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    A look at how the June 1st Tornado changed the landscape of western Massachusetts 9 years later – - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) June 1st, 2011 is a day many western Massachusetts residents will never forget. An EF3 tornado with winds of up to 160 mph carved a path of destruction 38 miles long from Westfield to Charlton.

    The Munger Hill and Shaker Heights neighborhoods in Westfield were some of the areas that were first hit by the tornado. Fallen trees and power lines made some roads impassable and part of the roof was ripped off the Munger Hill Elementary School.

    Nobody could even get through the neighborhood, the trees were everywhere. I did have friends that were still at school, their car got spun around in the air, it was terrifying, said Bethany Liquori of Westfield.

    Well It was mostly the tops of the trees, we did have a couple that uprooted. We lost 32 trees in our yard and it was very scary. The power lines were all down, said Carrie Salzer of Westfield.

    You can see from SkyView22 that the school has been repaired but there are a lot fewer trees in the neighborhoods than there used to be.

    The tornado then intensified as it moved through West Springfield and across the Connecticut River even passing directly over the Memorial Bridge.

    In the Island Pond Road area of Springfield a lot of the trees are gone but most of the homes have been rebuilt or repaired.

    The steeple on the First Church of Monson that was toppled by the tornado has been rebuilt at a cost of around $2.4 million dollars.

    Homes that were completely destroyed in the area of Stewart Ave and Heritage Lane in Monson have also been rebuilt but the hillside still shows the scars of the tornados path.

    Nearly 10,000 acres of woodlands were destroyed by the June 1st Tornado.

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    A look at how the June 1st Tornado changed the landscape of western Massachusetts 9 years later -

    On the front steps | News, Sports, Jobs – Minot Daily News - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    There are certain June mornings here on the prairie that remind us why we chose to live here. We awoke this morning with a faint breeze from the northwest and the promise of rain and so sat on the front steps of the ranch house, enjoying a hot mug of coffee and taking in a free avian chorus.

    Framed by ponds on three sides, the yard forms a natural palette, if not an amphitheater, for the vocals on this open prairie. Let the music begin!

    A true ornithologist could have closed their eyes and quickly documented the number of bird species participating; we make do with a dog-eared Audubon bird guide and years of applied observation. It starts around 4:30 am, the squeaks of flycatchers in the half-dark, the coo of doves, chirp of robins, and the chatter and buzz of swallows and blackbirds.

    English sparrows scold all others and mix with the winnowing sound of snipe swooping high overhead in their courtship displays.

    Now add the honk of Canada geese, wigeon whistles, soft gadwall quacks, and the patter of Ruddy Duck drakes as they rapidly slap bill to chest in their breeding display.

    Missing this morning is the warble of meadowlarks, although they are happy to offer solos once you leave the yard and travel any distance. The scaup and their raspy call are noticeably absent, along with the hard quack of mallard hens, still tending their nests.

    Rooster pheasants call from distant hills and mix with the faint clatter and wheeze of our ancient pump-jack below the house as it labors to raise well-water from the depths for our Juneberries. A bittern is nearby, adding his own pump-a-lunk call.

    The most accomplished vocalists may be the sooty and understated coot, which possess a repertoire of sounds more at home in a jungle rather than here in Prairie Pothole country. They call to each other across the yard.

    A musky fragrance of sage and lilacs competes with the sweetness of chokecherry and hawthorn blossoms but the resulting perfume cries out Spring! And now the black dog barks at a wide-bottomed mule deer at the edge of the yard and chases it up the driveway and over a hill before trotting back dutifully as if mule deer were the largest threat facing us these days.

    There is a weight here, of the landscape, and of the knowledge that other people sat on this same spot, listening to these same birds, over many generations.

    There is also an undeniable sense of comfort, with world events intruding only via elective electronic media. Comfort too in knowing the sounds and rhythms of this landscape have continued for centuries, and sometimes millenniums, without regard to disease or human conflict and sufferingand knowing they will continue for centuries longer.

    It is a lot to ponder on this windless morning, on the front steps, with a hot mug of coffee.

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    The Peaceable Kingdom Mural: From the young, a gift to Dorchester – Dorchester Reporter - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The year we are marking the 150th anniversary of Dorchesters annexation by the City of Boston. In ten years, we will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Dorchesters founding. The history of Dorchester goes back far beyond pedestrians trudging up and down the towns hills on the way to and from work and school.

    A school on the top of one of those hills named the Boston International High School Newcomers Academy (BINcA) was set up in 2011. Before that it was the Frank V. Thompson Elementary School, built in 1922. Old maps of Ashmont Valley show that nothing was ever built on this hill except this 98-year-old school building.

    Ashmont Valley had been farmland, a fine topography for cultivation by Puritan and Yankee farmers as well as the original inhabitants who had lived here for millennia. The native people had touched deep reserves of history as they stood where we stand, under the same sun and moon that shine down on us. The native people blended into nature and lived among animals in harmony with the land throughout all the seasons.

    BINcA student-artists are plying those same ideas now as they paint a mural about nature nature-ing. The name of the mural is The Peaceable Kingdom. It represents a scene in which numerous animals are crowding an expansive landscape while living in total harmony.

    The human form has no place in the design, but footprints will be added in the foreground at the very end. These footprints will represent the viewer and also guide him or her into the center of this picture of paradise.

