Inspirational News StoriesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of inspirational news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
When Erika Dudra moved to Beacon Hill two years ago, she didn't know any of her neighbors. Dudra soon discovered a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Beacon Hill North. The premise of the group was simple: Offer up something that you don't need, or ask for something you do need. She joined to get rid of a couch, but then started asking for baby things. As a result, "I have a 2-year-old now who basically cost me nothing," she said. When Dudra remarried ... she threw a "Buy Nothing wedding" with a donated dress, cake, decor, flowers, an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf relatives and a wedding photographer. To participants, Buy Nothing is about more than just fighting consumer culture, though. Today, all of Dudra's best friends are people she met on Buy Nothing. Since this network was started in 2013 ... members and volunteers have spread the Buy Nothing gospel to more than half a million people in 20 countries. Buy Nothing co-founder Liesl Clark likes to say the project is one-half internet giveaway group and one-half prehistoric Himalayan economics. Inspiration comes from high up in the Himalayas, where Clark has filmed archaeology documentaries for National Geographic and the PBS series "NOVA." In 2007, Clark visited a village in the Upper Mustang area of Nepal that didn't operate on currency. Instead, the village of Samdzong operated on a "gift economy" when a villager needed something, she or he would simply ask. Residents kept communal goats and sheep and took turns watching each other's fields.
Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great project.
When the lunch bell rings at Boca Raton High School in Florida, 3,400 kids spill into the courtyard and split into their social groups. But not everyone gets included. Someone always sits alone. "It's not a good feeling, like you're by yourself. And that's something that I don't want anybody to go through," said Denis Estimon. Denis is a Haitian immigrant. When he came here in first grade, he says he felt isolated - especially at lunch. So with some friends, Denis started a club called "We Dine Together." Their mission is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is starving for company. For new kids especially, the club is a godsend. Since it started last year, hundreds of friendships have formed - some very unlikely. Jean Max Meradieu said he met kids he would never "ever" meet on the football team. Jean actually quit the football team - gave up all perks that come with it - just so he could spend more time with this club. "I don't mind not getting a football scholarship," Jean said. "This is what I really want to do." Just imagine how different your teenage years would have been, if the coolest kids in school all of a sudden decided you mattered. Since we first told this story, Denis has graduated from high school - but not from this mission. He's now travelling the country, opening "We Dine Together" chapters at other schools - 15 so far, with more than 100 slated for the new year. And if we're lucky, when he's done showing kids how to make outsiders feel accepted, he can teach the rest of us.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Japan is prone to fads. One has hit finance: investing in assets screened for ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors. In 2014-16 funds invested in ESG assets grew faster in Japan than anywhere else. Today Japan’s sustainable-investment balance is $474bn, or some 3.4% of the country’s total managed assets - low compared with Europe or America, but high for Asia. The shift is driven from the top down, rather than, as elsewhere, by ethically minded individual investors. The big boost for ethical investing in Japan came from the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s biggest public-sector investor, with $1.3trn of assets under management. In 2015 GPIF signed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment. This year it invested 3% of its holdings in socially responsible assets, using three ESG indices. Smaller investors have started to follow suit. Hiromichi Mizuno, GPIF’s chief investment officer, says the decision to invest in three ESG indices is for the long-term future, rather than with an eye on short-term returns or to support government policy: “The more companies pay attention to the sustainability of the environment, society and governance, the more likely investors are to find investment opportunities in them.” Analysts say GPIF is setting a trend for sustainable investing not just in Japan but globally. It has said it wants to increase its allocations in ESG funds to 10% of its assets.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
China has been busy creating a cashless society, where people can pay for so many things now with just a swipe of their cellphones - including donations to beggars - or even buy stuff at vending machines with just facial recognition, and India is trying to follow suit. These are big trends, and in a world where data is the new oil, China and India are each creating giant pools of digitized data that their innovators are using to write all kinds of interoperable applications — for cheap new forms of education, medical insurance, entertainment, banking and finance. “It’s transforming the lives of ordinary people,” explained Alok Kshirsagar, a McKinsey partner based in Mumbai. Now any Indian farmer can just go to one of 250,000 government community centers - each with a computer, Wi-Fi and a local entrepreneur who manages it - log into a government digital services website with the farmer’s unique ID and instantly print out a birth certificate or land records needed for transactions. Similar innovations are going on in energy, explained Mahesh Kolli, president of Greenko, India’s largest renewable power provider. Greenko just built the largest solar project in the world - a 3,000-acre field of Chinese-made solar panels generating 800 megawatts powering over 600,000 homes in Andhra Pradesh. Two more such fields are on the way up. “No new coal or gas power plants are being built in India today,” he added, “not because of regulations, but because solar, wind, hydro are all now able to compete with coal plants without subsidies.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
