George Lucas is right to build affordable housing in his wealthy California neighborhood.

George Lucas just royally pissed off a bunch of his wealthy neighbors...

...and became my new hero.

I mean, he was my old hero too. Have you seen the Battle of Hoth?


You see, Lucas' movie studio, Skywalker Ranch, is located in Marin County, California, which is among the wealthiest communities in the country.

Rich people love bikes, sunsets and far-away views of San Francisco.

When Lucas first moved his studio to the wealthy suburban county in 1978, many of his neighbors initially feared he would build this:

Though why anyone wouldn't want this in their backyard is beyond me.

But he actually built this:

There's a studio there. You can see it if you squint. Kinda.

A few years back, Lucas decided the studio was due for an expansion. Since he had gone to such great lengths to preserve the quiet, scenic qualities of the community before, he figured it would be no problem.

But his wealthy neighbors freaked out anyway.

They were afraid the expansion would spoil their precious views despite Lucas' long track record of not messing with anyone's view. And they were afraid a business expansion would disturb the character of the neighborhood.

The community fought the project for years, until 2012, when Lucas finally gave in and decided to sell the land to a developer who would keep the neighborhood residential like his neighbors requested.

But he would make sure that the people who moved into the new development would be the sorts of folks priced out of the otherwise wealthy community, writing in a letter:

"We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low income housing since it is scarce in Marin."

And well, you can pretty much guess what happened next:

Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times:

“It's inciting class warfare," said Carolyn Lenert, head of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents.
...
Carl Fricke, a board member of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, which represents houses nearest to the Lucas property, said: “We got letters saying, 'You guys are going to get what you deserve. You're going to bring drug dealers, all this crime and lowlife in here.' "

And at first, it played out the usual way. There was the community board uproar, and political hurdles, and endless red tape. One of his community partners backed out when the cost got too high. And the project was tabled.

But here's the thing. George Lucas is a billionaire.


Tissues, according to George Lucas.

Which means George Lucas can basically do whatever George Lucas wants.

So he's building it anyway. With his own money.

Elahe Izadi, Washington Post:

Now, two years after that project stalled, Lucas has decided to build the affordable housing and pay for it all himself.

“We've got enough millionaires here. What we need is some houses for regular working people," Lucas said through his lawyer Gary Giacomini.

Which, excuse me for gushing, is a move so baller that it almost makes up for Episodes I-III.*

*Just kidding, George Lucas. You can do no wrong and I love you.

As plainly awesome as this is, this sort of thing is obviously not a long-term solution for housing discrimination.

We can't wait for altruistic billionaires to swoop in on their white horses and integrate our communities with their magic money wands.

So listen, rich people.

Of course, sir. We'll build the windmills somewhere else so you don't have to look at them from your porch. Right away.

I'm hip to your game.

You see, I grew up among you, in a well-off, bucolic, suburban community not far from New York City.

Our school mascot: Increasey, The Property Tax Bill.

And I speak your language.

I know there was once a time when "I don't want a black family, or a Korean family, or the janitor and his kids moving in on my street," was a thing you could say to a bunch of other rich people without shame or embarrassment. Heck, in some circles, you might even get a medal.

Thanks, Dave, for saying what we were all thinking.

But you can't say that anymore. People will look at you funny. With good reason.

So now you whisper things.

Things like "It's class warfare." Or "The schools will get overcrowded." Or "There'll be too much traffic downtown." Or "It's a fire hazard." Or "It is located in an undesirable location."

And sure, some people do legitimately worry about traffic, or development, or putting stress on the schools with the best of intentions.

But too often, these whispers are code for, "We don't want those people living next door."

Which is why I say this — as lovingly as I can:

Get your act together.

Poor and middle-class people want the same things you want: decent schools and safety for their kids, and a calm, peaceful life. They're not scary. They don't bite. And having them in the neighborhood probably won't trash your property values.

"I believe in equality of opportunity, just not equality of outcome."

...is a thing I've heard you all say over and over again — usually to convince yourselves that your successes are all thanks to your own plucky, nose-to-the-grindstone grit, as opposed to the natural result of having enormous advantages from the moment you were born.

Not talking about you, Ron. I know your dad was an East Despairtown coal miner and your mom was a sack of potatoes. I'm talking about the rest of you. You know who you are.

And weirdly, I actually agree.

No one can guarantee that everyone will strike it rich in life (though I believe we can do much, much more to ensure that people who don't make it big don't simply fall through the cracks). Someone, inevitably, is going to cross the finish line first. But everyone — whether their parents are rich, poor, or otherwise — should start from the same starting line.

That means having access to good schools. And resources in your community to help you pursue your interests and develop your skills. And living side by side with successful people who can mentor you. I had that growing up. The kids who live in George Lucas' hometown in Marin have that. Kids only a few miles away in places like Oakland, or Bridgeport, Connecticut, or East New York too often do not.

Making it easier for them to move in next door is one of the best ways to ensure that they do.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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When 59 children died on Christmas Eve 1913, the world cried with the town of Calumet, Michigan.

Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

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AFL Labor Mini Series

A one-man drill operation

In July 1913, over 7,000 miners struck the C&H Copper Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. It was largely the usual issues of people who worked for a big company during a time when capitalists ran roughshod over their workers — a time when monopolies were a way of life. Strikers' demands included pay raises, an end to child labor, and safer conditions including an end to one-man drill operations, as well as support beams in the mines (which mine owners didn't want because support beams were costly but miners killed in cave-ins “do not cost us anything.")

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Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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