Categories
Culture

How playing video games can support Ukraine

Who would have guessed that playing a video game could be a way to help with the conflict in Ukraine?

Fortnite owner Epic Games announced on 21 March the company would donate all proceeds from in-game sales to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Within a few days, the move had led to more than £53 million raised for charities on the ground to lend support in Eastern Europe.

“Xbox is joining us in this effort and is committing their net proceeds for Fortnite during this time, so that we can get more aid to the people of Ukraine,” said a statement on the Fortnite website.

“[The organisations] are on the ground providing emergency aid, including health support, food and clean water, essential supplies, legal aid, and shelter. More organizations will be added to this list in the coming weeks.”

[Read about more initiatives supporting Ukraine]

Money raised is going to Direct Relief, Unicef, United Nations World Food Programme, and The UN Refugee Agency, with Fortnite promising to send funds “as quickly as we can”.

Fortnite is a survival game that has become something of a cultural phenomenon since its release in 2017, and to date there are an estimated 125 million players worldwide.

The fundraising initiative from Epic Games includes cosmetic in-game items and virtual currency bought in a shop or online, and will last until 3 April.

Xbox has joined Epic Games by donating the fee it would usually take on items bought by players in Fortnite.

“Boom! THANK YOU to Epic Games and hundreds of millions players of Fortnite universe for this strong support while we defend ourselves from russian attack on peaceful Ukraine”, said Ukrainian government official Oksana Markarova in a tweeted response to the announcement. 

More games giving back

Humble Bundle, the company that sells collections of video games online, has raised money for Ukraine selling a bundle of 120 games and items worth more than £1,800. It requires a minimum donation of only £30.52 to purchase, which has so far raised more than £10m exclusively for charities benefitting Ukraine. And Brandon Sheffield, creative director of Necrosoft Games, created the itch.io bundle, which raised £4.7m by offering up 1,000 games in exchange for a minimum donation of £7.56.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To support people hit by the invasion of Ukraine, donate to the DEC.

SUPPORT: If you want to offer more direct assistance, check out volunteering opportunities with the DEC.

Categories
Culture

50 years of good news: 2000s

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to ‘Take the Time to Smile’.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley’s book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 2000s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]

2001

Portugal Changes Perspectives on Drugs 

Small changes in the legal system can have huge repercussions across society as seen when Portugal decriminalized the personal use, acquisition and possession of all drugs, abolishing prison time and transforming a criminal issue into a matter of public health.

2002

Timebanking Expands to the UK 

Timebanking UK was founded, and since then, million of hours have been exchanged, often to the benefit of those in dire need, such as refugees and the homeless. The result? A new global community of sharing and a new perspective on currency.

2003

The Wikimedia Foundation Is Launched 

The Wikimedia Foundation launched in 2003 with the goal of maintaining an open-source online database of content for the public free of charge. In addition to its flagship online encyclopedia, dubbed Wikipedia, Wikimedia’s portfolio also includes Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons, Wikiquote and Wikinews, among other projects.

2003

Movember Meme Begins Awareness Campaign for Men’s Health 

What began as a meme encouraging men not to shave their mustaches for the month of November grew into an annual event that raises awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention, while also encouraging men to talk about long-stigmatized issues around their own well-being.

2005

Organization to Help Educate Girls of Rural China Is Launched 

While China launched a mission in the 1970s to lift every member of its population out of poverty, the government has acknowledged that its efforts have fallen short in certain rural areas of the country. To combat this gap in resources, Canadian NGO Educating Girls of Rural China aims to help improve the quality of education through scholarship programs, mentorship, career planning, personal development, confidence-building and mentalhealth resources.

2006

(RED) Launches to Contribute to the Global Fund 

(RED) was founded in 2006 by U2 front man and activist Bono, together with Bobby Shriver of the One Campaign and DATA, with the idea to engage business and people in the fight to end AIDS. As red is the color of emergency, the founders chose the name as a signal that they are there to help defend vulnerable communities from the world’s biggest health crisis. In 2020, (RED) has shifted gear to fight the urgent threat of COVID.

2006

The Gulabi Gang, a Movement for Justice for Women in India, Is Formed 

With a central mission to protect women from abuse and fight corruption, the Gulabi Gang is a vigilante group of women between the ages of 18 and 60, donning pink saris and wielding sticks to confront abusers across India. The group empowers women and keeps a watch on their local communities, fighting instances of social injustice. 

