4 strategies to avoid #resistance burnout

Image: vicky leta / mashable

I was listening to The Read recently — it’s my favorite podcast — and I was struck by co-host Kid Fury’s observations about reaching the end of the year and feeling tired. 

I posted how I felt on Instagram: “Can’t add one more plan tired. Hard to get excited about exciting things tired. Can’t project, assume, or read minds tired. I’m letting myself be tired, be imperfect, be how I am. It is time to hibernate and make meaning of this year, understand the lessons.”

Five hundred people gave it a heart within a few hours. People reached out to me to say they are also tired — exhausted, really. Falling out in meetings, losing things, fighting with loved ones, letting hopelessness have our tongues. 

I am a social justice facilitator, practicing and teaching a methodology called Emergent Strategy. The goal is to learn how we do justice work that is adaptive, focuses on the small things that make up all large systems, and prioritizes critical connections over critical mass. I am also a visionary fiction writer (part of the Octavia’s Brood team) and a pleasure activist, which means I believe pleasure is an important measure of freedom, and that we need to make justice the most pleasurable experience we can have. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. But I am still going. Movements for social and environmental justice are still moving forward. 

Which gets me curious about how we are surviving, how we are generating energy to move forward in 2018 when everything is heavy and everything hurts. 

What do we do? 

The first thing is to give ourselves lots of room and respect for whatever we have done. It got us this far. So, shout outs to alcohol, sugar, sex, and weed, which have been doing the work of comforting and numbing millions. After the 2016 election, drinking definitely became one of my coping mechanisms for that “They all want my death” feeling that has become daily life. 

I know the newness of feeling this every day is as much an indication of my privilege as it is of political change; things aren’t getting worse, they are getting unveiled. Whatever I didn’t see before this moment is a sign that I was somehow benefiting from not seeing it. It feels worse nonetheless. 

But we need to be careful about numbing. The long-term impacts of numbing move us away from the very aliveness we are fighting for, that erotic level of presence, alertness, and feeling our miraculous existence in real time. Audre Lorde taught us that, “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”  

I wanted to offer some strategies beyond numbing that have helped me protect my aliveness. I invite you to practice these throughout 2018.

1. Reconnect with our movement ancestors. We are not the first to be in impossible conditions. And what we know is that we have survived, that our ancestors found ways to survive, to be in dignity and resistance. Focus on ancestors of your own lineage, knowing that every lineage on earth has individuals and groups who have left lessons behind. For me this year has been lit by the north star of Harriet Tubman. You might call on freedom fighters like Berta Cáceres or Bobby Sands — there are so many who inspire. Ancestors can and should humble us. 

2. Tune in to the three Gs every day: gratitude, good news, and genius. If you look, all three are within reach.

a) Start and/or end the day with gratitude. It’s a gorgeous world; pay attention to the beauty, the connection, the generosity and growth.

b) Read between the lines and find the good news. It’s always there, but it might be very small. For me, it’s often in the news of what movements for social and environmental justice are doing to resist. Boost it, grow it with your attention.

c) Our continued survival is actually a long, iterative practice of collective genius. Pay attention to the people and organizations who are doing more than reacting to the daily news or pulling each other down. Tune into the work of the Movement for Black Lives, the Women’s March, #MeToo, Cooperation Jackson, Movement Generation, #ourpowerpr, Mi Gente. These initiatives are attempting audacious, visionary, and difficult work that relies on the genius that arises from people working together across difference to address the challenges and opportunities of their real lives.

3. That thing about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others? It’s real. It’s not like other masks that hide your true face from others, which is an important distinction here. You don’t need to put anything over your truth right now to cover the emotional rollercoaster of being a human who is paying attention. But you do need to take care of yourself at a material level. Soothe without numbing, rest without guilt, hydrate to replenish your foundation, and use your body while there is still miracle in it. Hibernate: turn inward, get still, write down what you have learned from surviving the last year as well as what has been liberated within you, and what you are ready to grow. 

4. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind y’all that an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away. Remember that your body is literally wired to feel good, thread with nerves that communicate pleasure and let you know what to move toward. And you can choose between the orgasm and the orgasmic — do a massage exchange with friends, eat delicious home-cooked meals, watch comedy shows. There are so many ways to turn up your aliveness.

None of these practices are small or trite. We are in the worst of times right now. If you need to be convinced to care for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can care for your community and this planet, let’s just review the past 12 months. 

There was a period of denial and grief for many of us. Perhaps you also spent some time under a blanket, wondering why our species is so self-sabotaging and embarrassing? Maybe you too called friends to discuss where you could run to, and realized, again, that there was no place far enough, no place beyond the reach of the United States?

Those of us with an intersectional analysis of our current situation know that every uphill battle we’ve been fighting is at least twice as steep. We are looking ahead at battles around the tax plan, net neutrality, protecting the planet as a livable planet for our species, resisting a police force encouraged to unleash increased violence on our devastated vulnerable communities. All while watching 45 play nuclear roulette with North Korea on Twitter.

For those of us working to create social change, 2017 was a wild year. We take our whiplashed necks and try to keep up the pace as we run from protest to petition to planning meeting. We have held some lines, we have shown up and said no to racist bans and efforts to strip us of hard-won rights, and we have reached for each other. We’ve been surprised and excited as scientists marched and national parks workers used Twitter to resist fascist policy making.

And, in our exhaustion, we have sometimes turned on each other. Interpersonal beef drains organizational resources. Tactical differences become landmines. Places where we could learn together instead become battlegrounds that play out on social media. We long for something different but are stretched too thin to practice new approaches. We want each other to be perfect and to be transparent about our flaws. We are punitive and transformative in the same breath. 

We are in a fight for our survival and there’s no turning away from it, no turning back. 2017 was a reckoning, an unveiling. An embarrassment, yes, but it’s honest. And now we are at a very real risk of becoming too exhausted to continue our fight, our journey. 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” I wrestle with these words all the time, because I believe in freedom, and I believe my body is a crucial part of the fight for freedom. So I interpret these words through my work. I do not rest in terms of how I work. I tirelessly show up for movements I believe in, to hold planned or unexpected hard conversations and mediations, to invite transformation in the face of frustration. I tirelessly seek out old and new ways of moving through our current paradigm and into a viable future. 

But when it comes to my body, I rest. I rest in myriad ways that allow me to show up fully for each facilitation. I ensure that I have quiet time each evening, a bath when there’s a tub, at least seven hours of sleep each night. I want to give us more permission to rest our bodies so that we don’t burn out our spirits and minds in our lifelong commitment to liberation.