    Large scale collaborative art projects evolve slowly, much like gardens that need lots of time to spread out and fill in. Artists are the gardeners who do the watering, pull out the weeds, and dream about which seeds to plant next.

    Working at their desks, students made drawings from photographs of animals. The finished drawings were then painted in full color. When satisfied, the students enlarged their drawing on the mural and painted the animal again. It went that way for every animal on the mural, which is why it has taken two years to complete.

    A big lion is the focal point of the mural, put there because it is the school mascot. A year later, a little lamb was added on the same spot. The striking contrast of scale between these two creatures catches the eye and suggests something that happens to reflect our current situation.

    In like a lion, out like a lambhas to do with defrosting March weather and also with bright shining stars. Every March, the Leo constellation (lion) is followed by the Capricornus constellation (lamb). This March, COVID-19 swept across the world and stopped us in our tracks. Now we are ready to begin healing. The proverb brings to mind that the limitation of moving like a lion is only overcome by following the lamb.

    Above, Rachelle Tavares works on the mural.

    Somebody smart once said, Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. Dorchester people have experienced close quarters with all kinds for so long that we have learned how to never stop trying to make things better. One of the most important things we do is working together to empower young people because they are our future.

    BINcA is the only Boston public school with 100 percent immigrant students. The Peaceable Kingdom Mural Project has brought together a great and diverse team of young people to communicate with one voice in sending a message about integrity, equality, simplicity, community, stewardship of the Earth, and peace.

    Working to paint this mural has given BINcA students an opportunity to help improve the quality of life in Dorchester. And now these same young people are ready for more. They are listening for a positive response, which will build their confidence and strengthen their resolve to step up and serve as role models in our community.

    The mural has community support and is ready for installation in a public place. A proposal is currently under review by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Temporary Youth Mural Program. It was submitted by the Peaceable Kingdom Mural Committee and includes letters of endorsement from elected officials and local civic groups. The proposed location for the mural is the Ts Ashmont Station.

    The mural could be installed above the platform for the inbound trains, where it would be seen and enjoyed by thousands of people who pass through the station every day. Imagine the reaction of student families, friends, and neighbors when they encounter this beautiful work of art. The impact that this would have is pure gold the use of art to revitalize community and contribute positively to our sense of place. (It also would give one more good reason for riders to be thankful for the MBTA.)

    The Peaceable Kingdom mural is a collaboration by art teacher James Hobin and students at Boston International High School Newcomers Academy.

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    The Peaceable Kingdom Mural: From the young, a gift to Dorchester - Dorchester Reporter

    Sponsored: Real Estate Confidential: Summer with a pool and air conditioning – Martha’s Vineyard Times - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Real Estate Confidential is a bi-weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Marthas Vineyard Real Estate market, presented by Fred Roven, owner/broker of Marthas Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears every other Friday in The Minute.

    In just one day, the entire Island feels like the season has finally arrived. The sky cleared and brought with it an Island in full bloom. And, what a surprise, when I found all boats full for a quick weekday roundtrip! This is going to be my first trip off-Island in almost three months and the planning feels like an entirely new experience. There will be many experiences moving forward from a pandemic; some I cannot even imagine.

    The past few years have seen an increase in Islanders purchasing, oftentimes, their first homes. The only thing that might explain it is more concern about what the future holds rather than particularly low prices or low interest rates. This year feels different in so many ways. Next week I move on from ZOOM house tours to physically taking buyers through homes and I have no idea what to expect in terms of the physical showing.

    So many phone calls coming in from buyers who have never even been to Marthas Vineyard and are a bit taken aback when we begin to discuss what they can buy with their dollars. There are many others who have been thinking about a move to Marthas Vineyard for years and are ready to act. More and more buyers are looking for homes with in-ground swimming pools and as summers warm, homes with central air conditioning. With summer quickly approaching, taking a look at some of those homes was an easy choice.

    Located in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Edgartown Village, 27 South Street is an elegant colonial compound. The home is sited on nearly an acre and features indoor-outdoor options including a screened porch and a private, open-air living/dining area with outdoor fireplace and pergola, overlooking a beautiful 20 x 30-foot gunite pool. The beautifully outfitted chefs kitchen features high-end commercial appliances (SubZero, Wolf, and Bosch). The property rounds out with a carriage house featuring a guest bedroom suite with full bath. This conveniently located home has easy access to Edgartown Village for shopping and dining, beaches, the bicycle path and more.

    Heading up-Island from Vineyard Haven to Lamberts Cove, it would be difficult to miss the expansive lawns and stone walls of Tashmoo Farm at 31 Lamberts Cove Road. The Farm, originally built before the Revolutionary War, has been meticulously and tastefully restored to preserve the historic character and grandeur. The recently built pool house is accessible to both the Har-Tru tennis courts and the Gunite pool and includes a well-equipped grill area and wet bar, a changing room and full bath. The title includes access to Lake Tashmoo and the association dock.

    The new home on East Pasture Road provides some of the best forever protected water views on the Island, deeded Menemsha Pond access via a walking path, a heated Gunite pool, and the privacy and protection of abutting conservation land. Only the finest craftsmanship and materials were used to construct this contemporary styled, open floor plan home. Walking the rolling landscape on paths passing through stone walls, lead you to the detached guest suite and on to the pool, pool house and outdoor kitchen. Seller currently has two moorings on the pond and ownership gives you Philbin Beach on the south shore and dog-friendly Lobsterville beach on the north shore.

