Andy Warhol Foundation Expands Grant Program to Cleveland and Denver

For budding artists and their communities, getting a foot in the door can be difficult. There is no set and defined pathway for an artist to become successful and until artists figure out how to monetize their work, money can often be a barrier to entry for artists who haven’t yet had their first commission or big sale. Fortunately for Cleveland and Denver area baristas with dreams of making it in the art world, the Andy Warhol Foundation is expanding their grant writing program to their cities!

Artists and art communities in the Cleveland and Denver area now have the opportunity to apply for grants provided by the Andy Warhol foundation for the Visual Arts. The foundation’s regranting program has a reputation for focusing on small artists and collectives that may otherwise fall under the radar.

There are currently twelve of these programs, located in Albuquerque, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Portland, and now thanks to the recent expansion, Cleveland and Denver too.

Grants are available for as much as $10,000. These grants help small artists and communities who might otherwise be unable to complete their projects. An example of this is the, “A Color Removed” project. It focuses on removing the color orange from Cleveland. While this may not make sense to the average person, it is really a conversation about deconstructing symbols (orange is a symbol for safety) and coming up with new ways to make a safer city.

The grants have also helped small art communities pay rent, purchase supplies, throw gallery events, put down new sidewalks, grant wheelchair access, and much more. These grants are vital to artists who might not be focused on the high profile, attention getting exhibits that most grants tend to favor.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts plans to distribute $1.4 million to various programs. Most of the money will go towards grants, but a significant amount will also go to the programs doing the regranting, in order to pay for overhead and general outreach.

The Regional Regranting Program has been around a surprisingly long time. The program has been ongoing since 2007, and has so far delivered over 6.4 million dollars to various organizations. $3.6 million of this provided direct support to as many as 848 artist projects.

The money has brought attention to many small scale artists, and put a spotlight on topics as unique as the opioid epidemic among commercial fishermen, topics that might never have been noticed without these art projects to draw attention to them.

Joel Wachs, president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, had this to say about the project, “Informal experimental artistic practice comprises the majority of visual arts activity in this country, yet is often overlooked and lacks existing mechanisms for funding, which tend to favor high profile exhibitions at large institutions. We are confident that the expansion of the program and the reinstatement of The Grit Fund will introduce many new innovative and public-facing artist projects into the grassroots arts communities of Baltimore, Cleveland, and Denver.”

Thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts artists in the Cleveland and Denver area can now begin to imagine the possibilities of increasing the scale of their work as well as take advantage of an opportunity to sustain the work that they have already been doing. Either way, the program is guaranteed to further its positive impact with this planned expansion.

You can learn more about the Andy Warhol Foundation here.

RideAustin: The Nonprofit Rideshare App That Gives Back

Rideshare programs are popping up all over America, allowing drivers to make some extra cash from their vehicle, and giving passengers a new option for travel. These companies are both international, national, and regional. RideAustin is one such company. Based in Austin, Texas, allows Austinites to choose from background checked drivers, and even female drivers if they also happen to be female. It is a popular app unique to the area.

Where companies like Uber and Lyft entered the Austin market with company standards that did not meet those of the city of Austin's, RideAustin is a non-profit organization that was created due to Lyft and Uber choosing to leave the area. Lyft and Uber did not want to have to fingerprint their drivers, a piece of legislation local to the area that was passed when the concept of ridesharing was just getting started. The sudden loss of rideshare programs left a transportation gulf for both riders and drivers alike. Over 10,000 people who used the services were left without any way to get rides. RideAustin became the solution in the wake of Lyft and Uber leaving.

Now those who prefer to grab a ride through the rideshare program have another reason to choose RideAustin. Riders can choose to round up their fare to the nearest dollar, with the money benefiting the charity of their choice every time they ride.

Source:  RideAustin

Source: RideAustin

The charities available to choose from include options from Central Texas Food Bank, who's "mission is to nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger," to the Texas Autism Society, which "is the nation's leading grassroots autism organization working to increase public awareness for those with Autism, advocate for appropriate services and provide information on treatment, research, and education."

In total, RideAustin has been able to donate over $250,000 just through the few extra pennies collected by charitable riders every time they ride. 

The company was a totally collaborative effort- built by the community, for the community. The app itself was donated by the tech field, and over 7 million dollars raised by the community and through various grants in order to bring it into existence. Because this rideshare non-profit was created with the community in mind, the Charity RoundUp option was built directly into the company, so riders could start offering a few extra cents to charity from the very beginning.

RideAustin also has several other community based projects in the works that also aim to aid those most in need in Austin. In a collaboration with the CCC (Community Care Collaborative) and the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas, RideAustin will pick patients up and help them get to their important medical appointments for free.


