Artist Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon, talks about her start in graffiti and how that caused her to end up in the most unlikely of places, from her perspective.
Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.
Turner recognized that the United Nations is indispensable to tackling humanity’s greatest challenges and driving global progress, and he also knew that solving complex, worldwide problems require a blend of diverse solutions and partners. He’s a pretty smart guy.
As a strategic partner of the United Nations, the UN Foundation seeks to solve the world’s biggest challenges by bringing together different perspectives, fresh thinking, and innovative ideas. Think of it as a massive table, where the best and the brightest from all over the world are invited to bring new and creative ideas to solve complex problems affecting humanity. That’s the UN Foundation, and it’s awesome.
Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Every year, the organization recognizes extraordinary individuals and institutions whose work stands out as an embodiment of their guiding principles: to create a safer, healthier, and fairer world for all. This year’s annual Global Leadership Awards were presented at We the Peoples in New York City’s Gotham Hall, where five recipients were honored for their tireless work to push progress forward.
Here are the change-makers who accepted the awards, which celebrate the very best of humanity.
Mia Amor Mottley, 2022 Champion for Global Change award. Not only is she the first female to hold the position of Prime Minister of Barbados, she exhibits top-notch leadership in her fight for global change. She is known for fearlessly urging the leaders of larger, richer, and more powerful countries to recognize their contributions to climate change and their responsibility to help combat its disastrous effects—especially in smaller island nations. (She also encourages leaders to have “mature conversations” with their constituents, something we can all agree is woefully lacking across the board!)
Hon. Mia Mottley, SC, MP, Prime Minister of BarbadosPhoto: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Prime Minister Mottley takes stewardship of the environment very seriously. The island of Barbados is on the frontline of climate change impacts, which manifest in everything from more devastating hurricanes, to coastal erosion, and are getting worsefrom year to year. Not only that, she’s tackling social justice reform, lack of education access, and political corruption, one step at a time. “There are so many who are voiceless and so many who are incapable of action, but if those of us who have the capacity can make that difference in their lives, then the world would be a better place,” said Prime Minister Mottley. Seriously.
Forest Whitaker, SDG Vanguard Award: While Whitaker is best known for his acting roles, he is also Founder & CEO of Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, a project aiming to promote the values of peace within communities all over the world that are impacted by conflict and violence. His work has touched the lives of approximately 1.3 million children—including former child soldiers—helping them cope with trauma and learn to thrive in their communities. The goal is to move people from chaos to hope and engagement by educating, training, and restoring peace.
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon and UN Foundation Board member, presents the SDG Vanguard Award to Khadija Mayman, Youth PeacemakerPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Whitaker staunchly values the potential of youth, insisting they deserve a seat at the table. He believes that in order to attain peace and prosperity, communities and nations must heed the voices of their young people; keeping them engaged is what preserves our future. “We must realize that whatever challenge we are faced with, young people can and should be part of the solution – both for today and tomorrow,” he said.
Whitaker walks the walk— and it showed when the spotlight was put on Khadija Mayman, Youth Peacemaker for the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, who accepted the award on his behalf. What better way to change the world, than to start by healing our children and letting them lead?
Mia Kami, SDG Vanguard Award: Kami is a Tongan singer/songwriter. She is passionate about gender equality, indigenous rights, and climate action, reminding us that storytelling has the power to fuel political and environmental change. She channels her passions into songwriting and uses her music to inspire hope and healing.
