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One Person’s Love of Street Art Changes Cleveland Forever Through Non-Profit and Advocacy Work.

Shannon Jackson

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Have you ever been walking down the street when you noticed a bit of graffiti? Graffiti is a form of art that has been ingrained into our society since it first began. With that being said, our concept of modern graffiti can probably be traced back to a young student from Philadelphia named nicknamed Cornbread, way back in 1967. Even though graffiti can be used to wreck public spaces and cause business owners serious headaches, the art can also be used for good. Stamy Paul is a citizen of Cleveland, OH, who fell in love with graffiti. Wanting to have a custom mural painted for her home, Stamy began to reach out to graffiti artists in the city. Despite having a town covered in the art, she couldn’t find anyone to take up her commission. This is what led Stamy to establish the nonprofit foundation, Graffiti HeArt.

As a fan of graffiti, Stamy wanted to create a situation where these street artists could flourish without fear of repercussions. Stamy decided to establish Graffiti HeArt in 2013 with the goal of helping to revitalize Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Stamy’s work with Graffiti HeArt has helped to put a spotlight on the hard work of talented artists in the area. The funds gained through the nonprofit are given to children from underserved communities who have had an interest in graffiti. Stamy, like many others, believes that graffiti can translate to a real-world career with a variety of similar professional tracks available. Through Graffiti HeArt, Stamy is able to give these talented artists an outlet and a road map to future opportunities. 

Along with her work on the streets, the team at Graffiti HeArt has partnered with the Cleveland Institute of Art and their pre-college program. The course lasts for two weeks and is designed around helping the aforementioned underserved artists to improve their skills while establishing a professional portfolio. Rather than simply allowing these children to get punished for their love of art, they now have a safe and legal place to practice it with a potential career just around the corner. Graffiti HeArt is also accepting of interns through their volunteer internship program. Through this program, chosen artists get the opportunity to create murals that will be promoted and elevated by the city as well as the Graffiti HeArt non-profit. One example of such a mural is the Welcome to Cleveland piece that was created by Victor Ving, an artist from Brooklyn. 

Thanks to Stamy’s continued efforts with the non-profit, more people than ever are being introduced to graffiti as a valid art form rather than a public nuisance. The kids practicing the art are being afforded new opportunities while Stamy helps the city of Cleveland to nurture and reinvigorate aspects of the urban area. All told, Stamy Paul is doing her best to bring Cleveland together through art and communal collaboration. We could always use more stories like this!

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Amazing

Too Shallow for Swimming With Sharks

Shannon Jackson

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University of Florida student Stefani Luke loved the ocean. She lived to be on the water. She was given a surfboard when she was in high school, but growing up in Ft. Lauderdale didn’t offer her much opportunity to ride any exciting waves. Going to college in Gainesville, Florida would provide her with a chance to take weekend trips to the popular beach town, St. Augustine to check out some waves. 

One stormy Tuesday, Stefani and some friends heard the news about coastal swells reaching up to five feet. They loaded up their boards and began a caravan. There were 11 kids but only 8 surfboards. She was excited to finally have the chance to use her board on some real waves, but she was also very aware of sharks. She was a biology major, recently working as an intern at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of her work there was done in a lab or in area rivers. The biggest risk at her job had been alligators. 

Stefani’s love of the ocean and interest in fisheries compelled her to stay abreast of shark activity along the east coast. She knew that in 2019, reports of shark attacks, either provoked or unprovoked, reached nearly 150. 

The kids arrived at the beach, ready for some refreshing water and salty air. Today was a day to enjoy a day out of school. They unloaded the boards from their roof racks. Stefani waxed her beloved board alongside her good friends. Since there were more kids there than boards, Stefani offered her board up to a friend to try first. She figured she’d just do a little body surfing to warm up her muscles before fully engaging on her board. 

The waves were slightly disappointing. The stories they’d heard about giant waves were exaggerated, topping out at maybe three feet. She swam into the surf and waited. She thought she was a good distance from the surfers with boards. The water was a little colder than expected, and she hadn’t brought her wet suit. She swam parallel to the shore for a bit, to warm up. She ended up swimming close to her friend who’d borrowed her board. She waited in the line up, just beyond the breaking point of the waves. She was ready to body surf and catch some waves. 

The waves were coming in sets of four. She took the first in a set. It picked her up and she swam with it. As she glided in toward the shore she saw the dark shadow of what she knew was a shark. Everyone knows that you don’t panic when you see a shark. You don’t thrash around in the water. You don’t show signs of distress that signal to a shark that you’re easy prey. She forgot all that. All Stefani could think was “I don’t want to get eaten by a shark today!” She swam for her life. She swam fast, and probably a little crazy. 

The realization of her frenzy made her calm down slightly. She dropped the panicky swimming. She stopped swimming to realize that she was only in about a foot of water! She felt very silly, probably looking like a fool to anyone who might’ve seen this spectacle. 

She stood in the water to see her friend that had borrowed her board. Her friend asked with excitement, “Did you see that shark?!” Stefani acknowledged that she had in fact seen it. Her friend offered her the board back. Stefani declined, “No thanks. I like my legs. I like walking”. It was at that moment that Stefani gave her board away. She was done surfing and never tried it again. 

