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Inspirational Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles from Major Media


Below are many highly engaging excerpts of key inspirational articles reported in the mainstream media. Links are provided to the original articles on their major media websites. If any link should fail to function, click here. These inspirational articles are listed by article date. For the same articles by order of importance, click here. For articles by date posted to this list, click here. Enjoy your reading!



Note: For an index to revealing excerpts of media articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here.

Uruguay's president José Mujica: no palace, no motorcade, no frills
2013-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/uruguay-president-jose-mujica

If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle. But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and – much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle – the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone. "If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo. The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions. Since becoming leader of Uruguay in 2010, however, he has won plaudits worldwide for living within his means, decrying excessive consumption and pushing ahead with policies on same-sex marriage, abortion and cannabis legalisation that have reaffirmed Uruguay as the most socially liberal country in Latin America. But the man who is best known as Pepe says those who consider him poor fail to understand the meaning of wealth. "I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live," he said. "My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history."

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Small-house movement: Living in 120 square feet
2013-12-12, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Small-house-movement-Living-in-120-s...

Jay Shafer sweats the small stuff. Hopping into a waist-high metal bathtub smaller than a shower stall, Shafer swung a faucet over his head to demonstrate how one bathes in the combination tub/shower/sink. Gesturing at the composting toilet a foot away, he added: "This bathroom is the part of this house I'm proudest of. It was inspired by the Japanese model of being very compact and very efficient. The whole room is 11 square feet, smaller than a standard closet." Thinking small, targeting simplicity and paying meticulous attention to detail exemplify Shafer's craft: designing tiny houses. The Sonoma County resident is considered a father of the tiny house movement, a burgeoning trend to live more efficiently in less space. "Jay articulated and popularized a philosophy of live small, live debt free, and have more time and freedom to pursue your life's passions," said Ryan Mitchell, editor of TheTinyLife.com, a website dedicated to living in small-scale structures. "He backed it up with some really attractive designs." From a 119-square-foot house in Graton, Shafer, 49, writes books about small dwellings; whips up blueprints for Craftsman-style houses ranging from 98 to 288 square feet; plans weekend workshops for DIYers; and sketches out his latest brainstorm: an entire village with dozens of tiny dwellings, each less than 400 square feet, plus a larger common house and other shared amenities, to be erected in Sonoma County. In fact, the county is a hotbed of the small-house movement, with an annual exhibit at the Sonoma County Fair, several small-house companies and at least 100 tiny dwellings.

Note: For more on tiny houses, click here and here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




What Would You Do? Interracial Couple Faces Criticism
2013-12-10, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/video/interracial-couple-faces-criticism...

It was a simple idea, an interracial couple ridiculed at a barber shop ... in the heart of Harlem. It resonated throughout the internet with millions of hits and comments like, "there may be hope for us yet" and "everyone should watch this!" Rachel is an actor playing a hairdresser who has her eye on a new customer. Gabriel [also an actor] has a girlfriend and when she shows up, it's a rude awakening for Rachel. "Wait, what? You're with a white girl?" If you saw this woman berating an interracial couple, what would you do? [Unsuspecting customer] Denise is so upset there is nothing holding her back. "She's ignorant. I'm letting you know, black girl to another black girl. You sound stupid. As much criticism we went through as a people you're going to do it to the next person. Who gives you that right?" But nothing prepared us for this last woman. Marcia, an HR executive and diversity trainer cannot believe what she's hearing. She tries to get to the bottom of Rachel's intolerance. "Where is your caring and loving heart. If she was laying in the street bleeding would you help her? Let's try to rise together. She wants Rachel to apologize. "Yes, you should, while it's still on your spirit so you can sleep better tonight. Come on. Go up to her. ... That's what works for us. HUGS, Helping Us Grow Spiritually." Why did [Marcia] get involved? "Sometimes you have to step up so that you don't fall back. It hurt me because that's not what I'm about." So many people stepped forward against hatred and bigotry, a sermon at the barber shop now ringing through the streets of harlem and beyond.

