Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
[Aravind Eye Care System] began modestly in 1976 with an 11-bed hospital. [It] now has 4,000 beds in seven hospitals, most in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was late founder Dr. G. Venkataswamy's goal to eliminate needless blindness. About 45 million people in the world are blind. About 80 percent of them could be cured through surgery. Dr. "V," as he is known, founded the organization on a deep belief in the spirituality of service. R.D. Thulasiraj, a top Aravind official, says that early on the organization embraced the simple idea that if it wanted to have a real impact in reducing blindness, its surgeons needed to work as efficiently as possible. That attention to process has made Aravind surgeons quite possibly the most productive in the world. In total, the number of sight-restoring eye surgeries that Aravind Eye Care System conducts each year is 300,000 — and about half, or nearly half, are free. The push for more efficiency forces down the average cost of a surgery for Aravind. But that doesn't mean quality is sacrificed. Aravind surgeons have just half the number of complications that the British health system has for the same procedure. That high quality allows Aravind to attract patients who are willing to pay market rates. Then it takes the large profit made on those surgeries to fund free and subsidized surgeries for poor people.
Note: For the inspiring review of an excellent book written on this amazing service to humankind, click here.
The Elephant Sanctuary south of Nashville is more than 2,000 acres of freedom for elephants. But for a resident named Tarra, there's not enough room in Tennessee to escape the bad news she got last week. For nearly a decade, Tarra had been best friends with a dog named Bella, a mutt who wandered onto the sanctuary grounds and into the heart of the gentle giant. They were so close, in fact, that when Bella got injured a few years ago and had to spend three weeks recuperating in the sanctuary office, guess who held vigil the entire time? Twenty-two hundred acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner waiting. Home video of their reunion shows how inseparable they'd become and remained, right to the end. Last week, sanctuary workers found Bella's body. By all indications she'd been attacked by coyotes. Where they found Bella is not where she was attacked. "When I looked around ... there was no signs of an attack here," said director of elephant husbandry, Steve Smith. "And Tarra, on the underside of her trunk, had blood - as if she picked up the body." Steve's theory is Tarra carried Bella possibly a mile or more to bring her home. [The sanctuary's CEO Rob] Atkinson said the elephants are ... spending more time with Tarra and being extra nice - making gestures like giving her a portion of their food. Of course, anyone who's lost a dog knows you can't eat your way out of the grief - as much we might try - but still nice to know at least Tarra's not alone in this. It's also nice to see that compassion is much more than just human.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this sad event at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Voters in Boulder, Colo., narrowly backed the creation of a municipal power authority to replace Xcel Energy Inc., the biggest electricity provider in Colorado. The city can't cut all ties with Xcel right away. The shift to a municipal utility will take at least three years and could be derailed over issues such as how much Boulder will pay Xcel for its infrastructure. Supporters of the move argue that a public utility would allow Boulder, a liberal college town, to embrace renewable energy and sharply reduce carbon emissions. Xcel relies heavily on coal-fired plants. Xcel spent nearly $1 million to try to defeat the Boulder ballot measures, outspending supporters about 10 to 1. "People like a David-and-Goliath story, and that's absolutely what this is," said Ken Regelson, who led a community group supporting a public utility. Nationwide, 16 new public power authorities have been formed in the last decade, including 13 that have taken over from private utilities. Nearly all serve communities of less than 10,000, said Ursula Schryver, a vice president of the American Public Power Association, a trade group. Boulder's population is nearly 100,000. The last large-scale municipalization took place in 1998, on New York's Long Island.
Note: This is significant positive news as the largest city yet in the U.S. has voted to take control of their energy and make it greener. For a more optimistic and detailed description of this major victory, click here.
