As a working mother and wife, Savannah Phillips had her share of challenges, but she overcame them to produce a viable career and contribute to her family’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, she also had her own limitations that were all to vivid in her mind, especially as she found herself traveling more and more due to her work. The simple fact was, Savannah was a larger woman. And while in most cases that was not an issue, the condition created particular issues for her when flying. Because of her size, Savannah regular chose seats without people next to her, but it wasn’t always available.
Living With Weight
Savannah had never been a slim person. Her entire life involved reactions and problems associated with her weight. Social teasing and awkward interactions were a common issue, and Savannah knew it was because of her size. Socially, life in the U.S. had no place for overweight people yet, ironically, plus size was becoming more and more common decade after decade. But that didn’t do much good for Savannah. Regardless of her skills and knowledge, she regularly had to fend off the first reaction to her appearance. It was practically expected and automatic, even in her career world.
Stuck on a Flight
Travel by plane was always Savannah’s last choice. She would drive when possible, but it was more than occasionally not practical. And that meant she had to struggle with the typical tight aircraft seat that was never designed for her as a passenger. Where possible, she compensated by finding seats towards the back or flying at times with less passengers, i.e. off hours. The whole point was to avoid confrontation and being packed in next to someone who would react to her size.
Not Always Lucky
On one particular flight the worst-case scenario happened. Her flight was at full capacity. As Savannah reach the flight gate the horrible feeling of being cramped was already tingling up her neck. There was not going to be any options for separate seating. Savannah was guaranteed to be sitting next to someone on the flight. She tried to finagle some kind of exception, practically begging the flight attendant at the gate with her eyes, but there wasn’t going to be a decent flight this time. And Savannah was already starting to feel some of the other passengers looking at her.
Just Get Through It
Savannah buckled herself down mentally to just get through the flight. The sooner she got on the plane, got through the flight and off, the sooner she would be on the ground and away from the confinement. She got on the plane, found her seat, and tried to settle in. But the whole time her anxiety was getting the better of her. It wasn’t unfounded. The older man who had to get up to let her have the window seat was already showing physical discomfort with her presence. He made a louder than normal sigh at being put out with Savannah sitting in his row.
Everyone Was Watching
The older man was clearly the type that Savannah hated to be around. These were people who always went a step further with their dislike of plus size people, making their opinions know as if entitled. While Savannah tried to focus on settling in, she noted the man was working on his phone. He had adjusted the settings to improve the clarity, and the font was increased to large size. The phone was also tilted at an angle that it would be impossible for Savannah to miss it. She realized, shockingly, he was using the phone this way on purpose. Savannah was already cringing, but what the man didn’t know was that his audience was more than just Savannah.
What Are You Doing
Finally Savannah put the man on the spot and asked him what he was doing. The man feigned innocence. He mumbled something about his eyesight and needing to zoom in to see what he was writing to a friend. She knew immediately the old man was lying, but it didn’t matter. He kept tapping away, and the message was visible to Savannah. The words might as well have been a fork in his hand stabbing her arm. She immediately tried to lean away and look out the plane window, but it didn’t matter. The old man already achieved what he wanted.
A Real Life Bully
The attempts to increase his phone screen size and tilting of his phone was blatant and obvious now. The message was clear, visible and meant for her as much as for whoever he was typing and sending it to. The words he typed were, “sitting next to a smelly fatty”, and the “fatty” was obviously Savannah. Every nightmare, insult, teasing, and bullying she ever suffered in her younger life came back to Savannah in that moment. The bully was smirking. However, it wasn’t going to last long. Suddenly, Savannah heard another voice. The old man was tapped on the shoulder. “I need to speak to you, now.”
A Helpful Hand When Needed
The old man was startled by the interruption. This was not how he thought his little joke was going to go. The man who tapped the old man on the shoulder, Chase Irwin, made it clear he was not negotiating or asking for a favor. “We’re switching seats. Now.” The old was caught off guard and spinning backwards mentally; he agreed immediately and complied. Chase put himself in the seat next to Savannah and started to speak to her while she was crying from the mental attack she had just suffered.