John Bramblitt believes he could draw before he could walk. Art was also his way of coping with spending much of his childhood in the hospital. After experiencing his first seizure at age 2, Bramblitt was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. After each seizure, his vision would remain blurry for a while, but then it would clear up. What neither he nor his doctors realized was that his vision was decreasing each time. In his mid-20s, while attending college for the second time at the University of North Texas in 2001, he received the news that he would lose the rest of his vision. There was nothing doctors could do to stop it. He was completely blind by the time fall semester began. When he was alone, he felt like he was losing his mind. That's when he remembered the joy he used to gain from creating art. He began by trying to draw simple shapes, but would feel his pencil run off the paper. Bramblitt realized he needed to create a structure to follow. Fabric paint, which would create raised lines as it dried, became his new pencil, and he used oil paints to bring the paintings to life. He used [touch] to "see" what he wanted to paint and to distinguish between oil paints, because each color had a different viscosity and texture. Encouraged by the way it made him feel, he would paint for hours every day. Over the years, Bramblitt has connected with charities and started a series of workshops for artists with and without sight, young and old. He believes art should be something everyone can connect with. After all, art changed his life.
Across the United States, millionaires and billionaires are increasingly stepping in with private money to try to solve problems that were once largely or exclusively the purview of government. In Detroit, philanthropic dollars helped build a streetcar system. In Kalamazoo, Mich., donors are underwriting college tuition programs. Elsewhere, philanthropists are funding the mapping of all cells in the human body to try to stamp out disease and pouring money into preventing obesity. Yet few if any of today’s megadonors are involved in as many programs targeting the poor in one city as [George] Kaiser. The oil and gas industrialist believes that every child deserves a chance to succeed and that effectively spent charitable dollars ... can unlock their potential. His foundation has given away more than $1 billion over the past decade, almost all of it in Tulsa, [Okla.]. Over the next decade, his foundation wants to target every poor child born in Tulsa, from birth until third grade, so that a patchwork of public programs – prenatal care, parenting classes, child care – becomes a seamless quilt. “They’re making a very big bet in one community on a comprehensive strategy that can be truly transformative,” says Nancy Roob, chief executive officer of the New York-based Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The idea behind all these efforts – fighting poverty with philanthropic wealth – is one that holds great promise in an era of dazzling private fortunes, yawning economic inequality, and public-sector austerity.
The 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail is daunting even to those who have no trouble walking. That hasn't stopped Stacey Kozel. Her paralyzed body hasn't stopped her, either. The 41-year-old ... was always active until lupus stole her muscles and strength. Since her diagnosis at 19, she ... had always managed to get back on her feet - until a flare-up in March 2014. "I walked into a hospital, came out in a wheelchair," recalled Stacey Kozel. Although Kozel was able to walk stiffly with an old pair of braces, they wouldn't help her walk comfortably enough to embrace the outdoors. The chance finally came when she came across the Ottobock C-Brace. The brace functions essentially as the muscles and bones of a leg. The price tag for the technology was steep: $75,000 each. Kozel's doctors and therapists knew that getting these braces covered by insurance would be an uphill climb. When her claim was finally approved after 12 months, she was "in shock." Three days after Kozel got her braces, Joey Pollak, Kozel's orthopedist, got a call saying Kozel was in a 5K race. "To say Stacey is an overachiever is an understatement," said Pollak. What Pollak did not know was an idea forming in Kozel's head. She wanted to show insurance companies how useful the braces can be for those who have lost their mobility. She set her mind on the Appalachian Trail, just two months after she received her braces. Now, with support from her orthopedist, her mother and strangers along the way, she is slowly approaching her destination.
If you had asked me 20 years ago where I would be, I never would have imagined I would be a physician working at UCLA Health, one of the best medical centers in the country. For over 25 years, my physical disability threatened to define who I was and what others thought I could become. I contracted meningococcal disease at 8 years of age. The infection overwhelmed my body's defenses, and I became a triple amputee. The disease left me with just enough to survive and carry on: two full fingers of the left hand, the thumb and ring finger. The first few years were physically and emotionally grueling; I was in and out of the hospital for surgical procedures to make my lower limbs fit better into prosthetic legs. I couldn't walk for nearly three years. I grew so quickly, my prosthetic legs could not keep up. My father would give me piggyback rides from the car to our house. My mother, who became blind as a teen, learned how to help me dress and put on my prosthetic legs every morning for school. My younger brother, Tarring, would help bring things to me since my mobility was limited. And my older sister, Nellie, was and is my inspiration and role model. I have been extremely lucky to have a strong and resilient family. I was lucky to be in a place where I had great medical care and where I had a community of friends and schools that supported my recovery and believed in my ability to succeed despite my disability. But luck is only part of my success; it takes courage, determination, honesty and integrity to pursue your dreams.
