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Why a photo of this 93-year-old and her lawn mowers is going viral.

By Robbie Couch –

When Rodney Smith Jr. learned that an elderly woman in his community was mowing her own lawn, he wasn’t about to let that fly.

“We did this sweet lady’s lawn today,” the Alabama man wrote on Facebook, in addition to posting the photo below. “She is 93, the neighbors told us that she been out [there] trying to cut her own lawn.”

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The sweet photo began to spread, fast.Since it was posted on April 23, 2016, the image has been Liked by 1 million people and shared more than 175,000 times.
“So proud of you guys,” wrote one commenter.
“Bless her,” wrote another. “Good work, fellas.”
Clearly, Smith’s photo is tugging at heartstrings both in and far beyond his Alabama community. Smith is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a group that’s lending a hugely helpful hand to neighbors in need.

Smith, a student at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, launched his organization so elderly folks, single parents, and people with disabilities — those who may not “have the time, resources and/or money to manicure their yards” — could still have well-kept lawns free of charge.

“The typical response is tears of joy,” he told Upworthy of his group’s impact.

Since it launched in December 2015, the group of about 20 young people have mowed over 300 lawns, according to Smith.

As Smith notes on the Raising Men’s Facebook page, the group’s not just about helping others, either — it’s about helping the youth who get involved as well:

“I want to restore the importance and understanding of giving back to the community. I want to show our children (our future) that by helping others they too will receive a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, moral value, and purpose in themselves.”

Folks in Smith’s community may even return home to a sweet surprise without having signed up for the service.

His group of mowers has a habit of dropping in unexpectedly when neighbors aren’t home to mow their lawns and leaving a note on the front door (they’ve done it time and time again).
Raising Men Lawn Care Service decided to raise funds on a GoFundMe page so they can continue to expand their impact.

Funds raised through the page will go toward things like lawn equipment, refreshments for the mowers, and T-shirts with the group’s logo.

As of April 27, 2016, the group had raised more than $10,500 of their $11,500 goal.

“When we come and cut their lawn and let them know we will be back every two weeks to cut it, they are so happy,” Smith explained to Upworthy. “Words really can’t describe it.” It sounds like plenty more lawns — and even more hearts — will be changed for good if the Raising Men team has anything to say about it. Learn more about Smith’s story and help his group reach their goals on GoFundMe.

 

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Is Money Happiness? Is Ignorance Bliss?

bliss

I recently saw this photo on one of my FaceBook feeds. The author, a very well intended young lady, had the following to say:

“I wonder what the people in a third world country would think if they saw our expensive lifestyles and knew that despite the plentiful abundance of food and water and clothes, that we still live in stress and frustration and unhappiness.

As they walked around searching for a bite of bread– would they be angry that we take for granted our plentiful resources and wealth untold?”

‪#‎beblessed‬ ‪#‎begrateful‬ ‪#‎bethankful‬ ‪#‎changeyourperspective‬‪#‎thebottombillion‬

With the hatred and bile building in the current political campaign, I just wonder how many of the “power mongers” are happy.

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Who looks the happiest here?

 

 

I live near a couple of very prosperous neighborhoods; Atherton and Hillsborough.   Atherton is where the houses go for acres, and Hillsborough is where Robin Williams recently took his own life.  Gated communities, high pressure jobs, not knowing your neighbors, security companies, social and political paranoia, Illuminati conspiracies…

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All I am saying, is a few years ago I saw a different side.  We were in vacation with my wife and kids down south of Cancun.  I never like staying in the big Cities, and I know enough Spanish to get around, at least where (outside of the coastal tourist spots where they all want to work on their English).  Drop me off in downtown Guad, and I can get around just fine (after a tequila or two).

We stayed in a Palapa in Puerto Morelos.  It was near the beach, tnlannew_Unique-Paamul-Palapa-Home-Puerto-Aventuras-real-estateand mosquito infested, but we loved it.  There was a mexican family right across the courtyard on the street side, and my girls both went through several years of Spanish Immersion school back home, so they hit it off.

They helped with the other mexican girls’ homework (my eldest ended up being a teacher in LA to mostly hispanic kids later, a different story).  I drank all evening with Senior Hernandez, and in his non existent english, and a camaraderie born of tequila and Cerveza, we had a grand old time.