In 2022, a devastating volcanic eruption created a massive humanitarian crisis in her home country of Tonga. The volcano generated a plume of ash that rose more than 12 miles above sea level; the next day, there was a larger, more violent eruption that created an ash plume 375 miles in diameter. This second explosive eruption produced a tsunami that affected the entire Pacific Ocean, and atmospheric pressure waves that circled Earth several times. After the eruption, satellite images show that 90% of the island is no longer visible. Kami drew attention to the crisis through song. In one of her most popular works, Rooted, she sings:
There is hope
There is strength
There is power
There is change
In you and I
Singer-songwriter Mia Kami performs at We The Peoples 2022Photo: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Kami’s ability to bridge art and action to protect the world's oceans draws attention to issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, marking her as an extraordinary, creative change-maker.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), presented with the 2022 UN Heroes Award: Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepted the Award on behalf of the organization.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepts the 2022 UN Heroes Award, presented by Mark Malloch-Brown, President of Open Society Foundations and UN Foundation Board member at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Founded in 1969 by concerned American citizens, this institution is the lead United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency. They are there for mothers, pregnant women, and girls around the world, no matter what, and their work encompasses everything from educating women on family planning to working to end child marriage and gender-based violence—especially in times of war.
UNFPA delivers lifesaving care in places in crises so that girls and women can manage their periods, have healthy pregnancies, and deliver their babies safely. They recognize that when individuals are deprived of the right to make crucial choices about their own bodies and futures, it has a cascading impact on their families’ welfare and future generations.
Unsurprisingly, courage is one of their four core values; they pride themselves on saying and doing what’s right, not what’s easy, all the time. That is a purposeful act of progress for certain.
Peace on Purpose/lululemon. This year, the inaugural Goal 17 Innovation in Partnership Award was presented to recognize creative, cross-sector partnerships that are driving progress forward. Most of us associate the brand name lululemon with leggings, but it turns out that they do much more than sell athletic wear. Peace on Purpose is a collaborative effort between lululemon and the UN Foundation to provide tools, such as mindfulness training, for humanitarian workers to care for their mental and physical well-being so they can effectively care for others. Support people need support people, after all!
From left to right: Baroness Valerie Amos, Master, University College Oxford and Vice Chair, UN Foundation Board of Directors; Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon; Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
The award was accepted by two of lululemon's leaders: Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact, and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer. Speck is widely respected among her colleagues as one of the most result-oriented professionals in sustainability. She managed to bridge lululemon and the UN Foundation seamlessly by recognizing that lululemon focuses on offering their customers a path to wellbeing, which entails supporting humanitarian and sustainable causes.
Esther Speck, Senior Vice President Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Neuburger is responsible for lululemon's ability to share compelling stories from their team of 2,000 global ambassadors. "We really lean into highlighting those ambassadors," said Neuburger in an interview with Ad Age, "lifting them up not only in terms of what they are doing with us, but also what they've got going on in their own communities."
The results are undeniable: over 8,000 UN workers from 137 countries have been reached through in-person and digital mental health and well-being programs! Research shows that the Peace on Purpose initiative has so far led to a 40% reduction of important psychological risk factors such as anxiety and depression, and an increase in overall well-being and resilience.
It’s a dynamic table of visionaries, that’s for sure—and the world is better because of them. As Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation stated at the ceremony, “A few years ago, Ted [Turner] said: ‘The world is facing some tough obstacles, but I’ve never found much use in giving up. It’s much more effective to get to work.’ Well, at the UN Foundation, we believe in getting to work. We believe that allies and partners make us stronger. We believe that progress is worth fighting for, and we know you do too.”If pushing progress forward is a choice, then these change-makers make the right one, every single day. Learn more about these change-makers and the work they are doing here.
Great info, even better delivery.
This article first appeared on 6.15.22.
Amazon delivery drivers don’t have the easiest job in the world. Sitting through traffic, working in extreme temperatures, hauling boxes … not exactly a fun time. So when a driver goes out of their way to be extra considerate—people notice.
One delivery driver has gone viral for the way she delivered a little bit of safety education, along with some lighthearted advice. The TikTok video of the encounter, which now has more than 4 million views, was shared by Jessica Huseman, who had only recently moved into her new house.
The clip shows the doorbell cam recording of the driver approaching the house. As the delivery driver makes it to the front door, she sings, ”Hello … I hope your Monday’s going well. You have no markers on your house that says what number you are.”
From there, the driver’s song quickly changes tune, going from funny jest to helpful PSA.
