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Our Top 9 Most Portlandia Headlines of 2014

A round-up of the 2014 headlines we swear we didn’t write with the People’s Republic of Portlandia in mind.

Portlandia, which holds a funhouse mirror up to a certain set of (ahem) earnestly progressive urbanites, begins its fifth season on IFC starting January 8. From farm-to-table extremists to fixed gear cyclists and the dour owners of a proudly unprofitable feminist bookstore, we here at GOOD are well aware that when we laugh at these characters, we’re also laughing at ourselves. We’ve rounded up a few of last year's headlines from GOOD which, when taken on their own, might seem to have been written with the citizens of the People’s Republic of Portlandia in mind.

1. How I Tried to Turn Prison Into a Colorful Experience

Okay, we get it—a few neon paintstrokes might not seem like much when you’re serving a life sentence. But at a humane prison in Germany, this vibrant alternative to the typically ominous visitor’s tunnel encourages outsiders to visit their incarcerated loved ones a lot more often, contributing to lower recidivism rates down the road.

2. These Name Tags Will Make You Reconsider Gender Pronouns

A casual party full of strangers isn’t anyone’s favorite time to bring up fraught issues like gender politics. But that’s what makes these nostalgic stickers so ingenious. Make it easy for potential new friends to say hello by letting them know up front how you prefer to be addressed—and boost awareness of the wealth of pronoun options beyond he and she without having to say a word.

3. How a Trek in Nepal Inspired My Juice Business (Recipe Included)

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Tourists spend a little time in a foreign country and by the end of the trip, their whole worldview has changed. This time, Canadian globe-trotters turned a newfound fondness for Himalayan berry juice sold streetside into Vancouver’s first cold-pressed juice truck. When a traveler’s new obsession leads to more delicious (and healthy) food options for pedestrians, we say more power to ‘em.

4. Rent a Dog to Stave Off Holiday Loneliness

Sure, bringing a dog home for a few hours won’t change the fact that you’re single on Valentine’s Day. But even a day of companionship has been shown to reduce stress and improve activity levels for humans and canines alike. That’s why many animal shelters have started to offer special programs for short-term dog fostering—and if your foster period happens to fall on your birthday, no one other than Fido has to know.

5. Missing from Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved

We’re pretty sure you’re aware that many of our most beloved founding fathers also owned slaves. But you’ve had a lot of years to cultivate that skepticism. In this ongoing project from its comparative and regional studies department, American University highlights the inadequacies of widely used history textbooks (like mentioning a president’s pets and childhood escapades, but never his plantation)—encouraging even the youngest among us to think more critically.

6. Where Have All the Parisian Farmers Gone?

Despite all appearances to the contrary, Paris has seen its fair share of farmers—and you’re most likely to encounter them at one of the city’s famous open-air markets. This guidebook to independent farmers’ markets in the City of Lights makes it easy to track down fresh, local produce direct from those who grew it, even in one of the world’s most bustling urban environments.

7. Free Wheel: An Oral History of Bicycle Design

What you’ve heard is true: By and large, even the most innovative bicycles have two wheels. Though this mode of transportation’s general criteria for construction has remained largely unchanged for more than a century, high-tech features like parachutes for military use or ice-friendly wheels inspired by skate blades have pushed the boundaries of what a bike can do.

8. These Jeans Are Made of Recycled Plastic Bottles

No, this company isn’t asking you to don a Pepsi bottle in lieu of pants. Instead, they aim to make casual fashion more sustainable by constructing denim out of an innovative blend of cotton and recycled plastic bottles.

9. How I’m Using Rock Climbing to Save Youth From Gangs

Troubled youth are likely to benefit from any activity that fosters discipline, focus, trust, and camaraderie. But this non-profit organization goes above and beyond, offering safe outdoor spaces that are open late, when most violence tends to occur. And by its very nature, rock climbing presents a variety of challenges and opportunities that help improve self-esteem, reduce stress, and nurture close relationships.

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