+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy
More

Former gang members are helping to end violence in L.A. through an awesome program.

Ex-gang members are taking their community back, one relationship at a time.

While growing up in Southwest Houston post-Rodney King, I heard a lot about the turbulence and gang violence taking place in South Central Los Angeles.  

All images used with permission from "License to Operate."

Shows like "A Different World" and movies like John Singleton's "Boyz n the Hood"showcased the impact of gang violence and the unrest between communities of color and police.


This was the post-Jim Crow era, and black people were being pushed to the poorest corners of large cities, areas that funneled the worst drugs to a group of people already struggling to survive. With the rise of the cocaine epidemic, a push for economic improvement, and a desire for brotherhood, many young black men felt forced to join gangs.

I listened to my mostly black neighbors talk about making sure the young men in our community focused on school and work, rather than falling into what was seen as an unforgivable gang lifestyle.

But for people living in L.A., getting out of those lethal neighborhoods wasn't as easy as just going to class on time or getting an education. For the thousands of young black men who lost their lives to guns during the '80s and '90s, there were few ways out.

Aquil Basheer remembers feeling forced into gang life as a teenager.

"To get people out of the gang life, you have to show them that there's something more out there," said Basheer. "When I was coming up, that something more didn't exist."

Basheer was born in Pacoima, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. He got involved with gangs as a teenager, but a short stint in gangbanging led him to a life he eventually realized he didn't want. He narrowly escaped a prison sentence thanks to some influential role models, but he says many of his friends got life in prison or ended up buried.

For many, seeing a family member killed or losing a loved one too soon can change everything. For Basheer, it wasn't a single incident that changed everything, but rather a variety of experiences that came together to make a big issue clear to him: The city he loved was becoming unrecognizable.

Eventually, Basheer and other former gang members decided that enough was enough.

The city they knew and loved was now a breeding ground for terror. And it wasn't just their male friends who were in danger either. Now, mothers were dying — and grandmothers and children. Boundaries no longer existed, and Basheer knew that he and others had played a large role in developing that culture.

"We had to bring an [option] to the table that would get individuals away from their mindset that [this type of] life was the way to go," Basheer says.

Basheer noticed that lots of gang members wanted to change, particularly when they hit their 30s. As people matured, they wanted a safer city for their own children.

"When people start having children and when they see that their brothers and sisters are at risk, they reevaluate things and start wanting to make some major changes," Basheer said.

But to do so, they needed someone with street credibility to step in and act as a mentor.

The former gang members got together and developed a gang interventionist group.

The middle-aged men — once some of the most feared men walking the streets — decided that their children and their community deserved better. Instead of searching for help outside the community, the men looked inward to figure out how to instill peace and restoration to a city that needed it.

In 2006, the community organizers came together and developed what they called the Professional Community Intervention Training Institute (PCITI).

The plan was simple: First, they brought in a group of community elders. These men and women would act as an anchor to people in a community in crisis, such as mothers who lost sons and children who lost classmates.

By training these elders how to deal with trauma and assist in stopping gang violence, safety nets are created. Going into the community to get a larger grasp of the needs isn't as difficult as it was before.

"It's operational protocol," Basheer said. "You have to create a whole new nexus for them to attach themselves to, to get away from their normal of gang culture — the thought they have to be better than the next."

Then, most importantly, these community elders show volunteers and workers how to navigate a given neighborhood, how to mediate in stressful issues, and how to create real conflict resolution that works.

It’s this dedication to conflict resolution that is sparking a rebirth in the city’s most plagued communities.  

According to the organization,PCITI has a 93% success rate, meaning that many who were caught up in gang life are now actively working toward other options.

On a human level, PCITI has managed to grow relationships with young people in the community, which is where the real change is starting to happen. Finding at-risk gang members isn't exactly difficult, Basheer says, because most don't hide their affiliation — instead, they brag about it.  

And rather than making exiting a gang the main goal, Basheer's team works to show gang members there are other options, a concept that hasn't necessarily been taught to many living in impoverished areas.    

To understand how drastic this improvement is, you have to know a bit about L.A.'s gang history.

Los Angeles has long been hailed as the "gang capital" of America. Currently, there are believed to be 450 active gangs in the city — many of which have existed for over 50 years. Collectively, it's estimated that 45,000 individuals have been members. During the late '80s to the early '90s, almost 1,000 people died due to homicide in Los Angeles every year.

