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Inspiring: Reimagining the Economy News Stories

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CEO on why giving all employees minimum salary of $70,000 still "works" six years later: "Our turnover rate was cut in half"
2021-09-16, CBS News
Posted: 2024-07-02 11:10:37
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dan-price-gravity-payments-ceo-70000-employee-mi...

It was six years ago when CEO Dan Price raised the salary of everyone at his Seattle-based credit card processing company Gravity Payments to at least $70,000 a year. Price slashed his own salary by $1 million to be able to give his employees a pay raise. He was hailed a hero by some and met with predictions of bankruptcy from his critics. But that has not happened; instead, the company is thriving. He said his company has tripled and he is still paying his employees $70,000 a year. "I make $70,000 a year," Price [said]. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation is 320 times more than the salaries of their typical workers. Price said despite the success his company has had with the policy, he wishes other companies would follow suit. "I would say that's the failure of this. You know, I feel like I've been shouting from the rooftops like, 'This works, this works, everybody should do it!' and zero big companies are following suit because the system values having the highest return with the lowest risk and the lowest amount of work," Price said. Price thinks Gravity's returns are up in large part because bigger paychecks have lead to fiercely loyal employees. "Our turnover rate was cut in half, so when you have employees staying twice as long, their knowledge of how to help our customers skyrocketed over time and that's really what paid for the raise more so than my pay cut," said Price.

Note: Explore more positive stories about reimagining the economy.


Priced Out of Housing, Communities Take Development Into Their Own Hands
2024-05-13, New York Times
Posted: 2024-06-04 00:38:18
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/13/business/gentrifying-neighborhoods-communi...

“Community-owned cooperative real estate” ... was developed a decade ago by a nonprofit legal group and a nonprofit neighborhood group in Oakland, Calif., and has been refined by legal and development groups in Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., and other cities. The cooperative strategy enables neighborhood groups to finance unconventional construction or renovation projects that banks and institutional lenders, which prefer strong cash-flow operations, won’t touch. Much of the approach stems from efforts by the federal and local governments to make it easier for small investors to put money into real estate developments. Federal rules once barred small investors — those whose net worth is less than $1 million or who make less than $200,000 a year in income — from participating in development projects; that changed in 2015. At the same time, a few states enacted laws allowing small investors to put their money into local developments. “Until that change, 90 percent of the residents in a community couldn’t make direct investments in a real estate project,” said Chris Miller [with] the National Coalition for Community Capital, a nonprofit group. “Michigan allows nonaccredited investors to invest up to $10,000 in a project now.” In Oakland, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative is widely credited with being one of the first community groups to apply the community-owned cooperative concept to a neighborhood project.

Note: Explore more positive stories about reimagining the economy.


The Alternative by Nick Romeo review – moral substitutes for the free market model
2024-01-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2024-04-08 23:01:33
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2024/jan/08/the-alternative-how-to-build-a-...

You can’t help but applaud Nick Romeo for showing the workable alternatives to capitalism and the moral driver behind them – everything from the way companies are incorporated to how employees are hired, paid and enabled to share in the value they create. There is no need for ordinary workers to be pawns in a system that makes humanity and ethics secondary to the unbending logic of the marketplace and blind, selfish capital. He takes us to the Marienthal job guarantee programme in Austria. Today the town is piloting the impact of a universal jobs guarantee for all of its out-of-work citizens. Essentially there is a job for anyone unemployed for more than 12 months – you can even have a hand in designing what it is you will do with your time when you work – and you get paid up to £2,000 a month. People opt to work rather than receive welfare benefit, and there is ample evidence it raises their self-worth while delivering a service – care to the elderly or tidier parks – that was not there before. Better still, it costs the state virtually nothing because unemployment benefit is simply transferred to the now employed worker’s pay packet. Romeo takes his reader from one inspiring example to another – from the Purpose economy programme in the US, in which firms are dedicated to delivering greater purpose in perpetuity, to examples of companies paying genuine living wages to their employees to encourage commitment. Around 7,000 B Corps, which commit in their founding constitution to put social goals before profit, now trade in more than 90 countries – there were effectively none 25 years ago.

