The young activists you should be following for International Women’s Day

Image: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

International Women’s Day is an annual, global event that pushes for women’s rights. In today’s political climate, there’s a lot to be done in achieving equality.

Feminism isn’t all pink hats and snappy tweets — to be an intersectional feminist, you need to acknowledge the many levels of inequality that affect women worldwide. 

From young women fighting for access to clean water to those advocating for gun control or acceptance and trans rights, here are seven young activists you should know about for International Women’s Day. 

The woman tackling mental health stigma: Elyse Fox

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Elyse Fox runs Sad Girls Club, an online and in-person community dedicated to promoting mental health awareness among young women. The 27-year-old got her start on Tumblr, where she wrote about struggling with depression. She released a short documentary about her mental health called Conversations with Friends one year ago.

After releasing Conversations with Friends, Fox received hundreds of messages from other young women struggling with mental illness. She created Sad Girls Club as a community to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness and help other young women with access to therapy. In addition to the online platform, Sad Girls Club hosts monthly meetings in New York. 

How to follow Sad Girls Club:

Here are the Instagram and Twitter accounts for Sad Girls Club. You can follow Fox on Instagram, too, at @elyse.fox.

The teenager who organized a mass student walkout in NYC: Hebh Jamal 

When Hebh Jamal was 15, she was featured in a New York Times article about young people facing Islamophobia in the midst of the 2016 presidential election. After the story was published, Jamal was invited to speak at local schools, and became politically active. At 17 years old, the first generation Palestinian-American organized a mass student walk-out in New York City to protest Trump’s travel ban against majority-Muslim countries. 

Since then, she’s worked extensively to organize rallies and advocate against Islamophobic agendas. Still fresh out of high school, she’s now the Director of Public Relations of Integrate NYC, an advocacy group dedicated to diversifying public schools.

She told Broadly that although she understands that her activism is interesting because of her young age, she wants to create a movement of thousands of voices, not just her own. “I want to emphasize it isn’t about one person,” she said, “Although it’s really great that I’m able to have a platform that a lot of Muslim women are not able to have I really want to use it to emphasize that it needs to be a movement.” 

How to follow Jamal:

You can keep up with Jamal’s work on Twitter and Instagram.

The first transgender women’s officer in the British Labour Party: Lily Madigan

Did a tv interview for channel 4 x

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At only 20 years old, Lily Madigan is the first transgender person to hold public office as a women’s officer in the British Labour Party. She came out as trans when she was 16, but her Catholic high school threatened to suspend her if she presented as a woman in class and insisted on using her male name. Madigan visited law firms in London until she found one that would represent her for free. The school eventually apologized.

She was elected in November 2017 amidst pushback from other politicians who claimed that because Madigan was assigned male at birth, she was unqualified for the position of women’s officer.

Despite the transphobic tweets she’s received, she’s still determined to be the UK’s first trans member of Parliament. In a Guardian essay in remembrance of Harvey Milk, Madigan wrote: “I’m constantly attacked for running for women’s roles as a transwoman. Milk rightly spoke on ending the disenfranchisement of oppressed groups in politics, and how we can’t always be representative but we must be inclusive. To loosely paraphrase him: I fight for women because I’m one of them.”

How to follow Madigan:

You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram

The student taking on the NRA: Emma Gonzalez

Image: Rhona wise/Getty Images

Emma Gonzalez survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and has since become an outspoken advocate for tougher gun control in the United States. Her Feb. 17 speech in Fort Lauderdale, three days after the shooting, went viral. She called out politicians who accepted donations from the NRA, and implored her audience to contact their local representatives. 

Gonzalez now has more Twitter followers than the NRA, and uses her platform to push for stronger gun control laws. 

The high school senior also confronted NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch during a CNN Town Hall and told her, “I want you to know we will support your two children in a way that you will not.”

In an essay for Harpers’s Bazaar, Gonzalez criticized the adults who were skeptical of the teen-led movement. “We have always been told that if we see something wrong, we need to speak up; but now that we are, all we’re getting is disrespect from the people who made the rules in the first place,” she wrote, “Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.” 

How to follow Gonzalez:

You can keep up with Gonzalez’s activism on Twitter.

The woman who united Sioux youths to fight the DAPL: Jasilyn Charger

Jasilyn Charger co-founded the One Mind Youth Movement when she was 19 years old, after a wave of young people on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation died by suicide. The youth group, formed with Charger’s cousin Joseph White Eyes and friend Trenton Casillas-Bakeberg, petitioned the tribal council for youth safe houses. The youth movement became politically active and also protested the Keystone XL pipeline that would cut through the Cheyenne River and the Dakota Access pipeline that would go through the neighboring Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land. 

Charger and White Eyes formed a prayer camp in Standing Rock called “Sacred Stone.” Although it received little support from tribal elders, it became a safe haven from drugs and alcohol for native teenagers. To further raise awareness, One Mind Youth Movement ran a 500 mile relay run from North Dakota to Nebraska to deliver a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers. The letter asked the Army Corp to deny the pipeline’s access to the Mississippi River. The run involved young people from several Sioux reservations, according to the New York Times

After the run, Charger and other members of the One Mind Youth Movement stayed at Standing Rock to continue to protest. She told Democracy Nowthat she wants more young women to get involved: “Don’t listen to the men. Don’t listen to people telling you to go away. Make that mind up for yourself.”

How to follow Charger:

Although Charger doesn’t have any public social media accounts, you can follow One Mind Youth Movement on Facebook.

The student who ran for city council: Nadya Okamoto

Nadya Okamoto made headlines last year when she ran for Cambridge City Council in Massachusetts at only 19 years old, making her the youngest candidate in the race. She ran on a platform of housing policy, focussing on the prevention of gentrification in Cambridge’s low-income neighborhoods. Although she ultimately lost the election, the Harvard College student remained active in civic engagement.

