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This Library Provides Social Services to Homeless Patrons

If you think libraries are only good for books, try searching a little deeper on your next visit. It's not unusual for libraries to lend out unconventional items, like seeds or telescopes. And at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), staff members go above and beyond by offering social services to some community members who need it most: those without a home.

As recently reported by My Modern Met, the SFPL has been providing life-changing services to homeless people for the past seven years. In 2009, the library teamed up with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in an effort to better handle their homeless patrons, who make up 15 percent of their daily visitors. Since then, around 800 homeless people have taken advantage of the library's social services and close to 150 have moved into stable living situations.

This is largely thanks to Leah Esguerra, the first full-time psychiatric social worker hired by the library to tackle the issue. She provides homeless patrons with information about where to go for food, shelter, and legal assistance, and sometimes even goes so far as to provide medical assessments. And while many libraries offer career services, the SFPL takes that idea one step further. After completing a 12-week vocational rehabilitation program, the library invites former homeless patrons to work as "health and safety associates" and assist Esguerra in her mission.

The San Francisco Public Library is one of at least 24 libraries in the U.S. with programs tailored for their homeless visitors. According to PBS, staff members at the Denver Public Library make biannual visits to a local women's shelter to sign residents up for library cards and teach them how to search for jobs online. And at the public library in Dallas, the staff hosts "Coffee and Conversation" meetups twice a month where homeless patrons can discuss issues facing the community.

[h/t My Modern Met]

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travel
How Far Out of Town Can You Get in an Hour? This Map Will Tell You
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iStock

Sitting through traffic on a Friday is no fun. Depending on where you live, though, it could either be a minor headache, or a traumatic event on par with heading to the airport the day before Thanksgiving. The Washington Post recently mapped out just how far you can get out of town on a Friday afternoon in major American cities in just one hour.

The Post’s Sahil Chinoy used traffic information culled from cell phones and car sensors by the location data company Here Technologies to map out travel times from downtown neighborhoods at 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 10 p.m., showing how car travel varies by city and time on a Friday night. (They’re all estimates based on July 28 data.)

A U.S. map shows blue radii around cities illustrating a travel time of one hour in a car at 4 p.m. on a Friday.
Sahil Chinoy // The Washington Post

Unsurprisingly, considering geography and city culture, the answer can vary a lot. Compare Southern California and Northern California, for instance. In L.A., well-known for its horrendous traffic, an hour can’t even get you through the county. You’ll be able to travel 25 miles in that time period, at best—probably while suffering through that weird phenomenon where all the cars on the road slow down for seemingly no reason. But in Sacramento, you speed through up to 50 miles at rush hour. (You can get more than 50 miles from Las Vegas, too, but it’ll mostly land you in the middle of the desert.)

Some cities remain active long into the night, too, while others empty out right after the workday ends. In New York City, you can’t even get past the New Jersey suburbs at 4 p.m., and that doesn't change much as the night goes on. In most other cities, though, there's much less traffic by 10 p.m. compared to the late afternoon and evening. In Boston, for instance, you can travel 25 miles farther if you leave at 10 p.m. compared to leaving at 4 p.m.

The map shows what you probably already expected: In cities that were built around the car, it is, for the most part, easier to get out of town. Older cities on the East Coast like Philadelphia or Baltimore have tiny one-hour radiuses, while cities in Texas and the Midwest are easier to navigate behind the wheel.

Geography matters a lot, too. Cities that are built around water tend to be harder to escape from, like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. If you only have a few bridges that lead out of town, they’re going to get clogged with traffic, while a city with several large highway arteries can move more people. Miami is virtually impossible to travel from because the city is wedged between the ocean and the Everglades.

That traffic time does more than just eat into your weekend plans. It’s really bad for your health. You’re essentially stewing in emissions, and long commutes on a regular basis are associated with stress, high blood pressure, and obesity. That may be fine if you’re trying to get out of the city for a weekend in the country every once in a while, but if you’re just trying to get home on a Friday night, that’s a different story.

For a closer look at the data and how it varies based on the time of day, see Chinoy’s graphics at The Washington Post.

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Design
Watch an Artist Build a Secret Studio Beneath an Overpass
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Lebrel

Artists can be very particular about the spaces where they choose to do their work. Furniture designer Fernando Abellanas’s desk may not boast the quietest or most convenient location on Earth, but it definitely wins points for seclusion. According to Co.Design, the artist covertly constructed his studio beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain.

To make his vision a reality, Abellanas had to build a metal and plywood apparatus and attach it to the top of an underpass. After climbing inside, he uses a crank to wheel the box to the top of the opposite wall. There, the contents of his studio, including his desk, chair, and wall art, are waiting for him.

The art nook was installed without permission from the city, so Abellanas admits that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities dismantle it or it's raided by someone else. While this space may not be permanent, he plans to build others like it around the city in secret. You can get a look at his construction process in the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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