When 7-year-old Keyla McCree climbed out her family's third-story window and plummeted to the ground, bus driver Steven St. Bernard was there to catch her. Don't you just love when the news has something GOOD to report?
Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.
While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.
"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."
In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.
"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.
While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.
Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.
And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.
Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.
Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.
In the following months, Justin learned how to turn fishing line into bracelets, transform plastic bags into doormats, recycle crayons, and shred plastic to make bowls. For him, turning trash into treasure became a thing of magic. He even collected 200 pounds of plastic caps, and transformed this trash into a buddy bench for his school.
Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
On Earth Day 2019, Perise Foran, an environmental science student from Cameroon reached out to Justin asking for help. Justin saw that the streams where Perise lived were overflowing with plastic garbage, and quickly agreed to help his new friend. The two of them started off with a plan to transform the 8,000 plastic bottles Perise collected on a World Litter Run and had been sitting in his yard for over 6 months.
According to Reuters, every minute, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world. And according to PlasticOceans.org, every minute, a full garbage truck's worth of plastic is dumped into our oceans. Upon learning those facts, Justin further strengthened his resolve.
He started asking everyone he was connected to for suggestions on what could be done with Perise's stockpile of bottles. Soon, creative upcycling ideas began pouring in from all around the world. Justin completed the projects with family and friends in the United States, and encouraged Perise to do the same in "parallel" in Cameroon. That's when Justin's Parallel Projects GoFundMe was created. Its aim is to raise awareness about water quality, find creative solutions to the plastic pollution issue, educate people to move away from single-use plastics, and inspire youth to become eco-heroes.
Soon, the Parallel Projects ideas spread to other countries like Kenya, Canada, Tanzania, and Nigeria, resulting in trash transforming into toys, bottle cap art, flower planters, jewelry, and more.
One might think that Justin had his hands full with all these projects… but he didn't stop there.
This summer, Justin's dream of visiting the rare and exotic frogs of Ecuador's Choco Cloud Forest came true with the Reserva Youth Council. Through his land conservation GoFundMe, and with generous donations from the Rainforest Trust, Old Navy, and the public, Justin purchased 30 acres of land which protected habitat for critically endangered species that were at risk from logging and ranching.
Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
Through a separate Reserva Youth Council initiative, Justin's goal now is to collect a million letters from young people like himself to send to world leaders with the aim of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030.
For anyone looking to help the planet Justin suggests to "start off small, take chances, and be brave."
The world of stand-up comedy is not known to be kind. Competition usually wins over comradery. But when news of beloved "Weekend Update" anchor and comedian Norm Macdonald broke yesterday, that stereotype was turned on its head, as love poured out from fellow comedians across social media.
Today is a sad day. All of us here at SNL mourn the loss of Norm Macdonald, one of the most impactful comedic voice… https://t.co/EwAJgO8fdc— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@Saturday Night Live - SNL)1631656608.0
In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best. An opinion shared by me and all peers. Alway… https://t.co/TVcBpza3yR— David Letterman (@David Letterman)1631652250.0
Norm's success was prolific to say the least. In addition to his stand-up and SNL career, MacDonald appeared in numerous films, including Grown Ups, Dr. Dolittle, Jack and Jill, Billy Madison, Funny People, Screwed, and The Animal. He also appeared in various late-night talk shows including Late Night With Conan O'Brien and Late Night with David Letterman, and even had his own sitcom, The Norm Show, as well as a talk show for one season on Netflix back in 2018.
The Norm Show (Norm) - Season 1 Episode 1 (Norm and the Prototype) www.youtube.com
A true comedy genius, Norm could make even the most convoluted story funny, as seen in Norm's unforgettable "Moth Joke" with Conan O'Brien.
Norm MacDonald's Moth Joke www.youtube.com
O'Brien was one of the first to react to the news of Norm's death, praising him as "the most unique comic voice I have ever encountered" and lamenting that "I will never laugh that hard again."
I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and… https://t.co/3LjiZFOxHK— Conan O'Brien (@Conan O'Brien)1631648335.0
Bob Saget, who Norm famously roasted, also sent a tweet sharing how he and Norm met, "he was in my audience at 17 years old," and went on to say " no other voice in comedy has been as unique, brazen, brazen, dark, hilarious, and heartfelt."
Devastated. Met Norm in Ottawa when he was in my audience at 17 years old. Been close for decades. We have lost a c… https://t.co/Va8cwfMJIl— bob saget (@bob saget)1631655381.0
Jim Carrey, who appeared on Norm's live show, gave heartfelt mourning, saying, "my dear friend Norm passed after a brave 10 year battle...He was one of our most precious gems...I love him."
My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest… https://t.co/bfrQHdB4DV— Jim Carrey (@Jim Carrey)1631646463.0
But the tributes don't stop there. Comedy greats like Steve Martin, all the Seths (McFarland, Rogan, and Meyers), Adam Sandler, Patton Oswalt, Jon Stewart and even Bob Odenkirk-who had his own health scare earlier this year- all sent their praises flooding to Twitter.
Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy w… https://t.co/YpZdWeOd6O— Adam Sandler (@Adam Sandler)1631650542.0
“He was the gold standard.” @SethMeyers reflects on the passing of comedy legend Norm Macdonald. https://t.co/kvxi01VN7Z— Late Night with Seth Meyers (@Late Night with Seth Meyers)1631667637.0
To so many people in comedy, me included, there was nobody funnier than Norm MacDonald. You always hoped he would h… https://t.co/qkJzVEHTZY— Seth MacFarlane (@Seth MacFarlane)1631647928.0
Truly one of the funniest moments on TV. That was awesome, Norm ruled https://t.co/ZqmwyCpGtY— Mr. Bob Odenkirk (@Mr. Bob Odenkirk)1631647396.0
This not only goes to show how far reaching and impactful Norm was as a talent, but how just one person's individual spark can ignite the hearts and minds of many others.
NOOOOO GODDAMIT. Oh my God what is even happening. Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious. https://t.co/loW3QsEjgW— Patton Oswalt (@Patton Oswalt)1631644592.0
No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. Fuck cancer.— Jon Stewart (@Jon Stewart)1631645135.0
Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting.… https://t.co/gkzaoIVuLt— Seth Rogen (@Seth Rogen)1631644634.0
Norm passed away after an undisclosed nine year battle with cancer. His longtime producing partner and friend, Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with him when he died, says "He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him....He once wrote that 'a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.' He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly."
Though Norm might have struggled in private, the comedy world is publicly coming together to acknowledge the positive impact he made in an industry that can, at its worst, be a toxic environment. The collective reaction to Norm's passing proves that at its best, however, the stand-up community is a tight knight family of creatives who relish in each other's successes and share in each other's remorse. Even in a time of devastating loss, that is worth celebrating.