Arts & Entertainment

Patricia Wright speaks at the Earth Optimism Summit in April. Photo by Ronda Ann Gregorio

By Daniel Dunaief

Determined to share success stories instead of doom and gloom, Nancy Knowlton, the Sant Chair of Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, decided to change the tone of the conservation dialog.

Knowlton organized the first Earth Optimism Summit around the most recent Earth Day this April. She searched for speakers who could share their progress and blueprints for success. That included Patricia Wright, a Stony Brook University distinguished professor who has developed an impressive legacy during her 25 years in Madagascar.

Nancy Knowlton, organizer of the first Earth Optimism Summit in April. Photo by Ronda Ann Gregorio

In Madagascar, the 10th poorest country on Earth, optimism has been growing, perhaps even more rapidly than the 1,000 endemic trees that have been making a comeback in the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. The growth of those trees has encouraged the return of animals that had retreated from an area thinned out by selective logging.

“This year, the rare and furtive bird, the scaly ground roller, came back and nested,” Wright reported. The “black and white ruffed lemur gave the area the thumbs up and reestablished territories and reproduced.”

The critically endangered golden bamboo lemur also doubled the size of its population. “The forest took 25 years to recover, but it can recover,” Wright said in her speech. Dedicated to the study of lemurs, Wright in 1991 helped create Ranomafana National Park, which is the third largest park in Madagascar. She served as a plenary speaker for a gathering that drew over 1,400 people to Washington. Scientists and policymakers held sister summits in nine other countries at the same time.

“You can’t possibly make progress in conservation if you only talk about the problems,” said Knowlton, a co-host of the summit. Knowlton knew Wright from serving on the Committee for Research and Exploration, where the two interacted six times a year. When she was putting together the list of speakers, Knowlton approached the 2014 winner of the Indianapolis Zoo Prize to see if she could share a positive message in conservation.

When Wright accepted, Knowlton was “thrilled, not only because she’s a good storyteller, but because she’s also done incredibly important work in Madagascar.” Indeed, Wright said national parks have greatly expanded from only two in the 1980s. “Now with the work of many dedicated environmentalists, including the enlightened policy of the U.S. government through USAID, we have 18 National Parks and a National Park Service to manage and protect them,” she told the session.

Restoring trees to the area also offers economic opportunity, Wright said. Under the endemic trees, farmers can grow crops like vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and wild pepper, she said. “All these products can be marketed for high prices. We will take back that land and make it productive again, doubling or tripling its value,” Wright continued.

A scientist featured in the 2014 film “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” Wright has engaged in a wide range of efforts on behalf of the Malagasy. Last year, she negotiated with a mayor on the island to pick up trash in exchange for the purchase of several wheelbarrows. She also helped encourage the renovation of 35 schools in communities around Ranomafana, where students learn critical thinking and molecular biology. This, Wright said, is occurring in a country where three out of five students don’t remain in school past fifth grade. “More children in this region are graduating from high school and over a handful have received university degrees,” she explained.

A health team also walks to 50 nearby villages, carrying medicines and basic health lessons. SBU brought drones last year, which can fly medicines as far as 40 miles away. Drones could monitor the outbreak of any unknown and potentially dangerous disease and can offer health care for people who live in ares that are inaccessible by road.

The financial support of the National Science Foundation helped create Centre ValBio, a field station and campus in the middle of the rainforest. The research station has modern facilities and equipment to conduct genetics and disease analyses. “We provide tools and training and even fiber-optic cable internet, the fastest in the region,” Wright said. They are expanding the research facilities this year.

Through research efforts, Wright and other scientists have also discovered two new species of lemurs and found two others that were considered extinct. Restoring the national forest not only brought back animals that had retreated into the inner part of the forest, but it also encouraged the growth of ecotourism.

In 1991, there was only one tourist hotel and now there are 32 hotels, providing facilities for the 30,000 tourists. “That can start to change an economy,” Wright suggested. “Cottage industries have developed like the woman’s weaving group and the basket weavers and blacksmiths who all make a good living from selling to tourists and researchers.”

