Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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Located in northeast Portland, Dignity Village is a self-governed gated community, which currently serves 60 people on any given night - the city limits the number - and provides shelter in the form of tiny houses built mainly from donated and recycled materials. The village emerged in the winter of 2000 as a tent city called Camp Dignity. Now officially a nonprofit, Dignity Village is governed by a democratically elected council of nine residents, who are responsible for day-to-day decisions; all residents can vote on big decisions, like whether to remove a resident or enter into contracts with service providers, in town-hall-style meetings. On a typical night, it provides food, housing, bathrooms, and a mailing address for nearly 60 adults, who pay $35 a month in rent and would otherwise be taking their chances alone sleeping on park benches or city streets. Community may be Dignity Village’s most essential offering. “It’s really what sets people apart from other homeless shelters and encampments, above all else,” says Katie Mays, who works as a social worker at Dignity Village three days a week. Elsewhere, cities are trying out the model. In Eugene, Oregon, Opportunity Village has lifted the concept wholesale. Dignity Village’s influence also has spread to Nashville, where a micro-housing community called Sanctuary has cropped up. What the residents of these communities hold in common are the bonds forged from shared experience - of finally finding a welcome environment after being discarded and stigmatized by larger society.
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President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences. In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement. The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days. The president’s reforms apply broadly to the roughly 10,000 federal inmates serving time in solitary confinement. The reforms come six months after Obama, as part of a broader criminal-justice reform push, ordered the Justice Department to study how solitary confinement was being used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” Obama wrote in his op-ed. He said he hoped his reforms at the federal level will serve as a model for states to rethink their rules on the issue.
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An autistic teenager has become an online sensation after a video demonstrating his unique technique as a barista - which involves plenty of dancing - went viral. Sam was filmed making a cup of coffee for a customer while working alongside his boss Chris at the Starbucks restaurant, believed to be in North America. The clip shows the teenager smiling and dancing while heating the milk and later pouring it into the cup of coffee, before adding whipped cream and sprinkles. Carly Fleischmann, who lives in Toronto, Canada, posted the video to YouTube and Facebook alongside a caption introducing Sam. Carly explained that when Sam was offered a position at Starbucks he told his parents that for the first time in his life he felt like he had real meaning. She added: 'Sam was diagnosed with autism and like some people with autism Sam has a movement disorder. Sam has a hard time keeping his body still. 'Sam never thought that he would be able to work behind the bar because of his sudden movements but his manager Chris believed in him and got Sam to channel his movements into dance.' The partnership was not an overnight success however and it has taken Sam and Chris many shifts and hours to get to the level demonstrated in the video. Sam is now known as the 'dancing barista' and Carly noted that if it was not for Chris believing in the ability of his employee then he would not have had the confidence to believe in himself.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring six-minute video of Sam and Chris on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Robina Gul has swapped her needle for a trowel. Gul is growing some 25,000 saplings of 13 different species crammed into the small courtyard of her two-room house in Najaf Pur, a village of around 8,000 people. "It gives me immense pleasure to look after the saplings as this has changed my whole life," said Gul, 35. She set up the nursery at her home in March last year under an agreement with the provincial forest department, [which] provides around a quarter of the start-up cost for poor households to set up a tree nursery, with a subsidy amounting to 150,000 rupees ($1,429.93) each over a year. "I am now getting over 12,000 rupees per month (from the subsidy), just by looking after the saplings in my home," Gul said. "I have also acquired the skills I need to grow different seedlings, and this will help me earn enough even after the project is wound up." The provincial government is planning to spend 21 billion rupees ... on a project called the "Billion Tree Tsunami." The goal is to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land. The initiative aims to boost local economic development in a way that uses natural resources sustainably. Outsourcing nurseries to the private sector, including widows, poor women, and young people ... provides the government with saplings to plant, as well as green jobs. At the same time, illegal logging has been almost eliminated in the province following strict disciplinary action against some officials who were involved.
