Touring Indiana’s Underground Railroad

By Erin Lattimer and Hannah Scherer • May 16th, 2017

Brother Sage photo

On the porch of his South Bend home, Verge “Brother Sage” Gillam shares the history he’s worked a long time to document. (Photo/Hannah Scherer)

On the far east side of Notre Dame’s campus lies the Thomas Bulla Farmhouse and surrounding Bulla Road. While students drive the latter frequently, the former is hardly mentioned, visited, or recognized, despite both structures’ namesake acting as a major abolitionist in the era of the Underground Railroad.

The University of Notre Dame has a major part of history on its campus, and it’s largely bypassed by the casual observer.

Even some Notre Dame students in the History Department say they have little to no knowledge regarding the area’s history related to the Underground Railroad.

Senior history major Joe DeLuca said believes local history is essential for the greater understanding of a culture.

“If you look at a lot of the smaller scale stuff, it can really flesh out the story a lot more,” he said. “Entire sections of history would have been lost.”

Notre Dame is not the only location in the now Michiana or even Indiana region that contains rich details of Underground Railroad history. Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as well as The National Park Service have worked to create a comprehensive registry of Indiana’s Underground Railroad locations and features of several Indiana regions.

Southern Indiana features the Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building and the Georgetown Neighborhood in Madison, Indiana. Serving as a museum today, Eleutherian College was symbolically built on top of a hill. Its own museum web page states that Eleutherian decided this to demonstrate its commitment to “individual equality, education, and equal opportunity without regard to race or gender.”

Many fugitives who traveled along this route continued north via Indianapolis. The Georgetown Neighborhood in Madison, Indiana––right on the southernmost border––was at one point populated with abolitionists and freedom seekers. Even today, the Indiana DNR states many of the original homes and churches from the Underground Railroad era still stand in this neighborhood. This includes Lyman and Asenath Hoyt, who would hide fugitives in their family barn loft or cave on their Madison, Indiana, property between 1830 and 1856.

In the central part of the state, the Bethel AME Church and the Levi Coffin House once served as Underground Railroad locations. Before it was sold to a private firm in 2016, the Bethel AME Church in downtown Indianapolis was known as the “Indianapolis Station” after it was founded in 1836, but was rebuilt in 1867. The Levi Coffin House located near Richmond, Indiana, also played a significant role in African American slaves’ paths to the north during this time, reportedly assisting over 2,000 slaves to freedom.

Before crossing the border into Michigan, thousands of African American fugitives finally traveled through various areas of northern Indiana. The DNR states that just south of the Michigan border and on the shores of Lake Michigan, Daniel Low helped fugitives escape to Michigan or Canada by bringing them from his estate and hiding them on board grain boats at the Michigan City harbor.

“It’s kind of skewed; there were a few routes. [They] came through Michigan city, [some] into Niles, and some came through a part of Indiana that lead into Bristol that then went into Michigan,” local historian Verge “Brother Sage” Gillam said. “There was no specific route like 31 or 933. It was really interesting, because to get away [from this area] we had to do whatever was Kosher, and we knew that Indiana was not a safe state.”

Blue map pin iconStoryMap: Tour Indiana’s Underground Railroad sites

To the east in Fremont, Indiana, at the Erastus Farnham House, the historic cupola on top of the house served as a watchdog vantage point in order to keep the fugitives he aided safe. Only about 13 miles west is the house of Captain Samuel Barry who, despite being arrested for his actions, frequently provided shelter to fugitive slaves.

Still close by in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, the Alexander T Rankin house is, per the Indiana DNR, currently the only known structure still standing in Ft. Wayne that was a part of the Underground Railroad. Likewise, as previously noted, Notre Dame’s Thomas Bulla House was where Bulla and his family aided runaway slaves and still stands amongst residential living buildings on the campus.

Brother Sage has spent the last 10 years putting together the story of the Underground Railroad’s presence in the Northwest Territory, more specifically the St. Joe Valley Region.

This area, what is now northwestern Indiana and southwestern Michigan, saw the passage of tens of thousands of slaves from slave territory to the free land. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that the No. 1 region for runaway slaves was the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri region… to think that 75,000 people escaped that particular region is so awe-inspiring. These stories need to be told,” Sage said.

South Bend also was home to plenty of abolition-era dramatics, with the South Bend Presbyterian Church halting slave catchers from removing runaways from free-Michigan back to slave-Kentucky.

“[The church] went to court and won their suit, and the slaves went back to Michigan,” Sage said. “The slave catchers went back to Kent, complained about it, came back to South Bend and sued that church. [They] ended up winning that suit. We’d like to put a historical marker [at the church] because that history is well documented.”

