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Inspiring: Healing Our Relationships News Stories

We believe in the creative, redemptive, and collaborative potential of humanity. Below are key excerpts of inspiring news articles on healing social division and polarization. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.

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I'm a Black musician who has befriended and encouraged over 200 Ku Klux Klan members to give up their robes.
2023-06-02, Business Insider
Posted: 2024-04-01 14:36:17
https://www.businessinsider.com/daryl-davis-ku-klux-klan-kkk-musician-racism-...

In 1983, I was out playing at the Silver Dollar Lounge. I had just finished playing the first song when someone put an arm around my shoulder. It was a white guy. He said it was his first time sitting with a Black guy, and I asked why. The man looked at me and said, "I'm a member of the Ku Klux Klan." I thought he was joking. But he pulled out his wallet and handed me his KKK membership card. It only dawned on me a couple years later that I blew my chance to ask them the question that had been plaguing me since I was 10 years old: How can you hate me when you don't know me? Who better to ask that of than someone who went out of their way to join an organization that has, for over 100 years, practiced hating people who don't look like them? I spent the next several years traveling across the country, interviewing the man from that night, Klan leaders, and Klan members, and eventually writing a book about it. I did not convert anybody. Over 200 Klan members have converted themselves. The more we conversed, the more people would change. One time, someone said we should put Black people down. But I sat there calmly, and they'd be curious about why I didn't fight back. Now their ears are open. Now we can nourish those seeds, water them, and, in most cases, they bloom. Of course, some people go to their graves with hatred in their hearts. But what gives me hope, despite the current state of this country, is the fact that I've seen it work. I've seen people change.

Note: Daryl Davis has successfully persuaded more than 200 KKK members and other white supremacists to disavow their allegiances. Read more about the power of calling people in with love, rather than criticism and judgment. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


How to Integrate Gift Circles into Any Community
2014-02-26, Shareable
Posted: 2024-03-11 23:05:19
https://www.shareable.net/how-to-integrate-gift-circles-into-any-community/

What if there was a way to create more community, instill a deeper sense of belonging, and begin bringing healing to the vast sense of isolation experienced in modern Western culture? The Gift Circle, as founded by Alpha Lo and spread by Charles Eisenstein, is a group facilitation format that holds great possibility as a way to match resources with needs, create community and inspire gratitude and generosity. The goals of a Gift Circle are simply to provide a warm, free, and welcoming space for community to gather and share Gifts and Needs, most often while literally sitting in a circle. The Gift Circle format [provides] a sense of psycho-spiritual belonging and connection to ameliorate the vast sense of alienation and scarcity experienced by so many. We would eat and socialize a bit, then gather sitting in a circle, and go around the circle with each person speaking what gift they’d enjoy sharing with the community. For instance someone might offer giving a massage, making a custom mix CD, giving a life coaching session, dance class, or a home-cooked meal – the gifts were generally more service-oriented, though there was an occasional item gifted as well, like a futon or pair of headphones. Most importantly, there would be a time at the end where we’d leave 20-30 min for givers and receivers to connect with one another directly and coordinate a time to meet up later to give or receive whatever it was. It was highly encouraged to schedule the gift or need session during that meeting, while the energy was still fresh.

Note: Read the full article to see how you can start a gift circle in your community! Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Jane Goodall Champions Pragmatism For Progress In National Geographic Documentary ‘Jane Goodall: The Hope’
2020-04-30, Forbes
Posted: 2024-03-11 23:03:29
https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2020/04/30/jane-goodall-champions...

