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:

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less