    If a 4,000 square foot home on eight acres with a swimming pool is for you, the spacious contemporary cape at 20 Flint Hill Road is perfect. The great room off the kitchen has a vaulted ceiling and fireplace, adding spaciousness and casualness to the formal home. The property includes a 20 x 40 gunite pool that fits organically into the landscape with easy access from all areas of the home. With its excellent rental history, this property can provide a great investment or a wonderful year-round Vineyard family home.

    Click here for more homes with in-ground swimming pools and central air conditioning

    For more Real Estate Confidentials click here.

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    Sponsored: Real Estate Confidential: Summer with a pool and air conditioning - Martha's Vineyard Times

    Seattle-area protests: Protesters remain on Capitol Hill on seventh day of action after George Floyds killing – Seattle Times - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    In response to alarms raised in recent days by protesters about Seattle officers covering their badge numbers with black mourning bands, Police Chief Carmen Best issued a directive Thursday telling all officers to display their badge numbers.

    At the same time, Mayor Jenny Durkan rejected a demand by some demonstrators that half of the Seattle Police Department's budget be redirected to community programs and social services.

    "We will not defund by 50%, but we will make sure that we have a level of commitment to community that we can make an investment that is proportionate to the needs and that those communities that have been left behind and locked out of the system can see that we as a city have heard the voices," said Durkan, referring to an aim brought Wednesday to City Hall by organizers of a large protest.

    People demonstrating against police killings of Black people began to express concern about the black bands Saturday, saying the symbols worn over badge numbers to honor slain cops could make it difficult to identity officers engaged in misconduct.

    Best and Durkan initially defended the practice, noting officers also wear name tags. But they bent on the issue as criticism continued to mount this week, vowing to work toward a new policy Wednesday and then taking action Thursday.

    "This afternoon, I will be issuing a special order to address this," Best announced in a news conference with the mayor.

    "All officers will have their badge numbers prominently displayed," she said, adding officers should retain the ability to pay homage in other ways.

    "We want to make sure we are being transparent and people don't have the belief we are in any away trying to hide who we are."

    Disseminating the directive might take "a day or so," Best said.

    She and Durkan hailed a large Capitol Hill crowd that demonstrated past midnight and dispersed peacefully Wednesday night.

    "We will always meet peace with peace," said Best, who visited barricades near the Police Department's East Precinct in person to speak with protesters amid a surge in public complaints about officers escalating encounters with pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bangs devices.

    Though Best and Durkan repeatedly have blamed violent troublemakers for sowing chaos, Durkan canceled Seattle's curfew Wednesday night and spoke Thursday about altered police tactics.

    The Police Department moved officers away from the barricades and asked protesters to stop each other from throwing bottles, the mayor said. They listened when citizen journalist Omari Salisbury suggested they set up a sound system to communicate with the demonstrators, the mayor said, not addressing why that step wasn't taken days ago.

    Durkan mentioned "a powerful moment" when officers lowered their shields and protesters lowered the umbrellas they had brought to guard against pepper spray. "We need more dialogue," she said.

    "I'm grateful there were no injuries and arrests," she said. "That must remain the goal ... I have every confidence that can be achieved."

    Asked about the demand delivered by community leader Nikkita Oliver and other organizers Wednesday, Durkan said every Seattle agency, including the Police Department, "will see cuts" this year as she and the City Council seek to close a projected budget gap.

    The departments budget is more than $400 million this year, accounting for about a quarter of Seattles general-fund budget. City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales joined Oliver and other activists Wednesday in calling for that spending to be reduced.

    The money would be better spent on job training, restorative-justice programs, youth programs, homeless services and public housing that can prevent problems than on a militarized police force, they contend.

    "Thing that actually improve the lives of our neighbors," Morales said. "That's how we should be investing our money."

    Under similar pressure, Los Angeles leaders announced Wednesday proposals redistribute $250 million, including up to $150 million in police spending, to disenfranchised communities.

    Durkan said she would seek to balance police and community needs.

    "True public safety is not just when a police officer shows up to the door," she said. "True public safety comes from good prenatal care, access to childcare and preschool, access to real education and economic opportunities, to health care and to affordable housing."

    Yet Durkan indicated she wants to mostly maintain police spending."When people dial 991, they want the police department and the fire department to show up," she said. "We have to make sure we have enough people and resources to make that true."

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    Seattle-area protests: Protesters remain on Capitol Hill on seventh day of action after George Floyds killing - Seattle Times

    Over 6000 sqm plant maze in shape of Qatar to be ready by year-end – The Peninsula Qatar - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar has completed implementation of the main works of the 5/6 Park in Onaiza area. This is in conjunction with the Third Anniversary of Resilience in the face of the unjust blockade on the State of Qatar.

    The 5/6 Park is designed to be a tourist and leisure spot for the people and visitors of Qatar and includes alarge plant maze. The design of the maze is inspired by the human imprint to signify the role of all citizens and residents in creating glory and prosperity, a tribute to every people who leave their imprints in the state. The maze area is built on around 6500 square meters with the outer plant fencing shaped similar to the map of Qatar to be centered in the heart of the park attracting the attention of every vistor, especially since the final shape of the map appears clearly when looking at it from the top of the adjacent hill, adorned with fancy lighting to illuminate at night.