As the plane trip continued, Savannah continued a conversation with Chase. Savannah was so thankful someone stood up for her, and it was obvious Chase was just doing the right thing. In the talk that lasted the flight Savannah learned about Chase’s background, his job, and his kids too. By the time they were on the ground again, Savannah felt like she had just experienced a total life turnaround. And she needed to tell folks she knew about it. Unfortunately, Chase was gone after debarking, so all she had was social media.
Posting on Facebook
The post that spread like wildfire as soon as Savannah put it up started off simple enough. “”I am only sharing this story of what happened to me today in hopes that the person who stuck up for me will somehow be recognized…” Her story continued…”We sat on the runway waiting for the OK to take off for about 10 minutes – I sat there unable to stop silently crying. I was scrunching myself up against the wall as far as I could. The guy next to me takes out his headphones. Someone behind us says, ‘We are switching seats. Now.’ The guy next to me said, “OK- why?” And I hear someone say (removing curse words), “You are texting about her, and I’m not putting up with that.”
The Post Rang Around the World
Savannah’s story didn’t take long to get virtual legs and run. It was shared and reposted again and again repeatedly. Many users didn’t just stop with their disgust with the old man and his pettiness. They also made a point to reinforce Savannah had nothing to be ashamed about. They were also very appreciative of Chase and his actions.
Finding the Man
The Internet is an amazing thing when it crowdsources thousands of brainpower points. Chase Irwin was located very quickly as a result. He was found by his occupation, working as a manager at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row restaurant, neatly parked in Nashville, TN. Both the restaurant and Chase started realize the power of a viral movement. Their website was overwhelmed with well-wishers, and the local media picked up on the story fairly quick.
When he was interviewed, Chase made it clear getting his name on TV was never the intent of his actions. Instead, something inside him as a person said he needed to act when he saw the words the old man was writing on his phone. Originally, Chase thought he was just going to make a point after the flight was over. However, when he saw the old man was making fun of Savannah, Chase felt he had to act. Her crying put him over the top.
Watching the Whole Time
Chase was immediately aware of the problem Savannah was dealing with as soon as she arrived at her seat. He practically had a front row audience spot, watching the behavior of the old man and how it was visibly affecting her. Then he saw the phone texting and the vicious message the man thought he could get away with. As he saw Savannah lean away, Chase knew it was time to do something.
Pettiness in Digital Form
The old man’s message wasn’t just one sentence. He was pouring out the hate as he typed his text in full view of Savannah. “Hey babe, sitting next to a smelly fatty. She’s overflowing over my armrest. I think I’m going to be sick!” Chase could also see Savannah being crushed and starting to tear up.
The old man wasn’t the only one who was on his phone. Chase was as well, video-recording the man and what he had done. ‘This guy, prob mid-50s just text his wife that he is sitting next to a smelly fatty and was about to vomit. I watched her read his text and is now looking sad.” Chase literally documented the decision he had to make in that moment as well. “Should I… just say something when landing?” It didn’t take long for him to react.
Savannah and Chase never met again, but in her own interview Savannah did make a point that she forgave the hate from the old man on the plane. She also never really tried to maintain any connection with Chase, only knowing him as the man who helped on that plane ride when it seemed like trip from hell. But posting the story she did want everyone to know what he did and how standing up for others can mean so much. Between them both, their story has added more to why body-shaming is so wrong, and increased people’s awareness as a result.
Re-purposing Old Wind Turbine Blades With Smart Ideas
People have probably seen them in the distance next to highways or out in the country, wind farms generating energy for local and regional communities with a free resource in the local wind patterns shaped by geological forms in the area.
However, like anything mechanical, eventually even giant wind turbines start to breakdown and need replacement. And that creates a new issue about what to do with old turbine blades. Interestingly, there is no shortage of solutions for this challenge.