2006

Great Bear Rainforest Is Legally Protected Against Logging 

To protect the future of the Great Bear Rainforest ecosystem and its spectacular ancient trees and wildlife, the historic Great Bear Rainforest Agreement was reached, ultimately safeguarding over 7 million acres along the northern and central coasts of British Columbia.

2009

Young Boy Recognizes Similarities with President Barack Obama 

In a touching moment that symbolized the echoing effects of electing the United States’ first Black president, five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia asked President Obama if they had the same type of hair during a visit to the Oval Office. Without hesitation, the president bent down for Jacob to touch his hair, who remarked, “Yes, it does feel the same!” 

Buy the book on Assouline.

Categories
Wellbeing

How to connect with nature in busy cities

When was the last time you took a walk on the wild side?

With more than 8 in 10 people in the UK now living in an urban setting, you might think opportunities are limited. But if you open your eyes, you’ll be staggered at what you can find on your own doorstep. 

It’s what writer and filmmaker Florence Wilkinson wants you to do, in her debut book Wild City, which encourages all city dwellers to meet their fellow urban neighbours, in a celebration of the natural world that is all too easily overlooked. From the badgers of Brighton’s most exclusive postcode, to the water voles of Glasgow, and the Black Country bats who have found a haven in old industrial tunnels, be prepared to expect the unexpected. 

Nature has always been a passion for Florence, who grew up in North Essex with a menagerie of animals including ducks, giant rabbits, guinea pigs and pet mice. 

She also co-founded an app called Warblr, which automatically recognises British birds by their song. During the coronavirus lockdowns, the app was so popular that it crashed due to the number of people downloading it. 

(Read more about this gardening box which is helping kids connect with nature) 

Speaking to Smiley News, Florence says: “The birds had always been there, it’s just that people hadn’t been listening out for them. I couldn’t believe how much young people knew about technology, but how little they knew about the natural world – it was one of the first things I wanted to do, to open people’s eyes to the nature that’s around them.” 

She adds: “People’s hyper-local environment became super important. They don’t realise what diversity we’ve got in cities. One of the key things is to try and look at the city differently. Get out of the headspace of being a human, and try to imagine you’re navigating the city in a different way, as one of the creatures that inhabits it. For example, people often forget to look up.”

Observing in nature

Florence argues that if we only take the time to look, there’s a lot to be learned from observing the more common creatures that you would expect to find on your doorstep. 

The book divides the city up into different slices, starting from above. Then there’s island life, water bodies and the underworld – home to rats, which Florence finds “fascinating”, but admits “aren’t everyone’s cup of tea”. 

“I did have a rat who was visiting my bird feeder for a while”, she says. “I called her Ratticus Finch… although I think my neighbours were a little bit less impressed that I was attracting rats with my bird feeder!” she adds.

Wild City includes an urban wildlife manifesto, with actions for everyone to take.

For example, Florence says: “One of the things I encourage anyone with a garden to do is to create a little pond. Even if it’s just a bucket, with a ramp for creatures to get in and out.” She also encourages people to let their gardens grow wild and stop pulling up weeds. 

Interestingly, the book also explores the ways in which some species have taken the physical structures humans have created, and made use of them, perhaps because they sort of mimic the environment that those species used to inhabit. 

(Read more about this eco-group making people happier and healthier) 

“Peregrine falcons are a good example, they have basically taken to our high rises and skyscrapers, as surrogate cliffs and they treat them in a similar way. So as long as they’re good ledges, they use those spaces to build their nest and to roost,” Florence adds. 

“I’m very much a city dweller”, she says. “I love living in a city – I love going to the pub and meeting friends, I love going to the theatre, and everything that the city can offer you. I like the fact that the transport comes every two minutes. I’m not your ordinary nature writer in that sense.

“For too long I think we’ve divorced people from animals and nature, and had this idea that you should go out into some kind of wilderness or the countryside, and sit and absorb it all. Actually, if you look at the unprecedented issues that we need to tackle, such as what’s happening to our biodiversity, it’s not necessarily the most helpful way to look at wildlife.”

She adds: “It’s about opening people’s eyes as to what’s out there. If people don’t know it’s there, they’re not going to care about it, or support, encourage and try to protect it. So I hope that that’s the first step really.”