“And that is hard to find your house my dude, and it’s unsafe, honestly,” the driver continues, adding, “what if you needed medical assistance and the paramedics didn’t know your town well? Come on.”
@_jesshopehuse We just moved in and this happened today…she’s not wrong though. Guess I need to get some house numbers. #amazondelivery♬ original sound - Jessica Huseman
“Have a great day!” she says happily before walking off.Huseman added the caption: “We just moved in and this happened today... she’s not wrong though. Guess I need to get some house numbers.”
The driver’s observation was clearly on point. Several medical pros commented to back her up.
“As someone who works in EMS I can verify house numbers are necessary! BUT ALSO MAKE SURE THEY ARE EASILY VISIBLE FROM THE STREET AT NIGHT,” wrote one person.
Another replied, ”yes! Medic here, we’ve had to call dispatch and ask for them to get [the] caller back on the phone and get [the] description of [the] house because there [are] no numbers.”
Besides her information being vital, people were mostly in love with the driver’s friendly attitude. Here are just a few of the compliments:
“Honestly, give them a raise. That’s awesome vibes right there.”
“She’s a whole friken mood, I love her she gives me pink vibes.”
“I need to meet this Amazon driver!!!! I love her!!”
The delivery driver (named Kelsey) eventually saw her viral video and decided to do a follow-up, where she added other unsafe things she’s seen on the job—primarily unclear entrances and exits—along with an additional sweet message:
@queenofconsent#stitch with @_jesshopehuse ♬ original sound - The Queen K
“Crisis management and prevention education is essential and literally a part of my soul. So anytime I do go out and deliver packages … if I see something, I say something. Cause that’s how bystander intervention works. But keeping in mind that it’s more than that. It is about reminding each other that we are enough, and being there for one another.”
Whether it’s packages or something to smile about, Kelsey is a master of delivery.
Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!
However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!
Eye strain from staring at devices is a widespread issue. Most people work, play, and maintain relationships through screens, which averages out to 6 hours and 35 minutes per day (and that’s in addition to work or school)! That translates to 46 hours and 5 minutes per week, or 2,402 hours and 55 minutes per year.2
With numbers like these, attention to eye health is more important now than ever; our dependence on technology certainly isn’t going anywhere. And just like innovation brought us technology, innovation also holds the key to combating the effects it has on our bodies. Here are some key suggestions from eye care professionals to help reduce common symptoms of digital eye strain. Spoiler alert: none of them involve wearing glasses!
Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
You can find some relief by taking a 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It’s easy to remember because we all want 20/20 vision, and it’s a good excuse to look out the window.
Adjust your workspace screen to be slightly below eye level and about an arm’s length away.
This simple tweak to your work area can really improve your posture, as well as the amount of strain on your eyes. A win-win!
Adjust the brightness of your device.
Brightness levels also play into how hard our eyes have to work. Our screen brightness should match our surroundings, especially during the evening hours.
Say hello to Biofinity Energys® contact lenses!
These contact lenses are specifically made to address eye dryness and tiredness caused by digital devices. Digital Zone Optics® lens design and Aquaform® Technology are two innovations that when combined help with the tiredness and dryness that can be caused by digital eye fatigue.
Additionally, Biofinity Energys® monthly replacement contact lenses are designed to help our eyes better adapt for a more comfortable wearing experience3. This part is tricky because contacts can be hard to adjust to, and trust me—no one wants what feels like gritty sandpaper in there. Comfort is key!
If you’re sick of wearing glasses all the time and feel ready to do something new, visit biofinityenergys.com to learn more and to get your free trial certificate.
An update on the 'corn kid,' a powerful airport haka, some moving mama-baby reunions and more in this week's roundup of joy.
Thanksgiving week in the U.S. is a time for practicing gratitude, and we want to take just a moment to give thanks to you.
You, dear readers, are a big part of Upworthy's mission to celebrate the best of humanity and to show how people can be a force for good. Every time you share our stories, drop a positive comment on a post or tell a friend about something you saw here, you help create the world we all want to live in. A world where kindness and compassion are the norm, where humanity flourishes in all its beautiful diversity and where genuine joy and laughter abound.