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More than a third of the world's food goes uneaten, and many crops harvested in Africa are discarded rather than sold, according to an initiative announced Jan. 21 by the Rockefeller Foundation to cut food waste and loss by half. The seven-year, $130 million project aims to tackle food waste from crops in the fields to dinner tables in industrialized nations. Sub-Saharan Africa will receive much of the initiative's resources. In Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, up to half of some crops are lost due to inefficient harvesting, storage, processing, and time to market. Enough food is grown to feed the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people worldwide, but a third is never eaten, according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization figures. The initiative, called YieldWise, aims at cutting food waste and loss in half by 2030. Last year, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama also announced a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. In France, legislators have banned big supermarkets from destroying unsold but edible food. Training at mango farms in Kenya, maize farms in Tanzania, and tomato farms in Nigeria is already in the works, the New York-based philanthropic organization said, teaching farmers such skills as the use of crop-preserving technologies and strategies against crop loss.
Animal communicators are people who can fully communicate with an animal just as they would with a normal human person. The communication is telepathic and 2-way. Animal communicators have most likely existed for a long time, probably in every single culture in the world. Anna Breytenbach is a professional animal communicator. Anna was summoned in the case of the black leopard who had been moved to a South African wild cat park. He was given the name Diabolo (similar to the Spanish word for devil) and ... snarled at anyone who went near. The owners of the park were afraid of approaching him. They summoned an animal communicator (Anna) for help. After communicating with the leopard, she learnt that one of the reasons for him being upset was that he thought something was expected of him. The other reason was that he was worried about what had happened to 2 young cubs at the last place he was being kept. When Anna relayed this to the park owner, [he] broke down and cried. He confirmed that they were indeed 2 young cubs at the previous place. He told Anna to reassure the black leopard that nothing would be expected of him here - and that the 2 young cubs were safe. This relieved the leopard to the point where he opened up and became friendly. His name was subsequently changed to something more fitting – Spirit. There is no way Anna could possibly have known this information beforehand. She learnt it telepathically. She was told this by an animal!
Note: Watch videos of several animal communicators in action at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Colombia's version of the hit TV contest "Dancing with the Stars" hopes to show millions of viewers that former battlefield enemies can live side by side. John Pinchao, a policeman held captive in a jungle camp, often in chains, by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until he escaped in 2007, is now sharing the dance floor with ex-FARC child soldier Ana Pacheco, who joined the rebel group aged 14. The prime-time show comes at a time when the three-year-old peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC are approaching the goal the two sides have set of signing an accord by March 23. If successful, this would end half a century of war that has killed 220,000 people and displaced 6.5 million, and would lead to some 7,000 FARC fighters handing in their weapons. As the March deadline for signing a peace deal looms, Colombians are considering to what extent they are ready to forgive FARC and accept former combatants back into society. For Pacheco, who left the rebel ranks when she was 16, the TV show is an opportunity to show the human face of former fighters. The producers of the TV show ... hope the unexpected line-up can foster empathy among Colombians with people who suffered during the years of conflict. "We want the show to awaken solidarity. We weren't just looking for great dancers and celebrities, what inspired us was to show the reality that faces Colombia, it's about living together," said Fox Colombia executive producer Oscar Guarin.
Alma Tucker discovered what her lifework would be when she was about to retire. She had been working for the Mexican Consulate’s Department of Protection in San Diego. “One of the assignments I had was to see patients in hospitals,” Ms. Tucker says. She would act as an interpreter and help them find family members in Mexico. This time, it was a 14-year-old girl. “When I arrived I found she was being sexually exploited” by a smuggler, Tucker says. The smuggler, who was supposed to be transporting the girl into the US, had told her that her parents hadn’t paid him, and so, he said, she was obligated to have sex with anyone he wanted her to. By the time the girl arrived in the US, she had been forced into sex by multiple men. That was when Tucker realized that victims of sex abuse and human trafficking need comforting as well as practical help. As she looked further into the problem of human trafficking on the US-Mexican border, she realized how few resources existed for Mexican victims. In 2010, Tucker and her husband established the International Network of Hearts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking, particularly underage ones, and raising awareness about the enormous problem of labor and sex trafficking. Then Tucker opened a home for underage victims in Tijuana, Mexico, called La Casa del Jardin – The Garden House – so named because, she says, she thinks of each girl as a flower waiting to bloom. “We try to create a very healthy ambiance,” she says. “They’re survivors. We give them a lot of love.”
