Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

WordPressers Making a Splash

We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.

Rebecca Hains

princess problemWriter, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

broken light

Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.

Hungry Sofia

cuban table

Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month,  Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.

Notches

Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.

Jack the Ripper

Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.

Ever Upward

ever upward

Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.

Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.

Filed under: Community, Press, Writing
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Gmail Password Leak Update

This week, a group of hackers released a list of about 5 million Gmail addresses and passwords. This list was not generated as a result of an exploit of WordPress.com, but since a number of emails on the list matched email addresses associated with WordPress.com accounts, we took steps to protect our users.

We downloaded the list, compared it to our user database, and proactively reset over 100,000 accounts for which the password given in the list matched the WordPress.com password. We also sent email notification of the password reset containing instructions for regaining access to the account. Users who received the email were instructed to follow these steps:

  1. Go to WordPress.com.
  2. Click the “Login” button on the homepage.
  3. Click on the link “Lost your password?”
  4. Enter your WordPress.com username.
  5. Click the “Get New Password” button.

In general, it’s very important that passwords be unique for each account. Using the same password on different web sites increases the risk of an account being hacked. Now would be a good time for all users to go through all online services and set distinct, strong passwords for each.

It’s also a good idea to enhance account security by enabling two-step authentication on services that support the feature. Two-step authentication can be set up on WordPress.com by following these steps:

  1. Browse to WordPress.com.
  2. Hover over the user avatar at the top right of the screen.
  3. Click “Settings.”
  4. Click “Security” from the submenu.
  5. Follow the instructions provided there.

We checked the accounts of 600,000 other WordPress.com users whose email addresses were included in the list. Since these users were not immediately vulnerable, we did not reset their passwords or send emails but will be enabling a notification in their dashboards so that they can assess the security of their passwords at their leisure and with all of this information in hand.

Filed under: Notifications, Security
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Basis, Edin, and Forefront: A Look at Business Themes

We add new themes to the Theme Showcase each week, including free and premium themes for businesses, organizations, and your professional projects. Here’s a trio of business themes transformed by three very different types of users: a professional travel and food writer, a Buddhist podcast host, and a fly fishing outfitter in Australia.

roam & home

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Chicago-based travel and food curator Karen Valentine, the founder of roam & home, presents a beautifully designed site with Basis, a premium theme. Wide featured images add splashes of color to the homepage, while the Brandon Grotesque heading font — available to Custom Design upgrade users — adds a touch of style to each content block.

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As you scroll down the home page, travel quotes inspire you to dream up your next big trip — a subtle but elegant touch:

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Karen’s portal for wanderlust includes travel itineraries and guides (Jamaica in the winter, anyone?), and a journal for blog updates and photography from her adventures.

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These sections are accessible at the top right in a simple Custom Menu:

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With Basis, you can build a site using a drag-and-drop page builder interface — create a section, add content, and then move it around — which makes creating a landing page or microsite easier. (Preview this drag-and-drop interface in the video at the top of the Basis page.)

Tip: While not activated on Karen’s site, you can also make a full-width slideshow with Basis, creating an eye-catching homepage for your personal or business brand, professional projects, or company’s products and services.

Visit the Basis theme page for details.

Off the Cushion with Danny Fisher

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Launched at the end of July, the free Edin theme is packed with features for a business or professional site, and podcast host Danny Fisher shows it off nicely. With four custom page templates, Edin allows you to promote your company or work in different ways. At Off the Cushion, Danny uses the Front Page Template, using a big featured image and bold white text to introduce his independent podcast on Buddhism news and ideas.

You also can’t miss his Custom Menu to other parts of his site, as well as exterior websites, under the header.

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In the footer, Danny activates the three widget areas for an About blurb (using a Text Widget), a stream of recent posts, and an Image Widget displaying his podcast’s T-shirt.

Tip: To unify the site and promote his web presence, Danny displays social media icons, from Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn, at the top and bottom of his site. Think of other ways to make your site visually cohesive; uploading a Site Logo (available on a growing list of themes) that matches a custom Image Widget in your sidebar is another option.

