Why a photo of a little boy inspired this mom to turn her town into a refugee sanctuary.

She's changing minds by keeping the issue a conversation rather than a debate.

Mary Poole was breastfeeding her 9-month-old son when she was horrorstruck by the image of this refugee boy:

The body of Alan Kurdi being taken out of the ocean. All photos provided by Starbucks.

The boy was 3-year-old Alan Kurdi. In the summer of 2015, he drowned along with his mother and brother as they were attempting to escape war-torn Syria.


While holding her own son in her arms, the image was too much for Poole to bear. It simply broke her heart.

That was the moment she became compelled to do something in her town of Missoula, Montana for these fleeing families looking for solace and safety.

In 2016, Poole started Soft Landing — a nonprofit designed to help welcome refugees and integrate them into the community.

Missoulians arguing over Soft Landing's refugee plans.

Its beginnings, however, were more than a little bumpy.

Despite there being a number of compassionate Montanans willing to welcome refugees with open arms, many others remained skeptical. And they weren't alone.

Montana was one of only two states that didn't participate in the refugee resettlement. The news and unjustified alarmism on social media platforms planted fear of the "unknown immigrant" into the minds of many Montanans. Needless to say, that fear wasn't easy to dislodge.

But that didn't stop Poole. She was determined to find a way to broach the subject.

Mary talking to her neighbors at a town meeting.

"I don’t think anyone here is the 'racist,' 'bigot,' 'hater' that people are getting called," said Poole to members of her community at a town meeting.

Her patience and compassion eventually made many of the less supportive citizens more receptive to her mission.

"It never became about convincing anyone to wholeheartedly agree that I was right and they were wrong," says Poole.

Poole talking with a neighbor about the refugee issue in Missoula.

It was simply about showing the people who were distrustful of her mission that refugees aren't looking for anything other than sanctuary.

She regularly sits down and has conversations with Montanans who are feeling uneasy about the refugee resettlements. She listens to their concerns and offers any advice she can. Often just being heard is enough to put folks at ease. Even if they're still on the fence about refugees in general, they become more receptive to Poole's initiative.

“The only thing that I can hope is that when you meet that [refugee] family you can say, ‘Gosh, they’re pretty normal folks,’” said Poole to her neighbors.

One such family that Soft Landing helped bring into Missoula were the Abdullahs from Syria.

Poole meeting with the Abdullahs.

Like so many others, the Abdullah family had to leave their home due to escalating conflict.

“Life became horrific, not only difficult," explains husband and father Jaber Abdullah. "We were all forced to leave. Nobody chose to leave.”

Thanks to the 200 Soft Landing volunteers, however, the Abdullahs have received a warm welcome and are adjusting nicely to life in Missoula.

Poole with a little refugee boy.

The Soft Landing volunteers teach classes, set up apartments, manage in-kind donations, and a number of other things that help refugees, like the Abdullahs, acclimate to their new environment. And so far they've welcomed more than 120 refugees from Eritrea, Congo, Iraq, and Syria.

But it's not just about supporting the refugees — it's about supporting Missoulians who are still on the fence about this whole mission.

The conversation to keep pushing the refugee agenda forward is challenging and ongoing, but for Poole, it's more than worth it.

Refugees playing soccer in Missoula in honor of World Refugee Day.

Especially when it leads to softening views and more receptive neighbors.

"I’ve sat down with people who’ve told me to my face, ‘I will never agree with you, but I’ll be the first to extend a hand when someone gets here,’” says Poole.

With an issue that's as contentious as the refugee crisis, that's more than half the battle.

Learn more about Poole's work here:

Upstanders: From War to Montana

She had never met a refugee, but she mobilized her community to welcome dozens of them.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, November 2, 2017
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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