The Late Movies: Awesome Videos for Charity

In case you missed it, last weekend's Project for Awesome was an incredible and sort of unprecedented outpouring of activism on behalf of (what seemed like) the entire YouTube community. Spearheaded by John and Hank Green, it galvanized hundreds of YouTubers to make videos advocating for their favorite charities (I made one too), raised over $100,000 dollars by raffling off weirdo prizes like John Green's nerd glasses or a personalized song from ChatRoulette piano improv dude Merton, and culminated with a four-hour live telecast on YouTube featuring YouTube's best and brightest (vloggers, singer/songwriters, etc). (FWIW, YouTube has only live telecasted a precious few things, including a concert by U2 and a speech by President Obama.) I was watching over John's shoulder as the Project for Awesome world-wide-trended to the top of Twitter (I only recently understood what this means, but it means a lot), and was proud to be a part of something that mobilized millions of young people -- from a generation that seems to have been labeled apathetic -- for a variety of good causes.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Project for Awesome videos, each of which advocates for a different charity. There's a lot of creativity and passion here, and I'd love to see some mental_flossers make videos for next year's p4a!

Christina (AKA Italktosnakes) went to Guatemala to help the children ... and advocate for Help the Children.

Michael Buckley's cousin is in desperate need of a heart transplant. He's advocating for organ donation in general, and also looking for donations to help his cousin's family.

You've probably heard about conflict diamonds -- but what about conflict minerals? Chances are, the rare earth minerals that your fancy cell phone needs to be all fancy come from places like the Congo, where competition for such resources is fueling ongoing wars and suffering. This YouTuber is advocating for the Enough Project, which works to end human rights abuses in Africa.

Triangles of Truth pays tribute to the memory of people killed in the Holocaust by fighting current genocides in their name.

The Trevor Project is a suicide prevention organization aimed at helping LGBT youth.

These guys hate malaria so much, they wrote a song about it.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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