But auction-block documents printed by what is now known as the South Bend Tribune have also been discovered. These flyers advertise the sale of Michiana-area men, women and children, cementing the fact that the oppression was local. “This just goes to show how rough it was on us, what kinds of things we had to go through [in this area], and why it’s important for us to talk more about this from the standpoint of whoever you are,” he said.

Sage stressed the necessity to rectify an ignorance of history by sharing these stories and this knowledge through education and traditional schooling. While information on these historical locations is becoming more available through online registries, Indiana’s regional history in terms of the Underground Railroad has not shown to be well-known. “They don’t know what we had to go through in order to be free, they don’t know anything about the real bigotry or prejudice we went through, or they don’t know anything about the history [of the Underground Railroad,]” Sage said.

Lacking such pertinent historical information takes away part of a community’s culture. This causes the loss of a potential lesson learned, or an honorable historical connection. “[The Thomas Bulla House] can be a source of pride for the community and the people who live here that we played a significant role in helping free slaves, not mentioning it is a very interesting topic of discussion around campus,” Lew said.

“None of this is in the schools; you probably heard nothing about these details in high school or even at the University of Notre Dame,” Sage said. “More emphasis should be put into this, because I think we’re a remarkable people, and we’ve shown how to survive the Holocaust of enslavement.”

Underground RR Infographic

Addressing the Drug Epidemic in St. Joseph County a Complex Task

By Teagan Dillon and Joe DiSipio • May 15th, 2017

Opiod panel photo

Becky Savage, Kristin Tawadros, Amy Cressy and Dave Wells speak to parents in the South Bend community. (Photo/Teagan Dillon)

Becky Savage stood in front of a screen displaying the beaming faces of her two sons Nick and Jack as she recounted the day in June 2015 that changed her life.

“I am a nurse and I am trained in saving people’s lives. That day, I could not perform my job as nurse, and I could not perform my job as a mom,” Savage recently told a room full of parents at St. Joseph High School.

Savage shared her story of immense loss: Her sons Nick and Jack died of an accidental drug overdose after attending a high school graduation party in Granger, Indiana, on June 14, 2015. The brothers had consumed a combination of alcohol and prescription painkiller oxycodone on the night they died.

The pair of hockey players were “smart kids with bright futures,” Savage said. And with one bad decision, her sons went from college kids to adding two more to the growing count of opiate-related deaths recorded both locally and nationwide.

America’s drug problem has been called an epidemic on the covers of national magazines and in local anti-drug forums such as the one Savage spoke at in April. St. Joseph County in Indiana has been no exception.

In 2015, deaths from overdoses in St. Joseph County reached 59, which outnumbered total deaths from homicides and fatal car crashes combined. That number has more than doubled since 2012, when 26 overdose fatalities were reported.

What is being done about it?

The St. Joseph County Drug Investigations Unit (DIU) was formed in January 2016 to address this rising drug epidemic. The DIU, led by Commander Dave Wells, is focused primarily on overdose fatalities and armed drug traffickers. The unit has been fully staffed and running since March 2016.

“Last year we had 58 deaths compared to 59 deaths, which is not a big change,” Wells said. “I’d like to see that down to zero.”

The DIU’s duty is not only to investigate, but to also inform and educate the public by talking to schools and parents about prescription drugs and signs of abuse.

St. Joseph County tallied 58 deaths due to drug overdoses in 2016, one less than in 2015. Of that number, 39.65 percent were caused by heroin overdoses, nearly ten percent less than the year before.

According to St. Joseph County Deputy Prosecutor Amy Cressy, South Bend drug dealers are increasingly turning to heroin because of accessibility and lower prices.

“We’re close to Chicago. We’re not that far from Detroit. People are coming up from Atlanta. We’re a hub city,” Cressy said. “And we’re a source for smaller communities. They trip up to South Bend to get heroin.”

But work has suggested that opioids in general are the biggest problem.

“Leaving a bottle of oxycodone, or a powerful painkiller, let’s say you had a surgery or something,” Wells said. “It’s just like leaving a loaded gun in your house.”

The DIU was specifically designed to handle the opioid epidemic in St. Joseph County, Wells said. The DIU’s goal is to target the people who deal those drugs and feed people’s addictions.

As drug abuse increases in St. Joseph County, treatment facilities are experiencing a significant increase in referrals and people being admitted into treatment, according to Kristin Tawadros, a psychologist at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in South Bend.

“The legal system in South Bend is working on rehabilitation and not incarceration,” Tawadros said. “They want to avoid incarceration as much as possible and refer people to treatment instead.”