    Some artworks were displayed on 5/6 Arched on Lusail Expressway and the faade of the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) on occassion of the anniversary. These are the artworks selected from the open invite for the community in Qatar to take part with their artworks in memorizing the third anniversary of blockade, which was launched by Qatar Museums and The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar.

    Also, the committee announced an artwork that will be showcased in 5/6 park under the title Al Somoud, designed by Mr. Faisal Al-Hajri, one of the prominent artists in Qatar.

    Two more art works were added to the 6/5 park. They are drawn from the collection of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Poem (1963-65), and Poem in Three Verses (1963-65) are by the Lebanese sculptor and painter Saloua Raouda Choucair.

    Also Ashghal announced that a link will be published to announce displaying the works of the winning artists of the Under the Microscope with Ashghal initiative through a virtual exhibition that was launched during Eid Al Fitr.

    Also, artists from Qatar Fine Arts Association, in coordination with The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar, participated in commemorating three years of steadfastness in the face of the unjust siege with some artworks reflecting the meaning of steadfastness and overcoming challenges of the unfair blockade through important achievements.

    On this occasion, H.E Mr. Abdulla bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Subaie, Minister of Municipality & Environment stated that the Ministry puts great importance on construction of parks, playgrounds and stadiums. HE Minister also commented that a land area of about 160,000 square meters has been allocated for implementing the 5/6 Park project in Onaiza Area. He also added that densely populated areas are chosen to construct parks to serve the largest population possible.

    For her part, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums said: "It is a pleasure for me to witness this distinguished achievement that represents the fruit of our joint cooperation with the Public Works Authority" Ashghal "on the third anniversary of the siege imposed on our beloved country. The resilience and stability of all our society, including citizens and residents in Qatar, is in their superior ability to achieve accomplishments over the years, and the scope of those achievements has expanded further after the imposed blockade. Every year we celebrate this moment that has united us together through artwork. This very special year has a special significance when we look at what is going on in the world around us. The recent Corona (Covid-19) pandemic calls on us all for a moment to reflect on ourselves and the way we coexist together. I am very proud of everyone living in Qatar, and these photos will be preserved in the archives of our National Museum forever. I thank all the participants, and invite those who still wish to participate to continue participating on our website.

    H.E Dr. Eng. Saad bin Ahmed Al-Muhannadi, President of Ashghal stated that the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar is working on constructing gardens, spreading green spaces and planting trees in various areas of the country in line with the states strategy to achieve environmental sustainability, one of the key the national development strategy as per Qatar National Vision 2030.

    For his part, Eng. Muhammad Arqoub Al-Khaldi, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places said that the committee aims to create a sustainable environment through enlarging green spaces and creating pedestrian tracks and bicycle lines. He also added that the 5/6 Park project is implemented in coordination with many other entities.

    Al-Khaldi added that the Committee has completed implementation of main works of the 5/6 Park project which constitute 80% of works, and remaining works are underway to complete the project scheduled to end by the end of year. He also pointed out that, based on the committees principle to support local products, materials manufactured in Qatar were relied on to implement the park, and thus 65% of materials used are local made.

    On this occasion, Mr. Yusuf Al-Sada, President of the Qatar Fine Arts Association, expressed the associations delight for its members participation in commemorating the day of resilience with their artworks. He also expressed gratitude for the constant support from Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar.

    Eng. Hessa Kahmis Al Kaaby, Project Design Manager of the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places, Ashghal, stated that 5/6 Park is designed to be a tourist and leisure spot for the people and visitors of Qatar. Eng. Hessa explained that features of the park include a large plant maze. The design of the maze is inspired by the human imprint to signify the role of all citizens and residents in creating glory and prosperity, a tribute to every people who leave their imprints in the state. It also commemorates the resilience and success in overcoming the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar. We shall witness together the growth of these plants shaped by the imprints sketching many roads and paths, so as the visitors will enjoy choosing different path each time taking them towards different views of the park. The maze area is built on around 6500 square meters. The outer plant fencing is shaped similar to the map of Qatar to be centered in the heart of the park attracting the attention of every vistor, especially since the final shape of the map appears clearly when looking at it from the top of the adjacent hill, adorned with fancy lighting to illuminate at night.

    Eng. Hessa also added that the hill next to the maze is about 5 meters above ground level and located in the center of the park on an area of 3000 square meters. This hilltop area gives a comprehensive view of the park from above, making it a major attraction for fans and photographers. Visitors can also enjoy view of some attractive landmarks such as the 5/6 Arche, hills of Katara, Lusail Towers and the Pearl.

    5/6 Park Implemented by the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar

    The park contains open green areas of about 107,000 square meters. It also includes about 11,800 square meters of small shrubs and tree fences, in addition to planting about 1,500 trees.

    The park includes many facilities attracting visitors and tourists, as it contains shaded areas for families to sit, play areas for children that contain games suitable for different ages, areas designated for celebrations and spaces to display various forms of artworks.The park also includes exercise areas, pedestrian paths of approximately 1.3 km, and jogging paths of a length of 1.3 km and a cycle path with a length of 880 meters, in addition to bicycle parking slots. Indoor footpath is constructed using earthy materials that give a natural desert shape of the local environment of Qatar.