Even though Uber and Lyft are now returning to the area after the fingerprinting legislation was over turned, but they may not find the area as welcoming as it used to be. Not only do people fall into habits, but Austinites love their local app, and with other companies such as Fare having moved into the area as well since Uber and Lyft left, there may not be as many drivers or riders available for these companies. Especially since neither of those larger rideshare companies offer the ability to give back while getting where you need to go.

RiseAustin was born out of necessity, but has grown into something that the big rideshare companies could learn from. Uber and Lyft are often discredited for not taking their impact on the markets that they operate in into account, with Uber taking the majority of that criticism. Since RideAustin was made for the community that it serves, by the community that it serves- while also giving riders the opportunity to give back to that same community, RideAustin has become a model company that, while familiar to those in Austin, should be taken note of across the rideshare economy.

You can learn more about RideAustin on their website.

Pride Month: A Look at the History of the LGBTQ Community

Rainbow flags flap in the breeze, a huge crowd of celebrators milling about underneath them. It's a typical weekend in June, and Pride events are in full swing around the globe. The people who come to celebrate have one thing in common with each other. They are either in, or supportive of, the LGBT community.

If you're not familiar with the term, LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. It is used to describe any person whose sexuality falls outside what most people consider to be norm. These events are festive and unique now, but their past is commemorative of a darker time in the community's history. June is considered Pride month in memory of the Stonewall Riots that took place that month in 1969. 

50 years ago, the world had a very different view of homosexuals. Lesbians, Gays, and others in the community were treated very poorly by the rest of the world. There were very few places that homosexuals could mingle without being attacked for their orientation. Most bars and clubs outright refused same sex couples. The only safe places to meet were at specific bars, which were regularly raided by the police. People were arrested, and the bar fined on a regular basis. When a police department raided yet another gay club, called the Stonewall Inn, it resulted in gay people rioting instead of just another crack down. The riots were violent, and spread much farther than the area just outside the Stonewall Inn. Riots started all over the map, in protest to the treatment of the LGBTQ community by police, and other people. 

When the violence died down, that might have been the end of it if it hadn't been for a bisexual woman named Brenda Howard. She organized the very first Pride Parade, The Christopher Street Liberation Day March. A year later, she organized another march on the anniversary of the first one. It was the very beginning of Pride Month, and a wonderful way to turn a violent and stormy start into a productive new beginning.

Source:  CNN

Source: CNN

Today, Pride Month draws attention to the inequality still present in today's modern society. Currently 74 countries completely outlaw LGBTQ relationships, and it is punishable by death in 12 of them. Even inside of some of the most developed countries in the world, homophobia can prevent members of the LGBTQ community from getting good jobs, or in some cases, even getting the medical treatment they need.

Many LGBTQ people find themselves harassed, or their medical claims denied, simply for their sexual orientation. In a situation such as HIV or AIDS, the denial of vital medications isn't just annoying or inconvenient, it can mean the death of the patient. Unfortunately, this kind of inequity is still going on today, inside the US.

Transgenders suffer in particular from doctors who refuse to treat them because of their chosen gender, or worse, wind up sexually assaulted  during their attempts to get health care. Fear of discrimination can prevent the LGBTQ community from attempting to get health care at all, which can wind up deadly if the condition they are seeking treatment for is serious.

Source:  CNN

Source: CNN

These issues are woven into the very fabric of nearly every nation. Events such as pride parades and festivals not only give people in the LGBTQ community a chance to express themselves in a safe atmosphere, they draw much needed attention to the neglect and abuse of the community as a whole.

Thankfully, events like these have already come a long way to helping the community gain equal footing with other sexual orientations. In 2016, the United States federal government ruled it unconstitutional to refuse same sex marriages, making it legal in all 50 states. Before this time, same sex marriages were up to the individual states, putting marriage out of reach for many long term partners. That same year, then President Obama declared Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement officially began, a national monument. 

Currently, gay marriage is only legal in 26 countries, and legalization only started 18 years ago, with the Netherlands in 2000. Australia is the most recent country to do so in 2017. Compared to the huge number of countries in the world, the privilege of being able to marry whom you love is relatively rare around the globe.

There is still a long way to go before the LGBTQ community can truly be equal with traditional partnerships. Progress is fragile, and can go backwards as easily as it goes forward. President Trump recently endorsed a recommendation that would ban transgenders severing openly in the military. This in stark contrast to President Obama, who repealed the original ban. 

Currently, President Trumps ban is not in effect due to court challenges, but illustrates the issues of today very well. Without continuing the fight and keeping gay rights in the forefront of everyone's mind, these issues will continue to plague the LGBTQ community.