But facilities like Oaklawn lack the resources and funding to accommodate for the increasing number of referrals, said Tawadros.

“We can’t arrest our way out of all this. There’s people that obviously need therapy and need help with that,” Wells said. “Most people who use heroin, who use drugs are not typical criminals, they’re addicts.

“Education is the key. Right from the start. Getting to our kids.” As part of his role with the DIU, Wells speaks on the subject of drug abuse in the community as much as possible.

“I always say, we have a PowerPoint, we’ll travel. If you want us to come and do a presentation for your school, we’d love to come talk to your kids,” he said.

Wells and Cressy spoke following Savage’s story at Saint Joseph High School as part of one of their educational outreach events.

All three speakers drove home the same imperative message that necessary information about drugs and addiction must be shared and discussed.

“Have those conversations with your kids,” Savage said. “And have them again and again and again. You may annoy them, but that is far better than losing them forever.”

Battling Hunger in Indiana: Food Insecurity Rates Vary Widely Around State

By Caelin Miltko and Dakota Connell-Ledwon • May 15th, 2017

Jennifer Lundy photo

Jennifer Lundy collects food for her mother and her family. Lundy is a former volunteer at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. (Photo/Caelin Miltko)

Jennifer Lundy, a South Bend resident, rolled her cart up to the counter at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. The cart was filled to the brim with produce and non-perishables to be taken home to her three daughters, her niece and nephew and her mother.

Her mother had just had shoulder surgery and was unable to work. Lundy said that getting from the local food bank helps her mother out a great deal.“I watched a lot of people come through here,” said Lundy, who used to volunteer at the food bank, “and you don’t realize the demand for these places.”

In Indiana, the average food insecurity rate between 2013 and 2015 was 14.84 percent, according the United States Department of Agriculture. This was more than a full percentage point higher than the national average in the same time period.

bluebookiconRead more: Bringing the farm downtown

Households ranked as having low or very low food security, as defined by the USDA, were included in those numbers. Across Indiana counties, the food insecurity rate varies widely. According to Feeding America, in 2014, the lowest county food insecurity rate in Indiana was 9.4 percent in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis. The highest was 19.4 percent in Marion County, where Indianapolis is located.

St. Joseph County, where the Food Bank of Northern Indiana is located, had a food insecurity rate of 16 percent.

“It’s a major healthcare crisis. 42 million Americans are food insecure,” said Dr. Craig Gundersen, a professor who studies food insecurity at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “That’s a lot of people that are food insecure. In and of itself that’s a serious problem. The other thing about is that there are many negative health outcomes associated with food insecurity and also that there’s higher healthcare costs associated with it.”

In Indiana, the food insecurity rate increased slightly in the early 2000s, spiked in 2008 and continued to rise slightly through 2015. According to the US Census Bureau, the average food insecurity rate in Indiana from 2010 to 2012 was 13.5 percent. The increase reflects a national trend.

Shane Turner, a South Bend resident, recently began volunteering at the food bank. He was exposed to the facility by his girlfriend, who used to work there. Turner decided he wanted to use his time to help make a difference in his community.

“It’s just an awesome place,” he said. “It helps out the community, really makes it a happier community.”

The pantry area where clients pick out their items is just a small part of the facility–a large storage area, complete with freezers and huge bins for sorting goods, extends beyond the pantry. The food bank currently has eight volunteers and two full-time staff, and the volunteers logged almost 50,000 hours last year in order to serve thousands of clients, according to Jaime Owen, an agency relations manager.

“Most people don’t go to a food pantry just once,” she said. “We have 25,000 visitors a week in our network.”

Shane Turner photo

Shane Turner helps Lundy ‘check out’ after she’s chosen her food. (Photo/Caelin Miltko)

Turner said he hopes to be hired as a full-time staff and become more involved with the food bank.

“I just wanted to come here and do something,” he said. His current duties involve packing food, clearing freezers and loading and unloading deliveries.

Food insecurity is only one statistical way of measuring hunger in a given area. The USDA defines low food security as “reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.” Very low food security is when there are “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”

 Gundersen said SNAP is “far and away the best way to address food insecurity. First, it would be great if we could get more people onto the program, either by making sure that those who are eligible participate and also by expanding eligibility criteria higher in the income spectrum, so more people would be eligible for the program. And another thing that would be great is to increase benefit levels.”

In Indiana, according to the USDA, 73 percent of eligible participants used SNAP in 2010. In 2014, 13.5 percent of Indiana’s population participated in SNAP and the number of participants increased by 2.53 percent from 2009 to 2014.