It's no secret that black and Latino men were — and still are — particularly susceptible to gang violence. In 1996, 46% of all gang members identified as Hispanic or Latino, and 35% were black. And 79% of large cities reported gang problems from 2008 to 2012.  

While Basheer’s program is certainly a pleasant addition to the city, it’s just one piece to a very complicated puzzle that continues to take lives.

Even though gang violence was steadily declining during the early 2000s, L.A. recently saw its highest rise in gang violence since 2009. LAPD data showed that almost 60% of homicides were gang-related, putting a damper on an already struggling city.  

But that’s exactly why Basheer and others keep going: They know that the road to peace and stability is never smooth. Instead, it’s often turbulent and complicated.

“These are everyday people that are part of the solution,” said Basheer. “They aren’t necessarily police officers or firemen. They’re citizens that want to improve lives in their communities.”

Basheer has also taken this plan to various communities in South Africa and Europe.

Most recently, he spoke at a UN conference focused on bringing safety to some of the world's largest cities.

"Surprisingly, the international communities get it and are way more on task than [American] urban cities," Basheer said.

He's also gotten involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, and he says this is what shows him the plan has strong potential; if his program works, the template has to be able to be replicated in other besieged areas too.

Community policing is important and effective — and it could be one of our best ways forward.

After documenting Basheer's movement in the documentary "License to Operate," producer Mike Wallen says he was surprised by how well this system was working.

“I felt like I was from an open-thinking, progressive family, but you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Wallen, who grew up in L.A. After taking on the film production pro bono, he got heavily involved with the interventionists and says he listened more than he spoke.

“It’s really important that we all care about this, whether we’re directly affected or not," Wallen said.

As distrust continues between communities of color and police, Wallen is right: Programs like this are key. It's important for people to see familiar faces in positions of authority. Engaging both parties to create solutions is a tool that everyone can work toward sharpening.

"The goal is to create sustainable communities, which are violence free, that can create their own version of sustainability," Basheer said.

The bottom line is that gang violence is a complicated issue.

But the best way to combat it might be the most basic and the most emotional: reaching out to others in your community to promote human connection, support, and mentorship.

Many young people join gangs because of the respect that comes with it and the sense of community they find. And, certainly, one solution will not fix a decades-long problem. With more people like Basheer in the mix, it is definitely possible to create a culture in which gang violence becomes a thing of the past.

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

This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."


As much as we hear about wealth inequality these days, one disparity remains mostly ignored: the gap between the wealthy and the ridiculously wealthy.

Minhaj spoke to Richard Reeves, an economist with the Brookings Institute, who painted a dark picture:

wealth, comedy, Hasan Minhaj

Wealth inequality on the rise.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

The study Reeves refers to points to the growing wealth of the top 10th of the top 1%:

"The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012 — a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined."

And no one's paid any attention.

Between the cries of the 45.3 million people in poverty and a dwindling middle class inevery state, the voice of the average millionaire is all but drowned out.

the one percent, inequality, investment

Millionaires unconcerned with financial disparity.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

But not all millionaires are worried about growing inequality in the top 1%.

In his search for a concerned millionaire, Minhaj met Morris Pearl, a retired investment banking director and member of an organization called The Patriotic Millionaires. Minhaj was baffled by what Pearl had to say:

resources, rich, Ronald Reagan

Investment banking pays well.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

What about trickle-down economics?

Trickle-down theory was popularized under Ronald Reagan's presidency. The idea was that clearing a path for the rich to make more money would spur more private investment, which would lead to more jobs and higher wages for all workers.

tax breaks, income, classism

Attempting the preach the reverse.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Reagan put trickle-down theory into practice in two basic ways: by lowering taxes for the wealthy and by freezing wages for the poor.

In 1981, he cut the top marginal income tax rate — which only applies to the highest-income households — from 70% to 50%. Then in 1986, he more than doubled-down by slashing the rate to 28%. (The current rate is 39.6%.) And under Reagan's leadership, the minimum wage was frozen, even as costs of living were rising.

Pearl and other so-called Patriotic Millionaires think top one-percenters like themselves should pay more taxes.

trickle-down theory, financial institutions, comedy show

Making rich people richer.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Not only that, they believe raising the minimum wage is critical to reducing inequality.

OK, maybe not everyone — including millionaires — are convinced that giving more money to the rich will fix the economy. So why do our policies do just the opposite?


This article originally appeared on 3.23.15

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.

Friendship

American coworkers surprise grieving Māori man with haka after he missed family funeral

He was stuck in America for his grandmother's funeral so his friends brought New Zealand to the states.

Representative photo Gary Stockbridge|Get Archive

American friends learn haka for grieving Māori man

It's not easy living away from family, especially when you live in a completely different country. The distance can become increasingly more difficult to adjust to when tragedy strikes your family back home. It can be cost prohibitive to fly back home and depending on your employer's attendance policy, it may be nearly impossible.

Jarom Ngakuru recently faced this very situation. The New Zealander of Māori descent is living in the United States while his family still resides in his home country. Unfortunately, when Ngakuru's grandmother died, he was unable to make the trip back to the island to give his proper goodbye.

Not being able to attend his grandmother's funeral left him sad and broken. He wanted nothing more than to be there with his family. Ngakuru's friends knew how important it was for him to send his grandmother off properly so the group of American colleagues worked in secret to learn the haka.


Haka is a traditional dance performed by Māori people for important events like weddings, funerals, and significant life events as a sign of respect. The dance has been known to bring viewers to tears, and this haka is doing the same. Not just because of the haka itself, but because of everything that went into a group of American men learning a dance from another culture to honor their friend and his grandmother.

Ngakuru uploaded the video to his TikTok page with the caption, "Hardest part about living in America is that we live so far away. I couldn't make it home for my nan's funeral and I was BROKEN! So my boys at work learned the haka without me knowing and brought home to me."

See why commenters could not stop crying below:

@jaromngakuru

Hardest part about living in america 🇺🇸 is that we live so far away. I couldnt make it home for my nans funeral and i was BROKEN! so my boys at work learned the haka without me knowing and brought home to me 🇳🇿🏠 #haka #grateful #maori #newzealand #brothers #fyp #foryou

"I don't think they even understand how beautiful of an act this is," one person writes.

"There is so much depth of emotion attached to the Haka I uncontrollably cry every time. This was beautiful," another says.

"Well I'm sobbing like a baby in my office now," a commenter reveals.

"You can feel the mana [spiritual power] and the aroha [love]they have for you they know your mamae [hurt], what a beautiful tribute to you and our culture. Arohanui [deep affection] for your loss," someone else writes.

Ngakuru explains in the comments that it's his brother-in-law, who is Tongan, leading the chant. He is also the one that taught their friends the haka in a single day. What an impressive show of love for their grieving friend. There's no doubt that Ngakuru will remember this for the rest of his life.

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.



According to The Guardian, Burgoyne was flying his drone through a remote patch of forest in Canada when he spotted three moose in a clearing. His drone followed one of the bulls, who began doing the wobbly little shake thing that signals these antlers are going bye-bye.

Burgoyne knew he had to keep his camera on the moment—but he had no idea that he’d hit the jackpot.

Watch below:

It’s hard to tell which is more fun to watch— the super rare moment in nature or Burgoyne’s pure passion for his hobby.

“I shook a little bit. It was an adrenaline rush for sure,“ he told CBC News, sharing that he has previously found hundreds of shed antlers in his life.

Antler hunting has become a hot and profitable pastime over the past few years, although Burgoyne affirms that his shed hunting ambitions are born from a desire for well-being, not monetary gain.

“I enjoy being in the woods. It’s great exercise and it’s fun tracking the moose through the winter and looking for their sheds in the spring. Each one you find feels like the first one. It never gets old,” he told The Guardian.

Well Derek Burgoyne, thank you for doing what you love. Thanks to your passion, we too can share this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Here’s to good moose news!


This article originally appeared on 1.20.23

Joy

17 non-Americans share the 'most American moment’ they experienced visiting the States

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom when in the distance, we could see one of the Space Shuttles being launched into the Sky."

Three things that are as American as they get.

For people from foreign countries, visiting America can feel like stepping into a movie. Many people across the world have grown up with American movies, TV shows, music, and even products, creating a kind of proxy culture through which they experience a slice of American life.