Wright attributes these positive steps to a dedication to working with residents in the area. “We have been successful by training local residents and university students, by listening to what the communities want, rather than what we think is best,” she said.

Knowlton suggested that “you can’t helicopter conservation into a particular place. It’s got to be built from the ground up. She’s done it in Madagascar.” While these are positive steps, Wright declared this is just the beginning. “There are endless possibilities of scientific knowledge and research,” she said. “They all matter and impact our daily lives.”

As for the Earth Optimism Summit, Knowlton said this is just the beginning as well, originally thinking of organizing a second summit in 2020, but may hold the next one sooner. “We’re identifying what’s working and putting a spotlight on it,” Knowlton said. “The feedback has been extraordinarily, unbelievably positive. We’ve come to realize that people are demanding” another conference.

She appreciated Wright’s contribution to April’s conference.“By sharing her successes, Pat Wright brings home the message that if she can do it, so can we all,” Knowlton said. “The summit succeeded because Wright and over 240 other speakers made it obvious, through the successes that they shared, that solving the environmental problems we face is not out of reach.”

By Nancy Burner, ESQ.

Nancy Burner, Esq.

Most veterans are not aware of the wide range of benefits they may be entitled to under the United States Department of Veterans Affairs even if they did not directly retire from the military or suffer injuries in the line of duty.

For example, there is a benefit referred to as the improved pension through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), more commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance Pension (A&A). Assuming you meet the eligibility requirements, the VA permits payments to caregivers (including family members, but not spouses) for care provided to the veteran and/or the spouse.

This benefit is also commonly used for veterans and/or their surviving spouses who reside in an assisted living facility. This monthly benefit can be used along with income in order to prevent the depletion of assets for care services. There are three main requirements to qualifying for Aid and Attendance.

First, the claimant must have served at least 90 days active duty with one day served during wartime. There are specific wartime periods: World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946); Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955); Vietnam era (Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise Aug. 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975); or Persian Gulf War (Aug. 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation as well as current Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans). The claimant must have received a military discharge “other than dishonorable.”

Second, the claimant must be declared permanently and totally disabled. The definition for “permanently and total disability” is residing in a nursing home, total blindness, or so nearly blind or significantly disabled as to need or require the regular aid and attendance of another person to complete his or her daily activities. In most circumstances, if the claimant can show he or she requires assistance with at least two activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, dressing, ambulating), the disability requirement is satisfied.

Third and final, the claimant must meet the financial means test. Unfortunately, there is no set financial standard, which can make it very difficult to ascertain if the claimant qualifies for the benefit. As a general rule, the claimant should not have more than $50,000 to $80,000 in net worth excluding the home of the claimant.

Additionally, the claimant must make a showing that his or her monthly unreimbursed medical expenses exceed his or her monthly income. When making this determination, the claimant should add up all of his or her monthly medical costs, including but not limited to the cost of services provided by professional caregivers as well as family members and rent paid to an assisted living facility.

Once all three prongs are satisfied, the veterans and/or spouse can receive this pension. The maximum benefit available for a single veteran in 2017 is $1,794 per month. A widow of a veteran is eligible for a maximum benefit of $1,153 per month in 2017. A married veteran is eligible for $2,127 per month in 2017. A veteran couple is eligible for $2,841 per month in 2017.

It is imperative to understand that currently there is no look-back period for VA planning, which makes asset eligibility and planning possible in most cases. There is planning that can be done in order to qualify the veteran or the surviving spouse for this benefit.

The application process can be lengthy, but the claimant can always seek help from a local accredited VA attorney or through the United States Veteran’s Services Agency, Human Services Division. If the benefits are denied, applicants should be aware that the decision for these claims can be appealed by the veteran and/or the surviving spouse.

Nancy Burner, Esq. practices elder law and estate planning from her East Setauket office.

