Inspirational Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational Media Articles in Major Media
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Plastic six-pack rings are the bane of conservationists - images of sea birds and turtles entangled in them serve as constant reminders that consumer culture and the environment don’t get along. But thanks to an innovation from a Florida-based brewery, we can feel a little better about enjoying a six-pack. Saltwater Brewery has partnered with the ad agency We Believers to create what they say is the first fully edible beer can packaging. Made from byproducts of the brewing process such as wheat and barley, their six-pack holders are fully biodegradable and completely digestible. Rather than ensnaring curious animals in a corset of litter, the company’s six-pack rings could serve as a satisfying snack. And if nothing is biting, the rings quickly decompose. Plus, the drink holders are just as strong as the plastic variety, which should keep those Screamin’ Reels safe, as well. The company 3-D printed a test batch of 500 holders in April, according to AdvertisingAge, and it plans to scale up production to meet its current output of 400,000 cans of beer a month. While the edible holders are more expensive to make, Saltwater Brewery wants set an example for other beer producers and encourage them to adopt the idea. They say if their edible holders become commonplace, they could potentially be as cheap as the regular plastic rings.
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A solar project funded and operated by both Jews and Muslims is shining some light on Auja, a small Palestinian town located in one of the most controversial territories on Earth. The $100,000 project is harnessing solar energy to power the drawing of water from deep underground to irrigate a grove of palms growing the prized Medjool dates. It is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States – including former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground. The solar array is providing an economic boost to 45 farming families in this town of 5,000 Palestinians on the eastern flank of the West Bank who struggle with scarce water and unreliable and expensive electricity. Ben Jablonski ... is leading the project through a nonprofit he founded called Build Israel Palestine. Mr. Jablonski, who is Jewish, started the organization in 2014 with Tarek Elgawhary, an Egyptian Muslim religious scholar in Washington, D.C. who also runs Coexist, an educational nonprofit. Jablonski gave up his board seat with the Jewish National Fund, a nonprofit infrastructure developer that has limited but controversial involvement in West Bank settlements, in order to meet the demands from the Auja community, which insisted that donors and engineers involved in the project have no connections to Israeli settlements. Build Israel Palestine’s work focuses on providing Palestinians access to water, and doing so by bringing Muslims and Jews together.
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Chris Castro has an obsession - turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms. "The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising," Castro says. Surprising because he's asking Floridians to hand over a good chunk of their precious yards to volunteers who plant gardens full of produce. His program is called Fleet Farming, and it's starting off small, with 10 of these yard farms. Most of them sit smack in the middle of the front yard. Lawns are a thing here. Urban farms? Not so much. But so far, no neighbors have complained. Castro makes sure every garden is meticulously maintained - including homeowner Gary Henderson's. "I just think that the whole idea of lawns, especially in a place like Florida, is absurd," says Henderson, standing amid rows of tomatoes, sweet lettuce, carrots and arugula growing smack in the middle of his front yard. All of Fleet Farming's volunteers only ride bikes, going from garden to garden to harvest the produce. Because the program is bike-powered, Castro keeps the yard gardens within a mile of the local farmers market, where Fleet Farming sells most of the produce. Henderson offers this advice to anyone thinking about replacing their lawn with a garden: "Give it a try ... and once you get to the point where you realize that you can eat your lawn, I think it makes a whole lot of sense." And so do 300 other residents of central Florida. That's how many people are on Fleet Farming's waiting list, ready to eat their lawns instead of having to mow them.
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A shorter work day increases productivity and makes people happier. The Svartedalens retirement home in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, conducted an experiment to determine whether cutting hours improved patient care and boosted employees' morale. Nurses who worked six-hour days for the past year were found to be 20 per cent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. The 68 nurses also took half as much sick time as those in the control group and were able to do 64 per cent more activities with elderly residents. They were also 2.8 times less likely to take any time off work in a two-week period, Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project, told Bloomberg. "If the nurses are at work more time and are more healthy, this means that the continuity at the residence has increased," Mr Lorentzon said. "That means higher quality [care]." Sweden made headlines in 2015 when it was reported the country was moving towards a six-hour work day. A Toyota centre in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, implemented shorter working hours over a decade ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate and an increase in profits. Their results prompted a number of other Swedish companies to trial shorter hours. Longer working hours have been linked with heart disease and stroke, according to a medical study published in The Lancet.