Note: Don't miss the great video of this awesomely inspiring episode of "What Would You Do?" which restores hope in human nature. You can find it at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Meditation Has the Power to Influence Your Genes
2013-12-09, Psychology Today
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/meditation-has-th...

In a groundbreaking discovery, a collaborative team of researchers from Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported in December 2013 the first evidence of specific molecular changes at a genetic level following a period of mindfulness meditation. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. The study compared the effects of a single day of intensive mindfulness practice between a group of experienced meditators and a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After an intensive day of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a dramatic range of genetic and molecular differences. Meditation was found to alter levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. "Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted. In past studies, mindfulness-based training has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders. Meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower [the] risk for heart disease. Another study from April 2011 found that meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.

Note: For an excellent and inspiring book on how your thinking and feeling can change your genes, check out Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief, available here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




This Bullying Social Experiment Is Incredibly Eye-Opening
2013-12-02, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/bullying-experiment_n_4372734.html

No one is immune from bullying. Whether you are the oppressor, the victim or the witness, you are part of a cycle that needs to end. A new video shows just how much power a bystander has. "By watching an act of bullying with the thought of, 'I was going to step in if it kept going,' you may be too late," says a description for [the] video. This video highlights that passive bystanders are as much to blame as the actual bully because they have the capacity to do something. This doesn't necessarily mean directly intervening, the video points out. It could mean getting a more able-bodied person to step in, filming or calling for help. At the end of the video, a group of people ignore the violence -- perhaps because of a diffusion of responsibility, a phenomenon that psychologists say happens when a task is placed before a group of people, but each assumes the other will take action. When everyone has this same thought, however, no one does anything. The hope is that videos like these will help to educate and empower bystanders to help end bullying.

Note: Don't miss the powerful video at the link above. And for an inspiring four-minute video featuring Challenge Day, which was the main force in promoting the movement to stop bullying, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Why is Sweden closing its prisons?
2013-12-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/01/why-sweden-closing-prisons

Swedish prisons have long had a reputation around the world as being liberal and progressive. The head of Sweden's prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, announced in November that four Swedish prisons are to be closed due to an "out of the ordinary" decline in prisoner numbers. Although there has been no fall in crime rates, between 2011 and 2012 there was a 6% drop in Sweden's prisoner population, now a little over 4,500. A similar decrease is expected this year and the next. The Swedes [have] managed to maintain a broadly humane approach to sentencing, even of the most serious offenders: jail terms rarely exceed 10 years; those who receive life imprisonment can still apply to the courts after a decade to have the sentence commuted to a fixed term, usually in the region of 18 to 25 years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of convicted criminals and continues to strive to minimise short-term prison sentences wherever possible by using community-based measures – proven to be more effective at reducing reoffending. The overall reoffending rate in Sweden stands at between 30 and 40% over three years – around half that in the UK. One likely factor that has kept reoffending down and the rate of incarceration in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 head of population – less than half the figure for England and Wales – is that the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15. Unlike the UK, where a life sentence can be handed down to a 10-year-old, in Sweden no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life and every effort is made to ensure that as few juvenile offenders as possible end up in prison.

Note: For a Time magazine article showing how Norway's prisons actually rehabilitate prisoners so that they can more easily fit back in society, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




US bishop dresses up as homeless man to expose congregation's lack of compassion
2013-11-29, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10483026/US-bishop...

