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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Joy

New documentary celebrates the beautiful kinship between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

The friendship between these two "mischievous" spiritual icons is enough to bring hope and joy to any heart.

Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, joy
Mission: JOY

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu formed a close bond of friendship around shared joy and compassion.

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away, I wrote a bit about the unique friendship he shared with the Dalai Lama. Though they came from very different worlds—different nationalities, different faiths, different backgrounds—they shared a kinship based on compassion and joy.

And when I saw them together in "Mission: JOY"—a documentary on five days the two leaders spent together—I saw how beautiful that kinship truly was.

"Mission: JOY" is as much a reminder of what connects us as human beings as it is a celebration of these two iconic spiritual leaders. I laughed at how they teased one another like schoolboys. (It's also just impossible not to laugh along with Desmond Tutu's infectious laughter.) I teared up as they described how they responded to their own sufferings and showed so much care for one another. I smiled each time one of them lovingly reached out to take the other's hand as they shared stories, wisdom and jokes together.


But mostly, I walked away with a sense of calm hope for what is possible. If a Christian theologian from South Africa and a Buddhist monk from Tibet can form a strong bond of friendship like this with one another, then anyone can. This is a film the whole world needs to see. I think it's safe to say that every person would take something valuable away from it.

MISSION: JOY • Official Trailer • Documentary About the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu's Friendshipwww.youtube.com

Filmmaker Peggy Callahan shared some of the extraordinary experience of making "Mission: JOY" with Upworthy. Our Q&A with her provides some personal insight into the film and what it felt like to spend five days with two of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time.

How and why did you get involved in making this film?

"It was Thanksgiving Day almost seven years ago when I got a call from my 'brother from another mother,' Doug Abrams. He said, 'Do you want to come to Dharamsala and film a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu?'

"Of course, there is only one answer to a once-in-a-lifetime invitation like that. And that is how I got to spend five days with two of the people on the planet that I admired most.

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared deeply about how they managed to create joy for themselves, even during their darkest days. Doug and the two holy men used the transcripts from that days-long conversation to co-author 'The Book of Joy,' which became an international bestseller. And the footage from that conversation was the basis for our film, 'Mission: JOY - Finding Happiness in Troubled Times.'

"It seems to me that documentaries—and most meaningful things in life—require an unreasonable love. The kind of love that propels you. Compels you. Sustains and inspires you to get off the ground and keep going. It’s been a seven-year journey to create this film with a great team of artists. But I suspect the film recreated us all in some way. Unreasonable. Beautiful."

Why was it important to you personally that you create this film?

"I grew up in South Carolina at a time when racism was even thicker than the humidity. My mom is from Canada and didn’t buy into it one bit. You can imagine the salty words she’d whisper in my ear about systemic racism, as if systemic and racism were four-letter words.

"I remember parents of my white friends not allowing their kids to play at my house because my African American friends were there. The prejudice was so stark and so ugly that it never made sense on a primal level, leaving me out of step with the world I walked in. I think there is value in feeling like an outsider who sees the world differently. It’s easier to question. Examine. Appreciate or not. It’s perfect for a journalist or storyteller. Fighting injustice can be a great motivator in your career, and tricky in your personal life.

"Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness, along with people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mary Robinson were beacons for me because not only did they get up and do something about injustice, their actions were effective at changing power relationships. Their actions made a measurable difference in the daily lives of people who most of the world had forgotten.

"Also, many years ago Archbishop Tutu joined the International Advisory Board of an anti-slavery organization I co-founded called Voices4Freedom, so we had that personal connection as well. It’s the honor of a lifetime to help share Arch’s and His Holiness’s messages with the world, especially now when so many are hurting so much."

What words would you use to describe the relationship between these two global icons?

"These two are FUN, as is obvious within just the first few minutes of the film. They joke and tease each other with abandon. Having lunch with them in the Dalai Lama’s compound was an absolute riot. It had the feeling of getting together with your long-time friends where you knew going in that your stomach was going to hurt from laughing so hard.

"And they are congruent within themselves. There are lots of impressive, powerful leaders in the world that garner respect. Admiration, even. But few of those are so beloved. Why?

