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Garnier Beauty Responsibly

For as long as she can remember, Aria Finger has fought against social injustice wherever she's found it. Even when that fight ruffled some feathers.

For example, in a high school social studies presentation, way before she'd made social justice her career with DoSomething.org, she proposed this rather logical solution to the absurdly wide wage gap in America: the maximum wage shouldn't be greater than 40 times the minimum wage. Soon after, she found the word "communist" scrawled on her locker.

While no doubt jarring, it didn't deter her from her mission of advocating for those unheard voices.  


"My parents instilled a deep sense of fairness in me, pointing out discrimination in all its forms," Aria writes in an email.

And this activism streak only grew stronger as she came into adulthood.

Thankfully, when she graduated from college and was looking for job in 2005, she came across a nonprofit that shared her personal mission.

BE THE CHANGE.

A post shared by DoSomething.org (@dosomething) on

DoSomething is a social change platform that works to inspire young people to get out there and make an impact on a cause they care about. At the time, the whole organization was just six people. It was also before social media tools like Facebook where widely available, so everyone was literally pounding the pavement to get the word out.

Obviously today, the way the organization operates looks much different, but the mission remains the same. The internet just made it a bit easier to reach the younger generations and vice versa.

Here's how you can get involved in one of their many social good campaigns:

You become a member by telling DoSomething what you're passionate about, how much time you have to devote to it, and what skills you have to contribute. You're then matched with a campaign (or several), which offers instructions on how to take action. Once you get started, you're invited to share photos of your progress with friends/fellow members to inspire others to get involved as well.

That's it. It's that simple.

Their mission spoke to young people in a big way. In just 13 years, DoSomething grew from under 100,000 members to 6 million.

It was just about fanning the fire of social consciousness that teens and young adults already possess.

"We’re standing by their side giving them the tools, resources, knowledge, and power to unlock their inner activist," writes Aria.

Of course, she also had a lot to do with this exponential growth. In 2013, Aria founded the DoSomething Strategic, an arm of Do Something that works with brands on reaching young people through various initiatives that live in the social good realm.

For example, they're currently partnered with Garnier's Rinse Recycle Repeat campaign, which is educating the younger generations about how to recycle their beauty products the right way. Half of Americans don't recycle them at all which is part of why beauty and personal care products make upapproximately one-third of the trash in landfills. This campaign is working to shrink those statistics.

And now, as the CEOs of DoSomething, she has a guiding hand in every aspect of the organization, which is perfect for an activist who could never pick just one area of social good to focus all her passion.

Aria talking to a colleague in the Do Something offices. All photos via DoSomething.org. Used with permission.

So, as you might imagine, it's almost impossible for Aria to choose just one social good campaign of her organization's to highlight. That said, here's one she loves that's started three months ago:

In honor of Ramadan, Sincerely Us is a campaign that encourages Do Something members to make homemade Happy Ramadan cards. All members have to do is send the cards in to DoSomething and they'll deliver them to every single mosque in America. The goal is to show members of the Muslim community that the younger generation sees them and supports them.

A DoSomething.org member with a Happy Ramadan card.

Another notable one, Teens for Jeans, calls on young people to donate their gentle used jeans, because it's the number one requested item from younger homeless people. According to DoSomething, there are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in America. After the campaign was live for just five weeks, they'd collected enough jeans to clothe half of them.

But it's not just about finding solutions to the problems of today. DoSomething is also committed to getting young people to focus their activism on tomorrow, too.

Case in point, their partnership with Garnier is helping young people and adults alike clean up their recycling act so that the world is cleaner and healthier for future generations.

And again, it's a very simple mission — all you have to do is collect your empty beauty products. Once you've accumulated 10 pounds, mail them to TerraCycle — Garnier's other partner in this campaign.

DoSomething is also sharing photos of members completing the mission on social media to inspire others to join the movement.

None of this is to say activism is easy. It involves a lot of hard work. But as long as idealistic, passionate young people are taking initiative, no social good mission is too big.

That said, access to tools of engagement, like the internet, is keeping some of them from getting involved. It's Aria's ultimate goal to see every young person who wants to do good working on a DoSomething campaign, or something like it in the not-too-distant future.

"I want every young person, regardless of income, geography, race, etc. to have the opportunity to volunteer, lead, and make change," she writes. "Nothing makes you feel more powerful and confident than seeing that you can make the world a better place for your fellow humans."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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