In 1986, [Dr. Jane Goodall] attended a conference in Chicago with researchers studying chimps in six areas of Africa, and the reports of environmental devastation shocked Goodall. After listening to the reports at the conference, Goodall felt obligated to speak. Her activism evolved quickly, from chimps, to their habitat to human welfare, and how animal rights and the future of the planet are inherently interconnected. Some of her decisions have been deemed controversial: her friendship with for US Secretary of State James Baker, her work with Conoco ... oil company to build a chimpanzee sanctuary, hard conversations with the National Institutes of Health regarding their medical research and testing practices on chimpanzees and visiting their labs. "I lost a lot of friends because of going into the labs, sitting down and talking to the people, organizing a conference to bring in the lab people, the scientists and also the animal welfare people ..."There were a lot of animal rights people who refused to speak to me — they said, 'Wow can you sit down with these evil people and have a cup of tea with them?' I was totally and completely flabbergasted. If you don’t talk to people, how can expect them to change?” When speaking to the NIH, “I didn’t stand there and accuse them of being cruel monsters. I showed slides and some film of the Gombe chimpanzees and talked about their lives, and then showed some slides of the chimps in the small cages and said, ‘You know, it’s like putting a person in a prison like that,’” said Goodall. “Many of the scientists said, ‘We really have never thought about this in this way’ a lot of them were actually crying." She stands by all of it because it produces results. It took decades, but the NIH phased out medical testing and research on chimpanzees. Conoco built the chimpanzee sanctuary, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, saving all of the starving chimpanzees in the Brazzaville Zoo in the Republic of Congo.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


When a Preschool Was Opened Inside a Dementia Care Home, All Heaven Broke Loose
2024-02-20, Good News Network
Posted: 2024-03-04 13:34:55
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/when-a-preschool-was-opened-inside-a-dementia...

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Centered on that concept of communal flourishing, a dementia care village in England has incorporated a day nursery for small children—bringing together young and old for learning and sharing. Stimulation, learning, and fun—these are all activities that are known to delay the progression of dementia, and what better way to add these critical elements of life to a daily regimen than to let a flock of preschoolers do it? Belong is a nonprofit operator of senior homes, specializing in dementia care. This is the first to integrate children. The pioneering facility supports older people to live their lives independently, with access to several shops and services on site. The UK charity Ready Generations partnered with Belong to run the village’s day nursery. Children feature in the daily life of residents and tenants, enjoying experiences together including shared mealtimes, stories, arts and crafts, and exercise. Centered around a vibrant hub of amenities, including a bistro, hair salon, and specialist exercise studio, the site is open to the public, creating a bustling environment with customers from the local community. Similar projects have been pioneered in America as well. The Intergenerational Learning Center at Mount St. Vincent nursing home in Seattle opened its doors to the oldest—and the youngest—in 2015. The 400 adults in that assisted-living center join the kids in daily activities from music and dancing to storytelling and just plain visiting.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


One unexpected way to reduce violent crime? Create green spaces.
2023-12-14, National Geographic
Posted: 2024-02-12 19:17:43
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/urban-greening-violent...

In 2012, according to FBI data, 2,774 violent crimes were reported to the Flint Police Department. In 2022, 985 were reported. Like other “legacy cities” that have experienced significant economic decline and population loss, Flint, [Michigan] is still struggling. But now, through the Genesee County Land Bank’s Clean & Green program, Ishmel and hundreds of other residents have been mowing vacant lots. Greening projects like these maintain abandoned spaces, either by mowing them or converting them into gardens and parks. But these projects don’t just make the neighborhood feel safer. Researchers who have been studying the effects of greening in Flint; Philadelphia; Youngstown, Ohio; and other legacy cities have shown repeatedly that it actually reduces violent crime. “It is one of the most consistent findings I’ve ever had in my 34-year career of doing research,” says Marc A. Zimmerman, professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. A review of 45 papers found that the presence of green spaces, including parks and trees, reduces crime in urban areas. In Flint, Zimmerman and his colleagues compared streets where community members maintained vacant lots through Clean & Green with streets where vacant lots were left alone, over five years. The maintained ones had almost 40 percent fewer assaults and violent crimes. One study found that while simply maintaining vacant lots reduced burglaries, turning them into gardens reduced assaults.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Can a Big Village Full of Tiny Homes Ease Homelessness in Austin?
2024-01-08, New York Times
Posted: 2024-02-04 21:09:29
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/08/headway/homelessness-tiny-home-austin.html

