JoyBinge Ep. 12: Sharing, Caring, and Poo
Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. My name is Kimmy Mauldin and I am not a journalist or a professional of any sort in the news industry. I’m just a Texas girl in need of some happy news and want to share what I find. Let’s binge on some joy!
Hopefully those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving here in the U.S. enjoyed your holiday. And I hope the spirit of gratefulness spread to those of you who don’t celebrate! I was really glad to do the more personal episode last week, I know it was kind of weird. I was hoping to share a little more about how this podcast has impacted me in the first 10 episodes, well, 11 episodes if you count the pilot. I just wanted to say one more time a big thank you to all of you for your continued support!
Also last week, if you missed it, I started a Facebook page where I am sharing news stories as I find them throughout the week. These will be stories I will not be covering on the podcast so you can have even more good stories to binge on outside of podcast listening! There is also a new Instagram account so you can get notifications about news stories on there as well! And don’t forget about the Twitter account if you spend more time on there. Those are the only platforms JoyBinge is currently represented on, and is really all I can handle at the moment. Maybe one day I can spread out a bit more to other platforms but for now, this seems pretty solid. If you look for JoyBinge on either of those three platforms you will find us. If you have another podcast app or distribution platform you would like to see JoyBinge on, let me know. We want to reach as many people as we can with all this good news! Ok, now for real, let’s binge on some joy!
If there is anything that can bring people together, even people who disagree, it’s food. On November 18th, groups Muslim Aid and Mitzvah Day worked together in East London to make and distribute “1,200 portions of chicken soup and 150 portions of vegetarian soup...to 12 shelters and hostels across London,” according to Muslim Aid’s Facebook page. Harriet Sherwood brings us this story through The Guardian on November 18th.
As we all know all too well, talking with people who believe differently from ourselves, whether it’s politically, spiritually, or otherwise, conversations can be difficult and tense. But when we work together towards a united goal, we can break those barriers and find the commonalities that bring us together. The charity, Mitzvah Day, brought together groups of varying belief systems to cook many pots of chicken soup for the homeless in London and around the world.
Sherwood reports, “Across the UK, more than 2,500 servings of soup - kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan - were being cooked at 20 venues, with soup-making events also taking place in Germany, Poland, South Africa and Australia, as part of Mitzvah Day - a day of social action led by the Jewish community but involving people of other faiths and no faith.” Every year, on or around November 18th, Jewish communities around the world spend the day working on projects that help their communities’ impoverished members and strengthen their community bonds. For East London, expanding their reach to other religious groups was a real show of commitment to all in their community.
One of the participants in East London’s efforts, Tahir Iqbar, was able to put his culinary expertise to work. He is the events director of Elite Caterers and was able to organize 90 halal chickens for the meals, donate other ingredients, cookware, and coordinate the delivery logistics for getting the food to where it needed to go. He told Sherwood, “This is a new experience for us. I’ve never made Jewish chicken soup before, but I’ve been practising for two weeks, including on my family.”
Laura Marks is the founder and chair of Mitzvah Day and she got involved in this year’s activities. She spoke with Sherwood and said, “...Mitzvah Day is about the common values that underlie both religions - the commitment to social action and social justice. We are both commanded by our faith to do good deeds and contribute to society. Most of the Jews here won’t have been in a mosque before, and most Muslims won’t have Jewish friends. But here we are, chopping vegetables together.” The chief executive of Muslim Aid, Jehangir Malik, commented on the event saying the chicken soup experience was “a wonderful initiative to bring our two communities together in a part of London which is meaningful to both of us and to spread a positive interfaith message around the world.”
Seeing these groups work together on this event and around the world is spreading a message of hope, commitment to communities, and desire to find common ground on which to stand. We do not have to all agree on every facet of life but finding ways to work together for the betterment of those around us is hugely important to living peacefully with each other. I’m personally thankful to see such an uplifting and empowering story like this reported on this week. Hopefully this story helps you feel inspired as well!
When disasters hit our towns and people we love, finding reasons to celebrate anything afterwards can take a long time. We have seen so many terrible things from floods to fires to earthquakes and more hit close to home and far abroad recently. Today, I want to share a story where a photographer took the time to celebrate some of the incredible heroes who rescued many people in more ways than one after the massive earthquake that hit Mexico City and surrounding areas in September 2017. On November 23rd, BBC shared pictures of these heroes taken by Santiago Arau.
September 19, 2017 was a tragic day followed by more devastation due to some massive earthquakes that demolished buildings, killing hundreds of people. Many went missing during the chaos, buried under the rubble. Rescuers worked hard saving people and pulling those killed out from under the debris. They used hand signals instructing those around them to be silent so they could listen, to not move due to unseen danger, and to continue working once those dangers were resolved. But one incredible way rescuers were able to find people faster was by working with well trained dogs to sniff through the wreckage to identify where people needed help.