It is in that spirit that I invite you to honor your ancestors and remember that they believed in you before your first breath. They believed you could generate gratitude, uplift good news, contribute to genius. Put on your oxygen mask and open to the pleasurable experiences of life. This is our moment to shape.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/12/resistance-burn-out-activism-new-year/

Here are the 2017 innovations that changed the world

Image: Morgan’s Inspiration Island; eSight; Petit Pli; Manu Prakash/Stanford

2017 may have been a rough year, but there were plenty of inventions, innovations, and gadgets that made the world just a slightly better place.

From global health to social justice to humanitarian aid, a slew of scientists, technologists, and activists came together this year to create impactful solutions to some of our most pressing problems.

In no particular order, here are 30 innovations that made a tangible difference in 2017. For even more inspiration, check out our list of incredible innovations from 2016.

1. The 20-cent paper toy that can help diagnose diseases

This paper device, which only costs 20 cents to make, can help scientists and doctors diagnose diseases like malaria and HIV within minutes — no electricity required.

The Paperfuge, developed by Stanford assistant professor of bioengineering Manu Prakash, is a hand-powered centrifuge that was inspired by a whirligig toy. It can hold blood samples on a disc, and by pulling the strings back and forth, it spins the samples at extremely fast rates to separate blood from plasma, preparing them for disease testing.

It could prove revolutionary for rural areas in developing countries, and save lives in the process.

2. The soft robot sleeve that can restart a failing heart

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital created this customizable soft robot sleeve that can wrap around a failing heart and squeeze it, allowing blood to keep flowing throughout the body. In tests conducted on pigs, the device allowed the animals’ hearts to start pumping again.

The innovation is still in testing stages, but the goal is to one day be able to use it in order to save human lives. According to Harvard, heart failure affects 41 million people worldwide.

3. A Facebook translation bot for refugees

Tarjimly is a Facebook translation bot that connects refugees with volunteer translators, wherever they are in the world. Whether they need to speak with doctors, aid workers, legal representatives, or other crucial services, users can tap into the power of Facebook Messenger to get real-time, potentially life-saving, translations on the spot.

4. Smart glasses that help legally blind people see

The eSight 3 is a set of electronic glasses that can drastically improve a legally blind person’s vision, helping them see and perform daily activities with ease.

The device fits over a user’s eyes and glasses like a headset, using a camera to send images to tiny dual screens in front of their eyes. Two sensors adjust the focus, while a handheld remote lets the user zoom and contrast, among other functions. For a user with 20/400 vision, for example, it can improve their eyesight up to 20/25. 

5. A cardboard drone for humanitarian aid

Image: OTHERLAB

Otherlab, a San Francisco-based engineering research and development lab, developed what it calls the world’s most advanced industrial paper airplane. The cardboard gliders are made with a biodegradable material and equipped with GPS and other electronics, allowing them to be dropped by a plane and deliver two pounds of life-saving materials without needing to be retrieved. 

6. 3D-printed sex organs to help blind students learn

Image: Courtesy of Benetech

Holistic, inclusive sex ed is hard to come by as it is. For blind students, it’s even harder. That’s why advocates and researchers at Benetech created 18 3D figures that show sex organs during a various states of arousal, letting students “feel” their way through sex education. Benetech partnered with LightHouse for the Blind and Northern Illinois University to create the models.

7. A texting service that contacts Congress for you in 2 minutes

2017 was a year of resistance, and one of the most tangible ways of taking action has been contacting your reps. Enter Resistbot, a simple service that lets you text RESIST to 50409 or message the accompanying Facebook bot in order to help you find the right members of Congress and send your message to them directly.

8. The app for detained immigrants to contact their family

Image: Notifica/Huge

The Notifica app helps undocumented immigrants who get detained or caught up in raids to send out secure messages to a designated support network of family and friends.

9. A mobile-based ambulance taxi program in Tanzania

Vodafone has developed an innovative ambulance taxi program in the rural Lake Zone of Tanzania, using the power of mobile phones. The program helps pregnant women in health emergencies dial a special hotline number, through which health workers connect them to a local network of vetted taxi drivers who can get them quickly to clinics when there are few ambulances available.

The drivers are paid by the organization through the mobile money system M-Pesa, so it’s free for users.

10. An app that gets kids moving — and help other kids, too

Image: Lili Sams / Mashable

The UNICEF Kid Power app is a standalone app that expands on the organization’s fitness bands program, helping kids convert their daily steps into life-saving nutrition for malnourished children in the developing world. The app counts your steps — every 2,500 steps earns you a point, and 10 points “unlock” a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) package that UNICEF and sponsors will deliver to a child with severe acute malnutrition.

11. Facebook’s digital maps that help with disaster relief

Image: Facebook

In June, Facebook announced a new product called “disaster maps,” using Facebook data in disaster areas in order to send crucial information to aid organizations during and after crises. The information helps relief efforts get a bird’s eye view of who needs help, where, and what resources are needed.

12. The chatbot that wants to help you with your mental health 

Image: Woebot

Woebot is one of the first chatbots of its kind, using artificial intelligence to talk to you, help improve your mood, and even alleviate symptoms of depression. It’s not a replacement for a therapist by any means, but a Stanford University study showed that Woebot “led to significant reductions in anxiety and depression among people aged 18-28 years old.”

13. An app connecting refugees with crucial services

Image: RefAid

RefAid is an app that connects refugees with nearby services in education, health, legal aid, shelter and more by using their location. It originally started as a side project, but now more than 400 of the largest aid organizations in the world, including the Red Cross and Doctors of the World, all use it. 

14. A solar-powered tent designed for homeless people

Image: Scott Witter / Mashable

Earlier this year, 12 teens in San Fernando, California, joined forces with the nonprofit DIY Girls to invent a solar-powered tent that folds up into a rollaway backpack for homeless populations. They won a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program to develop the tent, and presented their project at MIT in June.

15. The app that could help end female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) affects millions of women and girls around the world. In Kenya, where the procedure is illegal but still practiced due to cultural significance, a group of five teen girls  created the i-Cut app to fight back.

i-Cut allows users to alert authorities as a preventive measure, and also lets survivors send reports and find local rescue centers. The app earned them a place in the 2017 Technovation Challenge in August. 

16. An eyeglass accessory to alert deaf people of sound

Peri is an accessory that attaches to a deaf person’s eyeglasses and translates audio cues into visual ones. Inspired by first-person shooter games, in which the screen glows as your character is hit, Peri lights up in the direction of loud sounds.

It can help deaf and hard of hearing users not only with increased awareness, but also to avoid dangerous situations more easily. 

