Patagonia is donating $1 million to help support Georgia voting rights activists
via Black Voters Matter / Twitter and Yukiko Matsuoka / Flickr

While major Georgia-based companies Coca-Cola and Delta fought back against the state's new voting rights law with strongly-worded opposition, Patagonia is putting its money where its mouth is and funding activists.

On Tuesday morning, the outdoor apparel maker announced it will donate $1 million to grassroots groups pushing for increased voter access in the state. Half of the money will go to the New Georgia Project, which works to register Georgians to vote.

The other half will go to Black Voters Matter Fund which works to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities by fighting for voting rights.



Patagonia's CEO Ryan Gellert called on fellow CEOs to go beyond public statements and to take a more activist role in the fight.

"I call on fellow CEOs to join in denouncing these attacks on our democracy and to do more than make a corporate statement," Gellert wrote. "The strength of our democracy depends on every vote being counted everywhere, and we must protect access to the ballot box."

Gellert gave three specific ways that corporations can join Patagonia in the fight. First, they can fund "the activists working to challenge the recently passed laws," and provided a list in a press release.

Second, they can call on senators in the states where they do business and ask them to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). This bill would make it easier for people to vote in federal elections, end gerrymandering, and overhaul campaign finance laws.

His third request was to commit "to reaching out to business partners to facilitate speaking out against further state laws that would restrict voting access."

Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202, formerly known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, into law. The law was passed in a party-line vote and backed by Republicans in the statehouse.

The law is seen as a response by Republicans to push back against big Democratic inroads made in the state in 2020. Democrats won two Senate states and the presidential election in a state that was red for 30 years.

The new laws are seen as an aggressive attempt to suppress minority votes in the state. The laws do so by giving people less time to send mail-in ballots and by only making them available upon request. It also mandates that voters provide some form of identification, a move that will disproportionately affect Black voters.

It also limits the number of ballot drop-off boxes in the state.

One of the most controversial aspects of the set of new laws is the ban on handing out food and water within 150 feet of a polling place, or within 25 feet of any voter. Republicans say it's a move to stop outside people from influencing voters. Democrats see it as a way to make sure voters are uncomfortable while waiting in long lines.

American democracy is the backbone of a system that allows for us to live in a civil society where businesses such as Patagonia can flourish. When states such as Georgia work to disenfranchise voters, it's a direct attack on the basic foundations that allow our society to thrive.

Patagonia is right to call on other business leaders to stand up and support the systems that are crucial in allowing them to exist in the first place. Let's hope that they heed the call.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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