Ecko, Evil, Eska, Eros, Acertijo, Nahaul and Frida, are some of the canines Mexico celebrates now as their heroes in a time when they were most desperately needed. Arau took portraits of these hero dogs in their gear looking serious and ready for action, but he was also able to catch the more personable side of their personalities.
Frida is the most popular out of this bunch. After the rescue efforts was able to slow down, Frida and her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, interviewed with many news stations and other media to share how she was able to help find people. Salinas explained the gear she wore to protect her paws, eyes, and body, as well as the harness he used to put her in places she needed to search and pull her out when needed. People in Mexico love Frida so much that her image has been used in street art, including a gorgeous mural that was painted on the side of a building. There is even a bronze statue of her and Salinas standing in Puebla.
Arau posted these portraits on his Twitter account which has been shared thousands of times. One of his goals with this project was to showcase not just Frida but the other dogs who worked hard for the people of Mexico.
According to the article, “...the dogs are trained for up to a year before being deployed to disaster zones such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake.” Such huge awful events need creative solutions such as bringing in canines to help with searches and bring people to safety. The article states, “Mexicans’ pride in the dogs has only increased over the years and Santiago Arau’s posts prompted a flood of tweets praising their performance. Some took the opportunity to tweet pictures of their own dogs suggesting doggy play dates with the rescue dogs or potential ‘boyfriends’ for Frida, who at eight years of age is due to retire soon. One woman even suggested replacing the eagle on the Mexican flag with an image of Frida.”
If you read the article, it is rife with pictures of the dogs’ portraits, images of them at work, and artwork people created to celebrate them. Take some time if you need a heartwarming smile. It’s worth it. When I read this article, the often quoted line from Mr. Fred Rogers came to mind, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And in this tragic case, we are blessed to find not just people, but loving dogs who are helping as well.
When Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas in the United States in September of this year, we heard and saw sickening reports of the damage and sorrow the people suffered. So CBS did what Mr. Rogers suggested, they looked for the helpers. They found one man who made huge sacrifices to help the people who no longer had homes. Steve Hartman brings us this story about Jaret Hucks on November 23rd.
Myrtle Beach was one of the places devastated by Florence’s wrath. Hucks owns the Midtown Inn and Cottages and opened his doors to people who had nowhere to turn once their houses were flooded. Since the hurricane hit, he “gave away more than 1,000 free nights to the community’s poorest and most vulnerable evacuees,” according to Hartman. His good will amounts to over $50,000 worth of services. Why is he so willing to lose a large chunk of income? He told CBS, “Love thy neighbor, right? That’s what you’re supposed to do. My mama taught me that a long time ago.”
When word got out that he had opened his doors, donations started pouring in. People have donated diapers, food, shoes, clothes, and other services the evacuees need. Hucks goal was to get people to a position where they can afford going back home or to a new home. He made sure that pets could stay too. In a similar article published by CBS earlier in October, Hartman reported, “No pet policy be damned - the Midtown has welcomed dogs, a tortoise and even a rescued baby squirrel named Mr. Squeakers.”
Now the flood Hucks deals with is much kinder than Florence. He receives tons of mail offering praise, cash, and encouragement for what he has done. The cash he receives goes straight to the families affected so they can get their affairs in order faster. Hartman states, “Whether it’s a car repair or a down payment on a new apartment, Jaret is now a full-service Good Samaritan, further guaranteeing that he has made his mama proud.”
Since the U.S. has been talking nonstop about turkeys for the past month due to Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to take a look at this story in which turkeys provide something more than just meat to grace our tables. Lina Zeldovich brings us this interesting take on another way turkeys can provide for us through NPR on November 19th.
A smoked turkey is my personal favorite way to enjoy a big Thanksgiving meal. But what if instead of using coal to light the smoking fire, we used...turkey poop? Scientists from Ben-Gurion University in Israel have figured out a way to transform turkey feces into a coal like substance with the goal of becoming a reliable renewable resource and fueling power plants in the future.
Weirdly enough, animal dung has been a rather large problem for the environment. Zeldovich reports, “In industrial agricultural operations, animal waste is usually treated with chemicals, burned or just dumped into landfills, where it contaminates groundwater.” Ew.
Amit Gross is the Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology chair and is leading the team in finding ways to make this turkey poop coal. Why poop though? Gross tells Zeldovich, “It is an environmental burden, and people are still trying to figure out what to do with it.” The waste is constant and consistent, never wanting for more. We have too much. So why not use it for burning fuel?