17. The tool that turns your extra computer power into bail money

Bail Bloc, created by a team at The New Inquiry, uses your computer’s spare power to help contribute to community bail funds, assisting people in jail and their families who can’t afford bail.  

Bail Bloc uses the power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, which is then converted into U.S. dollars to donate to the Bronx Freedom Fund and The Bail Project. No cryptocurrency knowledge required — all you have to do is run it in your computer’s background. 

18. This game-changing Braille literacy tool for kids

The Read Read is an innovative learning device that teaches blind people and those with low vision how to read Braille. Each tile has Braille lettering printed on metal to touch, and the device also reads the letter out loud along with how many dots it contains. This helps the user sound out each word they learn.

19. An air-powered wheelchair for kids with disabilities

Morgan’s Inspiration Island is a new, accessible water park in San Antonio, Texas, specifically designed for kids with disabilities. But what about kids who use electric wheelchairs? No problem — the theme park teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh to develop the PneuChair, a light, air-powered wheelchair that can get wet and only takes 10 minutes to charge.

20. The first gender-inclusive educational toy

Meet Sam, a new set of stacking dolls in which each layer shows a different stage of gender questioning and exploring. Created by Gender Creative Kids Canada, which calls the doll “the world’s first educational transgender toy,” Sam was designed with trans youth in mind. The creators hope it will help educate all children and their families.

Gender Creative Kids Canada launched a Kickstarter for the toy, and also released an e-book and accompanying video to introduce Sam to the world.

21. A robot lawyer for low-income communities

The chatbot DoNotPay offers users free legal aid for a range of issues, including helping refugees apply for asylum, guiding people in reporting harassment at work, and even aiding everyday consumers who want to fight corporations who try to take advantage of them.

22. These period-friendly boxers for trans men

Image: Courtesy of Pyramid Seven

A new company called Pyramid Seven launched a line of period-inclusive underwear for trans men, filling a much needed gap in the period-friendly underwear market. Each pair of boxers is stylish and includes an extra panel inside to support period products, like pads. Due to high demand, the line of underwear quickly sold out.

23. A revolutionary gene therapy treatment for cancer

An illustration of a white blood cell.

Image: Shutterstock / royaltystockphoto.com

Kymriah is a newly FDA-approved cancer gene therapy treatment from the drug company Novartis. It’s part of a new class of therapy called CAR-T, which is made by “harvesting a patient’s own disease-fighting T-cells, genetically engineering them to target specific proteins on cancer cells, and replacing them to circulate possibly for years, seeking out and attacking cancer,” according to Reuters.

It’s not cheap — it costs $475,000 per patient — but the results in patients with aggressive blood cancer are unprecedented. In fact, 83 percent of patients were cancer-free after three months with one dose (they continued to respond after six months, according to new reports).

24. The empowering hands-free breast pump

Willow is a wearable breast pump that allows people to pump hands-free and quietly. You can wear two of the pumps underneath your bra, so it’s discreet and allows you to multitask.

25. A wheelchair that allows its users to stand

The Laddroller is a wheelchair that helps its users stand. Designed by Greek architect Dimitrios Petrotos, the Laddroller uses four wheels, and can also navigate rough terrains. After 13 prototypes, it’s now awaiting regulatory approval to go to market.

26. A portable, reinvented IV pole

Image: Courtesy of IV Walk

IV-Walk is a reimagining of the traditional IV pole to grant its users more flexibility and range. It was designed by Alissa Rees, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 19 years old and had to stay attached to an IV pole for weeks at a time throughout her two years in the hospital.

“Stimulating mobility by using the IV-Walk speeds up recovery,” Rees says on her website. “Besides that, holding the pole is a cheerless way to present yourself to friends or family. Presenting yourself in a proper way can be important during a long stay in hospital.”

27. A solar-powered water delivery cart

Image: Watt-R

Watt-r is a solar-powered water delivery cart that aims to improve the experience for women and children, who often are the ones in developing countries to be tasked with gathering water for their families. The cart is still in development, but it will be able to carry a dozen 20-liter containers of water at a time, and solar power will allow it to move, according to Fast Company.

28. Clothes that expand as your child grows

Petit Pli is a line of clothes that grow with your child using expansion and growth technology. The garments are waterproof, lightweight, and gender-inclusive with pleated designs, allowing each item of clothing to grow up to seven sizes. It’s not only sustainable by reducing waste, but also can save families money on new clothes.

29. Nike’s professional sportswear hijab

Nike launched its Nike Pro Hijab worldwide this year, to further the company’s idea that “if you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Working with professional athletes who wear hijab, the product is made of single-layer mesh that’s breathable, stretchy, and easily customized for any sport.

30. GPS-enabled turtle eggs to help track poachers

Image: Paso Pacifico

According to the wildlife conservation nonprofit Paso Pacifico, poachers in Central America destroy 90 percent of endangered sea turtle nests to illegally sell the eggs, which are considered a delicacy. So the organization created the GPS-enabled “InvestEGGator Sea Turtle Eggs” — 3D-printed eggs that track poachers and reveal smuggling routes, which can help Paso Pacifico work with authorities and stop wildlife crime. The innovation has already won a number of awards.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/23/social-good-innovations-2017/

A guide to achieving your 2018 self-care resolutions

Admiring this gorgeous artwork can also be a form of self-care.
Image: mashable/vicky leta

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

After an October week from hell — when allegations against Harvey Weinstein first began to unravel, Donald Trump threatened to take aid away from Puerto Rico, women boycotted Twitter, and historic wildfires destroyed California — I splurged on a large Blue Raspberry Icee and sat alone in a 12:15 p.m. Saturday showing of Marshall. I turned my phone all the way off, and over the course of the next two hours I ugly cried in the dark.

Afterwards, I drove to a bookstore and spent $82.47. I went home, applied a face mask and collapsed onto my bed, escaping into the pages of one of my new books for hours. I met my friend for dinner, cherished every single bite of a cheeseburger, rushed back to my pillow, and fell asleep before watching re-runs of The Mindy Project.

This was my own personal form of self-care.

For so many, self-care has been the unsung savior of 2017. You’ve probably heard the term thrown around daily, but learning exactly what it means and why it’s so essential will help to better practice it in the new year.

Am I doing this thing right?

Self-care methods — personalized rituals that allow people to take a step back from this messy world to prioritize their well-being and preserve their mental health — differ for each individual and in each scenario, so there’s really no right or wrong.

For Hillary Clinton self-care could mean anything from frantic closet cleaning, long walks in the woods, and playing with her dogs, to yoga or sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine. For Michael Phelps, who’s conquered the pressures of Olympic competition but has struggled with depression and anxiety over the years, it’s working out or heading to the golf course. The only constant is that methods of self-care must benefit and focus on you.