Note: 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.


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.


Banking the Most Valuable Currency: Time
2024-01-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
Posted: 2024-02-04 21:05:30
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/time-banks-valuable-currency-aging-communit...

A time bank does with time what other banks do with money: It stores and trades it. “Time banking means that for every hour you give to your community, you receive an hour credit,” explains Krista Wyatt, executive director of the DC-based nonprofit TimeBanks.Org, which helps volunteers establish local time banks all over the world. Thousands of time banks with several hundred thousand members have been established in at least 37 countries, including China, Malaysia, Japan, Senegal, Argentina, Brazil and in Europe, with over 3.2 million exchanges. There are probably more than 40,000 members in over 500 time banks in the US. Many time banks are volunteer community projects, but the one in Sebastopol, [CA] is funded by the city. “Every volunteer hour is valued around $29,” Wyatt calculates. “Now think about the thousands of dollars a city saves when hundreds of citizens serve their community for free.” The Sebastopol time bank has banked more than 8,000 hours since its launch in 2016. Five core principles ... guide time banks to this day: First, everyone has something to contribute. Second, valuing volunteering as “work.” Third, reciprocity or a “pay-it-forward” ethos. Fourth, community building, and fifth, mutual accountability and respect. “What captured me is that people are doing things out of their own good heart,” Wyatt says. “Many years ago, a woman ... said to [civil rights lawyer] Edgar Cahn, ‘I have nothing to give.’ Edgar Cahn listened and finally responded, ‘You have love to give.’ And the whole room just went silent.” Every hour of service is valued the same, no matter how much skill and expertise a task takes, whether it’s an hour keeping someone company, helping them file their taxes or repair a roof. Through a simple online platform, every member can offer and request services and then register the hours they served or received. Especially during and since the Covid pandemic, the bank has also been an antidote to the epidemic of loneliness.

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


What We Learned From Creating the Largest Guaranteed Income Program in America
2024-01-01, Newsweek
Posted: 2024-01-15 18:37:17
https://www.newsweek.com/what-we-learned-creating-largest-guaranteed-income-p...

Direct cash programs are growing across America, offering a path out of poverty through economic mobility. During a two-week period in 2022, nearly a quarter of a million people in the Chicago area applied for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, the nation's largest direct cash pilot, and ultimately 3,250 families were randomly selected to get $500 a month for two years. Similar direct cash initiatives have changed the physical, emotional, and economic lives of families that participate. Children are better cared for, and they excel in school. Adults experience improved health and stronger familial relationships. And crucially, when recipients have economic stability, they can plan and invest in their futures—many, for the first time in their lives. The Stockton SEED project, which gave $500 a month for two years to 130 people, saw results that mirrored prior direct cash research. The study ... found that the expansion of finances and the predictable, stable source of income brought by the program created "self-determination and capacity for risk-taking not present prior," meaning that when participants could predictably afford child care, transportation, and training programs they had the financial freedom to invest in their own futures. People have big ambitions, no matter the size of their bank account. For most Americans facing economic struggles, their chief problem is a lack of cash, and not a lack of character.

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


‘Life-changing impacts’: can a guaranteed income program work?
2023-06-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2024-01-15 18:35:29
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/jun/13/its-basic-documentary-guaranteed...

Michael Tubbs had just been elected the youngest and first Black mayor of Stockton, California, when he announced his intention to launch what would be the country’s first universal basic income program in decades. The year was 2017, and the plan was to pay some residents $500 a month, no strings attached. In the years since his announcement ... the 125 participants of the Stockton program showed that they used that extra $500 a month not for luxuries or frivolities, but to pay off debt, obtain full-time jobs and get medical treatment like dental work that they had put off for years because they could not afford it. Now, more than 100 cities and jurisdictions around the country have launched their own guaranteed income programs. The basis of guaranteed income is simple: poverty, a problem at the crux of so many societal woes, can be solved with money and it is the government’s job to solve it. It’s a guaranteed monthly income without the requirements that come with a welfare program – requirements that often keep recipients in poverty when the program benefits outweigh any job or income advancement they could make. “We’re talking about like life-changing impacts for a very small amount of dollars, in the grand scheme of things,” Tubbs said. The Stockton program was originally funded by a grant from the Economic Security Project, but some programs today are drawing directly from their governmental budgets.