An American bishop who disguised himself as a homeless man to give a sermon about compassion was asked to leave his church by unknowing congregants. David Musselman, a Mormon cleric near Salt Lake City, Utah, said he wanted to teach members of his church to be kind to all people. “To be Christ-like, just acknowledge them,” he said. Mr Musselman recruited a professional makeup artist to transform his face and wore a wooly hat, thick spectacles, a false beard and a fake scar. Even his own family did not recognise him. “The main thing I was trying to get across was we don't need to be so quick to judge,” Mr Musselman told his local television news station. “Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn't even make eye contact,” he said. “I'd approach them and say, 'Happy Thanksgiving'.” After being asked to leave by five people, Mr Musselman walked to the pulpit during a service and disclosed his true identity by taking off his wig, fake beard and glasses. “It had a shock value that I did not anticipate,” he said. “I really did not have any idea that the members of my ward would gasp as big as they did.” Mr Musselman said he was touched by the reaction of younger members of the church. “I was impressed by the children,” he said. “I could see in their eyes they wanted to do more”. Mr Musselman, whose stunt came just before the Thanksgiving holiday, said that he did not intend to embarrass the members of his church or make them feel ashamed. Instead, he said, he wanted them to remember to be kind all year long to people from all walks of life.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Anita Moorjani
2013-11-29, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.

Note: For more on Anita's incredible journey through death, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences, click here.




Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Mary Neal
2013-11-29, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/to-heaven-and-back

It was January 14, 1999, and Mary Neal ... crested at the top of the first big drop in the river. She looked down into what she later described as a bottomless pit. Then she went over. The front end of her boat got pinned in the rocks, submerging her in the water. Pinned in the boat and out of air, Neal started to give up. "I really gave it all over to God, and I really said, 'Your will be done,'" she said. [She] was sucked out of the bottom of the boat by the current -- with her legs bending back over her knees. "I could feel the bones breaking. I could feel the ligaments and the tissue tearing. I felt my spirit peeling away from my body, sort of like peeling two pieces of tape," Neal recounted. As one of her friends grabbed her wrist to try to pull her out of the water, Neal realized she was outside her body watching the rescue effort. "I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR," she said. "I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back. ...My body was purple and bloated. My pupils were fixed and dilated." She watched people work on her, but she felt none of it. "When I saw my body, I actually thought 'Well, I guess I am dead. I guess I really did die,'" Neal said. As she watched, she said she was met by "these people or these spirits" who started to guide her toward a brightly lit path toward what appeared to be a domed structure. "It was exploding, not just with light and brilliance and color but with love," she said. There, she spoke with the spirits. They told her it was not her time to die, that she still had a job to finish, Neal said. Then she was back in her body, breathing again. Those involved estimate that Neal had been without oxygen for 30 minutes.

Note: Don't miss the highly inspiring four-minute interview with Mary Neal at the link above. Another CNN interview of seven minutes is available here. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles on near-death experiences, click here.




'Before I Die' walls turn dreams into words
2013-11-29, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/29/living/before-i-die-walls-book/index.html

After losing a close friend to liver failure, Candy Chang spent a lot of time thinking about how she wanted to live out her days. Contemplating death brought clarity to her life, but she struggled to maintain perspective amid the daily grind. She wondered whether other people went through the same struggle, and what mattered to them. She decided to invite others to share those thoughts by painting a chalkboard on the side of an abandoned house in New Orleans stenciled with the sentence "Before I die I want to ________." What began as an experiment in making a public space into a shared space has become a global art project, with more than 400 "Before I die" walls in 60 countries and 25 languages. It's been quite the journey for Chang, who did not launch the project with plans to expand beyond New Orleans. But it resonated among pockets of passionate people around the globe. "Our public spaces are our shared spaces, and they have a lot of potential to offer us a more valuable and meaningful kind of life. I think about why we came together in the first place. Some of the earliest gathering places were graves and sacred groves. We gathered so we could grieve together and worship together and console one another and be alone together." We asked Chang to [share] the most common themes expressed in the walls. "Abandon all insecurities" "Come to terms with who I am" "Slow down for a moment and maybe even stop" "Find serenity" "Stop being afraid".

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Peaceable Kingdom's games emphasize cooperation
2013-11-27, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Peaceable-Kingdom-s-games-emphasize-co...

