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Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan - January 2017

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Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan -  January 2017

by Heather Granahan

Resolution? Revolution!

Wherever you may fall on the political/apathetic/neutral/passionate scale of social awareness, our country was disrupted this Fall, amidst a very destabilized world. It is not the first time but unlike previous such volcanoes, we will now get nonstop blurbs of it on everything from phones to twitter-addicted TV.

For some, it will lead to rage, violence, terrorism, religious angst. For others, denial, mad shopping and fatalism. What about those who care and usually try and participate? Will we grow more depressed, or will we get fired up?

Will we just make resolutions? How about a small reVolution as well?. Too many of us tear our hairs over the Big Races, and too many ignore the local issues and races that affect our daily lives. Whether your idea of “revolution” is another daily turn around the sun or marching in the streets, how about a few moments of your 2017 to better the world for those around you? We have always conquered fearful paralysis, jumped that abyss to create amazing organizations and results. Need some fuel?


2 Micro Reasons for Giving a Hoot:

Graton is getting a park going in 2017! After many years of community-based magic-making, ground should break around April on Graton Park infrastructure.

Graton’s community health is further displayed by sewer costs finally getting under control with more improvements in the works, thanks to grueling work by the Graton Community Sewer District (GCSD).

Macro Igniters:

United States Army Corps of Engineers effectively stopped construction of the oil pipeline under the river at Standing Rock, SD, at least for now. Could a new admin undo this? Perhaps, if we let them. Learn how to stand up for clean water at www.standwithstandingrock.net . You won’t be alone:

4000 US veterans came to the aid of Standing Rock protesters. Significantly, they are a powerful new political force emerging from across the country: veterans mobilizing together to fight the failings of a government they once took orders from.  Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/Veterans4StandingRock/

Science! Scientists are fearless cross-border collaborations, and even our own government has four very vigorous programs that fund and encourage international collaboration of Science and Technology experts (The Embassy Science Fellows Program, Global Innovation through Science and Technology initiative – GIST,  U.S. Science Envoy , Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)Partnerships ). Why should science make you hopeful?

Macro effects:

Apparently happiness can be synthesized. Lottery winners and new paraplegics are equally happy when studied a year after their event of fortune. Sir Thomas Brown wrote in 1642, "I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity. I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me."  As Google.org director Larry Brilliant asks in his TED Talk, “what kind of remarkable machinery does this guy have in his head?”. Apparently we all have it.

Again from Mr. Brilliant: “...we've seen a new disease… called sudden wealth syndrome...throughout the technology world, we're seeing young people bitten by this…but they're using their wealth in a way that their forefathers never did. They're not waiting until they die to create foundations. They're actively guiding their money, their resources, their hearts, their commitments, to make the world a better place. Certainly, nothing can give you more optimism than that.”

Speaking of disease - smallpox has been eradicated. Polio may follow this year - only 2,000 cases in the world. We may see the eradication of guinea worm next year -- there are only 35,000 cases left in the world. 20 years ago, there were three and a half million. Doctors, health workers, from 30 different countries, of every race, every religion, every color, worked together…How can that not make you feel optimistic?

Nano-Sized Hope:

As Paula Hammond, MIT researcher points out, cancer is a supervillain with incredible superpowers of adaptation; it essentially spits out elements contrary to its own growth. It does this with a “survival” gene or two. There is a way to shut off certain genes - the key is a set of molecules known as siRNA (short sequences of genetic code that guide a cell to block a certain gene). Each siRNA molecule can turn off a specific gene inside the cell. For many years since its discovery, scientists have been very excited about how we can apply these gene blockers in medicine.

siRNA works well inside the cell, but disintegrates quickly if it gets exposed to the enzymes that reside in our bloodstream or our tissues. Paula and her compadres at MIT have found a way to “package” siRNA in a nano-layered particle that is protected through its journey through the body on its way to the final target inside the cancer cell. They also have super-weaponized it with the powerful chemo at the core of the particle, all in something a hundredth the diameter of a human hair. How did it work? The tumors decreased in size and some were eliminated – they were regressing.

Find your drumbeat and create locally, hope globally.