Another way of tracking hunger is through the concept of “food deserts,” which examines access to food by comparing the locations of the closest grocery stores, the income levels of the inhabitants and whether people have access to a vehicle.

In 2010, 33.77 percent of individuals in St. Joseph County had ‘low access’ to food, though only 9.17 percent were low income and had low access to food. Only 1.54 percent of households had no vehicle and low access to grocery stores.

“Whenever I think about food deserts, usually it’s not a big issue, but on an individual level it could be,” Gundersen said.

Owen said, “Most people are surprised by how great the need is. There is a stereotype of unwed mothers with 75 children and no education, but about half of our clients are under 18 or over the age of 60. That’s sad. No one should have to go hungry.”

The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is a member agency of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, and it works with about 200-member agencies–more than half of which are food pantries. The others are soup kitchens, shelters and other food services for low-income people.

Owen said the Food Bank of Northern Indiana encourages all of their pantries to be client choice, meaning they mimic grocery stores in their set up. Unlike the traditional food pantry, which prepacks boxes for clients, at a client choice pantry, users are given a set number of each type of item that they may take (carbs, veggies, hygiene products, meat, etc.) based on the number of people in their household. Then they use a shopping cart to collect their food and “check out” with a volunteer.

“Some of the stories are just tragic,” Owen said. “There are so many senior citizens who for some reason are now raising their grandchildren, or who have had something happen to other family members.”

Aside from their home pantry in St. Joseph County, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana works with several counties in the area with several different programs, including a “Food for Kids” backpack program and a mobile pantry, which travels to rural Stark County once a month.

“If we knew the answer [to solving food insecurity], we wouldn’t need food banks and food pantries,” Owen said.

Bringing the Farm Downtown: Purple Porch Co-op Cultivates Local Food

By Leong Weng Kuan and Molly Seidel • May 14th, 2017

Cafe Max photo

A Cafe Max cook sets out the Hot Bar’s daily specials (Photo/Molly Seidel)

In the heart of South Bend’s East Race district sits a tiny brick building with a wide-reaching impact. “PURPLE PORCH CO-OP” is spelled out in iron letters over a door through which a constant stream of people flow.

Inside, the small space is packed with shelves of whole foods, vibrant produce and a cozy cafe with smells that waft through the store.

“Knowing that I’m coming here to get some great food and also support the community just makes it more worthwhile,” said Kathleen Darling, a Purple Porch shopper. Darling, a student at Notre Dame, regularly visits the market and cafe to stock up on groceries and enjoy lunch from the salad bar.

The Purple Porch’s local market serves as community center, and the grocery store, cafe, and weekly farmers market provide city-dwellers access to sustainable and local foods right in the heart of urban South Bend.

bluebookiconRead more: Battling hunger in Indiana

Food co-ops have gained popularity around the country as a way for shoppers and producers to become more involved in their food choices.

And Purple Porch is no exception. The market is community-owned, democratically run, and has given shoppers a more transparent, sustainable and local grocery experience.

About 10 years ago, the co-op began as a weekly farmers market that brought together Michiana farmers with South Bend consumers. The goal was to combat a lack of fresh, locally-sourced foods within the city.

Over time the market grew, and by 2009 the member-owners of the co-op decided to rent space at Lang Lab on High Street, which houses up-and-coming business ventures in the city. An explosion of popularity after this move allowed the co-op to eventually buy their own building on Hill Street, which today contains the market/cafe and operates seven days a week.

Despite the growth, employees say the Purple Porch still retains the core values on which it was founded: local, sustainable, and transparent. The market specializes in locally grown and organic products from daily fresh produce to personal care items, and operates business with local farmers and producers between a 60-mile radius (local) to a 400-mile radius (regional) around South Bend.

360 photo: Inside the co-op

Inside of store – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Why Choose Local?

While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines local as a 400-mile radius, Purple Porch Co-op focuses heavily on products grown and produced within a 60-mile radius around South Bend.

“While this is somewhat flexible, we pride ourselves in our commitment to keeping the food miles to a minimum,” said Myles Robinson, front operations manager at the market. “That way the food being produced is more sustainable… and it helps people to have a connection to the things they’re eating.”

Dr. Susan Blum, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, said she has a strong passion for local food and the Purple Porch.

“Buying and eating foods that have been produced locally is tangible ways to make a difference in society’s broken systems,” she said, “and the Purple Porch is instrumental for that in South Bend.”

By supporting neighbors, mitigating unequal economies, and bringing wonderful food to people who would otherwise not have access, she said she believes that co-ops such as the Purple Porch serve as epicenters of positive community change.