Seventeen-year-old Gabe Adams was born without arms and legs and suffers from a rare disease called hanhart syndrome, but that doesn't stop him from dancing. After spending most of his life in a wheelchair, he decided to join the dance team at Davis High School. During halftime at a basketball game Friday night, he performed in front of the whole school. Cheers rang out as Gabe put the word disability to shame. "I wanted to prove to myself and to others that there’s more to myself than just a kid in a wheelchair," Adams said. With practices three days a week, which last for more than three hours, dance team is no easy commitment. However, teammate Alexis Delahunty says Gabe makes it seem easy. "I can’t even imagine doing this without my arms and legs. It's so inspiring. He’s just amazing," Delahunty said. His dance teacher, Kim King, says Gabe has brought so much joy to the team and has pushed them all to work harder. "When they see him, they don’t realize how hard it is to get dressed, how hard it is to get in and out of his chair, but Gabe does everything by himself," King said. Gabe's father, Ron Adams, said Gabe is always pushing himself and taking each challenge in stride. "I don’t think everyone understands what it takes, the muscle coordination and development to balance when he doesn’t have limbs," Ron Adams said. He may not realize it, but Gabe is constantly inspiring the people around him.
Note: Note: Don't miss the amazing video at the link above. For more on this most impressive teenager, see this story. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Campbell Soup Company may become the first major U.S. food company to list genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in its ingredients lists nationwide as it threw its weight behind a national labeling standard. The company announced its support on Thursday for federal regulation of GMO standards, noting it is in favor of federal legislation that would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate which foods can be labeled GMOs. The company's support for federal legislation comes as Vermont prepares to implement the Vermont Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Act, which would require a GMO label on food by July 1, 2016, if the food is "entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering." Campbell posted an example of that label on its website and said it was preparing to expand the GMO labeling nationwide even without federal regulations, but to do so would need guidance from the FDA and USDA. The company estimates the new labels could be implemented in approximately 12 to 18 months after it gets guidance from the federal agencies. There is currently no federal standard for what food would constitute a GMO, unlike a food item that is deemed USDA Organic. The World Health Organization defines a GMO as "foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism."
“Playing God is simply a matter of learning a script. It didn’t require research beyond that,” Freeman deadpanned during National Geographic’s panel for “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman”. The project, a collaboration among Lori McCreary, James Younger and Freeman, who all serve as executive producers, is an exploration of religion across the globe and the function of God in any given society. The team previously collaborated on Discovery’s “Through the Wormhole.” As for why the three turned to matters of religion in their latest offering: “We were driven to make this by seeing all of the misunderstanding and difficulties centered around religion in the world today. We were motivated to say, ‘Let’s go there and see what religions have in common,” said Younger, adding, “What we found is a remarkable commonality between religions.” However, the series found itself stymied by the limitations of trying to carve such a complex subject down to six hour-long installments, ultimately being limited to focusing just on the “big five” according to Freeman, the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) as well as Buddhism and Hinduism. When asked what they would ask the Divine given the opportunity, they didn’t hesitate. McCreary wondered, “What’s the key to unifying us all as Your children?” while Freeman opted for a more pointed, “What do You think now?” But it was former scientist Younger who opted for the most universal question of all: “Why?”
Hydrogen has the potential to fuel incredibly environmentally clean cars. But making that fuel hasn't been so efficient or economical. Pure hydrogen gas does not occur naturally on Earth, so scientists must devise ways to separate hydrogen from naturally occurring compounds, like H2O. Until now, cars that run on water have been out of reach. But a team of scientists have come up with a different mechanism to produce hydrogen fuel from water. These researchers have created a biomaterial that catalyzes the splitting of the water elements, which they describe in a paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry. The biomaterial, called P22-Hyd, is made up of a modified enzyme, hydrogenase, protected within the protein shell of a bacterial virus. The mechanism goes both ways. P22-Hyd breaks the chemical bonds in H2O to produce hydrogen and oxygen, but it can also combine the two gases to generate power. That reversal is how hydrogen fuel cell cars work. "The reaction runs both ways - it can be used either as a hydrogen production catalyst or as a fuel cell catalyst," study lead author Trevor Douglas, of Indiana University Bloomington said. "You don't need to mine it; you can create it at room temperature on a massive scale using fermentation technology. It's a very green process to make a very high-end sustainable material."