Despite the challenges they face every day, the LGBTQ community is still alive and strong, and these festivals are a testament to progress. While a parade or festival may seem like an odd way to bring a bout social justice, it helps bring important light to what is going on in the community. It gives people a chance to think about why it is okay for one NFL player to kiss his girlfriend on television—but not okay for another to kiss his boyfriend in the same fashion.

These festivals give people of the LGBTQ community a chance to show themselves safely, and to give people a chance to see they are very real and very normal. With more support being gained through these festivals, they can change the world, and make it better for everyone, one rainbow flag at a time.

California Now Requires Solar Roofing on All New Housing

The California Energy Commission voted in a unanimous 5-0 vote on Wednesday to change energy efficiency standards on newly constructed homes. These new standards will require all new homes to have solar panels installed on them, effective January 2020. It is a huge step for California, which is already a leader in green energy, and has been praised as a giant step in California's efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.

These new requirements may increase the prices on new homes in an already pricey market, but should save new home buyers overall. The new requirements are projected to cost new home buyers an extra $40 a month on their mortgage payment, but save them double that in energy costs. This means an overall benefit to home buyers, if they can handle the initial purchase or rental of solar panels.

Adding solar panels to all new homes, and all condominiums and apartments three stories or smaller, is not just a step towards efficiency, but also California's ambitious climate change goals. In 2017, state legislation was passed requiring California to cut its greenhouse emissions as much as 40% by 2030. This ambitious goal will be greatly helped by the new requirements.


The requirements received remarkably little opposition from the building industry group which was present during the vote. The change has been expected from them for a long time, and their only negative comment was that they wished for a longer time to implement the new regulations. When asked for their opinions, the vast majority of builders and their representatives expressed their support for the new regulations.

The lack of protest most likely stems from the affordability of solar panels in California. Right now it is so cost effective compared to traditional electric, over 15,000 home owners choose solar panels as an option for their new homes anyway. As it is, California now produces so much wind and solar panel, they often have to cease production or give away energy to other states to avoid overloading the grid. Some people are concerned that requiring solar on every new home will strain the grid farther, but others see the choice as simply turning solar into an appliance rather than a utility.

Only time will tell whether or not California's efforts will be successful or not. If the new requirements end up being a boon to the economy as many people predict, California's new building requirements will serve as a model for other states to follow. Should it fail or have other problems, other states will see it and think carefully before proceeding down the same path.

Most Californian's seem to agree with the new requirements, and are happy to embrace these changes, but they still have another trial ahead of them. In order to become permanent, they need to get a final approval from California’s Building Standards Commission. It is expected to be up for review in November, and is expected to be approved and adopted into the state's building codes.

How to Be More Gracious

The word “Gracious” is not one we hear too often anymore. Yet today this word still conjures images of a person we'd like to have in our lives. Adding a touch of graciousness to ourselves is a great way to benefit both yourself and the community, and it is something that you can do without any special training or skill. Here are three amazing ways you can show graciousness in your day to day life.


Show forgiveness to others

In today's world, forgiving others almost feels like a taboo. We live in an elitist culture, and social media as well as our work culture has driven us to feel the need to strive for perfection. This has touched every aspect of our lives, from parenting to pets. 

Our friends, family and co-workers make mistakes from time to time, just as we do. Chiding your coworker for being late (especially without hearing the circumstances as to why they were late), correcting their parenting style on a Facebook photo, or making someone feel like a bad dog owner for feeding the wrong foods are all things we do without thinking of it.

Instead, consider a more forgiving attitude. Understanding that people make mistakes and not embarrassing them over it is a salve on the spirit that they will remember long after the moment has passed.


Be a little more thoughtful

Maya Angelou once said, “They may forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.” When ever you interact with someone, you are leaving behind a memory of how you made another person feel.

Fortunately, you don't need to be over the top to show thoughtfulness in your day to day life. It can be as simple as smiling at the doorman, and saying hello. It can be sending flowers or a hot meal to someone who has lost a loved one. It can be making sure your co-worker gets off 15 minutes early so he can go pick up his kid, or washing your kids favorite Minecraft shirt so he can wear it again.

Thoughtfulness is a wonderful way to help develop graciousness in your life.


Show gratitude for what others do for you

While we aren't supposed to expect a spotlight on the kind things we do in life, it can feel like we are invisible when no one ever thanks you for a task done well. Remembering to thank the store clerk for helping you find whole wheat pasta, or a co-worker who saved you from having to speak to a chatty client for an extra 30 minutes, remembering to thank a person for what they've done can be the highlight of their day. Being thankful also helps others to know that you notice their actions, and appreciate them.

