Is this a flash mob? A comedy troupe? Some strange protest along a busy intersection in Mexico City?
Not quite. These seven ballet dancers from the Ardentía dance company are performing selections from “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” and even grooving to Michael Jackson in a downtown crosswalk in the Mexican capital.
Granted, the performances only last 58 seconds—the time it takes for a traffic light to change from red to green—but they’re making a big impact. Over the past couple of weeks, the Ardentía company has performed these mini-shows to brighten the lives of weary commuters, part of an initiative called “the theatricality of public space,” reports the Associated Press. The performances have drawn large crowds and captivated photographers across the city.
“We never thought this was going have to this kind of impact,” says one dancer, Manuela Ospina Castro. “Not only are people accepting it, but they need it.”
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- Showing another side. In comes the spaghetti. Then the beans and rice.
At the Lutheran Social Services office in Phoenix, Arizona, volunteers have formed an informal welcoming committee for newly reunited migrant kids and their families. Some bring in three meals a day, while others help families book flights so they can arrive in time for their check-ins with authorities.
One volunteer even prepared an impromptu birthday party, with candles on Hostess cupcakes, for a 7-year-old boy just brought back together with his mom. As the Trump administration rushes to reunite thousands of migrant families, the support has helped these families navigate a new and unfamiliar country.
“The American public is going to step in where the government has failed,” says Alida Garcia, the coalitions and policy director for FWD.us, an advocacy group which supports comprehensive immigration reform. “It’s going to provide comfort and love and care to these families.” (Vox)
- Connecting the homeless. He was homeless, missing some teeth, and asking for food in an Arizona desert town.
Patience Matthieu thought he looked a bit like her cousin. She got him canned goods and offered to give him some money. What was his story?
After a while, he told her his name. She looked him up online—and found that his mom had been searching for him for years. “Christopher, my heart is broken without you,” a page with his name from a Facebook community called Missing & Homeless said at the top. “Please call me & let me know you are alive. Love, mom.”
Matthieu called the number on the page, and told the woman on the other end: “I have found your son.”
Christian Moreland is just one of about 45 missing people tracked down through the “Missing & Homeless” Facebook group, which has grown to 43,000 members in the past three years. (Washington Post)
- She stood up. Elin Ersson wouldn’t let the packed plane to Istanbul take off. There was a deportee aboard who likely faced death if he was returned to his native land.
On Ersson’s 14-minute live feed, which went viral, the world saw the 21-year-old Swedish student refuse to sit down until a man being deported to Afghanistan was allowed to leave.
To one complaining passenger, she responded: “I am doing what I can to save a person’s life…All I want to do is stop the deportation, and then I will comply with the rules here. This is all perfectly legal, and I have not committed a crime.”
The jetliner didn’t take off until both the planned deportee and Ersson were off the flight. Though it’s likely that the man will be deported at a later date, Ersson’s effort helped bring attention to Sweden’s practice of forcibly returning Afghans who have been denied asylum. Human rights groups have urged an end to the practice. (New York Times)
Mystery revealed. For 22 years, she quietly gave out a total of $5.5 million to underrecognized women artists over 40. The artists never knew the benefactor of the $25,000 grants, which they considered lifesavers.
Now Susan Unterberg, 77, has stepped forward as the anonymous donor behind the gifts. Unterberg says she wanted her story to inspire other philanthropists, as well as take advantage of what she calls “a great time for women to speak up.”
“I feel I can be a better advocate having my own voice,” Unterberg says.
Other women in the art world are speaking out, too, about repairing a massive gender imbalance in museum collections. The curator Helen Molesworth has suggested borrowing an idea from a Hollywood women’s advocacy group and starting a Time’s Up for Museums, committed to gender equality.
For years, artists have been struck by the altruism and lack of ego in Unterberg’s grant. “The time I got the check I actually was at a point where I couldn’t pay my rent,” says Amy Sherald, who would go on to paint the highly acclaimed portrait of Michelle Obama in the National Portrait Gallery. “I had $1,500 left and that’s exactly what my rent was.” (New York Times)
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