A hurricane forced her to get creative to feed her kids. Now she's feeding her neighbors.

When Dera Duplessis fled New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she had one priority: making sure her family was fed.

It wasn’t going to be easy. While her family had managed to safely evacuate to a hotel in Texas, they couldn’t exactly bring their kitchen with them — and with five children, there were a lot of mouths to feed.

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It didn’t take Dera long to realize that eating out wasn’t an option. “Breakfast was like $80,” she explains. “That’s not cutting it on a daily basis, three [meals] a day.”

She knew she would have to get creative. So to stock up on food that could last through the hurricane season, she tried something she’d never done before: pickling and preserving.

“I had pickled vegetables, my jams and soups … anything that I could make,” she says.

Dera's system worked so well that she continued pickling vegetables and making jams well after Katrina, in part so that her family was prepared for future emergencies. But she enjoyed it and kept at it as a way to pass the time.

What Dera didn’t know was that more than a decade later, this survival-strategy-turned-hobby would become an important way for her to give back.

Once Dera’s children were grown and she had retired from her job as a hospice nurse, she was left wondering what was next. “I just needed something else,” she says. “I was missing something.”

That’s when her sister told her about Sprout NOLA, a community garden in her neighborhood made possible by the Green Garden Giveaway by Garnier and TerraCycle. The giveaway includes picnic tables and garden boxes made from recycled personal care products — like shampoo bottles and makeup containers — as well as a cash grant to build a green garden for a deserving community.

Since Sprout NOLA was established with the help of Garnier and TerraCycle, the garden has become something of an oasis, offering free veggies and garden plots to the community, as well as a gathering place where neighbors could connect with one another.

At first, though, she wasn’t totally convinced.

“I don’t have the green thumb,” she laughs. In fact, she was pretty sure she would kill anything she tried to grow; as a self-described “tomboy,” she was more of the mechanic type than a gardener. But with curiosity and a little nagging from her sister, she decided to sign up anyway.

That’s how Dera tried her hand at gardening for the first time. And to her surprise, she really enjoyed it (and her plants, miraculously, didn’t die after all). With fresh food from the garden, she had found a creative outlet, cooking up her own jams, salad dressings, soups, and pickled veggies and even selling them at local farmers markets.

She also learned about different herbs and plants she’d never used before, like hibiscus, which made her foods even more interesting.

“[I] actually tasted the flower and all,” she says. “I did not realize it tasted so good.” She never imagined eating a flower — but then again, she hadn't pictured herself as a gardener, either.

Most importantly, the garden led Dera to discover a way to give back to her community through fresh, healthy food.

For her community, it’s more than a nice gesture — it’s desperately needed.

“The life expectancy in the Treme, which is a neighborhood that’s close to us here, is currently 55 years old,” explains Emily MickLey-Doyle, the community garden coordinator at Sprout NOLA. Compare that with the 75-year-old life expectancy in other New Orleans neighborhoods, and you’ll quickly understand just how critical fresh, healthy food can be for Dera’s community.

“The majority of the people [here] believe in fast foods,” Dera says. She knows this better than anyone, having struggled with diet-related health challenges herself and having seen it in her family, too. For conditions like high blood pressure, which she’s now better able to manage, Dera’s seeing firsthand the impact that a healthy diet can have.

Dera says that cooking with fresh foods is often assumed to be too challenging or time-consuming, particularly in her community. But she’s excited to show them that it doesn’t have to be and that when neighbors support each other, they can lead healthier lives.

Since starting her gardening journey, Dera’s relationships with her neighbors and the planet have changed.

Whether it’s the rich soil that came from veggies that she composted last season or the oxygen she breathes thanks to the plants that she’s growing, Dera finds herself amazed by the earth in ways she hadn’t been before.

“You can see how the earth gives back,” she says.

In fact, everything in the garden has been recycled in some way. The garden boxes and picnic tables are actually made out of recycled shampoo bottles and created by Garnier and TerraCycle.

The recycled lumber used for these garden boxes have an infinite shelf life, too, which means they’ll last well into the future. And that’s good news for Dera, who hopes to see the garden thrive well into the future.

Not everyone has a green thumb. Thankfully, you don’t need one to make a neighborhood better.

Four years into the project, Sprout NOLA has become a central part of the community, bringing neighbors together for fresh food, good conversation, and an important lesson in what’s possible when everyone works together.

“We want the community to know that you are able to do this if you just put your mind to it,” Dera says. “If you want to, you can achieve it.”

And for residents like Dera, it’s become so much more than a hobby or a place to go. “It’s like family away from home for me.”

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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