19 things that happen when the government shuts down.

On May 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted that maybe what the government needs is "a good 'shutdown.'"

It would be to "force a partisan confrontation over federal spending," according to The New York Times — as if the American government were a kid who needs a timeout. But that's just not how government works. When politicians can't get their act together, the rest of the country suffers.

How do we know this? Because in 2013, it did shut down. For 16 days. It, uh, wasn't great. If you (and the government) need a reminder of what's at stake, here are 20 things that happened to real people because of it:


1. Furloughed government employees were forced to take part-time jobs.

One U.S. Capitol employee took a job as a middle-school janitor, according to the Washington Post. Another family had to lay off a reading specialist they hired for their autistic son. At its peak, the shutdown put about 850,000 government jobs on hold.

2. National parks closed.

Photo from David McNew/Getty Images.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Cleo Tung and Matthew Locascio had to reschedule their wedding after the government closed Yosemite National Park. Another group was told their reservation to raft down the Grand Canyon — a plan 18 years in the making — wasn't going to happen.

3. National wildlife refuges closed too. Officials had to cancel a wild pony roundup on the Virginia coast.

Each year, workers round up the wild ponies on Assateague Island, conducting vet checks, giving immunizations, and collecting and selling new foals. The event had to be cancelled because the national wildlife refuge was closed. The same park closure also stopped a yearly peregrine falcon survey.

4. Outdoor-dependent businesses near the parks and refuges suffered greatly.

Closing Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska cost fly-fishing guide Fred Telleen thousands of dollars, the Washington Post reported, and closing Zion National Park in Utah cost the Zion Park Inn tens of thousands of dollars, reported The New York Times.

5. If Americans thought they'd hit a museum instead, tough luck. National museums and monuments were closed too.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

The shutdown affected the Smithsonian museums and national monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial.

6. But it didn't stop 92 veterans from visiting the World War II Memorial.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight veterans dodged barricades to tour the temporarily closed site.

7. And this red-blooded American helped mow the Lincoln Memorial's lawn.

Photo from AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta.

Chris Cox from South Carolina took it upon himself to mow the lawns and empty the garbage cans on the National Mall. He refused donations, saying the point was to send a message to the government.

8. Meanwhile, 50,000 North Carolina families were left without baby formula.

The shutdown locked about 50,000 families in the state out of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which provides vouchers to low-income moms and families.

9. Homeowners at Lake Mead were told to vacate.

Joyce and Ralph Spencer, whose home is located on government land, were given 24 hours to find new accommodations, according to the Washington Times.

10. $4 billion dollars worth of tax refunds were delayed.

Tax refunds aren't just a nice bonus — they're money that's legitimately owed to workers and families. Checks had to be delayed because of staffing issues at the IRS.

11. Farmers' planting plans were thrown into disarray.

When the government shut down, it stopped providing insurance rate and price predictions to farmers. Combine that with a frozen-at-the-time farm bill, and it's understandable why farmers like Val Wagner said they were having trouble planning the next year's crop.

12. Potentially life-saving clinical trials got all scrambled up.

The shutdown furloughed about three-quarters of the National Institutes of Health's staff, putting a freeze on new clinical trial enrollments. About 200 patients a week had to be deferred, wrote the L.A. Times.

13. Alaskan crab fishermen were idled on the docks, waiting for NOAA permits.

Crab fishermen depend on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to set quotas and issue licenses. The shutdown meant the crews had to sit around waiting.

14. New airplanes were delayed.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

JetBlue and US Airways couldn't get new Airbus planes because the Federal Aviation Administration had furloughed the workers who certify them for flight.

15. In Daphne, Alabama, a domestic violence shelter had to ask the city for emergency funding.

A victim of domestic violence at a safe house in 2010. That year, domestic violence shelters in California experienced a similar crisis due to a state budget crisis. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP.

The city came through with funds for the The Lighthouse, but not all shelters were so lucky. The White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, which serves the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, said they had to turn at least four people away.

16. Native American communities lost big.

In Fort Yukon, Alaska, for instance, the political brouhaha shut down jobs, scholarships, and aid programs.

17. Asylum-seekers' cases were delayed or frozen entirely.

A Congolese doctor, applying for U.S. asylum after he spoke out about human rights atrocities, had his case frozen. The already backed-up system became even slower after courts shut down, a situation one lawyer called "a nightmare."

18. An investigation into Dartmouth College's sexual assault policies ground to a halt.

The college was under investigation after students complained the college hadn't been reporting or prosecuting sexual violence on campus. The shutdown paused the investigation.

19. Government workers grew beards.

With nothing else to do, furloughed employees grew beards and posting them on social media, leading to what must be one of our country's lowest moments: the creation of the #ShutdownBeards hashtag.

Ultimately, the 2013 shutdown cost the country about $24 billion.

According to the Standard & Poor's rating agency, the shutdown ended up draining $1.5 billion a day from the American economy.

So no, Mr. President. A government shutdown isn't a good thing.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

These are just a handful of the shutdown's effects. From passport applications to airplane accident investigations, we depend on the government to do its job. When politicians play games, real people get hurt.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
True

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!

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

Keep Reading Show less
True

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."