"I think it’s because with these two, what is real for them on the inside is what we see on the outside. They lived/live out their values in ways big and small every day, in every interaction, with everyone they encounter. What you see is what is actually real within them. It’s utterly compelling. As evidenced by the fact that, even though they are/were leaders of their respective faith traditions, people from ALL faith traditions and no faith tradition are inspired by them."

Filmmaker Peggy Callahan talking with the Dalai Lama during filming.

Mission: JOY

What were some things that surprised you as you were making this film?

"Can you believe that we had not one technical glitch during the filming in Dharamsala? We had the team members from four countries and needed to truck in equipment from Delhi, which is 12 hours away. If any equipment broke we had no way to get replacements in fast enough. But not one thing went wrong. Which is all the proof I need that holy men were in the house.

"Another surprise was that despite the complications of COVID, we were able to complete the film on time and within budget. Hollywood has technical terms for such occurrences: A miracle. Once in a blue moon. When pigs fly. You get the picture. That’s a huge tribute to the phenomenal team that came together to make this film, including four Academy Award winners."

Why do you think this story is important right now?

"Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one was hurting and a film like this wasn’t needed? And everyone on the planet already knew about the latest neuroscience and psychology research-based actions to help ourselves feel better? That, incidentally, look astonishingly like what spiritual traditions have been telling us for millennia?

"Even before the pandemic, there was a dramatic uptick in anxiety and depression, especially among young people. Now, one in four people report they are experiencing anxiety and depression. We see this even in our own families and circles of friends, right? People are hurting.

"That’s why we took the messages of the film one step further and operationalized what the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu shared. We partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good In Action, UC San Francisco, Harvard and a consortium of other universities to create The BIG JOY Project. Anyone can sign up for free, and spend seven minutes a day for seven days trying out a different micro action that science shows boosts moods. At the end of seven days, you’ll get a cool BIG JOY Report that will show you which micro-act of joy works best for you!

"Already people from 108 countries have participated and have completed 38,572 micro-acts of joy! The BIG JOY Project is now the largest ever citizen-science project on joy. You’ve got to see the map of these people from all over the world. It’s a tidal wave of joy! We get excited about each and every additional dot on the map that appears, because we know that means that one more person is getting the quick start owner’s manual of how to be human and create more joy for themselves!"

If there were one lesson you hope people will take from this film, what would it be?

"Arch and His Holiness wanted everyone to know that, no matter their circumstances and no matter how broken they may feel, they are worthy of joy, and they are capable of creating it for themselves. If after seeing the film, people walk away with only that message, we have done our job.

"Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness joined forces one last time before the Archbishop passed away for a final shared mission: to help us create more joy for ourselves. They saw joy as that critical. To me, joy is the ultimate ‘clean fuel’ that powers everything we want to do in life. These great teachers put their hard-earned wisdom about the how-to of joy into movie form, as their final gift to each of us. It is yours to enjoy."

The Dalai Lama's team has organized a global watch event for the film via Facebook on June 2. You can learn more about the film and how to host a screening at missionjoy.org

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics




116 years ago, the Pasterze glacier in the Austria's Eastern Alps was postcard perfect:

Snowy peaks. Windswept valleys. Ruddy-cheeked mountain children in lederhosen playing "Edelweiss" on the flugelhorn.

But a lot has changed since 1900.

Much of it has changed for the better! We've eradicated smallpox, Hitler is dead, and the song "Billie Jean" exists now.

On the downside, the Earth has gotten a lot hotter. A lot hotter.

The 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. July 2016 was the planet's hottest month — ever.

Unsurprisingly, man-made climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet's glaciers — including the Pasterze, which is Austria's largest.

Just how much havoc are we talking about? Well...


A series of stunning photos, published in August, show just how far the glacier has receded since its heyday.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

First measured in 1851, the glacier lost half of its mass between that year and 2008.