    The park also include many utilities and service stalls such as restaurants, cafes, toilets and prayer places, among others, in addition to providing garden furniture and lighting poles to enable visitors to visit at night.

    Planting trees suitable for the Qatari Environment

    The framework of the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places focus on implementing beautification and recreational projects that preserve the environment and contribute in improved healthy life for the people. Thus, trees for plantation are chosen in consideration of the nature of Qatari environment, taking into account of less water consumption and future maintenance works.

    It may be noted that 10% the trees planted in the park are of Qatari origin such as Ziziphus Spina Christi, Acacia Arabica and Acacia Tortilis. Which is evergreen trees that reach a height of more than 10m. Grow excellent in Qatar and bear the environmental conditions of high temperature and drought.

    Among the other tress chosen are the Cassia Nodosa, Delonix Regia, Tabebuia Argentea and Cassia Gluca They are beautiful and attractive shade trees with a height of 10 meters, they are distinguished for growing well and resisting drought. The planting of these trees will be distributed in the park within the area of landscape. Also among the shade trees included in 5/6 park are the Bucida Buceras, Millingtonia and ficus benghalensis which are among the evergreen trees ranging between 6 to 10 meters and are considered one of the greatest and wonderful shade trees in public parks.

    The park also includes decorative trees planted alone or in groups, or as backgrounds behind young shrubs and flowers such as Cassia Javancia and Bauhinia Purpurea. In addition, Ficus religiosa is chosen and reaches up to 30 meters in height and suitable for the Qatari environment as they bear most types of soil and are used in the park individually.

    Using Local Materials in the Project

    It is worth noting that, as the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar endeavors to support local manufacturers, the committee has depended on locally produced materials in implementing this park up to the level of 65% of materials used. The local elements used included curbstone tiles, asphalt and lightings, in addition to planting materials of trees, grass, different plants and sweet soils, and homemade rubber floors known as SBR were used as a recycled rubber layer that was used to implement jogging tracks.

    Progress of Works

    The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatarhas completed implementation of main works of the project, which include pedestrian paths and cycle paths, jogging paths, planting trees, a major plaza and a maze, where the completion rate of the project reached 80%, and work is currently underway to complete the remaining works, the implementation is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, and includes lighting of the maze, but the final form will be completed after the growth of plant barriers, and the works also include the completion of the illuminated hill, in addition to completing the works related to service buildings and water drinking fountains as well as the children's area, sports tools and garden furniture.

    The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar

    The committee's projects aim to create a sustainable environment through implementation of several main tasks that include building central public parks, providing dedicated pedestrian paths and bicycle tracks, street furniture, cosmetic lightings, developing Doha Corniche and some beaches, developing the central Doha region by reviving some main roads and internal roads, vital locations, residential and open squares. The committee also aims to contribute to create a societal environment with a distinct identity through participation of community members in artistic and afforestation work in coordination with several ministries and government entities of the State.

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    Over 6000 sqm plant maze in shape of Qatar to be ready by year-end - The Peninsula Qatar

    Modernism revival in Christchurch, but it never went away – - June 6, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Kiwis love Mid-century Modern architecture increasingly we appreciate this as part of our architectural heritage, and such properties have become highly sought-after.

    We owe it all to a devoted group of architects who forged ahead with Modernist designs in the mid 1900s to leave us a legacy of properties that still resonate today.

    But these architects haven't been assigned to history their work lives on to influence architects today, including the team at Herriot, Melhuish O'Neill Architects (HMOA) in Christchurch.


    Clifton Hill house has retained its Mid-century character.

    The firm lives and breathes Modernism, and the team even works out of one of Christchurch's notable Modernist buildings designed by Sir Miles Warren the shared office was once the renowned architect's own home and workplace.

    READ MORE:* Wellington architecture awards shortlist not all about big and expensive* Architecture shortlist 2020 reinforces new identity for Canterbury* Sir Miles Warren Mid-century gem for sale in Merivale

    Architect Duval O'Neill says the firm is "completely immersed in Modernism in the office". "It feels very natural to us, even though other people are constantly amazed by it (the office)."

    Alden Williams/Homed

    Architect Duval O'Neill outside the firm's shared office the building was designed by Sir Miles Warren in 1962 as his home and office.

    Alden Williams/Homed

    Architect Duval O'Neill says the whole team at Herriot Melhuish O'Neill lives and breathes Modernism, and probably takes its historic workplace a little for granted.

    Duval O'Neill and his wife Bridget have a particularly close association with the past, having bought a house in Mt Pleasant in 2005 that was designed in the 1950s by celebrated Modernist architect Don Cowey.

    "Don designed the house for his parents, but it was a while before we found this out," says O'Neill. "And when I did, I just looked up the phone book and rang him up. We had a great meeting. He was able to tell me all about the house and we developed a really nice friendship. He was a lovely, lovely man."


    This is the original Don Cowey-designed house bought by Duval and Bridget O'Neill in 2005. It was subsequently damaged beyond repair in the February 2011 earthquake.

    Cowey, who had built a new house for himself and his wife Jocelyn in Redcliffs, sadly, lost his life in the February 2011 earthquake, while he was out in the garden picking raspberries for Jocelyn, and a giant boulder fell into the garden from the cliffs above.