Industrial rafters in Ireland have found the old turbine blades ideal for being repurposed into recycled base material. The output has been turned into reinforcement for bridges, concrete forms, wake walls along the coastlines and noise barriers. Not only are the turbine blades large in size, producing a great amount of workable material for crafters, they are made of fiberglass, which is an extremely flexible and strong material. Traditionally, fiberglass is not recyclable. However, that fiberglass can become raw material for repurposed fiberglass in other structures. It finds a use for what otherwise would end up in the landfill and the same channel helps reduce the need to create more fiberglass as well.
Given the first generation of blades had some challenges with being reused until folks got creative with the fiberglass source, the subsequent generations of turbine blades are now being made from carbon fiber instead. Carbon fiber has a very high re-use factor, and that’s a good thing for Ireland, which is already dealing with what do about 11,000 tons of old blades coming into waste management within the next four or five years.
A typical junked blade runs a length of 14 meters, more than long enough for small bridges that may only be 5 to 10 meters long. The blade becomes the core for a new bridge, and the outer material is wrapped around it for both protection and aesthetics. The result is a walking bridge that has an ideal gentle curve for walking and an integrity that can easily handle pathway weight on it without problems.
On the coast, wake barriers provide a needed protection to help stop erosion and keep soil on land versus being washed into the ocean. The old blades provide a durable and element-resistant material that can last for years as a barrier, stopping erosion and re-using material otherwise destined for landfill space. Alternatively, other jurisdictions are thinking about using the blades for transmission towers and electrical elevated junction points for power grids.
The creativity that is being shown with how to re-use old turbine blades has been an amazing development, and it’s a good sign that the first generation of blades is not going to be yet another mistake created by good intentions but ending up polluting the environment in a different way. Not to mention, the re-utilization of the blade material has produced various other building material savings as well, producing downstream positive effects and less consumption overall as a result.
Finding Spirituality in Stray Dogs
Monks have long been known to be attuned to their surroundings, seeing both the spiritual aspects of a situation as well the far more obvious physical ones. That’s the case for Zhi Xiang, who frequently finds himself surrounded by dozens of dogs at a time.
Instead, Zhi Xiang has been dedicated to both caring for and maintaining the health of the many dogs he finds himself being the foster owner of when they are pulled off the street in Shanghai. Normally, the dogs would end up being killed in a few days under traditional animal control measures. However, because of Zhi’s efforts, the canines are instead given a second chance at life either in the animal shelter Zhi manages or at a monastery.
Zhi Xiang prescribed to a Buddhist monk’s path in his calling. It has become his goal and pursuit to care for as many discarded dogs as possible. That’s a big order in a city known for an explosive population and thousands of stray dogs from families no longer able to care of them or dislocated from the countryside. For thousands of years, dogs have found their fate tied to humans, so Shanghai is, like many cities in Asia, crammed with people who have become a food resource for stray dogs.
As for Zhi, however, his faith propels the monk to care for 8,000 dogs, and the list is growing. A small portion are relocated and adopted out in Europe and the U.S., but the great majority of the animals in Zhi’s care stay put in China. For Zhi, the calling is absolute; if he can’t save the street dogs, they are dead. Ironically, the program started when Zhi first helped cats recover after they had darted in front of a moving car and were injured. In those days, stray animals in the city streets were a rare site. However, only a handful of years later, and now stray dogs are seen everywhere.
Much of the cause of the problem has been people buying puppies without proper training or an ability to care for the animal, as well as not understanding the need to spay or neuter them.
Zhi’s temple has become one of the primary safe havens for lost animals in Shanghai. And it’s not just dogs or cats; he also has a few chickens, a peacock, and other birds as well. Not every resident recovers. About 30 percent of rescues are too far gone with disease or injuries and eventually die, even with care from Zhi. But he tries anyways.
Ironically, in a country where the state runs all the systems, Zhi’s program gets no government help at all. The monk and volunteers do all the work, survive on charity and handouts, and social media fund drives online. Adoption channels overseas have helped, which also moves the animals to better homes outside of China.