We live in a time when people are less optimistic, more cynical and have lower expectations, in part because they see government and other institutions as ineffective and unresponsive. Of course the challenges we face today are as solvable as any problems we have confronted in the past. We as individuals still can make a difference. How? Well, one way is through our investments. We don’t have to wait for governments to take action. We can actually increase our influence over world events, and potentially have a greater impact (and feel a little less powerless) not just through civic participation, or voting, or supporting non-profits - all of which remain vitally important - but through our role as investors. Rather than investing in fossil fuel companies, you can invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy; clean water and pollution control; sustainable food and agriculture. The bottom line: As investors, we have more power than we realize. We can prod and pressure and cajole companies into doing the right thing. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to leverage this power. Investors are not powerless. We can move the needle. And ... it is both a moral imperative and an economic imperative that the needle be moved.
A woman who stood up to 300 neo-Nazis in Sweden hopes her gesture will draw attention to the fight against racism in the Scandinavian country. Tess Asplund tried to block the path of the Nordic Resistance Movement as the right-wing extremist group marched in the town of Borlange on May 1. An image of Ms Asplund facing the neo-Nazis up close with a clenched fist has been shared thousands of times on social media in Sweden and internationally. The 42-year-old anti-racism activist told Swedish Radio her defiant gesture was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid in South Africa. "I felt when they arrived that they shouldn't be here and spread their hate," Ms Asplund said. "I don't think I was even thinking. I just jumped out. Things happened quite quickly. Then a police officer pulled me away." A video of the incident from the Dala-Demokraten newspaper shows Ms Asplund walking backward as she faces men with shaved heads at the front of the procession. One of them tries to shove her aside while another counter-demonstrator is forcefully pushed out of the path of the parade.
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Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (Ł3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said. A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks. In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a €100 fine. The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity". Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely. Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote. "The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.
48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Several restaurants ... are trying to win the war against hunger. For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, has a “pay-it-forward” concept allowing customers to feed local homeless people a slice of pizza for one dollar. Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills ... to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with ... seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. Anyone inside the restaurant industry would consider the objectives of Even Stevens to be ludicrous. Yet, Down ... believes the results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.
Two undergraduate students at the University of Washington have worked to invent a new way to communicate. Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize - a nationwide search for the most inventive ... students - for their invention, SignAloud gloves, which can translate American Sign Language into speech or text. “Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world,” Azodi told UW Today. “The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.” Each of the SignAloud gloves has sensors that record movement and gestures then transmit the info wirelessly to a central computer. The computer then looks at the data, and if it matches a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker. “The sign language translation devices already out there are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the user’s entire arm or body,” Pryor [said]. “Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses.”
For many of us, the most pressing question about exercise is: How little can I get away with? The answer, according to a sophisticated new study of interval training, may be very, very little. In this new experiment, in fact, 60 seconds of strenuous exertion proved to be as successful at improving health and fitness as three-quarters of an hour of moderate exercise. Scientists at McMaster University ... began by recruiting 25 out-of-shape young men and measuring their current aerobic fitness. Then the researchers randomly divided the men into three groups. One group was asked to change nothing; they would be the controls. A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine. The final group was assigned to interval training, using [a] workout [that] lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous. Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks. By the end of the study ... the endurance group had [exercised] for 27 hours, while the interval group had [exercised] for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous. The scientists ... found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant [improvements in] certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles. Neither approach to exercise was, however, superior to the other, except that one was shorter - much, much shorter.
A man in Whittier has gone the distance for a tiny hummingbird his once-feral dog helped rescue. As Ed Gernon explains, last year he adopted a German shepherd mix named Rex, that at the time “fought other dogs and killed cats.” “He was dangerous,” said Gernon of Rex. “He was an animal that had learned to live on the streets and to survive on his own.” One afternoon just a month after Rex’s adoption, the dog became the rescuer, saving a very tiny and sick hummingbird. “And he suddenly stopped and he would not move,” he recalls. “I mean it’s tiny and it’s dead as far as I’m concerned. It’s covered in ants. It’s got no feathers.” But that’s not where the story ends. Hummer as she is called is now living in Gernon’s home a year later. But it’s been a long road. In fact, Gernon had to nurse Hummer back to health (quite literally). He feeds her a special formula every 15 minutes from sun up to sun down and even taught her how to fly using a hair dryer. “You find yourself doing stuff you never thought in a million years you would do,” he said. And even Rex is willing to share his water bowl with Hummer. “It was this little creature. This fragile creature that the whole world wanted to kill and he was trying to protect her so I thought I’d go the distance,” said Gernon. It’s been more than a year since Hummer arrived and Gernon knows eventually she will spread her wings. “It’s time for her to start mating and I keep leaving the doors and windows open thinking she’ll leave,” he said. But while she’s here, he says her little wings have made a big impact.
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Brooklyn Andracke is a big fan of her garbage man, who always honks the truck’s horn and waves. Delvar Dopson is essentially her hero. “He is our favorite awesome smiley garbage man,” her mother, Traci Andracke, [said]. Brooklyn’s fascination with Dopson started because his truck would drive by their house, [and she] noticed Dopson driving the massive vehicle. “It became all about him after that,” Andracke said. “It wasn’t the ‘garbage truck’ anymore, but it was the ‘garbage man’ that she wanted to see.” When Brooklyn turned 3, the tot decided she wanted to share part of her big day with him. She patiently waited outside her home until Dopson pulled onto their street. When Andracke motioned for Dopson to stop the garbage truck, Brooklyn presented him with one of her birthday cupcakes. Dopson was “instantly speechless,” Andracke said. “I explained to him that he makes our day every Thursday,” she added. “After he left ... Brooklyn was unusually quiet. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, ‘Mommy, I’m so happy.’” The following week, Dopson returned for his refuse-collecting round and gave Brooklyn a belated birthday present: toys from her favorite movie, “Frozen.” In return, Brooklyn made him a thank you note, which he’s since displayed with pride in his truck. “I’d love for people to remember that a small gesture - a honk, wave, smile - doesn’t take much effort. Just do it,” the mom told HuffPost. “You never know who is on the receiving end of that smile and how it can really brighten their day.”
A pair of middle school classmates who met decades later on opposite sides of a courtroom reunited once again under happier circumstances. Miami-Dade Judge Mindy Glazer recognized Arthur Booth after he was arrested for burglary charges and appeared before her in bond court last summer. “Did you go to Nautilus for middle school?” the judge asks, leading her former schoolmate, now 49, to burst into tears. “This was the nicest kid in middle school, he was the best kid in middle school. I used to play football with him, all the kids, and look what has happened,” she said, according to NBC Miami. Video of the encounter went viral, and Booth spent 10 months in jail before a guilty plea for burglary and grand theft led to his release into a drug treatment program on Tuesday. He hugged his family after coming out of court before embracing Glazer, who was waiting for him and encouraged him to stay on the right side of the law. “She’s an inspiration and a motivation to me right now. Mindy is incredible,” Booth told CBS Miami. “Cause I know where I could’ve been, but I’m not giving up on life.”
Note: Don't miss the moving video of this at the link above.
San Francisco passed legislation this week that will require all new buildings under 10 stories tall to be outfitted with solar panels. The California city will become the largest municipality in the U.S. with such a mandate. “By increasing our use of solar power, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in the fight against climate change and the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels,” Scott Wiener, the city supervisor who introduced the legislation, said. The legislation makes explicit references to combating climate change and expresses concern about the city’s future. Smaller California cities already have similar laws in place. Beginning in 2017, all new San Francisco buildings with 10 or fewer floors must have either solar photovoltaic or solar water panels. The measure builds on a California law that mandates new buildings have at least 15 percent of their roof space exposed to sunshine for solar panel use in the future.
Jenny Colgan is one of Britain’s most prolific writers. Last year she wrote five books and this year eight are scheduled to come out. To produce this volume of work you might think Colgan, 44, wrote into the small hours every night. She doesn’t. She works for no more than three hours every day, from 11am to 1pm. “Like a marathon runner building up resistance I started to push how much I could get into every day. And every time I stretched it a hundred or so here and there, I found that I could, even though the time I have for working stayed about the same. “Weirdly, the work started getting better. I'm now finishing my novels more quickly, immersing myself more, focusing better. The arcs of the books, the reviews and the sales all improved massively.” This will come as no surprise to Colin McKenzie and his team at Keio University in Japan, who has just published a paper suggesting that part-time workers over the age of 40 – especially those who work about 25 hours a week – have the sharpest brains. Part-time work, the report has concluded, is the perfect balance between brain stimulation and stress. The findings echo those of a celebrated study that has followed 10,000 middle-aged civil servants in Whitehall since 1985. In short, working too hard is bad for you. The report’s title is “Use it too much and lose it?” It has been welcomed by a host of people who have called for Britain to end its culture of hamster-wheel offices.
