Page 2 March 5, 2020
The NASA Tree Challenge
By Tommy Vinh Bui, MLIS , Associate
Librarian, Inglewood Public Library
Toddling up to the library, one finds their
nostrils flush with the revivifying and lifebuoying
for twenty words or less.
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In Burden, Inspired by True Events,
a Klansman Seeks Redemption
By Morgan Rojas for Cinemacy.com,
Burden debuted on the big screen two years
ago at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and
despite being officially released in a new decade,
its message is still as timely as ever.
Writer/director Andrew Heckler’s Southern
drama tells the incredible true story of an ex-
Klansman who, with the influence of his girlfriend
and the town’s local reverend, is forced to
overcome his own racism and face his disgraceful
past. It can be argued that everyone deserves a
second chance, including those who we may not
think deserve it, and Burden, now playing,is a
testament to the belief that people can change
when surrounded by unconditional love.
It’s 1996 and a motley crew of people are
preparing to open a new tourist attraction in
their rural South Carolina town; curated and
operated by Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson), the
revealing of this “Redneck KKK Museum” hits
like a punch to the gut. Racism still operates
throughout the bigoted town, with Mike
Burden (Garrett Hedlund) at the forefront of
the organization’s next-generation leaders. The
brotherhood of the KKK had been his whole
life, so the last thing he expected was to fall
in love with Judy (Andrea Riseborough),
a young mother, who would force him to
choose between his relationship with the Klan
or her heart.
As Mike struggles with this decision internally,
on the surface he is still very combative. His
behavior catches the attention of Reverend
Kennedy (Forest Whitaker), who sees Mike as
a lost boy and is determined to help him work
through his destructive past. Reverend Kennedy
reminds his skeptical congregation that only
love can drive out hate, a nice message in
theory, but difficult to put into practice when
the person you are asked to unconditionally
love has threatened to kill your community.
Reverend Kennedy’s words ruminate within
Mike, who slowly begins to let his guard down
in order to let the light, and love, in.
A hard-hitting companion piece to
another recent Neo-Nazi true-life adaptation,
Skin, Burden is a fascinating retelling of
Michael Burden’s life. Fueled by a powerhouse
performance from Garrett Hedlund, he
seamlessly embodies the quirky mannerisms
and Southern drawl of the real Mr. Burden.
He’s a character whose philosophy we can’t
understand yet still sympathize with his struggle
to leave the familiar for the unknown. Andrea
Riseborough brings compassion to her confident
portrayal of Judy, a strong woman whose sense
of justice and self-respect ultimately saved
Mike Burden’s life. Unsurprisingly, Forest
Whitaker commands every scene; his delivery
of Reverend Kennedy’s words of optimism is
both inspiring and soul-shaking. Usher also
makes an appearance as Mike’s childhood best
friend, a fun addition to a solid cast. Usher also
makes an appearance as Mike’s childhood best
friend, a fun addition to a solid cast. •
Burden, courtesy of 101 Studios
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boons afforded by the presence of
foliage-filled trees and vine-tangled trellises.
The surroundings are sumptuous and bracing
to the constitution. It’s undiluted brahmin
coursing through your bloodstream, it is.
It’s a pleasant stroll from the parking lot to
the sliding double glass doors. The transition
from the health-giving verdance of outside to
the brain-nourishing tonic that is the interior
of the library is a seamless one. Trees certainly
have their work cut out for them. Along
with providing the raw materials in which
to produce our bounty of books, they also
perform another crucial environmental duty
by absorbing and storing carbon. And you,
as citizen scientists, can help with the study
of this critical component of the ecosystem
and advocate for and protect trees, forests,
and woodland spaces.
The height of trees is a reliable indicator
of an ecosystem’s robustness. Scientists
scrutinize data such as tree height utilizing
satellite instrumentation and compile that
data to recognize trends and patterns in
growth over a long period of time. Citizen
Scientists are being compelled to participate
by measuring tree characteristics such
as height and circumference using NASA’s
GLOBE Observer app. These observations
will prove critical as scientists compare historical
data to help further a better understanding
of how carbon travels through an ecosystem.
Volunteers are compelled to gauge and measure
the height of as many trees as they can
within their local vicinity so that scientists
might be able to study and possibly improve
forest health by being aware of where pests
and diseases might be adversely affecting
trees and where stalwart and healthily resilient
ones remain. Rigorous data collection
will also aid in overall forest health research
such as determining the genetic diversity of
tree species within a specific region. You’ll
also get the singular satisfaction of knowing
that you’re making a pivotal and significant
contribution to NASA through your diligent
data-gathering and arboreal investigations.
So have an aimless amble around the library’s
grounds and harbor a keen eye for treetops
and shrubbery of all shapes and sizes. No
sapling is too small for your scientific scrutinization.
And when you’re done evaluating
those trees on your tippy-toes, mosey on into
the library and feel free to cobble together a
tiny tower of books and appraise the height
of that too. Imposing and a monument to
the new knowledge raring to be acquired. •
Your name is
the backbone of
make sure its a cut above the rest
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