Zhi knows he can’t do his work forever, but he tries each day and takes a photograph of as many of the animals as he can. Eventually, those photographs are what he wants to go through when he is too old to handle the labor anymore physically.
Hyd Child Receives a Super Expensive Medicine to Survive
There have been multiple stories of how expensive pharmaceuticals can be for modern health. While some of them produce great miracles in solving health problems that previously would kill patients without a solution, they come with a big price tag. For example, when a botulism cure for babies was created, the average cost of the drug was over $21,000 a dose.
Social Media to the Rescue
In the case of Zolgensma, a drug created by Novartis, a similar price tag applies. And for a small Hyderabad boy named Ayaansh, it was a life-changing treatment. Ayaansh suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, a condition that essentially weakens nerve cells in the back and spinal connection to the brain. Zolgensma has been identified as a viable pharmaceutical option for children under 2 years of age with SMA. Using gene therapy, the drug essentially helps the body replace a faulty SNM1 gene with a normal one. It’s delivered intravenously one time, so the treatment can only be applied in a medical setting by a physician. Doctors identified Zolegensma as an effective treatment for Ayaansh, but the price of the drug was going to total some 16 million rupees. Ayaansh’s parents didn’t have that kind of money, nor did their family.
However, with a bit of awareness and the Internet through social media, Ayaansh’s parents were able to garner the financial help needed from 65,000 donations via crowd-funding. Almost four months later, the charity drive pulled together the necessary funds to cover the cost of the Zolgensma treatment, giving Ayaansh a real chance at recovery and a longer life than he would have without the drug.
Ayaansh is Given a Real Chance
With the financial matters squared away, Ayaansh was provided the treatment at the Rainbow Children’s Hospital, located in Secunderabad. Doctors monitored the reaction in the child for a given period, and ultimately Ayaansh was released without ill side effects. Currently age three, Ayaansh, may now have the ability to enjoy a better life outlook, thanks to the help provided by many donors across India working together via the power of crowd-funding. Some of the more notable donors for Ayaansh included Virat Kohli and spouse, Anushka Sharma, as well as other famous names like Sara Ali Khan and Dia Miza. Even the government helped things along by disregarding the normal import regulations and duty taxes as well as expediting the drug delivery from Novartis. Normally, the import duty tax would have equaled 6 million rupees before the drug could even be used in-country.
Expensive Cures Are Always Paid By Someone
The cost of drugs like Zolgensma continue to create controversy, but the fact remains that the research and science that goes into their creation is expensive. The market approach to allowing drug companies to profit from their efforts remains one of the most effective ways to bring new medical technology into being, but someone, somewhere has to pay for the related cost. Historically, drug companies have relied on developed nations’ economies like those in the West to pay for the initial cost of bringing a new, effective drug to market, meaning many other countries had to wait until the drug became affordable as patents expired. However, crowd-funding and the Internet are obviously changing the dynamics of drug access, as was seen in the case of Ayaansh above.
80,000 Spiteful Pennies Turned to Something Good
Kids who go through a divorce end up fighting in their parents’ battles, even if the parents never intended to involve them at the start. That was the case for Avery Sanford. She was about to graduate from high school, and her parents were already separated and officially divorced. However, there was the detail of child support that still kept them connected. Just a few days before the big high school event, Avery’s father showed up in front of the family house that Avery and her mother still lived in. And, he began to dump 80,000 pennies on the front lawn.
For Avery’s father, the pennies represented his last child support payment due and, as far as he was concerned, delivered. After all, pennies are still legal U.S. tender and currency, just inconvenient as hell to use. For Avery, the whole spectacle was a huge embarrassment in front of the neighbors, something her father didn’t seem to care about, even for his own daughter.
For the next hour or so, the high school graduate, her mother, and helpful neighbors worked at picking up the pennies and putting them into containers for a more manageable approach. That, of course, gave them plenty of time as well for how to think about what to do next. The answer came to them after a bit of time: the $800 would be donated to a domestic abuse shelter and help center.