The glacier today.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

A marker placed in 1985 shows where the edge of the glacier reached just 31 years ago. You can still see the ice sheet, but just barely, way off in the distance. In between is ... a big, muddy lake.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The view from the glacial foot marker from 1995 — 10 years later — isn't much more encouraging.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Even in just one year, 2015, the glacier lost an astounding amount of mass — 177 feet, by some estimates.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Ice continues to melt daily, and while the dripping makes for a good photo, it's unfortunate news for planet Earth. Glacial melting is one of the three primary causes of sea-level rise.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

According to a European Environment Agency report, the average temperature in the Alps has increased 2 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years — double the global average.

Beautiful, but ominous, fissures in the glacier.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

It's not unreasonable to assume that that's why this mountain hut has been abandoned by the flugelhorn-playing children who once probably lived in it.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Is there anything we can do to stop climate change besides look at scary glacier photos?

Climate change is, unfortunately, still a robust debate in the United States as many of our elected officials refuse to acknowledge that we humans are the ones doing the changing. As of last year, that list included a whopping 49 senators. Calling them to gently persuade them otherwise would be helpful. Not voting for them if they don't change their minds would be even more so.

There is some tentative good news — the Paris Agreement signed in December 2015 commits 197 countries, including the U.S., to take steps to limit future global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. While it may be too late for the Pasterze glacier, if we really commit as a world, we might be able to stop ourselves from sinking whole countries and turning Miami into a swimming pool and stuff like that.

And who knows, with a little luck, and a little more not poisoning the sky, we just might recapture a little of that Alpine magic one day.

OK, these guys are Swiss. But who's counting?

Photo by Cristo Vlahos/Wikimedia Commons.

This article originally appeared on 3.11.17

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

@racheleehiggins/TikTok

Want out of a relationship rut? The Three hour night might be the perfect solution.

Almost every long term relationship suffers from a rut eventually. That goes especially for married partners who become parents and have the added responsibility of raising kids. Maintaining a connection is hard enough in this busy, fast paced world. Top it off with making sure kids are awake, dressed, entertained, well fed, oh yeah, and alive…and you best believe all you have energy for at the end of the day is sitting on the couch barely making it through one episode on Netflix.

And yet, we know how important it is to maintain a connection with our spouses. Many of us just don’t know how to make that happen while juggling a million other things.

According to one mom, a “three-hour night” could be just the thing to tick off multiple boxes on the to-do list while rekindling romance at the same time. Talk about the ultimate marriage hack.


The three-hour night was something that Rachel Higgins and her husband began incorporating into their lives at the beginning of this year. And so far, “it's been so fun and such like a game changer for how our evenings go,” she says in a clip posted to TikTok.

Before using the three-hour night, the evening would look a bit like this: their daughter would go to bed, they would lounge on the couch, scroll through social media, then fall asleep. Sound familiar?

But with a three hour night, Higgins and her husband divvy up the time before bed into three section, each for a different focus.

In the first hour, starting around 7 p.m., is what Higgins calls “productive time,” during which the couple sees to any household chores that might need to be done.

“So start with like a quick cleanup of the kitchen or just like things that accumulated throughout the day, and then we try to do something that either ... has been being put off or cleaning the bathroom or like organizing the pantry or hall closet or something like, super random like sharpening the knives. Anything that's productive for the household,” she explains.

@rachelleehiggins if you’re stuck in a rut with your evenings try this! i saw someone do something similar to this a while ago but can’t remember who! #marriage #1sttimeparents #newyearsgoals ♬ original sound - Rachel Higgins

Next, the second hour is geared towards re-establishing a physical or emotional connection in their marriage. The phones go away, and they focus only on enjoying one another.

“So, that could be things like showering together or ‘having fun’ together, playing a game together, or just like anything that's gonna get you guys talking and connecting or like debriefing from the day or just like talking about what you're doing and like the plans for tomorrow or like how works going or whatever. So, anything that's gonna connect and strengthen and build your marriage,” Higgins says.

Lastly, the final hour of the night is dedicated towards anything Higgins and her husband individually want to do, any sort of personal recharge activity.

Since this is a judgment free time, Higgins states that “If you just want to lay on the couch and scroll your phone and watch TikToks or whatever like watch YouTube videos,” it’s totally acceptable.

Higgins’ novel approach definitely interested viewers, who chimed in with their own questions. One major concern was how the heck this could be done every night. But even Higgins admits that she and her husband don’t succeed at having a three-hour night every night—they usually try for about 3-4 times a week. And honestly even once a week could still probably be beneficial in building intimacy.

