Feel Better, Millennials—Matt Damon Says His Generation Was Terrible

Anyone experiencing fatigue over millennial bashing may find actor Matt Damon’s take refreshing.

“My generation had our heads up our own asses. That was Gen X. Today’s generation is so much smarter and interested in fixing these issues,” he told journalists at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

The issue the Bourne Identity actor is interested in is a water crisis that has left 663 million people without access to clean drinking water. Damon spoke of becoming a cofounder in 2009 of, a nonprofit that delivers microfinance loans to water-deprived communities.

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Meet the Scientist Who Just Broke a Major Barrier for Black Women

Chemotherapy is notoriously hard on patients. It works by pumping powerful drugs into the body in hopes of killing the disease. To reduce the nasty side effects of cancer treatment, Hadiyah-Nicole Green, a 35-year-old physicist, wants to research using laser technology to kill cancer—and she just won $1.1 million to do it.

Green, an assistant professor at Tuskegee University, is the first woman to win the five-year grant geared toward nurturing black scientists from the Veterans Administration Research Scientist Training Program. She hopes to help change the perception of what black girls can aspire to.

“When someone says scientist, I want them to think of someone other than Albert Einstein,” Green told TakePart.

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The Man Behind a $3 Billion Industry: Environmental Practices Can Be Profitable

Can big companies be profitable and environmentally-conscious?  Yes.  Not only can they be mindful of the environment, they can actually benefit (as in cut costs and profit) by thinking about the planet as much as their bottom line.

That’s what Rick Fedrizzi, the man who helped make LEED certification for buildings, argues in his new book, Greenthink.

Fedrizzi started thinking about eco-friendly architecture, selling air-conditioners in Florida over 20 years ago.  Today, he’s the CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and LEED certification is perhaps the most widely used green building rating system in the world.  The industry is expected to be valued at more than $3 billion by 2020. According to Greenthink, LEED has more than 14 billion square feet of registered and certified space and is in effect in 150 countries in the world.

Environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio who has written the forward for Fedrizzi’s book calls his work “revolutionary.”

Here’s my conversation with Fedrizzi.

Chhabra: How much “greenwashing” is still being done?  

Fedrizzi: Too much.  That’s why third-party certification delivered transparently is the only way to be sure people are living up to their word. Volkswagen’s stunning transgressions are a cautionary tale about how critical it is to do the right thing and how costly it can be when you try to cover up the wrong thing with greenwash.

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Why This Photographer Took 12 Years To Shoot Coffee Growers Around The Globe

This photographer took 12 years to complete his latest project on what he calls “one of the most important products we trade in the world.”  It’s well worth the wait.

Sebastião Salgado, a renowned photographer from Brazil, partnered with Illy, the Italian coffeehouse, to document the world’s coffee-growers. A beautiful coffee table book, titled the Scent of a Dream: Travels in the World of Coffee, debuted earlier this year, featuring intimate images of coffee farmers from far corners of the globe: China, India, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and more.

Andrea Lilly , CEO of Illycaffe, visited Salgado at the Instituto Terra, a research center and reforestation program started by Salgado in his native Brazil, in 2002.  Illy quickly became a partner, trying to resurrect a seemingly dead swath of land into a thriving forest.  Lilly  was as interested in Salgado’s environmental pursuits as his artistic talent.

“When I first met with Salgado, I fell in love with his photographs and his story,” Lilly  writes in the forward of the book.  “His project became ours.  And ours became his: a project founded on a shared dream of respect for the environment and its people through the ideals of kindness, beauty, and justice.”

Shortly after their meeting, and discussion about sustainable coffee growing practices, Salgado took on the task of capturing the stories of these families in partnership with Illy.

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Photo Courtesy of Subject. Book cover.

All photos credited to: (c) Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images

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The 3D Printed Car That Could Transform The Auto Industry: On Sale In 2016

Imagine the car of the future.  It’s not a Tesla.  Rather, it’s 3D printed and recyclable.

Arizona-based Local Motors plans to debut its new LM3D in 2016, which would be the first 3D printed car to hit the highways and be available for purchase (for about $53,000).

3D printed cars have been popular experiments in recent years.  But turning them into a product for the masses has been a challenge.  That’s why Local Motors has made the process an open-sourced endeavor.  After collecting over  200 designs online, they settled on a winning entry from Kevin Lo of Portland.  Even Jay Leno, who sat on the judging panel, approved.

The design, seen in the image below, was selected in July.  By September, the model had been completed.  With an open-top and seating for two to four passengers, the car isn’t designed to fit all the needs of the market.  But it’s a starting point.

Photo Courtesy of Local Motors.

Photo Courtesy of Local Motors


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This Radio Station Crowdfunded €363,000 to Financial Stability

“Even the president of Estonia wanted to save us,” says Aleksi Pahkala, one of the producers at Radio Helsinki.  He isn’t kidding.  He works at one of the most beloved radio stations in the region.

Public radio is struggling globally, it seems.  Radio Helsinki, one of the largest Nordic radio stations (in terms of listeners — about 115,00 each week), faced its demise over a year ago.  Sanoma, a Helsinki-based media company that owns several leading newspapers, decided to stop funding Radio Helsinki, back in 2013.  The Helsinki Sanomat, the country’s most read newspaper, had featured Radio Helsinki in their Friday content every week; but that ended too, Pahkala says, when the company backed away.


Aleksi Pahkala, in front of Radio Helsinki HQ.  Photo Credit: Esha Chhabra

To raise money, Radio Helsinki did the rounds with investors who Pahkala says had no interest in reviving a dying media house.

“Big money people were laughing at us. Why would we buy it?  We are not going to get any profit from it,” he says, sitting in their eccentrically-decorated offices in Teurastamo, a trendy new area of Helsinki outside the city center.

What could have been another sad tale of death in media, miraculously, has became a success story and provides hope for independent journalism.  When the Sanomat dusted off Radio Helsinki, producers gave up on top-dollar investors and turned to crowdfunding to save the city’s iconic radio station, known for gutsy journalism and showcasing new musical talent.

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Is Manufacturing In The US Becoming Fashionable And Feasible Again?

Two lifestyle companies are proving that is possible to manufacture in the United States. In fact when the tide turned and everybody went overseas to Asia, these two stayed at home, rallying for a different business model — one that was set on long-term gains.

Duluth Pack and Topo Designs specialize in a mixture of rugged outdoor backpacks, messenger bags for city dwellers, accessories, and clothing.  Their stories offer an alternative to the tales of companies opting for cheaper, larger scale production facilities.

If these two can do it, and keep their doors open, is there hope for more American brands to resurface and survive?  Seems so.

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Photo Courtesy of Duluth Pack.