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Culture

Cat Takes a Ride Among the Boxes

Kevin Wells

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If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ve observed the peculiar affinity cats have toward boxes.  There are several reasons people love cats. They’re affectionate, cute, soft and generally low-maintenance. For an average family cat, the monthly expense is approximately $100. You could lower that expense by replacing fancy cat toys and play-houses with empty cardboard boxes.

The comfort and security cats find from lounging in cardboard boxes went a little too far for Millie McMahon’s adventurous cat Trixie. Trixie, like most cats, loves empty boxes. This worked out great for Millie when she was preparing to move from Boston to San Francisco. All the empty cardboard boxes around the house kept Trixie entertained and out from under foot while Millie packed her house.

As the moving truck retreated from Millie’s driveway, Millie let out a deep sigh of relief. Only a few essential items remained, which Millie would pack in her car for her own trip across the country. Trixie was one of those “items”, except Trixie was nowhere to be found. Millie waved it off as Trixie just being skittish about the packing and the movers, and her world being in disarray.

Trixie didn’t show up the next day either. Or the next. Millie began feeling worried. She couldn’t leave for California without her cat.

Meanwhile, traveling across the country in a moving truck, was Eddie. Eddie was no stranger to driving trucks. He found comfort in the humming of the wheels on the highway as he ambled along his route. He found it meditative. 

Eddie lost his meditative mood on the second day of his drive. On day two he woke from his motel, showered, ate breakfast and settled into the driver’s seat. Shortly after, as he rolled down the highway, he started to hear an odd squeaking noise. At first, he thought he was imagining the occasional soft mewing. By the end of the day he found it maddening. He ruled out engine issues after checking under the hood. He decided it had to be something in one of the boxes. The boxes, however, were too tightly and perfectly packed to unload and investigate. He’d have to just live with the unnerving noise.

Eddie finally arrived at Millie’s new house and began unpacking his truck. At the back of the moving truck, among a shelf of blankets, shone a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Eddie was startled to see the eyes.He was even more shocked when the cat to whom the eyes belonged jumped from the blankets and onto Eddie’s chest. Instinctively Eddie caught the cat and held him. This is the source of the three days’ noise!

He held the cat as he walked to the cab of his truck, not knowing where the cat came from or what he was going to do. He just sat and looked at the cat, as the cat stared back at him, purring. He poured water into his coffee cup and thought how hungry this cat must be. He made a short trip to the corner market for some kitty food. As he opened the truck door, Trixie jumped out and ran quickly behind the building. Eddie couldn’t see where the cat went.

Eddie returned to Millie’s house to be sure it was secured, knowing Millie wouldn’t be arriving for a few days. It was there that he spotted Trixie, sitting inside, in a sunny window! 

Eddie called the number that Millie had given him, for use in the event of an emergency. Millie was relieved to hear that Trixie had been found. Eddie left enough food and water for Trixie. Millie could now embark on her own trip to California knowing that her cat was safe “at home”.

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Cute

An Abandoned Puppy Finds His Forever Home Thousands of Miles Away

Kelly Taylor

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There are countless animals out there that are in need of families who are going to love them and take care of them. Sometimes, animals are born on the street and end up as strays. They struggle to find food and water as every day is just a struggle to stay alive. In other cases, animals might be the victims of abuse and are looking for owners who are going to show them love and compassion instead of cruelty. Those who welcome pets into their homes will agree with this sentiment. If there was enough room in everyone’s home to adopt a pet, most people would. This is the story of a dog that spent his life on the street until he was taken in by a family at the end of a very long and arduous journey. This simply shows what some animals are willing to endure in an effort to find love.

Several years ago, there was a golden retriever who has left to fend for himself on the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world, Istanbul. At the time, there was a trend unfolding in the country. Many families in the local area decided that a golden retriever was the best type of dog to have in the local area. Of course, like other fashion trends, this one started to fall by the wayside. Once families realized that having a golden retriever would not elevate them in the social stratosphere, they decided to dump the dog. This is how this golden retriever ended up on the streets. The story and trend are both absolutely heartbreaking. Nobody should ever kick their dog to the curb; however, this is what happened to this poor golden retriever.

Even worse, this golden retriever was just a puppy at the time. He had just turned one year old and was being asked to fend for himself. Furthermore, the golden retriever was born with some defects. He had an elbow joint that was not quite fully formed. This meant that one of his legs was crooked. This made it even more difficult for him to move around and survive on his own. It is easy to see how this golden retriever could have trouble finding food and water on the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world.

Because of the situation going on in Istanbul with so many dogs being left for dead on the streets, a local charity for dogs in Atlanta decided to step in. The organization got wind of what was happening and decided that enough was enough. They adopted dozens of dogs from the local shelters in Istanbul to try to alleviate some of the problems that were unfolding in this bustling city.