You can do much more with this free theme — visit the Edin page for details.

High Country Outfitters

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High Country Outfitters stocks a range of clothing and gear for fly fishing, snow sports, and other outdoor activities in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.

Using the custom page templates and other features of the premium theme Forefront, the outfitter promotes its shop, fly fishing trips, product news, and local fishing reports. Bold call-to-action buttons (“Visit Shop,” “Guiding & Tuition”) lead visitors to more information.

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With Forefront, you can also display customer testimonials (not shown on the High Country Outfitters site).

Tip: Use a grid-style layout to visually organize a navigation page to other pages and links on your site. Check out the outfitters’ online shop (below), which uses a Grid Page Template.

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To see if this premium theme is right for you, visit the Forefront page for more.

We have a growing number of professional and business themes — free and premium — for work projects, organizations, and small businesses. From simple, elegant landing pages to multi-page websites, you can create the perfect space for you and your brand.

Filed under: Community, Themes, WordPress.com
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Blogging 101 and Writing 101 Are Back!

You’ve just started your shiny new blog and you’d like some help as you get up to speed on WordPress.com. Or, maybe you’d like some inspiration to write every day. On September 15th, we kick off two free Blogging U. courses: Blogging 101 and Writing 101. They might be just what you need to whip your blog into shape and/or establish your writing habit.

Blogging 101

Each day for 30 days, Blogging 101 offers a bite-sized blogging “assignment*,” geared to helping you customize the look of your blog, start a blogging habit, and find some new blogging friends. Here’s how it works:

  • Assignments fall into three broad categories — publishing posts, customizing your blog, and engaging with the community. Assignments are designed to build on one another.
  • We’ll post a new assignment at The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.) Each assignment contains all the inspiration and instructions you need to complete it. Weekends are free time you can use to catch up on assignments, if you like.
  • Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance and resources.
  • Cost? Free!

Writing 101

Each day for 30 days, we’ll post an “assignment*” geared to helping you create a writing habit, inspire you to try new forms, get some feedback from fellow participants, and make some writing friends online.

Here’s how it works:

  • Each assignment has two parts: a prompt and a twist. Prompts are the topic for the day; twists are exercises that stretch your writing chops. Use them however you’d like: respond to the prompt, and ignore the twist. Try the twist, but write on your own topic. Use both.
  • We’ll post a new writing assignment at the The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.). There are no weekend assignments — you’re free to expand on a weekday post, write something unrelated, or (gasp!) spend some time away from your blog.
  • Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand in the comments to answer questions and offer guidance and resources.
  • Cost? Zilch, zero, nada.

*All assignments are optional. Blogging 101 and Writing 101 are designed to inspire and educate you to start and maintain a blogging habit. While we encourage you to be active in the Commons and participate in discussions with fellow participants, you never have to show your work if you’d prefer not to.

Intrigued? Register for Blogging 101, Writing 101 or both by filling out this form:

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Filed under: Better Blogging
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Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.

Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.

Net Neutrality under attack

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rules that would, for the first time, expressly allow internet providers — like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T — to charge internet companies like Automattic, Netflix or Etsy for access to their subscribers. This means there could be “fast lanes” for companies who are able to pay providers for preferred internet access, while everyone else gets stuck in the “slow lane”…which means applications won’t perform as quickly, webpages will load slowly, and of course, buffering. A slow “still loading” spinner will be an unfortunate, but common sight on the new, closed internet that the big providers want.

Unsurprisingly, the large telecom companies who stand to benefit from the FCC’s proposed rules fully support their passage. They have nearly unlimited funds and hundreds of lobbyists in Washington to promote these harmful new rules.

But what they don’t have is you.

What can we do to fight back?

Automattic strongly supports a free and open internet. After all, WordPress.com, and the WordPress open source project are living examples of what is possible on an unthrottled internet, open for creation, collaboration, and expression. Over the last few months, we’ve joined 150 major tech companies in sending a letter to Washington in support of net neutrality, and met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge him to preserve the internet we’ve always known.