In 2014, she co-founded PERIOD, a nonprofit organization that distributes sanitary products to people in need, aiming to de-stigmatize menstruation through social and legal change. Okamoto’s family was homeless during her freshman and sophomore years of high school, and she noticed that care packages for homeless women often lacked menstrual products. 

She was inspired to create PERIOD after conversations with other homeless women, who often resorted to unconventional and unsanitary methods because they couldn’t afford pads and tampons. 

“It really is a huge obstacle to global development because it’s holding back more than half our population,” Okamoto told The Cut in 2016, “We say the menstrual movement is our push to make menstrual hygiene and menstruation a more open topic.”

How to follow Okamoto:

Follow Okamoto on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her work.

The girl fighting for clean water in Flint: Mari Copeny

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is one of the youngest activists on Twitter. The ten year old, who posts under the handle “Little Miss Flint” with her mother’s help, has been fighting for clean water in Flint, Michigan for the past few years. Copeny has organized water drives and distributed school supplies to other children in Flint, where costly bottled water claimed many families’ budgets. She also attended the Congressional hearings on the water crisis in Washington, DC. 

She became famous for her letter to then-president Barack Obama in 2016, which prompted him to visit Flint himself. “Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic for the future,” he wrote back. 

Copeny also met President Trump, who had a part in facilitating the $100 million EPA grant to fix Flint’s infrastructure. Her reaction to meeting him was noticeably different. She later criticized Trump in a video because “He didn’t even let me ask one question.” 

Copeny also raised $16,000 through GoFundMe to help underprivileged children in Flint see Black Panther. The campaign raised enough to buy 750 tickets and Black Panther merchandise, according to the Washington Post

Although Flint’s lead levels are low enough for federal standards, residents say they’re still experiencing negative effects. Copeny has been running a campaign called “Don’t Forget Flint,” selling shirts to remind people that the water crisis isn’t over. Proceeds will go to the anti-bullying program TSP.

How to follow Copeny:

You can follow Copeny on Twitter, where she frequently posts with her mother’s supervision.

The young advocates fighting for equality on all fronts show just what modern feminism should look like. There’s no such thing as “too young” to be an activist. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/08/young-activists-to-follow/

Parkland student stuffs bag with tampons in response to new transparent backpack rule

When the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to campus after the March for Our Lives and their week-long spring break, they were less than thrilled with having to wear transparent backpacks.

After the mass shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14th, new security measures were put in place on Monday that are aimed at preventing future violence at the school.

Many students expressed their disappointment with the policy on social media, stating the bags are a violation of privacy and won’t really help all that much. 

But Cameron Kasky, one of the student leaders at the forefront of the #NeverAgain movement, decided to take a different approach.

On Tuesday morning, Kasky tweeted a picture of his clear backpack, filled with tampons.

What may seem like just teen shenanigans at first, actually has a much deeper meaning. Kasky followed up with a tweet clarifying his intentions.

In addition to being an activist for gun control reform, Kasky is educating himself about women’s health issues and is now advocating for easier access to menstrual products. 

Just when you think these teens can’t get any more powerful, they do

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/03/parkland-activist-backpack-tampons/

Why ‘Love, Simon’ is so important, and why you need to see it (twice)

Everyone loves "Love, Simon," and all that it represents
Image: Twentieth Century Fox

The recently released Love, Simon is not only making LGBTQ+ history; it’s also elevating the rom-com genre in unprecedented ways.

It’s been met with a choir of critical praise so far. Mashable’s own MJ Franklin showered it with love in a review that called it “a gotdamn delightful romcom, and gay as hell.” In a perfect summation of the movie’s far-reaching impact, he wrote: 

“[Love, Simon is] a heart-wrenching, empathy-expanding look at what it means to be a gay teen AND it’s a universal story about the awkward, messy attempts of navigating high school, AND it’s a hilarious comedy in it’s own right.”

Voices all around the internet are in agreement: Love, Simon is not only a triumph of cinema, but a huge leap toward a long overdue and desperately needed cultural shift.

Why is it so important? For one, it’s probably the first rom-com with the power to save literal lives. 

Data indicates that LQBTQ+ teens are at a much higher risk of attempted suicide or suicidal thoughts. As a recent report from CNN noted, a 2015 study conducted in the United States found that 40 percent of high school students who identify as “gay, lesbian or bisexual or questioning” had “seriously” considered suicide at one point or another. (It’s important to note those numbers donot include transgender teens.)

Non-profit organizations like Dan Savage and husband Terry Miller’s It Gets Better Project have worked hard to provide everyone who identifies as LGBTQ, and youths in particular, with the support system needed to combat this too-common sentiment. But a mainstream Hollywood movie that addresses the joys of gay high school experiences as well as the difficulties has the potential to reach people on a much larger scale.

And that’s not to mention the important fact that this stellar, young cast isn’t just diverse in terms of sexual orientation, but also race:

In 2016, groundbreaking Best Picture winner Moonlight shined a bright light on the especially isolating experience of being gay, black, and male in America, from youth to adulthood. That stark portrait and its success sparked an important conversation that Love, Simon continues in its own uniquely impactful way.

It should go without saying, but Love, Simon is not just an important film for LGBTQ+ people. As Franklin put it, “calling it a gay teen rom-com seems to do Love, Simon a disservice because it’s so much more than that.” This movie reflects reality by showing a broad spectrum of love and coming-of-age issues, including those of straight people. 

Heterosexual people and their relationships still dominate mainstream culture, and LGBTQ+ folks have had no problem identifying with the universal experience of love depicted in all those rom-coms. Love, Simon steps out of that heteronormative mindset, but it’s still for everyone.

