russia
  • Leadership and Calm Are Urged in Ebola Outbreak
  • UK terror threat level raised to 'severe'
  • Atlantic City facing unprecedented economic collapse
  • How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine?
  • The Fall Of Man's Logic
  • Coal trains kill Cold Trains: Fruit delivery service shuts down as rail congestion heats up
  • The Foundation of Integrity

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Categories: Economics

Kirk Sorensen: An Update On The Thorium Story

Chris Martenson - August 31, 2014 - 08:54

Two years ago, we interviewed Kirk Sorensen about the potential for thorium to offer humanity a safe, cheap and abundant source of energy.

Kirk returns this week to relay what has happened in the thorium space since our last conversation. The East, most notably China, is now fully-mobilized around getting its first reactor operational by as soon as 2020. If indeed thorium reactors are as successful as hoped, the US will find itself playing catch up against countries who suddenly hold a tremendous technology advantage:

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Categories: Economics

Kirk Sorenson: An Update On The Thorium Story

Chris Martenson - August 31, 2014 - 08:54

Two years ago, we interviewed Kirk Sorenson about the potential for thorium to offer humanity a safe, cheap and abundant source of energy.

Kirk returns this week to relay what has happened in the thorium space since our last conversation. The East, most notably China, is now fully-mobilized around getting its first reactor operational by as soon as 2020. If indeed thorium reactors are as successful as hoped, the US will find itself playing catch up against countries who suddenly hold a tremendous technology advantage:

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/30 - The Fight To Beat Mosquitoes, Is Owning Overrated?

Chris Martenson - August 30, 2014 - 08:23
  • For Some, ’Tis a Gift to Be Simple
  • More Than Two-Thirds of American Youth Wouldn't Qualify for Service, Pentagon Says
  • The long game: How hackers spent months pulling bank data from JPMorgan
  • Doctors and Nurses Risk Everything to Fight Ebola in West Africa
  • Quarantine for Ebola Lifted in Liberia Slum
  • Is Owning Overrated? The Rental Economy Rises
  • War Is Hell: The Fight to Beat Mosquitoes
  • 3 dengue fever infections blamed on mosquitoes in Yoyogi Park

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Categories: Economics

Survival Skills - Fire Making with a Hand Drill

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 16:19

Learn the basics of making fire with the hand drill method.  Also check out the the WSID article on 9 Ways to Make Fire Without Matches.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/survival-skills-hand-drill-fire-making

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Categories: Economics

Inflation - Crash Course Chapter 11

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 15:36

For close to 300 years, inflation in the US remained very subdued. Small spurts occurred around major wars (Revolutionary, Civil, WW1, etc), but after each, inflation quickly trended back down to its long-term baseline. If you lived during this stretch of time, your money had roughly the same purchasing power your great-grandfather's did.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/29 - People Aren't Buying Guns, Detroit Property Tax Revenue Falls Short

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 07:37
  • The Impending Catastrophe
  • 'Kiev, rise up!' Protesters demand ouster of Ukrainian president, defense minister
  • What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us
  • People Aren't Buying Guns
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million
  • Propaganda and the lack thereof
  • Newly Built CO2-Emitting Plants Outpace Closings
  • This Twenty-Something Hopes to Unleash the Next Green Revolution

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/29 - People Aren't Buying Guns, Detroit Property Tax Revenue Falls Short

Chris Martenson - August 29, 2014 - 07:37
  • The Impending Catastrophe
  • 'Kiev, rise up!' Protesters demand ouster of Ukrainian president, defense minister
  • What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us
  • People Aren't Buying Guns
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million
  • Propaganda and the lack thereof
  • Newly Built CO2-Emitting Plants Outpace Closings
  • This Twenty-Something Hopes to Unleash the Next Green Revolution

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Categories: Economics

Let’s End Poverty: We Have the Money, Do We Have the Will?

Photo by Tomasz Wagner.

I am driving my old red Jeep near my house. I stop for a traffic light and see a disheveled man, trying to smile, wanting to look me in the eye, and holding a cardboard sign on which he has printed in thick, black letters: “No job. Anything helps. God bless.”