‘Orange Flame’ by Richard Dolce, last year’s first-place winner in the Tulip Festival’s photography contest. Photo from Town of Huntington

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a Tulip Festival? The natural beauty of the historic Heckscher Park will once again serve as the backdrop for the Town of Huntington’s highly anticipated signature spring tradition this Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now in its 17th year, the event was the brainchild of Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D).

“The 17th Annual Huntington Tulip Festival is a free event that has something for the whole family to enjoy. There is live entertainment throughout the afternoon on the Chapin Rainbow Stage, booths with hands-on activities for children and thousands of colorful tulips throughout the park,” said Cuthbertson, adding, “So please stop by Heckscher Park and enjoy the festivities.”

Janice Bruckner will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 2 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

In addition to the festivities, the Heckscher Museum of Art will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering a special reduced pricing of $2 per person (members and children under 10 free!). Docents will be in the galleries leading tours beginning at 2 p.m. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions Thaddeus Holownia: Walden Revisited, Earth Muse: Art and the Environment and The Art of Narrative: Timeless Tales and Visual Vignettes.

Since its inception, Huntington’s Tulip Festival has also included an annual photo contest. Entries by amateur and professional photographers will be juried to select the images most evocative of the beauty and family orientation of the festival and must be postmarked or received by July 31. Prize-winning images will be used in festival publicity.

Entertainment schedule

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ­— Student Art Contest. Building up to the festival was an art contest for area students organized by the Huntington Arts Council. Award-winning work will be displayed near the Rainbow Chapin Stage.

Noon to 4 p.m. — Springtime Is for the Birds Art Workshop. Feathers will fly when children of all ages are invited to create colorful, mixed-media birds to celebrate spring on the terrace of the Heckscher Museum. In the event of inclement weather, activities will take place in the museum.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. — Children’s Music with Mike Soloway. Soloway is a teacher and performer of children’s music residing in Huntington. His children’s recordings include the “Moving With Mike” series, the “Preschool Action Song” series in addition to the albums “Hungry for Manners” and “School Bus Songs.”

Inkarayku will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 1 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

1 to 1:45 p.m. — Inkarayku: Journey Through the Andes. An interactive children’s concert, Journey through the Andes takes children on a musical journey through the Andes Mountains, starting in northern Ecuador and ending in Bolivia. The concert features a storytelling narrative, singing along games and group dancing. Inkarayku members use large floor maps, theatrical costumes and props to transport youngsters to another time and place, giving them a one of kind educational experience.

2 to 3 p.m. — Songs & Puppetry with Janice Buckner. Buckner is one of the nation’s top performing artists for children. She tours nationally and has appeared on radio and television, as well as over 4,000 schools and concert halls. Buckner entertains audiences of all ages with her voice, guitars, puppets and her knowledge of Sign Language for the Deaf. She is noted for her voice, her creativity and the outstanding quality of her lyrics.

4 p.m. — Festival Closes. Museum exhibits on view until 5 p.m.

For more information regarding the Tulip Festival or if you would like to volunteer for the day, please call 631-351-3099.

Honoree US Vice President Joe Biden (center) stands with Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President, Stony Brook University, Former and James H. Simons, Chair Emeritus, Stony Brook Fountation and IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond during the 2017 Stars of Stony Brook Gala at Chelsea Piers April 19, 2017, in New York, NY. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for Stony Brook University)

Stony Brook University recognized the 47th vice president of the United States of America, the Honorable Joseph R. Biden Jr., at its 18th annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala on April 19 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. The former vice president was recognized for his outstanding career and dedication to the fight against cancer.

“Cancer touches us all in some way and at some point,” said Biden. “Everywhere I go, people share their stories of heartbreak and hope. And every day, I’m reminded that our work to end cancer as we know it is bigger than just a single person. It carries the hopes and dreams of millions of people who are praying that we succeed, praying for hope, praying for time — not someday, but now.”

As vice president, Biden led the White House Cancer Moonshot, with the mission to double the rate of progress in preventing and fighting the disease. Under his leadership, the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force catalyzed novel, innovative and impactful collaborations among 20 government agencies, departments and White House offices and over 70 private sector collaborations designed to achieve a decades’ worth of progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in just five years.