Note: A documentary about the Stockton program titled "It's Basic" was recently featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


New Orleans landlord gifts tenants 1 month of free rent for holidays:
2023-12-26, CBS News
Posted: 2024-01-08 20:38:56
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/britni-ricard-free-rent-new-orleans/

Britni Ricard is the CEO of her own cosmetics company, COTA Skin Care, which she started in 2019. Last year, she also became a landlord when she bought her first investment property. The apartment building in New Orleans has 10 units and, according to Ricard, many of the tenants are single women with children. That made her think of her own childhood growing up in public housing, and how difficult Christmastime could be for her mom. "It was tough," Ricard told CBS News. "My mom was a single woman raising three children alone, and watching her continuously struggle as a child and wanting to figure out, 'How can I help?'" In November, Ricard gathered her tenants for a pre-holiday meeting and, while decked out in a chartreuse suit, she delivered a gift to her tenants that would make Santa Claus green with envy: one month of free rent. A video of her surprise announcement went viral on TikTok. In the video, Ricard also offered to organize a seminar to help her tenants become homeowners. Kedesha Dunn lives in one of the building's units with her two boys. The single mom said Ricard's gift would allow her family to celebrate more and worry less. "Now I, you know, I don't have to go try to take a loan out or something like ask my family for money," Dunn said. "Like, I can do it now. Like, I can do it." "I'm an emotional person," Dunn added. "I start to cry. 'Cause I'm just like, that is so sweet. She's uh, better than Santa Claus at this point. ... Like a guardian angel."

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


It's one of the biggest experiments in fighting global poverty. Now the results are in
2023-12-07, NPR
Posted: 2023-12-18 18:42:59
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/12/07/1217478771/its-one-of-th...

Since 2017 the U.S.-based charity GiveDirectly has been providing thousands of villagers in Kenya what's called a "universal basic income" – a cash grant of about $50, delivered every month, with the commitment to keep the payments coming for 12 years. This week a team of independent researchers who have been studying the impact released their first results. Their findings ... compare the outcomes for about 5,000 people who got the monthly payments to nearly 12,000 others in a control group who got no money. The researchers also compared the recipients to people in two other categories: nearly 9,000 who received the monthly income for just two years; and another roughly 9,000 people who got that same two years' worth of income but in a lump-sum payment. When it came to measures of well-being such as consumption of protein or spending money on schooling, all of the groups who were given cash were better off than people in the control group that got no money. Those who got the money in a lump sum vastly outperformed people who were promised the same amount for just two years but received it in monthly installments. Lump-sum recipients had 19% more enterprises – businesses such as small shops in local markets, motorbike taxis and small-scale construction concerns. And the lump sum recipients' net revenues from their businesses were a whopping 80% higher. The grants did not seem to fuel inflation.

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


Why Is the Moneyless Economy Thriving in America?
2023-08-29, LA Progressive
Posted: 2023-12-04 14:13:39
https://www.laprogressive.com/economic-equality/moneyless-economy

