True
the Ad Council - #TrendOnThis

How can you tell what these people look like?

Image by Carl de Souza/Getty Images.


You really can't, right?

Now imagine being sick, isolated, and afraid, with a figure in a hazmat suit hovering over you.

Zoinks. If you're like me, hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment have always been a little scary and mysterious looking. Yes, they're completely lifesaving and necessary, but unless it's Halloween or a fictional television show (hi, "Breaking Bad"), they usually mean something serious is going very wrong. How wrong? Ebola wrong.

When Ebola hit hard in 2014, hazmat suits came with it. A lot of them.

It didn't take long to see just how quickly an infectious virus could scare the heck out of the world. The numbers were jarring, the paranoia was high, and the images shown in the media elevated fears to a whole different level.

Can't imagine hazmat suits helped those fears much.

Artist and Occidental College professor Mary Beth Heffernan was very taken back while watching coverage of the Ebola crisis. She couldn't help but think of how frightening the health workers must have appeared to the patients they were treating.

"I thought, what would it be like if you were a patient looking at that?" she said.

A health care worker treating an Ebola patient by Issouf Sanogo/Getty Images.

Her artistic brain kicked in, and she came up with an idea to make protective suits a little more personal.

Mary thought, what if photos of the health care workers could be taken and attached to their suits? It'd show who was really underneath all of the gear and serve as a simple (but effective) way to put patients who were already going through a very traumatic time at ease.

She ran with it and launched the PPE Portrait Project.

It's changed how patients see their health care workers.

Living in isolation, torn apart from family and friends, and not seeing a human face for days can make a bad situation even worse. Adding a human element — if even through a sticker — could only help.

I talked to Mary at length about her preparation for this project. She did extensive research on the Ebola crisis, cultural norms in West Africa, and spoke with everyone from doctors to scientists to anthropologists on how to best approach her idea. She began to write letters all day and night to try and reach the right health care facilities and workers. Throughout the lengthy process, one thing was constant: Her idea was a hit.

She eventually made her way to Liberia while on sabbatical with a discreet package of supplies to see her project forward. The two main things: a reliable camera that could print photos and adhesive labels.

She got started.

First, a picture.

Then, printing them out!

And she was able to teach the health care workers how to create the photo labels themselves, so they'd be set when she left.

Stick 'em on, and boom! There's a friendly face where there was once only a scary suit.

The response has been terrific, and as mentioned in the video below (that you should totally watch!), some health care workers wish they would've had the photo labels sooner. They think they could have saved more lives.

The PPE Portrait Project is a simple way to help comfort patients who have to undergo this kind of horrifying, isolated experience while also humanizing the health care superheroes behind the suits. A GREAT idea in my book.

Rock on, Mary!

See more about the PPE Portrait Project here:

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

Keep Reading Show less