“A lot of times people will say ‘I spend time with my kids,’ which is great and meaningful but that’s still taking care of somebody else,” said Monnica Williams, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor at University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. “When you self-care it’s really about you recharging.”

Self-care isn’t selfish

Some people abstain from self-care for fear that their behavior would come across as selfish. They simply can’t resist the urge to put other people first.

According to a 2017 “Women’s Wellness Report” from Everyday Health, which studied 3,000 women from ages 25 to 65 in the U.S., 76 percent of women said they were were more likely to put their own personal needs after someone else’s. However, more than half of the participants said that taking time for themselves was the greatest factor in achieving wellness. (Disclosure: Mashable and Everyday Health are owned by the same company, Ziff Davis.) 

“You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“It’s essential for your mental health and your physical health,” Williams said, noting that self-care is anything but selfish. “You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“I heard someone say that it’s like putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency before putting one on a child,” added Crystal Park, another professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. 

“The healthier and more resilient we are, the more effective we can be in our lives.”

Heading into 2018 with some solid self-care guidelines will help you better manage your stress and survive whatever challenges are in store, so here are a few to keep in mind.

Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day

Your mental health is important, but it’s also extremely easy to ignore. When your job gets too overwhelming or events in your personal life prevent or distract you from doing your best work in the office it’s time to take a step back.

For inspiration, look no further than one of 2017’s viral personal tales: the story of Olark CEO Ben Congleton advocating for his employee after learning she’d taken time off for mental health reasons.

After Congleton’s understanding email sparked discussion about mental health in the workplace, he wrote a post on Medium further emphasizing the need to normalize it.

When you are at work, take additional steps to make your environment a place of comfort. Personalize your desk with a plant, a framed photo of something that makes you smile, or set the mood with a tiny lamp. 

And every so often, book a conference room for lunch with your coworkers to share pizza and a cake you buy for the sole reason of craving cake. Work will still be there when your lunch break ends, but taking time to clear your head is crucial.

Give social media and screens a rest

Social media usage often starts with the intention of getting caught up on current events and quickly spirals into a black hole of negativity.

“So many people are plugged in and instantly alerted to everything that is happening in the news in ways that weren’t possible 10 years ago,” said Dr. Carolyn Mazure, director of Women’s Health Research at Yale.

While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been proven to take a toll on self-esteem and mental health, social media isn’t all bad.

Here are a few ways to make online communities safer spaces for you:

  • Follow encouraging accounts like Janelle Silver‘s, who promotes her self-care-themed Etsy store.

  • Unfollow people on Facebook. (This helps you to remain friends with them but hides their posts from your timeline.)

  • Turn off push notifications.

  • Use Twitter’s mute feature to shield yourself from triggering words.

Self-Care isn’t selfish 💖

A post shared by Heart + Hands Store (@janellesilver) on

Transform your cell phone into a self-care hub 

While it’s healthy to disconnect from technology every so often, when you do have your phone by your side these tips can help make the experience more enjoyable.

  • Make use of your Do Not Disturb function.

  • Free up some storage space by parting with old text messages you have no intention of ever revisiting, deleting unused apps and contacts, and loading all photos and videos onto your laptop so you’re left with an empty album.

  • Download self-care apps related to deep breathing, meditation, list-making, and maybe even a relaxing game or two, likeAnimal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

  • Create empowering or soothing playlists so you can easily listen to mood-lifting music on-the-go.

Treat Yo Self, but treat others, too

No matter how small, make a daily attempt to treat yourself to an experience or a purchase that’ll brighten your mood.

Get a pedicure or massage, take a hot bath, go for a walk around the block, go out with friends, or cancel plans to stay in on a Friday night to recharge and binge-watch mindless television, if that’s what you need.

And while being good to oneself is key, Park noted “balance is important” in self-care, and making an effort to give back to others often helps people feel better. Consider volunteering, or clean out your closets and drawers to donate unwanted items to charity.

Put positivity on display

One form of self-care can be as simple as not being so hard on yourself all the time. It sounds simple, but it can be a serious challenge at times. Visual reminders can help.

When in doubt, turn to this handy self-care printable, titled “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay.” The checklist presents 16 questions for you to answer and serves as a helpful reminder to stay hydrated, shower, participate in physical activity, and be kind to yourself.

Keep a copy of the printout in your bag for comfort or hang it somewhere you know you’ll see it.  (Mashable HQ has one on the wall of the women’s restroom.)

Affirmations are another great way to be kind to yourself and can serve as help. Glancing at inspirational quotes, uplifting doodles, or a few words of positivity can lift your spirits. The Mashable women’s restroom also has a few on display. (Very good restroom.)

Image: nicole gallucci/mashable

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Though the term self-care sounds like an isolated practice, it doesn’t have to be.

If you’re someone who struggles to commit to individual self-care routines, or simply takes enjoyment from the company of others, spending time with and opening up to a friend, loved one, therapist, or even reaching out to the Crisis Text Line could be extremely beneficial.

Just know that you’re not alone in your stress and professionals are out there to help. 

“Certainly, if possible, try to see a stressful situation as an opportunity to grow, and consider the power of reorienting how you confront a stressful situation when it arrives,” Mazure said.

“Instead of thinking, ‘Oh no, not again,’ perhaps a good self-care perspective might be, ‘I’ve seen stress before. I’ve got this.'”

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/16/self-care-guide-2018/

Facebook’s AI suicide prevention tool is a ‘black box.’ That should worry you.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

For many people who’ve dedicated their lives to preventing suicide, social media posts can be a precious dataset that contains hints about what people say and do before they attempt suicide.  

In the past few years, researchers have built algorithms to learn which words and emoji are associated with suicidal thoughts. They’ve even used social media posts to retrospectively predict the suicide deaths of certain Facebook users. 

Now Facebook itself has rolled out new artificial intelligence that can proactively identify heightened suicide risk and alert a team of human reviewers who are trained to reach out to a user contemplating fatal self-harm. 

An example of what someone may see if Facebook detects they need help.

Image: Facebook

The technology, announced Monday, represents an unparalleled opportunity to understand and predict suicide risk. Before the AI tool was even publicly announced, Facebook used it to help dispatch first responders in 100 “wellness checks” to ensure a user’s safety. The tool’s life-saving potential is huge, but the company won’t share many details about how it works or whether it’ll broadly share its findings with academics and researchers. 

That is bound to leave some experts in the field confused and concerned. 

Munmun De Choudhury, an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, commends the social media company for focusing on suicide prevention, but she would like Facebook to be more transparent about its algorithms. 

