See how a group of photographers is responding to the media's nonstop negativity about their home.

Maybe you've heard Puerto Rico is in a little bit of trouble.

The latest scare has been about the island's "unpayable" $72 billion debt.


"¿Más sacrificios? Bummer." Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

But who wants talk about that, right?

We get it. They're in a debt crisis. That drum's been beaten so loudly that Greece is like, "Uhh, guys, can you keep it down? We're trying to focus over here."

The crisis may be out of the ordinary citizens' hands, but a group of Instagrammers is stepping up with a solution.

"Puerto Rico was getting a bad reputation ... for our current economic crisis," said artist Fernando Samalot in an interview with Upworthy. "And there was no effort from the government to mitigate the situation and keep people interested in visiting."

Image by The Real Puerto Rico/Instagram, used with permission.

Samalot is one of 10 ecotourism Instagrammers who helped launch an online initiative dubbed #CrisisIsland, the goal of which was explained in a statement by Synapse Social, the social media consulting group behind the campaign:

"The initiative aims to flood social networks with images and videos to show the world the natural beauty, gastronomy, hospitality, and traditions of the island beyond the economic and social problems that have dominated the conversation recently. ... The main purpose of the initiative is to promote tourism as an engine for economic recovery.

Their hope with #CrisisIsland is that the world will see all the things that make Puerto Rico immeasurably rich.

Samalot hopes more locals will feel empowered to act as representatives of Puerto Rico because, as he says, "nobody can tell the story better than the people who are actually living it."

With thousands of photos and videos posted to #CrisisIsland, it seems Samalot's wish is beginning to come true. And as you scroll through the images, debt doom gets swallowed by wonder and longing.

They show a Puerto Rico that's just rolling in green...

Photo by Fernando Samalot/Instagram (@simonebirch), used with permission.

...riddled with hidden gems...

Photo by Harold Camilo/Instagram (@haroldcamilo), used with permission.

...and bathed in turquoise.

Photo by Isaac Reyes/Instagram (@sakography), used with permission.

They show people who are proud of their home...

Photo by Gabriel Ocando/Instagram (@krekro), used with permission.

...who see the bigger picture...

Photo by Harold Camilo/Instagram (@haroldcamilo), used with permission.

...and who know the financial crisis, huge as it may seem, is mere chump change next to Puerto Rico's natural wonders.

"Tus problemas no son mas grandes que estas montañas. La vida es un pestañeo, compártela, disfrútala, siembra la semilla del amor. Puerto Rico necesita gente como tú, con determinación. Has tu parte." Photo by Gabriel Ocando/Instagram (@krekro), used with permission.

"Your problems are not bigger than these mountains. Life is a blink, share it, enjoy it, sowing the seed of love. Puerto Rico needs people like you, with determination. Do your part." — Gabriel Ocando

For some, it may be hard to imagine a collection of photos leading to real change, but isn't it as good an idea as any?

They won't erase the the island's debt or solve their broader economic struggles. But they can remind locals to stay optimistic while also showcasing Puerto Rico's vast offerings beyond the walls of resorts and strip malls.

"Tucked between mountains, through the veins of our land, the source of life flows." Photo by Fernando Samalot/Instagram (@simonebirch), used with permission.

"The power of social networks is undeniable," said Carmen Portela, founder of Synapse Social. "This group ... has decided to use that power to seize the crisis and improve the image of the country, which has so much to offer the world."

See more on the #CrisisIsland Instagram feed and in this video by The Real Puerto Rico:

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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