"Feed the Woozle" and "Hoot Owl Hoot!" are the top-selling titles from Berkeley's Peaceable Kingdom, which is making a name for itself with games for toddlers and families that emphasize cooperation over competition. The small, family-owned business tries to promote the value and fun of everyone working together. Its line of games is staunchly nondigital, encouraging face-to-face interactions instead of "screen time." "Cooperative games are a microcosm of how children can play differently," said company president Donna Jaffe. Child-development experts say the community-focused games can play a valuable role, teaching shared decision-making and problem-solving. "They have a lot of merit for classroom and family use," said Berkeley's Stevanne Auerbach, who reviews playthings at www.drtoy.com. "Kids can cut out the one-upmanship and learn to develop strategies and friendly connections. Many parents want their children to have the experience of playing games without feeling as if they have to win or lose." "Their games are in my therapy bag all the time," said Sherry Artemenko, a Connecticut speech pathologist who reviews games at www.playonwords.com. "Kids learn to help each other and work as a team. There's a lot of learning involved: You talk to each other, take different actions. There are visual skills as well as math and language." With slightly more than $5 million in sales, Peaceable Kingdom is minute compared with giants like Hasbro and Mattel. It has eschewed mass-market retailers like Target and Toys R Us, instead sticking to smaller local toy stores and some chains like Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




The Pope’s bold new vision
2013-11-26, CNN blog
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/26/the-popes-bold-new-vision/

Pope Francis on [November 26] issued a bold new document – in Vatican parlance an “apostolic exhortation” – called Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel.” In this document, he sets out an exciting new vision of how to be a church. It is to be a joyful community of believers completely unafraid of the modern world, completely unafraid of change and completely unafraid of challenges. The exhortation [expresses] an overriding concern for the poor in the world. Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church’s “preferential option” for the poor. “God’s heart has a special place for the poor,” the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope. “None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” And in case anyone misses the point, after a critique of the “idolatry of money” and an “economy of exclusion,” the Pope says: “The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.” This does not mean simply caring for the poor, it means addressing the structures that keep them poor: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”

Note: For how you can help to end poverty through microlending, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Are we all psychic? Scientists believe that animals - including humans - have a collective consciousness
2013-11-19, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2509971/Are-PSYCHIC-Scientists...

Why do people think about someone right before they call, for example, or ‘have a feeling’ something is about to happen before it does? It may be due to something called collective consciousness - a term used by certain scientists to describe the practice of humans, and animals, sharing behaviours and ideas with each other telepathically. The "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon", for example, was an idea put forward by South African zoologist and ethologist Lyall Watson and his scientific author colleague Lawrence Blair in 1975. During the 1950s, macaques on the island of Koshima learned to wash sweet potatoes and explicitly passed this skill onto younger members of the group. This behaviour then spread and was observed on neighbouring islands among groups of macaques who had never [come] into contact with each other. [Watson and Blair] chalked this up to the monkeys sharing a collective consciousness, often referred to as a ‘shared mind’ or ‘hive mind’, in which the practices were shared telepathically. More recently ... blue tits ... taught themselves [to] break into milk bottles and drink the cream from the top. Similar groups of the same [non-migratory] species [later] exhibited the same skills in other countries throughout Europe and Asia. A science journal in 2010 published [the results of experiments] by Professor Daryl Bem, a physicist from Cornell University, that [indicated] humans have similar psychic abilities supposedly seen in the birds and monkeys. Professor Bem carried out nine different experiments involving more than 1,000 volunteers and all but one came down on the side of these so-called psychic theories.

Note: For a most astounding and moving documentary on a woman named Anna Breytenbach who communicates directly with animals, click here, or watch the three-minute trailer at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15m of Americans' personal debt
2013-11-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/12/occupy-wall-street-activists-15m...