Now it’s your turn.

Automattic, along with many other companies and digital rights organizations, is proud to participate in the Internet Slowdown on September 10. For this day of action, we’ve built a “Fight for Net Neutrality” plugin that you can enable now on your WordPress.com blog to show support for this important cause.

You can turn the plugin on by going to your Dashboard, Settings → Fight for Net Neutrality.

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When you enable the plugin, we’ll replace a few of the posts on your site with a “Still Loading” spinner…to show what life will be like on an internet that features dreaded slow lanes.

ffnn 2

The plugin will also display a banner that shows your support for Net Neutrality, and links to battleforthenet.com, where visitors to your site can sign a letter to the FCC about this important issue.

Please take a few minutes to enable the Fight for Net Neutrality on your site today, and visit battleforthenet.com to send a message to Washington that net neutrality must be preserved. Together we can make a difference, and we hope you’ll join us in this important battle for the open internet!

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com
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New Theme: Eighties

Today we’re taking a trip back in time with our latest free theme, Eighties!

Eighties

Eighties WordPress Theme

Think big hair, mixtapes, and beloved family sitcoms, and you have what is arguably one of the craziest, most colorful periods in recent memory. Eighties channels that essence into a theme with just as much flair and personality as the decade for which it is named.

Designed by Justin Kopepasah, Eighties features bold colors and typography, large custom header and featured images, styled post formats, and much more. It’s certain to make your personal blog stand out from the rest.


Learn more about the free Eighties theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 4

It’s time for our latest edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress: below are 10 outstanding stories from across WordPress, published over the past month.

You can find Volumes 1, 2 and 3 here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for all of our daily reading recommendations.

Publishers, writers, keep your stories coming: share links to essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. The Moral Dilemmas Of Narrative (Bill Marvel, Gangrey)

Bill Marvel on journalism and the quest for empathy in telling other people’s stories:

Compassion and sensitivity thus tell us how to approach our subjects from the outside.

Empathy, the word Lee Hancock murmured that morning, is more difficult. Because empathy requires that we approach our subjects from the inside. We try to enter into the emotions, thoughts, the very lives of those we write about. We try to imagine what it must be like to be them. Only by living in their skin at least briefly, by walking in their shoes, can we begin to see that person as he or she is. This requires moral imagination. It is what the good fiction writer does. And it is, I argue, what we writers of nonfiction must do.

Read the story

2. The Battle of As Samawah (Don Gomez, Carrying the Gun)

A series of dispatches from the front lines of Iraq in March and April of 2003.

Read the story

3. The Boy With Half a Brain (Michael Rubino, Indianapolis Monthly)

Jeff and Tiernae Buttars made a difficult decision to have a portion of their son’s brain surgically removed to eliminate his seizures. The decision changed all of their lives:

In exchange for a 60 percent chance to end the seizures, William would lose a portion of his vision, forfeit use of his left hand, and might never walk without some form of assistance. He’d always be labeled “special needs,” though the doctor promised that William would grow to develop a below-average IQ in the 70-to-80 range. (Untreated, he was headed for one 40 points lower.) And there remained a chance, however small, that William might not survive the procedure.

Read the story

4. Let’s Be Real (Wesley Morris, Grantland)

Says Dana Stevens, the movie critic at Slate.com, of Morris’s review of Let’s Be Cops: “Wesley Morris on Let’s Be Cops and the shooting of Michael Brown is everything 21st-century film criticism should be.”

Read the story

5. A Tale of Two Abortion Wars (Ananda Rose, Pacific Standard)

While pro-life activists fight to rescue IVF embryos from the freezer, pregnant women in their third trimester with catastrophic fetal anomalies have nowhere to turn.