To the average person, it may seem that the biggest technology advances of 2015 were the larger smartphone screens. But a ... broad range of technologies reached a tipping point. 1. The Internet and knowledge: As of 2015 ... India has more Internet users than the U.S. does, and China has twice as many. Never before has all of humanity been connected in this way. 2. Doctors in our pockets: In 2015, smartphone-connected medical devices came into the mainstream. Previous generations of medical advances were for the rich; now all can benefit. 3. Bitcoin and disintermediation: One of the most controversial technology advances recently is Bitcoin, an unregulated and uncontrolled digital currency. In 2015, it gained acceptance by retailers such as Overstock.com. And the technology that underlies it, blockchain ... has the potential to transform the lives of billions of people who lack bank accounts and access to the legal and administrative infrastructure that we take for granted. 4. Engineering of life: Another technology that came into the mainstream was Crispr gene modification. Via Crisprs, DNA can be edited for as little as $100. 5. The drone age: As the technologies advance, drones will carry increasing amounts of weight and travel over longer distances. 6. Saving the planet with clean energy: U.S. lawmakers struck [a deal] to extend tax credits for solar and wind capture for another five years, which will accelerate the progress of clean energy. By, 2030, solar capture could provide 100 percent of today’s energy.
For decades, the Hershey Co. has used sugar made from both sugar beets and sugar cane, but it decided earlier this year to stop buying beet sugar because it comes from genetically modified, or GM, seeds. Hershey communications director Jeff Beckman confirmed that the kisses and many other products stocked on shelves since Halloween no longer contain beet sugar. The company also is transitioning away from artificial to natural ingredients, he said. About 55 percent of domestic U.S. sugar is produced from sugar beets, and nearly 100 percent of the beet seeds are genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Hershey is the only national brand that has dropped beet sugar, although other companies have been asking questions and there has been a lot of chatter about GM sugar on social media. Part of the pressure on Hershey came from a coalition of groups called GMO Inside that began a campaign in 2013 suggesting that consumers tell Hershey and Mars, another large candy manufacturer, to drop all GM ingredients from their products. Elizabeth O’Connell, campaigns director for Green America, one of the groups in the anti-GM coalition ... said consumer groups will continue to pressure companies to remove GM ingredients from food, or at least to label them so consumers know what they’re buying. A current priority is dairy products, she said, because cows are fed mixtures of soy meal, corn and other products from GM seed.
What if helping others is an innate part of being human? What if it just makes us feel good to give? Those questions have inspired a series of ground-breaking neuroscience studies ... by researchers Jamil Zaki, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, and Jason Mitchell, an associate professor of the social sciences at Harvard University. Zaki and Mitchell’s research has gone head-to-head with standard economic models of decision making, which assume that when people exhibit kind, helpful (or “pro-social”) behavior, they are doing so to protect their reputation, avoid retribution, or benefit when their kindness is reciprocated. But in a study published in 2011 in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zaki and Mitchell tested an alternate theory: that we feel good when helping others ... because behaviors like fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity are intrinsically rewarding. They found that acting equitably ... is rewarding, even when it means putting someone else’s interests before our own. On the other hand, making inequitable choices activated ... a brain area that has been associated with negative emotional states like pain and disgust. “Our model flips the traditional model on its head,” says Zaki. “Instead of people wanting to be selfish and then forcing themselves through control to be generous, we’re getting a picture where people enjoy being generous.”
Good news. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a cancelled hydro dam that spares 20,000 people from the burden of displacement. Other times, it takes the shape of a simple court admission that Indigenous Peoples do actually make the best conservationists. Indigenous rights victories give us all pause to celebrate, to reflect and to rejuvenate our own quests for justice. In a landmark decision last week, the Dutch Court of Appeals ruled that four Ogoni farmers from Nigeria can take their case against [oil company] Shell to a judge in the Netherlands. Alali Efanga, one of the Ogoni farmers who ... said the ruling "offers hope that Shell will finally begin to restore the soil around my village so that I will once again be able to take up farming and fishing on my own land." The Wampis nation ... took an unprecedented step forward by establishing the first Autonomous Indigenous Government in Peru's history. Spanning a 1.3 million hectare territory - a region the size of the State of Connecticut - the newly created democratically-elected government brings together 100 Wampis communities representing some 10,613 people. Monsanto ... took another big hit after Mexico's Supreme Court suspended a permit to grow genetically modified soybeans across 250,000 hectares on the Yucatán peninsula. The judgment stemmed from a constitutional law in Mexico that requires the consideration of indigenous communities. The judge commented in the ruling that co-existence between honey production and GM soybeans is simply not possible.