The next afternoon, Domingo, or Sunday, we went into town to get our $5 Pollo, con arroz y frijoles.  fiesta-night-in-the-squareThe thing that amazed me then, and to this day, is the poverty.  It is a small fishing village.  They have dirt floors and very poor if any plumbing.  They still all get together in the town center, several nights a week at about 10:00pm, and party till the wee hours of dawn together.

When you travel down the dirt roads of this town, all you see are smiles.  Many of them are toothless, and I’m sure few of them have the same life expectancy of those who can afford Dr. Phil advice, Mayo Clinic meds, or Betty Ford.  But how much better off are we – really?

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Ethical consumers are perceived as odd, boring, unattractive, and not stylish

women shopping for clothes

Francisco Osorio — People feel threatened when they see others making ethical consumer choices.

An amusing new study delves into the social consequences of one person witnessing another person doing the ‘ethical thing’ — and why it makes them uncomfortable.

Do you consider yourself to be an ethical consumer? If so, then be careful about the way in which you promote those ethics to friends and families. An intriguing new study has found that ethical consumerism actually irritates many people and backfires by pushing them away from making ethical choices.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Fisher School of Business and McCombs School of Business, asked subjects about what information they look for when buying a new pair of jeans. The subjects were told they could only get details on two of the following categories: price, style, denim wash, and child labor practices.

Those who did not select child labor as one of their conditions were then asked to rate their opinion of those who did. Their conclusion: “They rated the do-gooders low on positive traits (such as attractive and stylish) and high on negative traits (such as odd and boring).”

What does this say about present-day shoppers?

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, one of the lead researchers, Professor Rebecca Walker Reczek, points out that these results are not surprising. Earlier research has already shown that most consumers do not consider a company’s ethical practices when selecting a product. This study digs deeper, however, by questioning the social consequences of one person witnessing another person doing the ethical thing.

When a person sees someone else doing something morally correct, there are two possible outcomes. Either that person becomes inspired to act similarly, or they feel the need to denigrate the other person for being so proper. Psychologists call this “social comparison theory,” where humans have an innate need to compare themselves to each other.

The Guardian explains: “The underlying problem goes way beyond shopping. Faced with any ethical outrage, there are two ways to make your negative feelings go away. One is to address the outrage; the other is to try not to think about it – as with the people who chose not to learn about child labour. You can deal with the horrors of factory farming by becoming vegetarian – or by not hanging out with vegetarians who bang on about factory farms.”

People do not feel threatened by exceptional acts of ethical behavior because they feel exempt from such impossibly high standards, i.e. Mother Teresa helping the poorest of the poor in India and Nelson Mandela doing jail time for leading South Africa out of apartheid. Stories of ethical leaders such as these do result in ‘moral elevation’ – when you see those actions and want to emulate them.

Do shoppers really not care?

They do care, Reczek says, but they don’t want to have to dig for information. If labor practices are placed in clear view in a store, then shoppers will usually try to make the ethical choice. When information requires more in-depth research and questioning, however, shoppers prefer to remain ignorant.

Interestingly, a second study by the same researchers found that when people have the opportunity to make a free donation to a charity by clicking on a website before being asked to rate the other person making an ethical shopping decision, they were ultimately less critical and negative:

“The people who got to do [the free donation] didn’t put down the other person because they’d had a chance to shore up their ethical identity and didn’t experience the same sense of threat.”

It’s all rather depressing, but keep in mind that people feel the need to denigrate ethical shoppers precisely because they know these things matter. Just make sure you don’t tell others that their choices are wrong and evil because that’s the fastest way to ensure they’ll block it out and, as Oliver Burkeman poetically puts it, “conveniently convince themselves you’re a freak.”

Tags: Ethical | Shopping

 

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Video

Thank you everyone for your incredible comments. I’m in tears reading them all. So grateful. Please, PLEASE if you haven’t already, SHARE this video. We CAN make a difference! Jxx

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You may have heard about some of the issues that coal seam gas mining is causing in the Condamine River and surrounding areas where I grew up in Australia. You may not have heard about the devastating emotional and human toll it’s taking on some of our farmers. We’re honored to have worked with Helen Bender – George Bender on the video for our collaboration with Rob Hirst, The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) and hope after watching you feel as shocked and outraged as we do.