Representation in mainstream culture leads to normalization. As a gatekeeper of what our culture views as “normal,” Hollywood has the power to breed life-changing empathy toward LGBTQ+ folks in those who struggle to see outside their own heterosexual lives.

Most importantly, Love, Simon is already helping LGBTQ+ teens (and adults) become more comfortable with expressing their identities:

So in summary: everyone has a reason to go see Love, Simon — twice, if possible. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book too.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/17/love-simon-important-impact-twitter-lgbtq-rom-com/

Women investors prioritize impact in their portfolios

The gender pay gap — or the statistic that women make approximately 80 cents for every dollar that men make — is a well-documented phenomenon, backed up by data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Association of Women

Arguably as pressing an issue is the gender investment gap: Many women are less prepared for long-term financial health than their male counterparts.

Women have the potential to add $12 trillion to the global economy over the course of the next decade, so helping them use their assets advantageously is a win-win for all. Below, we take a deeper look at the gender investment gap and how to begin to close it.

Examining the gap

There are a few reasons why this gap exists. It’s not entirely unrelated to the gender wage gap: Since men tend to earn more, they naturally have more to invest with, which continues the cycle.

But there are more nuanced factors at play: This article published in the Wall Street Journal digs into the differences between men and women’s traditional styles of investing. Young women — and in fact young people in general — also tend to distrust the markets and often lack adequate financial education, which may hurt their long-term goals. 

Sheila Herrling, the senior vice president of social innovation at the Case Foundation, explains that there are a couple common themes among women investors. For one, they tend to be “risk-savvy (Herrling doesn’t agree with the umbrella statement that women are “risk-averse”), investing conservatively until they’ve gathered enough wealth to support their families. Secondly, many woman are inclined toward socially minded investments (such as impact investing). Women also tend to put a great deal of time and research into the investments they make, and they tend to associate money with personal independence and quality of life. 

Women tend to associate money with personal independence and quality of life.

“From a values-based perspective, many women want to have their investments not only make them excellent returns, but to also have a positive impact on the world,” she explains. “They have also exhibited flexibility in evaluating different investment opportunities, working across the risk-return spectrum and working with different types of capital – this makes them increasingly versatile investors.”

Investments that go beyond money

An impact investment that may resonate with women, for instance, is I AM THE CODE, an organization and global movement led by social entrepreneur Mariéme Jamme, a UBS Global Visionary. The organization helps young girls in Africa learn how to code and investigate STEAMD (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Design) careers.

“Many CEOs’ tell us that they experience difficulties finding qualified workers in STEAMD subjects. This is a result of a lack of investment in the education needed to develop a technologically competent workforce,” explains Jamme. “I AM THE CODE aims to educate and incentivize governments about the importance of investing in the training and education of the future workforce, particularly young women and girls.”

To date, I AM THE CODE has created more than 300 tech hubs across Africa. The program is also being rolled out in every school in Senegal. 

“Success does not come from just the financial resources invested in it,” says Jamme. “Rather, tangible results will come from the willingness to invest time in the development of young women.”

Long-term implications  

Laura Adams, a personal finance expert, author and speaker, points out that women also tend to outlive men — meaning they’ll feel the investment gap even more when they reach retirement age.

“Not investing is actually one of the riskiest things you can do,” says Adams. “That’s kind of counterintuitive, because a lot of people think they’re saving… they question why they’d want to expose it to any kind of risk. But with [historically low interest rates], that is not going to beat inflation and get you to your long-term savings goals.”

Image: flickr, john-morgan

In Adams’ book, Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich, she offers advice for comprehensive  financial literacy. She also suggests a variety of resources that can help women get their feet wet in investing: Classic finance books by Jane Bryant Quinn, Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door and George S. Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon, to name a few. 

She says the “right” time to begin investing varies, but in general it’s during the life phase when you’ve started to build up a small financial cushion. (Anybody living paycheck to paycheck probably isn’t in a spot to invest just yet, she says.)

Closing the gap: The future and what to expect  

Both Adams and Herrling have a generally positive outlook on the future of women investors. Adams says millennial women, who are graduating from college at higher rates than any generation of women in history, are well positioned for high earning potential.

That’s not to say closing the gap won’t be challenging; there are larger-scale social norms that must first change.

Rina Kupferschmid Rojas, the head of sustainable finance for UBS & Society, adds that part of the responsibility for closing the gap falls to finance professionals in a position of influence: “Financial advisors who are prepared to listen to women and meet their personal needs are absolutely critical,” she says. “With respect to sustainable and impact investing, it is important for women to work with managers who have a rigorous process and are not going to compromise on either generating returns or supporting social or environmental causes.” 

Rojas works closely with UBS Unique, an initiative by UBS to better serve women investors and catalyze change within the financial industry. Long-term goals of the initiative include helping one million women improve their financial confidence over the next five years.

Herrling, too, offers a few courses of action that will be necessary to close the gender investment gap. She believes that “bringing intention” is the most crucial part of the puzzle: She supports “intentional action to close the wage gap; intentional investment in female founders; intentional opening of social networks to and between women (entities like digitalundivided, The Pink Ceiling, Women’s Startup Lab); and intentional buildout of products to scale impact investing, putting private capital to public good.”

Upping these efforts, she says, will be “a win-win for all.” 

Partnership for the goals: Achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

UBS White Paper

This paper for the WEF Annual Meeting explores our progress in meeting our commitment to the UN SDGs, in particular our pledge to raise USD 5bn of client money within five years to fund the SDGs. We unveil more than 30 partnerships which UBS has forged with public and private organizations to support positive social and environmental change.

Learn more about impact investing and the investing trends defining our modern world.