The free, moneyless economy is flourishing in America. Roughly 250 million people were still visiting Craigslist worldwide each month in 2022, 27 years after the site was launched in 1995—and many of those Craigslist users are posting and sharing goods under the site’s popular “free stuff” section. About eight years after Craigslist was launched, Freecycle Network came online in 2003. More than 9 million Americans were still using Freecycle as of 2020, which I detailed in an article that year. And then there’s the relatively young Buy Nothing Project, which turned 10 years old in July of 2023. In addition to providing a digital space where people can request things they need, post things they’re giving away, and share gratitude, one of the B corp’s social benefit model goals is to encourage people to organize community and local events around buying nothing. Over the years, Buy Nothing has been gaining popularity—not through any marketing on the part of the organization but through word-of-mouth and organic growth. The Buy Nothing app, which has only been around for about two years, is ... zeroing in on 1 million users. Buy Nothing’s model varies from that of Craigslist’s “free stuff” and Freecycle in that it is focused on community groups, gatherings, and events organized by and for local communities. The idea is that a global reuse economy will emerge community by community. Buy Nothing exists ... “to build resilient communities where our true wealth is the connections forged between neighbors.”

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


Finland is the world's happiest country, but Finns say we're confusing happiness for something else
2023-06-10, Business Insider
Posted: 2023-10-29 17:15:19
https://www.businessinsider.com/finland-happiest-country-in-world-happiness-r...

Finland's high levels of social trust could be one reason the country has been ranked as the world's happiest for six years in a row. As the World Happiness Report, which does the ranking, notes, most Finns expect their wallet to be returned to them if they lose it. Finns have liberated children, trust their neighbors, commune with nature, and leave work on time. But ask them what they think of the happiness report, and you'll get a surprising answer. "We're always surprised that we are still the first," Meri Larivaara, a mental-health advocate, told me in [a] Helsinki coffee shop. "Every year there is a debate like, 'How is this possible?'" In fact, locals I talked to were exasperated by the survey and even annoyed by the global perception of them as happy. Finnish people are often stereotyped as introverted and keeping to themselves. But it's also true that Finns are very content with what they have. "They call us up and just ask if we like our lives. We just say there's nothing wrong right now, maybe call back tomorrow," one local said of the survey. Maybe it's not so much that Finns are happy but that they don't have some of the intense fears you might find in other places. Finland's government sponsors one of the most robust welfare systems in the world. In 2021, the Nordic country spent 24% of its gross domestic product on social protection — the highest of any other OECD country that year. Healthcare and education are free for all residents — all the way through to the Ph.D. level.

Note: 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.

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


How worker ownership builds community wealth and a more just society
2023-02-03, Waging Nonviolence
Posted: 2023-09-03 13:51:28
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2023/02/how-worker-ownership-builds-community-w...

Community wealth building initiatives are taking hold in cities across the world, strengthening worker pay, local economies and democracy. A recent help-wanted ad for a laundry worker in Cleveland contained some unusual language, asking prospective candidates: “Have you ever wanted to work for a company that is 90 percent employee-owned?” The ad went on to identify Evergreen Cooperative Laundry as the only employee-owned commercial laundry firm in the country, citing a commitment to building the wealth and careers of its employees. The cooperative movement in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland has deep roots in community struggle for shared wealth. Its earliest origins are in the Mondragon co-op movement of the Basque Country in northern Spain, where tens of thousands of workers are organized into a vast co-op network that has flourished since the 1950s. Here in the U.S., when steel companies were closing down throughout the Ohio Valley in the 1970s ... a small band of activists promoted the idea of worker ownership. The model is a simple one: First, identify anchor institutions — hospitals, universities, seats of government — that are not going to relocate in search of higher profits and incentivize them to do their procurement of supplies and services locally, so that those dollars stay at home. Then, make regulatory, financing and policy changes that support the growth of cooperatives to supply their needs, so that the business profits stay with the workers.

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


Beyond Banking Scandals: The Blockchain Promise of Transparency and Trust
2023-08-10, The Street
Posted: 2023-09-03 13:49:57
https://www.thestreet.com/cryptocurrency/beyond-banking-scandals-the-blockcha...