In addition, Biden helped lead the effort to pass the 21st Century Cures Act that provides $1.8 billion over seven years for the Cancer Moonshot’s scientific priorities.

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to honor former Vice President Biden,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley. “The Cancer Moonshot has the potential to transform cancer research and prevention around the world. This critical initiative is a reflection of the work our researchers and doctors are doing in Stony Brook Cancer Center labs — using insight, innovation and strategic collaborations to push the boundaries of what we know about how best to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent the disease that is responsible for more than 8 million deaths a year worldwide.”

Research and discovery are at the heart of the Stony Brook ethos and the university’s Cancer Center is a shining example of its commitment to combating the malady. Stony Brook doctors are on the forefront of the next generation in cancer care.

The Cancer Center will relocate next year to the new 254,000 square-foot Medical and Research Translation facility (MART), which was designed to enable scientists and physicians to work side by side to advance cancer research and imaging diagnostic and will be the home to the new Bahl Center for Metabolomics and Imaging. Stony Brook researchers are receiving worldwide attention for their pioneering research into the genesis and behavior of cancer cells at the molecular level, which will one day help detect, treat, and eliminate the disease altogether.

Every spring the Stony Brook Foundation hosts the Stars of Stony Brook Gala to benefit student scholarships and a select academic program. Since its inception in 2000, the event has raised more than $42 million. A portion of the net proceeds from this year’s gala will support the Stony Brook Cancer Center.

Biden joins a distinguished roster of scholars, politicians, celebrities and luminaries who have been honored by the gala for their outstanding and relentless commitment to society, including Nobel Laureate CN Yang; actors Julie Andrews, Alan Alda and Ed Harris; founder of Renaissance Technologies Jim Simons; CA Technologies founder Charles Wang; and world-renowned conservationists Richard Leakey and Patricia Wright.

Eric Stewart

Eric Stewart will raise the baton on Saturday, May 13 when the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association (LISCA) presents its annual spring concert, Masterworks by French Composers of the 19th and 20th Century at 8 p.m. at St. James Roman Catholic Church, located at 429 Route 25A in Setauket.

Stewart took over the role of conductor in January after Thomas Schmidt, the previous conductor of the venerable, nearly 50-year old community chorus retired after serving for 11 years.

Eric Stewart

Expressing his whole-hearted enthusiasm for the selected works of the upcoming program, Stewart said, “This wonderful, all-French program features delightful variety, despite the fact that all three pieces were written within one hundred years of one another (1865-1959). Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine is a beloved staple of the choral repertoire. It is short, sweet and features melodies and harmonies prototypical of French Romanticism.”

He continues, “Poulenc’s Gloria mixes light and playful moments with some deep and brooding passages. It is full of wit and beautiful contrast. The highlight of the program, Durufle’s Requiem, re-imagines Gregorian Chant, combining it with 20th century impressionistic sensibilities. Chant-like melodies and Renaissance inspired counterpoint are imbued with lush harmonies and sweeping orchestral gestures. I could not think of a more exciting program with which to make my debut with LISCA.”

Classical music was not Stewart’s first love. Dabbling with a variety of instruments as a child led to an intense focus in his teenage years on the guitar with a plan to pursue a music degree in performance of rock/jazz fusion style. An “aha moment” came at age 17 with the purchase of a CD of Mozart Piano Concerti.

“Struck so deeply by the music,” his focus changed completely. Piano studies followed, but a sense that it was too late to be pursuing a classical instrument for performance, his focus shifted to composition and conducting. A summer spent at Interlochen Arts Camp cemented his decision to pursue a career in classical music. Stewart studied composition and conducting at the Peabody Conservatory (B.M. and M.M.), going on to earn a doctorate in composition from the University of Toronto. His compositions have been performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

We look forward to introducing Stewart to our faithful audience of the past 49 years and extend a special invitation to those who haven’t experienced our concerts in the past as we anticipate our 50th anniversary next season. A reception with light refreshments will be held following the concert.

