Heroes

If you don't already think of water as power, these folks make it crystal clear.

Water is our world. Water is our life. So let's keep it that way.

If you don't already think of water as power, these folks make it crystal clear.
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Stella Artois

I know this might sound weird, but this video got me weirdly excited about water. Yes, water. H20.

In it, a bunch of people explain what water means to them.

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The powerful visuals, the bright colors, the stirring imagery ... the people in the video are right. Water is everything.


HOWEVER. The video didn't do a whole lot to explain what's being done around the world and in developing countries to ensure that everyone has access to water. And that left me with a bunch of questions.

There were three people in the video, the Stockholm Water Prize laureates, whose research I wanted to learn more about. So I did what every millennial does when they want to learn more about something.

I Googled.

Here's what I found:

Women in Bangladesh use their saris to filter their water.

Imagine using your own clothes to stop you from getting sick. How cool is that?? Dr. Rita Colwell discovered that's exactly what women in Bangladesh are doing. The women found that if they folded their saris enough times, they could filter water through them and trap the plankton that was making their water unsafe.

It's so simple. And yet so genius.

Is the problem really access to water? Or is it something else?

You can thank Sunita Narain for an amazing push to shift the way we think about access to water. We often talk about people not having enough water, but Narain thinks that's not the problem.

What is the problem is who gets water and who doesn't.

That is why she works to empower the people of India, particularly women, to build systems to find, preserve, and purify water, rather than rely on the government to take care of it and provide it for them. And that's why she became a Water Prize laureate.

"Water is not about water. Water is about building people's institutions and power to take control over decisions."
— Sunita Narain, Stockholm Water Prize laureate

How can we even measure how much water we use?

Professor John Anthony Allan had his big break when he found a new way to measure water consumption. He figured out exactly how much water it takes to produce different things.

For example, a cup of coffee in the morning doesn't just use a cup of water. When you factor in all the water that goes into growing, producing, packaging, and shipping the coffee beans, your morning cup of joe actually takes 140 liters of water to make.

And why is this so important? His work empowers people to make their own decisions about what they eat or drink and to learn how to become responsible consumers and producers.

How cool is that??

These three may be Stockholm Water Prize laureates, but you don't need to be one to understand how important access to clean water is.

Spread the word. And use water responsibly.

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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.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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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.

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