Blum served for almost five years on the board of the Purple Porch Co-op, acting as president, vice president and secretary. She described the co-op as the “thing she thought about the most for several years.”

She was instrumental in structuring the co-op’s founding principles of sustainability, local sourcing, community involvement and transparent production.

“Purple Porch Co-op is a force for good in the community,” Blum said of the co-op. “And the food, when it is sustainable- and locally-produced like it is here, is truly delicious.”

Wednesday Farmers Market

The Purple Porch has grown significantly over the past several years, yet it continues to host the farmer’s market on a weekly basis every Wednesday. From Spring through Fall, local farmers and producers load up their trucks, drive the short distance to the co-op and set up tents in the parking lot. Local shoppers can browse the variety of fresh goods, as well as order online ahead of time to pick up their goods direct from the vendors.

The cooperation agreement indicates that Purple Porch only collects a 10 percent surcharge on all sales at the Wednesday market, giving local farmers a wider platform to sell their products and make a profit. Purple Porch Co-op aims to encourage communications between buyers and sellers and to support local food production.

“Local means knowing the people that you work with and being able to advocate for farmers… to help them grow their business,” Robinson said.

According to the farmer’s market policy, customers can meet and interact with local producers, so that consumers can better understand the growing process and where their food is coming from.

The online order services provided by Purple Porch Co-op helps local farmers to save time and budgets for knowing the amount of products that they should bring to the market. Market sellers are producing their food within a 60-mile radius of South Bend, which guarantees the food quality.

Creating an Oasis in a Food Desert

A “food desert” is defined as a low-income urban area that lacks access to grocery stores or healthy food options. For many living in these areas, supermarkets are often several miles away, restricting options to unhealthy fast food or convenience stores.

Dr. John Brett, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado-Denver, recently finished research that examines the reason why the Park Hill neighborhood in Denver — one of the city’s wealthiest areas — has some of the highest rates of food insecurity.

“The key is not about convincing the community to let us come in, but is about to accepting the community as partners,” Brett said.

He stressed the need for “experts” in the field to listen to the life stories and experience of people living within food deserts. Greater understanding and compassion for the individuals affected by this crisis is crucial for treating the problem in the first place.

“Park Hill qualifies as a food desert, but now many people reconsider it as a ‘Food Swamp’ — there are lots of food but they’re not quality food.” he said, “Although there are convenience stores that you can get beers, cigarettes and lottery tickets, not fresh vegetables and meat.”

He said that enhancing the already existed resources is the easiest way to make a change in a food desert, for instance, trying to get funding to add fresh food items in convenience stores.

Food insecurity is essentially a systematic and ethnic problem, experts say.

“What we come down to is not a matter of lacking food access, but an inequity that created the lack of access, the reason of food insecurity is embedded in its historically determined and socially structured inequalities…the historical reason is predominantly African American becoming Latino neighborhood,” Brett said. “It’s a red line here – if you are non-whites, you can’t buy house there. It’s institutionalized, it’s not a problem of access to be fixed, it’s a system to be changed.”

Brett offered an example of how food access matters on elderly.

“If a 75-year-old man does not drive but take him two buses lines in hours and hours to reach a supermarket,” he said, “… in this case, the old man is geographically accessible to the supermarket, but socially, he can’t.” that’s what the food access problem is happening in Park Hill and that’s why local food is the remedy in any food desert.”

Purple Porch Co-op by Slidely Slideshow

Beyond the Bend: Exploration Through a Google Earth Experiment

By Staff • April 12th, 2017

Our reporting team researched data on stories of growth and change in communities outside of South Bend, Indiana, and visualized that data using Google Earth Pro and Earth Engine Timelapse. The videos and graphics show radical change to some of the world’s rapidly changing areas.

Butte and the Berkeley Pit

The state of Montana has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton won 37.63 percent of the popular vote to beat George H.W. Bush. Bush received 35.12 percent of the popular vote that year.

In the 2016 election, when Donald Trump won 55.6 percent of the popular vote in Montana, six counties voted for Hillary Clinton: Missoula, Glacier, Big Horn, Gallatin, Deer Lodge and Silver Bow.

Deer Lodge and Silver Bow counties have voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1956,* even in 1972 when every other Montana county went for Nixon.

The story of Silver Bow county is a unique one in the history of Montana and the United States. Up until the 1930s, it was the fastest growing county in Montana, with a booming copper industry. Now, it has a population of 34,523 (2013 numbers) and the entire area is on the EPA’s National Priorities list. The EPA gave the “Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area” a site score** of 63.76, the highest in Montana.

