Category Archives: Best Management Practices

48 Million Americans have significant hearing loss

Accommodation and Regeneration

Nov. 26, 2020 Thanksgiving Day – PlanGreen

ACCOMMODATION

Most of my blogs these days focus on the main purpose of my business: achieving CLIMATE JUSTICE.  And I’m ever so thankful to friends in the myriad organizations I support who do that work (with or without me,).  Instead, I’m going to spend this blog on what I am (or would be) most grateful for with regard to my mental health.  I’m asking for your help!

Covid-19 restrictions have made most of us more aware how important connection with others is for our mental and emotional health. I thought that the pandemic might be a boon to my mine because large gatherings—especially happy hours with lots of background noise—were no longer any fun for me.  In fact, I often came home feeling depressed.

ReSound Multi Mic pairs with ReSound hearing aid

Despite my fabulous ReSound Multi Mic that I, or someone else in the meeting, would run around from speaker to speaker allowing me to get something out of some gatherings, I was beginning to feel less and less connected. But it was important to stay in touch by more than email, Facebook, Google Groups, Slack, MapApp  or listservs,

So I started out enthusiastically with virtual or online meetings!  But now I discover that I’m having trouble with those as well. I try to practice what I preach below so I have some really great headphones with an external mic to listen and talk to you.  (Those of you who give me feedback tell me that you can hear me clear as a bell.)  The problem is, with most of you, I don’t hear you!  My online hearing difficulty extends to public meetings too– both those who testify at them–and often city staff and/or Commissioners.

I’m deeply grateful to those few of you who are using best practices for virtual meetings—practices like:

  • USE AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE close to your mouth
  • Use a front light and avoid backlighting–it’s important to those of us with hearing loss to see your face, even if we don’t read lips
  • Open your mouth and enunciate and keep your hands away from your mouth
  • Fill the screen with your face—as opposed to your ceiling, your ceiling fan, your window(s), your garden, your bed, your bookshelf, your kitchen, whatever. . .
  • Project your voice. Pretend like you are going to an interview for a radio sports announcer!

Editors Keys answers numerous questions w/that name. His 3 minute video was one of the first and most succinct.

I’m one of those 48 Million Americans who have a significant level of hearing loss. You can better accommodate me–and a few others in your circles–by following the suggestions in this 3 minute video: How To Improve Your Zoom Video And Audio Quality .  There are hundreds more videos on the topic, but this was one of the first and most succinct .

Such practices will get you more than gold stars in my book, they will make you look and sound more professional and credible–maybe to your next employer.

Perhaps these facts from the Center for Hearing and Communication may inspire you

This struggle with online gatherings for me has been going on since Mayor Wheeler sent home those of us who showed up at City Hall to testify in person on Portland’s Residential Infill Project on March 12.  It has caused me extreme frustration, alienating me from organizations I have long supported–organizations that have been an important part of my identity and sense of community. One example is expressed in my May 29, 2020 communication with Abigail Sheridan, VP of the Congress for the New Urbanism:

Abby,
After participating in each of the On the Park Bench sessions, I’m beginning to rethink my registration as there were many speakers that I could not understand–even with Bosch noise-canceling headphones on. I know I’m not the only one as I watched Marcela struggle to hear in the last session too. She was the best of that group–with a good microphone, front lighting and close so you could see her face well and hear her clearly.
Too many speakers are backlit, so that you cannot see their faces. They stand too far from their computer microphones and cameras besides.  That makes it hell for those of us with hearing loss–and probably some who don’t even know they have hearing loss.  . . .
Otherwise, I will need to take advantage of one of the other options for my registration money–requesting a medical exemption from your May 25 deadline.
Thanks,
Mary

For better of for worse, I didn’t  take advantage of one of the other options for my CNU 28.A Virtual Gathering registration money–opting instead to try to get word out to speakers ahead of time via various social media. I spent 5-6 exhausting days struggling to hear speakers at CNU28–only to be told at the end that my type of registration did not cover the ability to review any parts I may have missed! That would cost me another $50!!!

Before moving on from Accommodation, I do want to call out one organization that has demonstrated excellent online practices.  In a Sightline Institute webinar this summer, every speaker had headphones with an external mic and used the other best practices that I suggested above.  I understand that this was largely due to their Operations Manager, Riley Kent.  Their professionalism showed them to be highly worthy of my monthly contribution.

BEYOND ACCOMMODATION

For more than ten years now, I have known about the research into hearing regeneration. And I’ve been seeking, hoping, cajoling, pestering researchers ever since.  I did get into one clinical trial on the hormone aldosterone–and that was somewhat effective in my case. But it became harder and harder to obtain supplemental aldosterone after the study. After a couple years, I stopped looking.