Zeldovich goes into detail about how the coal is prepared so if you want to know about that, read the article. Instead, I’m going to read a sizeable chunk of the article here that doesn’t go into that detail but provides some interesting tidbits.
Zeldovich reports, “The scientists published their "recipes" and energy comparisons in the journal Applied Energy, stating that as global poultry production continues to grow, its fecal byproduct may help offset some of the world's energy needs. When converted to combustible biomass fuel, it could replace approximately 10 percent of the coal used in electricity generation, reduce greenhouse gases and provide an alternative and renewable energy source, says Vivian Mau, one of the project's researchers.
Other types of animals, such as cows, can contribute too. The team even tried pressure-cooking human excrement for a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
Poultry-made hydrochar powder is a perfect fit for electricity production — and can be fueling generators now, Mau says. Making this work on an industrial level will take some scaling up, but the team doesn't foresee any engineering problems. Moreover, some furnaces pulverize coal for better combustion, so having the fuel already in powder form rather than lumps is an advantage. "This powder can go straight to the power plants and be loaded into the furnace," Mau says. "And it can also be made into briquettes," she adds, which can be used as charcoal for heating and cooking food.”
And yes, they asked if a turkey could be cooked over it’s own dooky. The answer, totally possible. Mau tells Zeldovich, “In rough calculations, it produces twice the amount but it can get interesting if we want to compare different cooking methods, recipes, stuffings, etc.” But would it make the turkey have any, um, “interesting” flavors or smells? Probably not! Apparently the coal smells like coffee of all things so it would be possible for the turkey to have a hint of coffee taste instead. How weird.
Slice of Texas
The Texas Optimism Project has a new interview! I honestly thought it would take longer so this was exciting to see. For those of you who haven’t heard about this, TexasMonthly and Frost Bank partnered together to bring us stories of Texans who have optimized their optimism to propel themselves in business, their personal lives, and helping others. This has been perfect for our Slice of Texas segments. Katy Lemieux is the Optimism Correspondent who interviews Rachel Lindsay, a Dallas attorney turned reality TV star.
If you are a fan of reality shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette then you are probably already familiar with Rachel Lindsay. After starring on both shows, she is hailed as The Bachelorette’s first African American star and now co-hosts ESPN’s Football Frenzy on @ESPNRadio Sundays at 4pm CST. But before she was on The Bachelor, she had never seen an episode before. She told Lemieux that she started watching the show as she was packing her bags to go to LA for filming.
When Lindsay auditioned, she was actually in a long-term relationship but she said that even before she auditioned, she knew the relationship was dead. When talking about this, Lindsay stated, “You should be moving forward and not staying in the same place...I just kept going back, even though I knew it was over. … The Bachelor was me closing the door to that relationship.”
She goes on to talk about her experience on The Bachelorette, “They allowed me to be me. There were moments where I was laughing, I was being goofy, I was cursing someone out. I was emotional. Being an attorney, that is the exact opposite of what you want to do. But I am a very sensitive person, and I wanted to show the vulnerability and the sincerity that I was going through. I won’t say things are scripted, but you know you’re not going to like all 31 men that show up to see you. So that’s what I would say is the most scripted part, because you have to keep people you don’t want. I’ve always been outspoken, always telling it like it is. I feel like the biggest compliment I get is that I was very authentic on the show. That’s really what I tried to be.”
Random tangent warning. Reality TV is an interesting form of television as the actors are often told what to do, what behaviors to exhibit, what the end goal is, etc. I, myself, got to be an extra for a show where people buy houses and flip them to sell again. While it was a fun experience, it wasn’t much different than I expected. I watched as strangers were paired together to play married couples and “buy” a house. They instructed us on how to inspect homes, what to look at and admire or comment on. They never told us exactly what to say but asked for us to comment on different features, leading us in a way. But the words we said were our own which was neat.
In the acting community, reality TV can be frowned upon pretty heavily depending on who you speak with but I honestly think it’s a fun twist on entertainment. If the show wasn’t directed or at least a little scripted, it would more often than not show reality for what it really is, chaotic and weirdly mundane. But as long as you keep that in mind, reality shows can be fun! My boyfriend, John, and I have really gotten into watching Survivor with his family in the last several years. They have been fans since the beginning, all 37 seasons ago. So they’ve worked hard to get me caught up. We have watched just 9 seasons together and are invested in the 37th season which is playing right now. And we are going back to watch older seasons. I always said I hated reality TV but the more popular and varied it was gotten, I’ve had to begrudgingly change my tune. Now I see how fun it can be...as long as you realize that it’s not entirely true.
Random tangent over. Back to the interview.
