+

For me and for a lot of people, recent political events have made the world feel a little less ... welcoming. And that's true in places outside of America, too.

Janelle Venne, who has lived in Ottawa and, more recently, Alberta, Canada, for most of her life, says this recent surge of hatred is spreading north.

She tries to do her part every day, whether that's volunteering to cover up racist graffiti or just flashing a warm smile to passersby. But Venne says she heard a news story a few weeks back that made her stomach turn. A man had taken a rope out of his jacket, tied it into a noose, handed it to two hijabi women he saw at a light-rail station in Venne's town of Edmonton, and taunted them, singing "O Canada." The encounter was caught on camera by the two women.


“I was thinking, 'Why doesn't somebody do something about this?'" Venne says. "Then I realized: I am somebody.”

Venne came up with the idea to take back her local train station as a safe space for all by handing out flowers to any women she saw there wearing hijab.

Initially, she thought she'd spend about $50 of her own money on a few carnations. But the more people she talked to, the more people wanted to get involved.

Working alongside other volunteers, including Nakita Valerio from AMPAC (the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council), Venne scraped together over $500 in only 24 hours.

That meant she was able to buy about 1,000 flowers to hand out.

Nakita Valerio (center) and Janelle Venn pose with flowers. Photo by Nakita Valerio, used with permission.

On Dec. 7, 2016, almost exactly a month after the incident, Venne and other volunteers set up shop between two escalators on the main train platform.

People filtered past in bunches — dozens of them, hundreds. And each time a woman wearing a hijab hurried through the crowd, Venne and others quietly slipped her a flower, their way of saying "You are welcome here."

"The first person I gave a flower to, she just about broke out crying and gave me a huge hug," Venne says. Another woman received a flower on her way to class, then came back to the station just to thank the volunteers again.

A group of people are giving out flowers in the University LRT station to Hijabi women in response to the hate crime...

Posted by Yasmeen Abdallah on Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In 12 hours, Venne says, the group handed out over 800 flowers.

And what might be even more encouraging than the sheer number of kind gestures performed by the volunteers that day was the interest from non-Muslim passersby.

"All different kinds of people came up and asked what they were up to and asked how they could help," Venne says. Many of the flowers were given to curious strangers who promised to hand them out throughout the day.

Photo by Nakita Valerio, used with permission.

Of course, not everyone loved what Venne was doing, and a few said so. “But the percentage was so tiny," she says. "They're loud, but they're obviously not the majority.”

Unfortunately, Venne and her friends can't be everywhere in the world at once, making sure everyone feels safe and loved.

So she has a few pieces of advice for anyone who might find themselves witnessing harassment like the incident that took place at her local train station:

“Completely ignore the harasser. Communicate with the person being harassed,” she says. Make normal conversation with them. Make them feel comfortable. “Eventually, the harasser will go away.”

If you're up for doing something more proactive in your own community to make the world feel safer, a little can go a long way.

"Because women who wear hijabs are so targeted and so easy to spot," Venne says, "I figured they should be targeted for a positive reason for once."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less