 

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How We Turned Success Into Defeat and Endless War In Afghanistan

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Western media pretends the war is over, even as people join the Taliban or ISIS or leave.

Another year, another spring offensive. The massive truck bomb that detonated in Tuesday’s morning rush hour followed by gunfire, killing 28 and wounding hundreds more, was sadly nothing new for the Afghan capital. More than 15 years after Western leaders declared victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan, the insurgents now control more territory than at any time since.

Are we in danger of losing the place where all this started – the land we swore would never again be left as ungoverned space in which terrorism could flourish? It’s common to trace the beginnings of ISIS back to the war in Iraq but its founders cut their teeth in Afghanistan—as did one of the main jihadi recruiters in the now infamous Brussels suburb of Molenbeek which spawned the Paris attacks.

If Afghanistan is lost that’s very sad for not only did we lose many lives and spend billions of dollars there but it once seemed a great success. Happy endings are few and far between in my job as a war correspondent yet back on Christmas Eve 2001, I remember sitting on the roof of Kabul’s Mustafa Hotel looking out over the hills and thinking this was one. Music, long banned by the Taliban, was blaring up from the street. The first snow was falling and children playing.

Just 60 days after the first US bombing raid following 9/11, the Taliban regime was gone, far quicker than Pentagon estimates. They had been driven out by a combination of B52 bombers and Afghan fighters, as well as buying off commanders with CIA dollars in a latter-day version of the Great Game. Lt Colonel Rob Fry, commandant of the Royal Marines at the time, told me; “We thought we’d found the philosopher’s stone of intervention.”

So what went wrong?  How did we turn success in Afghanistan into defeat?

In the end 140,000 NATO troops with the most sophisticated weapons on earth failed to overcome a bunch of supposedly ragtag guerrillas led by a one-eyed mullah whose own followers described as “dumb in the mouth” and who later turned out to be dead.

If we understood why, we might understand why it is we can’t end wars any more.

In my view the problem was political more than military. As Gen Macarthur said “it is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” After the initial stage, we never really knew what we were trying to do—and we didn’t understand what we were going into.

People have questioned why we hadn’t learnt from history. Britain had after all fought three Afghan wars of which it lost two. And there was a more recent experience. If you go to Herat, a warlord called General Wahab has built a rotunda on a hill containing the extraordinary Jihad Museum.

It houses captured Soviet weapons, tanks, Mig fighter jets and a garish gallery of warlord portraits. Under the dome is a gruesome sound and light display of how the Russians were defeated, complete with bullet sounds and bloodcurdling screams.

“We also have an actual live Russian,” boasted Gen Wahab. It turned out the guide is a Russian who was taken prisoner and stayed on.

“When he dies will be buried here and then we will have a dead Russian”, he added.

No one can visit that museum and think invading Afghanistan is a good idea. Yet the point, says Gen Wahab, is not triumphalism. “The point is to show the new generation they should not go back to fighting.”

Afghanistan has a very young population—70 per cent of the people there are under 30. Most don’t want to go back to fighting. But they need opportunities. Without them, they join Taliban or ISIS or use those mobile phones to look abroad and decide to leave.

Yet, the second biggest group of people fleeing their homeland are Afghans. Last week on the Greek island of Lesbos, waiting for the Pope to come and play Good Samaritan in a detention camp, I met newly arrived Afghan families who had made the 3,000 mile journey. They included a widow and her two sons who had sold their house to raise the $20,000 cost.

The only good thing they had to say about the NATO presence was it had brought in mobile phones that enabled them to join Whatsapp to plan their migration.

They had left despite the likelihood that Europe will send them back. “If your apartment is burning you are going to jump out even if in doing so you might lose your life,” said the elder son.

Not only are the Taliban on the up in places where they never were, but ISIS has also been carving a foothold in eastern Afghanistan.

Lamb is the author of Farewell Kabul; From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous World, forthcoming from HarperCollins on May 3.

 

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Prince gave black kids permission to be weirdos

 by

To many people, blackness looks like one thing. For Prince Nelson Rogers, who died Thursday at 57, blackness could take any form.

Prince rocked eyeliner. He wore sequins and rings and skin-tight spandex in the wildest colors imaginable. He strutted like a peacock on the stage and in music videos. He oozed sexuality from posters on the bedroom walls of teenagers across the country.

