Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. In Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called the Library of Things. Services like the Library of Things and the “Stuff-brary” in Mesa, outside Phoenix, are part of a broad cultural shift in which libraries increasingly view themselves as hands-on creative hubs, places where people can learn new crafts and experiment with technology like 3-D printers. Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia pulled together city, state and private funds to open a teaching kitchen, which is meant to teach math and literacy through recipes and to address childhood obesity. It has a 36-seat classroom and a flat-screen TV for close-ups of chefs preparing healthy dishes. “Libraries are looking for ways to become more active places,” said Kate McCaffrey of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, outside Syracuse, which lends out its garden plots and offers classes on horticulture. “People are looking for places to learn, to do and to be with other people.” The Ann Arbor District Library has been adding to its voluminous collection of circulating science equipment. It offers telescopes, portable digital microscopes and backyard bird cameras, among other things - items that many patrons cannot afford to buy. In Sacramento, each item in the Library of Things bears a bar code, since the Dewey Decimal System was not intended for sewing machines or ukuleles.
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The Dutch city of Utrecht ... has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays. Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful. The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country. Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt: "One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare. What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"
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Lego just announced a bold 10-year plan to makes its goods more environmentally friendly. This comes after a 2013 partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a plan in reducing its overall carbon emissions, as well as those of its supply chain. Lego pledged to invest $150 million to find a replacement for the plastic used in its blocks as well as to reduce the size of its packaging. A commitment for this kind of strategy includes using recycled or renewed materials and improving the recyclability of its products. Hasbro and Mattel, producers of such iconic toys as Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, respectively, have also vowed to invest in this global issue. By 2020, Hasbro plans to reduce its waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also overhauling the packaging for most of its brands. These strides have led to Hasbro being named a winner of the EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award. After caving to mounting pressure from Greenpeace, Mattel committed to source new materials for its packaging, setting a goal of 85 percent recycled materials by the end of 2015. "The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit," said Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Words we should all try to live by.
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Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Whenever we debate similar measures in the U.S. - marijuana decriminalization, for instance - many drug-policy makers predict dire consequences. But in Portugal, the ... prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down. Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union. Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the U.K., all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The E.U. average is 17.3 per million. Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of ... so-called "synthetic" marijuana, "bath salts" and the like is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.
Note: Portugal's inspiring approach has contributed to public health outcomes that starkly contrast U.S. trends.
The number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, despite a surge in population growth, the United Nations reported Wednesday. In developing regions, the number of hungry people has fallen to 780 million today, or 12.9 percent of the population, from 991 million 25 years ago, or 23.3 percent of the population at the time. Despite the finding that nearly 800 million people in the world remain hungry, the report described the progress made as a significant achievement. It said that 72 of the 129 nations monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization had achieved the target under the so-called Millennium Development Goals of halving the percentages of hungry people in their populations and that developing regions had missed the target by only a small margin. The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight international objectives, including hunger eradication, established by the United Nations in 2000. “The near-achievement of the M.D.G. hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime,” said José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Progress was most pronounced in East Asia, Southeast and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. But the report also illustrated failures, especially in parts of Africa, where ... “extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife have all impeded progress.”
German car manufacturer Audi says it has created the "fuel of the future" made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable sources. The synthetic "e-diesel" was made following a commissioning phase of just four months at a plant in Dresden, Germany. Unlike regular diesel, the clear fuel does not contain any sulphur or fossil oil, while it has an overall energy efficiency of around 70%. Creation of the fuel, which Audi and Sunfire are calling blue crude, first requires heating water to 800C (1,472F) to trigger a high temperature electrolysis to break down the steam to hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen then reacts with the CO2 in synthesis reactors, again under pressure and at a high temperature. The reaction product is a ... synthetic fuel, which is free from sulphur and aromatic hydrocarbons, [that] is suitable for mixing with fossil diesel or being used as a fuel in its own right. Reiner Mangold, head of sustainable product development at Audi, said: "In developing Audi e-diesel we are promoting another fuel based on CO2 that will allow long-distance mobility with virtually no impact on the climate."