There are dozens of other ways to show graciousness, but these three skills are foundation skills in graciousness. Through adding these skills into your day to day life, you can help the world to become a better place, and make more people smile when they see your face.

A to Z: The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization, abbreviated WHO, is often thought of as the authority on all matters related to human health on an international level. This broad definition isn’t inaccurate. As an agency of the United Nations, the WHO has a far-reaching effect on the world’s health. Their primary focus is improving the general health and wellness of the population of the world by identifying and tackling issues and problems such as: disease, hygiene, aging, nutrition and food security, sexual health, occupational health, substance abuse, and more.

What is the WHO?

Every year on the 7th of April, World Health Day is celebrated. This day marks the signing of the WHO’s constitution by 61 countries in 1948. These countries came together to declare their goals of working to make the world a safer and healthier place for all who inhabit it.

The predecessor of the WHO was the International Sanitary Conferences which began in 1851. Their main focus was fighting off the numerous diseases that plagued people in different parts of the world. At the time, their biggest challenges were diseases like cholera, yellow fever, and the infamous bubonic plague. While the powers behind the International Sanitary Conferences were on the right track and had a noble goal ahead of them, it took over a decade before their efforts would see measurable progress. Their successes led to the development of two organizations that would work to oversee public health: the Pan-American Sanitary Bureau and its French counterpart, the Office International d’Hygiene Publique. 

These two organizations would continue the work of the International Sanitary Conferences until the end of World War I, when the League of Nations was formed. The League of Nations created an organization of their own called the Health Organization of the League of Nations. This was the direct precursor to the international governing body that the world knows today, the United Nations. After the resolution of the Second World War came to pass, the United Nations would be formed and would take over the services and missions of all related health organizations. This new UN organization would be called the World Health Organization.

Source: Vardel Institutet

Source: Vardel Institutet

Interestingly, achieving the creation of such an organization wasn’t an easy task. The 1945 UN conference found itself in conflict when delegates from China, Norway, and Brazil worked to pass a resolution that would form a branch of the UN that was dedicated to international health. At the advice of the Secretary General of the 1945 conference, the triad of delegates decided to take another route and declare that a conference be had with the sole purpose of forming an international health organization.

It was at this conference that the respected delegates around the table decided to nix the word “international” in favor of “world”. They decided that if they were going to have an organization tasked with something as vital and delicate as human health, it needed to be emphasized that it was an organization focused on the global nature of the problems at hand. In agreement, all current UN members (which encompassed 51 countries) signed the constitution of such an organization, as well as 10 other non-member countries who wanted to take part. Their constitution stated their objective as being “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health.”

By 1948, the WHO would have its first assembly. The assembly brought forth a budget, a governing body, and its very first objectives. Their tasks set before them were the controlling of the ever-spreading malaria, tuberculosis, and getting sexually transmitted infections under control. They also were focused on reproductive health and reducing infant mortality rates and helping to make general improvements to the world’s nutrition and hygiene issues. 

Currently there are over 7000 people employed in the service of the World Health Organization. These people originate from over 150 different countries, territories, and areas and work in any number of service centers throughout the world. It’s staffed by scientists, epidemiologists, specialists in public health, medical doctors, health statisticians, economists, emergency relief experts, and numerous administrative and managerial staff. The WHO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and headed by Director-General Tedros Adhanom.


What is the WHO’s role in the world?

The WHO’s constitution defines its objectives and functions as: 

(a) to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work (b) to establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate (c) to assist Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services (d) to furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid upon the request or acceptance of Governments (e) to provide or assist in providing, upon the request of the United Nations, health services and facilities to special groups, such as the peoples of trust territories (f) to establish and maintain such administrative and technical services as may be required, including epidemiological and statistical services (g) to stimulate and advance work to eradicate epidemic, endemic and other diseases (h) to promote, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, the prevention of accidental injuries (i) to promote, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, the improvement of nutrition, housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene (j) to promote co-operation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to the advancement of health (k) to propose conventions, agreements and regulations, and make recommendations with respect to international health matters and to perform.

Source: AMUN

Source: AMUN

In 2012, it clarified and revised its role to include: “providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed; shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation, and dissemination of valuable knowledge; setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation; articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options; providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.”

The WHO is under constant reform. As times change, the current health concerns, diseases, and issues change along with them. Because of this, the WHO has taken up practice in being self-critical to ensure that they’re always equipped for new challenges and ready to confront persistent and emerging threats to public health. The WHO has clear objectives and a well-defined role in the world, but they’ve recognized the need for that role to be ever-capable and flexible so that they can adequately respond to an environment that is in constant flux.


