This castle is something to behold, but its renovation is so much more than merely beautiful.

Take a look at the gorgeous Chateau Gudanes.

"After the storm ..." Image via chateaugudanes/Instagram. Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.


It has an even more gorgeous story behind it.

This chateau was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, the same architect who designed Marie Antoinette's personal mini-chateau, the Petit Trianon, and parts of Place de la Concorde in Paris. Beautiful, right?

"Morning mists retreating from Chateau de Gudanes..." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

The Chateau Gudanes, located in the south of France, was built in 1741 for Marquis Louis Gaspard de Sales. Apparently, he threw some pretty lavish parties. It's rumored that even Voltaire allegedly attended a few. The chateau managed to survive the French Revolution (some didn't fare so well), but soon the era of aristocratic parties was over and the chateau sat vacant.

Until the 1990s, when developers bought it with the plan to transform the 94-room castle into 17 luxury apartments. They weren't granted the renovation permits to so drastically alter a historical monument, so the chateau just sat there, crumbling.

Then, in 2013, the crumbling chateau found its new loving owners.

Those owners are Karina and Craig Waters. They're from Perth, Australia, and they have two kids. After deciding they wanted to purchase a home in France, they took many trips and saw a whole bunch of places that were "renovated, clean, and neat" ... but that's not what they wanted.

They wanted someplace with a little more life.

"Days like these with the sun high in the sky remind us of the simple pleasures in life..." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Thanks to an online search by their 16-year-old kid, they stumbled across Chateau Gudanes. When they visited it in person, they knew. This was the one. They signed their final contract to purchase the chateau in 2013.

This is more than a story of some well-to-do Australians buying a cool place in France. It's an amazing expression of how valuing history, caring for a community, and listening to each other pays off. It pays off by helping the Earth. Really!

For starters, a 2011 report from Preservation Green Lab found that reusing a building can actually help an entire community reduce its carbon footprint!

How's that for an unintended consequence?

Now, to logistics of castle reuse: The couple decided that Craig would return to Australia while Karina supervised renovations (while she lived in the stables!).

"Hello from our base of operations! Dreams and plans taking shape..." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Such a massive renovation project hasn't always been an easy process.

They've been renovating since November 2013. Karina's taken intensive language courses and had to persuade the very strict — and very slow — French bureaucracy that decides whether owners can renovate historic monuments to allow her to proceed. She got permission, but not easily, and getting the necessary permissions to continue the work continues to be a struggle. But she keeps going!


"We have a building permit!" Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

And it's all been worth it.

"Builder arrived today, well at least a big truck, wheelbarrows and some scaffolding." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

The blog they started to document the whole process beautifully captures their intent:

"Our aim is to tread lightly and gently — to preserve the atmosphere and authenticity of the Chateau and region as much as possible. She will be renovated but her rawness, wear and history will not be erased, but instead integrated."

"First time I have opened the window, such a joyous moment." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

It's beautiful. Even the mere first opening of a window is cause for celebration.

Much more beautiful than luxury apartments ... and it's not just about what looks good. They're also preserving history.

And get this: Renovating this older building also turns out to be better for the planet than building a fancy new place.

You might think newer buildings are more efficient and so better for the environment, but it's actually a little more complicated than that. Preservation Green Lab's 2011 study found that there's a possibility it could take 10-80 years for a new building to be a net positive on climate change.

Helping the Earth never looked so beautiful.

"Builders onsite, working hard." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Look at all the beautiful elements of the renovations ... all helping the Earth, bit by bit.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Many of the "new" items in the chateau aren't new at all. They're found from "brocantes" or vintage and antique stores from the Ariege region, where the chateau is located.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

While their goal is to renovate the castle and preserve history, such a cool choice is made even cooler by the fact that such a renovation benefits the planet!

And they've got big plans for 2016, too. As they have stated on the website where they're tracking their progress:

"Our plans for the future keep changing and evolving, and they are only in their infancy, but we hope to welcome you as soon as possible. Ideally, to begin, a cafe and tours, even in its well worn state. By 2016 we would like to also offer you accommodation, a gift shop, and facilities for weddings, music festivals, local fêtes, workshops, conferences, seminars and courses.

"Have been sharing the château with friends this week. Everyday is full of surprise!" Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

And their renovations are moving right along.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

To encourage others to follow their lead, they're hosting on-site historical renovation classes.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

As the renovations continue, the chateau has opened its doors to The Messors, a group of conservationists whose tagline is "A way of life so far behind, it's ahead," and they hosted a 15-day workshop "to immerse participants in the conservation of cultural heritage encompassing decorative art, architecture, history and regional culinary culture."

Cool!

Life is truly returning — literally and figuratively — to the Chateau Gudanes.

"That darn chateau cat almost taking a selfie!" Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

And visiting them virtually (their blog, Instagram, and Facebook are amazing) is a true get-overwhelmed-with-beauty experience.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Each day, a new discovery.

"Hidden behind pink coloured wood panelling is a 1700's wall mural we have discovered." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

"During the clean up of the terraces, these treasures were unearthed ... these may be Moustiers faience - a high quality glazed earthenware produced from 1679." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

"A new discovery — not sure where this leads!" Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

They recently hosted a wedding at the chateau to give their future plans a trial run.

"I love you for all that you are, all that you have been, and all you are yet to be..." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Even though they're nowhere near done with renovations, their vision is clear.

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

"The Chateau won't be a pretentious museum piece, but rather, a place to visit, reconnect with the earth and people, and restore the senses, just like she herself has been restored."

The world is already too full of luxury apartments. But it's not too full of unique historical places like this. (Could it ever be?)

Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

By putting their money into historical preservation and renovation, this couple isn't just investing in themselves and their own finances. No. They're investing in something that they can share with everyone.

They're keeping our world beautiful and interesting, full of history and full of life.

They're restoring something that the public, even centuries from now, can enjoy and experience.

A recent blog entry sums up the reasoning behind their effort: " ..to be led by our dreams rather than be pushed by problems. "

It's a beautiful message of hope.

"A magical day in the Pyrénées..." Image via chateauduganes/Instagram.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less