These lifelike murals have communities buzzing about honeybees.

Matthew Willey paints honeybees. Lots and lots of honeybees.

Big ones. Small ones. Queens. Workers. Flying and at rest. He paints all of them with skill, love, and care. He's been painting murals for nearly 25 years, but this is his biggest job yet. It's the one he was born to do. And he's got a few million tiny, buzzing fans rooting him on.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission.


Willey didn't find bees. The bees found him. Literally.

Close to a decade ago, a slow-moving honeybee flew in through the window of Willey's apartment and landed softly in the middle of the room. Weak and tired, the pollinator posed no threat.

"I got down on the floor and hung out with this bee," he said. He studied her and got up close, the first time he'd ever done so. When the honeybee expired a few hours later, he placed it outside and set about learning why this happened.

A quick search lead him to information on colony collapse disorder, when workers bees from a colony suddenly disappear and die off for no clear reason. Some bee experts believe honeybees have a behavior known as altruistic suicide. A bee that's sick will fly off to die on its own rather than jeopardize the health of the nest. That may be why beekeepers weren't finding dead bees and why Willey had one in his apartment.

‌An Oregon State University bee researcher collects "nurse bees" to determine why large number of bees have been dying recently. Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images. ‌

But the experts don't know why this is happening. And while they get to the bottom of it, Willey did what any passionate person would do — he dropped everything to take on the project of his life.

Willey committed to painting 50,000 bees on murals around the world. He dubbed his initiative The Good of the Hive.

Why 50,000? That's the number of bees in just one thriving hive. Just over a year into the project, Willey is well past bee #892.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

Each mural is unique to its location. The bees are highly detailed and meticulously painted.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

Willey spends months painting each mural. And even more time working with communities, schools, and businesses to come up with the space, funding, and proper permissions.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission.

He also stops frequently to talk and spread awareness about pollinators along the way.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

Willey's work is found on businesses, a school, a fire station and even a tractor trailer.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

Every surface has potential.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

His medium packs the message: We've got to come together to save these creatures.

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

And while raising awareness about the plight of pollinators is Willey's chief aim, he has a secondary goal as well.

As he travels from town to town, he's meeting people of all stripes. Together they talk bees, occasionally break bread, and get to know one another. Already, the murals are bringing people together.

"The other thing I'm learning ... through this work is the incredible possibility of connection that [bees] facilitate," he said. "There's the design, there's the art, there's all that. But the basic, basic nature of it is 'Stand and paint bees. And talk to people about bees.'"

Between his detailed murals, great conversations, and lots of fundraising, Willey believes his project will take 10 to 11 years. But there's plenty you can do right now.

To support and encourage honeybees in your yard or community, talk to your local nursery about native bee-friendly plants. A few simple additions can make your yard a welcome place for pollinators of all stripes.

"I am trying to make a point that these bees are like treasure," Willey said. "They should be invited into your yard, honored in your yard with a section of it that has specific flowers [for] the local bee population."

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

Planting flowers at your home, school, or neighborhood is also a great project for kids and communities.

"It's so great for teaching kids! They love playing in the dirt," Willey said. "And even planning it with your neighbors and saying, 'Our block is going to become bee-friendly.'"

Photo by Patrick Seeger/AFP/Getty Images.

On the surface, it's an art project about honeybees. But it's always been much more than that.

"We have to start seeing the world like a hive," Willey said in a video for the project. "Bees and people, we're all in it together."

‌Photo by The Good of the Hive, used with permission. ‌

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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When 59 children died on Christmas Eve 1913, the world cried with the town of Calumet, Michigan.

Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

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AFL Labor Mini Series

A one-man drill operation

In July 1913, over 7,000 miners struck the C&H Copper Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. It was largely the usual issues of people who worked for a big company during a time when capitalists ran roughshod over their workers — a time when monopolies were a way of life. Strikers' demands included pay raises, an end to child labor, and safer conditions including an end to one-man drill operations, as well as support beams in the mines (which mine owners didn't want because support beams were costly but miners killed in cave-ins “do not cost us anything.")

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Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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