What does the WHO do specifically?

The WHO tackles world problems pertaining to health in a series of campaigns. At any one time, there are dozens of campaigns in action; each with their specific focus. These campaign focuses get quite specific to regions and particular issues, but overall, they’re divided into larger priority areas. These priority areas include:

  • Communicable Diseases

Some prominent campaigns in this category are the combatting of HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio, and tuberculosis, but this category encompasses any such diseases that are passed from person to person. Some campaigns focus on eradication, where a disease is fought until it ceases to exist anywhere in the world, while some are more dialed back and are focused on control so that the disease’s effects are lessened and aren’t as wide-reaching.

For example, the WHO had a prominent campaign in the 1970s to eradicate malaria. The eradication of malaria was such a massive, ambitious task that the campaign objective switched from eradication to control. Controlling malaria involved tasks such as: reporting and tracking malaria outbreaks and cases, discovery and delivery of vaccines and antimalarial treatments, spread prevention by mosquito population culling, and prevention education and protection.

While eradication is obviously the preferred action, often times the budget, manpower, and current science and technology aren’t enough to tackle such goals. However, the WHO’s shift to control over eradication in some campaigns contributes to massive declines in victims of communicable diseases and more successful treatments for those who have been exposed. In the case of Polio, the WHO’s campaigns have resulted in 99% reduction in overall polio cases, countries that are entirely eradiated of polio, an effective vaccine, and the WHO provides continuous efforts to ensure that the disease never re-emerges.

Source:  UN Brussels

Source: UN Brussels

  • Non-communicable Diseases

This area focuses on preventing and reducing diseases, disabilities, and premature deaths from conditions that aren’t spread from person to person. This includes “chronic non-communicable diseases, mental disorders, violence and injuries, and visual impairment”.

  • Environmental Health

A 2010 WHO report stated that there are an estimated 12.6 million people who died due to factors related to an unhealthy working and/or living environment in that year alone. That’s nearly 25% of total deaths worldwide. These factors include environmental risk factors such as pollution, exposure to chemicals, UV radiation, climate change, and more.

  • Life Course

This area focuses on risk factors and health issues that occur over one’s normal life and in one’s chosen lifestyle. It includes pregnancy and childbirth, sexual health, healthy aging, and encourages healthful living through proper eating and regular activity as well as discourages easily preventable risk factors for health conditions like the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

  • Trauma & Surgery

Thanks to the WHO, there are trauma and surgery initiatives that outline necessities of emergency and surgical care so that such instances can be safer for the patient and the staff alike. The WHO also examines common causes of injuries and trauma such as traffic-related accidents.

  • Emergency Work

This encompasses the assessment and intervention in natural and man-made emergencies in order to prevent as much loss of life as possible, prevent the spread and effects of disease and disability, and to help restore the area back to a regular livable state.

  • Health Policy & Public Health

Source:  UN Lao

Source: UN Lao

The WHO helps governments address their unique social, economic, and regional health issues and threats to public health through policy and programs designed to help alleviate these threats and active issues. The overall goal of this is to help governments promote healthier, happier populations by addressing the environment, economy, human-rights and equity status, and helping to prevent issues from arising through influencing positive change.

  • Data & Publications

The WHO is also responsible for health and well-being related data collection through worldwide surveys and studies. This data is collected, analyzed, used accordingly, and published for public consumption and education. They also assess current global health issues and publish news and information about them in the regular publication, World Health Report.


What difference has the WHO made in the world?

Some notable achievements include:

The promotion of women’s rights-

Source:  WHO

Source: WHO

In 1979, the UN led a convention to take steps towards eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. 187 different countries endorsed the bill, which went on to be known as the international bill of rights for women. It was the first major way in which equality for women was recognized internationally as ensuring equal access to opportunities in “political and public life–including the right to vote and to stand for election–as well as education, health, and employment.”

The WHO/UN also held a conference in Beijing in 1995 for the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment for greater participation in society. This conference was called the World Conference on Women, and its goal was to promote gender equality and increase the roles that women could have in the world and its various sectors. The conference identified a lack of equality for women in politics, civil secrosd, the economy, and social and cultural life. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of the conference that “it has served as a road map, guiding progress for women and girls.”

The elimination of hunger and malnutrition-

World hunger is an obvious global crisis that has proven difficult and expensive to solve. While solutions have yet to find widespread success in this front, the collaborative efforts between the WHO, the European Union, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and others have worked to create billion-dollar initiatives to combat the food price crises and to help the livelihoods of almost 60 million people across 50 different countries. The initiative helped create agricultural development activities in six countries to help reduce the amount of hungry people worldwide by half.

