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Barebones Living

When Robert Workman had the chance to sell his family business for a substantial profit 10 years ago, he decided to use the proceeds for good.

It was an exciting and humbling moment, filled with possibility. He'd become interested in sustainability and philanthropy and knew that he wanted to start giving back. The only questions that remained were how and where. So he hit the road looking for inspiration.

Traveling to the Congo was an eye-opening moment for Robert. Speaking to aid agencies working on the ground and communicating with the people whose lives they were trying to help, he identified an important need that wasn't being met: portable, sustainable, affordable energy generation. Robert convened a team of engineers and got to work. Goal Zero was the result.


Goal Zero offers everything from solar panels (pictured here) to power storage packs. Image via Hadhuey/Wikimedia Commons.

Goal Zero offers an easy-to-use, plug-and-play generator powered by solar panels. Its Yeti power packs are small but mighty, with three sizes able to power anything from phone chargers to refrigerators. The generators were instantly embraced by aid agencies and outdoor adventurers alike.

As far as companies go, Goal Zero is the de facto older brother of Barebones Living. Robert sold Goal Zero in 2014 and created Barebones Living.

Where Goal Zero offers a sustainable and renewable way of generating power, Barebones Living offers sustainable shelters, cooking implements, gardening tools, and lanterns.

A Barebones Living tent. Image via Barebones Living, used with permission.

The tents themselves — dubbed the Outfitter and the Lodge — are high-quality and built to last. They come equipped with fully waterproof floors, six-foot-tall walls, cookstove vents in the roof, and exteriors that will last five years even with daily use. But while these tents wouldn't be out of place at a high-end retreat or the fancy camping area of Coachella, it's in the developing world or during disaster relief where they really go to work.

"Our business has been created by our humanitarian work," said Erik Workman, Barebones Living director of sales and outdoor adventure. "All of our businesses were causes that needed these services."

When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, it left cities and villages in ruins and entire families on the streets.

One of Barebones Living's tents being used as a field hospital in Kathmandu.

While UN humanitarian aid can provide tarps for shelters, they're only a temporary solution. "People can’t thrive under tarps," Erik said. "They need a good, clean place where they know they'll be safe. Once you have that, you can start thinking about other things."

Within a week of the earthquake, Barebones Living shipped 25 of its tents to Kathmandu to be used as birthing centers. A few months later, they shipped 75 more. Since then, more than 1500 healthy babies have been born to healthy moms in these mobile birthing shelters. Even after the local hospital is rebuilt and reopened, these tents will still be useful — forming the frames for homes for displaced families.

More recently, the Barebones team has been on the ground in the Philippines, Haiti, Jamaica, and Fiji, helping with recovery efforts after devastating hurricanes.

Once shelter is taken care of, a community can rebuild. Image via Barebones Living, used with permission.

They also donated tents to the protestors at Standing Rock in North Dakota and are working with an agency to supply tents and equipment to a growing Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

"We're working to set up a mobile medical clinic that we can basically palletize and put on a plane," Erik said. "It has the shelter, cots, coolers, lanterns — everything they'd need to get a clinic up and running in a remote area."

As Barebones continues to grow its business, it plans to give back even more.

Barebones Living tents are strong enough to be used as permanent homes in all kinds of weather for up to five years. Image via Barebones Living, used with permission.

"Right now we have a matching grant fund to support humanitarian agencies that want to purchase shelters," Erik said. "Every year for the next five years, we're matching grants up to $500,000, and we hope to expand that program as much as we can in the future."

Giving back has been baked in to the mandate of Barebones Living from the beginning. For the people who benefit from their generosity, the effect can be life-changing. Here's to more companies following their lead!

Starting Aug. 1, 2016, University of Texas students will be allowed to carry handguns on campus, according to a new state law.

Photo by Lucio Eastman/Flickr.


The statute reads: "An institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state may not adopt any rule, regulation, or other provision prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on the campus of the institution."

Under certain conditions, universities and the like are allowed some freedom to restrict where people can carry on campus, but they are not allowed to generally prohibit handguns.

And yet, the Texas state university system still has rules on the books prohibiting "obscenity..."

According to the official UT rulebook, openly distributing or displaying "obscene" material could get you cited by the university.

...which means — as of next year — you could probably get in more trouble for going outside on campus and waving a dildo around than you would for strolling through the library with a loaded and deadly handgun.

Photo by Bertrand Guay/Getty Images.

But one woman is hoping to change that.

Photo by Campus (DILDO) Carry/Facebook.

Her name is Jessica Jin, and she started Campus (DILDO) Carry to call attention to the absurdity of the state's new gun law.

"Starting on the first day of Long Session classes on August 24, 2016, we are strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks in protest of campus carry," Jin wrote on Facebook.

As of Oct. 12, 2015, the event had more than 4,700 students, alumni, and community members signed up to participate on Facebook.

That's 4,700 people who plan to walk around a college campus carrying dildos into classrooms, on campus buses, even into dining halls.

While the protest is obviously tongue-in-cheek, its message is 100% no-fooling seriousness.

Roseburg, Oregon, one week after a deadly shooting at a local community college. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The group feels strongly that concealed weapons have no place on a college campus and that carrying one is no more ridiculous and unnecessary than toting around a giant sex toy.

Just last week, two students were killed in two separate school shootings, one of which occurred in Texas. The week before that, nine people were gunned down at a community college in Oregon.

The protest is designed to send a clear message to Texas officials about the absurdity of the gun law they just passed.

Seeing someone wield a giant dildo around campus, while strange, is entirely non-threatening. Seeing someone walk by with a handgun strapped to their waist — and not knowing why they have it — can be absolutely terrifying.

Study after study shows that more privately-owned guns leads to more homicide, not the other way around. When you factor in suicide, the correlation between more guns and more needless death becomes even stronger. One recent analysis found that owning a gun increases the likelihood you will be the victim of a murder by a factor of two and of suicide by a factor of three. And the notion that having a gun in the home is an effective or necessary means of self-defense has been debunked time and time again.

And yet, despite the overwhelming evidence, lawmakers continue to pass laws loosening restrictions on firearms.

Since facts and conventional protests seem to fall on deaf ears, perhaps the only way to get through is outright mockery.

Photo via Niek Verlaan/Pixabay.

As Jin writes on Facebook: "You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO."

Way to go, Jessica, for stepping up and fighting fire with awesome, ridiculous fire.

popular

After finding her son's sex toys, this mom took the perfect course of action.

Talking about sex with your teen can be awkward, but this mom's response nails how to do it.

42-year-old Sally* was doing something that moms often do — helping her teenage son with some laundry — when she grew a little alarmed. Amid Tyler's* dirty clothes in the laundry basket, she found some items that looked like homemade sex toys. (*This probably goes without saying, but names have been changed.)

She wasn't mad that her 15-year-old son had been doing some exploring. Who hasn't?

But she was worried about the items he was using — various household objects that weren't meant to be used for sexual pleasure. In short: She was concerned about his safety.


As a single mother, she didn't know quite where to turn for advice. So ... she went to the Internet.

There have to be some answers in there, right?

I know, I know. At first, I thought it was a disastrous move — I mean, have you seen the stuff on Yahoo! Answers? — but it turned out to be a great decision. Her post in Reddit's /r/relationships racked up almost 500 comments. And a fair portion of the tips and advice were pretty helpful. Many people even messaged her privately, which helped her decide she needed to talk to her son about it.

Instead of pretending that she didn't see anything, she decided to write her son an honest letter.

Included in the letter was a gift card to buy his own safe toys. In a follow-up post on Reddit, Sally writes:

"I told him that I care about him, which is why I don't want him to hurt himself (or others, for that matter). I explained to him that what he had in his drawers could get him put into a hospital, and that was my biggest concern. I also made sure to mention that what he was doing was completely normal/natural; he just needed to be more health-conscious about it. I included a lot of links to educational resources (including Savage Love, which many of you raved about). I also bought him an Amazon gift card for $100."

Tyler responded to the letter with tears — and relief. After a long discussion, Sally feels that they are now closer than ever.

They probably go watch sunsets together and stuff. Photo by Klappe/Pixabay.

Talking about sex with parents can be pretty awkward. (Probably more so if one of them found your private collection of toys.)

