This couple could have gone on a honeymoon. They transformed their neighborhood instead.

When Maureen and Jim Nelis got married in January 2018, they had to decide what they'd do for a honeymoon.

For the couple from Derry, Ireland, the choice was a little different than for most. Both of them had been married and widowed, so they decided to forego a honeymoon completely and bring the party somewhere closer to home, where it would have a lasting impact.

Maureen and Jim Nelis in front of their flowers. All photos courtesy of Anne McGrotty.


Instead of traveling, the couple covered their street in beautiful flowers. And then the neighbors got involved.

Maureen has lived on Harding Street for more than 30 years, and she's had a long-standing tradition of decorating the Spanish steps that can be found there. When Jim moved in with her, they added his plants to the decoration, livening the street with color.

But they had more plants than space to decorate. So, the BBC reports, they started giving plants away to the people who were most special to them. Then, other neighbors asked if they could be given some plants too. And that's when the Nelises made their decision.

"Instead of going some place to look at something beautiful, and then come home and still not have any flowers here, we forgot about the honeymoon and put the money back into the neighborhood," Maureen told the BBC.

So: no more trip to Florence. The couple started planting instead.

One of the window boxes Maureen and Jim gifted to the community.

Maureen and Jim gifted their entire neighborhood with fresh blooms. And it's changed everything.

Almost as soon as they'd made a decision to give everyone in their vicinity window boxes, hanging flowers, and other decorations, neighbors started congregating to look at each other's flowers and share tips on keeping them thriving with each other.

Anne McGrotty, a resident who lives down the street, told Upworthy that it's really changed the way neighbors connect.

"The flowers [have] brought the neighbors closer together," she writes in an email. "They chat while out watering their flowers and have even got to know each other better. Some didn't know each other before this. It has given a sense of pride to the street."

Neighbors gathered on the Spanish steps on Harding Street.

Maureen said that she never expected that the flowers would make such a difference or receive such attention.

And though she would likely be reluctant to say this is the beginning of a movement — she just wanted to do something nice for her neighborhood! — how great would it be if more and more of us focused outward when it came to considering how to spend our leisure time?

Research shows that creating green spaces in communal spaces improves health, reduces crime, and brings people of all backgrounds together. What more could one hope for from a honeymoon?

Maureen and Jim Nelis — they know how to get things started right.

More


Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared