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Culture & Society

Culture & Society

From badass educators to solving homelessness, we cover the people and ideas changing the world in Culture and Society. We believe that together, we can push the human race forward, one remarkable story at a time.

Culture & Society

Catalysts
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
Catalysts
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
Working Bikes has spent nearly two decades rescuing bicycles from the waste cycle to give people purpose, access to jobs, and independence.
By B. David Zarley
October 3, 2019

Working Bikes has spent nearly two decades rescuing bicycles from the waste cycle to give people purpose, access to jobs, and independence.

Social Change
The Guardian Angel for Separated Families
The Guardian Angel for Separated Families
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Social Change
The Guardian Angel for Separated Families
What happens to children of immigrants when their parents are deported out of the United States? This woman is stepping in, and is now the legal guardian of 1500 immigrant children. Watch now to see the incredible efforts of Nora Sandigo.
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October 1, 2019

What happens to children of immigrants when their parents are deported out of the United States? This woman is stepping in, and is now the legal guardian of 1500 immigrant children. Watch now to see the incredible efforts of Nora Sandigo.

Catalysts
This Social Enterprise is Cleaning Up Chicago One Street at a Time
Transitional employment
Catalysts
This Social Enterprise is Cleaning Up Chicago One Street at a Time
This nonprofit is not only polishing the streets of Chicago, but providing a "clean slate" for its interns. Those with a criminal background, dealing with addiction recovery, or domestic violence, are welcome to take part in job training and counseling.
By B. David Zarley
September 30, 2019

It's a muggy Wednesday morning in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, the temperature and humidity rising before the sun. Lena, decked out in her eye-catching slate shirt and chartreuse vest, leans slightly out into the busy rush-hour traffic, sweeping litter (wrappers, cups, lots of cigarette butts) from the gutter into her dustpan. On the sidewalk, she empties her collection into a cart. As she moves down the street, cleaning curbs, sidewalks,…

Global Impact
In the Midst of a Crisis, Venezuelans Are Training Self-Driving Cars
In the Midst of a Crisis, Venezuelans Are Training Self-Driving Cars
Global Impact
In the Midst of a Crisis, Venezuelans Are Training Self-Driving Cars
Hundreds of thousands of formerly middle class Venezuelans, thrown into poverty by economic collapse, are now sitting at computers as they help train self-driving cars to identify and avoid obstacles.
By B. David Zarley
September 27, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of formerly middle class Venezuelans, thrown into poverty by economic collapse, are now sitting at computers as they help train self-driving cars to identify and avoid obstacles.

Crossing Borders
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
Crossing Borders
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
If all goes to plan, six robotic sculptures will arc across the border dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in the fall of 2020.
By B. David Zarley
September 23, 2019

If all goes to plan, six robotic sculptures will arc across the border dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in the fall of 2020.

CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded after a…
By Teresa Carey
September 20, 2019

Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded after a perilous journey at sea, they exemplify the risk that refugees are willing to take in search of a better life. Men, women, and children arrive at Lesbos by the hundreds — sometimes, as many as 500 in one day. Many come across the Mediterranean, where war or other factors threaten…

Favorites in Culture & Society

Relentless
The Tattooed, Skater Principal Making Education Fun Again
The Tattooed, Skater Principal Making Education Fun Again
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Relentless
The Tattooed, Skater Principal Making Education Fun Again
The Tattooed, Skater Principal Making Education Fun Again
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October 24, 2017

To hear Hamish Brewer speak is to be inspired. About education. About life. About the possibilities of it all. And for disadvantaged youths that come from poverty and broken homes, the New Zealander with an infectious energy works hard to encourage them to excel, not only in school, but in life. About Hamish Brewer With a shaved head, tattoos, and one of those loud, larger-than-life personalities, Hamish Brewer is hard…

Wrong
Did the Food Pyramid Make Us Fat?
Did the Food Pyramid Make Us Fat?
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Wrong
Did the Food Pyramid Make Us Fat?
To address rising health problems in the 1980s, scientists and policymakers developed the US Food Pyramid to encourage healthy eating.…
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November 9, 2017

To address rising health problems in the 1980s, scientists and policymakers developed the US Food Pyramid to encourage healthy eating. But despite a massive public education campaign, obesity and diabetes continued to rise. What happened? How did we get it so… wrong?