Inspired to act?

GET INVOLVED: You can find out more about Wild City, or download the Warblr app.  

DONATE OR VOLUNTEER: The Wildlife Trusts help preserve the nature of our country – find out how you can get involved.

 

Categories
Culture Wellbeing

Green jobs in US are growing

In the US, jobs labeled “green” now make up about 6% of the workforce – or about 9 million jobs.

The number is expected to grow to nearly 24 million or 14% of the workforce in the next 10 years according to a report prepared by Working Nation, a non-profit dedicated to analyzing work trends in the US. 

Working Nation aimed to find a number representative of the population without under or overestimating too much. These numbers also project that “green” jobs will outpace standard job growth by more than 16 times. 

Their definition of a “green” job was anything directly involved or adjacent to the “green economy.” That includes everything from accounting and engineering positions to direct solar panel installation. 

[Sign up to get a weekly dose of positive news in your inbox]

The report also found that individual investments, whether from government firms or investment groups, have a larger proportional impact than investments in other sectors. This is primarily reflected in the jobs created by those investments whether it be scientific or professional. 

Colorado: leaders in the US green economy

Colorado is one of the leaders in the US green economy and has the third-largest green workforce in the country.

“Colorado’s a very forward-looking state. We like to lean into trends to have the good jobs of tomorrow rather than the good jobs of yesterday,” Colorado Governer Jared Polis told Working Nation. 

The number of green jobs in Colorado is expected to grow by 10.33% over the next five years, well above the national average of 5.7% projected growth. And in other sections of the country policies were implemented by the Biden administration to incentivize green energy.

The Department of the Interior announced recently that two leasing areas off the coast of the Carolinas in the Carolina Long Bay will be available for wind energy. If developed, they could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction provides yet another excellent opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “This is a historic time for domestic offshore wind energy development. We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach the President’s bold goals, and advance environmental justice.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can help amplify solutions for the future of work by donating to Working Nation.

SUPPORT: You can also donate to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization dedicated to promoting science and sustainability.

Categories
Culture Equality

YouTuber’s positive videos about periods

A YouTuber who started out making women’s health videos has become a period educator online, helping young people with their concerns and questions.

Sharon, known as ‘Just Sharon’ on YouTube, began making videos five years ago but started making health and period content just three years ago.

She initially uploaded a video called ‘Reading Your Worst Period Horror Stories’ after asking her subscribers to anonymously share tales of embarrassment around periods. The video has 651,000 views to date and the response was so positive that Sharon realised that responding to these stories with advice and reassurance could benefit the whole community of her subscribers.

“I’m not afraid to talk about anything, so one day I gave my audience the theme of periods. It was such a success that periods have become one of the most popular types of content I make”, Sharon tells Smiley News.

“I kept making videos answering questions about periods, which products to use and how to use them, how to put in a tampon, hacks for school and more.”

[Sign up to receive a weekly dose of positive news into your inbox]

The comments on Sharon’s period videos fill up with comments, mainly from young people experiencing their first periods.

One anonymous user commented on Sharon’s video: “I’ve never been more anxious in my life than being on my period at school.”

Sharon decided to push forward with her period content and take it further, to encourage openness about menstruation and to help anyone feeling isolated or confused.

“My main reason for doing so was knowing that if someone is so ashamed or embarrassed of their period, they might also be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. I’ve sort of become an internet big sister that these girls turn to for advice and comfort,” Sharon says.

“What motivates me to keep doing this, are the comments I get saying things like, ‘You’ve made me more confident with my period. I’m no longer ashamed of it, and I’m comfortable talking about it.’ In the end, that’s my main goal. A period is a natural, bodily function that happens to half of the population and it shouldn’t be a taboo topic.”

First ever period drive

In 2021, Sharon hosted her first ever period drive, collecting donations of sanitary products for those experiencing period poverty.

There are an estimated 16.9 million people in period poverty in the US alone, and 1 in 10 menstruating young people in the UK can’t afford sanitary products.

Sharon collected 17,189 individual products and has already teamed up with a group of organisations to host her next drive, which she plans on doing annually.

The ‘Just Sharon’ channel also offers advice on other topics from breakups and first dates, to shaving and school.

Inspired to act?