Note: Read exciting news from major media sources on other amazing new energy breakthroughs. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity. In the broader of the two studies, researchers ... found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent. The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised. At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion, [and found that] if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality.
Note: For some great ideas on healthy exercises, see this article by WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks.
Math and history are just some of the subjects at the Ron Clark Academy. The Atlanta middle school teaches everything from eye contact to the value of friendly competition - a method that makes kids want to attend class. "It is a place that's about passion, energy," co-founder Ron Clark said. "I wanted to create a school where you could feel the spirit, wanted kids to walk into this school and say, 'I love coming here.'" The building is a 50,000 square foot warehouse ... transformed into the sort of place J.K. Rowling dreamed up for "Harry Potter." Every classroom has an elaborate theme - there's a dragon and a two-story bungee jump and all 112 kids have to be "slide-certified" - a symbol they've signed on for something different. "I love Hogwarts and 'Harry Potter' and the kids do too and so we wanted to bring that book to life and that feeling to life for these kids," Clark said. But there's a rigor to the magic, a drive to thrive. Clark has 55 rules, a code of conduct that covers shaking hands, maintaining eye contact and answering questions in complete sentences. Clark sets the bar high and holds his kids accountable. For Clark, his aim is for his students to walk into the world without any sense of fear. "I want them to go out into this world and to know, 'I am confident because I have the ability, I can achieve this.' I want kids to leave here and go for it and make an impact," he said. At the Ron Clark Academy, they go for it every day, like no other school in America.
Note: Watch this amazing clip of this most untraditional, yet successful school.
In neurosurgical training ... six years passed in a flash. Then, heading into chief residency, I developed a classic constellation of symptoms — weight loss, fevers, night sweats, unremitting back pain, cough — indicating a diagnosis quickly confirmed: metastatic lung cancer. The gears of time ground down. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest. Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. My daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past. That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.
When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly - a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota's economy - that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country, it has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota's economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.
India's two political giants were defeated Tuesday by an anti-corruption party led by a former tax inspector. Arvind Kejriwal, a youthful-looking former tax inspector and winner of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has pulled off a stunning near-sweep in New Delhi's local elections on Tuesday. The Aam Aadmi, or "Common Man," party won 67 of 70 seats in New Delhi, the largest single victory ever in India's capital. The party's victory also marks the first major loss for the Hindu nationalist BJP party since its own sweep of India last spring, [and] the first time that Congress, the venerable party associated with the liberation movement of Mohandas Gandhi, failed to win a single seat in Delhi. The success of the Common Man party stems from its sustained campaign against corruption combined with a dedicated army of volunteers. Analysts say Kejriwal also benefited from the perceived arrogance or overconfidence of the BJP. Kejriwal existed for years under the political radar in India, surfacing from time to time to take up “transparency” issues like clarifying the Right to Information Act. He was born in 1968 in a middle class family from Haryana state in the north and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, moving then to work for the Tata group and then the Indian public tax service. Kejriwal entered politics in 2012 and championed transparency and anti-corruption. He launched a party that brought together activists, youth, and poor people, and his anti-graft ideas caused a stir nationwide. His party’s symbol is a broom, a reference to its origins as an anti-graft campaign group.
At Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, the shop is adorned with Post-it notes and letters. The messages are from customers who gave $1 so homeless members in the community could get a slice, which costs $1. The pay-it-forward pizza program started about a year ago, [owner Mason] Wartman says, when one paying customer asked if he could buy a slice for a homeless person. "I said, 'Sure.' I took his dollar and ran out and got some Post-it notes and put one up to signify that a slice was purchased," he recalls. Pay-it-forward pizza was born. Over the past nine months, Wartman says, clients have bought 8,400 slices of pizza for their homeless neighbors. He kept track of the prepaid slices with Post-it notes on the walls until he hit about 500 free slices. He now keeps track at the register. Wartman says the customer who started it all was inspired by a practice in Italy called "suspended coffee" where customers purchase an extra cup for someone who can't afford it. Pay-it-forward generosity isn't limited to Italian cafes or one Philly pizza shop. Even mega-chains, including the bakery and sandwich chain Panera, have gotten into the giving act. Other chains' pay-it-forward systems have grown organically. Starbucks Coffee Co. spokeswoman Sanja Gould says some people just offer to pay for the person behind them in line, while others "might load a certain dollar amount onto a Starbucks card and the store partners have it on hand and they keep adding to it as the line goes on." Wartman says ... people want to help but aren't sure what to do. "This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless."