Others wondered how to have a three-hour night when things randomly popped up in their schedule, like when kids won’t magically go to sleep promptly at 7pm. Higgins shares that in these cases, they tend to just shorten each phase. The point being: these can and probably should be customizable, even fun, rather than yet another rigid chore.

Plus, a three hour night (or whatever your version of a three-hour night may be) is a great way to remind yourself just how high of a priority your relationship has in your life…no matter what else is going on at the time. Odds are you'll probably find you do have more time for it than you previously thought when you set aside time for it.


This article originally appeared on 1.8.24

Angelina Jordan blew everyone away with her version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody."




At Upworthy, we've shared a lot of memorable "America's Got Talent" auditions, from physics-defying dance performances to jaw-dropping magic acts to heart-wrenching singer-songwriter stories. Now we're adding Angelina Jordan's "AGT: The Champions" audition to the list because wow.

Jordan came to "AGT: The Champions" in 2020 as the winner of Norway's Got Talent, which she won in 2014 at the mere age of 7 with her impressive ability to seemingly channel Billie Holiday. For the 2020 audition, she sang Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but a version that no one had ever heard before.

With just her Amy Winehouse-ish voice, a guitar and a piano, Jordan brought the fan-favorite Queen anthem down to a smooth, melancholy ballad that's simply riveting to listen to.


Especially considering that Jordan was only 13 years old when she did this.

Watch:

What this video doesn't show is Heidi Klum hitting the Golden Buzzer faster than you can say, "Nothing really matters to me." The judges were blown away by Jordan's performance, as were the people in the comments.

"That's a ONE in A BILLION voice right there. Just amazing," wrote one commenter.

"I am typically not a fan of songs being redone particular to such a magnitude," shared another. "They almost always fall short of the original. But to completely rearrange a song in the manner that she has, from a legend, and then make you forget about how the original even sounded because her rendition is so good is utterly amazing."

"As Freddie once said, 'Do whatever you want with my music as long as you don't make it boring.' I think he'd really like this," shared another.

Though Queen's lead vocalist Freddie Mercury is no longer with us, the band did offer words of praise for Jordan's performance, retweeting her audition video with the comment, "Wow! What a rendition of #BohemianRhapsody."

"Bohemian Rhapsody" is such an iconic song, it's hard for anyone to do a cover of it justice. But 13-year-old Angelina Jordan managed it masterfully.

Jordan would move on to the Top 10 in "AGT: The Champions," and though she didn't take home the top prize, she did impress the audience with another classic rock tune, Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." You can enjoy that performance below, and you can follow Angelina Jordan—who is now 17 and still singing her heart out—on YouTube and TikTok.

Become Angelina's patron at Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/angelinajordanThis performance on Angelina Jordan's TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/@angelinajor...


This article originally appeared on 9.30.23

Pandas are some of the silliest creatures on Earth.

At first glance, giant pandas can be intimidating. Their large size and sharp teeth and claws might evoke the kind of instinctual fear any bear would.

You definitely don't want to mess with their babies, make them feel threatened or assume they're as cuddly as they look, as they actually can be dangerous. But compared to other bears, giant pandas are pretty chill. This is especially true for pandas in captivity, who aren't just generally docile but downright doofy.

Watching a panda play is like watching a toddler that doesn't quite have their bearings yet. They tumble and stumble and get themselves into conundrums and appear to be having a grand old time doing it, which is what makes the song "Death by Panda" so perfect.


The song, shared by Some Guy Named Robb (Robb McCormick), paints pandas to be terrifying, vicious creatures in a fun, parodying kind of way. Check out these lyrics:

Pandas will melt your face

Turn your bones to paste

Destroy the human race

It's on their 'things to do' list

With a driving beat and intense electric guitar, "Death by Panda" makes a hilarious soundtrack for videos of pandas…well, being pandas. Just watching them walk around is entertaining, but give them some outdoor equipment to play on and OMG the delight

Watch:

The song can be found on Spotify, where you can listen to it in its entirety. And the panda behavior in the video prompted a wave of funny comments highlighting how absurd these creatures really are.