On the outskirts of Austin, Texas, what began as a fringe experiment has quickly become central to the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness. To Justin Tyler Jr., it is home. Mr. Tyler, 41, lives in Community First! Village, which aims to be a model of permanent affordable housing for people who are chronically homeless. In the fall of 2022, he joined nearly 400 residents of the village, moving into one of its typical digs: a 200-square-foot, one-room tiny house furnished with a kitchenette, a bed and a recliner. Eclectic tiny homes are clustered around shared outdoor kitchens, and neat rows of recreational vehicles and manufactured homes line looping cul-de-sacs. There are chicken coops, two vegetable gardens, a convenience store ... art and jewelry studios, a medical clinic and a chapel. In the next few years, Community First is poised to grow to nearly 2,000 homes across three locations, which would make it by far the nation’s largest project of this kind, big enough to permanently house about half of Austin’s chronically homeless population. Many residents have jobs in the village, created to offer residents flexible opportunities to earn some income. Last year, they earned a combined $1.5 million working as gardeners, landscapers, custodians, artists, jewelry makers and more. Ute Dittemer, 66, faced a daily struggle for survival during a decade on the streets before moving into Community First five years ago with her husband. Now she supports herself by painting and molding figures out of clay at the village art house. A few years ago, a clay chess set she made sold for $10,000 at an auction. She used the money to buy her first car.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


A Surprising Way to Stop Bullying
2024-01-08, Reasons to be Cheerful
Posted: 2024-01-22 14:28:23
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/a-surprising-way-to-stop-bullying/

When Ben was 11 years old, his parents noticed that his grades dropped. He stopped talking about school. “These are all typical signs there might be a bullying problem,” says Bettina Dénervaud, co-founder of the Swiss initiative Hilfe bei Mobbing, which translates as “Help with Bullying.” She and her two colleagues use a 30-point checklist to evaluate if there is an underlying issue of mental, emotional and physical bullying or something else — maybe a conflict, which might require conflict resolution. Instead of being punished, the bullies are invited to help the bullied student. In a 2008 study that looked at 220 bullying cases, the No-Blame Approach was successful in 192, or 87 percent, of the cases. In most schools that were evaluated, it only took two or three weeks for the bullying to stop. The second step is the core of the No-Blame Approach. It includes calling six to eight children that the teacher chooses into a meeting that is set up as a social get together: in Ben’s case, three of the bullies, three students Ben felt he could count on and two “neutral” tag-alongs. The children are not told the meeting is about Ben. “I have a problem,” the teacher might start the discussion. “I noticed some students don’t feel supported in class. What can we do to help them, for instance, Ben?” The third step includes follow-ups with all students, including Ben, within the next few weeks. If necessary, the intervention might be repeated or tweaked. "The goal is to change the social dynamic," Dénervaud says. Younger children often start crying in these meetings, Dénervaud has observed, “because they realize for the first time what has been happening and how unhappy the bullying victim has been."

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Rwanda genocide: 'I forgave my husband's killer - our children married'
2022-04-23, BBC News
Posted: 2024-01-22 14:24:36
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-61105532

To heal you must love - so believes a woman who not only forgave the man who killed her husband 28 years ago during Rwanda's genocide, but allowed his daughter to marry her son. Bernadette Mukakabera has been telling her story as part of continuing efforts by the Catholic Church to bring reconciliation to a society torn apart in 1994 when some 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. "Our children had nothing to do with what happened. They just fell in love and nothing should stop people from loving each other," Bernadette told the BBC. [In 1994] thousands of Hutus ... began well organised killings - turning on their Tutsi neighbours. One of these was Gratien Nyaminani, whose family lived next to Bernadette's. After the massacres ended, with a Tutsi rebel group taking power, hundreds of thousands of people accused of involvement in the killings were detained. Gratien was taken into custody and eventually tried by one of the community courts, known as gacaca, set up to deal with genocide suspects. At these weekly hearings, communities were given a chance to face the accused and both hear and give evidence about what really happened - and how it happened. The final reconciliation happens in public where the accused and the victim stand together. The victim stretches their hands towards the accused as a sign of forgiveness. In 2004, Gratien told Bernadette how he had killed her husband and apologised - and at the same hearing she chose to forgive him. This meant that he did not have to serve a 19-year jail term, but a two-year community service sentence instead.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Zimbabwe’s therapeutic ‘friendship benches’, coming to a city near you
2023-07-26, Positive News
Posted: 2024-01-08 20:40:35
https://www.positive.news/lifestyle/zimbabwe-friendship-benches-are-coming-to...