“This is not just another AI tool — it tackles a really sensitive issue,” she said. “It’s a matter of somebody’s life and death.” 

“This is not just another AI tool — it tackles a really sensitive issue. It’s a matter of somebody’s life and death.” 

Facebook understands the stakes, which is why its VP of product management, Guy Rosen, emphasized in an interview how AI significantly hastens the process of identifying distressed users and getting them resources or help. 

But he declined to talk in-depth about the algorithm’s factors beyond a few general examples, like worried comments from friends and family, the time of day, and the text in a user’s post. Rosen also said the company, which has partnerships with suicide-prevention organizations, wants to learn from researchers, but he wouldn’t discuss how or if Facebook might publish or share insights from its use of AI. 

“We want to be very open about this,” he said. 

While transparency might not be Facebook’s strength, in a field like suicide prevention it could help other experts save more lives by revealing behavior or language patterns that emerge prior to suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt. With more than 2 billion users, Facebook arguably has the largest database of such content in the world. 

De Choudhury says transparency is vital when it comes to AI because transparency instills trust, a sentiment that’s in short supply as people worry about technology’s potential to fundamentally disrupt their professional and personal lives. Without enough trust in the tool, says De Choudhury, at-risk users may decide against sharing emotionally vulnerable or suicidal posts. 

When users receive a message from Facebook, it doesn’t indicate that AI identified them as high risk. Instead, they’re told that “someone thinks you might need extra support right now and asked us to help.” That someone, though, is a human reviewer who followed up on the AI detection of risk.

It’s also currently impossible to know how the AI determines that someone is at imminent risk, the algorithm’s accuracy, or how it makes mistakes when looking for clues of suicidal thinking. Since users won’t know they were flagged by AI, they have no way of telling Facebook that it wrongly identified them as suicidal. 

De Choudhury’s research involves analyzing social media to glean information about people’s mental and emotional wellbeing, so she understands the challenges of both developing an effective algorithm and deciding which data to publish. 

She acknowledges that Facebook must strike a delicate balance. Sharing certain aspects of its findings, for example, could lead users to oversimplify suicide risk by focusing on key words or other signals of distress. And it could potentially give people with bad intentions data points they could use to analyze social media posts, identify those with perceived mental health issues, and target them for harassment or discrimination. 

“I think sharing how the algorithm works, even if they don’t reveal every excruciating detail, would be really beneficial.” 

Facebook also faces a different set of expectations and pressures as a private company. It may consider its suicide prevention AI tool intellectual property developed for the public good. It might want to use features of that intellectual property to enhance its offerings to marketers and advertisers; after all, pinpointing a user’s emotional state is something that could be highly valuable to Facebook’s marketplace competitiveness. The company has previously expressed interest in developing that ability. 

Whatever the case, De Choudhury argues that Facebook can still contribute to broader efforts to use social media to understand suicide without compromising people’s safety and the company’s bottom line. 

“I think academically sharing how the algorithm works, even if they don’t reveal every excruciating detail, would be really beneficial,” she says, “…because right now it’s really a black box.”  

Crisis Text Line, which partnered with Facebook to provide suicide prevention resources and support to users, does use AI to determine people’s suicide risk — and shares its findings with researchers and the public. 

“With the scale of data and number of people Facebook has in its system, it could be an incredibly valuable dataset for academics and researchers to understanding suicide risk,” said Bob Filbin, ‎chief data scientist for ‎Crisis Text Line. 

Filbin didn’t know Facebook was developing AI to predict suicide risk until Monday, but he said that Crisis Text Line is a proud partner and eager to work with the company to prevent suicide. 

Crisis Text Line trains counselors to deescalate texters from “hot to cool” and uses first responders as a last resort. Facebook’s human reviewers confirm the AI’s detection of risk by examining the user’s posts. They provide resources and contact emergency services when necessary, but do not further engage the user. 

Filbin expects Facebook’s AI to pick up on different signals than what surfaces in Crisis Text Line’s data. People who contact the line do so looking for help and therefore may be more explicit in how they communicate suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

One simple example is how texters at higher risk of suicide say they “need” to speak to a counselor. That urgency — compared to “want” — is just one factor that the line’s AI uses to make a judgment about risk. Another is the word “ibuprofen,” which Crisis Text Line discovered is 16 times more likely to predict the person texting needs emergency services than the word suicide. 

Filbin said that Crisis Text Line’s algorithm can identify 80 percent of text conversations that end up requiring an emergency response within the first three messages.  

That is the kind of insight that counselors, therapists, and doctors hope to one day possess. It’s clear that Facebook, by virtue of its massive size and commitment to suicide prevention, is now  leading the effort to somehow put that knowledge into the hands of people who can save lives. 

Whether or not Facebook accepts that position — and the transparency it requires — is a question the company would rather not answer yet. At some point, though, it won’t have any other option.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/28/facebook-ai-suicide-prevention-tools/

Bearded dudes pose for merman calendar to raise money for a worthy cause

Behold the “Merb’ys”—a breed of Canadian bearded mermen flapping their fur and fins for a good cause. 

The gentlemen of Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are posing in nowt but their merman garb for a dudeoir-style calendar to raise money for mental health organisation Spirit Horse NL.

And, the photos certainly don’t disappoint. The calendar—which can be previewed online—features bearded mermen posing in pumpkin patches, pubs, and on various beaches. 

The Merb’ys are thus-named because “the Newfoundland mermen are a different breed,” says Hasan Hai, founder of the beard and moustache club. Hai came up with the idea of a merman calendar after a friend of his posted a photo from a mercreature themed dudeoir shoot on his Facebook wall. 

He decided to organise a calendar, and posted an “open call to the universe” on social media, which received an unexpectedly high response. 70 or 80 people got in touch with Hai, offering to model or photograph. 

Hai knew he wanted to raise money for charity, but hadn’t yet settled on a charity. When he came across Sprit Horse NL and heard the stories of the people they help, he suggested using the calendar to raise money for the organisation. 

“It basically uses horses to provide equine therapy for people with mental illness, people who want to live better lives, people with physical limitation,” Hai told CBC. 

Donning a fin was a challenge for the men during the calendar shoots. “Moving around in a fishtail is not as easy as you would think,” Hai continued, adding that there was “a lot of hopping” and squirming involved behind the scenes.  

The calendar, which has received an overwhelming number of pre-orders, can be purchased online for $25 CAD ($19.70 USD, £14.99) from the Beard and Moustache Club website. 

Major props to the Merb’ys of Newfoundland!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/10/mermen-dudeoir-calendar-newfoundland/

This visionary organization wants to improve the lives of 50 million people by 2030

Image: pixabay

Imagine delivering a child in a place where you’re required to bring your own water to the delivery room, in a healthcare facility in which there’s no viable way for the staff to wash their hands before bringing your baby into the world.