Chocolate seems to be good for the cardiovascular system - no secret there. Studies have tied the sweet stuff to lower blood pressure, healthier blood vessels, and reduced risk of blood clots. And now Swedish researchers have linked chocolate to a reduced risk for stroke. The scientists found that the women who ate the most chocolate - 66.5 grams a week, or about 2.4 ounces - were 20 percent less likely to have a stroke than the women who never or seldom ate chocolate. The study was published in the October 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. But before you unleash your inner chocoholic, be aware that not all forms of chocolate are thought to be beneficial. Dark chocolate is best because it contains more of the antioxidant-rich cocoa and less sugar and fewer calories than milk chocolate.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
At Just Vision, our mission is to create and distribute media, including documentary films, that tell the stories of Israelis and Palestinians working nonviolently to resolve the conflict and end the occupation. We also provide in-depth introductions to these visionaries by publishing new interviews with them on our website every few days. By providing these resources to millions worldwide, we ensure that those who promote nonviolence have an effective platform through which they can share their accomplishments and ideas with their own societies and others around the globe. Our ... documentary film, "Budrus," tells the story of a Palestinian community organizer who successfully unites Palestinians of all political factions together with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier. The film shows how, for 10 months, the residents of Budrus and their supporters engaged in unarmed protest, and how they ultimately triumphed by convincing the Israeli army to shift the course of the barrier and [save] their village. Since its release, "Budrus" has been seen by hundreds of thousands around the world. Where we choose to direct our attention matters. And in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this decision can save numerous Israeli and Palestinian lives and help finally bring an end to the bloodshed. Rather than endlessly waiting for new leaders to emerge or conditions to change, it's time we realized that the solutions to the conflict are being played out every day right in front of us. It's up to us to notice.
Note: Why does the media give so little attention to successful nonviolent movements? Watch the video at the link above for ideas. Read another inspiring article on this movement and another here. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Bike sharing is on the verge of becoming an integral part of public transportation in cities across the globe. This system of impromptu bike renting is helping urban areas reduce automotive traffic and pollution while providing locals and tourists with a convenient, cheap and healthy means of transport. Currently, there are nearly 300 organized bike sharing programs worldwide. That number is growing – and not just in the West. In India, for example, the Ministry of Urban Development is preparing to launch a 10-city public bike scheme as part of its “Mission for Sustainable Habitat”. So how does bike sharing work? In most cities, visitors can purchase short-term subscriptions at bike stations themselves. Just walk up to a station’s electronic kiosk, choose the duration for which you need access to the service, and swipe your credit card. With more than 50,000 bikes and 2,050 bike stations, the Chinese city of Hangzhou is home to the world’s largest bike sharing program. Bike sharing is well integrated with other forms of public transport, with bike stations available near bus and water taxi stops.
Note: For more on this encouraging development, click here.
It was the om heard ’round the world. Yesterday in 108 cities—from London to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to Houston, Barcelona to Birmingham, and more—“MedMob” groups participated in large-scale displays of meditation. Playing off of the flash mob concept, in which strangers organize online, arrange to meet at a specific time and place, and then perform an unexpected public act, MedMob members delight in presenting meditation in a surprising, inclusive way, says Shambhala Sun. MedMob’s goals: 1. To create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation. 2. To expose the world to meditation through public display of meditation. 3. To come together as a global community to send positive intentions out into the world. 4. To show that leading by example is the best way to lead. Simple acts can stimulate major paradigm shifts in thinking. The MedMob movement, which began in Austin early this year, is for everyone, reports David Telfer McConaghay for elephant journal. Telfer assures us that passers-by do not need to believe in “hippy-dippy feel-goodery” to participate in meditation, whether in a group or alone. “The goal is not to attain some state of illusory bliss, then wander around all day in a disconnected daze with a silly grin,” he writes. “The goal (if meditation can be said to have a goal) is to allow the naturally arising chaos and distractions of the mind to settle and fade so that we can act and make choices with greater intention and clarity.”
Someone has to turn on the lights in life. Someone has to do the jobs we take for granted. But you’d think Tyrone Curry would kiss his trash sack goodbye. Five years ago, the Evergreen High School custodian won the Washington State Lottery’s Quinto game. “I was dumping garbage,” he says. “Just like today. This is where I was when I found out I won the jackpot and took off running." His wife, Michelle had his winning ticket — worth ... $3,410,000. To celebrate, Tyrone went bowling, like he’s done every Wednesday night for 25 years. At 4 in the morning, he could be sleeping instead of raising the American flag outside Evergreen High. But he ducks his head and smiles. “Nah. You need to be doing stuff: That’s my philosophy.” Five generations have grown up around him since he came home from war and started taking care of kids. Budget cuts eliminated Tyrone's teaching assistant's job 35 years ago, so he stayed on as a janitor. He never went looking for another classroom because he found a better one — and a second job — out back. Tyrone isn’t just the Evergreen High School custodian; he also coaches the track team. And that’s where he decided to splurge with his lottery winnings. “I’m getting excited!” he says, watching runners circling toward him on the school’s old cinder track. This summer he’s building them a new one. State-of-the-art. Cost him 40,000 bucks. “I’m not done,” he chuckles.