The reduction in amounts of poverty-stricken people in rural agricultural areas-

The agricultural initiatives set forth by the WHO and collaborative organizations helps poor rural populations to find better success in growing and selling food and increasing their income through low-interest loans and grants. There are currently over 250 of such projects taking place in 97 different countries. It is estimated that these projects have assisted around 410 million people since 1978.

The combating of child mortality rates-

From 1990 to 2011, various UN agencies including the WHO set out to reduce the rates of childhood mortality and found success by reducing the mortality rate in children under five years old from 1 in every 10 children to 1 in every 18 children – almost half. Their initiatives for such a task included oral rehydration therapy, clean water measures, greater sanitation in environments, and numerous health practices that revolved around nutrition and wellness. The rates continue to steadily decline.

Source:  WHO

Source: WHO

The promotion of food safety through consumer protection-

Through policy change, the WHO has set new standards for over 300 food commodities as well as implemented new safety limits for over 3,000 known food contaminants. They’ve set regulations for the processing, transport, and storage of food products and created standards and requirements for food labeling. These practices have helped reduce misinformation and rates of contamination so that consumers can be informed and protected from harmful food products.

The reduction in the rates of drug problems worldwide-

The WHO and other UN organizations work together to combat drug abuse by tackling the problem at both ends. They work to cut off the supply and work to reduce the demand. These efforts have helped cut down rates of drug abuse and drug trafficking instances. Such projects halted a 25-year string of increases in drug abuse rates and worked to begin the decline of such rates. Currently, the main focus lays in high-risk regions for drug cultivation and trafficking such as Afghanistan, Central Asia, and West Africa.

The response to the HIV/AIDS crisis-

Efforts from the WHO and UN helped to counter an epidemic of 35.3 million people affected by HIV/AIDS and helped prevent new infections by adults and children by almost half. These efforts have also helped treat cases of HIV/AIDS and worked to prevent the infections from advancing and leading to death. AIDS-related patient deaths have decreased by over 30% as new antiretroviral treatments have been researched and developed.

The combating of terrorism and its effects-

Many don’t think “health crisis” when they think of terrorism, but the UN’s global strategy to help counter terrorism includes health issues as a result of terrorist actions. With the help of other agencies in the UN, the WHO works to send a message about the world’s tolerance of terrorism and that such acts are unacceptable. A new committee on counter-terrorism was formed and practical measures and procedures were developed to improve the response after such attacks.

The reduction and halting of SARS from turning to a worldwide epidemic-

In the early 2000s, a major global concern was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which had a massive outbreak in various countries. The WHO worked quickly to respond to the outbreak and provide various avenues of support. Swift and effective response, alerts, and travel advisories together worked to keep SARS localized and prevented it from becoming a global epidemic.

Source:  UNESCO

Source: UNESCO


The effects of the WHO can’t be quantified. There are numbers on lives saved, people treated, campaign success rates, and more; but these numbers don’t tell the whole story. They don’t encompass how education has driven prevention. They don’t tell of the inspiration passed around and the difference that feeling cared about and looked after makes. They don’t speak to the wide-reaching effects that the WHO has had on the world in a positive way. The World Health Organization is responsible for making the world a happier, safer, healthier place. Every day it takes steps towards achieving that goal. The world is a better place for it.

Image source: Flickr

Here Are 3 Ways That You Can Support Your Local Community

We all want to make the world a better place. Some of us show it in different ways, like sorting out all our recycling or having meatless Mondays to try and reduce our impact on the environment. Making the world a better place doesn't have to be about the world though, it can also be about your community.

Often small changes in our behaviors can have a huge impact on others, sometimes even saving their lives. Through helping your community, you can create a ripple effect that is seen around the world. Here are 3 amazing ways you can help your community, and start that ripple.

Shop Local

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

One of the biggest impacts you can make on the community is by choosing to shop as locally as possible. From choosing your vegetables at the farmer's market, to buying your books at the tiny used book store on the corner, you are changing lives for the better. Your money is going directly to the families in your community, and staying in the community.

That means when you buy your lettuce from Farmer Joe, you are paying for his daughter's violin lessons. If you buy it at the super market, you're paying for Big Bucks CEO to make $1200 an hour. Shopping local can make a vital difference in your community, and can have the largest reaching impact.


Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

Not everyone has time to volunteer. We have busy lives, and some of us work full time, or have children that keep our hands full all the time. If you do have some free time, volunteering can make a huge impact on some of the things you feel most passionate about. If you love animals, volunteering at a shelter can help see those strays dwindle. Understand what it is like to escape domestic abuse? Volunteering for a shelter for women or men who have been abused can help heal old wounds. Some of the rules for volunteering can be pretty demanding. If you can't promise the hours you need to or have limited time for a formal volunteer location, you can volunteer in smaller ways.