The value of investments can go down as well as up. Your capital and income is at risk. Assets used for secured borrowing are at risk if you do not keep up with repayments. In the UK, UBS AG is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority and subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. © UBS 2018. All rights reserved.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/08/gender-investment-gap/

Teachers start powerful #ArmMeWith movement to speak out against guns in classrooms

In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, teachers have started an eye-opening movement on social media to let the world know what preventative measures really need to be taken seriously to protect students.

In response to the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Trump suggested that some teachers receive gun training so they can be armed in their classrooms. But rather than adding more guns to educational environments, teachers are using the hashtag #ArmMeWith to share far more peaceful resources they wish to be armed with, such as school supplies, mental health resources and funding, impactful changes in curriculum, and stronger gun control legislation.

The movement was started by two educators: Brittany Wheaton, a teacher in Utah, andOlivia Bertels from Kansas. Both 27-year-olds met through Instagram, according to Buzzfeed, and eagerly asked the online teacher community to share their personal thoughts on how to ensure the safety and proper education of students.

Teachers across the U.S. have been using the hashtag.

One high school English teacher requested a “curriculum that tells the truth, the ability to teach the truth, a society that believes the truth, and political leaders who make laws based on the truth.”

Others asked to be armed with more on-site mental health professionals, like school counselors and social workers, as well as self-care classes, bullet-proof glass, an enhanced library, and a range of other resources that focus on the physical, mental, and emotional care of students and faculty members.

#Armmewith is a movement by @thesuperheroteacher and @missbertels_ and I invite you to join in! Skip through my pics and post your own (I’ve included a blank template) or go to goo.go/52XggF to print your own out! . . . The Arm Me With movement is to make our leaders aware of what teachers really need in the classroom. As some of you know, I’m a gun owner and I can shoot a gun, but I do not believe guns belong anywhere near a classroom. Teachers have enough burdens and the classroom is an unpredictable place. Also teachers are outnumbered by kids 30:1 oftentimes. Guns are not the solution here, and I think they’d be catastrophic. Please flip through my ideal solutions and feel free to use the blank picture to create your own solution! . . . . . . #armwithme #schoolsafetynow #educatorsagainstgunviolence #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers

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“Since teachers are the individuals in the classroom when it happens, I like to think we know what’s best for our students,” Wheatontold Buzzfeed. “If you’re an educator, you know that [more guns] is not a solution to stopping the violence that’s happening in our schools.”

For those looking to participate in the movement, Wheaton has shared a blank #ArmMeWith template that can be downloaded and filled out. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/23/armmewith-twitter-teachers-guns/

The world is watching: How Florida shooting made U.S. gun control a global conversation

AR-15 "Sport" rifles on sale at deep discounts in an Arizona store.
Image: john moore/Getty Images

When you move to America from a country with more effective gun control laws, one of the first things you learn is how hard it is to talk to Americans — even on the sympathetic side of the political divide — about the gun issue. 

It was particularly difficult when I arrived on these shores in 1996, direct from living in Scotland during its (and Britain’s) worst-ever school shooting. In the tiny town of Dunblane, a 43-year old former shopkeeper and scoutmaster brought four handguns to a school gymnasium full of five-year-olds. He shot and killed 16 of them and their teacher, then turned his handgun on himself.

After Dunblane, the British plunged into a state of collective mourning that was at least as widespread as the better-known grieving process for Princess Diana the following year. (Americans don’t always believe that part, to which I usually say: the kids were five, for crying out loud. Five.)

In a country where nobody would dream of pulling public funding for studies into gun violence, the solution was amazingly rational and bipartisan. After a year, and an official inquiry into Dunblane, the Conservative government passed a sweeping piece of legislation restricting handguns. Then after Labour won the 1997 election, it passed another. Britain hasn’t seen a school shooting since. (Same with Australia, which also passed major gun control legislation in 1996). 

But trying to talk about all that in America over the last two decades, I’ve learned from experience, has been like touching the proverbial third rail: only tourists would be dumb enough to try it. Even gun control advocates now think they’re dealing with an intractable, generational problem. Many tell me that we need to tackle mental health services or gun fetishization in Hollywood movies first. The legislation route couldn’t possibly be that easy, they say.

But what if it is that easy? What if the rest of the world also loves Hollywood action movies and has mental health problems, but manages to have fewer shootings simply because it has fewer guns available? What if the rest of the world has been shouting at America for years that gun control is less intractable than you think — you just have to vote in large numbers for the politicians that favor it, and keep doing so at every election? 

If that’s the case, then perhaps some powerful, leveling international marketplace of ideas could help the U.S. see what everyone else has already seen. Something like social media. 

In one sense, Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Florida — a school shooting as shocking and senseless as Dunblane —  was evidence that America was further away from a gun control solution than ever. In 1996, buying an AR-15 assault rifle was illegal under federal law. Now, in Florida and many other states, a 19-year old can walk into any gun store and walk out with this military-grade weapon of mass destruction. 

Yet anecdotally, I have noticed one glimmer of hope. Since the last American gun massacre that got everyone talking, there has been a small shift in the online conversation. It has become a little more global. The students of Parkland have been broadcasting to the world via social media, and the world is taking notice. 

I’m not suggesting some kind of slam-dunk situation where every American on Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat has an epiphany about gun control because they’re more frequently interacting with people from other nations with different laws. 

But I am saying it’s noticeably harder for pro-gun accounts to spread lies about the situation in other countries without people from those countries chiming in. 

Meanwhile, there is a mountain of evidence that Russian bots and troll accounts are attempting to hijack the online conversation using the same playbook from the 2016 elections — manufacture conflict to destabilize American discourse. That means taking the most trollishly pro-NRA position they can think of, in a bid to counteract the large majority of Americans who want sensible gun control. 

