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Seattle's Willy Wonka-like Food Forest

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ThinkStock

Seattle’s Beacon Forest is the health nut’s equivalent of the chocolate waterfall room in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Everything from the forest’s canopies to its roots is edible, fresh, and free. The food forest, sitting two miles from the city center, boasts seven acres of urban garden oasis, and the project is every bit as much of a social experiment as an agricultural one.

Forest gardening is nothing new; the practice dates back to prehistoric times, in the foothills of monsoon regions and in tropical rain forests. Forest gardens are still common in tropical regions, but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that Brit Robert Hart pioneered the practice for temperate climates. Hart cultivated a 500 square meter orchard on his farm at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire, England into a model forest garden. The British horticulturist mapped out a seven-part blueprint for his garden, and envisioned his model in more urban environments, writing:

“Obviously, few of us are in a position to restore the forests. But tens of millions of us have gardens, or access to open spaces such as industrial wastelands, where trees can be planted…and if full advantage can be taken of the potentialities that are available even in heavily built up areas, new 'city forests' can arise.”

More than 40 years later, Seattle adapted Hart’s model from top (a canopy of large fruit and nut trees) to bottom (a vertical layer of climbing plants and vines). Beacon Forest draws from the concept of permaculture: an agricultural school of thought that the forest will be both self-sustaining and perennial. The project, first drawn up in 2009 as the Jefferson Park Food Forest, earned $100 thousand from the Department of Neighborhoods in 2011 before the forest’s groundbreaking was greenlighted in 2012.

Phase one of the project keeps the experimental forest at 1.5 acres, but with Seattle Public Utilities sitting on 5.5 more, the farm may blossom to its full 7 acres. Right now, it’s the U.S.’s largest food forest on public land, though there are other like-minded projects at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt, Colo. and in Northampton, Mass.

With free fruits and veggies abounding for free picking, developers don’t have an answer for foragers who get a little too eager. But Glenn Herlihy, a Beacon Forest committee member, told NPR the plan is to produce an abundance of fruits so there’s enough to go around, and plant “thieves’ gardens” with a few extra seeds.

Beacon Food Forest grows everything from garden-variety apples and berries to more exotic crops like pineapples and guava—reflecting the neighborhood’s diversity. Organizers looked to the community for input: The locale’s Asian community offered the idea of Asian pears and honeyberries, and European members suggested planting medlar trees.

Eventually, garden plots in the forest will be leased out to local gardeners at ten bucks a year, and organizers plan to offer classes on basic gardening skills for the price of a few hours of volunteer work. But the idea of free, fresh food is something everyone can still get behind: even late night pundit Craig Ferguson riffed on the idea in a monologue back in March of 2012. “In downtown L.A., they are talking about building a forest like this one in Seattle," he said. "But instead of looking for berries, it’s kind of like a petting zoo: you get to hand feed Kardashians.”

Sources: National GeographicNPRWhy Don't You Try ThisForbesPermaculturedPermaculture.tvCentral Rocky Mountain Permaculture InstituteHelp Yourself NoHo.  

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
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TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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