Do I roll down my window and hold out some coins? Or pretend I don’t see him?

Do I avoid eye contact because, deep down, seeing him forces me to confront a scary reality—that I, too, could wind up begging on the streets? Do I let his presence reinforce the common belief that poverty is inevitable, a timeless plight I cannot solve?

My stoplight turns green. Problem solved. For now.

Although not for the man with the hand-lettered sign, nor for about 47 million other Americans who live beneath the official poverty line, as well as under a daily judgment of failure.

The question today is: Whose failure?

In this storied “land of opportunity,” where those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps are exalted, any failure to do just that is reflexively disparaged: “If you fail to succeed, then you must be lazy. You didn’t try hard enough. So you deserve to sleep in a  doorway downtown or maybe in a park.”

Yet the official numbers reveal an altogether different reality: The vast majority in poverty are not those we see begging at stoplights. In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent.

You don’t have to crunch many numbers to see that having a permanent underclass is neither natural nor inevitable but is, in fact, a choice our society has made. Consciously.

For the very wealthy, top marginal tax rates have been lowered from 91 percent, when Lyndon B. Johnson became president, to 39.6 percent by 2013 under President Obama’s administration. Those were intentional changes to the tax code that widened the gap between the rich and the rest. And, starting around 1994, policy changes encouraged offshoring of U.S. jobs, and corporations moved to downsize domestic workforces, shrink wages, and destroy pensions.

Fifty years ago, President Johnson declared  his War on Poverty. Yet, in less than a decade, demagogic politicians began refocusing the nation on a new foe. America’s leaders retooled from our noble War on Poverty to a cynical war on crime. The term “criminal” came to mean poor people, usually with brown or black skin. If you were poor, you were not just the problem; you became the enemy.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning,” explained Warren Buffet, the billionaire who became a traitor to his class by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.


Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around

If we want to do something about poverty, our first step is crucial: Change the story. Stop believing the myths: that “we’ll always have poor people” or that “the poor deserve their lot.” Accepting these fictions will assure more poverty and send more money upward to transnational corporations and the superrich—who will spend it to further manipulate a political process that already has made inequality more extreme in America than in any other developed country.

This issue of YES! looks at strategies Americans can choose—or already are choosing—that can help us write a new story, one that shows how the wealthiest nation in history can choose to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, and include all of us in a New American Dream.

 

Dean Paton wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Dean is executive editor of YES!

 

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Categories: Economics

The Faces Behind the Fight for $15 an Hour

It was an outrageously ambitious goal—a 64 percent pay hike to more than twice the federal $7.25 an hour minimum wage. But in a short time the Seattle City Council met the demands of workers and organizers, unanimously approving the first $15 minimum wage in the nation. Read more about how it happened here, and meet some of the workers on the frontlines below.

For low-wage workers, Seattle's minimum wage increase means a chance to go to school, pay the rent, and visit the dentist.

Portraits and interviews by Betty Udesen.

 

Imeleta Noa, 51

Noa works 36 hours a week and is paid $10.53 per hour as a home care provider. She lives with her husband, their 14-yearold son, plus three other family members in SeaTac.

The Noa family likes living near the airport because it is convenient for travel and to have visitors. Noa’s husband, Liu, is disabled. After a friend told her about the campaign to raise Seattle’s minimum wage, Noa got busy with the phone bank, calling other caregivers. Now that Seattle and SeaTac have set the national minimumwage bar, Noa is hopeful the movement will spread. She took part in rallies and made a three-day bus tour to campaign in other cities. She speaks passionately about her continued involvement. “With a raise in pay, I’ll be able to pay the bills, especially the rent, and maybe we can have a little vacation,” she says.

 

Brittany Phelps, 23 and Martina Phelps, 22

Brittany makes $9.52 per hour. Martina makes $9.47 per hour. Both work full-time at McDonald’s in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Brittany’s daughter, Emonie Phelps, 5, marched with her mother and aunt, chanting “What do we want? 15! When do we want it? Now!” She says her favorite thing to do is “play outside.” Her mom doesn’t let her out to play in the South Seattle neighborhood where they live, saying it’s too dangerous. With the increased minimum wage, Brittany hopes to move out of her mother’s 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment that is currently home to five people. Both women have college degrees. Martina hopes to get her own place to live and to return to school for a degree in cosmetic chemistry so she can make beauty products for skin and hair.

