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Heroes

Brazilian couple planted 4 million trees within 18 years to form a large forest.

Brazilian couple planted 4 million trees within 18 years to form a large forest.

Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado has seen a lot of devastating things in his life, but the state of his family's land in Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1994 likely ranks at the top.

He had just returned from reporting on the genocide in Rwanda which was traumatizing in its own right, but seeing his family's land that has previously been a fecund rainforest stripped of vegetation hit him at his core.

“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” Sebastião told The Guardian.


What happened to Sebastião's land is far from unique. Over the last 30 years, the world's forests have been disappearing at an astounding rate. Between 1990 and 2016, approximately 502,000 square miles of forest have been lost, according to the World Bank, largely due to agricultural and industrial development. That's about the size of South Africa.

Not only does deforestation account for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, it's responsible for countless species of animals and plants losing their habitats, which ultimately endangers their survival.

Sebastião and his wife Lélia knew they could turn the deforestation on their land around. So, for the next 20 years, with the help of a small group of volunteers, that's exactly what they did.

 

In 1998, the Selgados founded Instituto Terra, a nonprofit dedicated to "ecosystem restoration, production of Atlantic Forest seedlings, environmental extension, environmental education and applied scientific research."

The nonprofit's theory is that trees produce oxygen and life, so the best way to re-invigorate land is to bring its native trees back. That's why they've spent the majority of the last two decades planting over 4 million tree seedlings from plant species found in the Atlantic Forest in the Rio Doce Valley.

[rebelmouse-image 19476490 dam="1" original_size="1413x1024" caption="Photo via Instituto Terra." expand=1]Photo via Instituto Terra.

The results speak for themselves.

With the return of the rainforest came many species of animals that had previously abandoned the area. This includes 172 bird species, six of which are threatened with extinction, 33 mammal species, two of which are endangered, 15 amphibian species and 15 reptile species.

[rebelmouse-image 19476491 dam="1" original_size="625x480" caption="Photo via Instituto Terra." expand=1]Photo via Instituto Terra.

Their re-forestation work is incredible, but it will only last if people in the surrounding areas learn to respect the importance of such ecosystems. That's why they started the Center for Environmental Education and Recovery (CERA).

By December, 2012, CERA had developed over 700 educational programs reaching up to 65,000 people. The aim is to educate farmers, teachers, businesses and government officials about environmental recovery and conservation methods and why they're vital to keeping lands (and the people living on them) healthy. The hope is that they'll help inspire those working on and near the land to adopt more sustainable practices.

Deforestation will affect animals and humans in a significant way if we let it continue at such a rapid pace. Organizations like Instituto Terra are doing their part to protect their revitalized jungle, but that's just one small area of the 30% of forest that covers our planet. It's going to take more individual support to save the rest.

If you want to learn about what you can do to help, the Rainforest Alliance offers several great ways you can get involved and make a difference.

Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

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Health

The simple 'Dorito theory' is a thoughtful way to break our addictive, unfulfilling habits

"Things that aren't actually satisfying are those that are maximally addictive."

via Celeste Aria, used with permission and Hugo Martins/Flickr

Celeste Aria explains her "Dorito theory"

Philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “You can’t get enough of what you truly don’t need to make you happy.” His point is that we can have enough of the things that truly satisfy us, such as a healthy relationship, necessary material possessions, or nutritious food.

However, the things that can’t satisfy us, such as junk food, toxic relationships, or status symbols, will always leave us feeling hollow, no matter how much we indulge.

This idea has popped back into public consciousness, although with a slight twist by TikTokker Celeste Aria, who refers to her version of the idea as the “Dorito theory.” “One thing I can’t stop thinking about is called the Dorito theory,” she said in a post with over 1 million views. “I learned about this, and now I see everything a little bit differently.”

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Family

Wife says husband's last name is so awful she can't give it to her kids. Is she right?

"I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything, and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c’mon."

A wife pleads with her husband to change their child's name.

Even though it’s 2023 and schools are much more concerned with protecting children from bullying than in the past, parents still have to be aware that kids will be kids, and having a child with a funny name is bound to cause them trouble.

A mother on Reddit is concerned that her future children will have the unfortunate last name of “Butt,” so she asked people on the namenerds forum to help her convince her husband to name their child something different.

(Note: We’re assuming that the person who wrote the post is a woman because their husband is interested in perpetuating the family name, and if it were a same-sex relationship, a husband probably wouldn’t automatically make that assumption.)

"My husband’s last name is Butt. Can someone please help me illuminate to him why this last name is less than ideal,” she asked the forum. “I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c'mon. Am I being unreasonable by suggesting our future kid either take my name, a hybrid, or a new one altogether?"

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Education

Why awkwardness is such a real thing for people everywhere and one big key to overcoming it

This is super helpful info for people who struggle with social anxiety.

In our brains, awkwardness can feel as painful as being bullied.

Some people fear heights or small spaces, some fear spiders or snakes, and some fear illness or death. When taken to an extreme, such fears can form of an anxiety disorder, but they are understandable fears to have because any one of those things could theoretically spell our demise.

But what about fearing something that isn't physically dangerous at all, but rather psychologically uncomfortable, like…awkwardness?

For people with social anxiety, the fear of awkwardness is as real as the fear of death. "I'd rather cross a glass bridge over a 1,000-foot canyon than introduce myself to someone new" is a totally normal thought for a socially anxious person. The silences and pauses that mark most social interactions are magnified to painful degrees and the feelings of self-consciousness most of us experience in those moments are felt in extremes in the mind of a socially anxious person.

No one likes feeling awkward, of course, but why is it even a thing in the first place? What makes some interactions feel so uncomfortable to our brains? And more importantly, how do we overcome the fear of awkwardness, especially those who find themselves completely paralyzed by it?

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Pop Culture

A new viral R&B version of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' is such a beautiful mood setter

It's like a completely new, equally good version of the all-time classic.

Representative Image from Canva, Dolly Parton/Youtube

Brb, listening to this 100x on repeat

As Rolling Stone announced that Beyoncé just became the first Black woman artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, let’s keep the celebration of Black women busting through barriers in the genre going, why not?

Singer/songwriter and producer NYA, aka @nya.w0rld on TikTok, has given her followers all kinds of R&B versions of well known songs from artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Avril Lavine. She’s even R&B-ified theme songs from popular television shows like “Friends.”

But it’s her recent R&B ballad of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” that’s so good, people are hoping it finds its way to the Queen of Country herself.

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An influencer and a baby.

There is an arms race amongst parents these days to choose the most original name for their children possible. While it’s important to instill individuality into a child, studies show that people given unusual names at birth are more likely to suffer setbacks in their social and professional lives.

It can even make it harder for them to find a date.

Knowing that his daughter was setting her child up for a hard life by giving him a very unusual name, a dad staged an intervention—in person and online—to get her to realize what she was doing.

The father, known as MulledMarmite on Reddit, shared his dramatic story on the AITAH forum. He says this daughter’s interest in selecting such an unusual name comes from influencer culture.

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