Until today, I did NOT know that 43 companies have therapeutics for restoring the inner ear under development–as reported in this issue of the Journal of Otology & Neurotology. I was only aware of 3-4 of them in the US and acupuncture with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in China. (I’ve tried that too!)

HEARING RESTORATION PROJECT CONSORTIUM

The Hearing Restoration Project Consortium is composed of 14 senior scientists working collaboratively on scientific research towards inner ear hair cell regeneration to accelerate the time frame for developing a cure for hearing loss. The HRP brings together researchers from Harvard UniversityStanford University, Oregon Health & Science University the University of Washington and elsewhere with the goal of researching and developing a genuine cure for most forms of acquired hearing loss. They seek to do this by regenerating the inner ear hair cells that enable hearing.

I started out corresponding with Ed Rubel at the University of Washington about UW’s research, but when Ed told me about the Consortium, with its director in Portland, I switched the focus of my correspondence. For several years, I have been corresponding with Peter Barr-Gillespie Ph.D., who is Scientific Director of the Consortium and Professor of Otolaryngology at OHSU.

 

PRIVATE COMPANIES

Until recently, Dr. Barr-Gillespie was on the Scientific Advisory board for one of the private companies currently doing clinical trials: Decibel Therapeutics. Another company that may be a step ahead of Decibel is Frequency Therapeutics. They are both in the Boston-area. I follow both companies on Twitter (@DecibelTx  and @frequencytx) and have learned a great deal about hearing loss through them.

 

I am not a frequent Twitter user, so, for those of you on Twitter, I would deeply appreciate your help in keeping up with the above.  And I would appreciate information on the 41 other companies who are developing therapies for inner ear disorders. Writing this blog post has already helped me learn a great deal by searching different topics and/or following links.  BTW, most of my images link to the URL where I “grabbed” them .  I hope you will check them out–and share them with your friends and relatives who just might have hearing loss themselves. I’m thankful for your attention–and I hope you will like PlanGreen on Facebook, connect on Linked In and follow it on Twitter.

Toronto’s Regent Park Explored

October 20, 2015

For those of us on the Greater Portland Inc. Sept. 27-30 Best Management Practices tour choosing the Regent Park Revitalization, doubtless, the most animated and enthusiastic speaker we encountered on the trip was Mitchell Kosny.  Kosny is Associate Director of the Ryerson University School of Urban and Regional Planning and a former Chair of the Board of Directors at Toronto Community Housing Corporation during the ‘roll-out’ of Regent Park revitalization.  Unfortunately, Dr. Kosny may not have realized two things: 1) We had spent the earlier part of the day sitting in meetings and were ready for a tour; 2) We were from the Pacific Northwest and therefore comfortable with rain.  I knew Regent Park to be just a few blocks down the street from Ryerson.  So, after nearly an hour sitting in Dr. Kosny’s PowerPoint lecture when he expressed doubt about doing a tour in the rain, , , I set off on my own tour.

RegentParkLocationMap

Regent Park is directly east of Ryerson University and very close to the rest of downtown. Image courtesy of UoT student paper: http://www.torontohousing.ca/webfm_send/11574

Regent Park Twin Towers

Regent Park identical towers. One is market rate, one is subsidized. Photo by PlanGreen

Regent Park is being redeveloped in five phases with three of those phases currently underway. A key tenet of the revitalization is including both rent-geared-to-income and market rate units together in the same community. I could guess which was the market rate building because I was there at rush hour when a number of young people were coming home from work and others were leaving to walk their dogs.

When the Regent Park revitalization is completed over the next 10 to 15 years, 12,500 people will live in 5,115 units across 69 acres of the largest publicly funded community in Canada. The plan includes the replacement of the 2,083 existing social housing units in Regent Park with new, energy efficient, modern units and the introduction of approximately 3,000 market units for sale.

Regent Park Sign

Regent Park is both the name of a park and a neighborhood that is re-branding itself. The park is separate from the athletic fields, but does have a community garden at one edge and an aquatic center at another. Photo by PlanGreen

I was happy to see that Regent Park actually has a park!  It’s a large park that is separate from the athletic fields that are currently under construction.  There’s a separate dog park too!  A community garden at one edge of the park is the front yard of many people who live in high rise housing.

Regent Park Community Garden

A community garden at one edge of Regent Park is close to much high density housing. Photo by PlanGreen

The architecture of the new buildings is a departure from the red brick of social housing projects.  Although there are some townhouses too, I was a bit surprised by the focus on high-rise housing, considering the bad rep that got with Cabrini Green and Pruitt Igo iin the US. However, Toronto seems to have a long history of housing its poor in high rise housing,.  Another question I have about high rises has to do with resiliency.  Considering the era of increasing natural disasters we are in, most high rises will fare very poorly without power for even a week or two. With Toronto’s mandatory Green Roof Bylaw and its Green Standards policy, its new high rises may be in better shape than most to weather power outages.