Tickets may be purchased through our website at www.lisca.org, from singers and at the door. General admission is $25, seniors, $20 and students are free. For further information, call 631-751-2743.

Submitted by LISCA member, Martina Matkovic

Reese

MEET REESE!  Reese is a happy 1-year-old rottweiler mix who loves to go for long walks and to play outside. He gets along well with other dogs and children, is neutered, microchipped and up to date on all of his vaccines. Reese was rescued from a high-kill shelter in Texas. He’s safe now at Kent Animal Shelter and is in search of a forever home where he will be loved and cared for. Could that be with you? Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. For more information on Reese and other adoptable pets at Kent, please call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

'Peony' by Joseph Reboli

By Susan Risoli

The poet/artist William Blake wrote of seeing “a World in a Grain of Sand, and a Heaven in a Wild Flower” and holding “Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour.” The Reboli Center for Art and History will consider the ways different artists see not only wildflowers but landscape in all its elements, through its latest exhibit In Bloom, which opens May 2.

‘Hydrangeas’ by Ty Stroudsburg

The show features paintings by Joseph Reboli and Ty Stroudsburg’s paintings and pastels. Although Reboli was known for classical realism and Stroudsburg works in a more abstract, less representational way, the artists knew and admired each other, said Lois Reboli in a recent interview. “The exhibit will be a riot of color,” she said, as her late husband’s work is presented side-by-side with Stroudsburg’s.

The Reboli Center opened this past fall to preserve the legacy left by Joe Reboli, a well-known painter and longtime Three Village resident who died in 2004. Every exhibit will show his paintings together with work done by someone he knew.

Stroudsburg will show 12 pieces in the In Bloom exhibit. Some are framed oil paintings on paper, others are oils on linen canvas and the rest are framed pastels. Although she and Reboli shared the same birth date (Sept. 25) and a love of landscape, they respond to their environments differently.

Lush abstraction

“The first thing I deal with is color,” Stroudsburg said in a recent interview. “I just love it.” Her slashing brushwork (“people have called it ‘Zorro-esque’”) grew from her abstract expressionist work done in the 1960s. “I love to experiment with what the paint can do,” Stroudsburg explained.

‘Vineyard’s Edge’ by Ty Stroudsburg

When it comes to interpreting light, “I don’t use it in terms of light and shadow. But obviously, without light there’s no color, so it’s there.” Areas of lush color lead the eye around her pieces, as one takes note of the forms and textures Stroudsburg uses to interpret what she called the “natural, unpopulated world.” The result, she said, is “an effort to record the pervasive qualities of places that excited my vision. In this way, hopefully, the viewers of my work will be able to share that vision.”

Stroudsburg is a self-taught artist who started her career as a teacher. “I lasted three weeks,” she said wryly. A 1962 trip to Long Island changed her life. Inspired by the Parrish Museum, Guild Hall and then-rural South Fork, “I got a part-time job in a dress shop, just continued to paint and that was it,” she recalled. Stroudsburg lives in Southold now, where the North Fork’s farm fields and changing seasons “are a big point of takeoff” for her art.

Yin versus Yang

Presenting Stroudsburg’s landscapes alongside Reboli’s demonstrates how artists can see the same subject with different vision, said Colleen Hanson, co-director of the Reboli Center with Lois Reboli and B.J. Intini. In Stroudsburg’s and Reboli’s interpretations of nature, “you have this kind of yin/yang painting of Long Island. Both are known for color and light, but Ty is abstract and Joe used classical realism.”

‘Hydrangea Cottage’ by Joe Reboli

Sunlit vegetables that almost seem to glow from within, spirited hydrangeas staking their claim against the wall of an old cottage, Stony Brook Village blanketed with snow — all are rendered with Reboli’s attention to light and shadow, and his devotion to interpreting the hallmarks of a season.

“In the 1960s, when Joe went to the Paier School of Art, there was a huge abstraction push” in the art world, Hanson said. “Many schools were deviating from a classical education component” but Reboli embraced and excelled in the tradition. In Stroudsburg’s painting, “Ty’s strokes are looser, the composition is looser. Her work has that color field and movement that just engages you.”