"Kung fu panda makes so much sense now🤣"

"There’s a reason they’ve been on the endangered species list."

"Never before realized that I have the agility of a panda."

"Panda: the drunken uncle of the bear species."

"Pretty sure all Pandas are part Chris Farley."

"Look... they're here for a good time....not a long time unless we bubble wrap their entire habitat and give em little helmets.😂❤️"

"I totally get why Jack Black was Kung Fu Panda."

"The instinctive ability to fall & roll in a controlled way, is their funny survival tactic.😆"

"Based on my lack of balance and clumsiness, I may have been a panda in a past life...."

People can be so funny.

But seriously, how do these guys survive in the wild?

In case you're actually wondering about that, pandas used to be on the endangered species list, but have been downgraded to "vulnerable" status. The World Wildlife Fund celebrate giant pandas as living proof of conservation efforts working, as the number of pandas in the wild has grown with protections in place for them and their habitat.

Panda habitats are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, so protecting them helps not only the giant panda but also other threatened and endangered species such as golden snub-nosed monkeys, takins, red pandas and snow leopards.

Climate change, tourism, overharvesting of bamboo and other threats pose challenges giant pandas' future. But we can take inspiration from the fact that conservation has worked for these majestically goofy creatures and keep those efforts going.

Lexis Redd D'Ville is bringing drag queens mainstream in the Deep South

Drag queens and mimosas? Now, that's Southern comfort.

Curtesy of Jacalyn Wetzel

Lexis Redd D'Ville bringing drag queens to the Deep South

Given some of the laws being passed in the southern half of the country, it's easy to assume events like drag brunch would be met with disapproval. But Autherius Lawson has been bringing drag to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for years, even in the midst of other southern cities attempting to outright ban drag performances.

Lawson performs as Lexis Redd D'Ville and has a thriving company, Lexis & Friends Entertainment. The queens are always booked and busy in a region of the country people wouldn't expect, that is, unless you're local. Lawson has been selling out his signature Drag Brunch since 2019 at White Pillars, an upscale restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi.

When D'Ville saunters to the middle of the dinning room there is no shortage of excited cheers. But the thing that likely keeps patrons coming back outside of the fabulous song choices and amazing costumes–is the laughter. If you have nothing else while at one of D'Ville's events, you'll have a good time.


Since his first drag brunch across the street from the Biloxi beach, Lawson has expanded his operations to New Orleans, Louisiana, also hosting events in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is about an hour north of where he got his start. More drag queens have been added to his roster of entertainers, seemingly leaving Lawson with little time to sleep. The entrepreneur not only hosts drag brunches in two different states, but he also puts on traditional drag events at bars and other entertainment venues.

On top of hosting his own events, Lawson is the show director for Sipps Bar in Gulfport, Mississippi and the New Orleans House of Blues.

Lawson tells the Associated Press, "I will say that I have prided myself on taking the chances and kicking open the doors people would not have expected."

But the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not only a tourist area but home to Keesler Air Force Base and a Naval Construction Battalion Center, creating a unique eclectic culture of its own. White Pillars is able to rake in profits from the partnership they have with Lawson, and Ms. D'Ville gets to show the Bible belt what drag is really about.

“The clientele seemed to really enjoy it, something they’re not used to, which was also one of my goals: to put drag in front of people who have never seen it before, because I have a firm belief that ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate, which leads to a society we can’t live in,” Lawson explains to the AP.

The brunches bring in crowds ranging from bridal parties to elderly couples, all well prepared with a stack of one dollar bills to tip the queens. D'Ville's "friends" come from all over the Deep South, from Shreveport, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama.

They pride themselves on making sure everybody has a good time, mixing up their themes, music and costumes. Some of the costume changes happen before your eyes leaving customers wondering if the drag queens might be a little magic. There's no telling what kind of crowd the queens might encounter: a granny with better knees than a 25 year old dancing with her bottomless mimosa above her head or a group of guy friends laughing after being personally serenaded.

As Lawson's drag queen empire expands taking him to new cities, he still makes time to sell out shows at the White Pillars every third Sunday.