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upworthy
Health

I never realized how dumb our cities are until I saw what a smart one looks like.

There's community and there's commuting. Let's not confuse the two.

economics, environment, cities
Image created from YouTube video.

A busy freeway.



With the population growing and most of it happening in cities, these Canadian journalists wanted to take a closer look at whether our sprawling modern villages are up to the task of housing more humans.

Over half of the world lives in urban areas.


That includes over 80% of people in the United States and 81% of folks in Canada, where this report was produced. Therein lies the problem.

pollution, culture, traffic

The busy traffic in the cities.

GIF created from YouTube video.

A lot of modern cities are being described as obesogenic environments.

Dr. Karen Lee can tell you what that means:

city design, infrastructure, obesogenic

Design of cities makes us sick.

Image created from YouTube video.

Lee says our living environment has shaped public health for the worse:

"The ways in which we've been designing our cities have been making us sick. ... We've inadvertently designed physical activity out of our lives."

A healthy diet and regular physical activity are some of the most important things we can do for our health as individuals, but flawed city design has restricted opportunities for people to make those choices, which has contributed greatly to what are essentially public health epidemics — ones that require public health solutions.

Most cities have been designed for cars, not for people.

Look out your window and see for yourself. Brent Toderian, former chief city planner for Vancouver, says it's a big problem:

mental health, economy, money work

Cities are designed around using cars.

Image created from YouTube video.

Toderian says city design that makes it easier for people to get around instead of cars is one way to make physical activity a more natural part of our lives. And a lot of major cities are beginning to look to Latin America for ideas about how to achieve that.

In the 1990s, Medellín, Colombia, was one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The constant threat of drug-related violence made it a place people wanted to escape.

constitution, hardiness, gridlock

Looking over Medellín, Colombia.

Image from YouTube video.

But today, Medellín stands as a model of creative urban design.

The city was desperate for change. And they may not have had the resources of the world's richest city, but with a few smart infrastructure investments, like outdoor escalators, suspended gondolas, and public gathering spaces, Medellín has been transformed into a place where people are proud to live.

escalator, Medell\u00edn, population

A system of escalators

GIF created from YouTube video.

gondola, fitness, well being

Gondolas moving people throughout the city.

GIF created from YouTube video.

Medellín's escalators cost only $6 million to build — "peanuts in the scheme of modern infrastructure projects.”

Architect Carlos Escobar sees these developments as much more than just infrastructure upgrades:

"The new transportation system in Medellín ... is not only a physical solution. It is not only transportation. It is also a social instrument that involves the community, that integrates the community in all the city."

Medellín is more connected than it's ever been, which makes it easier for workers to get to their jobs, and it brings more action to the local economy, strengthens the community, AND encourages people to be physically active.

If you'd rather spend more time in your community than in your car, give this post a share and help spark more people's imaginations. The solutions are out there. And they're not as costly or far-fetched as a lot of us might think.

This was a fantastic news report by CBC News (great job, Canada!). Here's just a snippet, but check out the whole video if you wanna nerd out a little more like I did:

This article originally appeared on 03.10.15

Family

Wife says husband's last name is so awful she can't give it to her kids. Is she right?

"I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything, and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c’mon."

A wife pleads with her husband to change their child's name.

Even though it’s 2023 and schools are much more concerned with protecting children from bullying than in the past, parents still have to be aware that kids will be kids, and having a child with a funny name is bound to cause them trouble.

A mother on Reddit is concerned that her future children will have the unfortunate last name of “Butt,” so she asked people on the namenerds forum to help her convince her husband to name their child something different.

(Note: We’re assuming that the person who wrote the post is a woman because their husband is interested in perpetuating the family name, and if it were a same-sex relationship, a husband probably wouldn’t automatically make that assumption.)

"My husband’s last name is Butt. Can someone please help me illuminate to him why this last name is less than ideal,” she asked the forum. “I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c'mon. Am I being unreasonable by suggesting our future kid either take my name, a hybrid, or a new one altogether?"

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Community

Man uses social media to teach others ASL so kids don't experience what he did as a child

Every child should be able to communicate in a way that works best for them.

Man teaches people ASL so no child experiences what he did

People start communicating from the moment they enter the world usually through cries, faces, grunts and squeals. Once infants move into the toddler phase the combine all of their previous communication skills with pointing and saying a few frequently used words like "milk," "mama," "dada" and "eat."

Children who are born without the ability to hear often still go through those same stages with the exception of their frequently used words being in sign language. But not all hearing parents know sign language, which can stunt the language skills of their non-hearing child. Ronnie McKenzie is an American Sign Language advocate that uses social media to teach others how to sign so deaf and nonverbal kids don't feel left out.

"But seriously i felt so isolated 50% of my life especially being outside of school i had NONE to sign ASL with. Imagine being restricted from your own language," McKenzie writes in his caption.

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Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

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Joy

Bus driver comes to the rescue for boy who didn't have an outfit for school's Pajamas Day

“It hurt me so bad…I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

Representative Image from Canva

One thoughtful act can completely turn someone's day around.

On the morning just before Valentine’s Day, school bus driver Larry Farrish Jr. noticed something amiss with Levi, one of his first grade passengers, on route to Engelhard Elementary, part of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) in Louisville, Kentucky.

On any other day, the boy would greet Farrish with a smile and a wave. But today, nothing. Levi sat down by himself, eyes downcast, no shining grin to be seen. Farrish knew something was up, and decided to inquire.

With a “face full of tears,” as described on the JCPS website, Levi told Farrish that today was “Pajama Day” at school, but he didn’t have any pajamas to wear for the special occasion.
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via Imgur

Memories of testing like this gets people fired up.

It doesn't take much to cause everyone on the internet to go a little crazy, so it's not completely surprising that an incorrect answer on a child's math test is the latest event to get people fired up.

The test in question asked kids to solve "5 x 3" using repeated addition. Under this method, the correct answer is "5 groups of 3," not "3 groups of 5." The question is typical of Common Core but has many questioning this type of standardized testing and how it affects learning.

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Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.


Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.

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