WATCH: To watch Sharon’s videos and find out more about her content, visit her YouTube channel.

DONATE: To find out how you can donate to those experiencing period poverty, visit: https://periodpoverty.uk/ .

 

Categories
Wellbeing

Toolstation’s poster for mental health

Toolstation launched an initiative aimed at those affected by the mental health crisis in the construction industry, with an aim to help equip tradespeople with the tools they need to look after their mental health.

The campaign was in the form of a huge poster – dubbed the ‘world’s most supportive poster’ – at Liverpool Lime Street, capturing construction workers as they arrived into the city for work.

They offered immediate support to tradespeople to help overcome their worries and mental health issues. It meant tradespeople could privately live chat with a trained expert from the Lighthouse Club charity via a QR code.

The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is the only charity that provides emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to construction workers and their families. 

The poster, which was up from 21 March until 29 March, gave tradespeople and construction workers the opportunity to get instant, confidential expert advice on the topics that affect them the most, like  mental health issues, money worries, insomnia and work life imbalance and alcoholism.

Although the conversations remained confidential, the Liverpool Media Wall will displayed what’s on the minds of local tradespeople and it’s hoped that this level of visibility will help end the stigma of talking about mental health within the industry.

[Sign up for a weekly dose of positive news in your inbox]

Receipts from Toolstation branches in the surrounding Liverpool area will also include a free 24/7 number for the Construction Industry Helpline which is managed and funded by the Lighthouse Club. The helpline provides confidential support for those in the construction industry.

Greg Richardson, head of marketing at Toolstation, says: “Our research shows that there’s a mental health crisis in the construction industry with almost one in five knowing someone that has attempted to take their own life. Work in the sector is often characterised by limited term contracts and long unsociable hours, away from family.

“Those who work for smaller organisations or are sole traders in the construction industry might not have easy access to mental health support, so this campaign is an important step in raising awareness that everyone in the industry can quickly talk with someone who can help.”

Bill Hill, CEO of Lighthouse Club says: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Toolstation on this significant issue within our industry. It is so important that we get the message of support to the “boots on the ground” that we are there for them 24/7. If our workforce don’t know we are there for them we simply can’t help them in crisis. I am convinced that partnering with Toolstation and using the medium of Outdoor Advertising will make a significant impact and ultimately save lives.”

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: You can donate to the Lighthouse Club charity, to help support those within the construction industry. 

 
Categories
Planet

How Coldplay cut emissions by 50% on tour

Since Chris Martin announced last year that Coldplay would cut its carbon footprint by 50%, the band set out on an eco-friendly world tour this month. Taking impressive sustainability measures they have managed to halve their emissions from gigs across Europe, the US and Latin America.

“There’s always the argument of like ‘Why tour at all?’ and that’s where we don’t really have any comeback except, we would really like to,” the lead singer told the BBC back in October 2021.

With the launch of their tour more recently, they have shown willingness to adapt their tours in order to continue doing what they love.

Coldplay said: “We’re very conscious that the planet is facing a climate crisis. So we’ve spent the last two years consulting with environmental experts to make this tour as sustainable as possible, and, just as importantly, to harness the tour’s potential to push things forward.”

The tour for their new album ‘Music For The Spheres’ draws on this expert advice to abide by a list of sustainability initiatives set out on the website.

With the initial announcement, Chris explained how they would run their shows entirely on renewable energy, from a kinetic dance floor, bicycles, solar panels and waste cooking oil.

[Discover other great initiatives to accelerate climate action and help protect life on Earth]

Excitingly, they achieved this goal while also piloting new technologies that have never been used before. The tour is powered partly by the world’s first-ever rechargeable show battery, charged from waste oil from restaurants, solar panels and waste energy from fans.

To travel, the band carefully planned their route to minimise air travel as much as possible, favouring electric vehicles and biofuel. 

Some flying proved unavoidable, for instance, crossing the Atlantic. But they are taking additional measures to lower flight emissions. By paying a surcharge, they funded more sustainable aviation fuel. When this was not available for their own flights they invested in greener fuel for future air travel.

As promised, wristbands and other tour items are 100% biodegradable and fans are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles to cut back on plastic waste.

For all their efforts, Coldplay recognises that there is still more musicians like them can do to lower their impact.