The money was provided to the Safe Harbor Shelter, a non-profit dedicated to helping people who have been or are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and similar. In addition to the help, Avery and her mother realized they had the ability and power to take what started off as another nasty chapter of a divorce into a positive impact on other people’s lives going forward.
Further, the story sparked a wave of reaction, also positive for the Shelter. Based on the local news carrying the details of the morning fiasco, folks who sympathized with Avery and her mother decided to follow their example and donate as well. The result was another $5,000 donated to the Shelter for its operations.
Interestingly, Avery and her mother aren’t interested in the limelight. Their privacy is worth a lot more, and they have purposefully avoided engaging with the press or any follow-up associated with the incident. While the police did get involved due to a call from Avery’s address about a domestic incident, they concluded no crime was committed. When Avery herself got home, the whole family was upset about the matter and the embarrassment, but it was a slight that not much could be done about. From his perspective, Avery’s father probably thought he got the last laugh. As it turned out, little did he expect, Avery and her mother were going to twist things for the better.
When Mary Maupai, the development director of Safe Harbor Shelter, received an email, she was not expecting it was going to turn into an $800 donation. However, As Maupai read the digital note, she saw a familiar story laid out by Avery’s mother and realized why they were giving the shelter the money involved. That in turn led to the domino effect noted above, and the Shelter realized a cascade of donations right after, ranging from $25 to $1,000. As the Shelter management summed up the event, it was a godsend at the right time.
Nigerian Houses Feature Plastic Bottles In Incredible Display
There are more than two ways to accomplish a goal and that was on prime display in Nigeria as houses made from bottles began to spring from the ground. Of course, these houses were put there by savvy Nigerian workers who decided to turn them into what would have otherwise been trash, clogging up waterways and overfilling landfills throughout the country.
This fascinating story can be traced back to the village of Yelwa where the first plastic bottle house of Nigeria was ever constructed.
Welcome to Yelwa
Nestled in the heart of Kebbi State, Yelwa is a town located on the Niger River. With a dark history dating back to the violent massacre that occurred there in 2004, some good news coming out of the town was more than welcome. Traditionally a center for trade in the Yauri Emirate, Yelwa produces millet, cowpeas, tobacco, peppers, sugarcane, and peanuts.
As reported by the BBC, the village of Yelwa has been in the news thanks to its restorative efforts in working with waste to build sustainable housing. Taking massive amounts of what would otherwise be river waste, these builders were able to turn the trash into effective housing materials by crafting durable homes that could withstand even earthquakes!
More than just plastic bottles lined up in a row, the village of Yelwa and its construction workers would fill each container with dry soil, sand, or construction waste. After the bottle has been filled, it is set in a row similar to brick before being bound by mud. The result of this process is a well-insulated, inexpensive, sturdy structure that can withstand both earthquakes and bullets. More than just a local effort, even community leaders and government officials have become interested in the effort.
An Alternative to Traditional Construction
Restorative efforts on the environment in Nigeria will have to assess the impact made by plastic bottles and other pollution. According to the environmental writers at Eco Nigeria, millions of plastic bottles end up in landfills and waterways each year throughout Nigeria. The writer notes, “Bottle houses take the dangerous waste out of the environment and make it useful.”
Ecological concerns are paramount to Nigerian workers as they seek to limit, reduce, and eliminate the spread of toxic pollutants. Plastic waste can take thousands of years to decompose, creating a long-lasting environmental impact that is hard to truly calculate. Toxic pollutants can cause untold damage to the health and vitality of local humans, plants, and wildife.
More than 14,000 bottles were collected for the first bottle house erected in Yelwa. Others are to come with an estimated 8,000 or so required for an additional home. These techniques have made their way out of Yelwa as well, with Eco Nigeria noting that India, South America, and Central America have also adopted the bottle-home technique.
While construction efforts are continuously underway, plans for the bottle homes in the future include solar energy with fuel-efficient appliances, fertilization systems, water purification tanks, and urine filtration. The ultimate eco-friendly sustainable home is apparently just a few more bottles away!
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