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More Green Spaces Linked to Less Aggressive Kids

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There are numerous arguments for the benefits of city parks. Living near parks and other greenery has been linked to longer lives and less stress, as well as cooler temperatures and better air quality [PDF]. And now, scientists think that green space might also play a role in teenage aggression. 

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, covered by PsyPost, finds links between how much green space there is around a child’s house and how aggressive they are as an adolescent. The University of Southern California–led study examined a 1287-person cohort of twins and triplets born in the early ‘90s in Southern California, periodically asking their parents about the children's aggressive behaviors between 2000 and 2012.

The researchers then compared how aggressive the children's parents described them to be—such as if they reported their child getting in fights, screaming, or threatening others—with how much green space there was within 1000 meters (3820 feet) of their home, using data on vegetation levels from the Global Agricultural Monitoring Project. They found that after accounting for temperature (heat has long been linked to violence), kids who lived near more greenery were less aggressive. 

Both in the short term (at one-, three-, and six-month follow-ups) and long, kids who lived in green areas for up to three years were less aggressive, at least according to what their parents reported. Being around more vegetation was linked to the equivalent aggression reduction of 2 to 2.5 years of age-related maturity, the researchers found. 

This doesn’t directly prove that trees and grass themselves cause kids to be less aggressive, although the researchers controlled for things like traffic, noise levels, self-perceived neighborhood quality, income, and more. It’s possible that there are some other factors in relatively treeless areas that could account for the behavioral changes but weren’t controlled for in the statistical analysis; for example, greenery tends to be a lot more prevalent in rich neighborhoods. 

If trees really can help calm kids down, which would make sense given green spaces' proven ability to lower stress, the researchers estimate that adding more vegetation to urban neighborhoods could lead to a 12 percent reduction in clinically significant adolescent aggression. In California, they estimate that could help about 9000 kids. 

Scientists already have begun recommending at least 30 minutes of nature time a week for health. This is a good excuse to make sure your teenager comes with you. 

[h/t PsyPost]

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literature
Trash Collectors in Turkey Use Abandoned Books to Build a Free Library
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

A stack of books abandoned on the sidewalk can be a painful sight for bibliophiles. But in Ankara, Turkey, garbage collectors are using books left to be discarded to build a free library. As CNN reports, their library of salvaged literature is currently 6000 titles strong.

The collection grew gradually as sanitation workers began saving books they found on their routes, rather then hauling them away with the rest of the city’s trash. The books were set aside for employees and their families to borrow, but eventually news of their collection expanded beyond the sanitation department. Instead of leaving books on the curb, residents started donating their unwanted books directly to the cause. Soon the idea arose of opening a full library for the public to enjoy.

Man reading book at shelf.
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With support from the local government, the library opened in the Çankaya district of Ankara in September 2017. Located in an abandoned brick factory on the sanitation department’s property, it features literature for children, resources for scientists, and books for English and French speakers. The space also includes a lounge where visitors can read their books or play chess. The loan period for books lasts two weeks, but just like at a regular library, readers are given the option to renew their tomes.

People reading books in a library.
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The experiment has proven more successful than anyone anticipated: The library is so well-stocked that local schools, prisons, and educational programs can now borrow from its inventory. The Turkish sanitation workers deserve high praise, but discarded book-loving pioneers in other parts of the world should also get some recognition: For decades, José Alberto Gutiérrez has been using his job collecting garbage to build a similar library in Colombia.

[h/t CNN]

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29 of the Best Small Cities in America, According to National Geographic
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
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When it comes to cities, bigger isn’t always better. Some of the most appealing destinations in America have more residents than your average town but not enough to make them bustling metropolises. If you’re looking to add more small cities your travel bucket list, National Geographic has some suggestions.

For their list below, Nat Geo Travel partnered with global destination branding advisor Resonance Consultancy to rank the best small cities in the country. They dropped the criteria used by most travel lists and adopted metrics that were a little less conventional. In the list below, you’ll find places that excel in categories like greenest (plenty of parks), sudsiest (lots of breweries), most Instagrammed (popular hashtags), musically grooviest (lots of live music), and most hipster friendly (coffee shops and record stores galore) per capita.

Each city falls into one of three population brackets: 40,000 to 100,000 people, 100,000 to 200,000, and 200,000 to 600,000. Anchorage, Alaska was the most caffeinated for its size, with 5.98 coffee shops for every 10,000 residents. Reno, Nevada is among the meatiest cities, meaning there are plenty of delis, butchers, and steakhouses there for carnivores to enjoy. Hagerstown, Maryland—which has no shortage of barber shops and hair salons—is one of the best groomed cities.

If you’re looking for a destination that checks off multiple boxes, Boulder, Colorado is the place to be: Not only is it the most hipster friendly city in its population group, it’s the most caffeinated, sudsiest, and musically grooviest as well.

Check out the full list below before planning your next vacation.

Albuquerque, New Mexico (Sudsiest)
Anchorage, Alaska (Trending- Most Caffeinated)
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Greenest)
Annapolis, Maryland (Dog Friendly)
Asheville, North Carolina (Most Artsy, Sudsiest)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Best Groomed)
Boulder, Colorado (Hipster Friendly, Musically Grooviest, Most Caffeinated, Sudsiest)
Charleston, South Carolina (Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
Columbia, South Carolina (Best Groomed, Meatiest)
Greenville, South Carolina (Meatiest)
Hagerstown, Maryland (Best Groomed)
Healdsburg, California (Greenest)
Hickory, North Carolina (Hipster Friendly)
Honolulu, Hawaii (Musically Grooviest, Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
Kansas City, Missouri (Most Artsy)
Lakeland, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
Louisville, Kentucky (Meatiest)
Madison, Wisconsin (Greenest)
New Orleans, Louisiana (Hipster Friendly)
Newport, Rhode Island (Best Groomed)
Olympia, Washington (Most Caffeinated, Greenest)
Omaha, Nebraska (Musically Grooviest)
Pensacola, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Sudsiest)
Portland, Maine (Most Instagrammed)
Rapid City, South Dakota (Most Instagrammed)
Reno, Nevada (Meatiest, Most Dog Friendly)
Santa Cruz, California (Musically Grooviest)
Spokane, Washington (Hipster Friendly, Most Caffeinated)

[h/t National Geographic]

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