Newsletter — February 2019


Spring news from Open Spaces

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
         From “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1819 (1820)

spring flowersOpen Spaces is pleased to publish new pieces that offer important perspectives on topics especially relevant now. Each one is useful to thinking about issues that concern all of us. Also, there are selections with resonance from history. And when you feel you need a break, you can be guided to adventures: in Venice, the desert Southwest and the Caribbean Island of “San Marie.”

The first piece, entitled Climate Action is Good for Health, is posted on our website. The authors: Kristie L. Ebi, Ph.D., MPH; Jeremy J. Hess, MD, MPH; and Renee N. Salas, MD, MPH, MS, are acknowledged experts on the relationship between climate change and human health. It begins:

“Historically, when Americans hear “climate change,” we imagine a polar bear struggling on ever-shrinking ice. But our perceptions are beginning to shift: we may now be as likely to envision people suffering while working in the heat, fleeing wildfires, wading flooded streets, and checking their children for ticks. People are being affected – your parents, grandparents, and especially your children and grandchildren. These impacts are increasingly on the minds of those in medicine and public health.”

Interior photograph of Ankeny row unitThe second piece, a review of Sustainable Homes for the 21st Century, by Richard Benner and Michael Royce, is available on our website. This book provides one roadmap for helping to improve the situation outlined above.

The third piece, entitled To Your Health, is by Ron Turker, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Turker shares lively insights regarding the current practice of medicine in both a private practice and an HMO setting that are particularly relevant to current healthcare discussions and help to guide us to a resolution that is humane for both doctor and patient. Here is an excerpt from the article on our website:

“For centuries we’ve toasted to each other’s health with lifted glass. Not the most sophisticated form of healthcare, but for most of our history that’s all we had. The last century, however, has seen an explosion of scientific advances, gifting us incredible opportunities to truly affect each other’s health beyond good wishes and a pint of ale. Yet, while some countries have chosen to share this good fortune with all their residents, we in the United States seem willing to leave those among us who are insufficiently insured to the “Good Luck” ethic of Cheers!

“As a surgeon for kids, for the last quarter of a century, I’ve had a front row seat to the consequences of this unfunded good will, working in a healthcare system that ranges from the kindest compassion to the most callous indifference. A system that was never engineered or designed, it grew organically. We know we need to clean it up, but never quite find the time.”

Other interesting possibilities

Brown University Emeritus Prof. Gordon Wood offers a talk on George Washington and presidential “disinterest” at

A Voice From the Past: E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little as well as numerous short pieces for the New Yorker, reminds us of the meaning of democracy:

Distractions to help you sleep

  • mysteries written by Donna Leon (set in Venice, Italy)
  • mysteries written by Tony Hillerman (set in Arizona/New Mexico)
  • Netflix presentations of “Death in Paradise” (set on the fictional island of “Saint Marie”), a BBC series in which British detectives solve murders with the help of the local constabulary on a Caribbean island — fun and guaranteed to put you to sleep in 15 minutes.

These are recent additions to the Open Spaces list on ways of “Finding Comfort in this Harrowing Time.” See the full list on our website.

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