In a recent discussion on the implications of blockchain technology and its democratization of finance, Roundtable anchor, Rob Nelson and Jordan Fried, CEO of Immutable Holdings explored the depth and magnitude of the possible changes ahead. Jordan Fried ... discussed the roots of Bitcoin, stating it was a direct protest against institutions like BlackRock and the financial systems that seemed to work only for the wealthy. Recalling the 2008 financial crisis, Fried expressed the sentiments of many who wondered why banks were bailed out while average individuals suffered. Bitcoin arose from this frustration, offering a transparent financial system unlike anything before. Expanding on this, Fried emphasized the transparency of Bitcoin in comparison to traditional currencies. In Bitcoin's blockchain, every transaction is traceable, unlike the ambiguous dealings within the current banking system. Contrary to common misconceptions ... only a fraction of crime occurs in crypto, as compared to the US dollar. Most financial crimes, including money laundering, are committed in US dollars. Rob Nelson humorously highlighted the recurring financial scandals of banks like Wells Fargo, suggesting that these financial giants often factor in their fines as just another "cost of doing business." In this evolving era of blockchain and cryptocurrency, one thing is clear: the potential impact on the financial world is vast. The very essence of how we view and interact with money is on the cusp of profound change.

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


Private Banks Are In Crisis. What If They Were Public Banks?
2023-03-20, Vice
Posted: 2023-09-03 13:47:36
https://www.vice.com/en/article/3akzbb/private-banks-are-in-crisis-what-if-th...

Public banks are typically operated by government or tribal authorities and, in theory, would be chartered to achieve social good and invest in communities. Only two public banks currently operate in the United States: the Bank of North Dakota, founded in 1919, and the Territorial Bank of American Samoa, founded in 2018. Organizations pushing for a public banking option exist in 37 states, according to the Public Banking Institute. In contrast to private banks, which are responsible to their shareholders, public banks are responsible to their boards and are chartered to invest in public needs. The Bank of North Dakota, for instance, is chartered to offer a “revolving loan fund” to farmers, and profits from loans are directed back into the fund to keep interest rates low. The modern movement to invest in public banks grew out of the 2008 financial crisis and was galvanized during the pandemic, fueled by a populist distrust of the banking and finance sectors. In October 2020, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib introduced the federal Public Banking Act, which would allow state and local governments across the country to create public banks. In the first two months of 2021 there were sixteen bills across the country designed to pave the way for public banks. Supporters of public banks are hoping that any deposits from state and local governments can be used to fund community-based projects that have trouble getting funded by private banks.

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


Could bartering become the new buying in a changed world?
2020-08-26, BBC News
Posted: 2023-03-19 18:13:32
https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200821-the-rise-of-bartering-in-a-chan...

Around the world, people have been turning to swapping, trading and bartering during the coronavirus pandemic, whether to do their bit for the local community, save money or simply source hard-to-find baking ingredients. With economic uncertainty looming and anxiety levels soaring, barter is becoming an emerging alternative solution to getting by – and staying busy. The increase in bartering is nowhere better exemplified than in Fiji. The country has a long tradition of barter, known as ‘veisa’ ... and Fijians have harnessed modern technology to connect even more people. “I knew that money would be tight to stretch out and even harder to come by. I asked myself what happens when there’s no more money? Barter was a natural solution to that,” says Marlene Dutta, who started the Barter for a Better Fiji group on 21 April. Its membership is just under 190,000 – more than 20% of Fiji’s population. Items changing hands have run the gamut – pigs for kayaks, a violin for a leather satchel and doughnuts for building bricks – but the most commonly requested items have been groceries and food. Bartering isn’t just for individuals looking for baking items or help with grocery shopping, however. Businesses are increasingly interested in joining barter exchanges, which have “doctors, lawyers, service companies, retailers – you name it”, says Ron Whitney, President of the US-based International Reciprocal Trade Association, a non-profit organisation founded in 1979 that promotes and advances modern trade and barter systems.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This group's wiped out $6.7 billion in medical debt, and it's just getting started
2022-08-15, NPR
Posted: 2022-09-06 13:49:59
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/08/15/1093769295/this-groups-w...