Without you, we'd just be throwing all this good stuff into the ether, so we are so very grateful you are here.
However you're celebrating and whoever you're gathering with this week, we hope you're being stuffed full of joy. And if you need an extra serving or two, here's our weekly collection of happy finds to fill you up.
I assume they are brother and sister, although a lot of siblings would have fought to the pain over that dumpling. Such selflessness and love on display here.
The Māori haka is always powerful, but seeing these young people carrying their culture forward is really something. As one commenter wrote, "I love how they transform from modern teens to timeless warriors, in spirit with their ancestors. So incredibly moving and significant." Read the full story here.
Another corntastic interview #corn
Is it even possible for Tariq to answer a question without being unintentionally fabulous? Tariq has been making the most of his unexpected virality and has even partnered with Green Giant. Get it, kiddo. Read the full story here.
Baby Kucheza had to get oxygen for a couple of days after his C-section birth, so Mahale wasn't able to be with him. That moment he put his hand up and she scooped him right up—gracious. Every mama felt that.
Cutest cuddle puddle ever.
It's the way she went straight to her own daughter first to see how she was doing before meeting the grandbaby. Mamas gonna mama. Such a sweet moment.
Pink can pretty much sing anything, but I don't think I've ever truly appreciated Olivia Newton-John's effortless range on this song. Dang. Beautiful job from Pink here. Read the full story here.
If "Find someone who looks at you like…" were a dog video.
How can he be that good-natured first thing in the morning? And while having water rubbed all over his face? That laugh is too precious.
Assalamualaikum Sayang ❤️❤️❤️ Selamat hari lahir yang ke 29. Semoga you sentiasa diberikan kesihatan yang baik, panjang umur dan dirahmati selaluu. I doakan jugak semoga Allah murahkan dan limpahkan rezeki you. Semoga Allah makbulkan segala doa dan impian you. I nak ucapkan terima kasih untuk segala pengorbanan yang you dah buat untuk i and Liam. Eventhough sometimes i rasa nak kick you dari belakang, but youre also the most lovely person that i want to hug and kiss everyday 😚 You are the BEST BEST BEST husband and daddy!!! Look at our son. He grow up to be such a sweet and lovely boy. He really takes it from you I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, HUSBAND ❤️❤️❤️ #birthdayboy #daddyandson #fyp
That dad must so look forward to opening that door every single day. Dang these onions!
Thank you for being here, everyone. If you'd like to receive these roundups in your inbox each week, sign up for our Upworthiest email newsletter here.
"Take it with you bro" turned into a tear-jerking story of human connection.
This article first appeared on 3.3.22.
Sometimes the silliest of mistakes can result in the sweetest of coincidences.
Shahid Davis had ordered dinner from the Chipotle app and was checking on the map to see how far away the driver was when he realized that the driver was half a continent away. Davis had been staying at a hotel in Iowa the last time he ordered, and he forgot to go back and change the delivery address to his home in Hagerstown, Maryland. He contacted Chipotle, but the customer service person told him they couldn't do anything since it was already out for delivery.
So when the delivery person texted Davis to let him know they were there, he explained what happened.
"I'm here with your order," the person texted.
"Take it with you bro and enjoy the lunch," Davis responded. "I forgot to change my address and I currently in Maryland."
"Umm…okay thhanks," the person responded.
But then a short while later they sent another message that made Davis' sharing of the story go viral.
"I wanted to thank you again," they wrote. "It's my brother's birthday today and he is laid to rest not far from where you had me take this delivery. I'm having lunch with him today because of you. You have no idea how much that means to me. I truly appreciate it."
Well shoot. Someone pass the tissues, please.
Davis told Upworthy that he was really happy to receive the message. "[I] felt like I made an impact in his life even though I don't know the person's name or anything about them. But it doesn't matter at the end because I did something to help brighten his day up!"
"I think we humans all have a kind soul inside, we just have to push out the negativity and push out kindness," Davis added. "Only we can make the world a better place."