    "We were deeply saddened by his death," O'Neill says.

    The same earthquake damaged the O'Neills' own house, which was subsequently deemed uneconomic to repair. But its legacy was to live on. Cowey had already pointed the architect in the direction of the Macmillan Brown Library at the University of Canterbury, where he found the original plans for the house.


    And this is the new house designed by Duval O'Neill that references the original Mid-century build by Don Cowey.

    "Don had designed the house around 1953 when he was only 25," says O'Neill. "He and a friend also built it, as you did back then. Don was proud of his design and explained to us the way he wanted to unveil the views and the sun as you walked through the house. He positioned it to preserve those views.

    "Once we had the decision to rebuild, the design strategy was largely an initiative in maintaining the essence of his original design, while taking the opportunity to adapt it to more modern living. We didn't want it large, and we didn't want to totally mimic his design.

    "We like to think that he would have approved of our moves to bring it more in line with the way we live now."


    Duval and Bridget O'Neill love the simplicity of the Modernist style and the built-in furniture, which features in their new home.


    O'Neill says there are several reasons why Mid-century architecture is still loved by New Zealanders.

    "There's a heightened interest in design generally. And Mid-century design has struck a chord with Kiwis, partly due to the critical mass of that type of architecture people are noticing we still have a good quantity of these homes.

    "We appreciate there is a real craft involved in the planning of these homes. There's a generosity of space and a (strong) relationship to the outdoors and capturing key views. More often than not, it's the simplicity that carries through to the built-in joinery that works so well.


    The JJ Allison townhouses in Merivale were designed by Sir Miles Warren in the mid 1970s. One of the townhouses has featured in COCA Mid-century Art and Design tours.

    "These houses reflect a real consideration given to the way the spaces will work in the house. The houses are often quite frugal; they are not usually massive houses, but they have been carefully planned to be efficient."

    HMOA has worked on numerous other projects, including the award-winning restoration of the Clifton Hill House designed by Austrian architect Ernst Killnan in 1965.

    Originally a holiday home, the team transformed the tired holiday house into a permanent home, dealing with the challenge of the two major earthquakes along the way.

    O'Neill also restored and enlarged the 1957 Pascoe House at Sumner.


    This Sumner house designed by Paul Pascoe was renovated and enlarged by Duval O'Neill, but remains in keeping with the original architect's Modernist design.

    New owners Dan and Emily Park had never heard of Paul Pascoe, the "father of Modernism", before they bought the house, which was in the same suburb as the renowned architect's own home, the Piano house a Christchurch landmark.

    With three young children, the Parks were in desperate need of space, so they engaged ONeill to sensitively add onto to their home. Duval worked closely with builder Dave Owens and with landscape architect Craig Pocock on a design for the large garden.

    The owners say they love the sense of space, the light, and the way you cant tell from the street that this house is really something special.


    The Pascoe house in Sumner is perfectly adapted to modern living.

    "The house is super-comfortable to live in wide eaves to keep out the hot overhead sun in summer, floor-to-ceiling windows on the garden side to let in the low winter sun, small windows on the southerly side, black cedar and Halswell paving to act as a heat store at night. Its fully central-heated coming from the UK, where central heating has been fairly standard for over a century, this made us feel at home.

    "When we moved in, the house was filled with fantastic mid-century pieces. None of our old country-cottage furniture worked at all."

    The couple didnt want the renovations overwhelming the original house, so theyre in keeping with the style. "Weve used the same cedar boards, copper nails, door handles, rimu flooring (sourced from an old hospital), window frames, eaves, interior and exterior colours, proportions and so on.


    Built in the mid-60s this home has been mostly untouched for more than 50 years.

    "It takes a keen eye to spot the join between the old and new; many visitors cant tell its been extended. Weve maintained the sense of scale and the garden views from the kitchen."

    And it's that last sentence that sums up the holistic design approach that characterises Modernism the house is at one, not only with itself, but with the immediate outdoors, the views beyond, and of course the path of sun throughout the day.

    Read more:
    Modernism revival in Christchurch, but it never went away -

    Trump gets polling boost, but will it last? | TheHill – The Hill - March 26, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe pandemic is bad, we need the capability to measure just how bad Florida governor wants federal disaster area declaration Amash calls stimulus package 'a raw deal' for 'those who need the most help' MORE is getting a bump in the polls over his recent handling of the coronavirus pandemic but analysts warn that the uptick does not yet represent a meaningful shift in support behind the president.

    Two new surveys released Friday found majority support for Trumps handling of the health crisis. One survey showed Trumps job approval rating moving past the 50 percent mark, a rarity since he took office.

    Together, the polls indicate that voters have been encouraged by the presidents new tone and aggressive posture in dealing with the health and economic crises facing the country after a widely-panned Oval Office addressthis month.

    Presidents tend to get a bump in wartime as Americans rally around the flag, so it would be no surprise that in a time of crisis the presidents approval rating took a turn in a more positive direction, said Tim Malloy, the polling director for Quinnipiac University.

    However, experts also note that the data is limited. The U.S. is facing a potential long-term long health crisis and likely economic recession, which could completely alter the political landscape in the weeks and months before the November general election.

