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How does a community like Baltimore recover? The residents are making it happen.

To me, the reaction of the people of Baltimore when the police murdered Freddie Gray was a canary in a coal mine. It was another sign that systemic poverty and police violence have reached a breaking point.

How does a community like Baltimore recover? The residents are making it happen.
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Open Society Foundations
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If you're not able to watch the video, here's what it's all about.

Why did the Baltimore protests happen?


In the OSF video above, a variety of community experts discuss what the political climate was like in Baltimore right before Freddie Gray's death. It's a story that is pretty well-known by many — at least, to those who have opened their eyes.


“The killing of Mr. Gray while in police custody was sort of the match, if you will, that had lit something that had been fueling for years. Those neighborhoods had been suffering from inequality and segregation, racially and economically."
— Tara Huffman

“They are ex'd out of the labor market. They have insufficient education. They've been sucked out of the communities in large numbers and dropped into the juvenile justice system and criminal justice system. And structurally, they don't have a way to participate."
— Joseph T. Jones

"They have an expectation of incarceration because they see that happening to all of their friends and neighbors and siblings, and that creates a real anger and frustration. You're beginning to see people express that anger and frustration around these extreme acts of violence."
— Bryan Stevenson

But what happened next?

The real story lies in what happened after the media turned its attention to the next shiny object. After a night of civil unrest, residents immediately came together to heal their communities.

"We do need to shape the narrative. Yes, there was a night of just absolute chaos, but the very next morning, the community came together and cleaned up. No elected official called for it and said, 'Yes, let us all come together.'"
— Tara Huffman

"The residents of Baltimore city and the residents of those communities took ownership and responsibility and they started the cleanup process."
— Tara Huffman

"My office is directly across the street from the church where Freddie was laid to rest. That night, we stayed at the church close to midnight with a group of adult men, right, from the gangs and from other walks of life. And over the course of that dialogue, we began to see all of us as equal."
— Joseph T. Jones

The future of Baltimore

This unity didn't just stop the night of the protest. It has resulted in a culture shift for the whole community. By organizing and responding to their community's needs, Baltimore's communities are pulling themselves together in ways that previously were not happening. It's building, it's growing, and it's becoming something really inspiring.

"It has truly invigorated particularly a younger cohort of activists who before now were not activists."
— Joseph T. Jones


"That kind of enthusiasm, that kind of hopefulness will actually change the equation for our political leaders ... so that people have much more justice and equality."
— Diana Morris

"Empathy is absolutely an indispensable ingredient of true justice."
— Judge Andre M. Davis
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

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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.