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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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Sort articles by: Article Date | Date Posted on WantToKnow.info | Importance

An experiment doled out money to homeless people in Denver, no strings attached. Here’s what happened.
2024-06-19, Colorado Sun
Posted: 2024-07-16 12:56:19
https://coloradosun.com/2024/06/19/homeless-payments/

More than 800 people were selected to participate in the Denver Basic Income Project while they were living on the streets, in shelters, on friends’ couches or in vehicles. They were separated into three groups. Group A received $1,000 per month for a year. Group B received $6,500 the first month and $500 for the next 11 months. And group C, the control group, received $50 per month. About 45% of participants in all three groups were living in a house or apartment that they rented or owned by the study’s 10-month check-in point, according to the research. The number of nights spent in shelters among participants in the first and second groups decreased by half. And participants in those two groups reported an increase in full-time work, while the control group reported decreased full-time employment. Parents of kids under 18 ... reported statistically significant improvements in “parental distress” after receiving money for 10 months. Researchers tallied an estimated $589,214 in savings on public services, including ambulance rides, visits to hospital emergency departments, jail stays and shelter nights. The $9.4 million project was funded by a mix of public and private money, including $1.5 million from The Colorado Trust and $2 million from the city of Denver’s pot of federal pandemic relief money.

Note: Explore more positive stories about reimagining the economy and healing social division.


Dutch digital detoxers unplug en masse. Will the world follow?
2024-05-31, Positive.News
Posted: 2024-06-24 22:22:24
https://www.positive.news/society/dutch-digital-detoxers-unplug-will-the-worl...

The Offline Club, which began life in Amsterdam, offers an oasis of calm and respite from the incessant digital hustle of life lived through the black glass of a smartphone. It nurtures moments of quiet introspection over vapid doomscrolling, and encourages spontaneous conversations with strangers instead of endless keyboard arguments. The concept grew organically from the ‘offline getaway’ retreats [co-founder Ilya] Kneppelhout set up with pals Valentijn Klok and Jordy van Bennekom. The trio opened their first phone-free hangout in Amsterdam’s Cafe Brecht in February this year, and to their astonishment drew 125,000 new Instagram followers in the space of a month. Customers alternate between time to themselves and time to connect. “People don’t just pay to get rid of their phones – they’re also paying to meet others,” says Kneppelhout. “We live in quite an isolated world where we’re ever more connected online, but in the physical world, it’s hard to meet people. This is a real experience: where else are you going to be in a cafe with 30 others, and read a book or draw? It’s quite unique.” His hope is that customers will take away lasting habits from their cafe visits. “Big tech companies and the biggest social media companies are really playing with our minds, and with our time and our attention,” he says. “I think that’s bad: a counter movement is really necessary, and I think it’s happening.”

Note: Explore more positive stories on healing social division.


‘The tranquility frees you’: Bogotá, the city that shuts out cars every week
2024-05-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2024-06-11 12:25:13
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/may/30/the-tranquility-f...

Once a week the citizens of Bogotá take back the streets of their city. Every Sunday, between 7am and 2pm, many of the biggest roads are shut to cars and left open to bikes, skates and feet. “Ciclovía is really cool because there is a lot more space for us,” says seven-year-old Oliver Rojas, who is out cycling with his parents and is baffled to hear that this innovative scheme does not exist in the rest of the world. The weekly event was born out of a one-day protest in 1974 against cars taking over the world’s streets. It now covers 127 km (79 miles) of streets in the city and, on average, 1.5 million Bogotanos use the Ciclovía every Sunday. It has spread to most other Colombian cities and has been copied by mayors across the world, from Buenos Aires to Bengaluru, who hope the initiative can help get people in shape, improve mental health, reduce car usage and help fight climate change in the way that it has in Colombia. Part of the attraction is the fun and the family-friendly atmosphere. Bogotá’s cycleways are punctuated with aerobics classes, people selling fresh juices, and the sound of salsa. On a regular weekday, the level of PM 2.5 particles on the main road through Bogotá ... is dangerously high at 65 µg/m3. During Ciclovía, however, that number falls to 5 µg/m3 on the same stretch of road – 13 times less and in line with the WHO’s recommendations for the tiny, harmful particles. Noise levels are seven times lower.

Note: Read about the successful story of a US community that banned cars.


Compassion is making a comeback in America
2024-04-23, Vox
Posted: 2024-05-05 14:59:39
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/24137520/americans-empathy-new-compassion-...