They said: “We won’t get everything right, but we’re committed to doing everything we can and sharing what we learn. It’s a work in progress and we’re really grateful for the help we’ve had so far.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To help transform the music industry to make it more sustainable, donate to green music charity REVERB.

VOLUNTEER: For exciting opportunities to play a leading role in making music more sustainable, volunteer for REVERB.

 

Categories
Culture

50 years of good news: 1990s

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to ‘Take the Time to Smile’.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley’s book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 1990s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]

1990

Earth Day Goes Global

After decades of a successful campaign in the United States to raise awareness about the crucial environmental threats facing the planet, the Earth Day movement went global. On April 22, 1990, over 200 million people in 141 countries mobilized to push the modern environmental movement onto the world stage.

1990

Nelson Mandela Freed from Prison

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison marked a major milestone for South Africa, as it came during a time of great progress for the country taking the steps to move away from apartheid. The afternoon of his release was a grand moment of celebration in Cape Town, as he gave his first speech as a free man and led the way to ending racial segregation in South Africa.

1992

Injured English Olympian Finishes Race with Help from His Dad 

When English runner Derek Redmond was halted by a hamstring injury during a 400-meter race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he tried to continue around the track with a limp. But to help him finish the race, his father leapt past security and supported his son as he hobbled toward the finish line. 

1992

Rio Earth Summit Takes Place 

In a massive move toward a more sustainable future for the planet, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, otherwise known as the Rio Earth Summit, brought together scientists, political officials, diplomats, media representatives and members of nongovernmental organizations from over 179 countries to come up with attainable goals to achieve a healthier planet. 

1993

World Conference on Human Rights 

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) is a human-rights declaration adopted by consensus at the World Conference on Human Rights on June 25, 1993, in Vienna, Austria. This conference marked a turning point for human rights, as the Cold War had ended. Looking ahead to a more just world, the declaration sought to set an international standard for human rights

1996

First Smiley on a Mobile Phone

Marking the first moment an image of the original Smiley logo appeared on a mobile phone, the Alcatel’s greeting graphic and message of “C’est moi ” (it’s me) appeared when the phone was turned on, in an officially licensed partnership. This was a precursor to a new era of digital communication, when, today, billions of people around the world use emoticons to put more feeling into the way they talk through text.

1998

Volunteermatch.org Is Launched 

With the invention of the internet and sites like volunteermatch.org, nonprofit organizations and charities have a wider ability to reach more communities in need and enlist volunteers to help them. Since its founding in 1998, volunteermatch.org has helped over 135,000 nonprofits find helping hands.

Buy the book on Assouline.

Categories
Culture

34-year-old sparking a movement for Ukraine

A 34-year-old Polish woman, who lives in London, has become a matchmaker for good – connecting people in need of support in Ukraine, with those willing to give it. 

Agnieska Gwara, known as Agi, believes individual action is powerful, and that direct help can often reach those in need faster. She used to be a model, and therefore has a lot of friends in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe.

Her acts of kindness started when the Russians first invaded Ukraine. Miss J, a friend of hers, called to say her mother was stuck in Lviv – she didn’t know how to help her mother, or how to understand any of the information about ways she could leave. Initially, she tried to rent a car or taxi for her mum, but it proved impossible. 

Agi wanted to help. “I can only imagine the stress my friend was under,” she says. “I started researching information for Miss J’s mother on a Polish website – and I couldn’t stop! 

“I did a day and night of research and eventually found a website, Regio Jet CZ, which was putting on trains between Lviv and Przemsyl. I bought a ticket for Miss J’s mother.”

[Discover positive news every morning on our Smiley News homepage]

The train took 13 hours – but Miss J’s mother successfully reached Poland. Agi’s friend and husband picked her up from the border. After this happened, Agi was inspired to keep going – to connect more people who needed help, and try to directly support refugees in Ukraine.

“I had friends call me saying, ‘I hear you’ve been looking into this, let us know how we can help!” says Agi. “All of a sudden I had a lot of calls for help, and a lot of people in need.”

Sparking a movement of giving back

Agi was having daily Zooms with nonprofit community projects, and speaking to people to see if she could connect them with volunteers or donations. She was getting train tickets for people she didn’t know and working out how else she could support these people. She even worked with a veterinary organisation who was helping keep refugees with their pets. 