This scenario, says Dr. Greg Allgood, the vice president of water at World Vision, is more than simply a disturbing hypothetical. In fact, he explains, it’s the reality for more than a third of healthcare facilities in the developing world. A lack of latrines and education about proper sanitation leads to rampant disease (and often death) in these rural communities, particularly among young kids.

One of the largest relief and development organizations in the world, World Vision aims to combat water shortages and health-compromising sanitation practices such as open defecation. World Toilet Day, coming up on November 19, is a prime opportunity to examine these types of initiatives — and the partnerships that make them possible.

Collaborative, community-centric approach

Bringing World Vision’s ambitious goals to fruition requires a global, collaborative effort. To effectively enact change on a mass scale — the organization aims to improve the lives of 50 million people by 2030 — World Vision employs a number of partnerships. The organization works with major corporations like the Hilton Foundation, Procter & Gamble, and Kohler. Support from these partnerships helps meet objectives like bringing improved water and sanitation systems to 3,000 healthcare facilities in the next five years.

Not only does World Vision raise funds remotely from overseas, they also have boots on the ground in developing communities. As the world’s largest child sponsorship program, World Vision staff spend up to 15 years working and living in rural communities around the globe. When it comes to initiatives like introducing modern latrines, success largely depends upon the community relationships that have been established via on-the-ground efforts.

When implementing sanitation solutions, World Vision stresses sustainability and ownership. “We empower communities to take charge of their own sanitation needs,” explains Allgood. “Community-led total sanitation methodology is something we’ve really embraced. It works really well with our system because there’s so much trust between our staff and the volunteer network of people that they set up to inspire healthy behaviors.”

We empower communities to take charge of their own sanitation needs.

In Zambia, one of the 45 countries for which World Vision has a long-term business plan, nearly a third of the country’s 15 million people lack access to clean water and modern latrines. In the next five years, World Vision hopes to reach one in every six Zambians. The comprehensive plan for meeting this goal spans every corner of the community — from individual families to schools to religious leaders. The support of authority figures like village chiefs, says Allgood, has also been huge.

Private-sector partners are another critical piece of overarching strategy. “We work with a number of private-sector companies; the thing we offer them is access to new markets based on our strong community presence,” says Allgood.

In September 2015, when World Vision announced a game plan to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (which include specific goals for clean water and sanitation), the response from the organization’s partners was overwhelmingly supportive. Kohler, for example, made a commitment to help World Vision scale up its water/sanitation/hygiene work.

“Kohler’s aspirational goal is ‘Gracious Living.’ They recently changed that to ‘Gracious Living for All’ in recognition of the desire to help underserved communities, and it was great to see that commitment. To have them in this space has everyone in the development sector really excited,” says Allgood.   

Next week, World Vision will host a team of Kohler researchers in Malawi and Lesotho in an effort to ideate how to bring new products to Africa. In addition, World Vision has helped introduce the Kohler Clarity filter into a number of communities.

“We’re seeing how people love having this well-designed filter in their homes,” says Allgood.

Empowering via education

Academic and educational partnerships also have a significant impact upon World Vision’s efforts — particularly on those that target kids and families. 

A partnership with Sesame Street, for example, in which the beloved children’s program introduced a new character named Raya to focus on sanitation, hygiene, and water, is proving promising.

“Raya and Elmo go into schools with World Vision to help teach kids about healthy sanitation, water storage and conservation habits, and hand-washing,” says Allgood, who adds that World Vision is now in 11 countries with Sesame Street. “We started in Zambia, and the program was so successful that the Ministry of Education embraced it. Our goal was to reach 10,000 kids, but we quickly reached more than 50,000 because of that support.” Now, similar efforts are expanding to countries in the Middle East like Afghanistan and Lebanon, as well as to Asia, Honduras, and numerous other African nations. 

“When you empower kids and teach them these habits in a fun, loving way, they take those habits home to their brothers and sisters — and even to their parents,” says Allgood. “It really affects the entire household.”

World Vision’s efforts are paying off. In the parts of the world in which the organization operates, an average of eight communities every day become certified as open-defecation free. On the water side of the equation, Allgood adds, World Vision provides clean water at an unprecedented rate of one new person every ten seconds.

Another one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Revitalizing global partnerships. Here, too, World Vision and partners like Kohler are exemplifying how collaborative efforts can help turn these lofty visions into concrete realities.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/06/world-vision/

Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates speaks speaks at the Goalkeepers 2017 event on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York City.
Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates just donated a piece of his fortune to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The philanthropist and Microsoft founder announced in a blog post Monday that he will give $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership that invests in innovative dementia research. Gates will also donate another $50 million in startups working in Alzheimer’s research.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has a long track record of supporting research to eradicate diseases like malaria and polio. But Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia that progressively affects memory and other brain functions, is the first noncommunicable disease he’s fighting.

The $100 million is his own investment, not his foundation’s. That’s, in part, because it’s personal. 

“This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and someone new develops the disease every 66 seconds. People of all ages are affected, but 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Gates said he spent the last year learning everything he could about Alzheimer’s disease, speaking with researchers, academics, and other industry experts. Those conversations led him to focus on five areas: understanding how the disease unfolds, figuring out how to detect it earlier, funding more innovative and lesser-known drug trials, making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials, and using data to inform better approaches.

Gates’ investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund will help support startups as it explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia,” he explained.

“The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries,” Gates wrote, explaining how he might look at the issue beyond his personal investment in the future.

The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

“People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that,” Gates said. “I’m excited to join the fight and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/13/bill-gates-alzheimers-disease-donation/

Ikea designed a refugee shelter and it lasts 6x longer than traditional emergency tents

Umm Abdullah and her daughter, Sadal, introduce one of the "brain building" activities offered through the IRC-Vroom partnership.
Image: Courtesy of the International Rescue Committee

There are common themes in many refugees’ journeys: escaping conflict or devastation, migrating unbearably long distances, living in makeshift camps, seeking asylum in countries trying to keep them out, and eventually resettling in communities with completely new cultures and languages.

All of that can take an extraordinary toll on anyone, but refugee parents face an especially unique and stressful challenge. On top of these struggles, they still need to somehow find the strength and support to guide their young children through early development.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global humanitarian aid organization, is tackling this issue head-on — with technology.

The IRC has partnered with educational mobile platform Vroom to provide Syrian refugee parents with tools to turn everyday experiences into “brain building” moments with their kids. Through a pilot program launched earlier this year in Jordan and Lebanon, the IRC sends displaced Syrian families tips, techniques, and activities that can be accessed on mobile devices.

