Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
The incredible reactions of people intentionally sharing a silent moment of eye contact with strangers has been filmed as part of a social experiment in Australia. In the video ... the public is asked where the human connection has gone, and invites people to share eye contact with strangers for one minute to find out. As people share a very personal moment with each other, they can be seen unexpectedly tearing up, sharing a smile or a hug. The public experiment was created by the Liberators International, an organisation which according to their personal webpage work to 'inspire humanity to share acts of freedom, love and kindness with one other.' The organisation was founded by Peter Sharp, an artist with the mission to create social art which engages communities in playful acts and in sharing acts of love and kindness with one another. Curious onlookers look baffled as the watch the voluntary participants get emotional and shed a tear before hugging each other. On their Facebook page, Liberators International wrote ‘In this experiment we discover what happens when we intentionally share eye contact with strangers… We had no idea how quickly things would escalate!’ Through the unique experiment, strangers can be seen sharing a smile and a laugh with one other, breaking the ice that ordinarily exist between strangers today.
The seven core assumptions are [a] set of beliefs [from the inspiring book] "Heart Of Hope." The first assumption is that the true self in everyone is good, wise and powerful. [The] second assumption is that the world is profoundly interconnected. You CANNOT disconnect. The third one is this idea that ... every one of us is born with a fundamental inclination to be in good relationship with others. No matter what happens to you or what you do, that's still there. That's a part of human nature. The fourth is, all humans have gifts. Everyone is needed for what they bring. Fifth, everything we need to make positive change is already here. We can find ways to access that together. Sixth, Human beings are holistic. You just cannot work [just] with the mind, or just with the body. Human beings have these other aspects, the emotional side, the spiritual side. When we are not paying attention to those, they always impact us sideways and we don't really understand what's going on. The seventh is this idea that in order to live from this core self that represents the best in us, we have to practice. All of these things build on each other and can become habits of how you show up in the world. But only if you practice.
Note: Listen to the complete 84 minute audio interview with prominent social justice advocate Kay Pranis at the link above.
Something changed in America between the time of Julius Rosenwald’s death in 1932 and the current presidential election cycle, in which a billionaire leads one party’s polls by spreading what his detractors see as a message of greed, xenophobia, and entitlement. Owner of the retailing giant Sears, Roebuck & Co., Rosenwald was the son of an immigrant who started out as a door-to-door peddler and, through hard work and opportunities, opened his own store ... and became very rich. Why has nobody heard of him? He wasn’t a big self-promoter and he didn’t think wealth marked him as exceptional. In an archival film snippet in Aviva Kempner’s artless but essential documentary, “Rosenwald,” he is heard to say, “Don’t be fooled by believing that because a man is rich he is necessarily smart. There is ample proof to the contrary.” Now imagine those words uttered by certain billionaires today. Rosenwald was not just humble and wise. Despite his canny capitalism, he was what might today be called a socialist. He believed in spreading the wealth - or at least his own. He believed in social justice and racial equality. He quietly spent millions building more than 5,000 schools (monickered affectionately “Rosenwald schools”) for African-American children in the South. He befriended Booker T. Washington and generously endowed the great black educator’s Tuskegee Institute. For decades his Rosenwald Fellowships benefited gifted people such as Marian Anderson, Ralph Bunche, and James Baldwin.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
We are witnessing the end of an era. Coal is fast becoming the telegraph to renewable energy’s Internet. The fossil-fuel divestment movement, which began just three years ago, is having an impact. Institutional investors representing nearly $1 trillion of portfolio value, including Stanford University, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, have committed to divest from coal. In California, legislation passed Wednesday that would require several of the state’s largest pension funds to divest from coal as well. Coal’s contribution to global warming has led Pope Francis, Prince Charles and the Dalai Lama to call for a transition to clean energy. While coal remains America’s largest source of electricity generation, over the past six years coal-fired generation has declined from 52 to 34 percent of our electricity portfolio. Renewable energy, which made up just 12 percent of California’s generation in 2008, now provides more than 25 percent of the state’s power. California is on track to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. As a result of this progress, there are now more Californians working in the solar industry than working for the state’s utilities. The United States now has twice as many solar industry employees as coal miners. Exporting our know-how to the world, which needs to get off coal too, will be our next big business. Now is indeed the time to divest our pension funds from coal, cut the cord from this piece of our past and hasten our transition to a clean energy future.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A couple in Turkey ... doled out food to 4,000 Syrian refugees for their wedding reception. The bride wore an elaborate white dress, with a tiara perched on her headdress, and the groom sported a white tuxedo with black trim. They stood behind large food trucks distributing meals to hungry Syrians. The couple had decided that instead of hosting their friends and family for a traditional banquet reception, they would feed the victims of a bloody civil war next door. The idea came from the groom’s father, who volunteers for a Turkish relief organization called Kimse Yok Mu (KYM). For the past few years, KYM has distributed daily meals to the thousands of impoverished Syrians who’ve flooded across the nearby border. He approached a representative of the organization and proposed that the family would cover part of the costs of feeding refugees for the day. His son ... was surprised by the prospect, but [was] soon won over. “When he told that to the bride she was really shocked because, you can imagine, as a bride you wouldn’t think about this — it’s all about you and your groom,” says Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM. “In southeastern Turkey there is a real culture of sharing with people in need. They love to share their food, their table, everything they have. That’s why the bride also accepted. And afterwards she was quite amazed about it.” So, they arrived at KYM’s distribution center on Thursday to spend the day serving food and taking photographs with their grateful recipients.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
When Paola Gonzalez received a phone call from RIP Medical Debt, she was certain what she heard was a mistake. A prank, maybe. The caller said a $950 hospital bill had been paid for in full. She wouldn’t have to worry about it again. “They wanted to pay a bill for me,” she said. “I was just speechless.” The 24-year-old student ... has lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. “I can’t always work,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll be fine today and sick tomorrow. It’s really amazing that people would help out like this.” Gonzalez is one of many people who have had a debt paid by RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit founded by two former debt collectors, Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico, that buys debt on the open market and then abolishes it, no strings attached. In [its first] year, the group has abolished just under $400,000. On July 4, it launched a year-long campaign to ... abolish $17.6 million of other people’s debt. It works like this: typical collection agencies will buy debts from private practices, hospitals, and other collection agencies. The buyers often [purchase] a debt for pennies on the dollar while charging the debtor the full amount, plus additional fees. Antico and Ashton are plugged into the same marketplace. They buy the debt for around one percent of the amount it's worth. Then, they forgive it. Ashton worked in the debt collections business for more than 30 years. The industry treated debts as “commodities” and sold them for a profit while the debtor struggled to pay off the full amount. “That I find to be unconscionable,” says Ashton.
