Heroes

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

It's funny how only the richest people seem to be able to afford FREE energy from the sun, huh?

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

Sunshine. You'd think — because it's free — we should all get a share.

But solar power seems to be one of those awesome things that only rich people can afford (like a shopping cart full of organic produce from Whole Foods or a Tesla).

It's awesome, but solar energy is expensive. Installations can cost thousands!

While solar panels can significantly slash homeowners' energy costs once they're installed, it's the installing part that's the problem: You might have to fork over something like $15,000 or more (yeah, we're not talkin' chump change) to get those suckers on your roof.


This baby will never throw enough money out the window to afford a solar panel. GIF from "The Little Rascals."

For those of us who aren't filthy rich, this might not be a viable option.

But! If the installation cost is reduced or cut out of the picture entirely, solar energy becomes a much more appealing option to anyone looking to save some money on energy bills.

In the long run, solar energy will help keep your wallet fat.

Earlier this year, Roy Rivera of California benefited from a program that helps low-income residents in his state access solar power. According to Grid Alternatives — the nonprofit that helped make it happen — he'll save $818 on energy costs throughout the year following installation.

"When you have a budget like ours, which is stretched just about as far as you can go," Rivera explained, "[The savings from solar energy] makes a big difference."

Sleek, right? A worker installs solar panels in Lakewood, Colorado back in 2010. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Also, solar energy is global warming's kryptonite, basically.

Climate change is real, people. The more greenhouse gas we emit, the hotter our world becomes. The good news? Solar energy is an emissions-free energy source that keeps people, animals, and trees happy, while not warming the planet.

The White House wants to help make sure people can afford to switch to solar if they want.

President Obama wants more Americans to reap the benefits of clean, affordable energy from above. So he's changing things. The White House just announced new measures that will help more Americans access solar energy.

Throughout the next five years, President Obama wants to triple the number of solar and other sustainable energy systems installed in federally subsidized housing.


President Obama chats about the awesomeness of solar energy. The panels behind him approve. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The initiative is one of several the White House announced on July 7, 2015, that will up America's use of solar power.

The plan also includes:

  • Providing technical assistance to affordable housing organizations so they're in-the-know when it comes to installing solar panels (because who would know where to even begin?)
  • Creating a handy-dandy toolkit to help states understand how they can use federal funds in creating solar-powered communities
  • Updating an old school policy to make borrowing money for solar energy improvements easier

Solar energy is definitely a cause worth fighting for.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

File:TIFF 2019 kristen stewart (48701274962).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Of the 25 actors that have been nominated for an Oscar for playing an LGBTQ character, a grand total of zero of them have been openly queer. The debate on whether or not only gay actors can play gay roles has many sides and nuances. After Darren Criss, who is straight, won an Emmy for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Criss vowed he would never play another gay man because he didn't want to be "another straight boy taking a gay man's role." Actor Ben Whishaw, who is gay, feels otherwise. "I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn't be defined only by what we are," Whishaw said. Recently, Kristen Stewart also weighed in on some of the complexities around the issue.

Variety recently asked Stewart about the importance of gay actors playing gay characters. Stewart acknowledged the complexity of the issue. "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it's such a gray area," Stewart told Variety.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Richard Desmick / TikTok

Over the weekend, an estimated thousands of people ran 2.23 miles to show their support for Ahmaud Arbery, a former high school football player and avid jogger. Arbery was shot and killed in February near Brunswick, Georgia after being pursued in a truck by a former policeman and his son who claimed he resembled someone responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood.

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Sarita Linda Rocco / Facebook

Americans are more interested in politics than ever these days. More voted in the 2020 election than in any other in the past 100 years. Over 65% of the voting-eligible cast a ballot in the contentious fight between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

"People are very excited and paying attention even though there are all this bad news and high 'wrong track' numbers in the country," Nancy Zdunkewicz, managing editor at Democracy Corps, told The Hill.

It's wonderful to see that a greater number of Americans are standing up to be counted and demanding their voices be heard. But it's also the symptom of a deep level of discontent many people feel about their country.

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