Showing Reboli’s art next to the work of other artists gives people “a way to understand how different origins make for different paintings,” Hanson said. “What we’re trying to do is explore Joe’s origins and his references. We show the contrast with painters who were in the same area at the same time, doing the same subject.”

Third Friday talks

The Reboli Center’s monthly Third Friday talks from 6 to 8 p.m. link the local community with its history, said Lois Reboli, while at the same time focusing on aspects of the exhibits.

On May 19, the center will welcome Christina Strassfield, museum director and chief curator of Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, who will speak about “My Life in Museums,” a life and career shaped by art.

‘Peony’ by Joseph Reboli

On June 16, Deborah Johnson, deputy director and director of development at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington and author of a book titled “Joseph Reboli,” will speak about Reboli’s work.

On July 21, Katharine Griffiths, director of Avalon Park and Preserve, will discuss the park’s use of native plants. Reboli’s mother Olga Jicinsky Reboli was born and raised in “a little tiny house” that eventually became the renovated building where Avalon Park staff are headquartered, Lois Reboli pointed out.

Third Fridays are a chance for people to gather for stimulating discussion and “a wonderful, fun evening,” Reboli said. “We’re pretty much packed every time we have one.” The talks are free and light refreshments will be served.

The Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook will present In Bloom from May 2 through July 30. An artist reception is yet to be scheduled. The center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org

Fotis Sotiropoulos and Chrisa Arcan with local children in the village of Ileret.

By Chrisa Arcan

Led by Dr. Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), a group of Stony Brook University faculty and administrative personnel visited the Turkana Basin in Kenya in March with the goal of setting the stage for the 2017 CEAS Global Engineering Field School (http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/ceas/news/2017/march/global_innovation.php).

The trip was organized by Dr. Lawrence Martin, Professor at Stony Brook University Department of Anthropology and Director of the , (TBI) (http://www.turkanabasin.org), a Stony Brook University affiliated institute established in 2005 in Turkana, Kenya, by world renowned anthropologist and Stony Brook University Professor Richard Leakey.

Fotis Sotiropoulos and Chrisa Arcan with local children in the village of Ileret.

Under this newly established CEAS summer program, a group of undergraduate engineering students will visit TBI for an immersion education on global issues and needs that are different from what they are familiar with, in order to develop engineering solutions to address the survival challenges of people in rural Kenya and other places facing similar issues.

TBI facilities were developed with the purpose of offering a permanent infrastructure to enable year-round paleoanthropology and related scientific research in this remote area of sub-Saharan Africa. The Turkana Basin is a region where abundant evidence documenting the history of human evolution has been uncovered.

Recent research on DNA shows that every human being alive today can be traced to a common ancestral population that lived around that area 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. It is literally the birthplace of humankind. Today TBI, with its two field centers, one on either side of Lake Turkana, is a global center of excellence in paleoanthropological research.

Women and children dig deep into the dry river beds to find their daily water supply.

Our first stop was a two-day stay at Mpala Research Centre. The center is affiliated with Princeton University and conducts research in conservation and wildlife with a focus on benefiting the surrounding communities. Thanks to the director of the center, Dr. Dino Martins a former TBI postdoc at Stony Brook, our stay at Mpala was absolutely memorable: We toured the research facilities, the surrounding areas and dry river beds and brainstormed on opportunities to harness the local resources and develop programs that would benefit the local communities, and we marveled at the amazing landscape and its rich wildlife.

From Mpala we boarded a single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan airplane and flew to TBI to start our next journey in the northern-most region of Kenya to Ileret, a small remote village in northern Kenya, in the east side of Lake Turkana, close to the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

As we took a tour of the local clinic, Beatrice, the nurse of the clinic described the multiple health conditions of the locals, especially the children, and the limitations under which she works. The majority of children suffer from at least one type of malnutrition with a large percentage of them being stunted; the latest prolonged drought has exacerbated their condition and increased their deficiency of multiple essential nutrients.