So the voices from other countries are chiming in just in time. If anything, we need more of them to balance out cynical foreign influence in a pro-gun direction. 

How effective gun control can happen

Twenty years of trying to have this debate in the U.S. have worn me down. As you might expect, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of Second Amendment-splaining from the pro-gun lobby. (Yep, I’m very familiar with the two centuries of debate over the militia clause, thanks.) I’ve been told I didn’t understand the power of the NRA (which, again, I’m quite familiar with: the organization supported sensible gun restrictions until it was radicalized in 1977).

I’ve heard every argument you could imagine: the notion that British police must now be lording it over the poor defenseless population; the blinkered insistence that there must have been a rise in crime with illegal guns and legal knives now all the good people with guns have been taken out of the equation. (Violent crime is still too high in the UK, but it is a fraction of America’s total — and has declined significantly since 1996.) 

I no longer have the dream that a UK-Australia-style handgun ban would work here. There are as many as 300 million firearms in private hands, according to a 2012 Congressional estimate; even though most of them are concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of owners, it’s simply impractical to talk about removing a significant percentage of them from the equation. 

But if anything, I’m more aware of creative legal solutions: laws that require gun insurance the way we require car insurance, or tax ammunition, or hold manufacturers responsible for gun deaths. I’ve seen my adopted state of California implement some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, laws that just went into effect. The fight to prevent future massacres is just getting started.

And any time you want to talk about how it can happen, the rest of a shrinking world is listening — and ready to talk. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/17/gun-control-social-media/

4 strategies to avoid #resistance burnout

Image: vicky leta / mashable

I was listening to The Read recently — it’s my favorite podcast — and I was struck by co-host Kid Fury’s observations about reaching the end of the year and feeling tired. 

I posted how I felt on Instagram: “Can’t add one more plan tired. Hard to get excited about exciting things tired. Can’t project, assume, or read minds tired. I’m letting myself be tired, be imperfect, be how I am. It is time to hibernate and make meaning of this year, understand the lessons.”

Five hundred people gave it a heart within a few hours. People reached out to me to say they are also tired — exhausted, really. Falling out in meetings, losing things, fighting with loved ones, letting hopelessness have our tongues. 

I am a social justice facilitator, practicing and teaching a methodology called Emergent Strategy. The goal is to learn how we do justice work that is adaptive, focuses on the small things that make up all large systems, and prioritizes critical connections over critical mass. I am also a visionary fiction writer (part of the Octavia’s Brood team) and a pleasure activist, which means I believe pleasure is an important measure of freedom, and that we need to make justice the most pleasurable experience we can have. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. But I am still going. Movements for social and environmental justice are still moving forward. 

Which gets me curious about how we are surviving, how we are generating energy to move forward in 2018 when everything is heavy and everything hurts. 

What do we do? 

The first thing is to give ourselves lots of room and respect for whatever we have done. It got us this far. So, shout outs to alcohol, sugar, sex, and weed, which have been doing the work of comforting and numbing millions. After the 2016 election, drinking definitely became one of my coping mechanisms for that “They all want my death” feeling that has become daily life. 

I know the newness of feeling this every day is as much an indication of my privilege as it is of political change; things aren’t getting worse, they are getting unveiled. Whatever I didn’t see before this moment is a sign that I was somehow benefiting from not seeing it. It feels worse nonetheless. 

But we need to be careful about numbing. The long-term impacts of numbing move us away from the very aliveness we are fighting for, that erotic level of presence, alertness, and feeling our miraculous existence in real time. Audre Lorde taught us that, “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”  

I wanted to offer some strategies beyond numbing that have helped me protect my aliveness. I invite you to practice these throughout 2018.

1. Reconnect with our movement ancestors. We are not the first to be in impossible conditions. And what we know is that we have survived, that our ancestors found ways to survive, to be in dignity and resistance. Focus on ancestors of your own lineage, knowing that every lineage on earth has individuals and groups who have left lessons behind. For me this year has been lit by the north star of Harriet Tubman. You might call on freedom fighters like Berta Cáceres or Bobby Sands — there are so many who inspire. Ancestors can and should humble us. 

2. Tune in to the three Gs every day: gratitude, good news, and genius. If you look, all three are within reach.

a) Start and/or end the day with gratitude. It’s a gorgeous world; pay attention to the beauty, the connection, the generosity and growth.

b) Read between the lines and find the good news. It’s always there, but it might be very small. For me, it’s often in the news of what movements for social and environmental justice are doing to resist. Boost it, grow it with your attention.

c) Our continued survival is actually a long, iterative practice of collective genius. Pay attention to the people and organizations who are doing more than reacting to the daily news or pulling each other down. Tune into the work of the Movement for Black Lives, the Women’s March, #MeToo, Cooperation Jackson, Movement Generation, #ourpowerpr, Mi Gente. These initiatives are attempting audacious, visionary, and difficult work that relies on the genius that arises from people working together across difference to address the challenges and opportunities of their real lives.

3. That thing about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others? It’s real. It’s not like other masks that hide your true face from others, which is an important distinction here. You don’t need to put anything over your truth right now to cover the emotional rollercoaster of being a human who is paying attention. But you do need to take care of yourself at a material level. Soothe without numbing, rest without guilt, hydrate to replenish your foundation, and use your body while there is still miracle in it. Hibernate: turn inward, get still, write down what you have learned from surviving the last year as well as what has been liberated within you, and what you are ready to grow. 

4. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind y’all that an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away. Remember that your body is literally wired to feel good, thread with nerves that communicate pleasure and let you know what to move toward. And you can choose between the orgasm and the orgasmic — do a massage exchange with friends, eat delicious home-cooked meals, watch comedy shows. There are so many ways to turn up your aliveness.

