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Starbucks Upstanders Season 2

The sixth time he ran for Congress, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina) made two big mistakes.

The second mistake, according to Inglis, was when he refused to confirm at a town hall event that President Barack Obama was indeed an evil secret non-American Muslim socialist.

But the truly shameful blunder that would cost him the election was when he spoke the words: "Climate change is real. Let’s do something about it."


"I got 29% of the vote after 12 years in Congress," he says today with a self-effacing chuckle. "A rather spectacular face-plant, really."

[rebelmouse-image 19529601 dam="1" original_size="1260x900" caption="Inglis, left, meets with troops in Ghana in 2010. Photo via U.S. Army Africa/Flickr." expand=1]Inglis, left, meets with troops in Ghana in 2010. Photo via U.S. Army Africa/Flickr.

With his Congress career officially over, Inglis decided to dedicate himself to finding conservative solutions to climate change.

Two years after his failed re-election campaign, he launched an advocacy group called RepublicEn through the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Inglis hoped to use traditional Republican values such as free enterprise, limited government, accountability, and reasonable risk avoidance to shape the climate conversation in a way that would appeal to people in the reddest of the red communities.

His mission took him all the way from Antarctica to Tangier Island, Virginia, a small crabbing community in the Chesapeake Bay.

Tangier Island is perhaps best known as the setting for the battle that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner," but today, Tangier Island is losing about 15 feet of land every year from rising sea levels — and many of its 700 residents still don't believe in the threat of climate change.

Inglis thought that if they heard about climate change from a person who holds many of their ideologies and is just more like them, the residents there might say, "Yeah, we're for that."

[rebelmouse-image 19529602 dam="1" original_size="1280x853" caption="Tangier Island. Photo by Eli Christman/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Tangier Island. Photo by Eli Christman/Wikimedia Commons.

But it turned out that was easier said than done:

Upstanders: Disappearing Island

After a conversation with his son, this conservative congressman decided to tackle climate change, head-on.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, November 7, 2017

With help from Tangier Mayor James Eskridge, Inglis arranged a conversation with locals over a crab salad dinner.

He tried to appeal to them as a fellow Christian with an impressive resume of endorsements from conservative groups such as the NRA and the National Right to Life Committee.

The people of Tangier listened and responded to what he had to say, but they still insisted that the island wasn't suffering from climate change. It was just natural erosion or settling soil — nothing that needed a long-term solution except perhaps a seawall.

"When I see the sea level rising, I’ll shout it from the rooftops. But I’m just not seeing it," said Eskridge. "I’m not lying about it or denying it, I’m just telling you what I see."

[rebelmouse-image 19529603 dam="1" original_size="1280x827" caption="Soft shell crab houses on Tangier Island. Photo by David Broad/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Soft shell crab houses on Tangier Island. Photo by David Broad/Wikimedia Commons.

When Inglis asked why, as conservatives, they didn't want to listen to scientists, the answer was simple: resentment.

"We’re nothing," one resident said. "They’ve made fun, ridiculed. But you let a scientist talk, and everybody listens. Scientist is fine, but we’re forgetting the experience that people have."

"With some of 'em you get a smart mouth, and we’re not into that. We don’t need a smart mouth," another added.

"We’re all about protecting the Chesapeake Bay. It’s more important to us than it is to any scientist or regulator," the mayor said. "But when they talk about fixing the environment, they go to extremes, and they leave the common guy out."

[rebelmouse-image 19529604 dam="1" original_size="1280x960" caption="County Dock, Tangier Island. Photo by Seriousresearcher13/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]County Dock, Tangier Island. Photo by Seriousresearcher13/Wikimedia Commons.

Inglis understood this attitude. It was one he had himself back when he was still a party-line Republican in Congress.

"If you represented the reddest district in the reddest state in the nation like I did, you just knew that Al Gore was for it, and so therefore, you should be against it," he says.

But now he knows: That hyper-partisan, us-or-them divide doesn't solve the real problems we're facing. It only helps to make the divide — and the resentment — dig in even deeper.

Inglis tried to explain to residents how conservatives could incentivize the right behavior and steer the environmental conversation without the federal government getting in the way. He appealed to their logic by pointing out that even if they don't believe in rising sea levels, higher tides still mean more erosion, so maybe there is something that could be done about it.

[rebelmouse-image 19529605 dam="1" original_size="1280x833" caption="Wallace Road Bridge, Tangier Island. Photo by David Broad/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Wallace Road Bridge, Tangier Island. Photo by David Broad/Wikimedia Commons.

In the end, not many were convinced, and only one Tangier resident expressed that day that maybe mankind had something to do with climate change.

But that doesn't mean that Inglis's mission was a failure.

Eskridge remained skeptical about the climate issue, for example. But he was still moved by the conversation. "[Inglis was] very polite about it," he said. "We’ve had other folks come in, and because we had different opinions on the climate change and sea-level-rise issue, they really got nasty about it. ... Bob’s approach was the way you should approach these things."

[rebelmouse-image 19529606 dam="1" original_size="1280x853" caption="Photo by Eli Christman/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Photo by Eli Christman/Wikimedia Commons.

Inglis didn't change as many minds that day as he had hoped.

But he certainly opened some minds and tempered some of that resentment by connecting with people and treating them dignity and respect.

The fight to save our planet might still have a long way to go, but as Inglis's journey shows, it has to start with human beings.

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.

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Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

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.

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