Note: Watch a great video on this inspiring pizza shop.
In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? 2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? 3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? 10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? 14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? 17. What is your most treasured memory? 18. What is your most terrible memory? 31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already. 32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? 36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it.
Note: Read all the questions from this fun and revealing exercise at the link above. And you can find there a free app to download these great questions for your cell phone, too.
15-year-old Patrick Otema, from Kampala in Uganda, found his voice for the very first time. Patrick, who was born deaf, was unable to even express himself to his family and, had things not changed, would have been condemned to a life of silence. But thanks to a pioneering new programme, he has finally been taught to communicate using sign language. But Patrick has been lucky. His teacher is Raymond Okkelo who is deaf himself - and who is one of the few Ugandans to use sign language. 'In the past I was also like him,' he explains. 'I couldn’t use sign language, the only thing I could do was hide in fear.' Raymond became deaf as a child after a bout of malaria. Six months ago, he travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala for intensive training in sign language. Now able to communicate with the outside world, Raymond is determined to change the lives deaf people in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom have never been taught sign language. Raymond ... has also opened the very first sign language school in the country - which Patrick now attends. But nothing is as heart-warming as the moment that Patrick finally realises he can communicate, with joy spreading across his face as he grasps the significance of what he has learned. Patrick's transformation is nothing short of breathtaking. But Patrick won't be the only deaf child to benefit. Buoyed by the success of his first cohort of students, Raymond hopes to take his school on tour and help many more children on the way.
Caitlin Prater-Haacke of Alberta, Canada was urged by bullies to kill herself, via Facebook post. Instead of sinking into negativity she turned the situation into a positive lesson. Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary “Bully,” which aired Monday on PBS Monday, is among those lending their support to Caitlin, who was reprimanded by her school for her “Positive Post-It Day” approach to bullies. In late September, someone broke into Caitlin’s locker at George McDougall High School in Airdrie, a community just north of Calgary, and wrote a Facebook status using Caitlin’s iPad that encouraged her to die. Rather than letting the bully win, the 11th grader wrote inspiring, positive, encouraging messages on 800 Post-It notes and left them around her school - with messages like "You're beautiful," "Love yourself," and "You're awesome.” Now her campaign has also taken to Twitter with the tag #PositivePostItDay. "Bullying is not necessarily addressed, and people get really down about it, I wanted to do something positive - it was about due time," Caitlin told the Toronto Sun. Caitlin’s town, led by a mayoral proclamation, banded together to launch a new anti-bullying campaign called “Positive Post-it Day” which encourages residents to leave anonymous notes of kindness for one another each year on Oct. 9. “What I really got out of this story is the way this student chose not to be derailed by this negative experience,” said Hirsch. “She became a role model to her classmates, teachers, her mayor and her town.”
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The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oakridge, Tennessee, is supposed to be impregnable. But on July 28th 2012, an 84 year-old nun called Sister Megan Rice broke through a series of high-security fences surrounding the plant and reached a uranium storage bunker at the center of the complex. She was accompanied by Greg Boertje-Obed (57) and Michael Walli (63). The trio ... sat down for a picnic. When the security guards arrived they offered them some bread. Two years later, Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were sentenced to federal prison terms of between three and five years, plus restitution in the amount of $53,000 for damage done to the plant - far in excess of the estimates produced at their trial. When questioned about her actions at her trial by Judge Amul Thapar, Rice told him that her actions were intended to draw attention to the US stockpile of nuclear weapons that she and her co-defendants felt was illegal and immoral. They also wanted to expose the ineffectiveness of the security systems that were supposed to protect these weapons from theft or damage. “We were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear weapons have already caused,” wrote Rice afterwards in a letter to her supporters, “and we realize that all life on earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental or technical error. Our action exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public.” All three defendants were found guilty of “sabotage of the national defense.” Just before they were sentenced, Rice made a statement to the court which ended like this: “We have to speak, and we’re happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor that you could give me. Please don’t be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen.”