The air quality in many cities has improved markedly thanks to improved technology in fuel-burning mechanisms, although problem areas remain, the American Lung Association announced Wednesday. The biggest improvement came as counties studied across the United States lowered the levels of particle pollution in the air. Although weather patterns change air quality, 16 US cities hit their lowest levels of particle pollution ever for the entire year. This included Los Angeles, although it remains the nation's most polluted city for ozone pollution, while Bakersfield topped the list for particle pollution. Many cities benefited from both new practices at power plants fueled by coal and better emissions and engine technology in cars and larger vehicles. Improvement came across the United States, and many areas are seeing the effects of the 1970 federal Clean Air Act. Although some still have dirty air, many of the nation's most polluted cities were slightly cleaner than last year. In Ohio, for example, particle pollution readings improved in Cleveland, making it among 16 cities that reported their lowest levels of particle pollution on record. The American Lung Association lauded the federal Clean Air Act, currently on hold by the Supreme Court, but urged states to individually evaluate their air quality to determine paths to improvement. As scientific information has become more available, cities have been able to make specific plans because they know their targets for clean air.
Note: Our older readers may remember when smog alerts in large cities were commonplace in the 1960s and many lakes that were practically devoid of life have now returned to life. We are definitely making progress in some areas.
Bay Area shoppers will soon be able to get a new kind of local produce at Whole Foods stores. Affectionately known as ugly produce, the fruits and vegetables are perfectly healthy and safe yet are usually left to rot because they don’t meet typical supermarket cosmetic standards. Bags of the aesthetically challenged produce will arrive at Northern California Whole Foods outposts later this month ... thanks to Emeryville’s Imperfect, one of several new Bay Area companies taking advantage of crops that are usually wasted in California fields. Of the estimated 62.5 million tons of food Americans waste annually, much more is generated in homes, stores and restaurants than farms, but the loss at farms is more suitable for reuse, [and is] responsible for almost 20 percent of American food waste. For some specialty California crops, such as greens, 50 percent is left in the field because it’s not worth harvesting, said Christine Moseley, founder and chief executive officer of Full Harvest, a San Francisco startup that aggregates ugly produce from Salinas Valley growers for Bay Area food and beverage companies. “I found out that there’s this massive problem with food waste, and I saw that as an opportunity,” said Moseley. She has projects in the works with larger national companies and has contracts in place to deliver 1 million pounds of imperfect and surplus produce this year. Since it launched last year, Full Harvest has rescued 15,000 pounds of previously worthless produce.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, aren't just ice cream makers. They are also advocates of social change – even if that means getting arrested. The two were among the 300 people arrested and soon released at the US Capitol on Monday, as part of "Democracy Spring" protests that have been ... campaigning for finance reform and voting rights. Many protesters are staunch supporters of Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whom the famous ice cream duo has publicly backed with a variety of initiatives from ice cream itself to illuminated road signs. Democracy "looks great from the outside, but inside it’s a disappointing mess," reads a statement on Ben & Jerry's website. "With corporations and billionaires pouring unlimited, unchecked dollars into politicians' pockets and new voter restrictions popping up across the country, this is no longer a government of the people and for the people; this is a government of the rich, and for the rich." On Tuesday, the [website] featured a blog detailing the arrests of the co founders, including pictures of the two as they were participating the protests. It's not the first time Ben & Jerry's has brought its political views to the table. "You could say that our passion for social justice has been baked right into everything we’ve ever done," the owners wrote. They've been vocal supporters of Senator Sanders, too.
Note: The media's reluctance to cover "Democracy Spring" has not stopped Ben & Jerry from speaking up to fix the US political process. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Back in 2005, Jameel McGee says he was minding his own business when a police officer accused him of - and arrested him for - dealing drugs. "It was all made up," said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree. "I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted. "Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail. "I lost everything," McGee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him." Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out." I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained. McGee says that was all it took. "That was pretty much what I needed to hear." Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him. "And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this story at the link above.
Power plant turbines might be getting smaller. The tech is still in its early stages but GE Global Research is developing a turbine that - though only the size of the average desk - could someday power entire towns. The principle behind it could have a big effect on the future of turbine power. Instead of being pushed by steam, like most power plant turbines, the "minirotor" as [steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research Doug] Hofer calls it is pushed by CO2. Not gaseous CO2, or liquid CO2, but CO2 so hot and pressurized that it forms what is called a supercritical fluid, a state of heat and pressure so extreme that the distinctions between liquid and gas basically cease to exist. The tiny turbine's design is intended to harness the power of this specific (and weird) state of matter which could make the turbines as much as 50 percent efficient at turning heat to electricity, a significant improvement over ~45 percent efficient steam turbines. On top of that, these turbines should be relatively easy to spin up or down as demand shifts allowing power plants to more accurately tweak supply on the fly. The prototype design is a 10 MW turbine, though GE hopes to be able to scale the tech to enough to power a city, somewhere in the 500 megawatt range. The first physical tests are scheduled for later this year.
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.