None of these practices are small or trite. We are in the worst of times right now. If you need to be convinced to care for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can care for your community and this planet, let’s just review the past 12 months. 

There was a period of denial and grief for many of us. Perhaps you also spent some time under a blanket, wondering why our species is so self-sabotaging and embarrassing? Maybe you too called friends to discuss where you could run to, and realized, again, that there was no place far enough, no place beyond the reach of the United States?

Those of us with an intersectional analysis of our current situation know that every uphill battle we’ve been fighting is at least twice as steep. We are looking ahead at battles around the tax plan, net neutrality, protecting the planet as a livable planet for our species, resisting a police force encouraged to unleash increased violence on our devastated vulnerable communities. All while watching 45 play nuclear roulette with North Korea on Twitter.

For those of us working to create social change, 2017 was a wild year. We take our whiplashed necks and try to keep up the pace as we run from protest to petition to planning meeting. We have held some lines, we have shown up and said no to racist bans and efforts to strip us of hard-won rights, and we have reached for each other. We’ve been surprised and excited as scientists marched and national parks workers used Twitter to resist fascist policy making.

And, in our exhaustion, we have sometimes turned on each other. Interpersonal beef drains organizational resources. Tactical differences become landmines. Places where we could learn together instead become battlegrounds that play out on social media. We long for something different but are stretched too thin to practice new approaches. We want each other to be perfect and to be transparent about our flaws. We are punitive and transformative in the same breath. 

We are in a fight for our survival and there’s no turning away from it, no turning back. 2017 was a reckoning, an unveiling. An embarrassment, yes, but it’s honest. And now we are at a very real risk of becoming too exhausted to continue our fight, our journey. 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” I wrestle with these words all the time, because I believe in freedom, and I believe my body is a crucial part of the fight for freedom. So I interpret these words through my work. I do not rest in terms of how I work. I tirelessly show up for movements I believe in, to hold planned or unexpected hard conversations and mediations, to invite transformation in the face of frustration. I tirelessly seek out old and new ways of moving through our current paradigm and into a viable future. 

But when it comes to my body, I rest. I rest in myriad ways that allow me to show up fully for each facilitation. I ensure that I have quiet time each evening, a bath when there’s a tub, at least seven hours of sleep each night. I want to give us more permission to rest our bodies so that we don’t burn out our spirits and minds in our lifelong commitment to liberation.

It is in that spirit that I invite you to honor your ancestors and remember that they believed in you before your first breath. They believed you could generate gratitude, uplift good news, contribute to genius. Put on your oxygen mask and open to the pleasurable experiences of life. This is our moment to shape.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/12/resistance-burn-out-activism-new-year/

Here are the 2017 innovations that changed the world

Image: Morgan’s Inspiration Island; eSight; Petit Pli; Manu Prakash/Stanford

2017 may have been a rough year, but there were plenty of inventions, innovations, and gadgets that made the world just a slightly better place.

From global health to social justice to humanitarian aid, a slew of scientists, technologists, and activists came together this year to create impactful solutions to some of our most pressing problems.

In no particular order, here are 30 innovations that made a tangible difference in 2017. For even more inspiration, check out our list of incredible innovations from 2016.

1. The 20-cent paper toy that can help diagnose diseases

This paper device, which only costs 20 cents to make, can help scientists and doctors diagnose diseases like malaria and HIV within minutes — no electricity required.

The Paperfuge, developed by Stanford assistant professor of bioengineering Manu Prakash, is a hand-powered centrifuge that was inspired by a whirligig toy. It can hold blood samples on a disc, and by pulling the strings back and forth, it spins the samples at extremely fast rates to separate blood from plasma, preparing them for disease testing.

It could prove revolutionary for rural areas in developing countries, and save lives in the process.

2. The soft robot sleeve that can restart a failing heart

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital created this customizable soft robot sleeve that can wrap around a failing heart and squeeze it, allowing blood to keep flowing throughout the body. In tests conducted on pigs, the device allowed the animals’ hearts to start pumping again.

The innovation is still in testing stages, but the goal is to one day be able to use it in order to save human lives. According to Harvard, heart failure affects 41 million people worldwide.

3. A Facebook translation bot for refugees

Tarjimly is a Facebook translation bot that connects refugees with volunteer translators, wherever they are in the world. Whether they need to speak with doctors, aid workers, legal representatives, or other crucial services, users can tap into the power of Facebook Messenger to get real-time, potentially life-saving, translations on the spot.

4. Smart glasses that help legally blind people see

The eSight 3 is a set of electronic glasses that can drastically improve a legally blind person’s vision, helping them see and perform daily activities with ease.

The device fits over a user’s eyes and glasses like a headset, using a camera to send images to tiny dual screens in front of their eyes. Two sensors adjust the focus, while a handheld remote lets the user zoom and contrast, among other functions. For a user with 20/400 vision, for example, it can improve their eyesight up to 20/25. 

5. A cardboard drone for humanitarian aid

Image: OTHERLAB

Otherlab, a San Francisco-based engineering research and development lab, developed what it calls the world’s most advanced industrial paper airplane. The cardboard gliders are made with a biodegradable material and equipped with GPS and other electronics, allowing them to be dropped by a plane and deliver two pounds of life-saving materials without needing to be retrieved. 

6. 3D-printed sex organs to help blind students learn

Image: Courtesy of Benetech

Holistic, inclusive sex ed is hard to come by as it is. For blind students, it’s even harder. That’s why advocates and researchers at Benetech created 18 3D figures that show sex organs during a various states of arousal, letting students “feel” their way through sex education. Benetech partnered with LightHouse for the Blind and Northern Illinois University to create the models.