Read the story

6. Dress Your Family In Your Lover’s Shoes (Kathleen Hale, The Hairpin)

Hale recalls meeting a boyfriend’s eccentric family during a trip to Ireland:

Over the next month, I would also learn that Sam had lied to me about his parents’ jobs: they didn’t have any. They were not working artists, but had rather opted to leave behind their middle-class upbringing and good educations to live on the dole, Ireland’s form of welfare. Caro got splinters from compulsively sanding the same bedside table until it resembled a large toothpick. Sam Sr.’s days revolved around rising late, napping, bossing Caro around, and lecturing snobbishly on the superiority of natural fibers while his nipples peeked through holes in his over washed pajama tops. “Wot?” he would yelp at me a few nights later, in exactly that voice, when I stood up startled after the back on my chair fell off—“It’s a great antique piece, very nice quality, you just can’t lean on it.”

Read the story

7. Made for China (Shawn Wen, The New Inquiry)

As American audiences tire of big budget spectacle, Hollywood has begun to tailor its blockbusters for the ever-expanding Chinese market.

Read the story

8. What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege (Jeremy Dowsett, A Little More Sauce)

Dowsett explains “white privilege” through the lens of a bicycle rider:

And it’s not just the fact that the whole transportation infrastructure is built around the car. It’s the law, which is poorly enforced when cyclists are hit by cars, the fact that gas is subsidized by the government and bike tires aren’t, and just the general mindset of a culture that is in love with cars after a hundred years of propaganda and still thinks that bikes are toys for kids and triathletes.

Read the story

9. Going It Alone (Eli Saslow, The Washington Post)

In one of the poorest counties in Texas, a 37-year-old deputy named Elias Pompa addresses the U.S. border crisis alone while earning $11.50 an hour.

Read the story

10. An Interview with Elissa Schappell (Maria Gagliano, Slice)

I don’t think you can be much of a writer if you don’t read. I’m appalled by the number of writers and writing students I know who say, ‘I don’t read because I don’t have time, or I don’t read because I don’t want to be influenced by other writers’ work, or My busy reality-TV-watching schedule doesn’t permit me time to read books, only blogs.’

Read the story

Filed under: Community, Writing
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Early Theme Adopters: Sketch

Sketch has barely been available for two weeks, but you’d never know it. This clean, cheerful, portfolio-focused theme is already a favorite — and not just for artists and illustrators. Here are three sites we love:

All Cats Have

Dutch artist and designer Asja loves cats, as does the rest of the internet. On All Cats Have, she takes a simple doodle of two cats sitting side-by-side and transforms them to everything from superhero cats to Matisse-inspired cats to buddy cats lamenting their hangovers:

all cats

With Sketch, she’s able to showcase her latest blog posts up top, and her cat illustrations, which are all organized as portfolios, below. Using the new Site Logo feature, she drops a mini-version of her eponymous felines in the blog’s upper-left corner.

Asja keeps Sketch’s default sans-serif font; it’s readable, simple, and doesn’t steal the limelight away from her art. We also love the personal cat-teriffic touches in her pages and menus — the blog is listed as “Random Purring” in her menu.

850 Calories

When budget issues led the United Nations to reduce food support to refugees in central Africa, most of the world didn’t hear about it. One blogger did, and is now challenging the rest of us to spend a day living on the equivalent of one day’s rations: 850 calories. He uses Sketch‘s emphasis on visuals to build a bold, engaging site that draws us in with photos:

850 calories

The blogger uses the top feature area to keep evergreen posts front and center, while the portfolio area links to more information on the humanitarian crisis and guidelines for people interested in taking the challenge. A simple logo (also taking advantage of the theme’s support for Site Logos) and Sketch‘s naturally clean typography mean that nothing detracts from the site’s mission.

BRICKrhetoric

BRICKrhetoric is a literary and arts journal from Chicago with an urban focus. And although Sketch is presented as a theme for artists’ portfolios, the editors saw it as the perfect blank canvas for the creative work they present:

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They’ve opted to add a custom header instead of a logo, so their online journal can mimic a printed masthead. Rather than posts and portfolios, the home page features the journal’s mission statement, and a sidebar makes it easy for visitors to access past issues or look for content by contributor.