Lemieux and Lindsay talked about what Lindsay is known for from The Bachelorette, which was pretty interesting. Lemiuex asked, “You’ve said that you’ll always be known as the “black bachelorette.” You had to be a representative for African-Americans. I am curious how you managed to be an ambassador and shut down stereotypes and still remain true to yourself.”
Lindsay responded, “I was very sure about who I was. I needed to process some things before I accepted: being the first black bachelorette, introducing myself as a black lead to an audience that had never seen one before. How would the black community perceive me? How would the Bachelor community perceive me? … My mom didn’t want me to do the show for those very reasons. But it felt bigger than me. But it needed to happen, and I could do it well. This was an opportunity for an audience to see someone in this role they’d never seen before. That was the driving force. I stopped being fearful of it, and I started to look at [it] as an honor. The show had been on the air for 16 years, and they’d never had a black lead.”
She talks about how she broke down in the show about the position she was in, balancing different audiences and areas of pressure. While it would be easy to feel ashamed of showing that vulnerability, Lindsay looks back on that moment with pride. What she did wasn’t easy and she got to display that difficulty and how it can affect a person.
This wasn’t the first time Lindsay felt pressure because she is a young black female in a white dominated field. Being an attorney prepared her well for this role. She tells Lemieux, “I started off as a prosecutor in municipal court. I can’t tell you how many times an attorney would come in and then ask me, ‘When is the attorney arriving?’ And I’m sitting at the table, as the prosecutor. They assumed I was a paralegal or a clerk with the court, not the attorney. … I’ve been in dispositions where attorneys were very condescending to me, but my number one was an older, white male: he wouldn’t speak to me in the same way. That is something I never really had experienced prior to being an attorney.”
Now as a co-host for ESPN’s radio show Football Frenzy, Lindsay is focusing on normalizing black women’s presence in male dominated areas. She states, “I just try to be on top of my game. It’s one of those things where you have to be twice as good in that role.”
Radio is a place where people want to hear opinions and conflict because this makes for interesting conversation. Funny enough, for as outspoken as Lindsay is, she had producers encouraging her to talk more, to get her opinions out there more often. Lemieux asked her, “You’ve been public about some controversial topics. Are you welcomed to have a voice about these things on the radio?” Lindsay tells her, “I do think that I’m welcome to it. And honestly, I think it’s because I’m an attorney. I think I’ve already established myself as the outspoken, opinionated one. What offers me the credibility behind that is being an attorney. … ESPN encourages me to speak up and speak out. … At this time last year, everybody was telling me "no" when it came to sports. It was hard for me to get an agent. Those "no's" have really been the driving force for me to try to do it all. Now that I've had these opportunities this NFL season, it's exciting. But it is also exhausting.”
Lindsay is still practicing as an attorney but realizes all this work can spread her thin if she isn’t careful. She tells Lemieux,
“It’s a lot. I'm a hustler. ... I'm coming to the realization that you can't do it all, and you don't have to. ... Right now, I feel like how I'm able to balance is by just going through the motions. I'm like a robot. I can feel myself drowning, and I'm going to lose myself in the process. I'm fortunate enough that I can recognize that. … I like to speak about this because people think, oh, you're so confident, and you've got it all together. But sometimes what drives me to always saying yes is the fear of the unknown.
People are like, “You seem to be balancing it all and doing it all.” And it's like, “No, I'm not. And that's OK!” I’m asking, where do I want to go? What can I put on the back burner? Because I have to. I don't have any "me time." I barely sleep. All my personal time is spent catching up on work. And so I'm at a place where I am having to evaluate. In 2019, you’ll see me step back and prioritize things rather than just saying yes to everything, so I can really focus on myself. I can get more in a creative space and really work on my brand. But if I panic in 2019, doing 50 different things, don't judge me!”
Learning to balance your workload, personal life, and everything else in between is a constant goal for the majority of us. I’m glad Lemieux and Lindsay discussed this because it’s easy for us to look at them and think that must only be having fun, have their lives in order, everything is perfect. The simple truth is that no one has anything truly figured out. When one part of someone’s life seems “perfect” that means that another area is almost certainly to be a mess. And that’s ok! Allowing ourselves the space to think, problem solve, and deal with the mess is important. Sometimes we have to say no to possible work or personal life engagements so we can have that time. In a world that prioritizes being busy, we need to guard ourselves and take back some time to just exist and rest. I hope you are able to find some time this week to truly rest and find some peace.
Thanks for listening to some of the joy found in the world this past week. If you have stories of good people doing good things in your neighborhood or anywhere, send them to me! I’ve got an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @joybingepodcast or visit our Facebook page and Instagram account. TELL ME THE GOOD STUFF!
The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!