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans' personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit. Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy's Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before "abolishing" it, freeing individuals from their bills. By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000. "We thought that the ratio would be about 20 to 1," said Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. "In fact we've been able to buy debt a lot more cheaply than that." The Rolling Jubilee project was mostly conceived as a "public education project", Ross said. "Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there's certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market." The group has ... acquired the $14.7m in three separate purchases, most recently purchasing the value of $13.5m on medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and Puerto Rico, Rolling Jubilee said in a press release. “No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organiser with the group. Hanna said 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Truth Demands To Be Lived
2013-11-12, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/606/truth-demands-to-be-lived-richard-whittaker

A few years ago Americ Azevedo sat in a college classroom with about 15 students. It was a meditation class and he was the instructor. This past fall, that same class enrolled 603 students and took place in one of the largest lecture halls on the UC Berkeley campus. Richard Whittaker: You told me your early experiences in school were difficult. Americ Azevedo: It wasn’t until I hit first grade that I was exposed to English—and to other children. Kids punched me. I threw up all the time. I felt like I lost the light. RW: It’s interesting that you describe losing something. AA: I lost something. I feel that most people lose it at some point in their lives. But losing at that stage is so dramatic. I think school knocks it out of us. School is so artificial, so industrial. All of the sudden it’s a totally different experience from that matrix of love and all the things that make a human being comfortable. And it takes a long time to recover that feeling. There were bullies. There was one boy who beat me up and somewhere along the way I was able to communicate with him and he became my friend. Then he protected me from the other bullies. Later on I realized that the biggest protection we have as human beings is communication. Now I understand it’s a form of love—even for the bully, but it’s become twisted. But that’s how it is for so many people. Somehow the psyche has become twisted and the good has become bad and the bad has become good.

Note: If you would enjoy getting an inspiring email once a day with stories like this, consider signing up at www.dailygood.org. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Marvel Comics Introducing a Muslim Girl Superhero
2013-11-06, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/books/marvel-comics-introducing-a-muslim-gi...

With most superheroes, when you take away the colorful costume, mask and cape, what you find underneath is a white man. But not always. In February, as part of a continuing effort to diversify its offerings, Marvel Comics will begin a series whose lead character, Kamala Khan, is a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. No exploding planet, death of a relative or irradiated spider led to Kamala’s creation. Her genesis began more mundanely, in a conversation between Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker, two editors at Marvel. “I was telling him some crazy anecdote about my childhood, growing up as a Muslim-American,” Ms. Amanat said. “He found it hilarious.” Ms. Amanat and Mr. Wacker noted the dearth of female superhero series and, even more so, of comics with cultural specificity. The creative team is braced for all possible reactions. “I do expect some negativity,” Ms. Amanat said, “not only from people who are anti-Muslim, but people who are Muslim and might want the character portrayed in a particular light.” But “this is not evangelism,” Ms. Wilson said. “It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith.” The series, Ms. Wilson said, would deal with how familial and religious edicts mesh with super-heroics, which can require rules to be broken. Ms. Wilson said the series was “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” Though here, she adds, that happens “through the lens of being a Muslim-American” with superpowers.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




UC plants seeds of growth for local farmers
2013-11-04, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/UC-plants-seeds-of-growth-for-local-farmer...

Emma Torbert, a stone-fruit grower, didn't know what to expect when she got off a bus to tour wholesale food businesses in the Bay Area. By the time she went home to her farm near Davis, her head was filled with possibilities. She and 17 other growers, participating in a University of California workshop, learned that being a small farmer is actually a boon in today's market, where consumers are clamoring for fresh and local foods with a story. The demand is great enough that wholesalers are doing something entirely new - passing up large-scale commercial growers for people like Torbert, who farms only 4 acres. "The trip has been encouraging," said Torbert, 34. "I currently sell to markets in my area, but am interested in expanding. Today, I got the impression that there is a lot of demand." Many shoppers are demanding that their neighborhood retailers carry fruits and vegetables from local farmers instead of huge conglomerates that buy from worldwide growers. In 2009, Mintel, a global marketing research company, found that 1 in 6 consumers made it a point to buy food grown regionally to support the local economy. Shoppers also perceived that food produced relatively close to home was fresher, better tasting and better for the environment, according to the firm. Last year, Mintel found that 52 percent of consumers polled said that it was even more important to buy local fruits and vegetables than organic produce. The tour was organized by the UC Davis Cooperative Extension, the university's Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education Program along with the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Trekking through mud, rivers and jungle to provide free medical care
2013-11-03, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/01/world/africa/cnnheroes-bwelle-cameroon-doct...

