+
upworthy
Heroes

A big, beautiful wall is currently being built across the entire width of Africa.

A big, beautiful wall is currently being built across the entire width of Africa.

While the U.S. argues over building a wall on the U.S. Mexican border, a massive "green" wall is going up across the continent of Africa.

When we think of walls, we usually think of a structure to keep people and/or animals out or in. But The Great Green Wall being built across Africa has an entirely different purpose.

The Sahel region, along the southern border of the Sahara desert, is one of the poorest regions in the world, and one of the most impacted by climate change so far. Persistent drought and lack of food has created conflicts over resources and forced people to migrate away from the region. The Great Green Wall project is an ambitious attempt to mitigate the environmental and economic effects of climate change in this part of Africa, utilizing nature itself to do so.


The goal is to create a 6000-mile (8000 km) "living wonder" across the entire width of the continent, from Senegal to Djibouti, restoring the degraded land and creating millions of jobs in the process. The project involves planting trees and other vegetation—hence the "green wall"—but its impact goes far beyond adding greenery to the landscape.

The Great Green Wall tackles many issues at once, including many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN hopes to make significant progress in improving the lives of people around the globe by 2030 with its Sustainable Development Goals. The Great Green Wall helps with many of them. It helps battle poverty by providing food security and opportunity for farming and businesses to grow from it. It supports gender equality by improving water security so women and girls don't have to walk long distances to collect water and by empowering women with new opportunities. It provides environmental resistance to climate change in an area where temperatures are rising the fastest.

It's also an important symbol of peace, unity, and hope in a world that can sometimes feel hopelessly divided. Twenty African nations have joined together on the project since its inception a decade ago. The wall is now 15% underway, and while ongoing support is needed for the work to accelerate to a good pace, the groundwork has been laid. If this desolate region can be brought to life environmentally, economically, and societally, it will show the rest of the world what's possible when diverse people work together toward a common goal.

When complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

The project an enormous undertaking for sure. But many international organizations, including the African Union, European Union, World Bank, and United Nations are partnering to bring it to fruition.

The African Union Commissioner for the Sahara and Sahel Great Green Wall Initiative, Elvis Paul Tangam, says that the key to the project is how it involves and empowers the people. “The Great Green Wall is about development; it’s about sustainable, climate-smart development, at all levels...It’s about ownership, and that has been the failure of development aid, because people were never identified with it. But this time they identify. This is our thing.”

"The Great Green Wall promises to be a real game-changer, providing a brighter future for rural youth in Africa and a chance to revitalize whole communities," says Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. "It can unite young people around a common, epic ambition: to ‘Grow a 21st Century World Wonder,' across borders and across Africa."

And Ireland's President, Michael D. Higgins says, "With its capacity to unite nations and communities in solidarity, the Great Green Wall represents the best kind of international cooperation that will be required in this century."

A wall that unites people and creates economic opportunity for people living on either side of it? So here for it. If you are too, The Great Green Wall asks that you share the project and sign the Great Green Pledge that helps them have more power to lobby governments and organizations to support the movement.

Let's let the world know that this is the kind of wall we'd like to see more of.

Growing a World Wonder (Virtual Reality film)

A groundbreaking 360° film about Africa’s Great Green Wall, and the people growing it.

Posted by Great Green Wall on Wednesday, December 2, 2015
via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Pop Culture

Woman who moved to Italy lists the most basic human needs Americans now have to pay for

Remember when these things used to be free? They still are in some places.

Representative image from Canva

If you're feeling like everything is just out of reach, you're not alone.

How many times have you, or someone in your circle, made this joke:

“I can’t seem to go outside without spending money!

But, as with many jokes, there’s some dark truth layered in. Life just feels a little hard right now for many of us when it comes to finances. And one person has hit the nail on the head as to why. Spoiler alert: it probably has nothing to do with anyone being lazy.

Amber Cimiotti, a mom of two and expat living in Italy, begins her video by noting how America has removed naturally occurring activities like “exercise, talking to friends, connecting with people, spending time with our kids,” from everyday life. And so now, Americans only have access to these very necessary things if they are able to pay for them.


For example—let’s talk about exercise. Cimiotti notes how "there's not many places, neighborhoods, and cities where it's super easy to walk everywhere, where you can get a lot of natural exercise, whether it's walking to and from your house or to the grocery stores. This just doesn't exist for most people now, so you have to wake up earlier on your lunch break or after work; you have to go to the gym so you can get in your exercise." Which means someone has to have anywhere between $40 to upwards of $300+ a month to invest in their physical health in this way.

Next up—mental health resources, primarily in the form of real conversations in a supportive community. Cimiotti says “people are meant to share their struggles, their stories, everyday, constantly. And we’re not doing that. And what do you see happening? Nowadays, everybody needs a therapist. Yes, therapy is needed for some things but most people just need to be talking to people way more. And I don’t mean like trolling on the internet.”

