It's official. A new "Star Trek" series is slated to air in 2017...

...and the following reaction would not be at all inappropriate:

That's because the "Star Trek" TV series weren't just fantastic television. Although they were that.


Photo by The Conmunity/Flickr.

"Star Trek" is a show that has long been committed to optimism, progress, and, perhaps most importantly, diversity. The original series featured one of the first black female main characters on a network TV show, as well as one of American TV's first interracial kisses. Racial — and gender — equality have long been established as part of the original series' vision of the future.

Like its predecessors, the 2017 iteration of "Star Trek" has a tremendous opportunity not just to be quality TV, but to uphold the franchise's tradition of breaking new ground as well.

In that vein, here are 15 things we'd be excited to see on the new show.

1. An LGBTQ character ... or several.

Photo by Tim Evanson/Flickr.

"Star Trek" has a history of breaking new ground in casting, but when it comes to LGBTQ main cast members, it not only hasn't boldly gone there, it's behind the times. The franchise has yet to feature even one non-straight, non-cisgender main character. It's high time to get one — or preferably more than one — on the crew, or in the captain's chair, and have it be no big deal.

2. Planets with diverse, complex cultures.

Photo by European Southern Observatory/Wikimedia Commons.

Let's be honest: In "Star Trek" captain-speak, "seek out new life and new civilizations," is often code for, "Let's go to the planet where everyone is greedy," or "The planet where the genders are flipped," or, "The planet where everyone is Benjamin Button."

Planets are big places! Full of all kinds of people! Religious people, secular people, liberals, conservatives, soldiers, civilians, good guys, bad guys, medium guys — and everything in between. Do all Klingons really like to fight? The whole planet of them? What about the pacifist Klingons? What about the ethnic minority Klingons? The conscientious objectors?

Let's see a few more planets that look a little more like Earth — and the way-more-interesting stories that come from landing there.

3. Worf.

Photo by Michael Doss/Flickr.

I mean...

4. Darkness and moral complexity.

Photo by Ryan Somma/Flickr.

Remember the last two-and-a-half seasons of "Deep Space Nine" where the Federation got completely owned by the Dominion in pretty much every episode? Remember how Sisko straight-up committed a war crime to persuade the Romulans to join the fight and completely got away with it? Remember how Damar shot a child in cold blood but, by the end, we're all rooting for him?

That was kind of awesome. More of that please.

5. Gender parity.


European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station as Captain Kathryn Janeway. Photo by NASA.

That doesn't just mean a female captain or a smattering of women crew members. That means an officer corps that's at least fifty-fifty. And let's get some gender nonconforming people in there as well. Who says aliens (and humans!) exist have only two fixed, never-changing genders. It's the freaking 23rd century, people!

6. Fewer stereotypes.

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr.

I love Quark. Quark is the best. I would go to Quark's Passover Seder in a heartbeat. But no more weird stereotypes masquerading as "alien" cultures going forward, please.

7. No time travel. Not ever.

Photo by Oto Godfrey and Justin Morton/Wikimedia Commons.

I realize this is controversial. Time travel has been a fixture of the Star Trek universe since the beginning. And ... responsible for some of its weakest episodes (though shoutout to "City on the Edge of Forever" — never change).

Even "First Contact," an otherwise perfect movie, is rendered 40% more annoying by its time travel premise. It's science fiction! It is possible to comment on the world we live in today without actually, literally going back to it.

No time travel, please. Let's leave that to "Doctor Who." That show does it so well.

8. A diverse creative team.

Writers at the WGAw Committee of Black Writers and LGBT Writers Committee. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

While "Star Trek" has been far better than many of its peers at reflecting diversity on-screen, like so many other shows, its writers' room, historically, has been a white dude party. It's employed some great women writers for sure — D.C. Fontana! Jane Espenson! — but generally speaking, white dudes.

And there's nothing wrong with white dudes! Some of my best friends are white dudes! Some of them are pretty good writers too. But there are lots of good women writers and writers of color out there too, who have stories to tell that many white dudes might not think of. Getting them to the table could lead to some singularly great TV.

9. Ostensibly adorable aliens that create mass chaos.

Tribbles! Photo by Tim Bailey/Flickr.

Awwww. Aaaaaaaaggggh! Awwww. Aaaaaaaaggghhh!

10. Serialization.

Photo by flash.pro/Flickr.

While the vast majority "Star Trek" episodes have historically been self-contained, some of the best runs of the franchise — like "Deep Space Nine's" Dominion War arc and "Enterprise's" third season — have explored a single story for multiple episodes. In the age of binge-viewing, where most of the best shows on TV give their main characters a series-long arc, a "Star Trek" that joined the party could potentially be pretty amazing.

11. A serious exploration of the implications of the holodeck.

Photo by john and carolina/Flickr.

It's incredibly weird how infrequently it's remarked upon that, in addition to tri-corders, photon torpedoes, and emergency medical holograms, Federation starships are equipped with a magic machine that allows anyone on the ship to live out literally any fantasy they so desire.

Some fans hate the holodeck — and holodeck episodes — for this very reason. But I disagree. The holodeck is fascinating. The way people use the holodeck — and what it says about them — is fascinating to think about. The series doesn't explore this often enough.

The franchise already did one great episode on this premise. I hope the holodeck stays. And that there are more.

12. Cameos from a time-traveling Sulu.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

I know I said no time travel, but come on. This would be worth it.

13. Searing social relevance.

Civil rights marchers in front of the White House, 1964. Photo by National Archives/Getty Images.

This has been "Star Trek's" bread-and-butter since day one. The original series dealt frankly with race relations and civil rights. "Deep Space Nine" explored war, occupation and its complicated aftermath. "Enterprise" took on terrorism and post-9/11 paranoia.

History hasn't stopped happening. Let's hope with the new series, there's lots more where that came from.

14. A captain who breaks boundaries.

GIF via "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"/Paramount.

For a while, "Star Trek" was all over this. The franchise debuted its first black captain and first female captain in the '90s, before retreating in the 2000s and doubling down on the white guys. (Again, love me some white guys. Hey, Josh!)

Stoic, steely, TV-attractive white guys are a dime a dozen. We've seen it. Let's see an Asian captain, a Latino captain, a queer captain, or a woman-of-color captain. How fantastic would that be? Pretty fantastic, is how!

15. An optimistic vision of the future.

"Star Trek" fans at a convention in England. Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images.

At the end of the day, what "Star Trek" does better than anyone else is show us a future we want to be a part of. It can still have moral complexity, darkness, violence, and sadness. But, ultimately, its vision of progress on terms that uplift all humankind and human resilience is what keeps us coming back episode after episode, series after series.

It's why we love it so much.

Even the Tribbles.

Keep it real, Tribbles.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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