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A man built a garden in Harlem and the children in the neighborhood bloomed

Tony Hillery was living the high life, running a limousine company and wearing Prada suits, when the financial crisis of 2008 hit. He lost his business and lines of credit and felt like he was too old to start over.

He kept reading about underfunded schools with no art, gym, or music—a sharp contrast to the private schools his kids had attended. So one day, he decided to take the subway to Harlem to see what he could do.

"I couldn't have been more arrogant," Hillery told Humans of New York. "I walked through the doors of the first elementary school I could find, asked for the principal, and said: 'I'm here to try to break the cycle of poverty.' She assigned me to the lunchroom, and that's where I started volunteering five days a week."

Hillery talked to the kids at lunch and they gravitated toward him. They called him "Mr. Tony" and treated him like Santa Claus. Their goofiness reminded him of his own kids.

"So when I learned that almost half of them were living in homeless shelters, that shit drove me crazy," he said. "It tore me up. I was looking for some way to help—anything."


He spotted an abandoned community garden across the street—the kids called it the 'haunted garden'—and decided to clean it up. He got the paperwork processed through the Parks Department and spent six weeks hauling out all the junk. He had no idea what he was going to do with the space other than clean it up.

"Then one morning a little girl tugged on my shoulder. A tiny little thing with glasses so big," he said. "Her name was Nevaeh. 'Heaven' spelled backwards. And she said: 'Mr. Tony, why don't we plant something?'"


Hillery didn't know anything about gardening, but a Google search showed him that it was hard to mess up growing herbs. So he got a dump truck of organic soil, some clearance herbs at Home Depot, and invited Nevaeh's kindergarten class to come and plant the first seedlings.

"There wasn't much structure in the beginning," he said. "A lot of times I'd just sit around with the kids and look at clouds. But over time the garden became a sort of outdoor science classroom. All of us were learning together. If something died, we'd just try a new spot. We learned about worms, and ladybugs, and praying mantises. Then we learned about food systems. I couldn't help but notice the diets of these kids: all sugar and processed food. Some of them couldn't name a single vegetable. But how could you blame them? There are 55 fast food restaurants in this community, but not a single supermarket."

Hillery and the kids started growing vegetables, and a handful of kids got really involved and invested in the garden, including Nevaeh. She came to everything Hillery planned—camps, nature walks—and though she was quiet and reserved at first, she started taking ownership of the garden.

"Those became her plants, not mine," he said. "Whenever volunteers came to help with composting-- Nevaeh would take the lead. And if you were doing it wrong, she'd grab that rake right out of your hands." That was 10 years ago. Since then, Hillery has expanded from one garden to 12 urban farms throughout Harlem and created an entire youth-oriented growing organization called Harlem Grown. Kids throughout the community help plant and tend the crops, learning science and agricultural lessons with hands-on experience. Since it started, Harlem Grown has given 6,000 pounds of organic produce to the community for free. Even Nevaeh's mom has gotten involved, serving as the Agricultural Director of the farms.

But Hillery explained to Humans of New York that the point of Harlem Grown is not just to grow food, but to grow healthy children.

"When you sit in this garden on a summer day—you hear things. There are fourteen homeless shelters within a four-block radius. So when it's hot outside, and the windows are open, you can hear the stress of poverty. Sometimes mothers will yell at these kids like they're grown men. They'll call them names. They'll tell them: 'you can't,' and 'you won't.' And after awhile the kids start to believe it.

When they first come into this garden— they're so freakin' happy. Especially the really young ones. But at the end of the day, they'll say: 'I'm going home.' And home means shelter. It's an epidemic, man. 115,000 kids in this city are living in shelters. It's a freakin' epidemic. But it's invisible. You'd never know these kids are homeless, because they're so happy.

But something happens around 9, 10, 11. I see it all the time. Those eyes dim, man. It's just life. There's too much stress around here. And they grow up fast. They lose that light. I just want to slow it down, that's all. I want them to have a safe place where they can just be them. That's all any of us want, right? To slow it all down so we can find out who we are?"

Hillery said he arrogantly went to Harlem thinking he had the answers, that he was going to fix kids. But in the past ten years, he's learned that they didn't need to be fixed or to become like him—they needed to stay like their young and happy selves. He was 52 pounds heavier and depressed before Harlem Grown, living a life that was all about things and money. The kids have taught him he was doing it all wrong.

And Neveah? She's sixteen now and an honor roll student.

"Recently she had a C in math," Hillery told Humans of New York, "so I said: 'Let's find you a private tutor, I'll pay for it.' But she wouldn't let me. She grabbed the rake out of my hand. She said: 'No Mr. Tony, I got this myself.' And she got a 93 on that final.

She was the tiniest little thing when I met her. With glasses so big. But even back then she had everything she needed. It just required a little protection. And a little time. She just needed some space to grow."

Well done, Mr. Tony, tending to the hearts and minds of the children of Harlem and helping them bloom.

Hear more from Hillery about Harlem Grown here:

Harlem Grownwww.youtube.com

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

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This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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