That’s why when they visit America for the first time, it can be a surreal experience. Everyday scenes that Americans take for granted—such as the sight of a classic yellow school bus, a waitress who calls you “Honey,” or a game of beer pong with red Solo cups—can feel like a moment straight out of a Hollywood script.

America is also full of characters that people may not find abroad, from sheriffs wearing cowboy hats to mustachioed bikers and people who really, really love guns.


A Redditor named JeffRyan1 asked non-Americans on the AskReddit subforum to share the most American moment they experienced when visiting the United States. It was a fun post where folks shared the people, places, and things that they’ll never forget after visiting the land of the free and home of the brave.

Here are 17 of the “most American moments” non-Americans have had in the States.

1. The most American day ever

"Several years ago, one of my friends reached out because a new international student was joining a local college, and their parents were hoping to find somebody in the US to help them out. The first day they came to visit us, a couple of major coincidences created a weirdly over-the-top American experience.

Based on talks before they arrived, the two biggest things they wanted to do was walk around the downtown area to make sure it was safe and get some American BBQ.

We went to a local BBQ restaurant that serves a huge family-style meal on a giant shovel (it's called KCs Rib Shack in Manchester, NH). The dad was absolutely blown away and took like 30 photos before we could eat. We then went downtown but didn't realize that there was both a classic car show downtown and an Elvis impersonator competition going on. this family that had never been outside of Japan ate brisket out of a shovel then immediately walked around looking at classic muscle cars while dozens of dudes dressed like Elvis walked around. We kept trying to explain that it was an abnormally 'American' day, but the family was just so blown away and overwhelmed the whole time. The last time I talked to the student, she said her dad still talks about the BBQ shovel, car, Elvis day all the time." — WoogyChuck

2. Never forget

"Dude took his shirt off in line at an amusement park to reveal no less than six 9/11 tattoos." — Peskieyesterday

3. Peak Florida

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, when in the distance we could see one of the space shuttles being launched into the Sky. The barbershop quartet stopped, turned to it and started singing the 'Star Spangled Banner,' and a military dad and his two kids stood straight, rooted to the spot whilst they saluted until it went out of sight." —Eezgorriseadback

"If this is actually true this has to be the best answer. That reads like a schlocky movie script—wild." — HankSaggittarius

4. The XL coffee

"American immigrant from Europe… On my first week in the US, i walked into one of those chain coffee shops and ordered a coffee. When prompted for a size, I pondered that I had not slept that much (jet lag) and selected an extra large. You know what we call those extra-large coffee mugs in the old country? Buckets. What I got was a bucket of coffee." — Milespoints

5. Pride of the frontier

"An old couple running a family run horse ranch, talking about their history, how their great grandparents acquired that bit of land, while their two daughters and son taught us horseback riding. The way they talked about nature, freedom, their dreams and aspirations, so different to our home country and our own culture, while still sounding faintly familiar, as if he was talking about a really old dream I used to have. It’s hard for me to put into words, but that scene, the surroundings, the air, every sensation, never left me, and but for a brief moment, allowed me to kind of understand the Americans a little more. I truly hope they all are doing well and that America never loses this special way of striving for a new frontier. Sounds probably ridiculous, but it was very special to me." — Parthorax

6. Breakfast of champions

"Montana after driving across the Canadian border: Eating in a breakfast diner that actually had stacks of pancakes with the little square of butter on top, just like I had always seen in movies. The waitress was pouring coffee into everyone's cups, talking about the 'potata salad' and saying 'sir' and 'ma'am' after every sentence. It was so quaint. Then I noticed a guy with a gun on his belt, wearing a shirt that read, 'I'd rather be a Mormon than a Moron.' The amount of Jesus and Stars and Stripes on that one little drive was peak America, from my outsider perspective." — yycokwithme

7. Chicken-friend bacon

"Had chicken-fried bacon at some breakfast BBQ place on the I5 between Seattle and Portland. Was it delicious? Yes. Did it probably take at least a few days off my life? Also yes. And it was just the starter to my biscuits and gravy." — parrallel_jay

8. Ready, aim, fire

"Being able to shoot weapons at a gun range despite being on a mere tourist visa." — Throwawayconcern2023