Also—child care. "There used to be kids running around neighborhoods all the time. Parents didn't have to pay all this extra money to do activities so their kids can be involved in things; parents didn't have to drive all over the place... But now that doesn't exist. So we do need to pay for activities,” Cimiotti says.

Lastly—food. “Eating healthy food in America is a part-time job, if not a full-time job…it would all be so much easier if we just had healthy food in general.” I don’t think Cimiotti needs to convince anyone here that quality food (food in general, really) is definitely not accessible for many folks, and high prices are at least partially to blame.

“The point is when things don’t happen naturally in your day and you need to take extra energy to achieve basic things like healthy food, exercise, talking to friends, which helps regulate emotions and things like that…when you have to build those into therapy sessions, exercise sessions, hobbies, reading 17 books…of course you’ll be tired,” Cimiotti concludes with a big sigh.

@ciaoamberc #america #culture #family #friends #parenting #society ♬ original sound - Ciao AmberC

Down in the comments, people seemed to really resonate with what Cimiotti had to say.

One reader commented, “I’m totally convinced that a lot of therapy effects could be achieved by processing time with an array of friends in different stages of life. Which isn’t possible to mutually schedule like therapy.”


And while Cimiotti’s video might be sobering, she tells Buzzfeed that her hope is it can lead to more conversations that “help lead to a change.”

Judging by some of the viewer reactions, it seems she’s succeeded, at least in helping people not blame themselves for their challenges. One person shared, “It’s so validating to hear cause I feel like I never have enough time to just live well and not be completely exhausted and have space left to do fun stuff!”

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17

Tennessee state senator gives fiery speech on arming teachers

Every once in a while a state's bill will make a blip on national media that causes people to dig a little deeper into what's happening. One such bill made headlines last year for a brief time before a new bill from another state took it's place.

After a tragic school shooting in the state of Tennessee where six people were killed, including three young students, state politicians began talking about arming the teachers. The idea was if teachers were armed then they would be able to stop school shooters, but the bill was widely unpopular among teachers and many parents. That didn't stop the state legislature from drawing up the bill and putting it up for a vote April 2024.

Many parents showed up to Tennessee State Senate to protest the bill, but it was the fiery speech of State Senator London Lamar that has people talking.


The new mom held her infant son in her arms while she addressed her colleagues who saw fit to laugh after moms protesting the bill were asked to leave. Lamar did not hold back in not only expressing her disappointment in her colleagues behavior but their disregard for very real concerns that she also shares with the people asked to leave.

"We are literally talking about arming educators who took an oath to teach our kids writing and arithmetic and how they can one day contribute to Tennessee's great economy, and we're now turning them into law enforcement agents by arming them with guns. We think this piece of legislation is going to keep kids safe which is probably going to enable the next school shooter, and it's not going to be someone coming in from the outside. It's unfortunately going to be a teacher with this piece of legislation," Lamar declares.

You can watch her passionate speech below:

@iamcalledlucas/Instagram, used with permission

We need every Lucas version of Taylor's songs.

Sure, Taylor Swift did a great job at writing, performing in and directing her “Fortnitemusic video (which has only dropped a couple days ago and already at over 30 million views)…but you know what could make it even better? Having a dog perform all the parts, that’s what!

And that’s exactly the treat we received, thanks to an adorable dachshund named Lucas.

The clip (aptly titled “Fortnight (Lucas’ version)”) recreates the music video’s black-and-white typewriter scene, where the camera alternates between a moody Swift and Post Malone clacking as they lament about how much love is “ruining” their lives. you know, basic tortured poets stuff.


Only this time, Lucas plays both the roles—costumes as all! Major kudos to Lucas’ parent, who clearly has an eye for detail and camera angles. Both the original video and Lucas’ video play simultaneously so you can really see how similar they are.

“I look like @taylorswift in this light, i’m lovin’ it 🤭🤍,” the clip caption says.

Watch below. Spoiler alert: get ready to see little doggy paws in lace gloves.

Down in the comments, people were enthralled.

One person wrote, "THIS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION”

"Magical!!!!!!!" another added.

Though clearly Lucas’s is a whole ‘nother level of Swiftie, is he not the only dog to be a fan. In an experiment produced by WoofWoof, dogs were “visibly more relaxed” by her music than other artists in the study. Her songs got more tail wagging and even more “howls of approval.” That’s right, her music transcends species.

Just like Taylor Swift, Lucas has many, many more music videos where they came from, including “The Archer,” “Hoax” and “You Belong with Me.” And just like Swift, he outdoes himself with every new project.

Check out even more of his content on Instagram and TikTok.