Note: If you would like to receive copies of Sister Rice’s letters to her supporters, please email [email protected] Mailing addresses for Sister Rice and her co-defendants can be found here and here. You can also sign a petition requesting their pardon.
Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion. The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street. He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquility to a neighborhood marred by crime. What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray. And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away. Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none. To this day, every morning at 7, worshipers ring a chime, clang a bell and play soft music as they chant morning prayers. The original statue is now part of an elaborate shrine that includes a wooden structure standing 10 feet tall and holding religious statues, portraits, food and fruit offerings surrounded by incense-scented air. On weekends, the worshipers include more than a dozen people: black folks, white folks, all folks, said Andy Blackwood, a neighborhood resident.
Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported [on September 10] in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems. From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up, said NASA scientist Paul A. Newman. He co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released at the United Nations. "It's a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together," said chemist Mario Molina. In 1974, Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland wrote a scientific study forecasting the ozone depletion problem. They won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work. The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Man-made chlorofluorocarbons, called CFCs, released chlorine and bromine, which destroyed ozone molecules high in the air. After scientists raised the alarm, countries around the world agreed to a treaty in 1987 that phased out CFCs.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
They can fly through walls or circle the planets, turn into pure light or meet long-dead relatives. Many have blissful experiences of universal love. Most do not want to return to the living. When they do, they're often endowed with special powers: They can predict the future or intuit people's thoughts. These are the testimonies of people who have had near death experiences (NDEs) and returned from the other side to tell the tale. Journalist Judy Bachrach decided to listen to their stories. [National Geographic:] Your book, Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death, [describes] one scientist [who] suggests that NDEs may simply result from the brain shutting down, ... that, for instance, the brilliant light often perceived at the end of a tunnel is caused by loss of blood or hypoxia, lack of oxygen. How do you counter these arguments? [Bachrach:] The problem with the lack of oxygen explanation is that when there is a lack of oxygen, our recollections are fuzzy and sometimes non-existent. The less oxygen you have, the less you remember. But the people who have died, and recall their death travels, describe things in a very clear, concise, and structured way. Lack of oxygen would mean you barely remember anything. [NG:] You suggest there is a difference between brain function and consciousness. Can you talk about that idea? [Bachrach:] The brain is possibly ... not the only area of consciousness. Even when the brain is shut down, on certain occasions consciousness endures. One of the doctors I interviewed, a cardiologist in Holland, believes that consciousness may go on forever. So the postulate among some scientists is that the brain is not the only locus of thought.
Note: Watch a profound BBC documentary on near-death experiences. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing NDE news articles from reliable major media sources. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
This summer, [Raymond Burse,] the interim president at Kentucky State University, made a large gesture to his school's lowest-paid employees. Burse announced that he would take a 25 percent salary cut to boost their wages. The 24 school employees making less than $10.25 an hour, who mostly serve as custodial staff, groundskeepers and lower-end clerical workers, will see their pay rise to that new baseline. Some had been making as little as $7.25, the current federal minimum. Burse, who assumed the role of interim president in June, says he asked the school's chief financial officer how much such an increase would cost. The amount: $90,125. "I figured it was easier for me to forgo that amount, rather than adding an additional burden on the institution," Burse says. The school ratified his employment contract on the spot — decreasing it from $349,869 to $259,744. He has pledged to take further salary cuts any time new minimum-wage employees are hired on his watch, to bring their hourly rate to $10.25. Burse describes himself as someone who believes in raising wages, and who also has high expectations and demands for his staff. "I thought that if I'm going to ask them to really be committed and give this institution their all, I should be doing something in return," Burse says. "I didn’t have any examples of it having been done out there and I didn’t do it to be an example to anyone else," Burse says. "I did it to do right by the employees here."
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