7. A texting service that contacts Congress for you in 2 minutes

2017 was a year of resistance, and one of the most tangible ways of taking action has been contacting your reps. Enter Resistbot, a simple service that lets you text RESIST to 50409 or message the accompanying Facebook bot in order to help you find the right members of Congress and send your message to them directly.

8. The app for detained immigrants to contact their family

Image: Notifica/Huge

The Notifica app helps undocumented immigrants who get detained or caught up in raids to send out secure messages to a designated support network of family and friends.

9. A mobile-based ambulance taxi program in Tanzania

Vodafone has developed an innovative ambulance taxi program in the rural Lake Zone of Tanzania, using the power of mobile phones. The program helps pregnant women in health emergencies dial a special hotline number, through which health workers connect them to a local network of vetted taxi drivers who can get them quickly to clinics when there are few ambulances available.

The drivers are paid by the organization through the mobile money system M-Pesa, so it’s free for users.

10. An app that gets kids moving — and help other kids, too

Image: Lili Sams / Mashable

The UNICEF Kid Power app is a standalone app that expands on the organization’s fitness bands program, helping kids convert their daily steps into life-saving nutrition for malnourished children in the developing world. The app counts your steps — every 2,500 steps earns you a point, and 10 points “unlock” a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) package that UNICEF and sponsors will deliver to a child with severe acute malnutrition.

11. Facebook’s digital maps that help with disaster relief

Image: Facebook

In June, Facebook announced a new product called “disaster maps,” using Facebook data in disaster areas in order to send crucial information to aid organizations during and after crises. The information helps relief efforts get a bird’s eye view of who needs help, where, and what resources are needed.

12. The chatbot that wants to help you with your mental health 

Image: Woebot

Woebot is one of the first chatbots of its kind, using artificial intelligence to talk to you, help improve your mood, and even alleviate symptoms of depression. It’s not a replacement for a therapist by any means, but a Stanford University study showed that Woebot “led to significant reductions in anxiety and depression among people aged 18-28 years old.”

13. An app connecting refugees with crucial services

Image: RefAid

RefAid is an app that connects refugees with nearby services in education, health, legal aid, shelter and more by using their location. It originally started as a side project, but now more than 400 of the largest aid organizations in the world, including the Red Cross and Doctors of the World, all use it. 

14. A solar-powered tent designed for homeless people

Image: Scott Witter / Mashable

Earlier this year, 12 teens in San Fernando, California, joined forces with the nonprofit DIY Girls to invent a solar-powered tent that folds up into a rollaway backpack for homeless populations. They won a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program to develop the tent, and presented their project at MIT in June.

15. The app that could help end female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) affects millions of women and girls around the world. In Kenya, where the procedure is illegal but still practiced due to cultural significance, a group of five teen girls  created the i-Cut app to fight back.

i-Cut allows users to alert authorities as a preventive measure, and also lets survivors send reports and find local rescue centers. The app earned them a place in the 2017 Technovation Challenge in August. 

16. An eyeglass accessory to alert deaf people of sound

Peri is an accessory that attaches to a deaf person’s eyeglasses and translates audio cues into visual ones. Inspired by first-person shooter games, in which the screen glows as your character is hit, Peri lights up in the direction of loud sounds.

It can help deaf and hard of hearing users not only with increased awareness, but also to avoid dangerous situations more easily. 

17. The tool that turns your extra computer power into bail money

Bail Bloc, created by a team at The New Inquiry, uses your computer’s spare power to help contribute to community bail funds, assisting people in jail and their families who can’t afford bail.  

Bail Bloc uses the power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, which is then converted into U.S. dollars to donate to the Bronx Freedom Fund and The Bail Project. No cryptocurrency knowledge required — all you have to do is run it in your computer’s background. 

18. This game-changing Braille literacy tool for kids

The Read Read is an innovative learning device that teaches blind people and those with low vision how to read Braille. Each tile has Braille lettering printed on metal to touch, and the device also reads the letter out loud along with how many dots it contains. This helps the user sound out each word they learn.

19. An air-powered wheelchair for kids with disabilities

Morgan’s Inspiration Island is a new, accessible water park in San Antonio, Texas, specifically designed for kids with disabilities. But what about kids who use electric wheelchairs? No problem — the theme park teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh to develop the PneuChair, a light, air-powered wheelchair that can get wet and only takes 10 minutes to charge.

20. The first gender-inclusive educational toy

Meet Sam, a new set of stacking dolls in which each layer shows a different stage of gender questioning and exploring. Created by Gender Creative Kids Canada, which calls the doll “the world’s first educational transgender toy,” Sam was designed with trans youth in mind. The creators hope it will help educate all children and their families.

Gender Creative Kids Canada launched a Kickstarter for the toy, and also released an e-book and accompanying video to introduce Sam to the world.

21. A robot lawyer for low-income communities

The chatbot DoNotPay offers users free legal aid for a range of issues, including helping refugees apply for asylum, guiding people in reporting harassment at work, and even aiding everyday consumers who want to fight corporations who try to take advantage of them.

22. These period-friendly boxers for trans men

Image: Courtesy of Pyramid Seven

A new company called Pyramid Seven launched a line of period-inclusive underwear for trans men, filling a much needed gap in the period-friendly underwear market. Each pair of boxers is stylish and includes an extra panel inside to support period products, like pads. Due to high demand, the line of underwear quickly sold out.

23. A revolutionary gene therapy treatment for cancer

An illustration of a white blood cell.

Image: Shutterstock / royaltystockphoto.com

Kymriah is a newly FDA-approved cancer gene therapy treatment from the drug company Novartis. It’s part of a new class of therapy called CAR-T, which is made by “harvesting a patient’s own disease-fighting T-cells, genetically engineering them to target specific proteins on cancer cells, and replacing them to circulate possibly for years, seeking out and attacking cancer,” according to Reuters.