New York's Excelsior Scholarship is the first of its kind. It covers the cost of tuition for qualifying students who are enrolled in a two- or four-year degree program at any of the state's 88 public colleges and university campuses. Plans for the scholarship were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January. At first, students planning to attend college this fall didn't know whether it would become reality in time. It was officially approved by the legislature in April. When Governor Cuomo announced the program he said that college, like high school, "should always be an option even if you can't afford it." While similar programs in other states have made tuition free for community college students, the Excelsior Scholarship is the first to include those pursuing a four-year degree. The scholarship could save students as much as $27,000 over four years by cutting out tuition costs. The award doesn't cover fees charged by the school, or room and board. Students must also agree to live in state after college for the same number of years they received the scholarship, or it will be converted to a loan. Bonnie Tang, [a] Stony Brook freshman, is commuting from her home in Brooklyn, saving her about $13,000 in room and board costs. She'll have to buy a monthly train pass [and] pay about $2,560 in fees this year. But everything else is free. "My tuition is paid for and that saves me a lot of money," she said.
The “Medicine Baba,” Omkar Nath Sharma, 75, spends his days knocking on doors in Delhi’s upper and middle class neighborhoods, collecting their leftover medicines and giving them to the poor. Mr. Sharma, a former medical technician ... starts his day at 6 a.m., when he leaves his rented home in Manglapuri, a southern Delhi suburb, and travels by buses on his senior citizen pass to wealthier parts of the city. He has built up a pool of regular contributors in neighborhoods like Green Park, who he calls on when they have medicines they no longer need. Wearing an orange shirt that says “Mobile medicine bank for poor patients,” he picks up medicines that he estimates are worth 200,000 rupees, about $3,860, a month, and then distributes them to individuals and charitable clinics for no charge. Mr. Sharma knows that loosely distributing medicine brings real risks, so he said he will only give them out if a patient has a prescription from a doctor. Vimla Rani, a 47-year-old maid, said she is alive because of Sharma’s medicines, which help to control her asthma. “I keep on getting inhalers and other medicines from Medicine Baba,” she said. “Thousands of poor people die as they can’t afford expensive medicines, while at the same time unused medicines worth millions get wasted,” Mr. Sharma said. He also distributes medicine to more than a dozen nongovernmental organizations.
Below are two powerful graphs in “Health Abundance” I wanted to share this week. First is the massive reduction in smoking from 45 percent in the 1960s to 25 percent today. The bad news is that smoking is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths. Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined: HIV, alcohol, car accidents and guns. Second, is a look at the reduction of global malaria deaths, and the increase in funding allocated for research and development to cure malaria. As medical research continues and technology enables new breakthroughs, there will be a day when Malaria and most all major deadly diseases are eradicated on Earth. I hope you enjoyed this week’s Evidence of Abundance.
Note: See a great booklet filled with inspiring graphs showing how our world is gradually becoming ever more abundant.
The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth's protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles wide. The hole size shrinks after mid-September. "In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," said Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero." This year's maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it's 1.3 million square miles less than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015. Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven't quite figured out why some years are stormier - and have smaller ozone holes - than others. "It's really small this year. That's a good thing," Newman said. Newman said this year's drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles.
A 101-year-old California heart surgeon who retired just five years ago may be the epitome of “you are what you eat.” Dr. Ellsworth Wareham credits his vegan lifestyle with being his fountain of youth. He says it’s why he is still sharp-minded, enjoys good balance and drives. “I don’t have any trouble with my joints, my hands are steady, my balance is good, I don’t have to walk with a cane,” he [said]. Wareham lives in Loma Linda, California, which is one of five so-called Blue Zones, so named by longevity researcher Dan Buettner because people tend to live longer, healthier lives within them. Residents of Loma Linda, many of whom like Wareham are Seventh Day Adventists, have a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. Seventh Day Adventists avoid smoking and alcohol, include exercise in their lifestyle and follow a vegetarian diet. The city of Loma Linda ... has several community programs in place that support its older residents. Loma Linda men in particular live six to seven years longer than the average American man. As for Dr. Wareham, he said he has “never cared for animal products,” so maintaining a vegan lifestyle was “a very easy thing” for him to do. But while what you eat certainly impacts your health, even Buettner has noted that the Blue Zones have other longevity-increasing factors.