One of the people Agi has helped support is a woman named Yuliya M, whose son and daughter-in-law were in Ukraine, nearby to the Russian occupancy. Yuliya, who is based in London, couldn’t sit back and do nothing – so she decided to cross the border and pick up her son from Kyiv. “He has some disabilities and needed help,” says Agi. 

The mother picked her son up, but they struggled to cross the border and needed papers to get him dismissed from military duties. They needed accomodation and somewhere to stay.

“I connected Yuliya and her son with a friend of mine who wanted to donate money for those in need of accommodation,” says Agi. “I love helping people – and connecting those in need of support with people who want to help has been a successful way of doing this for the people of Ukraine.”

Agi has connected with a Ukrainian Humanitarian Fundraising group, too, which has volunteers across Ukraine. “They have an office in Wroclaw – this is where the donations are going – but they need money for petrol,” says Agi. “That’s another project I’m working on – finding people willing to pay for the petrol. They have donations, but they really need money for transport. It’s about finding help for where help is needed.”

The city under Russian occupation

She is also supporting a woman named Ana, who is helping those in the city of Kherson. 

The city is under Russian occupation right now – people can’t buy anything as there’s no way to get cash out. They can’t get medicine, food, petrol. Nobody can enter the city or leave it, either, so outside help is near-on impossible. 

Ana’s best friend and her family in Kherson own restaurants and are trying to feed people since this has happened; the restaurants can still buy food and pay with card, so Ana – alongside Agi’s help – is appealing for donations so the family can buy more food and essentials for people in the city. 

Another route of support Agi providing is connecting Polish volunteers, Jasiek and Grzegorz, who are helping to transport medical aid to hospital wards within Ukraine. “The aid is really needed in Ukraine,” adds Agi. 

From Ibiza to Poland

The project Agi is working on right now, though, is one connecting Ibiza to Ukraine, alongside founders of CrossFit, Isla Blanca and a volunteer named Oscar. Agi has connected with them, who were driving from Ibiza to Poland, alongside others, to donate essential items.

“People who live in Ibiza decided to help, and have brought many goods needed in Ukraine,” says Agi. “There is a truck that leaves Ibiza and unites forces with other drivers who drive from Valencia. 

“The goods are then taken by authorised vehicles, so they can cross the Polish-Ukrainian border. Lots of needed goods are being donated by donors as they can still buy those items in Ibiza, but we are gathering money for petrol for the trip.”

‘Every communication teaches me something’

“Every communication teaches me something,” says Agi. “I believe every exchange I have with people who need help or want to give help is important right now.

“I have family who have opened the door to Ukrainian refugees. They have supported them, they are feeding them. I have helped raise donations to enable this to happen and make sure they’re comfortable.”

Now, Agi is continuing to place her support where it’s needed. “Military clothing in Ukraine is important right now, it can save a life,” she says. “This is really needed: gloves, eye masks, protection layers – I’m working on that.”

As a yoga teacher, she’s also working on a fundraising project to film a class and offer yoga to others for a donation in support of Ukraine. 

“I’m very flexible, my friends and I are just responding to the needs at this very moment,” she adds. “I want to invest my energy, my funds, and my support into these projects that give direct support. Every day, I learn a lot.”

Inspired to act?

GIVE YOUR SUPPORT: Do you want to see how you can help Agi, or donate your time and money to help people in Ukraine? Email Agi on agi@smileymovement.org.

DONATE: If you want to donate to causes supporting those in Ukraine, read how to here

Categories
Culture

50 years of good news: 1980s

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to ‘Take the Time to Smile’.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley’s book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 1980s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]

1980

Smallpox Is Eradicated 

In announcing one of the greatest achievements in public health worldwide, the World Health Organization declared in 1980 that smallpox had been completely eradicated, three thousand years after it was discovered. The disease was stamped out thanks to the important work of vaccines and a global campaign.

1980

World’s First Female President Is Elected in Iceland 

Iceland became the first country in the world to elect a female president when Vigdís Finnbogadóttir won the election against three men in 1980. But while Finnbogadóttir was elected as the globe’s first female president, she wasn’t the world’s first female leader—in 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became Sri Lanka’s first female prime minister when her political party won in a landslide election. Today, over seventy countries have had women elected or appointed as heads of state or government, a number that will only continue to climb.

