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5 things 'To Kill a Mockingbird' got right 50 years ago that still ring true right now.

There's something timeless about this American classic that America can't seem to outgrow.

LESSON #1. The only way to understand the other side is to GO to the other side — and take a walk!

This is a lesson that Atticus teaches Scout when she's not so good at getting along with others. Solid advice.

LESSON #2. You're living in this world right here and right now. Make *that* better.


Another Atticus classic. He's a little disillusioned with the way some of his fellow townspeople are behaving.

LESSSON #3. The simplest gesture can be the hugest gift.

There's a part in the story when it seems like it might be dangerous for the main character, Atticus Finch, to safely live in his own town. Instead of giving up hope on the entire town, they decide to just trust the town to do right and not hurt Atticus.

LESSON #4: Privilege is real. From race to baking cakes. Sometimes you're born into it, and sometimes you're born with it.

This is just a tiny part of Atticus's epic closing speech in the trial of Tom Robinson. He speaks at great length about what justice we expect in America and the kind of justice we get if we don't acknowledge some human imperfections and biases. It's so relevant.

LESSON #5. Sometimes the truth can't save you.

It's not a quote but an unfolding of the story that really drives this home.

In the video below, one mother describes reading the book to her young children and the way they react upon learning this hard lesson.

It's a beautiful and bittersweet ode to one of America's classics.

And on a lighter note, who isn't a forever fan of Scout Finch's awesomely timeless ham costume?!

Love this book. Love this movie. So. Good.

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

Representative Image from Canva

Spring cleaning really can be a fun refresh. Here's how.

If you’re itching to declutter around this time of year, you’re not alone. According to the American Cleaning Institute, 80% of Americans plan to spring clean this year, which is a more than a 10% increase from just 3 years ago. Guess all that working from home will do that to ya.

However, just because many of us are participating in spring cleaning, that doesn't mean we’ll be maximizing it. With the constant decision making, plus the emotional toll at letting go, it’s a daunting task that can leave folks feeling drained, rather than refreshed.

But with a few small tweaks, spring cleaning really can be the cathartic, freeing activity we long for it to be.

Sofia Vyshnevska, a housing expert and co-founder at NewHomesMate, shared her 5 ultimate life hacks for easy and hassle-free spring decluttering. Try one—or all—of these super simple strategies for a clean home and a clear mind.

The Reverse Hanger Trick

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

This is such a cool way of honing a personal style too.

Representative Image from Canva

In a sea of wardrobe decluttering hacks, this one stands out for how it “effortlessly streamlines your wardrobe,” says Sofia.

Here’s how it works: turn all your closet hangers backwards at the start of spring and only turn back those you wear throughout the season. Once summer nears, go through your clothing and donate or sell any items that are still facing backwards. You can even rinse and repeat this throughout the year.

Considering that so many of us have way too many clothes that we don’t actually use, this trick could really come in handy for gleaning the pieces that actually suit our taste and lifestyle.

“If you’ve gone months without picking it out, chances are you never will.”

The Four-Box Method

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Because our brains can't do all the compartmentalizing.

Representative Image from Canva

Ever gotten halfway through an organizing frenzy when that adrenaline suddenly wears off and you’re sitting in a pile of random stuff with no idea what to do? This is a great way to keep that compartmentalizing going even when the motivation disappears.

Sort everything you own into four boxes: keep, donate/sell, trash, and relocate.

Much like Marie Kondo, Sofia advises to “make quick decisions and don’t let sentimental value cloud your judgment” and you’ll have a clutter-free home in no time.

And if sentimentality is clouding your judgment and making parting with things difficult, read on…

The Rehoming Hack

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

“You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

Representative Image from Canva

This is a great way to discover what really should be taking up space in your heart, and your home.

“Whenever you find an item you no longer love, but feel you should hold on to, place it in an empty box and, once full, put it away out of sight. Give it a few weeks, then go back and sort through them again,” Sofia suggests. “You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

And if there’s still some hesitation, you could also take a photo of these items and create an album which takes up a lot less space while still giving you all the joy the actual item previously did.

Tactical Tidying

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Instant gratification can be a great tool.