Volunteering can be as simple as shoveling and salting your elderly neighbors walk during a snow storm, or tutoring a child who otherwise couldn't afford the lesson. These things may seem small, but they can have a lasting impact on both the person you help, and the people who inspired by seeing you to pitch in.

Speak up

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

Sometimes you don't even have to do anything besides a phone call or a note to make a difference. If you see a store clerk doing something extra, let a manager know. If you see your neighbor, ask how they are doing and check in to see if they need anything. Face to face communication can make a huge impact in the world, starting with brightening a person's day.

The first step to taking care of your community is to simply care, and you're doing that just by reading this article. Get out there, and start building a better world, one step at a time.

Image source: Flickr

Amazon's Latest Competitor: The Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army has just announced a grocery brand under the name DMG Foods by inaugurating their first location in Baltimore, MD. The charity is calling it, "The Salvation Army's first nonprofit grocery store," and is planning on opening future stores in underserved communities that are sometimes referred to as "food deserts."

According to their website the store is, "Named after The Salvation Army’s branding promise of doing the most good, DMG Foods aims to expand the food availability for the community while also meeting the immediate needs of our customers." The location is 7,000 square feet, and by partnering with the Maryland Food Bank, it features some of the amenities that consumers have come to expect- like a rewards program, daily meal solutions, and cooking demonstrations. What sets this grocery store apart though is that since it is operated by The Salvation Army, profits end up going to support programs like ending human trafficking or curing diseases. The nonprofit has been operating under this model with their thrift stores, but this first test store could mark the beginning of a new way for the charity to support communities.

Source:  DMG Foods

Source: DMG Foods

Their goal of opening grocery stores in communities that currently have no access to fresh food or grocery stores is worth noting too. According to The Food Trust, "A 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 23.5 million people lack access to a supermarket within a mile of their home... And a nationwide analysis found there are 418 rural “food desert” counties where all residents live more than 10 miles from a supermarket or supercenter— this is 20 percent of rural counties." In a city, where someone might not have either a car, access to public transportation, or time to use public transportation- not having a grocery store within a mile is a huge deal, and can mean the difference between having access to fresh food and having to settle for a convenience store that doesn't have as healthy of options. Even in a rural community where cars are more abundant, 10 miles is a long stretch- especially if your car is broken down and you're running out of food.

This gap in access to fresh food takes a toll on an individuals' health, and is a problem that needs to be solved. In that same study, The Food Trust states that, "A multistate study found that people with access to only supermarkets or to supermarkets and grocery stores have the lowest rates of obesity and overweight and those without access to supermarkets have the highest rates... In Chicago and Detroit, residents who live farther from grocery stores than from convenience stores and fast food restaurants have significantly higher rates of premature death from diabetes." This means that the simple fact of not having a grocery store within access to you directly impacts your health negatively, and is something that millions of Americans deal with daily.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

This comes at a time where the online giant Amazon who bought the high end grocery store chain Whole Foods, has also recently opened a lower cost 365 brand location in New York. While Amazon seems to just trying to occupy a more competitively priced level to compete in the heavily contested grocery marketplace and DMG Foods seems to be trying to alleviate a source of food insecurity in their first test market, it will be interesting to see how these two strategies operate in relation to each other. That is to say that if Amazon continues the path that the current national grocery operators are walking on, or not serving broad swaths of the country, it's hopeful to know that a well resourced organization like the Salvation Army is now attempting to solve a long standing problem. 

The importance of healthy eating has never been more in the public consciousness than now. Michelle Obama writes on the website for her Let's Move campaign, "In the end, as First Lady, this isn't just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition." If the former First Lady says that she's that committed to solving this real problem, then that's a phenomenal asset to the cause at large.

While food deserts do exist in America's underserved communities, there has also been a groundswell in information, awareness, and advocacy on the problem. Oscar award winning documentaries about food abound, healthy eating campaigns are happening, people know what kale and quinoa are enough to make jokes about it on late night television. Legislators are beginning to ask questions and submit bills. The Salvation Army is attempting to directly alleviate the problem by opening a new store in Baltimore. These are all great strides that are happening in an effort to bring fresh food to the communities that need them the most.


Image source: Flickr

Watch: Drake Gives Away $1 Million in His "God's Plan" Video

For Drake's new music video, his label gave him a budget of $1 million. While that seems like a lot of money for a video, for an artist with the profile of Drake's, production value can begin to add up. It costs a lot to fly people in, have extensive makeup and costuming, get permits cleared- and this is all before stage design, special effects, and post production come into play.