 

Sam LeLoo, 19

LeLoo makes $9.57 per hour at McDonald’s in North Seattle.

This is his fi rst job. He lives with his mother and 3-year-old sister in a townhouse in Shoreline and rides the bus for transportation. LeLoo got involved with the movement to raise the minimum wage a few months before the fast-food-worker strike. He didn’t have an opinion on whether Seattle voters would approve the $15 minimum wage. He simply knew he had to take a stand. With his upcoming raise, LeLoo sees college as “the fi rst stepping stone to where I’m going.” He used to want to be a game designer, but now he’s thinking of becoming a counselor or something similar, “because it’s real, and I can make a difference.”

 

Colton McMurray, 24

McMurray works as a sales associate at Red Light Vintage & Costume in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He makes $10 per hour and works 31 hours a week.

“I basically make a little over $500 each paycheck,” he says. “Half my paycheck goes to rent, and the rest to groceries, commuting for work, phone, and laundry.” He rents a room in a home in the University District, a 15-minute bus ride from work that costs him $5 per day. “Growing up, you think that once you have a job, things are going to be easy, but it’s not that way. Stressing about money for food is the worst—deciding whether to spend my last $5 to get to work and back or to spend it on something to eat on my lunch break.”

As for his goals? “I’d love to have my own amazing online vintage store or a little boutique. Meanwhile, I think it would be nice to live your life when you’re young and not be worried about having the dollars to get to work. And, it would be nice to go to the dentist.”

 

Jason Harvey, 43

Harvey makes $9.32 per hour at a Ballard neighborhood Burger King, his employer for the past eight years. He’s scheduled to work 28.5 hours a week but often gets called in to work extra hours. He takes the bus.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” says Harvey of his pending wage increase. “I might be able to get my teeth fixed. My three front teeth are broken. There’s a program with the VA that, for $50 a month, they’ll take care of everything. I just can’t afford that with what I’m making now.” Harvey is a Navy veteran. “I still love America and the freedom that we have here.”

“The wage increase will give me a greater level of opportunity,” he says. “I’m 43 years old, probably not ever going to be able to buy a house, but at least I’ll be a little more comfortable in my own surroundings.” Harvey says, “I don’t really feel like I’m a part of mainstream society. I haven’t gone out to see a movie in three or four years, or to a concert, the zoo, or aquarium for about five years. I save up to do Karaoke once a month.”

 

Ubah Aden, 40

Aden makes $10.95 per hour as a home care aide. She lives in Tukwila with her brother and her three children, ages 7, 9, and 13.

“There are a lot of people in my shoes,” Aden says. “They’re not earning enough money to pay their bills.” She recently moved to Washington state from Atlanta to be near her parents. “They are getting older, and they’re the whole reason I’m getting into health care.” She explains that as she went through her training and met other caregivers, she was “shocked” to learn how low their pay would be. “My eyes were opened to the whole [minimum wage] thing.” So she got involved in the movement to raise it to $15. “I believe in saying what is right,” she says.

At age 17, she was the first of her Somali family to leave a refugee camp in Kenya. After earning her citizenship, Aden sponsored 12 family members to come to the United States. “I’m glad it passed in Seattle,” she says. “Everybody deserves to have better pay. I hope it will pass across the state and across the nation.” Aden also works as a medical interpreter, making “more than $20 an hour.” She is about to begin a position with Neighborcare Health. She is also taking night classes, with plans of a future working in public health.

This photo essay was compiled by Betty Udesen for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Betty is a pioneer in multimedia reporting that combines still images with field-recorded sounds and interviews. She has done projects in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Central and South America, and Israel as well as in her hometown of Seattle. Her work has been recognized with two first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. For more of her photographs, visit www.udesen.com

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Categories: Economics