An artist gathered immigrants' photos and stories then hung them for the city to see.

When you think of American diversity, you might think of big melting-pot cities like New York or Los Angeles. The truth is, people of all nationalities are woven into the fabric of American life across the entire country; from small towns to midwest metros and everywhere in between.

To celebrate its own immigrant roots, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, recently commissioned a public art project called "Speaking of Home," featuring photos from many of the diverse citizens that help make the city what it is today.


Artist and photographer Nancy Coyne sought out dozens of first-generation immigrants who call St. Paul home.

Those who participated in the project loaned their own photos and prized possessions from their home countries to the exhibit. Through interviews with Coyne, they shared what brought them to America and to St. Paul. Their photos and stories are now on proud display around the city.

Coyne shows off the project. Photo by David Turner, used with permission

"I became interested in what 'home' means to people," Coyne says, of the interviews. Some told her they came for a better education. Some for economic opportunity. Others to find long lost family. Others still came to escape persecution in their home countries.

There were as many reasons for immigrating as there were nationalities, with St. Paul having a surprisingly diverse ethnic makeup; including over 13,000 Ethiopian and 26,000 Vietnamese residents in the Twin Cities,  along with one of the largest Hmong populations in the country.

58 photos in total, and the stories behind them, now line a portion of St. Paul's famous skyways.

St. Paul features miles of enclosed skyways. Photo by David Turner used with permission.

These elevated, enclosed bridges cover miles of the city and allow commuters to escape the cold. Thousands of people traverse the skyway each and every day.

Thanks to the 10-feet wide, partially translucent photos, anyone who enters the skyway can't help but to literally see St. Paul through the eyes of its immigrants.

At night the photos are even more prominent. Photo by Peter Von De Linde used with permission.

The photos cover four bridges in total. Photo by Peter Von De Linde, used with permission.

The project couldn't have launched at a more important time.

In recent months, we've seen travel bans, ruthless immigration raids, and a rise in a hateful brand of nationalism. It's almost as if we've forgotten America was quite literally built by immigrants.

"The situation we find ourselves in now goes against everything this country is and was supposed to be about," Coyne says.

The project has been a big hit so far. Photo by Peter Von De Linde used with permission.

"Speaking of Home," has been well-received by the thousands who walk St. Paul's skyways each and every day.

Passersby often stop to consider the photos and read the accompanying stories. Each photo is paired with a bright orange sign that juts from the wall: It says "home," in the subject's native language.

"Home." Photo by Peter Von De Linde, used with permission

"People want to know if it will stay up forever," Coyne says. It won't. The project is only scheduled to last about six months.

But the people at its core aren't going anywhere. They will continue to fill the city, to drive its economy, to shape its culture.

St. Paul will continue to be their home.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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