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California’s “Butt Lady” Picks Up 1 Million Discarded Cigarette Butts in Just Over 3 Years

Sally Dawly is a woman on a mission. Over the last three and a half years, the anti-littering activist has spent most of her free time picking up cigarette butts from the streets of her home city of Auburn, in California, and on this year’s Valentine’s Day she picked up her millionth butt.

Dubbed the “Butt Lady” by her local community, Dawly began her quest to rid the streets of Auburn of cigarette butts in October 2014. Armed with a broom, dustpan and a pair of tongs, the woman started scouring the streets of her town in search of discarded cigarette butts, picking them up and throwing them in the trash, where they belong. To keep a tab on how many butts she picks up, the Butt Lady has been using a clicker, and earlier this month, she hit a historic milestone – one million cigarette butts.

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India’s ‘Child Bride Saver’ Has Stopped Over 900 Child Weddings in the Last 4 Years

At just 29 years of age, Kriti Bharti has managed to single-handedly stop over 900 child marriages in India’s northern state of Rajasthan. She has also annulled 29 marriages  conducted between underage boys and girls, and has worked towards the rehabilitation of over 6,000 children and 5,500 women.

“My work means so much to me,” said Kriti, who carries out her work through her charity organisation Saarthi Trust. “I dedicate my life to helping these defenseless children from their families who force them into the most barbaric circumstances because of tradition.”

Although child marriages have been deemed illegal a long time ago, statistics show that over 40 percent of the world’s underage unions take place in India. The practice is especially rampant in Rajasthan, where Kriti does everything she can to rescue young girls and give them a better chance at life. “After you stop a child marriage, the girl child is treated like a social outcast,” she explained. “It becomes important to rehabilitate her and help her become part of the society again.”

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India’s Love Commandos – The Vigilantes Protecting Young Couples Against Prejudice

Marrying for love is still taboo in many parts of India, especially outside the boundaries of caste or religion. But there are people who do sympathize with young couples, like the Love Commandos, a four-man activist organisation based in the nation’s capital, New Delhi. Their mission is to help couples elope and start a new life together, safely away from the wrath of their families.

“The main function of the Love Commandos is to allow people to do this in safety and in accordance with the laws of India, and to prevent honor killings happening to young couples,” Belgian author Hans Theys wrote in the introduction to photographer Max Pinckers book Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty on India’s Love Commandos, a project that won him first prize in the Photographic Museum of Humanity competition in 2014.

And that’s exactly what the Love Commandos are all about. They encourage lovers to reach out to them via a telephone helpline, or their website, for any kind of assistance – including accommodation in safe rooms and shelters across India. They’ve even sent out rescue teams to protect newly-weds running away from enraged relatives. The group boasts of having helped over 40,000 couples in nearly six years of existence. Of course, they couldn’t have done it without the help of hundreds of volunteers and priests who agreed to organize and perform the clandestine marriage ceremonies and getaways.

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America’s Longest-Standing Protester Passes Away after Spending 35 Years Outside the White House

Last week, Washington, D.C. mourned the death of Concepcion ‘Connie’ Picciotto, a legendary peace activist who had been camping in front of the White House since 1981. She was a well-known personality in the U.S. Capital, having manned the peace vigil tent for three-and-a-half decades, suffering the worst of both weather and humanity, all in an attempt to “stop the world from being destroyed.”

Orphaned in Spain and raised by a grandmother, Connie arrived in New York in 1960, where she worked as a receptionist for a Spanish government commercial attaché. She married an Italian immigrant a few years later, and they adopted an infant daughter, Ogla, in 1973. But she claimed that things started to turn sour when her husband, in an attempt to conceal his criminal dealings, sent her to a mental institution. She lost her daughter in a custody dispute after her release, and ended up in Washington, where she naturally gravitated towards larger causes.

Connie joined the anti-nuclear White House Peace Vigil a few months after it was started by another activist, William Thomas. They camped out together outside the White House for 25 years, and when he passed away in 2009, she kept the vigil going with the help of other activists who joined her from time to time. Picciotto’s peace vigil is considered the longest in the history of the United States.

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The Guerrilla Grafting Movement – Secretly Grafting Fruit-Bearing Branches onto Ornamental City Trees

There is a group of fruit lovers in San Francisco that practice something known as “guerrilla grafting” –  they graft fruit bearing branches onto fruitless, ornamental trees across the Bay Area city. Having access to free fruit sounds like a wonderful idea, considering the number of homeless people who can rarely afford a decent meal, but guerrilla grafting is actually illegal.

In many metropolitan areas, urban foresters make sure that flowering fruit trees don’t bear any fruit, in order to keep fallen fruit from making a mess on sidewalks and attracting vermin. Most public trees are fruitless, a fact that the Guerilla Grafters obviously don’t like. While authorities see urban fruit-bearing trees as a nuisance, these agricultural rebels see them as an opportunity to provide fresh, healthy produce for free to anyone who walks by.

According to their Facebook page, “Guerrilla Grafters is a grassroots group that sees a missed opportunity for cities to provide a peach or a pear to anyone strolling by. Their objective is to restore sterile city trees into fruit-bearers by grafting branches from fertile trees. The project may not resolve food scarcity, but it helps foster a habitat that sustains us.” Their mission, they say is to make delicious, nutritious fruit available to urban residents through these grafts.

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