Note: Don't miss the details of these and many other recent indigenous community victories at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Kaiser Permanente ... plans to open its own medical school in Southern California in 2019. The nonprofit, national provider of managed health care says it plans to train students in its own style of integrated diagnosis and treatment - focusing on research, the use of new technologies, and teaching doctors to work as part of a collaborative caregiving team. Their new school will be about more than just primary care. "We need to prepare physicians for the way health care is delivered in the future," says Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Students need to learn not just medicine, he says, but about integrated systems of care and how to work in a much different medical environment. "Our advantage is we can start from scratch," he says. Another advantage is the HMO's deep pockets. "They've got huge resources," says Dr. George Thibault, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, which focuses on medical education. "This is a grand experiment, but if anybody can do it, Kaiser can."
Skills like kindness, cooperation, and empathy are sometimes dismissed as “soft” skills in education. Developing “hard” skills like math and reading can seem far more practical and important - hence our education system’s rigorous focus on teaching and testing them. But [a] recent study, published last month in the American Journal of Public Health, turns that thinking on its head. After following hundreds of students from kindergarten through early adulthood, the study suggests that possessing those “soft” skills is key to doing well in school and avoiding some major problems afterwards. Neglecting these skills could pose a threat to public health and safety. Importantly, these findings held true regardless of the student’s gender, race, or socioeconomic status, the quality of their neighborhood, their early academic skills, or several other factors. Those who were rated as more pro-social in kindergarten were more likely to succeed. In some cases, kids’ kindness was more strongly related to certain outcomes later in life than were other factors that might seem more relevant. For example, surprisingly to the researchers, the level of aggression that a student showed in kindergarten couldn’t predict whether the student would have a run-in with the law later in life - but his level of pro-social behavior could. The results make a convincing case for investing more in nurturing students’ social and emotional skills - which, according to prior research, are malleable and can be improved, with lasting and meaningful results.
Finalizing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged overuse of solitary confinement, New York will change the way it handles such confinement in its prison system. The 79-page agreement ends a lawsuit filed by New York's ACLU chapter, which accused one of the largest prison systems in the country of using inhumane and torturous methods in dealing with prisoners. New York state will immediately move roughly 1,100 inmates into alternative programs. They will also develop training programs for corrections officers designed to encourage the use of forms of discipline and security other than isolation. Prisoners still held in solitary for more than 180 days will receive additional counseling, social time, and access to telephones. Today's change comes months after California changed how it handles solitary confinement, settling a lawsuit that said the practice of putting people in long-term isolation violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The New York settlement also includes a change in diet, requiring the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision "to replace the Loaf ... with a nutritious, calorie-sufficient, and palatable alternative meal composed of regular food items." Providing an example, the settlement says "a sack lunch consisting of fruit, cheese, cold cuts, sandwich bread, and coleslaw would meet the requirements of this subsection." That would be a step up from the notorious "Loaf," which The New York Times describes as "a foul-tasting brick."
Abdel Gawad Ellabbad knows exactly how he was infected with hepatitis C. As a schoolboy in this Nile Delta rice-farming village, his class marched to the local clinic every month for injections against schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease spread by water snails. Six million Egyptians were infected with hepatitis C by unsterile needles during the country’s decades-long fight against schistosomiasis. The virus spread insidiously; today, at least 10 percent of Egyptians, nearly nine million people, are chronically infected, the highest rate in the world. But a grand experiment unfolding across the country may change all that. Pharmaceutical companies are testing ... a complicated deal to sell hepatitis drugs at a fraction of their usual cost. If [successful] the arrangement in Egypt may serve as a blueprint not just for curing hepatitis around the world, but also for providing other cutting-edge medicines to citizens in poor countries who could never afford them. The experiment here is about a year old and, while still fragile, appears to be headed for success. Mr. Ellabbad, for one, was finally cured of hepatitis this spring. An air-conditioning repairman, he took a three-month regimen that included sofosbuvir, first of the new generation of miracle drugs. The pills would have cost more than $84,000 in the United States. He got them free from the Egyptian government, which paid about $900. “Before, I felt like I was dying,” he said. “Now I feel like I’ve never felt before. Like I’m 35 again.”
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.