Representative Image from Canva

It can be tempting to start our spring cleaning by delving into the messy pantry or tucked away storage areas, but with “tactical tidying,” you go for the most visible areas first. That way you’re “constantly reminded of the difference it makes, which will provide the motivation you need to get the job done,” instead of tired and deflated in a couple of hours.

Zone-Based Decluttering

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Don't try to do it all at once.

Representative Image from Canva

Zone-based decluttering also helps us avoid the all-too-common “decluttering fatigue,” explains Sofia. Rather that trying to cram all the cleaning into a single weekend, spread out each room, or zone, throughout a couple of days.

Here’s an example of what zone-based decluttering might look like.

“Start by removing debris and organizing your patio furniture to get your outside space ready for the warmer weather. Tomorrow, get to work on the kitchen—clear the countertops, tidy your cabinets and clean out the refrigerator. Next week? Tackle the storage spaces, organize your electronics, and scrub your upholstery. Then on to your bedrooms, where you need to declutter your nightstand, change your bedding, and switch out your winter wardrobe.”

It’s easy to see how this helps us actually go through the clutter without subjecting ourselves to burnout. Cause at the end of the day, spring cleaning should be energizing, right?

As a bonus, Sofia added some thoughts on the four main types of clutter and how to remove them in a way that good for us and for the planet:

  • Clothing: You might not want it, but there’s likely someone who does. Don’t toss it in the trash until you’ve checked whether local charities, shelters, or thrift stores will take it off your hands.
  • Electronics: Don’t make your clutter the planet’s problem. Recycle any unwanted electronics through a certified e-waste recycling center to avoid causing environmental harm.
  • Furniture: if it’s in usable condition, sell it online or donate it to a charity, shelter, or community center. Otherwise, contact local waste management to find out how to dispose of or, better yet, recycle it.
  • Non-perishable food: Don’t do the easiest thing; do the right thing. Rather than throwing it away, food banks, shelters, and community organizations will happily take any food you don’t want.

Lastly, but very important in today's world—let’s talk about the importance of digital decluttering.

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

"Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

Representative Image from Canva

Walter Gjergja, Shaolin Temple secular monk, mindfulness and well-being expert, and co-founder of the personal trainer app Zing Coach, wisely notes:

"Clutter doesn’t just invade our space; it invades our minds too.…those with cluttered lives tend to procrastinate on important tasks — and digital clutter is no exception. Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

To do this, Gjergja suggests deleting unimportant emails, organizing your files and uploading any you don’t frequently need to cloud storage, plus deleting any unused apps from your home screen.

“You’ll be surprised just how much decluttering your digital space can free up the mind."

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

via Jess Martini / Tik Tok

There are few things as frightening to a parent than losing your child in a crowded place like a shopping mall, zoo, or stadium. The moment you realize your child is missing, it's impossible not to consider the terrifying idea they may have been kidnapped.

A woman in New Zealand recently lost her son in a Kmart but was able to locate him because of a potentially life-saving parenting hack she saw on TikTok a few months ago.

The woman was shopping at the retailer when she realized her two-year-old son Nathan was missing. She immediately told a friend to alert the staff to ensure he didn't leave through the store's front exit.



"Another friend searched the area he was last seen," the mom wrote in a Facebook post.

The mother began looking for him by rummaging through clothes racks and running through the aisles.

It was the "scariest 10 minutes of my life" she later wrote.


But then she remembered a parenting hack she saw on TikTok by blogger Jess Martini. "If your child goes missing, screw the stares and start calling out their description," the mother recalled.

"I'm missing a little boy, he's wearing a yellow shirt and has brown hair. He's two years old and his name is Nathan!" she called out to the rest of the store while reminding herself not to "break down" in tears.

"You need people to understand you loud and clear," she said.

The mother's calls immediately deputized everyone who heard them to begin looking for the child. It was like multiplying the search by a factor of 10. "I turned an aisle and heard 'He's here!'" she wrote. "I turned back the way I came and there he was. A man had walked past him after hearing me calling out."

She immediately thanked the man, realizing that if she hadn't called out he may have never known the child was missing. "Nate would have walked past him and he wouldn't have blinked," she said.

