13 photos capture the stunning diversity of one very universal experience: dinner.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

In times when the world seems divided on just about everything, it's helpful to look at what we have in common — even something obvious.

That's what photographer Lois Bielefeld was aiming for with "Weeknight Dinners," a conceptual portrait series centered around typical evening meals, which she shot between 2013 and 2015. For Bielefeld, it was a way to document a near-universal experience that everyone can relate to. It's a display of common ground in one of its most basic senses.

Monday: Eric and Sally. 2013. All photos courtesy of Lois Bielefeld Photography.


The concept for the series emerged from Bielefeld's own interest in the social power of food.

Growing up, Bielefeld's chores included making a weekend meal, which was a family bonding event in and of itself. "I was less into the actual food until I got older and started regularly cooking and finding my own tastes," she says. "But even at a young age, I recognized food brings people together and is a way to explore different cultures."

For her, "Weeknight Dinners" is an extension of her own family's ritual, an exploration in other people's dinner habits.

Wednesday: Siena, Brian, Alivia and Leah. 2013.

Wednesday: Willie Mae. 2013

Wednesday: Emilio, Rhonda, Benedetto, Skylrae, Jacomo. 2014

Bielefeld chose to focus the series on weeknights for an important reason.

During the week, our rituals are shaped by the world around us. Work, school, and home — how we prepare for a meal between Monday and Thursday tends to differ from how we might dine on the weekends. For some, weeknight cooking might mean a plate of leftovers; for others, perhaps a microwave meal or carry-out. No matter what it is, no matter where you eat it, and no matter who you're with, it's simply a common part of most of our lives.

Wednesday: Glynis, Liam, Jorin, and Mona. 2013

Wednesday: Kathy. 2013

Wednesday: Natalia and Maryanne. 2014

The project also provides insight into how people actually are, as opposed to how they would like to be seen.

"My process is straightforward. I asked my subjects to prepare whatever they normally would for a weeknight dinner — nothing out of the ordinary," Bielefeld explains. "But I can’t control how people want to present themselves and occasionally I’d show up and there would be this elaborate meal with a Cornish game hen and fancy bowls with raspberries in it! But this to me is just as interesting and part of the series — how people want to be seen as opposed to their normal habits."

Monday: JoAlice. 2014

Monday: Nuco. 2014

Tuesday: Alden and Alan. 2014

As much as the project is about taking a look into the lives of others, Bielefeld hopes it inspires viewers to take a moment to consider their own place in the world.

The series is meant to be consumed as a series of large-scale prints where viewers can take time with each image and pore over the details in each room, gesture, meal, and subject. It's meant to inspire introspection.

"There is a strong sense of voyeurism and a subsequent self-identification that happens when looking at the photographs," she says. "I want people to see all of the similarities and differences that encompass our culture and hopefully be enriched by this. I also hope that they think about their own meal times and what is important to them."

Tuesday: Juanita and John. 2014

Tuesday: Seynabou, Rui James and Marie. 2014

Wednesday: Leo and Michael. 2014

For more photos from "Weeknight Dinners," visit Bielefeld's website.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

CNN reporter Anna Stewart getting goosed by a turkey.

When your job has you standing in the middle of a huddled-up flock of hundreds of turkeys, you already know to expect the unexpected. But for CNN's Anna Stewart, the unexpected also turned out to be hilarious—in more ways than one.

As she was reporting from the KellyBronze turkey farm in Essex, England, Stewart found herself the literal butt of a turkey joke, and goodness did they find it funny. Stewart shared an outtake scene from a CNN segment on U.K. worker shortages and supply chain issues on Twitter, with the comment "Turns out what turkeys REALLY like is a good laugh, at my expense."

Seriously, you'll want the sound up for this:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."