The revitalization also reconnects Regent Park to Toronto’s grid of streets and avenues, and includes the creation of new commercial spaces and community facilities including a bank, grocery store, aquatic center, new community center, restaurant and an arts & cultural center.

Regent Park Aquatic Center

Regent Park Aquatic Center is a regional swim center that brings in folks from other neighborhoods too. Photo by PlanGreen

Regent Park Aquatic Center serves people from other neighborhoods as well. I spoke to a man from Leslieville neighborhood who was waiting in the park for his daughter who was using the swimming pool.

Daniels Spectrum Artspace

The Arts and Culture Centre with Paint Box condominiums atop it. is the center point of the cultural regeneration of the neighborhood. This 60,000 sf facility is home to seven arts and innovation non-profit organizations. Yes, intersections are often too wide to be truly comfortable to the pedestrian in Toronto. Photo by PlanGreen

The Arts and Culture Centre known officially  as Daniels Spectrum is seen as a center point of the neighborhood. (Daniels Corporation is the development company that partnered with Toronto Community Housing to build all five phases so they got naming rights to this key facility!)  This 60,000 square foot facility is home to seven arts and innovation non-profit organizations. As we have seen in the U.S., the arts can offer an exciting career path to children from all income classes so I see this center as vital to the revitalization efforts.  I saw lots of people coming and going during my brief observation.

RP Athletic Fields Administrative Office

The Phase 3 construction of athletic fields is underway, along with the construction of new streets. Photo by PlanGreen

Phase 3 is progressing with the development of the athletic fields and the addition of pedestrian-friendly streets connecting to other neighborhoods. Planners believed that because of its enclave-like street design, residents were cut off from the city, even though they lived a short streetcar ride from some of its most affluent neighbourhoods and greatest cultural attractions. More social and market housing  is also part of phase 3– with completion estimated to be 2018 .

RP The Bartholomew

A Daniels ad for The Bartholomew condominium community–a mix of high rise and row houses. Photo by PlanGreen

 

It bears repeating that a key tenet of the revitalization is including both subsidized and market rate units – together in the same community. Townhouse as well as high rise; rental as well as ownership opportunities are available.  This sign advertises suites from the $300.000s but I also saw from the $200,000s.

Another key tenet is access to employment.  Regent Park residents can get one-on-one help with job searching, local employment opportunities, career planning, education and training, and more.  The Regent Park Employment Plan has an ambitious agenda.

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These are typical units in the old social housing. Photo by PlanGreen

RP - No Loitering

This “No Loitering No Trespassing No Alcoholic Beverages sign hints at old problems the community is trying to overcome.  The sign also reminded me  that Regent Park had become synonymous with poverty, crime and unemployment. Photo by PlanGreen

Never one to avoid a challenge, I also spent some time exploring the older parts of Regent Park that have not yet been demolished.  I’m not sure during which phase this seemingly vacant building will come down–and with the rain, there was no one around to ask.  Any tenants who have to move because of construction get one year’s notice before demolition and five months’ notice before they have to move.

While Toronto’s version of the U.S. Hope VI program is impressive, like its counterpart in Portland, New Columbia, it has not solved all its problems.  There had been three fatal shootings in the neighborhood in 2010 that left even Regent Park’s supporters in doubt. TCHC maintains that by incorporating crime prevention best practices into the design of the buildings and public areas and by linking tenants to jobs and training opportunities, it is improving community safety.

In his talk, Dr. Kosny spoke about the green that is not seen.  One of those unseen aspects seems to be what Margaret Wente in The Globe and Mail calls “the most successful “normalization” project ever launched in Regent Park”:

. . . an all-encompassing program called Pathways to Education, which mentors and coaches secondary-school kids through graduation and beyond, and guarantees them a bursary if they graduate. (A big advantage, in my view, is that Regent Park has no secondary school, so the kids have no choice but to venture outside the ’hood.) Pathways connects them with the world and shows them how to navigate it.

Regent Park Is Greener

Regent Park Is Growing Greener Every Day reads this sign near the community garden. Photo by PlanGreen

Toronto-based journalist, Doug Saunders, in his book, The Arrival City, points to three things that are crucial for integrating immigrants into the middle class:  education, transportation and access to jobs.  Time will tell if Regent Park is doing all three well.  At the end of 2015, it appears to be headed in the right direction.