While world leaders were traveling to Paris to attempt to finally agree on what to do about climate change, people all over the world got together to hold their feet to the fire.

The ostensible goal of the COP21 conference in France is to produce a legally binding agreement that will help reduce emissions and slow down global warming. But climate change is already here, and the usual conference scenario — lots of important people talking a lot while getting little done — ain't gonna cut it anymore.

That's why this weekend, hundreds of thousands of people around the world gathered to send a message to their leaders:


Less talking, more doing.

1. Bogota, Colombia

A protestor holds up a heart-shaped sign that asks world leaders, "Are you ready for extinction?"

Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images.

Hopefully, she's exaggerating for rhetorical effect.

Hopefully.

2. New York

Everyone's favorite Science Guy, the one and only Bill Nye joined the crowd.

Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill Nye the Science Guy. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images.

"The climate is changing. It's our fault, and we have to get to work on this now," Nye reportedly said at the rally, according to the New York Daily News. When even the best-case scenarios include scary outcomes like more flooding, bigger and badder droughts, and massive crop die-offs, it's hard to disagree with the (science) guy.

3. Sao Paulo

Photo by Nelson Almeida/Getty Images.

Hulk would very much like to smash climate change.

If only, Hulk. If only.

4. Oslo, Norway

Though Norwegian glaciers bravely held on until the late-1990s, they're now retreating just like in most of the rest of the world.


Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Unless a comprehensive, binding climate agreement with teeth gets signed in Paris this year, the glaciers of Norway will likely be forever remembered as having peaked right around the time Smash Mouth did.

5. Santiago, Chile

Her sign reads: "People in charge: This is my Earth, and it's also yours and your children's. Don't destroy it."

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

Good — if dire — advice, Chile.

6. London

At the London rally, Welsh singer Charlotte Church performed a new song she wrote about confronting Earth's impending climate crisis.

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

The song is still untitled as of publication, but might I suggest, "Wake Up and Do Something, You Dolts?"

Has a nice ring to it, is all I'm saying.

7. Amsterdam

A Dutch man with a killer beard carries a sign that reads, "This road is a dead end" — and not only because it appears he's about to smash into a giant scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Photo by Bart Maat/Getty Images.

He's referring to this road. The one the Earth appears to be on. Turn around much, Team Paris?

8. Frankfurt, Germany

Frank Rumpenhorst/Getty Images.

Should the worst-case climate scenario come to pass (a temperature increase in excess of two degrees Celsius, a world-altering mega-sea level rise of 20 feet or more, and millions of displaced people around the globe) figuring out how to fit bugs with World War I-era gas masks will be the least of our problems.

9. Mexico City

Photo by Yuri Cortez/Getty Images.

This mask: precisely 150% less scary than the effects of a sea level rise that conforms to even the most conservative estimates.

10. Nantes, France

A few days before the climate talks were set to begin, folks all across France got together to protest a ban on large gatherings that was imposed after the Paris attacks.

Photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard/Getty Images.

Though some of the marches devolved into clashes with police, this one manifested as a nice, chill circle.

11. Johannesburg

In South Africa, thousands marched to draw attention to the connection between climate change and worsening poverty.

Photo by Mujahid Safodien/Getty Images.

According to a World Bank report, rising global temperatures could help lead 100 million more people down the path to extreme poverty, unable to afford even the most basic spooky skeleton mask.

12. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/Getty Images.

World leaders planning to bulls*** their way through the climate meetings should think twice before messing with these women or their brighly-colored flowers.

13. Montevideo, Uruguay

As a result of climate change, Uruguay has been contending with increased rainfall and more intense storms.

Photo by Miguel Rojo/Getty Images.

Thankfully, these protestors chose one of the decreasing number of bright, near-perfect sunny days to send a message over to France.

14. Ottawa, Ontario

Photo by Patrick Doyle/Getty Images.

A protester on Canada's Parliament Hill, modeling what many in coastal cities around the world will be forced to wear just to say afloat if too many glaciers melt.

15. Vienna

Photo by Joe Klamar/Getty Images.

According to a 2014 study published in Nature Climate Change, climate change could reduce the Antarctic penguin population by up to one-fifth, rendering it no longer possible to make it through "March of the Penguins," without bursting into tears for the wrong reasons instead of the right reasons.

16. Madrid

Photo by Gerard Julien/Getty Images.

Estimates released by the UN in 2011 clearly demonstrate that, if we really wanted to, we could be using renewable energy to meet 80% of the world's power needs within the next 40 years — and that still wouldn't be enough for these Spanish marchers demanding 100% renewable energy with their delightful yellow sun placards.

17. Geneva

"Hey world leaders, what's good?" — this polar bear. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images.

If arctic sea ice continues to melt at current rates — up to 9% per decade — polar bears may be forced to move to major cities around the globe and march defiantly in parades. Which is why the world needs to act — now.

'Cause let's be honest, leaving aside all the grave consequences drastic climate change might wreak, that would be super weird.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Hey everyone! Hope you're staying safe and healthy, and if you're not, at least you know you're not alone. I mean, omicron? Phew. Pandemics certainly know how to keep us on our toes.

If you need a respite or distraction from all that, we've got you covered. If immersing yourself in cute animal videos and feel-good stories of human awesomeness is wrong, who wants to be right? Nobody, that's who.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

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