When the charity brought the dogs back to the states, there was a couple that was looking for a sibling for a dog they already had. This couple had a dog that only had one eye. Even though some people might not want a dog with a disability, this couple is trying to break the stigma. Therefore, they stepped right up and adopted this golden retriever who had a problem with his elbow and front leg. 

In this way, this golden retriever traveled thousands of miles across the ocean to find his forever home. For this family, it was love at first sight. To this day, they say the golden retriever fits right in with their family. Now, this golden retriever gets to live happily ever after with a family who lives him.

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Culture

The Odd Pair

Renee Yates

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A piglet and a cat might seem like an odd pair, but the kitten named Sriracha and the little pig Batman have proved otherwise. The friendship and interactions of these two close friends are the most heartwarming thing you will ever see. Both animals lived at Rancho Relaxo – a non-profit rescue farm in Woodstown, New Jersey established by Caitlin Cimini.  They were more than just friends because Sriracha depended on Batman in a big way. 

Sriracha, a cute black kitten, suffers from a non-progressive and non-contagious neurological disorder known as feline cerebellar hypoplasia, causing walking and balance issues. There are seriously bad days when Sriracha has two seizures in a row and becomes a little “off”.  Feline cerebellar hypoplasia is caused by improper development of the parts of the cerebellum or exposure to infections, toxins, and nutritional deficiencies. It might be hard and sad to see the kitten shaking but, actually, such condition is absolutely painless. 

 When Sriracha was going through the bad period of her life, she found comfort and support from a two-week-old orphan rescued piglet. Caitlin Cimini says that Batman always felt when the kitten was about to experience a seizure. He rushed immediately to her to put his body on top of Sriracha’s and comfort his poor friend.  Caitlin wrote on her Instagram: “Sriracha found comfort in Batman. And Batman almost knew what he was doing for her. It was a beautiful thing to watch”.  The baby Batman did not leave his buddy alone. He cuddled up to Sriracha by keeping her company. Though the kitten cannot speak, she was definitely thankful for her little pink friend.  They got really attached to each other and became inseparable. 

Unfortunately, due to congenital problems, Batman passed away. Sriracha was devastated and brokenhearted by sobbing for a little pink buddy for days. However, fortunately, in an odd twist of fate, Caitlin soon rescued Batman’s bittersweet sibling from the auction and named him Dragonlord.  To everyone’s surprise, after Dragonlord warmed up, he started taking care of Sriracha even better than his brother Batman did. Dragonlord and Sriracha became very close best friends by spending a lot of time together. Just like Batman, Dragonlord comforts the kitten every time when she is experiencing a seizure. In return, Sriracha shows her love by grooming her supportive friend and showering him with kisses.  

Such a beautiful and unusual friendship of animals has captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world on social media. “That is why I do what I do” – says a founder of Rancho Relaxo on her Instagram. “This is the reason why my entire life is dedicated to helping animals. They are the most beautiful creatures on this planet”. So far, Caitlin and her husband have rescued already hundreds of animals, and they do not have an intention to stop. 

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Amazing

Feisty Chihuahua: The Perfect Hunting Dog?

Shannon Jackson

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Kris Burget made a video in September 2011 where he explained the basics of how he prepared for hunting. Kris is a normal sized guy, but he goes out and hunts elk. Even a small elk is at least 500 pounds, but Kris is easygoing and confident as he explains how he gets ready.

The first thing he explains is that you should always have extra clothes, and he points out that even as he was speaking it looked as though there was a rain storm headed his way. If he became too wet and uncomfortable, he would have to cut his trip short, so he wanted to be able to change into rain gear if necessary.

The next thing he talked about was his cow calling gear. The gear was in his pocket and Kris squeezed it so listeners could hear the odd noise it made. Cow calling gear is available at sporting goods stores and hunters can use it to get the attention of the elk they are looking for. There are tutorials online so hunters can learn the best techniques and methods for using the gear.

Kris also carries an extra gun, as could be expected, and he has jerky within easy reach. Beef jerky is a convenient snack that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and that can be eaten without silverware, so hunters can conveniently carry it for when they need a snack while they are spending several hours in the outdoors. Hunters have to learn to be patient and do without nice things while on the hunt.

Finally, Kris pointed out that one of the most important things to bring on a hunting trip was a really good companion. For Kris, the perfect companion is his hunting dog. 

Anyone watching up to that point would be wondering where his dog was. Most people assume a hunting dog is going to be large, especially if the dog hunts elk. However, this is where Kris surprised everyone.

At that point, with a sly smile, Kris opened his camouflage backpack so he could introduce his hunting dog Coco. At first, you can’t see Coco because she is so small, but then she scrambles into view.

Kris is explaining how great Coco is at hunting, and how she is all business when it comes down to it. While he is talking, Coco seems to understand, because she lifts her tiny head higher and barks like crazy.

Kris warns everyone not to let Coco’s size fool them. Even though she looks small compared to other Chihuahuas, Coco obviously believes she is fierce and frightening. Her small size might be what makes her so good at tracking.

At the end of the video, Kris picks Coco the rest of the way out of the backpack and holds her up there with one hand. Is it true? I would have to see it to believe it.

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