This fisherman's incredible, hidden underwater forests may change food as you know it.

When Bren Smith was 14, he dropped out of high school and went to sea.

Photo from GreenWave, used with permission.

Smith was born and raised in a small fishing village called Petty Harbour, in Newfoundland, Canada. Petty Harbour is 700 miles east of Maine, and it juts out into the Atlantic like the herald of the entire North American continent. It's so tiny that it's basically just a few saltbox houses painted in bright colors, helping fishermen find their way home in the fog.


Smith worked on boats for years, and he loved his job.

"That's where I want to spend my days," he said. Smith is now in his mid-40s. Pictures of him show a lean, bald man with varying stages of beard. He says that like a lot of fishermen, he fell in love — not so much with the ocean itself, but with the feeling of working on the ocean.

"Farming the ocean is really meaningful work," he said. "There are certain jobs, traditional jobs, like coal workers who help power the country, steel workers who helped build the country, and fishermen and farmers, who help feed the country — there's real satisfaction and meaning that comes with that."

But under the ocean's surface, things weren't going too well. One day, the jobs seemed to just disappear.

Photo from GreenWave, used with permission.

The Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland, are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. And at some point, they must have seemed endless. In 1968, fishermen brought home over 800,000 tons of cod from those waters, for instance. That's more than the weight of eight full aircraft carriers.

But starting in the 1970s, the cod's numbers started to fall. Overfishing, trawling, dragging, and government mismanagement destroyed the cod stock. And after centuries of being one of nature's greatest wonders, in 1992, the Canadian government told Newfoundland's cod fishermen that they couldn't go out fishing anymore. There were essentially no cod left to catch.

As the Earth changes, jobs go away.

The ban on cod fishing snapped the economic backbone of hundreds of rural Newfoundland communities. Over 40,000 people lost their jobs. Some fishermen got government assistance or found new jobs on land, but Smith says the real shock ran much deeper than that.

There's a famous story in Newfoundland, Smith said, about a former fisherman who got a government buyout — a check to beach his boat, essentially — "and then every morning he drives down to the dock at 5 in the morning, with his brand-new truck he bought with that government check, and drinks himself to death looking out over the ocean, wishing he was working at sea."

This tragedy wasn't about money, you see. It was never about the money. Instead, losing that job meant losing part of their culture. It meant losing a sense of meaning.

Smith had been working elsewhere, but watching his hometown's collapse affected him. So Smith changed jobs, looking for work that was truly sustainable. Over the years, he tried a bunch of different things, but it never seemed to work out. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy put an end to his oyster farming idea, for instance.

Realizing that he needed to adapt, Smith decided to invent a new job altogether. Now, he's what he calls a "3D ocean farmer."

Photo from GreenWave, used with permission.

Smith owns and runs the Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut, but oysters are only part of what he does. He's actually growing an entire forest underwater.

From the shore, Smith's farms don't look like much — just a few buoys bobbing up and down in the surf. But running beneath those buoy are long ropes from which dangle kelp, seaweed, mussels, and scallop nests. Below, resting on the sea floor, Smith has cages full of oysters. Clams live in the mud below those cages. And holding it all together are heavy, hurricane-proof anchors studded along the edges.

The result looks a lot like an underwater garden or kelp forest.

A naturally occurring kelp forest. Photo from NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr.

These 3D farms might actually be one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture in the world.

Unlike many common foods, Smith's seaweed and shellfish need no land, fresh water, or fertilizer. Kelp also grows extremely quickly.

And while seaweed is largely absent from the American diet, it's a really common food in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Many American chefs are now testing it in their menus.

Mmm, seaweed. Photo from GreenWave, used with permission.

There are secondary benefits to the environment from the underwater farms as well. The kelp can trap carbon, removing it from the atmosphere and reducing the impact of global warming. Shellfish can help filter pollutants and excess nitrogen out of the water. The farms can even act like coral reefs, providing a hiding place and habitat for other creatures.

"The best fishing in the entire area is surrounding our farms," said Smith. "We have seals, we have ducks, we have sea horses — all these different species that are returning to our areas."

Because of what he's learned, Smith is now helping other fishermen start underwater farms too.

Smith hauls up an oyster cage. Photo from Greenwave, used with permission.

In addition to running his farm, Smith is in charge of GreenWave, a nonprofit that helps other farmers start their own 3D ocean farms. They have a blueprint for 3D farmers to get started as easily as possible. The GreenWave team also helps farmers evaluate locations and feasibility, get permits, and set up and expand their farms.

GreenWave is still a small operation — just a handful of people working toward something they believe could change the world. But what they're doing is actually working, and they've even been awarded the 2015 Buckminster Fuller Prize for ecological design. They've also just opened a big new project, a seaweed hatchery, to help farmers supply other farmers with seed.

Ultimately, Smith thinks we could build a whole new food system using 3D ocean farms.

He wants to break the logic that leads to big, industrial farms on land and create a whole new kind of food industry — one that has sustainability and food justice at its heart.

For example, GreenWave doesn't charge farmers extra for seed, and it encourages farmers to only use local species. A farm in California won't grow the same kind of seaweed and shellfish as a farm in Maine, a practice that can help keep our food system safe from climate change and disease. And Smith says the minimum wage in their processing plants starts at $15 an hour.

There are still a lot of hurdles, of course. Americans still aren't known for their love of seaweed. And it seems like GreenWave will need to build a lot of their infrastructure from scratch, too. But these obstacles do not seem insurmountable.

To me, the most encouraging part of this story is that we can revive the kind of job Smith fell in love with.

Photo from GreenWave, used with permission.

Sometimes it's easy to think of conservation like a museum, trying to capture the world in some unchanging, static preservation, like a bug under glass.

But that's not what Smith is interested in. For him, the question has always been as much about economics as environmentalism. The question isn't "How do we make sure things never change?" The question is "How do we prepare for the future?"

"We need to build a new economy, we need to feed people, we need to create jobs, and we have to give people meaning if we're going to save the planet," Smith said. He finds that the work on his farm still has that meaningful heart that propelled him to the ocean as a teen.

As Smith put it, we have to find the space for "jobs we can still sing songs about." And we can.

Whether that's transitioning coal miners to solar power-plant workers, oil drillers to dam workers, or fishermen to ocean farmers, we can reinvent the old industries into the new.

We can still have jobs you fall in love with.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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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."