How a protest over pine trees led this woman to create her dream company.

In 2012, Jen Horn watched as local residents in Baguio City, Philippines, protested over pine trees.

It might not seem like a particularly obvious political reason, but when people tried to expand a mall and eliminate a large area of pine trees in the process, the residents were so concerned about the environmental impact that they organized.

Jen, who owned a successful design company in the Philippines, was inspired by their collective action. It raised questions she had about the ethical responsibility of a business to treat the world well.


In regard to her own business, Jen often found herself wondering what happened to the things her company helped create when people were done using them.

Was her business conscientious, she wondered. Was she making the world better with her work?

Finally, someone who is as excited about succulents as I am! All images via Muni, used with permission.

That's when she got the idea for Muni, a community and company dedicated to mindful, sustainable, creative living.

"[I] really wanted to do something with greater impact and start creating more learning and networking events for like-minded folks," Jen told Upworthy in an email.

The name of the company is derived from the Filipino word muni-muni, which means "to think, ponder, muse, or reflect." And the core of the organization's purpose is just that — to facilitate mindfulness, sustainability, and ethicality among entrepreneurs.


"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals," Jen said in a TEDx Talk last year.

With the pine tree activists' efforts at the front of her mind, Jen started this organization by uniting her personal values of sustainability and mindfulness with her business.

Because it wasn't just about her vision for the whole world. It was also about what was going on in her own backyard.

So, what exactly does Muni do? Well, a lot.

Muni brings awesome events to communities across the globe, like a series of talks in Manila, Philippines, a sustainability festival, and an upcoming "camp" for start-up founders to come together and learn from each other.

A Muni Meetup in the Philippines.

Jen hosts Muni Market Days for local creators, artists, and performers to showcase their talents to the community — kind of like a farmers market but for makers and creatives. People subscribe to Muni's Facebook page and get notified when they put up a new event.

"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals." — Jen Horn

With this upswing in female business leaders, like Jen, there is also an upswing in sustainability.

Research has shown that female business leaders are more committed to corporate sustainability and creating businesses that function in harmony with the planet.

Why? One reason may be related to how female board directors and executives tend to be better at planning for the future and communicating a broad vision. A stronger reason is how diversity of all kinds always make the world a better place.

Including a diverse mix of voices in the decision-making process reveal smarter and surprising ways to make things systemically better at all levels — and sustainability is undoubtably a core area for that.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of Fortune 500 companies have women at the helm. It's clear that we need more Jens to lead the way.

The Muni community hosts Market Days to showcase local makers.

Jen's advice for other Jens out there is simple but effective:

"The goal is to be more mindful in your business or in your life every day, and the only way for us to figure that out is if we’re in the process, doing it, talking to people who are also trying to do things in a different way."

Every action to better our community can be a source of inspiration — and in this case, it planted the seed for a company that actively seeks to improve and protect the world.

As Jen says in her speech: "At the end of the day, your world is your choice."

Reflecting on our roles as consumers, producers, and stewards of the planet is something we can all definitely get behind.

Listen to Jen's talk about starting a mindful business and see if you're not inspired to make some changes of your own!

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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The Holderness family has made quite a name for themselves creating fun parody songs, but they may have just outdone themselves. As the world awaits the premiere of the filmed version Hamilton's original staged production on Disney +, the Holdernesses have released a "Hamilton Mask-up Parody Medley" that perfectly captures inane mask-wearing debates in the musical mastery of Hamilton.

As of now, it's only been up for six hours and has already been shared more than 35,000 times. Hamilton fans love it, recognizing familiar tunes such as "Aaron Burr, Sir," "My Shot," and "You'll Be Back." But even people who have never seen or heard Hamilton before will appreciate the cultural commentary on mask-wearing—an issue that has the U.S. struggling as it attempts to manage a pandemic in a highly individualistic society. As the video points out, public health isn't a partisan thing, and mask-wearing to protect others certainly shouldn't be something that angers people.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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