Imagine you're home.

You may not be there right now — maybe you're out running errands, or at a friend's house, or on vacation (lucky you), or wherever. But just imagine that you're at home, wherever home may be.


Maybe you live in a quaint farmhouse. How cute! Image via Thinkstock.


Maybe you live in Brooklyn. Image via Thinkstock.

625 feet away from your home (and your family) is a fracking well.

That's 0.12 mile, or less than two football fields. And that's measuring from the center of the pad — the actual well itself, not counting the width of the pad. Within a minute (yeah, a minute!), you could walk right up to the well pad's edge (although the security guards wouldn't let you, even if it's on your property).

Imagine a fracking well just 1.74 football fields from your house. Image via Thinkstock.

And by the way, a few hundred feet in the other direction is another fracking well.

What even is a fracking well? Why do you care?

You care because the well has totally changed your life. It's loud, it's lit up so brightly at night, there are dozens of huge trucks coming and going on your little road every day.

And worst of all, ever since they started fracking near your home, your well water has smelled horrible and has been giving you headaches. You're worried about what your water's been contaminated with and what it might do to your health — or worse, your kids.

Maybe you've never had this experience — but way too many others have.

Chances are, this scenario (thankfully) won't sound too familiar to you. But it's frighteningly familiar for many people in rural areas — and it's becoming more common, too. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shale gas production in the U.S. has increased drastically even just from 2010. An estimated 12 billion cubic feet of dry shale gas were produced each day in the U.S. in 2010. In 2015, that number had increased to nearly 40 billion.

That's where the documentary film "In the Hills and Hollows" comes in. This film, created by Keely Kernan, will document the effects of the natural gas boom on the lives of residents and communities in West Virginia.

It includes interviews with folks who have had to endure the exact scenario I described:

Clips from "In the Hills and Hollows."

Along with a look at some of the other stories from people on the ground:

Kernan is raising money to help fund completion of the film. Check out her fundraising video here:

What's so important about this documentary?

I had a chance to ask the filmmaker just that. Here's what she said:

"We live in a world where we are often disconnected from fundamental aspects of our lives, such as the sources of our water and energy. 'In the Hills and Hollows' explores the lives of residents who live at ground zero of today's energy.

"We ... are often disconnected from ... the sources of our water and energy. 'In the Hills and Hollows' explores the lives of residents who live at ground zero of today's energy."

Ultimately, I hope that the film inspires an important conversation about what is at risk and what type of future we want — not only as citizens of West Virginia but of the country, and of the world. I also hope that the film helps people feel connected to the stories being shared and that it helps give residents a voice."

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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