In November, parenting blogger Jess Martini posted a video sharing the best way for parents to locate a missing child. It's great advice because the knee-jerk response is usually to just call out their name or silently run around looking.

@jesmartini PSA that I feel can save kids and I’ve used- if your child goes missing in public #momsoftiktok #PSA #nojudgement #fyp #4up #besafe #parentsoftiktok ♬ original sound - Jess martini

"To all parents out there, if your child goes missing, do not search in silence or just call out their name,' Martini says in the video. "Shout out loud and clear. Say they're missing, give a description and repeat, repeat, repeat!"

"Everyone will be on alert, and if someone is trying to take off with your kid, it will decrease the chances of them getting away," she added.


The advice is a great reminder to make a mental note of what your child is wearing when you go out, so if they go missing, you can easily provide a description. It also proof that when a parent needs help, most people are more than willing to lend a hand.


This article originally appeared on 01.27.21

Cameron the creative Lyft driver offers a variety of ride options to his passengers.

Have you ever ridden in an Uber or a Lyft and had the driver talk a lot when you felt like being quiet? Or not say a word when you tried to make conversation? Or play music you found annoying?

When you hop into a driver's car, it's a crapshoot what kind of ride you're going to have. But at least one Lyft driver is removing the mystery a bit by letting passengers choose.

Facebook user Eric Alper shared a post that showed a photo of a piece of paper stuck on the back of a car's headrest that read:

"Welcome to Cameron's car!!!"



"To ensure the best ride possible for you, I have prepared a menu of the various types of rides I offer. Just choose one (or don't, that's an option too) then sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. :)"

Then it listed the 10 ride options Cameron offers:

1. The Awkward Ride - You ignore this menu completely, then we will sit in silence for the remainder of the ride.

2. The Funny Ride - I tell you jokes or entertaining stories from my life.

3. The Silent Ride -

4. The Creepy Ride - I don't say anything but I keep staring at you in the rearview mirror.

5. The Karaoke Ride - We rock out to hits from the 80s, early 2000s or literally whatever you want.

6. The Bubbles Ride - We blow bubbles the whole time.

7. The Small Talk Ride - We talk about how crazy the weather's been lately and I ask if you caught the game last night.

8. The Therapy Ride - You vent to me about your problems and I listen.

9. The Drunk Ride - You throw up in my car.

10. The Cliche Ride - You ask me how long I've been driving for Lyft."

OK, the Bubbles Ride sounds fun, but also maybe a little dangerous. And the Drunk Ride is the main reason I've never wanted to be a Lyft or Uber driver. I may have unintentionally taken a both a Therapy Ride and a Creepy Ride before.

But seriously, the concept is fabulous. People often want something different in a ride depending on their mood, so the idea of having options to choose from is brilliant. The list also directly addresses the awkwardness that is often present when you're getting a ride from someone, so it makes a natural icebreaker and conversation starter—particularly helpful for folks who struggle with social anxiety.

People in the comments loved it.

"I'm sure this wasn't the intention but this is a great example of disability accommodations that everyone can enjoy," wrote one person. "Being able to choose how much energy I expend is so helpful."

"There should be a feature on both Uber and Lyft indicating what type of ride a rider wants or expects," wrote another. "I usually don't talk, but sometimes the driver keeps persisting and I feel awkward at times."

"It clears the air, takes the awkwardness out of it, and establishes expectations for the ride, on both sides," wrote another. "Great idea."


There are some more options I'd love to see added, though:

The Pep Talk Ride - You need encouragement? I'll give you everything I've got to pump you up.

The Tour Guide Ride - I share interesting details about places we pass and offer advice on cool things to do around the area.

The Life Story Ride - We estimate how long your ride will be, set a timer, and each of us shares our life story for half the ride. (No questions, unless the ride goes longer.)

The Deep Questions Ride - We skip the small talk and get right to the big stuff—meaning of life, existence of God, our place in the universe, etc.

The High School Debate Ride - We pick a controversy, flip a coin to decide who will take which side, and debate regardless of our own personal views.

The Pretend Persona Ride - We each make up totally fake names and personas and converse as them so we can chat without actually getting personal at all.

So many possibilities. What kind of ride would you want to take?


This article originally appeared on 04.21.22