Note: For a great two-minute video on this inspiring man, click here.
One in six Americans live in "food insecure" homes. This means one in six Americans is seriously hungry, likely under-nourished or malnourished and doesn't know when he/she will have their next meal. When Panera Bread Founder and CEO Ronald Shaich learned this, he thought about how Panera Bread opens two restaurants every week, employs 60,000 people, and he knew Panera's resources could have impact on America's hunger problem. He personally set out to help, pitched his board (with a lot of respect and credibility under his belt), created a foundation and the result is a new kind of chain restaurant: pay-what-you-can Paneras. Panera Cares shops look like any other Panera Bread, but the prices are just suggestions. If you can pay, you do. If you can't, you don't. If you can pay more, you're welcome. More than one year into the program, Panera Cares has restaurants in St. Louis, Detroit and Portland, and the shops will serve between 500,000 to 1 million meals this year. Each restaurant must generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining, and so far, all of them are. One out of five customers leaves more than the suggested donation; three in five leave the suggested donation; and one in five customers leaves less or nothing, usually because they have real need. "People get it, people feel it and people appreciate it," said Shaich.
Note: It is interesting that no major media reported this inspiring Reuters article. Could it be that they don't welcome a new paradigm like this?
In February 1993, Mary's son, Laramiun Byrd, was shot to death. He was 20, and Mary's only child. The killer was a 16-year-old kid named Oshea Israel. Mary wanted justice. "He was an animal. He deserved to be caged." And he was. Tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 and a half years -- Oshea served 17 before being recently released. He now lives back in the old neighborhood - next door to Mary. How a convicted murder ended-up living a door jamb away from his victim's mother is a story, not of horrible misfortune, as you might expect - but of remarkable mercy. A few years ago Mary asked if she could meet Oshea at Minnesota's Stillwater state prison. As a devout Christian, she felt compelled to see if there was some way, if somehow, she could forgive her son's killer. Oshea says they met regularly after that. When he got out, she introduced him to her landlord - who with Mary's blessing, invited Oshea to move into the building. Today they don't just live close - they are close. Mary was able to forgive. "Unforgiveness is like cancer," Mary says. "It will eat you from the inside out. It's not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he's done. Yes, he murdered my son - but the forgiveness is for me. It's for me." For Oshea, it hasn't been that easy. "I haven't totally forgiven myself yet, I'm learning to forgive myself." To that end, Oshea is now ... singing the praises of God and forgiveness at prisons, churches - to large audiences everywhere.
Note: Watch a beautiful, moving video by the founder of StoryCorps, which led to this story.
A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station. The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60. They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young. It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up. No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant. The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him. For weeks now Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter. Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical. "I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," he says. "Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer." Mr Yamada is lobbying the government hard for his volunteers to be allowed into the power station. The government has expressed gratitude for the offer but is cautious.
For Maria Gillespie, the memories of what she endured in a prison in Uruguay, when she was only 15 years old, are almost too much to bear. She remembers being hooded, interrogated and tortured. Eventually every tooth was wrenched out of her mouth. But she also remembers - as Amnesty International marks its 50th anniversary - how much she owes to the organisation that helped end the horror and set her free. "I don't think that if I say 'thank you' it will be enough," Mrs Gillespie says of the Amnesty activists around the world who campaigned on her behalf. "I think that I do owe them my life." Amnesty was founded 12 years before she was jailed. It called for collective action on behalf of those unjustly imprisoned around the world. Maria Gillespie fell into that category after the military seized power in Uruguay in 1973, ushering in a period of severe repression. She was ... married to a trade union activist who was wanted by the authorities, and had fled the country. In his absence ... Maria was arrested. She was accused of aiding the regime's enemies, and sentenced to 75 years in prison. And so she began her solitary confinement in a windowless cell lit only by an electric bulb. She was repeatedly taken - with her head in a hood - for questioning about her husband's associates. But she knew nothing of his activities. She had no answers for her interrogators.