    At the moment, only the Harris Poll shows Trumps overall job approval rating over the 50 percent mark.

    That bump has not been reflected in polling averages, such as FiveThirtyEights job rating aggregator, where Trumps approval is at 43 percent. Several other surveys conducted over the past few days have put the president in the 46-47 percent range.

    Looking at poll averages, there is no clear impact on Trumps overall approval rating and thats whats most politically relevant, said Mark Mellmann, a Democratic pollster. We arent seeing the kind of rally around the president effect, that we see in cases of international crisis. Thats measured by the overall approval rating.

    Still, the new surveys are a positive sign for the president, whose response to the pandemic has been widely criticized in Washington, including by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenIs coronavirus the final Trump crisis? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senators clinch deal on T stimulus package Biden hits Trump's remarks about reopening economy within weeks: 'He should stop talking' MORE, the likely Democratic presidential nominee.

    A new ABC News-Ipsos survey found that 55 percent of Americans approve of the presidents management of the crisis, compared to 43 percent who disapprove. Thats a near mirror-image flip from the same poll last week, when 43 percent said they approved and 55 percent disapproved.

    Voter attitudes broke largely along party lines, with 86 percent of Republicans approving and 30 percent of Democrats saying they approve. But Trumps numbers among Democrats have doubled over last week.

    After initially downplaying the threat of the virus, the president has been holding daily press conferences from the White House briefing room that have been broadcast live by news outlets.

    There, Trump has been surrounded by top administration officials and experts, including Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhite House press secretary to return to work after negative virus test Trump officials advise people leaving New York to self-quarantine for 14 days Intercept editor: Dems want Pence to take wheel on coronavirus response MORE, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thedirector of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, andDr. Deborah Birx, thecoronavirus task force coordinator.

    That increase in transparency has coincided with big moves by the White House and Congress aimed both at curbing the spread of the virus and stabilizing the economy.

    On Friday, Trump said hed lean onemergencywar powers to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the pandemic.

    There have been new moves by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to inject new liquidity and lines of credit into the private sector on a near daily basis.

    Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senators clinch deal on T stimulus package White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package Overnight Health Care Presented by PCMA Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote Wednesday | House Dems eye two more stimulus bills | Trump says he gets along 'very well' with Fauci MORE(R-Ky.) unveiled a new economic relief package on Thursday, the third of its kind, in an effort to keep the nation from spiraling into a deep recession.

    Those efforts have earned Trump praise from surprising places, including from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who called the president fully engaged and thanked him forbeing very creative and very energetic in seeking solutions.

    He set a new tone for his presidency the one people had been looking for and for the first time some Democrats are giving him approval which in the previous partisan atmosphere they were unwilling to do, said Mark PennMark PennTrump gets polling boost, but will it last? Worried about dying from COVID-19? You might be a millennial Poll: Coronavirus fears dampen sentiment about the economy MORE, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll. Thats why his numbers are increasing.

    The Harris Poll conducted a two-wave survey, one from March 14-15 and a second from March 17-18.

    Those dual surveys found Trumps overall job approval rising from 49 percent to 53 percent. The presidents approval on his handling of COVID-19 bumped up from 51 percent to 56 percent in that time.

    However, there are some glaring weaknesses for the president in the polling data.

    For instance, 61 percent said the president can be trusted on the coronavirus. That figure is lower than it is for doctors and nurses (92 percent), medical journals (86 percent), local government (77 percent), local media (74 percent), friends and family (72 percent), or the national media (65 percent).

    Fifty-eight percent said the government has not provided enough economic relief and 56 percent said the government has not been adequately prepared to deal with the spread of the virus.

    And a survey by the American Research Group released Friday broke sharply with the other polls, finding Trumps job approval rating at only 35 percent. Forty-one percent said they approve of Trumps handling of the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 55 percent who said they disapprove.

    Trump has been criticized for spending his briefings clashing with the press, including a heated exchange with an NBC reporter, or for making claims that are sometimes at odds with what his own health experts are saying.

    There is evidence that people increasingly approve of Trumps handling of the crisis, but this is something of a comparative judgement, said Mellmann. When he was doing nothing and appearing to discount the whole pandemic, he was awful. Hes now better than that.

    Excerpt from:
    Trump gets polling boost, but will it last? | TheHill - The Hill

    Egypt’s White Desert: The alien landscape beyond the Pyramids – CNN - March 26, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Editor's Note CNN Travel's series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.

    (CNN) Egypt is most known for its Great Pyramid of Giza or for luxury resorts on both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

    Often overlooked is one of the country's most spectacular landscapes, White Desert National Park.

    The sprawling protectorate in the Farafra depression in western Egypt is a treasure trove of wonderment.

    People touring these strange lands have often felt like they're visiting another planet, despite only being a five-hour drive from Cairo.

    Trips to Egypt's Western Desert have been rising in popularity among locals and tourists alike.

    Activities range from dune bashing and sandboarding to mountain biking and kayaking in the nearby Bahariya Oasis.

    The White Desert is an otherworldly landscape in Egypt.

    Khaled Elfiqi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

    "Once they experience adventure travel there, they end up coming back again with their friends. So, they can experience it for themselves."

    Black Desert

    The journey to the White Desert usually starts with a stop at an utterly contrasting landscape -- the Black Desert.