A Google Timelapse showing an aerial view of the area since 1984 and the growth of the Berkeley Pit can be found here.

The growing pit or lake in the top part of the frame was once home to neighborhoods that lived on top of the mines that made Butte a destination for European immigrants. Open pit mining in Butte began in 1955, when copper prices were the highest they had been since World War I. The accessible parts of the Butte mines had already been mined, but the Anaconda Company sought to continue to profit from its mines there.

Butte was originally founded as a gold and silver mining camp, but it became prosperous in early 20th century during the copper boom.

By 1900, historian David Emmons estimates 12,000 people of Irish descent lived in Butte. Below is a Google Earth Pro-generated movie mapping out the route Emmons describes in his book, “The Butte Irish”: “Skibereen to Queenstown; Queenstown to Boston; Boston to Butte and the Mountain Con Mine.”

The tour begins on the Beara Peninsula, near Skibereen. What Emmons calls Queenstown is today known as Cobh, a port town in County Cork, Ireland.

*In 1956, Silver Bow county voted for Dwight Eisenhower, while Deer Lodge still voted for the Democrat Adlai Stevenson. In 1924, Silver Bow voted for the progressive candidate, Robert Follette. In 1904, Deer Lodge voted for Theodore Roosevelt. In every other presidential election, both counties have voted for the Democratic candidate.

**The site score is calculated by the EPA using their Hazard Ranking System. A full definition can be found here. It examines a site’s ability to release hazardous substances, the characteristics of the waste created and the people and sensitive environments affected by the release. — Caelin Miltko

Touring the Premier League’s Stadiums

The English Premier League’s stadiums encompass a wide range of size and prestige. From AFC Bournemouth’s tiny 12,000-seat Vitality Stadium to iconic stadiums of the sport — Liverpool’s Anfield, Manchester United’s Old Trafford and more — here is a tour of all 20 Premier League Stadiums. — Lucas Masin-Moyer

Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest

This timelapse shows satellite imagery of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest from 1984 to 2016. This section of the Amazon rainforest is located in the Codajás municipality of the Amazonas state. Zoom in to see the individual settlements that have cut deeper and deeper into the rainforest over time. Roads into the rainforest widen as deforestation increases.

Deforestation is used by the logging industry, as well as for farm, industrial and settlement use. The Amazon rainforest has lost 294,366 square miles in total since 1970. “Save the Rainforest” protests prompted significant decreases to illegal logging, but deforestation has been back on the rise since 2015.

These increases threaten Brazil’s ability to successfully complete the Paris Agreement commitments it made in 2016.

Deforestation has a serious impact on the environment and endangered species. If the current rate of deforestation continues, every rainforest in the world will disappear within 100 years. — Grace Watkins

Hong Kong International Airport Emerges from the Sea

Hong Kong International Airport opened in July 1998 and was built largely on land reclaimed from the sea.

The airport is currently 4.8 square miles with two runways, though it’s expanding to three runways and is rapidly forming more land to accommodate the growth.

Hong Kong International Airport is the world’s most profitable, and Skytrax rankings recently named the airport the fifth best in the world, as voted by air travelers.

Watch the island emerge from the sea in this Google Earth Engine timelapse from 1984 to 2016. — Cassidy McDonald

Timelapse: Lake Mead is Drying Up

Along with the rest of the Western United States, Lake Mead in Nevada is suffering from the ongoing drought. The water levels have shrunk substantially from 1984 to 2016.

In the past, the reservoir has provided 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water, yet federal water managers are now predicting that the lake will not have enough water to fulfill deliveries to Arizona and Nevada in 2018.

Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the fastest growing cities in America, and the shrinking of its main fresh water supply is not something that will help the rising population levels. According to CBS News, the water levels of the Lake Mead reservoir were down more than 60 percent from their capacity in May of 2015. In September of 2015, the reservoir was down 147 feet from full capacity, and only 38 percent full. In 2016, the reservoir was just 36 percent full, and only keeps shrinking.

What exactly is causing this shrinking? Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, and is fed by the Colorado River and its tributaries, which are fed by snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. Since the Southwestern United States and the Colorado River Basin have been experiencing a drought for the past fourteen years, there just isn’t as much water flowing in the system.

Although the snow should still be melting, the winters have been uneven and the precipitation has been below average, due to warmer temperatures and global warming. All of these factors in combination have contributed to the drying up of Lake Mead.

The drought is not going away anytime soon. The chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists from NASA, Columbia University and Cornell University.