A legacy of poverty, genocide and dictatorship left Zimbabwe struggling with an epidemic of depression, colloquially known as kufungisisa, or ‘thinking too much’. Known as ‘gogos’ (elder women) or ‘ambuya utano’ (community grannies), these Zimbabwean community health workers (CHWs) have a record in treating mild to moderate anxiety and depression that beats many traditional talking therapies and pharmacological interventions. Meet the Friendship Bench grandmothers of Zimbabwe. Founded in 2007, the Friendship Bench project has treated 280,000 people in its 16 years of existence, in 70 communities across Zimbabwe and at spin-off projects in Malawi, Kenya and most recently Zanzibar and Vietnam. In 2024 it will arrive in London, with a series of Friendship Benches set to be installed in the city’s most marginalised communities. “Whether it’s London, New York or Zimbabwe, everywhere the issues are similar,” Friendship Bench founder, Harare-based psychiatrist Dr Dixon Chibanda tells Positive News. “There are issues related to loneliness, access to care, and to just being able to know that what you’re experiencing – whether you call it stress or depression or anxiety – is treatable.” Most of the therapists are older women, who are traditionally turned to for counsel in Zimbabwean culture. The women are trained in the basics of cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT] and allocated a park bench in their communities.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


'He's my angel. He gave me life': the breathtaking story of two enemy soldiers saving each other's lives
2021-09-10, CBC (Canada's Public Broadcasting System)
Posted: 2024-01-02 14:11:37
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/he-s-my-angel-he-gave-me-life-the-breathtaking...

The story of two enemies cuts through the darkness. It begins on a battlefield in the Iran-Iraq war, and ends 20 years later in a waiting room in Vancouver. The Iran-Iraq war began in 1980, and ended eight years later. It was the longest conventional war of the 20th century, claiming at least a million casualties. Najah Aboud was nearly one of them. Najah was severely wounded. He crawled off to a bunker, where he saw corpses from both sides and prepared himself to die. Zahed Haftlang ... was assigned as a medic. After the Iranians recaptured Khorramshahr in May 1982, Zahed was ordered to go into the bunkers and treat wounded countrymen. It was then that he ... spotted Najah near the back. Both men were suspicious of each other. Zahed thought Najah's body might be booby-trapped. Najah thought Zahed might kill him. Then Zahed reached into Najah's breast pocket and pulled out a photograph. It showed Najah, with a beautiful woman, and infant son. It was at that very moment that Zahed decided to save Najah's life, even though it meant risking his own. Najah was taken to a prisoner of war camp, where he'd remain in unspeakable conditions for the next 17 years. While reading magazines in [a Vancouver] waiting room, Zahed noticed the door open as another man entered the room. The two men erupted into shouts, hugs, kisses and tears. Their spectacular reunion happened two decades years after the battle of Khorramshahr and on the other side of the world. "Najah is like my family … he really is my angel, because he gave me life. After he got a new chance at life, he gave me a new chance at life. He is the dearest and most precious thing in the entire world to me."

Note: Don’t miss the powerful 16-min documentary about Zahed and Najah. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The sports movement spreading positivity in war-torn Yemen
2023-08-16, Positive News
Posted: 2024-01-02 14:10:04
https://www.positive.news/society/yemen-best-team-sports-club/

By the time the sun casts its first beams on war-ravaged Yemen, hundreds of men will have taken their positions across the park, and the workout begins. Enthusiastic chants of “Ahsan Fareek”, or “Best Team”, boom across the park as members of this daily, free, open-to-all sports club begin a set of 33 exercises designed to work the whole body. For the next hour, they temporarily put aside the stressors they’ve accumulated from the devastating eight-year civil war that has claimed 377,000 lives, touching their toes, standing on one leg and reaching for the sky. By 6.30am the crowd disperses, and everyone goes about their day, rejuvenated and energized, ready to meet again the following morning. “It is a sports club for everyone, but it’s particularly vital for the elderly, who suffer from illnesses and anxiety and for whom treatment is unaffordable,” says Najy Abu Hatem, co-founder of the initiative. “Being part of Best Team lifts their morale and gives them free exercise classes in a healthy and social setting.” In a country of 33 million people, there are only 59 psychiatrists – one psychiatrist per 500,000 people – and the total number of mental health workers is just 304. Although Best Team can hardly tackle this huge, ongoing mental health crisis, the twin benefits it provides of camaraderie and physical exercise – under the guise of a more socially acceptable men’s sports club – is nonetheless quietly improving people’s mental wellbeing across the capital and beyond.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


‘You live in your own bubble’: Swedish city takes on loneliness with a simple hi
2023-11-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-12-18 18:39:39
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/nov/21/swedish-city-lulea-loneliness-c...