    This desert features a myriad of unique mountain ranges. Each one carries a coat of black stones thrown out of volcanoes millions of years ago, giving the sandy landscape its colored name.

    After hiking up one of the peaks, it becomes clear that this area is devoid of any sign of life apart from a single road that stretches into the distance.

    However, that isn't the road that leads to the White Desert.

    Reaching the national park requires deflating the tires of a 4x4 Land Cruiser and dune bashing across the desert at dizzying angles.

    Zigzagging and racing down rolling dunes is a heart-pounding experience that eventually gives way to the instantly breathtaking view of the White Desert.

    The desert is home to unusual formations.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    Within seconds of arriving, questions surrounding its mysterious origins arise as its eerie beauty provides a staunch reminder that our planet is subject to powerful climate changes.

    It's completely mind-blowing to believe that this was once a sea or an ocean and that the only evidence remaining is a collection of calcified limestone rocks sculpted over time by sand and wind.

    These chalky abstract shapes seemingly change their color depending on the time of day, shifting from brilliant white to creamy, then reaching a golden brown.

    When darkness falls

    Nestled between the massive rock formations in the Valley of Agabat is a soft sandy hill that's perfect for sand boarding.

    Harder to carve and slower than riding down a snowy mountain, sand boarding still delivers a thrill, but there are no ski lifts in the desert and climbing up a steep sandy hill is exhausting.

    As the sun sets, the desert reminds everyone that this is a land of extremes and every hour since the sun's departure requires putting on a few additional layers of warmth.

    After setting up camp, the local Bedouins prepare for visitors an authentic traditional dinner over an open fire.

    The exotic aroma of the feast often draws attention from one of the rare residents of the White Desert -- the fennec fox, also known as the sand fox.

    These adorably harmless animals are hard to spot, appearing as shadowy silhouettes in the distance. They often approach campsites as they're accustomed to counting on visitors' leftovers as part of their diet.

    The desert is believed to have once been the site of an ocean or sea.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    Because of the depth of the landscape and zero light pollution in any direction, the stars shine and streak across the sky at night. This marvelous scene is arguably one of the best environments on the planet to observe the Milky Way in all its splendor.

    When the moon emerges, its brilliant light reflects off the rocky surfaces giving a blueish glow that illuminates the national park and invites nocturnal wandering across its otherworldly terrain.

    Nighttime explorers need to be wary and bring a flashlight as it's easy to get lost or trip up on the bumpy alien topography.

    Exhilarating trail

    After sunset, the landscape becomes an entirely different alien topography.

    Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

    In the morning, the rising sun wakes up even the heaviest sleeper. Before packing up camp, it's worth taking a hike to one of the park's treasured sculptures aptly known, because of its shape, as the Chicken and Mushroom.

    After leaving the park, most adventurers travel just over an hour away to the Bahariya Oasis.

    A popular attraction in the area is to climb atop the English mountain, so named because of the ruins of a British World War I outpost that crowns its highest peak.

    Reaching the top provides a spectacular 360-degree view overlooking the entire oasis, including the lush forests of delicious dates and olive trees. It also presents a challenging ride for mountain biking enthusiasts.

    Cycling down its winding paths littered with loose jagged rocks and sandy patches is not for the faint-hearted but provides those with experience an exhilarating trail.

    The bottom of the mountain leads into the pristine and untouched Bahariya Salt Lake. Incredibly, there's no development around its shores, making the calm, therapeutic lake an excellent place for kayakers to catch a majestic sunset.

    "My favorite part of the trip was kayaking with the golden rays bouncing off the water. It was a moment of pure wonder," Noreen Fadel, one of the adventurers on a recent Destination 31 trip, shared with CNN Travel.

    All these sights and activities can fit into a two or three-day trip. The longer the stay, the more time to explore the surrounding area as there are numerous attractions in the region that deserve attention.

    It may be years or decades from now before traveling to the surface of the moon is possible. Still, for those who can't wait till then, the White Desert National Park might the next best bet for lunar camping fantasies.

    Visit link:
    Egypt's White Desert: The alien landscape beyond the Pyramids - CNN

    Canadian Olympic Committee won’t send athletes to Olympics this summer | TheHill – The Hill - March 26, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not field athletes for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games set to be held in Tokyo this summer, citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

    In a joint statement obtained by the CBC, theCanadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee said that they had made the "difficult" decision to withdraw from the games to avoid exposing athletes or other officials to the coronavirus.

    "This is not solely about athlete health it is about public health," the committees added. "With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games."

    BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release:

    The statement goes on to explain that Canadian officials will reconsiderif the games are postponed beyond their currently scheduled opening date in late July.

    The Australian Olympic Committee on Sunday told athletes to prepare for the games to be held in early 2021, while Australia's prime minister reportedly said in a statement that Australian Olympians would not be allowed to travel to Tokyo to compete in the games until the outbreak has ended, according to 7News Australia.

    The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOCs announcement of a potential postponement of this years Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe, read the AOC's statement.

    The AOC held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad," the committee added.

    The International Olympic Committee has for weeks attempted to dismiss suggestions that the 2020 games would be delayed even as the global coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than 330,000 people and killed thousands, resulting in travel restrictions around the globe.

    Go here to see the original:
    Canadian Olympic Committee won't send athletes to Olympics this summer | TheHill - The Hill

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