Although the region is already historically dry, rising temperatures spurred by the greenhouse effect result in more evaporation and less precipitation for the region as a whole. — Claire Radler

Dubai’s Radical Transformation

Dubai has experienced quite the transformation over the past few decades. It used to be known mainly as a small trading post and oil producer, but has become a a growing target of investment and an emerging tourist destination.

Dubai wants to become “the smartest and most sustainable city,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The impetus of Dubai’s transformation was when it became a member of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Dubai, which is now home to approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, now boasts the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Dubai is in preparation to host the World Expo in 2020. — Jacob Zinkula

Myrtle Beach’s Rapid Growth

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the most popular vacation cities in the United States.

It’s also one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. According to Steve Jones of The Sun News, Myrtle Beach was the nation’s second-fastest growing metropolitan area from 2014 to 2015.

Though people of all ages have been moving to Myrtle Beach, a lot of the city’s recent growth can be attributed to retirees. Myrtle Beach is famous for beautiful beaches, and rapid economic development has accounted for the construction of a bevy of other attractions, such as golf courses.

The Google Earth Engine Timelapse tool below shows how dramatic the area’s growth has been. — Kevin Culligan

Indiana’s Reputation is Expanding in Technology Industry

By Daniel O'Boyle • April 7th, 2017

When asked to think of cities associated with technology, one usually thinks of the coasts. Areas like Silicon Valley are usually seen as the key locations behind the modern industries of the 21st century.

But in recent years, Indianapolis — and the state of Indiana — have become major players in the industry too. Just last month, Forbes placed Indianapolis fifth among cities creating the most tech jobs, while Governing Magazine wrote about the city’s surprise success in the tech industry.

Echoing a similar sentiment expressed in his State of the State address, Gov. Eric Holcomb called on Hoosiers to embrace Indiana’s potential as a tech state in a recent letter to the Indianapolis Star.

This infographic shows the success of Indiana — and Indianapolis in particular — as a key location for tech jobs.

Studies: Indiana Ranks in the Middle Nationally for Religiosity

By Claire Radler and Grace Watkins • April 6th, 2017

A recent study by Gallup found that Mississippi is still the most religious state in the United States, 59 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.” Mississippi has been the most religious state in the U.S. for the past nine years, while Vermont remains the least religious state. According to the study, just 29 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.”

Indiana falls just around the average, coming in as number 22 on the list, with 41 percent of its residents saying they were “Very Religious.” Vice President Mike Pence hails from Indiana, and is known for his commitment to Evangelicalism, yet this is not the trend for the majority of Indiana residents.

This infographic uses data from Gallup and the Pew Research Center to bring religiosity into focus. — Claire Radler

A Deeper Look at Indiana …

Vice President Mike Pence is known for his evangelical faith. His commitment to the “Billy Graham Rule” made national headlines last week. Pence’s home state of Indiana is also widely regarded as religious.

Do Indiana residents really live up to this expectation of religiosity, and can we learn anything about Pence by examining his home environment? — Grace Watkins

Indiana Starting to Make Strides in the Exploding Craft Beer Market

By Teagan Dillon • April 6th, 2017

The craft beer industry is experiencing tremendous growth in the U.S. in recent years.

According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry now represents 12 percent market share of the total beer market, more than double than what it was in 2011. The following infographic shows where Indiana ranks among the nation in this craft beer craze.

Maps: Tracking the Best of Indiana, South Bend and Beyond …

By Staff • March 2nd, 2017

Where are the best places to hike? Best co-working spaces? Best tourist attractions?

Our team takes you on a tour of what to do around South Bend and Indiana with these maps.

Great Parks Near South Bend

Those seeking to escape the city life of South Bend can make the short drive to any of these great county and state parks just outside the city limits, like Saint Patrick’s County Park and Madeline Bertrand State Park, which lie just across the Indiana-Michigan border from each other. They’re just a short, 10-minute drive away from downtown.

Those seeking a more adventurous afternoon can visit some of the other parks on this list, all of which are within an hour’s drive of downtown South Bend. — Zach Klonsinski

10 Must-Visit Literary Locations in and Around Indianapolis

Whether you want to learn more about Naptown native Kurt Vonnegut, buckle-down and find a solitary corner of a library to get some work accomplished, or kick back with a nice cold one and a book, Indianapolis has got you covered.

This map of Indianapolis and a few surrounding cities displays 10 locations that book-loving Hoosiers must visit. Monthly poetry readings, a library converted into a restaurant, and craft-beers named after books are just a few of the literary-related items Indiana has to offer. — Lauren Fox

Indiana Museums to Visit

There’s plenty to see and do all throughout Indiana, from the northern part in South Bend, to the capital city of Indianapolis, to the southern city of Evansville. Using information from TripAdvisor, this map illustrates the best museums to visit in Indiana.