He was also openly kooky and didn’t care that you made fun of him. When he dropped his name for a symbol in 1993 and went by The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, he became fodder for jokes in late night monologues.

But, as he said in 2004 after he went back to Prince, “When I became a symbol, all the writers were cracking funnies, but I was the one laughing. I knew I’d be here today, feeling each new album is my first.”

The 5-foot-2 Prince reportedly could play basketball like no other, and despite his hit song, “1999,” counting down to the end of the world, didn’t “believe in time.”

He spoke in riddles, at times, and found comfort in eating spaghetti and orange juice. He was quiet, but not necessarily shy.

He said things like this, which both made no sense and perfect sense at the same time:

“There are no accidents. And if there are, it’s up to us to look at them as something else. And that bravery is what creates new flowers.”

In his unavoidably dance-inducing hit, “I Would Die 4 U,” he sang, “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand.”

Just as the late David Bowie influenced gender-questioning and queer kids during the height of his career, so did Prince, especially for brown kids who relished being different.

He was an example — perhaps even the goal — of sensual, confident androgyny, and blackness.

 

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The unfortunate irony of Earth Day cleanups

by Melissa Breyer

Litter

CC BY 2.0 nicholasrobb1989

Though paved with the best intentions, annual litter cleanups add 12 million plastic trash bags to landfills every year; this nonprofit suggests a solution.

The non-profit Wounded Nature – Working Veterans has been working for years on cleaning up “wildlife critical” coastal areas. (The organization employs veterans reentering the civilian workforce, hence the name.) Rather than a big to-do with lots of hoopla for Earth Day, they skip an annual litter cleanup on April 22 in favor of cleanups year-round.

And they have a favor to ask: If you’re going to do a big cleanup for Earth Day, can you please not use plastic bags?

Every year, the group says, more than 12 million Americans participate in an annual litter cleanup campaign … which results in 12 million plastic trash bags being added to the landfill debris. This is heartbreaking; volunteers are armed with the best intentions, but the last thing we need is more plastic bags heading to the landfill.

“If you have participated in a cleanup, you know the routine – upon signing in most organizations will give you a t-shirt, plastic trash bag and a pair of gloves.”

The nonprofit Keep America Beautiful provides more than 4 million plastic trash bags alone to their cleanup volunteers each year. Meanwhile, most ocean and environmental nonprofit hosts their own annual cleanups; while these are ostensibly great for cleaning up trash (and also conveniently great for public relations), it’s undeniable that they add a lot of plastic bags to the problem.

So what to do. Is it just a necessary evil that must be endured in the name of clearing litter?

Wounded Nature has tackled the problem by using, wait for it, burlap bags! They’ve been using them for a while and have taken them to some of the most harsh environments imaginable says Wounded Nature CEO Rudy Socha. The bags are used by volunteers to collect litter and then they are dumped into a dumpster. When the event is done, the bags are either collected by the group and used again for the next cleanup, or the volunteers can take them home and put them to use there.

Burlap bags© Wounded Nature – Working Veterans
“As a non-profit, several factors come into play regarding bag choice and the biggest issue is cost. Secondary is durability – do we need a contractor grade bag or can we get away with cheap bags for cigarette butts and beverage cans?” asks Socha. “The most a large plastic contractor trash bag will cost is .40 per bag while a very large burlap bag like the ones Wounded Nature uses cost $3.00 each in bulk. The difference for Wounded Nature is we do not provide all of our volunteers with branded T-shirts or gloves. We throw all of our costs into making the planet a better place for the next generation.”

The burlap bags start breaking down within three months after being exposed to water; meanwhile, some contractor bags can endure for more than a century in the environment.

While it’s frustrating to think of more harm, by way of more plastic in the environment, being done inadvertently in the name of a good cause, it’s at least heartening to see groups like Wounded Nature being decisive and thinking things through. “For us, there is no need to further study the problem, we are focused on remedial action and getting tons of trash and debris removed from our coastal areas,” says Socha. “We do make a real difference. Our work results in increased fish and shellfish populations and reduces debris deaths for dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and endangered coastal wildlife.”

The road to a cleaner planet, paved in good intentions and burlap bags? Sounds like the way to go.

Tags: Earth Day | Eco-Friendly Bags | Plastic Bags

 

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