For 21 years, Georges Bwelle watched his ill father slip in and out of consciousness, traveling to hospitals that weren't equipped to help him. In Cameroon, there is only one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. And even if they could see a physician, many Cameroonians couldn't afford it. Two out of five people in the country live below the poverty line, and nearly three-quarters of the country's health-care spending is private. Seeing his father and so many of his countrymen suffer, Bwelle was determined to do something about it. He became a doctor himself, working as a vascular surgeon in Yaounde's Central Hospital. And he started a nonprofit, ASCOVIME, that travels into rural areas on weekends to provide free medical care. Since 2008, he and his group of volunteers have helped nearly 32,000 people. Almost every Friday, he and up to 30 people jam into vans, tie medical supplies to the roofs and travel across rough terrain to visit villages in need. "We are receiving 500 people in each trip," Bwelle said. "They are coming from 60 kilometers (37 miles) around the village, and they're coming on foot." Each of these weekend clinics provides a variety of medical care. Many people are treated for malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition, diabetes, parasites and sexually transmitted diseases. Others might receive crutches, a pair of donated eyeglasses or free birth certificates -- documentation that's required for school but that many impoverished families simply can't afford. In the evenings, the team will do simple surgeries with local anesthesia.

Note: For more on this inspiring man and how you can help his great cause, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




Learning is something we do together
2013-11-01, The Intelligent Optimist Magazine
http://theoptimist.com/learning-we-do-together

Guest teacher Toshiro Kanamori captivates the students at the Amstelveen College high school in the Netherlands. Though he is almost a head shorter than most of the students, he holds their attention as he speaks passionately with the help of a translator. But that's almost unnecessary; as someone says later, with his hand gestures, you could almost understand him without the translator. Kanamori speaks with his face, his hands, his whole body. Kanamori is no ordinary teacher. In his vision of education, school is not so much a preparation for life; he believes children should be participating in life. Life itself forms the foundation for learning. Thanks to the heartwarming documentary "Children Full of Life", Kanamori, 67, is known all over Japan and the world. The documentary follows Kanamori and an elementary school class for a year as he teaches his students how to talk about feelings, be compassionate and be happy. That last lesson, according to Kanamori, should be the reason kids go to school. Kanamori teaches elementary school children at the Hokuriku Gaikun University in the Japanese city of Kanazawa, and in the 38 years he's been -- as he puts it -- in, not in front of, the class, he's brought the outside world into the curriculum. For instance, for a sex education lesson, he invited a pregnant woman to class and let the kids ask any questions they might have. He also brought in a terminal cancer patient to talk about her feelings about dying and death. Lessons about death? According to Kanamori, death is not too heavy a subject for kids around ages 9 and 10.

Note: For a profoundly moving video of Mr. Kanamori working his magic with a group of Japanese children, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.




The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier
2013-10-30, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us...

Gratitude ... makes you happier and healthier. If you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you're going to be better off. Does this mean to live in a state of constant denial and put your head in the sand? Of course not. Gratitude works when you're grateful for something real. What are you actually grateful for? It's a question that could change your life. Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and even the survival of our marriages. Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for two decades. The conclusion of all that research, he states, is that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it is likely the marriage will end. With 90 percent accuracy, Gottman says he can predict, often after only three minutes of observation, which marriages are likely to flourish and which are likely to flounder. The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude). Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed. Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day. To practice it further, join thousands of others in a transformative 21-Day Gratitude Challenge starting November 7th leading up to Thanksgiving.

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