Davis' Facebook story has been shared more than 100,000 times since he posted it on Sunday, and people in the comments celebrated the unexpected human connection.
"That's wassup!!" wrote one commenter. "The universe always repays, good or bad. When your reward comes, you will know exactly why. Spread love, we all need it right now. Thank you."
"Dude that’s simply amazing," wrote another. "Just proves that you never know what someone is dealing with and how a kind gesture may impact their life."
"That's awesome, you definitely made his day," wrote another. "I'm saying this as a mom who lost her baby and eats lunches with my baby occasionally this would make my day too."
Truly, we are all connected in ways we can't always see, so it's lovely when something like this happens to show us how true it is.
"THIS is the face of domestic violence."
This article originally appeared on 12.16.19
If you were to look at Megan Montgomery's Instagram account, you'd see a beautiful, smiling woman in the prime of her life, her youth and fitness the envy of women the world over. You'd even see some photos of her with her husband (#datenight), with comments saying things like "Aww, gorgeous couple!"
But beneath her picture perfect feed was the story of a woman in an abusive relationship with her husband—one that would start with his arrest shortly after they got married, and end 10 months later with him shooting her to death in a parking lot.
In a Facebook post, one of the people who was out with Megan the night of her murder detailed how her estranged husband had come to their table, put his hand on her neck and shoulder, and escorted her out of the building.
She went with him willingly, but anyone familiar with abusive relationships knows that "willingly" is a subjective term. He had reportedly threatened mass violence before. Perhaps she was trying to protect the people she was with. Perhaps staying felt more dangerous to her than going with him.
The couple reportedly had a volatile relationship from the start, and at one point both had restraining orders against the other. Regardless, she was killed by the man who had claimed to love her, an ex-cop who had been arrested for domestic violence and had bailed out multiple times prior to that evening.
Feminist News wrote the gist of Megan's story on Facebook, sharing photos from the couple's wedding to illustrate how invisible domestic violence can be to those outside of it. "THIS is the face of domestic violence," they wrote.
But what was perhaps most striking about the post was the deluge of comments from women describing their own experiences with domestic violence. Comment after comment explaining how a partner always made them think the abuse was their fault, how restraining orders were repeatedly violated, how they were charmed and loved into questioning whether the verbal abuse or physical violence was really that bad. Story after story of how they didn't see it coming, how slowly and insidiously it escalated, how terrifying it was to try to leave.
Those of us who have not been in abusive relationships don't always understand why people don't leave them. But the dynamics of abuse—the emotional manipulation, the gaslighting, the self-esteem destruction, the fear and shame—are well documented.
Unfortunately, those dynamics can prove deadly. Domestic violence murders have been on the rise in recent years, going up 19% between 2014 and 2017. And sadly, our justice system does not protect domestic violence survivors as well as it should.
Part of the challenge of prosecuting in domestic violence cases is that victims are not always willing to cooperate, either out of fear or shame or embarrassment, or unhealthy loyalty. According to some estimates, domestic violence victims recant their testimony up to 70% of the time. That's why some are pushing for evidence-based prosecution without requiring victim testimony, much like we try murder cases.
But some, like University of Maryland law professor Leah Goodmark, argue that pushing for more law enforcement hasn't proven to reduce domestic violence rates. Addressing issues of poverty, childhood trauma, attitudes toward gender equality, and other risk factors for domestic violence may be more effective by stopping violence before it starts.
While abuse happens to both men and women, women are more likely to be victims and much more likely to be murdered by a partner. Thankfully, there are many resources for domestic violence survivors to seek help, whether you're trying to determine if your relationship is abusive or trying to figure out if, when, and how to leave. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (www.thehotline.org or call 1−800−799−7233) has a wealth of information on domestic violence and what to do about it. The website even has a live chat where you can get your questions answered and receive assistance making a safety plan for you and your family.
If you are afraid of your partner or other loved one, there's something wrong. No one should live in fear of the people who are supposed to love them the most.