This man’s incredible artwork is transforming the city of New Orleans.

When Brandan Odums got caught spraying graffiti art in an abandoned apartment complex in New Orleans, he thought he was in real trouble.

It turns out that getting caught would be the thing that launched the next chapter of his career.

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.


Odums had begun creating graffiti art in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the storm left thousands of homes ruined or abandoned. He and a group of other artists created paintings there that captured the pain, frustration, loss, and hope that the community was feeling.

It started out as a project, but as people stumbled upon the space and word began to spread, it quickly became a phenomenon.

"I had no idea that the response would be what it was," Odums says. "Before we knew it, the space had turned into an underground art experience."

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

It turned out that lots of other people identified with the feelings that the artists were capturing, too — including the landlord.

"The owner of the property walked in as I was painting," Odums says. Odums expected to get thrown out, but instead, the owner was actually impressed by what he saw — so much so that he handed over the keys to the space so that Odums and the other artists could set up a temporary art show, called "#ProjectBe." He then later helped Odums set up an exhibition in a more permanent space, which he called "#ExhibitBe."

People came from all over the city, state, and country to see the art that Odums and his colleagues were creating in New Orleans.

"It was an amazing experience, just seeing the power of art, alchemy transforming this negative into a positive," Odums says. Many of the people who came through used to live in one of the now abandoned places that were ruined by Katrina. Witnessing something so painful turned into something powerful, Odums says, is what the project is all about.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

"I think there’s a certain spirit in New Orleans that’s about alchemy. There’s a certain spirit that’s about transformation," Odums says. "I think all the beautiful elements of New Orleans, when you look at it closely, you see that all the things people find beautiful about the city, they were all born out of struggle or pain or sadness."

The power of Odums' art comes from more than just the place. It's also about the people he chooses to paint.

Odums paints black people, both prominent icons from history as well as everyday people that he’s met or seen. The portrayal of black beauty on such a large scale has a huge effect on the people who pass through.

"I think it could be summarized in this one particular moment," Odums says. "We gave this tour to a middle school, and afterward I asked this young man which painting was his favorite."

The boy pointed to a portrait of a teenager that Odums had painted with a shirt on it that read "alchemy."

"I asked him why," Odums says. "And he said, 'Because it looks like me.'"

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.

That struck Odums in a powerful way.

"It brought me back to the moments when I was in art school," he says. "It made me remember that I never had that experience, where I went to an art space where I felt like I was reflected or where I was able to see something positive or beautiful about who I am reflected on the walls." He’s able to give that representation to a younger generation.

Now, Odums is leaving his studio and taking his art out into the streets of New Orleans.

For the city’s tercentennial, he’s paired with local government to start putting up graffiti murals all around town, depicting the history of each individual place.

"There’s all these historic sites and markers in the city. So how can we use visual art and street art and murals to bring those stories alive?" he says. "We’re bringing another layer of New Orleans to life."

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

The sites of the new murals haven’t been chosen yet, but they will likely reflect New Orleans’ history as the birthplace of jazz, a major player in the struggle for abolition, and many of the other significant events that have taken place over the city’s 300-year history.

"There’s so much history, so many important ideas that were born in this city," Odums says. "How can the visual arts explore that? That’s what we’re trying to figure out."

Odums doesn’t paint just because he loves the practice. It’s also about giving back to his community.

His commitment to community service stems from a philosophy that he’s held since he was a child.

Photo by Brandan Odums, used with permission.

"My father was in the military for 25 years," he says. Growing up in a military family, Odums learned early what it means to live a life committed to serving others. "Seeing him put on the uniform and understanding what it meant, this extreme type of service," Odums says, rubbed off on him and inspired his work in New Orleans.

He says that his love for others actually is rooted in an attitude of healthy self-love.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

"I was raised with this level of love for myself, and in return, love for my community," he says.

"If I deserve better, then my neighbor deserves better," he continues."It’s this idea that we all should be engaged in demanding more from the status quo."

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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