Note: Watch a short video interview with this amazing man.
At a subway station [in New York City] a despondent young woman climbed over a railing and crawled over open girders that were 25 feet above the ground and over 5 feet apart. And began sobbing. According to a witness, Michal Klein, "The only thing I overheard was the young girl saying nobody cares about her." Then a young man on the first level saw her, and ran up to the second floor. He climbed and crawled over the beams to where she was sitting. He began talking to her quietly. Then he put his arm around her. After a minute, she put her head on his shoulder. They were up there for almost ten minutes before the fire department arrived. They both crawled back over the ledge ... holding hands the entire time. She was then taken away by ambulance to the hospital. And this young man picked up his backpack, got on a subway, and left. "It was just like a random person who went over to keep her calm," [said Klein]. "He actually cared enough, whoever he was, to help her. A lot of people seemed to be like, ‘Oh, it’s New York,’ and kept walking. I don’t think I would’ve climbed over to do that." Another witness noted that most people didn’t even break stride as they quickly glanced up. Said another, "Angels come in many forms."
The conservative city of Georgetown, Texas, runs on renewable energy. After all, wind and solar power are more predictable and easier to budget than oil and gas. Clean power pushes may be associated with more left-leaning cities, but Republican mayor Dale Ross called the switch to renewables a no-brainer. In 2017, at least 15 weather events cost the government more than a billion dollars each. The most expensive events we have in the U.S. are floods. The money spent preparing for and preventing these events ... pays itself back double, triple, and even quadruple times over. But companies and private citizens often fail to prepare properly because the money spent on prevention is private, whereas costs after the fact are often allotted through government organizations. Many fail to connect the cost of switching to renewable energy with the eventual savings of avoiding natural disasters. On an even larger scale, the costs of switching to renewable energy are larger up front, though they save money in the future. For example, Denmark struggled to store its wind power in a way that allowed them to save it for times of high electricity demand. Then they encouraged residents to buy electric cars. Now these vehicles act like moving batteries, and people can sell the energy back to the grid when the cars are parked.
There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.
Intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level. Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan. Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger. Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis. The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet. At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from one state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting. The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity. This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.
Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more ... authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. "[B]asically, you're seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections," Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. "They're instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail." “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”
Kristin Kagetsu left the United States in 2014 with an idea: to bring sanitary pads to India. The 27-year-old MIT graduate co-founded Saathi Pads - a health care startup that produces biodegradable sanitary pads made of banana fibers. According to a 2011 study ... only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads during menstruation. Tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads are practically unheard of, except in elite circles. Affordability is the key factor preventing many women from using sanitary pads. For lower income families, they can be a luxury. Saathi Pads said it plans to sell its product ... online and in urban areas but will distribute them for free in rural areas, or at heavily subsidized rates. The lack of proper feminine hygiene and sanitation facilities can affect women's productivity at work and in school. More than 30% of girls interviewed in northern India dropped out of school after they started menstruation. Kagetsu and her co-founders ... decided to manufacture their own compostable sanitary pads using banana fibers, a byproduct of fruit production. The pads Saathi produces are biodegradable and can be upcycled to compost or biogas after use. The company claims its production process is completely chemical and plastic free. The company's purchase of agri-waste material also helps provide banana growers with additional income.
The tiny nation of Bhutan [is] wedged in the Himalayas between China and India. The country has been in the international spotlight mainly for ... its unique approach to calculating economic growth by taking the pulse of its people's gross national happiness. The nation is among one of just a handful of so-called carbon negative countries in the world, meaning it soaks up more carbon than it produces thanks to vast forests. Amidst all this, it's also developing a new economic engine in the form of hydropower while expanding economic and political ties to neighboring India and China. "We need to strengthen our economy, but equally important are other aspects of human development, which include social development, environment sustainability, culture," [said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay]. "And this whole idea of balancing material growth - which is important on the one hand - with social development, this is what the sense of gross national happiness is all about." We're already carbon negative. Our entire country, we generate 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. However, our forests sequester more than 6 million tons. So the idea is to keep that track record - in fact, to add to it. What we're trying to do is raise money to invest in our protected areas. More than half our country is protected as national parks and nature reserves."
Note: Watch Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay deliver a TED Talk on the important connection between happiness and environmental sustainability.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.