3 artists made a bilingual comic to show how complicated immigration really is.

Liddy heard a scream one night from the backyard of her home in the border town of Pharr, Texas.

She was having trouble with undocumented immigrants passing through her property. She'd been especially worried ever since she found one of her horses killed and skinned, which she took as a warning sign from a Mexican drug cartel.

When she went out to her backyard to investigate the sound, she was disoriented by what she found. But not half as much as I was.


​All images by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente​/Panel Syndicate, with words by Brian K. Vaughan. Used with permission.

That's the basic setup to a cool new web comic called "Barrier."

Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente, "Barrier" is a digital-only comic about immigration and aliens — legal, illegal, and extraterrestrial. The self-published series is available online, with the purchaser setting their own price, and the horizontal pages are optimized to fit your screen or tablet.

But here's the interesting part: The comic is bilingual. Which means I can't understand all of it.

Aside from a few years of high school Spanish that I can't remember and some random Irish phrases that I never use, I'm ashamed to say that English is my only language. But half of "Barrier" follows a Honduran immigrant en route to the United States, and there's no translation guide.

It's annoying and confusing — but, well, that's kind of the point.

"We wanted to try something different, presenting a story with no translations, so that readers in various parts of the world would each have completely unique experiences," explained Vaughan — who, like me, only speaks English.

Vaughan's artistic collaborators, Martin and Vicente, are both from Barcelona.

Unlike Vaughan, they speak Spanish. But their Spanish (and Catalan) is different from Honduran Spanish, or Mexican Spanish, so while they were making the comic, they ran the translated dialogue past the Honduran consulate in Barcelona too, just to be safe.

But again: That was kind of the point.

"It’s vital to the story that readers experience the same feeling of being lost and confused that people face when finding themselves in a different country," said Martin. "And judging by the both positive and angry responses we’ve received, we’ve apparently succeeded."

"We wanted to find an entertaining, unconventional and, most importantly, visual way to explore a complicated issue [like immigration]," Vaughan said.

Before "Barrier," the trio worked on a similarly experimental webcomic about internet privacy called "The Private Eye," a digital-only story that was pay-what-you-want and free of any copyright locks or encryption. This time around, Vaughan says they wanted to tackle what might be the most important topic of conversation for the next five years.

"We didn’t exactly need a crystal ball to guess that it might be immigration," he said, although he admitted that none of them realized just how big of an issue it would be.

From a reader's perspective, the lack of translation in "Barrier" really does make the story that much more effective.

You can still figure out what's happening, for the most part; not every language uses words, and the artwork in the comic speaks for itself.

I might not be able to interpret the dialogue during Carlos' trek through South America and Mexico, for example. But thanks to Martin's and Vicente's incredible artwork, I can at least understand that he's feeling anxious, lost, and confused — because, after all, so am I.

"I’m always humbled and fascinated by the way that language both unites and separates us all," said Vaughan. "As a visual medium, comics can often smash through that language barrier, which was a phenomenon I always wanted to investigate more deeply."

And just to drive the point home even further, there are sequences without any words at all, but they still tell a powerful story. You can see it in the pages below, or in the upcoming third installment of the series, which ... well, let's just say it takes the idea of feeling alien to differently literal level.

A series of consecutive, silent pages portraying the characters' parallel lives.

The disorientation of not knowing what's happening brings clarity to the issue of immigration in an incredible way.

"Languages are not only about communication, but they also model the way we perceive, understand, and experience the reality and the world around us," Martin said.

The artists know some people will miss out on certain subtleties and nuances in the story because they don't speak the language. Some people will likely understand a different point of view entirely. Others might follow their instincts and block out the half of the story they can't understand, even if they could still infer the story from the images and moments.

But, come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the larger debate around immigration.

When it comes to a complex topic like immigration, sometimes it's hard to find the right words. But that's exactly why "Barrier" is worth checking out.

Stories bring us together, and when a story like this is accessible to anyone, it makes it easier for people to have important conversations about things like immigration and surveillance — regardless of their native tongue.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.