On the snowy shore of the northern Swedish city of Luleå, bathers are lowering themselves into a rectangular hole in the frozen seawater. “It’s like a happiness rush afterwards,” says Katariina Yliperttula, 44, who is taking a dip before work. While many have their own hobbies that keep them going through the cold dark winter months here – ice swimming, cross-country skiing, walking on the “ice road” out into the archipelago – one thing remains a problem: loneliness. In an attempt to counter that, authorities in Luleå have launched a campaign to ease that social isolation, ever so slightly, by encouraging people to say hello to one another. The Säg hej! (say hello!) campaign says it aims to create a friendlier city by nudging people towards small but significant social interactions. Adverts are running on buses, and workshops are being held in schools. Recent research found that among 16- to 29-year-olds, 45% of people in Luleå were experiencing problems as a result of loneliness. Åsa Koski, who works for Luleå municipality, came up with the idea for the campaign. She wants the city, which is undergoing a period of rapid growth as it tries to attract tens of thousands of new people to work in “green” industry ... to not grow more atomised as a result. “We don’t just want that Luleå is going to grow as a city; we want Luleå to be a pleasant and safe and friendly city,” says Koski. Being greeted by strangers makes people feel “more seen and a bit more like you belong”, she adds.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Come for the Free Meals, Stay for the Company
2023-11-24, Reasons to be Cheerful
Posted: 2023-12-11 16:37:17
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/foodcycle-pop-up-cafes-hunger-food-waste-lo...

Brandon, Jackie and Julie meet for dinner every Thursday, sitting at their regular table. As they leave, there’s no check to pay for this generous meal. The pop-up cafe at a church hall in Chelmsford, England is one of 80 held across the country throughout the week. They’re an initiative of FoodCycle, the UK’s largest community dining organization, which turns produce that supermarkets would otherwise throw out into a free meal for anyone who wants to attend. In 2022, FoodCycle’s pop-up cafes served nearly 500,000 meals to 62 communities across the UK, saving 209 tonnes of food from going to waste. Forty-three percent of people who attend FoodCycle meals, like Jackie and Julie, live on their own, with 68 percent of them feeling lonely, according to a survey of 910 FoodCycle guests in 2022. Loneliness is considered to be a significant mental and public health issue in the country, affecting over half the population, with the Mental Health Foundation linking it to depression and declining physical health. Sixty-eight percent of FoodCycle guests worry about affording food, and 92 percent are concerned about the increasing price of food, to the extent that 75 percent regularly skip meals. “These issues are intertwined and interlinked. We know there’s a correlation between people who are facing food poverty, and feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities,” says Sophie Tebbetts, FoodCycle’s head of programs and incoming CEO.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Lessons from brain science — and history's peacemakers — for resolving conflicts
2023-11-04, NPR
Posted: 2023-11-19 14:46:38
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/11/04/1209395551/argument-us-i...

Tim Phillips, a veteran conflict-resolution expert, helped negotiate some of the most fraught conflicts in modern history — ceasefires of religious clashes in Northern Ireland and the establishment of what became South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid. Defusing an escalating situation ... first requires releasing a brain hijacked by defensive emotion. Phillips says it means saying to your opponent, for example: "I understand how important this is to you; I understand this is core to your identity and your community, and I respect your sacred values." It means reflecting your opponent's humanity back to them. A similar approach, he says, can help reduce toxic polarization. It's effective because in the heat of argument, people tend to demonize one another; counteracting that can neutralize assumptions of negative intent. Phillips says he's seen people emotionally disarm the opposition in a disagreement simply by recognizing their humanity. It can bring together fierce adversaries, and change history. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman in the U.S., was battling for the Democratic presidential nomination with political rival ... George Wallace, a fierce segregationist. After he was shot in an attempted assassination, Chisholm visited him in the hospital and prayed at his bedside. "Wallace's daughter later said that that gesture of compassion completely changed her father," Phillips says. Wallace reportedly wept openly, and shifted his stance on racial segregation.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


How the Korean Concept of “Han” Teaches Solidarity
2022-08-04, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2023-11-19 14:44:25
https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2022/08/04/korean-concept-han-solidarity-...

