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One man is making beautiful reminders of love in unlikely places. One wall at a time.

In a world where it can seem like hate is winning, I'm glad he's playing for the other team.

One man is making beautiful reminders of love in unlikely places. One wall at a time.

Ever drive by a neighborhood* and think: "I wonder who lives here...?"

(*Or ride by! Shout out to bikes and public transportation!)

Artist Stephen Powers, aka ESPO, did.


A photo posted by Prose Appropos (@steveespopowers) on

And his answer to that question is truly beautiful.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/40792735199/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

<3

Powers is the man behind the "A Love Letter to the City" public art project.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/41795971025/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

It started in Philly and has since spread to cities around the world, from Baltimore to Dublin to Brooklyn to ... your town next?

When you're just passing through neighborhoods — especially in places that have a reputation as rough or violent, like West Philly or Baltimore, where "Love Letters" have popped up — it's easy to forget there are moms, dads, cousins, and grandmas living there.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/41795340354/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

Folks who laugh, who cry, who love, and everything in between.

And that's where Powers' project, which began in partnership with Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, comes in. To remind us about love.

Noted. ;) Picture by me!

Yeah, it's cheesy, but kind of necessary. There are enough reminders of hate!

Powers is adamant that the art be about the people who live in the neighborhoods where he paints the murals. So, step one: Talk to the people and get inspired.

"I have to go to a city first and talk to people," Powers said to The Atlantic's CityLab. "Then, I try to make those conversations into visual communication. I liken what we do to being a visual sound system. We engage and we learn, and ultimately we head out to a wall and figure out what fits—in every way. Then we paint it. Painting is the easy part."

He says, "It's public art in the way it should be — working with the public."

regram parsons with one from @sredles24. for my man Milton Eager, words courtesy of Mr Chris. 20 years ago he moved in the neighborhood and not long after heard drug dealers shooting out all the car windows on the block. He had his kids lie down on the floor and he called the police. The police wouldnt risk sending officers to his block, instead they told him to move. People would ask Mr Chris why he wouldn move, and he said "I am here because its home" Thats a Baltimore Love Letter from Mr Chris to his community and from us to you.
A photo posted by Prose Appropos (@steveespopowers) on

In the Instagram, Powers notes:

" ... for my man Milton Eager, words courtesy of Mr Chris. 20 years ago he moved in the neighborhood and not long after heard drug dealers shooting out all the car windows on the block. ... People would ask Mr Chris why he wouldn move, and he said "I am here because its home" Thats a Baltimore Love Letter from Mr Chris to his community and from us to you.

There's nothing quite like reading love letters inspired by complete strangers written large (literally ... on a giant wall in bright paint) to make you realize that our human struggles are the same.

The first of these murals are visible all along the train path running through West Philadelphia, Powers' old hometown neighborhood.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/41794565373/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

But you can also see them from the ground.

I took that picture! From the ground!

And according to Powers' Instagram, even Pope Francis peeped his work as he rode the elevated train in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, beautiful muse in well worn shoes. like the guy hauling away a handtruck of left over free water from the pope visit. Thank you Francis for hopping the El to see this refreshed for fall by Mike Levy, freshed in the first place by @thelossprevention
A photo posted by Prose Appropos (@steveespopowers) on

The caption reads:

"Philadelphia, beautiful muse in well worn shoes. like the guy hauling away a handtruck of left over free water from the pope visit. Thank you Francis for hopping the El to see this refreshed for fall by Mike Levy, freshed in the first place by @thelossprevention"

The aim of "Love Letter" is to take all the incredible humanity going on behind the walls of these neighborhoods and make it visible to everyone by putting it on the outside.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/43164435219/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

As Powers told BrainPickings:

"The art is secondary to bringing the community together and getting everyone to agree on something. The wall stands as testimony to a unified community, even if the artwork is completely boring."

It reads: "Knocked on your door / legs tired back sore / migraine fur sure / nor more I swore / you smile I'm cured." Photo also by me.

All of his murals are about one thing: LOVE.

Powers told CityLab:

"Yeah, I'm a romantic! Duh! I'm jealous of musicians, jealous of how music is a medium people integrate into their lives in a way they rarely do with art. I like to think of myself as a visual blues musician — I'm painting love songs. When you pick up a guitar, what else would you want to play? Everything is for love. It's the original motivation for everything. Exclamation point."

Whether you've been in love before, love your mom, or only figure out what love is like by listening to old Motown songs, every human can relate to LOVE.

Photo taken by me.

That's why these murals are so brilliant.

West Philadelphia, where Powers is from, is a bit rough around the edges, and not many folks from outside of West Philly tend to go there.

And if you don't know people, how can you see them as your neighbors?

In a world where we're sometimes so removed from each other, where we watch the news of mass shootings, riots, war, and sadness from behind our individual computer screens, Powers' murals are there to remind us all of just how similar we all really are.

Ain't it the truth. This pic also taken by me.

We all love exploring. We love beauty. We love. Period.

http://marksurface.tumblr.com/post/43162359469/a-love-letter-for-you-philadelphia

In a world where there are far too many reminders that hate is alive and well, I'm grateful for Powers' work. It's a reminder that love is behind every wall, in every neighborhood, and in every heart.

<3

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

via Pexels and @drjoekort / TikTok

Gay sex and relationships therapist Dr. Joe Kort is causing a stir on TikTok where he explains why straight men who have sex with men can still be considered straight. If a man has sex with a man doesn't it ultimately make him gay or bisexual?

According to Kort, there can be a big chasm between our sexual and romantic orientations.

"Straight men can be attracted to the sex act, but not to the man. Straight men having sex with men doesn't cancel somebody's heterosexuality any more than a straight woman having sex with a woman cancels her [heterosexuality]," he says in the video.

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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