Steven Pinker Makes the Case for Optimism
Steven Pinker Makes the Case for Optimism
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Steven Pinker Makes the Case for Optimism
Are things really worse than ever, or are we missing the bigger picture?
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October 30, 2018

Author and Harvard professor Steven Pinker lays out what he see as a basic paradox. The news today seems worse than ever - but based on a number of key metrics, Pinker argues the world is better than it’s ever been. Pinker explores the data and makes the case for how can we tackle the world’s problems while not drowning in negativity. That’s the focus of his latest book, Enlightenment…

What It Takes
The Snake Milk King
The Snake Milk King
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What It Takes
The Snake Milk King
Enter the Kentucky Reptile Zoo—one of the largest collections of venomous reptiles in the world—and meet Jim Harrison, the man that spent his 42-year career milking King Cobras for anti-venom and saving lives across the globe. What drives a man like this to risk his life each and every day?
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June 20, 2019

Enter the Kentucky Reptile Zoo—one of the largest collections of venomous reptiles in the world—and meet Jim Harrison, the man that spent his 42-year career milking King Cobras for anti-venom and saving lives across the globe. He’s a former cop, bounty hunter, and professional kickboxer - but for decades now his main focus has been extracting venom from snakes, or “snake milking.” He and his wife, Kristen Wiley, run the…

Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
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Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Blistering speed. Big money. 11-year-old world champions. Is drone racing the next big sport?
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May 25, 2019

Yes, drone racers are a thing and they’re amazing. The Drone Racing League has gone from a dream to ESPN in a few short years. We met world champion Paul Nurkalla, aka Nurk FPV, and got an inside look at how the DRL is striving to be the next big sports league. Somewhere between esports, NASCAR and Star Wars sits drone racing, also known as FPV racing. It’s a breathtakingly…

Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong
The Joy of Being Wrong
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Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong
Can practicing intellectual humility make us smarter and happier? Science says yes.
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May 6, 2019

Arguments on social media are notorious. People often naturally form an echo chamber of people with similar beliefs, and when people outside it start arguments, the discussion often becomes antagonistic. Is there a better way? Science suggests that a good starting point is by practicing intellectual humility. By admitting the possibility that we ourselves could be wrong, we’re able to better evaluate arguments and construct more robust belief systems. Studies…

#fixingjustice - Re-entry
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
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#fixingjustice - Re-entry
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
When a prisoner serving a life sentence is suddenly found to be innocent, it often makes national news. But what happens after the cameras go away?
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April 18, 2019

There are around 2,200 exonerees in the U.S.—people who were convicted of a crime and then later proven innocent by their own doggedness or new evidence in a case. When they are freed from prison, their lives are often saddled by the same issues that hold back people who actually committed a crime—lack of education, no job skills or employment history, and the stigma of having spent years in prison.…

#fixingjustice - Policing
Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
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#fixingjustice - Policing
Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
Police departments around the country are increasingly looking at community policing programs as a tool to help reestablish trust in the communities they serve.
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April 15, 2019

While community policing programs are nothing new, they fell out of popularity after a big push in the early 90s due to shifting priorities and budget crunches of the Great Recession. But with growing scrutiny of police and their often strained relationships with minority communities, police departments are increasingly looking to community policing programs to bridge the gap and rebuild trust. The Rockford Police Department (RPD) is no exception…

Cafe Momentum
This Restaurant Gives At-Risk Youth a Second Chance
This Restaurant Gives At-Risk Youth a Second Chance
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Cafe Momentum
This Restaurant Gives At-Risk Youth a Second Chance
Cafe Momentum offers an alternative to the revolving doors at Texas jails.
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November 5, 2018

Chef Chad Houser was a rising star in the Dallas restaurant scene, but after volunteering with kids in the criminal justice system, he felt a calling to do more. He gave up his job to start Cafe Momentum, a restaurant staffed by kids from the criminal justice system. They’re given year-long paid internships where they are taught the skills to succeed in restaurants and society. It’s his way of trying…

The Dad Changing How We Investigate Police Shootings
The Dad Changing How We Investigate Police Shootings
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The Dad Changing How We Investigate Police Shootings
After his son was killed by police, Michael Bell fought for over a decade to change how we investigate police shootings.
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October 11, 2018

For over a decade, ever since police killed his son, Michael Bell has been trying to get an independent investigation into the shooting — and he's fighting to make sure that every family is entitled to one, whenever police use lethal force. In November 2004, his son, Michael Bell, Jr., was pulled over in front of his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for an alleged traffic violation. Although a dashcam video…

Crossing The Divide
LGBT Rights: The Power of a Single Conversation
LGBT Rights: The Power of a Single Conversation
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Crossing The Divide
LGBT Rights: The Power of a Single Conversation
Why a gay rights activist started a movement to talk to thousands who voted against gay marriage.
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June 12, 2017

After Californians voted against gay marriage in 2008, Dave Fleischer, head of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, knew he had to do something different to reach people. Dave and his team embarked on an ambitious task to talk to as many people who who disagreed with them as they could. They used a technique called “deep canvassing” where activists connect with people using personal stories to…