1980

Triodos Bank Founded 

The Triodos Bank N.V. was founded with a mission of financing entrepreneurs who contribute to a fair and sustainable economy. Such organizations have amplified a sense of conscience in global business, inspiring others to put their money where their mouth is. 

1982

Commercial Whale Hunting Is Banned Worldwide 

To protect whales after decades of extreme hunting and exploitation of the mammal for its meat, oil and blubber, the International Whaling Commission installed an indefinite moratorium on commercial whale hunting. The moratorium was put in place to protect the animal and prevent the species from going extinct.

1985

Live AID Concert Raises $127 Million in African Famine Relief 

To raise money to help fight famine in Ethiopia, music’s biggest stars, including Queen, Madonna, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, performed at a sixteen-hour concert that was broadcast around the world. Between simultaneous concerts in London and Philadelphia, organizers raised $127 million.

1985

Les Restos du Coeur Is Launched to Fight Hunger 

Founded by French comedian Coluche in 1985, Les Restos du Coeur is a charity organization that was launched to fight hunger and poverty by gathering food donations and serving free meals to anyone in need. Every year since its launch, the crème de la crème of French singers give their time and voices to put on free concerts and raise funds for charities. By banding together, their musical efforts have helped the organization serve over 1.5 billion meals and expand its mission beyond food insecurity to help those looking to re-enter society, find stable work and housing, receive school support and get access to legal advice. 

1985

USA for Africa Records “We Are the World” for Charity 

To raise funds for the fight against famine and poverty in Ethiopia, musicians Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones organized a group of fellow global superstars to record a song for charity. With vocals from Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Tina Turner, among other musical legends, the song has raised over $60 million since its release in 1985.

1987

UNICEF Forms Change for Good

As one of UNICEF’s longest-running and most notable partnerships, Change for Good works with the international airline industry to collect leftover foreign currency and donations from travelers while on board to support children in need all over the world. The program has raised more than $170 million since it was founded in 1987, the funds of which are used to purchase the lifesaving materials and services necessary for children to grow up in safe and nurturing environments.

1986

Hands Across America Raises $15 Million to Fight Hunger 

In an effort to raise money to fight homelessness and hunger, participants formed a recordbreaking human chain that stretched from New York City all the way to California, as millions of people held hands for fifteen minutes. 

1987

Aretha Franklin Becomes First Woman Elected to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, made history in 1987 when she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, setting the stage for generations of female rockers to come.

1987

Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer Is Enacted 

In an effort to safeguard the ozone layer and help it recover, the United Nations put together an international treaty to stop the production of ozone-depleting substances and phase out the chemicals causing its destruction. Adopted in 1987 and now signed by 198 countries, the Montreal Protocol is considered to be one of the most effective environmental global actions ever taken

1987

Treatment for AIDS Is Discovered 

As the AIDS pandemic swept the globe in the 1980s, scientists worked hard to put an end to this mysterious immune disorder. In 1986, they discovered that AZT, an anti-cancer drug developed in 1964, could improve the survival rates of AIDS patients, and in 1987 the drug became the first one to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the disease.

1987

Akhtar Hameed Khan Launches Microfinance Project 

The Orangi Pilot Project – Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP – OCT) was established in 1987 as an independent and autonomous institution in Orangi, a low-income settlement of over one million people. Spearheaded by Pakistani microfinance pioneer Akhtar Hameed Khan, the program aimed to empower communities to take an active participation in their own development by providing credit in urban and rural areas.

1988

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Becomes First Woman Leader of a Muslim Nation 

Benazir Bhutto made history when she was elected prime minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman elected to lead a Muslim nation.

1988

Second Summer of Love Takes Place 

Inspired by the sounds of Ibiza nightlife, a new sound came to the clubs in London in the summer of 1988. Donning bandannas, baggy pants, Converse shoes and shirts with smiley faces galore, clubgoers ushered in the rise of acidhouse music and a new era of music production, creating a new energy among the crowds. This spirit of human connection found on the dance floor superseded years of street violence and hooliganism, bringing people together under the banner of “the Second Summer of Love.”

1989

The Berlin Wall Is Torn Down 

The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the first step toward reuniting East and West Germany. The barrier between East and West Berlin was torn down in 1989, lifting travel restrictions and reuniting family, friends and loved ones.

Buy the book on Assouline.