Since the late 1970s, psychologists have measured empathy by asking millions of people how much they agreed with statements such as “I feel tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.” In 2011, a landmark study led by researcher Sara Konrath examined the trends in those surveys. The analysis revealed that American empathy had plummeted: The average US college student in 2009 reported feeling less empathic than 75 percent of students three decades earlier. A few months ago, [Konrath] and her colleagues published an update to their work: They found that empathy among young Americans is rebounding, reaching levels indistinguishable from the highs of the 1970s. Our biased minds tempt us to see the worst in people. The empathy decline reported 13 years ago fit that narrative and went viral. This decline is almost certainly an illusion. In other surveys, people reported on kindness and morality as they actually experience it — for instance, how they were treated by strangers, coworkers, and friends. Answers to these questions remained steady over the years. As with the decline, we might grasp for explanations for this rise. One possibility is collective suffering. Hard times can bring people together. In her beautiful book, A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit chronicles disasters including San Francisco’s 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11. In the wake of these catastrophes, kindness ticked up, strangers stepping over lines of race and class to help one another.

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


Loretta Ross doesn’t believe in cancel culture
2023-11-04, Boston Globe
Posted: 2024-05-05 14:54:19
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/11/02/magazine/loretta-ross-has-a-radical-idea/

[Loretta] Ross has worked at the forefront of the movement for reproductive justice. But recently she has become better known for championing “call-in culture,” a philosophy that approaches someone’s wrongdoing with accountability and, most importantly, love. In the summer of 2020 ... I felt myself crumbling. I called out snide comments by alumni of my college about Black Lives Matter protests, demanded people boycott the college newspaper ... and used Twitter to call out the behavior of fellow students. Each tactic left no room for discussion. Calling in, by contrast, asks us to always be the bigger person, even in the most hateful and painful situations. I ask Ross: Whose well-being are we prioritizing here? And why isn’t it our own? Ross tells me about another Black woman who asked the same question. “I’m confused,” Ross recalls the woman saying. “I don’t want to fall into the stereotype of the angry Black woman. But I feel like if I embrace the calling-in strategies you’re talking about, then I’m ... giving a pass to all this injustice. What should I do?” Ross responds with a question of her own: “Well, who are you inside? Go deep inside and find out who you are. What’s the emotion that you feel is true to you?” “Inside, I feel like I’m filled with love,” the woman replies. “Then, why aren’t you leading with your authentic self?” Ross asks her. Accountability and love are not mutually exclusive, Ross explains.

Note: Smith College Professor and civil rights activist Loretta Ross worked with Ku Klux Klan members and practiced restorative justice with incarcerated men convicted or raping and murdering women. Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues. Explore more positive stories about healing social division and polarization.


Why do people forgive? It's messy, complex and 'the best form of self-interest'
2024-04-23, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Posted: 2024-04-29 12:44:20
https://www.startribune.com/forgiveness-project-minneapolis-laura-yuen/600360...

Forgiveness is a principle promoted by just about every faith tradition. Even neuroscientists agree on its mental and physical benefits — from lowered risk of heart attacks to improved sleep. Twenty years ago, UK-based journalist Marina Cantacuzino launched the Forgiveness Project, a collection of stories from survivors and victims of crime and conflict, as well as perpetrators who reshaped their aggression into a force for peace. Cantacuzino documented real-life stories of seemingly supernatural examples of forgiveness. A Canadian woman who forgave her husband's killer. An Israeli filmmaker wounded in a terrorist attack. A Minneapolis mother who grew to love the person who murdered her only child. But even Cantacuzino admits it can seem difficult to relate to those who forgive the seemingly unforgivable. Are they morally superior? Extremely religious? Some are, but they are more likely to share the traits of curiosity, empathy and a flexible viewpoint. It feels like those characteristics are harder to come by today. The cacophony of "if you're not with us, you're against us" has divided families and entire communities. One's ability to recognize the pain on both sides of the Israel-Hamas war can evoke outrage, for example. But Cantacuzino continues to support discussions that bring together Israeli and Palestinian victims of the conflict, stories that require people to embrace complexity and contradiction while honoring the "sanctity of every human life ... Stories stick, whereas facts fade," she says. The Forgiveness Project's exhibit has now journeyed to 17 countries, including Kenya, Australia and Israel.

Note: Explore Cantacuzino's latest inspiring book, Forgiveness: An Exploration, which delves into the politics, mechanics and psychology of forgiveness. Explore more positive stories that reveal the power of healing social division and polarization.


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.

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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.

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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.

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