Note: The brutal repression of political activity in Uruguay described in this article was supervised by the CIA in its Operation Condor, a campaign of torture and killing across Latin America.
Our search to understand what makes humans happy (or happier) goes back centuries. New research takes a fresh look at this topic. Jennifer Aaker and Melanie Rudd at Stanford University, and Cassie Mogilner at the University of Pennsylvania, published “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time,” in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011. They discuss how happiness is ... a consequence of the choices people make. So what can people do to increase their happiness? Their answer is surprisingly simple: spend your time wisely. “People often make career choices based on how much money they envision they can make now or in the future. Surprisingly little thought goes into how they will be using their time — whether they can control their time, who they will spend their time with, and what activities they will spend their time on,” said Aaker. Over the years, there has been relatively little research on the relationship between the resource of time and happiness. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is another resource — money — that has been investigated much more thoroughly as a potential key to happiness. Yet, very little research corroborates the idea that more money leads to more happiness. “We know that people with meaningful social connections are happier than those without them,” said Mogilner. “The more time that individuals spend with their partners, best friends, and close friends, the happier they are.”
We all know that physical activity is beneficial in countless ways, but even so, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was startled to discover that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely. In heartening new research published last week ... exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace. The mice that Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lacked the primary mitochondrial repair mechanism, so they developed malfunctioning mitochondria early in their lives, as early as 3 months of age, the human equivalent of age 20. By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. All were dead before reaching a year of age. Except the mice that exercised. At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. At 1 year, none of the exercising mice had died. The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the impact that exercise had on the animals’ aging process. They had not expected that it would affect every tissue and bodily system studied. Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said.
Note: For a treasure trove of other inspiring articles published in the major media, click here.
Amy Stokes uses the internet to connect South African teens affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty with volunteer mentors from around the world. Stokes is the founder of Infinite Family and spoke with CNN about the importance of her group's efforts in South Africa -- where nearly two million children have been orphaned by AIDS. CNN: How does HIV/AIDS affect a South African child? Amy Stokes: They will talk about being very happy as children and growing up with two parents until they were grade school level. And then they'll lose one of their parents. They will move where they can be in a community that helps support them and then they'll lose the other parent. Then they're moved into a home where it's an auntie running the house -- and they'll lose that aunt. And then they go to live with the gogo -- or a grandmother -- and before long, they're living with 10 other children in the same 20 square foot space. That gogo is spending all of her time just trying to feed everybody, much less being able to help them prepare for their future. CNN: How widespread is the problem? Stokes: Many of these communities have lost up to 40 percent of the young adults [from HIV/AIDS]. So the children ... are losing, not only love and nurturing, but ... the education of having a parent attend to them. They lack access to everything that would teach them what is needed to be successful. However, they are the most hopeful children you will ever meet. They are resilient, resourceful; they are joyful; they are very ambitious.
Note: Want to get involved in this life-changing program? Check out the Infinite Family website at http://www.infinitefamily.org and see how to help.
Bhutan has pioneered the use of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a measure of progress, instead of the more commonly used GNP. GNH measures not only economic activity, but also cultural, ecological, and spiritual well-being. In September 2010, Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley visited the United States to promote GNH education and economic theory. Prakash: What difference has it made to have GNH as your yardstick rather than gross domestic product? Thinley: First, we are promoting sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development which can be measured to a larger extent through conventional metrics. Second is the conservation of a fragile ecology, [using] indicators of achievement, [such] as the way the [vegetation] cover in my country has expanded over the last 25 years from below 60 to over 72 percent. The third strategy is promotion of culture, which includes preservation of the various aspects of our culture that continue to be relevant and supportive of Bhutan’s purpose as a human civilization. No Bhutanese should suffer a sense of insecurity arising from loss of their cultural identity, language, and so on, under the onslaught of modernization. Then there is the fourth strategy—good governance—on which the other three strategies or indicators depend. We know that democracy is the best form of governance.
