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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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via Pixabay

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