But Sally knew that her response could have a long-lasting impact on Tyler's relationship to sex (and himself). That's why she approached the potentially humiliating situation with love — and respect for her son's natural sexual behavior. Right on, Sally.

Sally and Tyler's story is a great lesson on talking about masturbation with kids.

How a parent approaches the topic can be vital to a child's development. Here's how Sally got it right:

1. She didn't shame him for what he did.

While a recent survey from Indiana University shows that 78% of Americans have masturbated at some point in their lives, the stigma around the behavior makes a lot of people hesitant to admit it publicly. Sally was careful to emphasize that what her son was doing was totally normal. That can help reduce embarrassment about learning how one's body works.

2. She respected his independence...

And, she gave him the tools to explore — safely. Sally emphasized that her concern was simply about her son remaining safe and healthy. When children have a healthy, no-shame relationship to masturbation, it helps them take ownership of their bodies. As a result, they have better sex with partners because they know how to communicate what they need.

3. ...while also making it clear she was available for support.


Who doesn't need a sympathetic shoulder here and there? GIF via "Gossip Girl."

A number of Reddit commenters suggested that Sally simply pretend she didn't see anything. But receiving that letter helped Tyler muster the courage to approach his mother. Turns out, he'd been wanting to talk to her for a while because he was concerned about the effects of using the toys. An open conversation with his mother (and a quick doctor's visit) helped reassure them both that everything was fine.

Props to you, Sally, for thoughtfully addressing this issue head-on. I'm sure Tyler would join me in saying, "Thank you for being awesome."


Bravo!

Family

Here's why 16 million U.S. kids can buy and smoke cigarettes legally.

What's stopping kids from lighting up in schools? In these states, nothing.

It's no secret that the tobacco industry has been marketing to children and teens since their inception.

It's a business built on getting consumers physically and chemically addicted to the product. The earlier the customer gets hooked, the better. Back in the day, tobacco companies shamelessly enticed children to start smoking with the help of weekend cartoons, doctors, and — of course — beautiful women. Take a look at some of these vintage cigarette ads.

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But nowadays, there are tons of restrictions on how tobacco companies can advertise and lure in young and impressionable kids. So while you'd be hard-pressed to find a cigarette ad on TV, electronic cigarettes are a whole different story.

E-cigarettes are now a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry with minimal regulations. So it's no surprise that kids are inhaling these products left and right.

But can kids really buy e-cigarettes?

So not only can kids buy e-cigarettes in many states, they can legally smoke them in a bunch of public places like parks, restaurants, and even schools if they wanted to push their luck!

16 million children can legally buy e-cigarettes in the United States. Let me break that down for you.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey, also conducted by the CDC, highlights the obvious elephant in the room.

Electronic cigarettes are a clear gateway to smoking conventional cigarettes.

While the market remains virtually unregulated, tobacco companies are back to their old advertising tricks.

Take a look at some of these modern e-cigarette ads. They feature celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Stephen Dorff, waxing poetic about how "free" e-cigarettes make them feel, coupled with shots of them looking extra cool.



This ad from Vapor Couture pushes the glamour angle by featuring "eye-catching accessories" like carrying cases and sparkling e-cigarettes in "coordinating colors straight off the runway."

And while these ads may not be overtly targeted at young people like they were in the 1950s, linking smoking with being stylish, independent, and cool tends to appeal to teenagers who are struggling to fit in and figure out their identity.

Even though some of these ads come with disclaimers about not selling to minors, there are still plenty of states where minors can legally purchase e-cigarettes.

Let's review...

Millions of teens all over the U.S. can legally buy e-cigarettes, and once again tobacco companies are making the product look like the perfect accessory that will give teens the confidence they have always longed for. Hmmm?

There is simply not enough long-term research to prove that e-cigarettes are harmless. As a result, the electronic cigarette industry must be strictly regulated.

If adults want to smoke, that's their prerogative. But kids should have to be at least 18 years old before they can start purchasing electronic cigarettes. Otherwise, another generation of kids are at risk of falling victim to the deadly diseases that come from lighting up.

If you agree that there should be stricter regulations for e-cigarette sales, especially when it comes to minors, share this post and let your voice be heard.