With this in mind, in Drake's new video for "God's Plan," he eschews the over the top productions that we have come to expect from major label artists and the videos that they release, and gives away the budget for the video.

Whether Drake is aiming for a grand statement on the topic of wealth distribution or just spreaking positivity, in a time where those with the most money are gaining more and more (and at a greater pace) than their peers who make less, this is a refreshing gesture- and something that we can all gain something from.

Giving back, paying it forward, donating your time, or even just staying positive and engaging with your community is something that we can all do. Even better still, we can never do those things enough!

Thank you, Drake!

A Guide to Loving Yourself (and Others)

Uncovering the secrets to a happy and fulfilled life, not only for you but the community around you.


Living a happy and fulfilled life can be very important, although some people forget just how essential it is. If you are a happy person, many other aspects of your life simply fall into place, including good health, relationships, and even career opportunities and more. Sadly, many people struggle to love themselves and to take their life to that happy place where it deserves to be. This guide will help you uncover the many benefits you will experience if you start loving yourself, as well as giving you some amazing tips that will help you make a difference for you and others!


The first rule of happiness: understanding that you deserve it!


There is an old saying that goes like this: “You can’t really learn how to love others if you don’t learn how to love yourself first.” In other words, love and happiness can start with you! If you subconsciously don’t think that you are worthy of love and happiness, you might struggle to achieve these feelings. It is important to change your mindset, and become aware that you do deserve to be happy.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

There are many reasons why some people struggle to accept that they have the right to feel happy. Perhaps, they have committed some mistakes in the past, caused harm to others or done something that they are not proud of. At other times, they might feel trapped in a routine that makes them feel sad and unfulfilled, such as a dead-ended job or a poisonous relationship.


Regardless of the case, there is always a way out, even if it might not look that way from your perspective.


Mistakes are not a failure: they are an opportunity.


In the first case, always remember this: if you have made some mistakes or did things you aren’t proud of, awareness is the first step to right the wrongs. The fact that you understand what you did wrong and feel sad about it is a good thing: it is the first step towards changing your ways and becoming the best person you can be. Your past mistakes aren’t a sign of failure: they can be seen as an opportunity for you to get better, and become a positive influence for the people you love and for the whole community. A good example? Many people who have struggled with alcoholism, drug abuse, and other issues tend to get more involved with social causes because giving back to others make them feel happy. People who have had the opportunity to turn their own lives around are well-aware that hope is not fluff, but a real possibility. This is why they can be so committed to helping others experience the same positive change that helped them become happy and productive. This is one of the reasons why many amazing success stories come from struggles and rough beginnings.


In short, to be really happy, you need to accept your wrongs and embrace who you really are. This way, you will finally be able to give yourself the happiness you deserve and love others around you, contributing to a better world.


You are never really trapped, even if you can’t see a way out.


As mentioned earlier, many people might not manage to be happy because they aren’t satisfied with their situation. They might feel stuck in a bad job they don’t like or feel like being prisoners of a very unhealthy relationship. When people experience such situations, they often fall victim of depression and anxiety.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

These mental states are like a black hole, which seems to be able to suck all of your productive energy. When everything fades to black in your mind, it is easy to ignore the facts: most problems in life are absolutely fixable with the right attitude!


Are you not happy with your relationship? Cut it off. There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Do you hate your job? Your life could be filled with plenty of opportunities if you are determined to pursue something better. 


The best way to become happy and start loving yourself is to…kick yourself out of a dark time! Realize that most problems are really not as bad as they might originally seem, and if you take control of your own life, you are going to be happier and finally have the opportunity to live the life you want to live.


Nonetheless, change is not easy. Breaking off from a poisonous relationship can be very scary because most people are afraid of being alone. They are haunted by questions such as “What if I am never going to find someone else?”. In much the same way, people are afraid to pursue other opportunities in life, because they might believe finding another job, or a different path might be extremely difficult.


This negative mindset won’t get you anywhere. In order to love yourself, you need to be proactive.


Happiness is not something that life will hand you on a silver plate. Even with all the money in the world and the best partner in your life, happiness is not a given: you need to allow it to reach deep within your heart, mind, and soul, and finally start to shape your life as a truly positive influence.


Happiness breeds positive change.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

Being happy and loving yourself is also the next first step towards a better community, and ultimately, a better world. Loving yourself might sound like a very individualistic thing, but as explained earlier, you can’t really love others without starting from yourself first. If you embrace a positive attitude towards your own life, you will certainly be able to influence others to do the same.


You don’t need grandiose gestures to change the world. Even a little day-to-day act of kindness has the power to inspire, motivate, change and…love!


Image source: Flickr