July 13, 2018

Amid an opioid crisis, public libraries in Utah are distributing overdose-reversal naloxone kits

Here are three stories on how local innovation can make a difference in everyday lives

The drug Naloxone is used to revive people suffering from an opioid overdose. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Today, libraries in Utah step up the battle against opioid addiction, a local farmers market in the Seattle area is “supercharged” with the addition of locally grown “ethnic superfoods,” and youth in suburban D.C. are empowered to take on adult issues. Tell us who’s innovating in your hometown. Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

Libraries join fight against opioid epidemic: Patrons of Salt Lake County’s 18 libraries can now pick up a free emergency drug overdose-reducing pack in addition to their summer reads. The kit contains two injectable syringes of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The kits are part of a program stemming from Utah Naloxone, an initiative of the University of Utah School of Medicine. Distribution of the kits is the second phase of a program to train library staff to deal with the event of an opioid overdose.

“The library is all about lifelong learning and providing a positive experience and a welcoming space,” Liz Sollis, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake County Library system, told Route Fifty. “We are committed to the community and we want the community to know that we’re there for them, in any circumstance. I think it’s a great tool for us to have.”

Community bonding over food: A bountiful harvest of “ethnic superfoods” will be showing up at a Seattle area farmers market thanks to the efforts of Living Well Kent, a cooperative made up of immigrant farmers, refugees, and people of color. Vegetables such as spider plants will rest alongside radishes and kale at the East Hill Farmers Market in Kent, Washington.

“Some of these are produce we as immigrants use at home,” David Bulindah, a Kenyan native who heads the farming enterprise, told Civil Eats. “We planted the radishes for this [American] market, but we also wanted to create a new market with ethnic vegetables, knowing that with their nutritional value, many people would enjoy those, too.”

The greenhouse-grown vegetables will come in 10 different varieties and some of the produce will be made available to local food banks. Shamso Issak, Living Well’s executive director, told Civil Eats that the goal was to have immigrant-grown food made available locally, a move that plays nicely into Kent’s diversity as a community.

The two-year-old farmers market grew out of immigrant concern about food insecurity; many of the immigrants relocating to Kent lacked accessible grocery stores and found a scarcity of the kinds of healthy food available in their homelands. Living Well Kent was launched thanks to a small federal grant, which was channeled through the public health agency of Seattle and King County.

Fresh ideas in City Hall: Five years ago, Takoma Park, Maryland, became the first city in the nation to lower its voting age to 16 for city elections. Last year, the city instituted a seven-member Youth Council, giving the newly empowered teens a chance to shape the issues they were voting on.

“What’s been very important to the Youth Council right now is establishing relationships and making our presence known,” Kiran Kochar McCabe, 16, chair of the Youth Council told CityLab. “It’s the first year we’ve been in existence, which is why we’re not as focused on policies, and that sort of change, right now, this year. We’re focused a lot more on reaching out to youth and really understanding what they’re interested in.”

But the council has taken on adult issues, such as developing a plan for Takoma Junction, jumping into the quagmire of debate surrounding the future of a downtown parking lot owned by the city. The Youth Council came out in favor of developing the property, an angle that’s not sitting well with adults living nearby. But the council cited the need for a bus stop at the location as “being important to people of our age.”

Next year the council plans to start digging into policy issues, among the items it’s targeted are improved rights for transgender teens in the local schools.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project is an initiative by Allstate that spotlights local innovation and celebrates community change-makers.