The clinic we visited, a stand-alone small structure, consisted of only a few rooms and of bare medical essentials; everything was in dire need of repair: broken windows, cracked walls, limited medical supplies and a nonfunctioning fridge meant to store drugs, to name a few.

Yet, despite all this, Beatrice and her assistants work tirelessly to perform medical miracles (and always with a smile), from prenatal care, to deliveries, albeit their complications in need of serious surgical procedures, to child nutrition supplementation, to treating any communicable disease, to community education for family planning, vaccinations and many more. My discussions with the nurse brought to life my education on global health and nutrition.

We had the opportunity to see firsthand the local needs and current community projects supported by TBI, like the clinic, school and teachers, and appreciated the opportunities in alternative energy solutions, food systems and health.

We visited the local villages and witnessed the devastating effects of the worst drought in 60 years on peoples’ survival. We saw women and girls digging by hand deep into the ground to find a little bit of precious water, which they also had to carry back to their homes.

Needless to say the water was contaminated with organic and inorganic material, and the apparently clean water from boreholes had fluoride at dangerously high levels. The drought and scarcity and poor quality of water took a devastating toll on food production and livestock for people in that region. Thus food quantity and variety are extremely limited and the signs of food insecurity are apparent in every child and adult.

Village houses

We visited the village homes, single-room domelike structures, built by women from tree branches and corrugated metal sheets that serve as both a cooking and sleeping space for the entire family. Cooking inside the structures creates dangerous air pollution, and as the nurse in the clinic pointed out, respiratory problems are the most prevalent health conditions, especially among children.

We had the chance to interact with the locals and best of all to play with the children; their excitement and fascination when we took selfies and saw themselves on the screen was contagious. What a joy to interact with the happiest children that I have ever seen, despite their daily hardship for survival!

Located in a remote area with scarce resources, TBI is the ideal place to serve as an incubator for inspiration and pilot testing of future engineering, agriculture and public health ideas that can be transferred to benefit the local communities.

All the facilities at TBI have been built by locals using construction materials that, for the most part, were manufactured on-site. The facilities are powered using wind and solar energy and the water is purified using reverse osmosis. It is even equipped with a small greenhouse farm, testing vertical hydroponic and organic farming techniques that can support the growth of a variety of vegetables under harsh local conditions. All these initiatives and more serve as inspirations for future sustainable programs that can benefit the local communities.

Our trip to Kenya lasted only a week but it was filled with fascinating and enriching experiences. We left with many images, impressions and feelings, but most of all with a hope and a motivation that each one of us has found a compelling reason to return and contribute. However, our trip would not have been as rewarding and fulfilling without the organization and hospitality of everyone whom we met and who contributed to our memorable experience.

Chrisa Arcan, PhD, MHS, MBA, RD is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University.

Above, a harvested horseradish root

By Ellen Barcel

Horseradish should be planted at the end of April or beginning of May to be harvested the following late fall.

It’s time to plan and plant your herb garden, a garden filled with plants used to provide flavoring for a wide variety of dishes. I particularly like horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) so am planning to grow a bit this year.

How does one use horseradish? My father loved roast beef with horseradish spread on it, whether it be on hot roast beef just out of the oven or on a cold sandwich. I once had a great chicken dish served in a resort where the chicken was baked covered with a thin layer of horseradish.

Several companies also make a cheddar flavored with horseradish. I used to be able to find a hummus with horseradish. Now, if I want it, I need to mix my own horseradish with the hummus. I’ve seen a great recipe for a cream sauce flavored with horseradish. So, basically, horseradish can be used as a flavoring for almost any savory dish if you like its strong taste.

According to the Horseradish Information Council, it has been used as far back as 1500 B.C. by the Egyptians. Since horseradish is hot, one or maybe two plants at the most are usually enough for a family, unless you and your friends and relatives really love the taste. You can buy crowns from a nursery or even use a root from the supermarket.

The horseradish plant can be planted in a pot to keep it from spreading.