At the heart of the Korean spirit is a concept called “Han.” I define Han as “irreparable sorrow.” A more accurate definition might be achieved by describing how Han expresses itself—through storytelling, song, poetry, prayer. It is the language of humanity. Suh Nam-Dong, one of the founders of Korean minjung liberation theology, described Han as “a feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong—all these combined.” What is omitted from such definitions, though, is the very quality that makes Han transcendent; that is, the poeticization of these profound feelings of grief and loss. It gives us a common song. That is why the African American tradition of blues serves as a great model for resilience—joy, even—in the face of unimaginable adversity. It is all the sorrows of the world experienced in communion with others. Communion and fellowship are what will get us through, no matter what the bastards do. I also think of my Quaker grandmother, Elinor Ashkenazy, who helped organize the peace boat, the Golden Rule, in the 1950s. The tiny ketch first set sail across the Pacific in 1958 with the intention of stopping the U.S. from dropping atomic bombs on the Marshall Islands. Its story was another kind of prayer, another kind of poetry—and the inspiration for the founding of Greenpeace and many other peace projects.

Note: This article was written by respected journalist and environmental activist Koohan Paik-Mander. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Students building bridges across the American divide
2023-10-08, CBS News
Posted: 2023-11-12 19:21:55
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/american-exchange-project-building-bridges-acros...

This past summer more than 300 high school graduates signed up for a unique student exchange program. Unlike the well-known foreign exchange model ... this program gives students the opportunity to soak in a brand-new culture without ever leaving the country. It's called the American Exchange Project, or AEP for short, co-founded by 29-year-old David McCullough III. "We fund kids to spend a week in the summer after senior year in an American town that is politically and socio-economically and culturally very different from the one that they're growing up in," McCullough said. One student, Alex, said, "My groups of friends are not really close to each other, so I feel like I've actually bonded with you guys more than I have with my own friends." One girl from South Dakota said, "I've never been a part of a community where ... I'm not the minority, I'm not the odd one out. So, this is very much an experience that I really appreciate so much." McCullough hopes to offer the program to a million students a year by decade's end, and all free of charge, thanks to big name donors, including the likes of Steven Spielberg. "I think this all ought to be as typical to the American high school experience as the prom," McCullough said. There's that old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes; the problem is, you can't see the person face-to-face if you're walking away. What David McCullough is hoping is the next generation will turn around, look those they differ with in the eye, and just talk.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Revolutionary Civic Social Media Is On the Horizon
2023-10-10, LA Progressive
Posted: 2023-10-23 14:09:38
https://www.laprogressive.com/techie-tips/revolutionary-civic-social-media

Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, but they also pose significant challenges for our society. From spreading misinformation and hate speech to undermining democracy and privacy, social media can have negative impacts on the public good. How can we harness the power of social media for positive purposes, such as civic engagement, social justice, and education? One possible solution is to create a new kind of social media platform that is designed to serve the public interest, not the profit motive. This platform would be owned and governed by its users, who would have a say in how it operates and what content it promotes. Such a platform may sound utopian, but it is not impossible. In fact, there are already some examples of social media platforms that are trying to achieve these goals, such as Mastodon, Diaspora, and Aether. These platforms are based on the principles of decentralization, federation, and peer-to-peer communication, which allow users to have more control and autonomy over their online interactions. Civic Works ... is an emerging social networking platform that provides a more democratic, inclusive, and responsible online space for everyone. It is built on the idea that social media can be a force for good when the objective is not subverted by advertisers, marketers, or shadowy political operatives. It is a platform that inspires people to become active citizens, through civic, political, economic, and/or educational actions.