It’s not cheap — it costs $475,000 per patient — but the results in patients with aggressive blood cancer are unprecedented. In fact, 83 percent of patients were cancer-free after three months with one dose (they continued to respond after six months, according to new reports).

24. The empowering hands-free breast pump

Willow is a wearable breast pump that allows people to pump hands-free and quietly. You can wear two of the pumps underneath your bra, so it’s discreet and allows you to multitask.

25. A wheelchair that allows its users to stand

The Laddroller is a wheelchair that helps its users stand. Designed by Greek architect Dimitrios Petrotos, the Laddroller uses four wheels, and can also navigate rough terrains. After 13 prototypes, it’s now awaiting regulatory approval to go to market.

26. A portable, reinvented IV pole

Image: Courtesy of IV Walk

IV-Walk is a reimagining of the traditional IV pole to grant its users more flexibility and range. It was designed by Alissa Rees, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 19 years old and had to stay attached to an IV pole for weeks at a time throughout her two years in the hospital.

“Stimulating mobility by using the IV-Walk speeds up recovery,” Rees says on her website. “Besides that, holding the pole is a cheerless way to present yourself to friends or family. Presenting yourself in a proper way can be important during a long stay in hospital.”

27. A solar-powered water delivery cart

Image: Watt-R

Watt-r is a solar-powered water delivery cart that aims to improve the experience for women and children, who often are the ones in developing countries to be tasked with gathering water for their families. The cart is still in development, but it will be able to carry a dozen 20-liter containers of water at a time, and solar power will allow it to move, according to Fast Company.

28. Clothes that expand as your child grows

Petit Pli is a line of clothes that grow with your child using expansion and growth technology. The garments are waterproof, lightweight, and gender-inclusive with pleated designs, allowing each item of clothing to grow up to seven sizes. It’s not only sustainable by reducing waste, but also can save families money on new clothes.

29. Nike’s professional sportswear hijab

Nike launched its Nike Pro Hijab worldwide this year, to further the company’s idea that “if you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Working with professional athletes who wear hijab, the product is made of single-layer mesh that’s breathable, stretchy, and easily customized for any sport.

30. GPS-enabled turtle eggs to help track poachers

Image: Paso Pacifico

According to the wildlife conservation nonprofit Paso Pacifico, poachers in Central America destroy 90 percent of endangered sea turtle nests to illegally sell the eggs, which are considered a delicacy. So the organization created the GPS-enabled “InvestEGGator Sea Turtle Eggs” — 3D-printed eggs that track poachers and reveal smuggling routes, which can help Paso Pacifico work with authorities and stop wildlife crime. The innovation has already won a number of awards.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/23/social-good-innovations-2017/

Bearded dudes pose for merman calendar to raise money for a worthy cause

Behold the “Merb’ys”—a breed of Canadian bearded mermen flapping their fur and fins for a good cause. 

The gentlemen of Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are posing in nowt but their merman garb for a dudeoir-style calendar to raise money for mental health organisation Spirit Horse NL.

And, the photos certainly don’t disappoint. The calendar—which can be previewed online—features bearded mermen posing in pumpkin patches, pubs, and on various beaches. 

The Merb’ys are thus-named because “the Newfoundland mermen are a different breed,” says Hasan Hai, founder of the beard and moustache club. Hai came up with the idea of a merman calendar after a friend of his posted a photo from a mercreature themed dudeoir shoot on his Facebook wall. 

He decided to organise a calendar, and posted an “open call to the universe” on social media, which received an unexpectedly high response. 70 or 80 people got in touch with Hai, offering to model or photograph. 

Hai knew he wanted to raise money for charity, but hadn’t yet settled on a charity. When he came across Sprit Horse NL and heard the stories of the people they help, he suggested using the calendar to raise money for the organisation. 

“It basically uses horses to provide equine therapy for people with mental illness, people who want to live better lives, people with physical limitation,” Hai told CBC. 

Donning a fin was a challenge for the men during the calendar shoots. “Moving around in a fishtail is not as easy as you would think,” Hai continued, adding that there was “a lot of hopping” and squirming involved behind the scenes.  

The calendar, which has received an overwhelming number of pre-orders, can be purchased online for $25 CAD ($19.70 USD, £14.99) from the Beard and Moustache Club website. 

Major props to the Merb’ys of Newfoundland!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/10/mermen-dudeoir-calendar-newfoundland/

Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates speaks speaks at the Goalkeepers 2017 event on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York City.
Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates just donated a piece of his fortune to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The philanthropist and Microsoft founder announced in a blog post Monday that he will give $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership that invests in innovative dementia research. Gates will also donate another $50 million in startups working in Alzheimer’s research.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has a long track record of supporting research to eradicate diseases like malaria and polio. But Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia that progressively affects memory and other brain functions, is the first noncommunicable disease he’s fighting.

The $100 million is his own investment, not his foundation’s. That’s, in part, because it’s personal. 

“This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and someone new develops the disease every 66 seconds. People of all ages are affected, but 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Gates said he spent the last year learning everything he could about Alzheimer’s disease, speaking with researchers, academics, and other industry experts. Those conversations led him to focus on five areas: understanding how the disease unfolds, figuring out how to detect it earlier, funding more innovative and lesser-known drug trials, making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials, and using data to inform better approaches.

Gates’ investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund will help support startups as it explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia,” he explained.

“The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries,” Gates wrote, explaining how he might look at the issue beyond his personal investment in the future.

The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

“People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that,” Gates said. “I’m excited to join the fight and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/13/bill-gates-alzheimers-disease-donation/