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Ad Council - #EmbraceRefugees

Miatta Stevens' culinary journey is unlike most chefs.


Photo by Billy Yang, via Spice Kitchen Incubator, used with permission.


Originally from Sierra Leone, Stevens spent nine years of her life in a refugee camp in Ghana. It was there that she spent many of her days cooking delicious dishes and satisfying the stomachs of those around her.

In fact, her food was so good that Stevens was placed in the part of camp with fellow cooks, where it would be easier for them to prepare food for all the people.

Stevens' love for cooking and spreading joy runs deep.

"My passion for food comes from a very long way. My mom loves cooking, so she shared that with me. And with the help we had at the refugee camp — all that!" she joyously told Upworthy. "From there, I noticed that my passion for food is real because I was just willing to cook for people and love making them happy and love the feedback I get from it. It made a lot of difference to us in the refugee camp."

Now, Stevens is using her cooking chops to fuel her American dream.

When she relocated to Salt Lake City, she heard about Spice Kitchen Incubator.

Photo by Billy Yang, via Spice Kitchen Incubator, used with permission.

Founded three years ago, it's a program of the International Rescue Committee, in partnership with Salt Lake County, that provides opportunities for refugees, immigrants, and people with low-to-moderate income to start their own food business. It helps them support themselves and their families and use their existing culinary skills to start new lives.

Grace Henley, program director at Spice Kitchen Incubator, told Upworthy: "We know that so many refugees have strong, beautiful, diverse culinary backgrounds and that food is one of the ways that they’re able to offer their own skills in the communities where they're resettled."

Spice Kitchen is a truly incredible program that operates in three phases:

1. Preincubation

This is where they help develop their client's food idea and put a business plan in place. Here, they make sure to address every detail before launching — overall goals, branding and marketing, menu development, recipe costing, financial literacy, focus groups, permits and licensing, you name it!

It's a comprehensive plan that typically lasts four to six months and is designed to give each client the proper foundation needed to take their food dreams to the next level.

2. Incubation

This is it! The client is finally cooking up food for a living and able to start growing their business — of course, with a little help from their friends at Spice.

They provide access to a full commercial kitchen space, one that clients may rent at below market rate. They give hands-on technical assistance at any time and even help grow their clients' customer base in order to reach their ultimate goal.

There's one catch though. Clients can only stay in incubation for up to five years. From that point, they should have all the skills needed to be an independent business owner.

3. Graduation

They grow up so fast, don't they? This is when the clients have finally made it and are now ready to contribute to the U.S. economy doing what they love. But it's not like they're completely on their own.

They can still receive technical assistance when needed and are now part of the alumni network. This gives them the opportunity to give back and provide mentorship to incoming entrepreneurs.

Programs such as this have done so much to help refugees like Stevens achieve their goals.

Image via Spice Kitchen Incubator, used with permission.

"They have made [my passion] even more stronger and appreciate what I have to offer and give us the opportunity to share with people," says Stevens. "They try as much as possible to give me their help and resources to put my food out there."

When there's a system in place to help refugees succeed, they're able to share their incredible talents and wonderful culture with the rest of the country.

We can't wait to see what they cook up next.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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