The program’s results were published in a new report this week, showing that through videos, Facebook, WhatsApp, and other digital means, such an initiative can promote learning and foster a more stable and enriching environment for both refugee caregivers and their children. 

A still image from one of the IRC’s animated videos, adapted from Vroom.

Image: Courtesy of the International Rescue Committee 

Vroom was first created by the Bezos Family Foundation to help low-income families in the U.S. turn shared moments into educational lessons, whether it’s during meals, bath time, or on the go. The goal was to “meet families where they are.”

The IRC worked with Vroom to adapt these tips and activities for refugees, and translated them into Arabic for Syrian families.

While folding clothes, for example, parents can teach their children different shapes, or they can use different food names at a market by asking a child what letters they start with. One video shows a woman named Umm Abdullah and her daughter, Sadal, introducing a game called “Stacking Time,” in which a child can build using differently sized dishware while her parents cook or clean.

These ideas and exercises might seem simple, but they can have an immense impact on a child’s development in a tough environment. More than 3.7 million Syrian children have been born since the civil war there began more than six years ago. They’ve only known violence, poverty, and displacement, all of which often prevents them from accessing traditional education and social services.

The IRC-adapted Vroom tips could help parents fill in some of the gaps.

The testing and prototyping methods for the program were based on human-centered design and behavioral science. The IRC took into account cultural appropriateness and relevance for Syrian families, the best mediums and channels to deliver content, and the best framing of messages to inspire more engagement. 

“WhatsApp was not just powerful because it reaches all kinds of families … but also because there is community around it.”

They field-tested a variety of methods for delivering these tools, such as SMS texts, a dedicated Facebook page, WhatsApp groups, animated videos, and more. The IRC learned that Syrian families prefer video much more than short texts. And because Facebook and WhatsApp can reach the most vulnerable and isolated communities, and are already prevalent among refugees, they were among the best ways to spread information.

“Nearly every family knows about WhatsApp, and uses it as a way to communicate with family members throughout the region,” says Sarah Smith, senior director of education at the IRC. “WhatsApp was not just powerful because it reaches all kinds of families and the most vulnerable families, but also because there is community around it.”

That kind of engagement and sharing of ideas, she says, was a perfect fit for the Vroom pilot program. Meanwhile, the Facebook page attracted more than 3,200 followers within just nine days.

They also prototyped a standalone Vroom mobile app for Syrian refugee families, but Smith says most parents weren’t accustomed to downloading a new app. It can be a significant hurdle, and they learned not to expect people to do it on their own.

Image: Courtesy of The International Rescue Committee

The new program is a continuation of the organization’s previous educational efforts with Syrian families throughout the Middle East. Traditionally, the IRC has taught parenting skills in groups, or social workers and community health workers visited homes to give parents techniques to support their children’s development.

But with more than 5 million Syrian refugees around the world, living in different regions, contexts, and situations, those kinds of efforts can be costly and logistically challenging.

“These parents and their kids have been through, in many cases, such severe circumstances — having witnessed violence, but also seeing their communities disintegrate in front of them, and all of the challenges of moving around,” Smith says. “We realized that we needed to figure out ways to scale the project and reach many more parents than a typical group-based approach can offer at low cost.” 

Mobile technology and internet connectivity allow for that kind of scale. Most Syrian refugee families have access to a mobile device, and according to a 2016 UNHCR report, refugees in Jordan spend between 10 and 20 percent of their cash distribution on connectivity.

A prototype of the standalone Vroom mobile app for Syrian refugee families.

Image: Courtesy of the International Rescue Committee

But Smith says technology isn’t a catch-all solution. While it’s influenced the IRC’s education initiatives, a lot of people believed tech would fix the fact that education systems aren’t effectively servicing children in crisis. 

“There’s still a lot of [ways] technology can help, but I think people now are realizing that technology is a tool, and it takes a lot more than just putting the tool in a classroom or in the hands of a child for it to be effective,” she says.

“It takes a lot more than just putting the tool in a classroom or in the hands of a child for it to be effective.”

For the IRC, the Vroom pilot program shows that it’s important to test different kinds of technology, but also test how you actually distribute it and make it the best tool to educate parents, children, or teachers.

In the coming months, the IRC plans to expand the program to more families within the region, adapt more games and tips, and interview more families about what they like best. It’s also looking to integrate the Vroom program into its refugee education initiatives with Sesame Workshop.

Ultimately, both the IRC and Vroom want to empower refugee parents to see their roles beyond just providing for their children, and also take care of themselves.

“We’re looking at how we can adjust some of the tips so that they are not just for parents to do different activities and games with children, but for parents to work on their own stress management and their own support for themselves,” she says.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/25/syrian-refugee-parents-tech-education-irc-vroom/

Salesforce launches $50 million Impact Fund to invest in social change startups

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, at the annual Salesforce Dreamforce 2013 conference in San Francisco, California.
Image: Kim Kulish / Corbis via Getty Images

Salesforce continues to build a social good movement within the technology sector.

Since it was founded in 1999, the cloud computing giant and its CEO, Marc Benioff, have been trailblazers in redefining “corporate social responsibility,” with philanthropy baked into the company’s DNA.

Now it’s taking that mission even further, using its powerful position in tech and its dedication to social change to fund startups with social impact at their core.

Salesforce announced Tuesday that it’s launching the Salesforce Impact Fund, a $50 million initiative to accelerate the growth of startups that are using Salesforce technology to address some of the world’s biggest problems. Through the fund, Salesforce will invest in these companies, furthering each one’s goal of driving positive change.

“We’re really just excited to launch the Impact Fund … to make the world a better place and a more equal place.”

As part of Salesforce Ventures, the company’s corporate investment group, the Impact Fund will focus on four key areas: workforce development and education, equality, environment, and the social sector.

The first class of startups to receive funding from the Salesforce Impact Fund span these areas of interest.  

In the equality category there’s Ellevest, an investing platform started by Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck that’s designed for women and aims to solve the gender investment gap. For the environment, there’s Angaza Design, a pay-as-you-go tech platform that helps manufacturers and distributors make clean energy devices more affordable for off-the-grid consumers.

In the social sector category is Hustle, which offers peer-to-peer text messaging that enables nonprofits, educational institutions, and advocacy groups to connect with donors and constituents on a scalable basis. And in workforce development there’s Viridis Learning, which uses machine learning to match skill deficiencies in the workforce with local employer needs.

“We’re very excited about all four of these investments,” said John Somorjai, Salesforce’s executive vice president of corporate development and Salesforce Ventures. “Overall, we’re really just excited to launch the Impact Fund … to make the world a better place and a more equal place.”

