A remote island ditched fossil fuels in just 2 years. Here's how they did it.

Small towns often have a lot of pride in being independent. But it's hard to get more independent than T'au.

Image from SolarCity/YouTube.

Ta'u is a beautiful island full of tropical forests and amazing beaches. It's part of American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States. But for technically being part of the United States, it's really, really far away.


How far? It's over 4,000 miles away from the continental United States. In fact, it's actually closer to Australia than America.

Image from The National Park Service.

For years, T'au's roughly 600 residents have gotten their electricity from diesel generators.

They get the diesel from overseas, and it's brought in on ships. That can be a problem because when you're that far away, you can't always count on everything working out perfectly. Storms or bad weather can keep the ships away. If the ships don't come in, the island doesn't get power.

“I recall a time they weren’t able to get the boat out here for two months,” Keith Ahsoon told SolarCity. That's two months of rationing for homes, hospitals, even the island's freshwater pumps.

"It's hard to live not knowing what's going to happen. I remember growing up using candlelight. And now, in 2016, we were still experiencing the same problems."

But now, the residents of T'au decided to change things up: They're ditching the diesel and going truly independent.

Image from SolarCity/YouTube.

Instead of relying on the sometimes-unreliable shipments of diesel fuel, Ta'u and American Samoa worked with Tesla and SolarCity to build a giant solar-powered microgrid.

How big is it? The grid will produce as much power every year as 109,500 gallons of diesel fuel — enough to basically run the entire island off solar energy. Nearly 100%. And cloudy days? Not a problem. They've installed about 60 of SolarCity's Powerpacks. These mega-batteries will store the extra power Ta'u gets from the tropical sun and distribute it at night. They can run the entire island for three days, if need be.

Image from SolarCity/YouTube.

This kind of grid costs a bit to build, but now all the money that was going abroad for fuel can stay in Samoa.

According to Radio New Zealand, the microgrid took two years to build and cost about $8 million. That's a pretty penny, but it could turn out to be a pretty good investment because the diesel cost American Samoa about $400,000 a year, says The Guardian.

"Before today, every time we turned on the light, turn on the television, turn on maybe the air conditioner, all of the cash registers in China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia go 'cha-ching,' but not after today," Jon Yoshimura of SolarCity told Radio New Zealand. "We will keep more of that money here, where it belongs."

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior also chipped in. A similar project is in the works for another nearby island too. And Utu Abe Malae, head of the American Samoa Power Authority, told The Guardian that American Samoa hopes to be fully solar-powered by 2040.

There are a lot of reasons people are looking into renewable energy. Energy independence is one of them.

In the future, we may see small communities like T'au all across the United States declaring their energy independence.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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