Note: The social media platform PeakD is censorship-proof and is governed by network operators who are elected by the community. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


This joint Memorial Day ceremony for fallen Israelis and Palestinians overcame hate
2023-04-28, Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted: 2023-10-16 01:18:51
https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/israel-memorial-day-palestinians-independenc...

Memorial Day used to be Israel’s most sacred secular holiday because it honored those who died in wars or terrorist attacks. I attended one memorial service in Tel Aviv that rose above these tensions and penetrated to the heart of the issues troubling the country: a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian families who had lost relatives to the conflict and gathered together to share their grief. What was most astonishing about the event was to see the Palestinians fall into the arms of their Israeli hosts and hold on tightly. Why astonishing? Because these days, Palestinians and Israelis almost never come into contact, except at Israeli military checkpoints on the West Bank, or when violent Israeli settlers attack their fields — or when Palestinian workers come to Israel to work in construction or in agriculture. It was moving in the extreme to see Palestinians and Israelis who had experienced heartbreak at the hands of the other side embrace each other tightly and talk about family. It was also moving to watch thousands of Israelis file into the fenced-off area of the ceremony and fill endless rows of plastic chairs (the organizers say that 300,000 watched online). They listened in total silence as Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims told their personal stories on the stage. Yuval Sapir, whose sister Tamar was murdered in Tel Aviv in 1994 by a Palestinian suicide bomber ... choked out these words: “It is easy and natural to hate ... I chose to try to break the chain of revenge and hatred.”

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The power of contact in the rehumanization process
2023-09-12, Waging Nonviolence
Posted: 2023-10-08 19:30:06
https://wagingnonviolence.org/metta/podcast/the-power-of-contact-theory-rehum...

‘Contact theory’ has been shown to lead to harmony and an enlarged sense of a common good, even when there are limited resources and competing interests. It's a theory that suggests that the more contact that people have, the more willing they are to rehumanize and understand each other, even across their personal differences. It originated in the 50s with the work of Gordon Allport. After World War II, he asked himself, how can we reduce conflict in society? He put forward that, under the right conditions, having positive experiences with people of another social, ethnic, cultural, religious backgrounds could improve our tolerance and reduce our prejudice against them. 50 years later, the vast majority of studies show that it does work. If you talk about moving beyond past violence and having a harmonious society, one of the biggest things that could hamper having these contact experiences [is] the homophilia principle, where you go with your own group. It's easy to avoid having experiences with other groups. But once we do, they're very beneficial. We spoke with someone named Ali Abu Awad [who] is a Palestinian activist. He said he never had contact with an Israeli ... until he was in his 30s. And they were brought together into a group. This Israeli woman was crying, and he was crying. They were both grieving the loss of family members of the conflict. That moment of contact actually changed the whole direction of his life because he realized that this Israeli woman was human like he was. He ended up becoming an activist working toward a solution that humanizes Israelis and humanizes Palestinians at the same time.

Note: This summary is a transcript of an interview with Jasper Van Assche, professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


A Canadian study gave $7,500 to homeless people. Here’s how they spent it.
2023-09-02, Vox
Posted: 2023-09-18 14:05:43
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21528569/homeless-poverty-cash-transfer-ca...

Ray, a man in his 50s, used to live in an emergency homeless shelter in Vancouver, Canada. Then he participated in a study that changed his life. The newly published, peer reviewed PNAS study, conducted by the charity Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia, was fairly simple. It identified 50 people in the Vancouver area who had become homeless in the past two years. In spring 2018, it gave them each one lump sum of $7,500 (in Canadian dollars). And it told them to do whatever they wanted with the cash. Over the next year, the study followed up with the recipients periodically, asking how they were spending the money and what was happening in their lives. The recipients of the cash transfers did not increase spending on drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, but did increase spending on food, clothes, and rent. What’s more, they moved into stable housing faster and saved enough money to maintain financial security over the year of follow-up. “Counter to really harmful stereotypes, we saw that people made wise financial choices,” Claire Williams, the CEO of Foundations for Social Change, [said]. What’s more ... giving out the cash transfers in the Vancouver area actually saved the broader society money. Enabling 50 people to move into housing faster saved the shelter system $8,277 per person over the year, for a total savings of $413,850. That’s more than the value of the cash transfers, which means the transfers pay for themselves.

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