She was tired of the flag being hijacked by hatred. So she made a design to reclaim it.

The American flag is supposed to be a symbol of what unites us.

But, unfortunately, the symbolism of Old Glory often gets muddled. When patriotism gets conflated with extreme nationalism, the flag becomes a symbol of xenophobia. When people fly the flag with pride while preaching of intolerance, our flag becomes a symbol of bigotry. When the banner itself is held higher in importance than the freedoms for which it stands, our flag becomes a false idol.

I've long believed patriotism doesn't belong only to those who define it by narrow, nationalistic standards. However, those are the folks who usually pop into my mind when I think of people who show their patriotism with a flag. And I'm not alone.


Courtney Hartman was tired of the flag being associated with intolerance and hatred. So she decided to reclaim it.

The designer and founder of kids' clothing line Free to Be Kids felt like the American flag was being hijacked by hate. She put out a call for help two years ago:

"I want to try to make an American flag design where the stripes are comprised of words like compassion, understanding, justice, equality, liberty, love, etc. To show the American flag as a symbol of the things that we do love and should love about this country. It's an ambitious design idea and I don't know if I can pull it off but I feel like we all could kind of use this perspective on America right now and I'd like to try.

So... I could really use your help with words of love for America!"

People responded, and the America the Wonderful shirt design was born.

Image via Free to Be Kids.

Character qualities and humanitarian values make up the stars and stripes in a bold and beautiful statement.

With words like love, compassion, hope, justice, peace, diversity, equality, inclusivity, and more, Hartman reclaimed the flag as a symbol of what America really stands for — or at least what she wants it to aspire to be.

"We've committed so many atrocities," says Hartman. "But America was designed to be better, to learn and grow and improve. So the values represented in our design could be seen as aspirational. Or maybe they are just our good side — what Michelle Obama in her DNC speech called 'our national virtues.' We have a lot to face up to, but I believe that the words represented on our flag design are a vision of the America that so many people want us to be."

Hartman rearranged the 50 stars over the blue field into the word "LOVE," and not just because it fit well. Love is the key, and it serves as an anchor for everything else.

"We need to wear our love like a breastplate, our justice like armor," Hartman wrote on the company's blog. "Because love is what will prevail. When hate is loud, love must not be silent. ... Love, love, love is what will take back our country." Indeed.

Thank you, Free to Be Kids, for taking back our flag and reminding America that healthy patriotism and progressive values are in no way mutually exclusive.

We were not compensated to write this article — we'd tell you if we were! — we just really loved this design and what it stands for.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."