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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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.