Soon after giving birth to a daughter two months premature, Terri Logan received a bill from the hospital. She recoiled from the string of numbers separated by commas. Then a few months ago Logan received some bright yellow envelopes in the mail. They were from a nonprofit group [RIP Medical Debt] telling her it had bought and then forgiven all those past medical bills. The nonprofit has boomed during the pandemic, freeing patients of medical debt, thousands of people at a time. Its novel approach involves buying bundles of delinquent hospital bills – debts incurred by low-income patients like Logan – and then simply erasing the obligation to repay them. It's a model developed by two former debt collectors, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, who built their careers chasing down patients who couldn't afford their bills. RIP buys the debts just like any other collection company would – except instead of trying to profit, they send out notices to consumers saying that their debt has been cleared. A surge in recent donations – from college students to philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who gave $50 million in late 2020 – is fueling RIP's expansion. To date, RIP has purchased $6.7 billion in unpaid debt and relieved 3.6 million people of debt. RIP is one of the only ways patients can get immediate relief from such debt, says Jim Branscome, a major donor. "As a bill collector collecting millions of dollars in medical-associated bills in my career, now all of a sudden I'm reformed: I'm a predatory giver," Ashton said.

Note: To understand the corruption in healthcare that results in expensive medical bills, read this revealing 10-page summary of medical doctor Marcia Angell's book The Truth About Drug Companies. To further explore stories that help create the world we want to live in, check out our inspiring news articles collection and our Inspiration Center.


Experts Share The Wellness Benefits Of Golden Girls-Inspired Co-Living And Cohousing Arrangements
2022-07-19, Forbes
Posted: 2022-08-29 14:33:02
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiegold/2022/07/19/experts-share-the-wellness-...

“Shady Pines, Ma!” If that quip sounds familiar, it’s probably because you spent some happy half hours laughing at the hit Golden Girls sitcom. The character played by Bea Arthur was related to one other roommate — her mother Sophia. The other two characters, Rose and Blanche, were, like Dorothy in their late 40s to mid-50s. Why were these women sharing a single family house? What are the housing alternatives for older and middle-aged singles? For many, it’s co-living, which provides advantages well beyond the financial. “The number one benefit ... is the social aspect of shared housing,” explains Maria Claver [of] California State University. “More than any other lifestyle factor (including smoking, diet and exercise), we know that having social support is the most important predictor of morbidity (or illness) and mortality. Having housemates is not the ideal living arrangement for everyone. For those wanting their own space, but seeking the benefits of community and camaraderie, cohousing is a viable alternative. Cohousing offers all of the benefits of living in community – connection, common meals, frequent activities, knowing your neighbors – but with the added benefit of privacy that isn’t always available in shared homes. When we have access to a social safety net, neighbors who care about us, people who can drive us to doctor’s appointments or bring us meals during a difficult time in life, we are more likely to experience stability and wellbeing.

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Tiny Home Village offers path out of homelessness
2021-09-01, Christian Science Monitor
Posted: 2021-09-27 01:22:48
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2021/0901/Tiny-Home-Village-offers-path...

Having learned from other cities’ attempts to address homelessness, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has opened a village of tiny homes (THV). It hopes fostering a sense of community will prepare residents for permanent housing. But villagers aren’t supposed to spend too much time in their new homes. The center of the community is the “Village House,” where residents can cook, do laundry, hold meetings, go to the library, and watch television. They also do chores and help run the village. When people experiencing homelessness move off the street, “they lose [their] community,” says Ilse Biel, resource manager for the THV. “It takes forever to forge a new community.” “With this model we’re almost trying to force the issue,” she adds. The THV provides access to an occupational therapist and psychiatric nurse, as well as volunteers who help residents with computer skills, résumé building, and mock interviews. What Henry Esquivel likes most about his new house is the blast of cold air it delivers when he walks in. It’s a big change from the Ford F-150 he used to sleep in. It’s more spacious too, despite his new house being just one room. And it comes with neighbors – all of whom, like him, recently experienced homelessness. A few doors down is Mark Larusch. The father of three has potted plants and an Adirondack chair on his patio. A few doors further away is the woman whose large, black Labrador, Dottie, greets Mr. Esquivel excitedly every day.

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