William Swing, head of the Episcopal Church in California for 27 years - he retired in 2006 - is hardly letting up. His latest endeavor is nothing less than uniting the religions of the world. "For this, I have been called the Antichrist, New Age, nuts and an apostate," Swing said with a smile in his office in the Presidio of San Francisco. United Religions Initiative, marking its 10th anniversary this year, is in 78 countries, bringing together Christians and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, missionaries and animists, and Mormons and Mennonites. The organization has taken orphans off the streets of Pakistan, brokered peace talks in northern Uganda and integrated child soldiers back into their villages, and drawn Palestinian and Jewish women together in the Middle East. The idea for United Religions Initiative came about in 1993, when Swing was asked to host at Grace Cathedral the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. "I said, 'Sure,' and went to bed that night thinking the nations of the world have met every day for 50 years, yet the religions of the world have not spoken. So I figured if there is a United Nations, there has to be a United Religions." He and his wife set out in 1996 on a global tour to meet religious leaders of the world, including the Dalai Lama at his palace in India. It took an additional four years of planning, debating and writing the organization's charter for United Religions to be founded.
Before Alex Taguchi proposed to high school flame Jenny Lee, the 26-year-old decided to liquidate about $11,000 in credit card debt, provided he could find a payment plan affordable on his salary as a software support specialist. His bank offered him a debt consolidation loan at 16.5 percent, but the Mountain View man decided to get a quote from a new online financial service that matches borrowers with lenders to give each better deals than are otherwise generally available. Today Taguchi is paying $380 a month on a three-year, 13.88 percent note issued through Lending Club.com, one of two Bay Area firms pioneering a new industry called peer-to-peer lending. The other is Prosper.com. Lending Club of Redwood City and Prosper of San Francisco have figured out how to perform [the] two-fisted function, of taking money in the one hand and lending it with the other, in a way that allows aspiring borrowers to specify how much they want, and for what purpose, and also gives them an overall risk profile - comparable, say, to a search engine ranking. These two online lending rivals then give potential investors the option to fund some of these loans at fixed rates and fixed terms - and interest levels designed to compete with bonds, stocks and other financial instruments.
Note: This exciting development may eventually change the face of banking, allowing us to lend to and borrow from each other directly without the need of intermediary bankers.
It’s striking that the most innovative activists aren’t necessarily the ones with the most resources, or the best tools. Maggie Doyne epitomizes this truth, for she began her philanthropic work as an 19-year-old financed by her baby-sitting savings. Yet she has somehow figured out how to run a sophisticated aid project in a remote area of Nepal. She took a “gap year” after high-school graduation and ended up in northern India, working with needy children. “The first little girl I met was Hema,” Doyne remembers. Then 6 or 7 years old (few children know their precise age), Hema spent her time breaking rocks and scavenging garbage and had no chance to go to school. Doyne, who decided to take Hema under her wing and pay for her education: “I knew I couldn’t do anything about a million orphans, but what if I started with this girl?” So she took Hema to school and paid $7 for the girl’s school fees and another $8 for a uniform so that she could enter kindergarten. “It became addictive,” Doyne said. “I said, if I can help one girl, why not 5? Why not 10? And along with scholarships, they needed the most basic things: food, shelter, clothing.” Doyne ... telephoned her parents with a strange and urgent request: Can you wire me the money in my savings account? Doyne returned to New Jersey and began to take odd jobs and proselytize for her shelter. People in her hometown thought that she was nuts, but in a benign way — and they wrote checks. After a few months, when Doyne had raised $25,000, she moved back to Nepal to oversee construction of the shelter, called the Kopila Valley Children’s Home.
The White House is going solar after all - a home improvement that carries modest energy benefits but much larger symbolic importance. It isn't the first time the White House has used solar energy. President Jimmy Carter put 32 solar panels on the roof in the late 1970s, but President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986. Two grass-roots campaigns have recently been lobbying President Obama to restore them as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy. The roof of the White House residence will get solar panels and a solar water heater, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the White House Council on Environmental Quality's chair, Nancy Sutley. A campaign launched by Oakland, Calif.-based Sungevity called Solar on the White House and another by 350.org founder Bill McKibben tried to get Obama to reinstall solar panels. "The White House did the right thing, and for the right reasons: They listened to the Americans who asked for solar on their roof, and they listened to the scientists and engineers who told them this is the path to the future," McKibben said in a statement. "If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world," he said.
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