As the bloggers at All Cats Have and 850 Calories were, BRICKrhetoric’s editors were also drawn to Sketch‘s typography. Here, the clean lines of the type have a modern feel just right for the journal’s contemporary urban focus.

Looking for more inspiration? These sites and blogs also caught our eye:

  • The Argentinian fashion blogger at RBLD nixes portolfios and sidebars for a full-width template that makes it impossible to ignore his photographs.
  • Writer Ericka Clay uses it for Tipsy Lit, the writing community she organizes. She ups the font sizes a bit, creating a version of Sketch that suits the group’s brash style.
  • Pati Montero depends on Sketch’s simplicity to keep her jam-packed site — web design, print design, and personal blogging, all available in Spanish, French, and English — from feeling overwhelming.
  • Unsurprisingly, Sketch makes a great portfolio site for photographers — we particularly like Michelle Dorman and Lymath Images.

Sketch is a free theme — learn more about it in the Theme Showcase.

Filed under: Customization, Themes
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New Theme: Goran

We have a new free theme to announce today: Goran!

Goran

Goran: Front Page

Designed by yours truly, Goran is a functional, responsive, multi-purpose theme that’s a perfect option for your business website.

Goran: Responsive Design


Learn more about the free Goran theme at the theme showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

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Projects Around the World

We’re inspired to see bloggers doing things they love and using this platform to make their voices heard. Here’s a look at some interesting projects around the globe.

Russell Chapman: Telling the stories of Syrian refugees

Last year, photographer and writer Russell Chapman documented the conflict in Syria and spent time in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. His book, Syria: Refugees and Rebels, compiles images of his time there. Russell is currently working on a project to tell the stories of Syrian refugees rebuilding their lives in Jordan.

Image by Russell Chapman
Image by Russell Chapman

Shannon Galpin: Empowering cyclists in Afghanistan

Cyclist, women’s rights activist, and TEDx speaker Shannon Galpin — named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2013 — is the founder of Mountain2Mountain. Using the mountain bike as a vehicle for social justice in Afghanistan, she works on projects like supporting the national cycling teams, donating bikes, and training female cyclists. Her book, Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan, will be released on September 16.

Image by Deni Bechard
Image by Fatima Haidary

Mark Deeble: Documenting endangered elephants in East Africa

Filmmaker Mark Deeble has been making wildlife films in East Africa with his partner, Vicky, for twenty-five years. Currently in Tsavo, Mark is focused on following and filming elephants in Kenya, and has most recently written about Satao, the beloved tusker killed by poachers earlier this year.

Nancy Linthicum and Michele Henjum: Mapping Cairo’s literary scene

Map of Cairo’s bookstores and publishing houses, via CairoBookStop.

Looking for a book in Cairo? Two scholars, Nancy Linthicum and Michele Henjum, want to make it easier for bibliophiles and booksellers to connect, and for scholars, visitors, and residents to find the literature they’re looking for. They created CairoBookStopa site with a growing list of booksellers and publishing houses, and the basics on finding books in the city (including the book stalls of Soor el-Azbakeya and the Cairo International Book Fair). Read M. Lynx Qualey’s Arabic Literature profile on the projectand take note of the Arabic version of the site, too.

Pie It Forward: Serving pies across the US

In 2003, Sarah and Chris of Pie It Forward traveled across the United States, covering 12,000 miles and giving away pies to spread a message of generosity and kindness. They bake out of different host kitchens, and collaborate with people who donate pie pans and other supplies. Now, they’re working toward establishing a donation-based food service, and securing a vehicle they can use to travel throughout Michigan.

E-nabling the Future: Creating prosthetic hand devices for people in need

In 2012, two strangers — Ivan Owen and Richard van As — created the first working prototype for a Robohand design of finger replacements. To date, more than 200 devices have been fitted on people all over the world, giving access and opportunity to those not typically able to afford prosthetic devices. The network at E-nabling the Future creates open source designs for mechanical hand-assistive devices that can be downloaded and printed for less than fifty dollars.

We hope you’re just as inspired as we are by these projects! 

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