"The first time I, a Canadian, ever fired a gun was in a range in Oklahoma City. I was on a road trip and my boyfriend at the time (from LA) suggested it, so we walked in and asked for the most comically large guns they would give us. They handed us AK-47s and a key to the range. Didn't even ask to see ID." — Safadancer

9. The big yellow bus

"The yellow school-buses. I felt like I was in a movie." — SunnyTopHat268

"I hear red Solo cups have the same effect." — JunkMail0604

10. Deer service

"Going into a Savalot supermarket and discovering the meat counter had an option for you to drop off a deer carcass to get it prepared by the butcher." — Pickwick-the-Dodo

11. A monster of a night

"Went to watch Monster Trucks at the Georgia Dome (RIP) with family during the winter. We were a group of 6 brown people in coats and beanies and gloves amongst 59,994 rednecks wearing trucker caps, shorts, and sleeveless flannel shirts. Had my first Bud Light and funnel cake. What a time." — Honeycomb286

12. Grocery sore

"Formerly a non-American, i noticed was how grocery store employees at the cash register are not allowed to sit." — Ghengiskhan_1

13. Chatty Americans

"I think for me was noticing that strangers can randomly strike up a conversation with you. I've been in this country for more than 20 years now so I'm used to it. But I remember being weirded out by it before." — Kororon

"I've lived here my whole life and still find it awkward and unusual." — Mr-Whitecotton

14. Born to wild

"As if going to the NASCAR wasn't 'Merican enough, before going into the stadium, my mate and I had a walk around the fan park they had built outside it. Within 5 minutes of being there, I heard an engine being revved up to within an inch of its life, and the smell of petrol filled the air. I turned around, and this engine was on board a Harley Davidson three-wheeler, on which there was this big f*** off drum kit built onto it, driven by a bloke in full leathers, bandana, shades, the lot. All of a sudden 'Born To Be Wild' blasted out of the speakers also attached to it, and the bloke started playing the drums along to the tune, and started badly singing the lyrics, revving the engine every so often in random places. I felt like I was American myself by the end of it." — eezgorriseeadback

15. What a hamburger's all about

"A bite into an In-N-Out Burger. my sister couldn't believe that I ate a burger at their place every day for 3 weeks. Feel free to invite me for a few weeks, very happy to come back to Thousand Oaks, California, and we will indulge in the burgers from In-N-Out. I'm from Germany, flight is on me." — Seevetaler

16. Hollywood sunset

"I was driving through LA (from near Hollywood to LAX) in a pickup with the sun setting and listening to '80s/'90s hip hop on the radio. I felt like I was in GTA." — Criminalsunrise

17. Diner waitresses

"A diner where a lady walks around with a large pot of coffee and refills everyone's cup." — Y0rin

Maddie Cable turns her brace into armor.

High school is tough enough for the average 17-year-old girl. Anyone who stands out is a target for whispers and hushed laughter in the in hallways or, at worst, public ridicule.

That's why Maddie Cable, 17, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was less than enthusiastic after being told she needed to wear a large plastic brace to school for at least six weeks.


Cable was in a car accident with her mother in November, and she fractured her T12 vertebra. After doctors stabilized it with rods and pins, Maddie was fitted with the massive brace.

modern medicine, high school, steampunk, cosplay

Maddie Cable stands with aid of walker and plastic brace.

via Epbot

"At first, I felt very self-conscious about the brace," Cable told Buzzfeed. Then her friend Sarah Chako had the brilliant idea of turning the bland-looking brace into a badass steampunk armor corset using metallic spray paint, gear-shaped stencils, acrylic paint, and metal framing trim. Steampunk is a sci-fi/retro style that combines futuristic steam-powered designs and American "Wild West" aesthetics.

creatives, art, costumes, friends, collaboration

Maddie models the super-cool-transformation of her plastic brace.

via Epbot

"I enjoy wearing it now," Cable said. "It makes me feel more confident." Her mother is pleased, too. "People are initiating conversation instead of just staring," Cable's mom, Linda, told HuffPost. "She feels like they see her, and not just her injury."

Cable's story is a great example of what you can do with some creative thinking, good friends, and steampunk power. She turned a depressing situation into an opportunity to express herself.

This article originally appeared on 09.12.17