Paris Park Temporarily Allows Guests to Go Nude in Nature

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The French are famous for their love of wine, cheese, and—yes—nudity. But while the first two are enjoyed in abundance, you'll typically only see naked Parisians in museum paintings, on a beach in the French Riviera, or in the Roger Le Gall public swimming pool, where city residents can swim naked three times a week. That's set to change with a public park's newly designated "nudist zone," which, according to BBC News, will temporarily permit visitors to quite literally become one with the outdoors.

Located on the eastern edge of Paris, Bois de Vincennes is the city's largest park. There, officials have set aside a space near the bird reserve for nature lovers willing to shed their clothes and inhibitions. But just because these naturists lack garments doesn't mean they lack manners: Exhibitionism and voyeurism are verboten, all people must adhere to a special code of conduct, and signs have been erected to warn passersby of their brethren-in-the-buff.

"It's a true joy, it's one more freedom for naturists," Julien Claude-Penegry of the Paris Naturists Association told the AFP, according to the BBC. "It shows the city's broad-mindedness and will help change people's attitudes toward nudity, toward our values and our respect for nature."

Nudists in Paris have long clamored for larger spaces in which to congregate, as public nudity is banned—and punished with fines and jail time—unless it occurs in regulated areas. Not only does the city have a robust Nudist Association, "we've got 2 million nudists in France, which is doubled during the summer with visitors," city council member David Belliard said last year, according to the BBC. "For them Paris is the world's premier tourist destination, and there's no public place for them to go. We want to try out a recreational area where nudists can freely strip off."

That said, not everyone is singing the nudist zone's praises: When the initiative was first proposed in 2016, one centrist councilor called it "demented," and argued that it may be viewed as controversial in light of France's recent burkini ban.

For now, the Bois de Vincennes nudist zone is just a temporary experiment: Those wanting to frolic unclothed in the pretty urban park must schedule their visits before October 15, 2017. (They may also want to consider bringing an emergency fall sweater.)

[h/t BBC News]

A Nellie Bly Memorial Is Being Planned for New York City’s Roosevelt Island

The infamous asylum on Blackwell's Island that Nellie Bly infiltrated in the late 1880s.
The infamous asylum on Blackwell's Island that Nellie Bly infiltrated in the late 1880s.
New York Public Library, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Nellie Bly, the 19th-century journalist renowned for her six-part exposé on Blackwell’s Island’s asylum in New York City—which she infiltrated by feigning insanity—will soon be honored with a memorial on the island itself, now called Roosevelt Island.

Her 1887 investigation, Smithsonian.com reports, uncovered cruel conditions for the female "lunatic" patients, like freezing baths, violence, and solitary confinement in rooms overrun with vermin. Its publication resulted in a series of improvements including increased funding, translator assistance for immigrants, termination of abusive staff, and more. It also facilitated a national discussion about the stigma of mental illness, especially for women.

All we know about the monument so far is that it’ll be some kind of statue—maybe a traditional sculpture, something more modern or even digital—and construction will take place between March and May of next year with a budget of about $500,000. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) announced an open call for artists to submit their designs, and by August 2, it will choose five finalists who will then create conceptual proposals for the memorial.

The monument’s precise location is still up in the air, too. It could be around the Octagon, the only remaining portion of the asylum building that now forms the entrance to a luxury apartment complex on the northern half of the island, or in Lighthouse Park, a 3.78-acre space at the island’s northern tip.

Portrait of Nellie Bly
Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Until the mid-20th century, Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, was a rather undesirable place to visit. Along with the women’s asylum, it housed a prison, a charity hospital, a smallpox hospital, and a workhouse, The New York Times reports.

The city changed the name of the island (originally called Blackwell’s after the family who farmed there for generations) to Welfare Island in 1921. In 1935, it relocated the prison to Rikers Island (where it remains today). And in 1971, the city established a middle-income residential community on the island, renaming it Roosevelt Island, after Franklin Roosevelt.

Though Bly’s work in the island’s asylum may be her most famous, it was far from her only contribution to the worlds of journalism and industry. She also sailed around the world in 72 days, investigated baby trafficking, and ran her late husband’s manufacturing company. You can read more about her here.

“She’s one of our local heroes,” RIOC president Susan Rosenthal told The City about the choice to honor Bly. “The combination of who she was, the importance of investigative journalism and the fact that it happened here just made it perfect for the island.”

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

Goodwill Store Searching for Family of Navy Sailor Whose Purple Heart May Have Been Mistakenly Donated

Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus

When a Goodwill worker in Tucson, Arizona, unearthed a Purple Heart from a donation box in June, it didn’t exactly fit in with the box’s other household items. So Goodwill decided to try to track down the family of the soldier who earned it, CNN reports.

That soldier was Nick D’Amelio Jr., according to the inscription on the medal, which is also inscribed with “S2C, USN.” Military records confirm that he was a U.S. Navy (denoted by the "USN") seaman second class (“S2C”) who was reported missing in action during World War II, after Japanese surface forces gunned down the USS Little in the Solomon Islands on September 5, 1942.

D’Amelio was declared dead the following year, and is now memorialized in Walls of the Missing at The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

Judith Roman Bucasas, director of marketing of Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona, told CNN that she thinks it was an accident that the Purple Heart was donated in the box of housewares. After all, it’s one of the most prestigious awards a member of the military can receive. George Washington himself created the award in 1782 (though he named it the Badge of Military Merit), and General Douglas MacArthur revived it on the bicentennial of Washington’s birthday in 1932, renaming it the Purple Heart.

Goodwill is collaborating with Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit organization that reunites lost or stolen medals with veterans or their families, but since they haven’t had any luck finding D’Amelio’s relatives yet, they decided to call in reinforcements via social media. On Monday, Goodwill posted photos of the Purple Heart on the Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona Facebook page, and asked people to please call 520-623-5174 extension 7039 with any information on D’Amelio or his family.

This isn’t the first time a Purple Heart has been discovered in an Arizona Goodwill—in 2016, a couple found the medal at the jewelry counter, and, with the help of the Facebook community, successfully reunited it with its recipient’s family. Hopefully, the story of Nick D’Amelio Jr.’s Purple Heart will have just as happy an ending.

[h/t CNN]

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