“Salesforce Ventures is investing in companies that are not only creating innovative solutions, but they’re also improving the state of the world.”

Somorjai explained that Salesforce Ventures, which has grown into the third-largest corporate VC in the world (behind Intel and Google) since it launched in 2009, has about 200 active investments today. Since the beginning of this year, Salesforce  announced two other $50 million funds — one to invest in cloud consulting startups and another to encourage AI startups.

But now the group is trying to bring the company’s overall goal of giving back to its portfolio.

“With the new Impact Fund, Salesforce Ventures is investing in companies that are not only creating innovative solutions, but they’re also improving the state of the world,” Somorjai said. “These are strategic investments that are aligned to our goals around building the world’s No. 1 cloud ecosystem for our customers.”

Suzanne DiBianca, executive vice president of corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer at Salesforce, said the Impact Fund’s first four startups were chosen, in part, because they’re just good businesses. 

“First and foremost, we’re looking for excellent companies — really solid companies, great entrepreneurs, proven track record, great vision, fantastic products,” DiBianca said.

She added that Salesforce has been working with lead partners over the past six months, including Omidyar Network, Kapor Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Emerson Collective. Google Ventures is a co-investor. 

“We’ve been looking to a lot of these lead partners that were investors in earlier rounds to source some of their best companies,” she said.

Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck speaks during the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York  on April 6, 2017.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Impact investing obviously isn’t a new concept in the tech world — Omidyar has been investing in social change startups for years, and Bill Gates even launched a $1 billion clean energy fund with other tech heavyweights in late 2016. 

But DiBianca said she doesn’t know of any other corporate venture arms that have taken such an intentional strategy around impact investing.

“There’s a huge opportunity for us to make a difference here, with our corporate capital, in the for-profit sector,” she said.

And it’s true. Salesforce is uniquely positioned to facilitate real growth and impact in this space, in part because as a company it already has. 

If there’s one tech giant in a good position to raise startups in its own image, it’s Salesforce. 

Benioff’s mission in 1999 was to create a new kind of company that makes philanthropy a core part of its founding tenets. Its integrated 1-1-1 model, in which Salesforce leverages a percent of its tech, people, and resources to give back, has inspired 3,000 other companies to adopt the same model. It’s also led to $170 million in grants, more than 2 million volunteer hours, and 30,000 nonprofits and educational institutions using the Salesforce platform. 

And its own company culture reflects its values. Salesforce has nine employee resource groups, regularly assesses its own equal pay gaps (and spent $6 million to adjust salaries of more than 26,000 employees), and achieved its net-zero carbon emissions goal earlier this year.

Salesforce was also one of the first companies to stand against discriminatory legislation targeting queer and trans communities in Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. It proved that social justice is no longer off limits in business and corporate social responsibility efforts, and pushed other corporations to do the same.

If there’s one tech giant in a good position to raise startups in its own image, it’s Salesforce. 

“It’s really designed to support a whole new generation of companies focused on driving positive social change through technology,” DiBianca said of the new Impact Fund.

The Salesforce Impact Fund will work like the current venture program. As deals happen, and as rounds of funding come together, Salesforce Ventures will be evaluating them. That means it will invest in startups on a rolling basis. The goal is to fully deploy the $50 million from the fund within the next two years.

“There is good news coming out of the venture community these days, and [it’s] happening through action, not through words,” DiBianca said.

“But more importantly, there’s just a lot of great entrepreneurs out there, and we’re really excited to get to know them, to meet them, and to help power their business ideas on the Salesforce platform and within our ecosystem.”

UPDATE: Oct. 4, 2017, 5:22 p.m. ET Salesforce has clarified that Google Ventures is a co-investor for the Salesforce Impact Fund, not a partner. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/03/salesforce-impact-fund-social-good-startups/

Connie Britton reveals how \

YouTube is bringing its community of creators to an important campaign advocating for girls' education.
Image: The one campaign 

There’s something staggering about the fact that 130 million girls around the world don’t receive an education. 

It’s enough to make some people feel skeptical or cynical about efforts to solve the problem. But The ONE Campaign, an international advocacy campaign dedicated to ending poverty around the world, sees a glimmer of hope in social media and digital technology. 

That’s why ONE launched #GirlsCount earlier this year. The initiative invites anyone to choose an unclaimed number between 1 and 130,000,000 and record themselves in support of girls’ education in what’s effectively a user-generated public service announcement. 

The idea is for 130 million people to submit clips to the campaign, raising raising awareness about the problem and inspiring people to act along the way. If 130 million people do indeed participate, the final video will be the longest in the world and take five years to watch, according to ONE. 

Now, on International Day of the Girl, the campaign is putting more muscle behind #GirlsCount with a new YouTube partnership that draws on the voices — and audiences — of more than 50 YouTube creators who reach more than 32 million viewers. 

“I think we’ve got to be affirmative and hopeful but with a little edge of fierce,” said Gayle Smith, president and CEO of ONE. “I think the video messages make a huge difference.”

ONE has already received nearly 17,000 #GirlsCount submissions, which adds up to more than 30 hours of video. 

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shared her own video Wednesday, choosing the number 117,000 to represent the fact that it costs $1.17 to educate a girl for a day in some countries. 

“The next world-changing breakthrough might be built in a garage in Silicon Valley, but it could also stem from the imagination of a girl in Senegal, South Sudan or Nigeria,” said Danielle Tiedt, YouTube’s vice president of marketing, in a blog post

Top YouTube creators participating in #GirlsCount include like TheSorryGirls, Whitney White of Naptural85, and Maddu Magalhães. Some of the messages are deeply personal. Education vlogger Aboubakar Idriss joined the campaign because his sister couldn’t attend school. 

The YouTube creators join numerous celebrities and activists who have already backed the initiative, including Malala Yousafzai, Charlize Theron, Connie Britton, Elizabeth Banks, and Gisele and Tom Brady. 

Smith said that people inspired to do something more than create a clip can consider lobbying their elected officials on supporting a federal budget that maintains or increases funding for global development aid. The Trump administration’s proposed budget dramatically slashes such spending, which Smith said would negatively affect efforts to ensure that girls around the world get an education. 

“It’s a smart investment,” Smith said, pointing to research showing that education for girls can reduce local poverty and lead to national economic gains. “It’s short-sighted not to educate girls.” 

Smith is counting on YouTube creators and their audiences to spread that message in ways that policymakers and traditional media can’t. 

“We can do it,” she said. “[We’ll] reward political courage, but we won’t let up the pressure.”  

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/11/youtube-one-campaign-girls-count/