Horseradish can be grown in the ground or in pots. Personally, I prefer to raise my herbs in pots or in window boxes. Plants in pots are less likely to be strangled by nearby plants and less likely to spread into other plants, taking over my garden (as horseradish and plants like mints can do). Also, I control the soil — I usually use a good-quality potting soil.

Plant your horseradish at the end of April or beginning of May, depending on weather and then harvest the following late fall (after a hard frost for the hottest flavor), winter or early spring, making sure you keep a few pieces of root in the soil for the following year’s harvest since horseradish is a perennial plant. It does well in U.S.D.A. zones 4 to 7 (Long Island is zone 7) and requires little care. If you decide you don’t want to grow horseradish next year, make sure you remove all the sections of roots or it will regrow.

Horseradish grows in a wide variety of conditions but does require a rich soil, so add a generous amount of compost to the soil. Like most herbs, it grows best in sun but will tolerate light shade. Long Island’s soil is very acidic (test yours), but horseradish prefers a soil near neutral (a pH of 7). This means you need to use a good-quality potting soil if growing it in a container or add lime to your garden soil if growing in the ground. Water the plants once a week as long as there is some rain, more in drought conditions, but make sure that you don’t overwater them. They like moist but not soggy soil. If you decide to add fertilizer, do it only once in spring — personally I prefer to add more compost.

Store the harvested roots in the fridge. When ready to use, peel and then grate the harvested roots, add a dash of salt and cover with vinegar and store in your fridge for future use. I’ve read that a bit of sugar added to the mixture will cut the hot flavor. Remember that a little horseradish goes a long way. For more recipes and uses visit the Horseradish Information Council website at www.horseradish.org.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

By Barbara Beltrami

It seems that these days there’s hardly a restaurant menu that doesn’t offer salmon in some form. And there is hardly a supermarket with a fish department or a fish monger that doesn’t display salmon front and center. It’s easy to see why. First of all, because of its nutritional value as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, potassium, B vitamins and selenium among others, it can hardly be ignored as a staple for a healthy diet.

Additionally it’s among the tastiest and most versatile of fish in that it lends itself easily to myriad flavors and preparations. I like it so much and cook it so often that it’s difficult for me to choose just three recipes to share with you. But here it goes. First is salmon cakes, a hearty salmon chowder and finally a roasted salmon with soy sauce, brown sugar and orange.

Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup minced onion

1 tablespoon minced green pepper

1/3 cup minced celery

1 pound cooked fresh salmon, flaked

¾ cup unflavored bread crumbs

1 tablespoon chopped chives

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS: In a medium skillet, melt one tablespoon of the butter, then add the onion, green pepper and celery. Cook, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion is transparent. Cool mixture slightly, then place in a medium bowl and add salmon. Stir in the bread crumbs, chives, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape into four patties and chill for one hour. Heat remaining butter in skillet; add salmon cakes and cook over medium heat, turning once, until both sides are golden and centers are heated through. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with tartar sauce, french fries and cole slaw.

Salmon Chowder

Salmon Chowder

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups milk

¼ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup chopped celery

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup tomato juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound cooked fresh salmon, skin and bones removed, coarsely flaked

3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: In a small saucepan heat milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter, then sauté the onions and celery until soft and opaque, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Add hot milk and, stirring constantly, continue cooking over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Stir in tomato juice, salt and pepper. Add salmon and heat but do not boil. Sprinkle with parsley and dill and serve immediately. Serve with crackers, preferably saltines.

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

One 1.5 pound piece fresh salmon, cut into 4 equal portions

3 tablespoon soy sauce

2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

One small garlic clove, bruised

2 teaspoons orange zest

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange salmon pieces on foil. In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, orange juice, oil, garlic, orange zest and pepper. Remove garlic clove and discard. Carefully drizzle the mixture onto the salmon. Place baking sheet in top half of oven and roast for about 12 minutes, more or less depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Serve with broccoli rabe, spinach, Swiss chard or bok choy and rice.