A big part of Indiana’s culture and history is the automobile industry, and that’s reflected in the map. Five of the ten museums pertain to cars, while the rest cover science, history and the arts.

Scroll through the map and click the pins to see each museum’s name, location, description and a YouTube video. — Kevin Culligan

Co-working Spaces Flourish in South Bend

Co-working is the startup’s testing ground. Less expensive than leasing a whole office and more focused than working from home, coworking offers space for individual workers and small companies to get the job done.

Co-working spaces started in larger cities but have started to flourish in smaller places such as South Bend. The eight co-working spaces mapped below have different membership structures, different setups and different communities to serve, whether entrepreneurs, employees who only need occasional office space, students, artists or the people on the cutting edge of tech. — Emily McConville

10 Interesting Things to Do in South Bend

Featured on the map are 10 interesting locations in South Bend. Each location is either an educational or community building opportunity in the city. All are family-friendly and affordable.

While sports events often attract tourists to South Bend, there are many other local events of historical, environmental and artistic interest.

For example, the Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest in Indiana. The History Museum and Studebaker National Museum both host interesting permanent and traveling exhibits. The Civil Rights Heritage Center and Pierre Navarre Log Cabin preserve local history.

The Unity Gardens presents a way for families to engage with the community and the environment, while Erasmus Books and the Chicory Cafe are perhaps most well-known and well-loved.

Many of the community centers on the map are relatively new. Some, like the Birdsell Project and Circa Arts Gallery, were converted from abandoned properties. This follows a national increase in interest in converting abandoned buildings into community spaces. — Grace Watkins

10 Things to Do in South Bend in 2017

Whether you’re interested in art, nature or sports, South Bend offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment to meet the needs of its residents.

From a newly enhanced Notre Dame Stadium to an April lineup at the Morris Performing Arts Center, 2017 is packed with exciting opportunities to immerse in the city. By no means exhaustive, the following list provides 10 Things to Do in South Bend for people of all ages and abilities. — Teagan Dillon

Exploring South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart

Thousands of people converge on the University of Notre Dame on any given football weekend. Those same people are missing out on–and might not even know about–what lies beyond the Dome. Below are a few places to check out in the South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart area. — Dakota Connell-Ledwon

Map: Documenting Indiana’s Underground Railroad Locations

By Erin Lattimer • February 21st, 2017

Due north of slave-owning state Kentucky, Indiana was an intuitive route for slaves seeking freedom in Canada during the 1860s. Stations were located across the state and were mainly only known by word-of-mouth.

The map below lists just a few of the Underground Railroad sites recorded in Indiana. Secrecy for protection led to little documentation of the sites, but organizations like Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service attempt to keep a running list of documented Underground Railroad sites. These services are used to create points on this map.

List of Indiana’s Underground Railroad Sites:

Alexander T Rankin House
A member of Indiana’s Antislavery Society, Alexander Rankin was the only recorded person to also participate in Ohio’s Antislavery Society.

Bethel AME Church
This church was known as the “Indianapolis Station” and founded in 1836. After a fire in 1862, it was rebuilt in 1867. In 2016 it was sold to a private firm.

Captain Samuel Barry’s Home
One of the original founders of the town, Orland, Captain Samuel Barry’s home frequently gave refuge to escaped slaves.

Daniel Low Estate
Either by hiding them on board grain boats or sneaking them on to trains heading for Michigan and Canada, Daniel Low assisted approximately 150 slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building
Symbolically built on top of a hill to demonstrate its commitment to “individual equality, education, and equal opportunity without regard to race or gender,” Eleutherian College was a well-known stop on the Underground Railroad for fugitives traveling through Madison to Indianapolis.

Erastus Farnham House
One of the leaders of the Underground Railroad movement in Fremont, Indiana, Erastus Farnham hid fugitives in his house and kept watch for slave catchers from the cupola on his roof.

Georgetown Neighborhood
At one point populated with abolitionists and freedom seekers, most of the original homes and churches from the Underground Railroad era still stand in this neighborhood.

Levi Coffin House
Owner Levi Coffin has been termed “president” of the Underground Railroad for assisting over 2,000 slaves to freedom as well as supporting other Underground Railroad stations throughout the North.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House
Between 1830 and 1856 Lyman and Asenath Hoyt along with their seven children volunteered their home and property as a station of the Underground Railroad, hiding fugitives in their barn or a cave located on their land.

Thomas Bulla House
Owner Thomas Bulla and his family used their home to aid runaway slaves. The home is located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.