Note: Ashton was inspired to rethink debt by Rolling Jubilee, a program that came out of the Occupy Wall Street movement which similarly abolishes student loan debt.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded their gourmet ice creamery in 1978 ... to make the world’s best ice cream, to run a financially successful company and to “make the world a better place.” When Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods conglomerate, offered to buy the company in 2000 for a rich 25 percent premium ... they worried that Unilever would abandon the progressive aspects of the business. But as a public corporation, Ben & Jerry’s had a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. It agreed to a deal. Very quickly, some of their worst fears were realized. A production plant and a distribution center were shuttered. Sales representatives at headquarters were fired. But today ... Ben & Jerry’s [remains] as mission-driven as ever. The recipe for this amicable partnership was written into the acquisition agreement. Unilever established an “external board” charged with overseeing Ben & Jerry’s culture and social mission [that] does not report to any authority other than itself, nominates its own members, has the right to sue Unilever and will exist in perpetuity. Even with the external board in place, a question remained: How many of Ben & Jerry’s ambitious initiatives could a multinational like Unilever reasonably be expected to support? The answer, it turned out, was most of them. The company now offers its lowest-paid workers more than twice the national minimum wage. It uses only cage-free eggs. And recently, Ben & Jerry’s became a B Corporation, [to certify its] high social and environmental standards.
Green rooftops will soon be sprouting up across France, thanks to a new law passed in March. New buildings in the country’s commercial zones - think shops, offices, and restaurants - must now have either solar panels or green roofs, meaning a growing medium such as soil and a covering of vegetation. The new rooftop vegetation will provide habitat for birds, absorb airborne pollutants, [retain] rainwater, and reduce the urban heat island effect whereby high concentrations of concrete buildings and asphalt increase air temperature. Green roofs could even improve worker productivity, with a recent study by the University of Melbourne finding that participants who took a 40-second break to look at a green roof were more focused and accurate when they got back to work compared to those who viewed a concrete roof. Similar green-roof bylaws exist in various cities around the world, including Tokyo, Toronto, Copenhagen, and Zurich. In Toronto ... all commercial and large residential buildings built since 2009 have been required to have at least 20 percent green-roof coverage. In Copenhagen and Zurich all new flat roofs, both private and public, must be vegetated. And since 2001, all new buildings in Tokyo larger than about 11,000 square feet are required to have at least 20 percent usable green-roof space. However, France is the first to introduce such legislation country-wide. The new law means that France’s urban and industrial skylines might look more like New York City’s booming rooftop farms and less like a concrete jungle.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring photos of innovative green roofs at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Leonard Campanello ... posts frequent “Gloucester Police Chief Updates” to the police department’s Facebook page. “Since January of this year, we have responded to dozens of opiate-related overdoses and, unfortunately, the City has seen 4 deaths in this time that are heroin related,” he wrote [on March 6], adding: “4 deaths is 4 too many.” He continued: “If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.” The post collected 1,226 “likes” and more page views than there were people in the city. The community, he said, was hungry for different ideas. “The war on drugs is over,” Campanello said in an interview. “And we lost. There is no way we can arrest our way out of this. We’ve been trying that for 50 years. The only thing that has happened is heroin has become cheaper and more people are dying.” He now wanted to turn Gloucester’s police station into an oasis of amnesty in the drug addict’s perilous world. No heroin addict who entered the police seeking help — unless they had outstanding warrants — would face charges or arrest. Even if they toted their drugs and paraphernalia. Instead, they would get help. In another Facebook post in early May, he laid it out. Things then happened fast. The force opened a non-profit called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. So far, Campanello said, 109 addicts have sought help at the police station.
Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday joined an initiative that will require its Florida tomato suppliers to increase farmworker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault, among other things. The nation's largest retailer became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by ... the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. "Through this collaboration, not only will thousands of hard-working farmworkers see concrete improvements to their lives, but millions of consumers will learn about the Fair Food Program and of a better way to buy fruits and vegetables grown and harvested here in the U.S," said Cruz Salacio, a spokesman for the Coalition. Florida tomato suppliers in the Fair Food Program pass on to their buyers a penny-per-pound of tomatoes pay increase for farmworkers. They also must have zero tolerance for forced labor and sexual assault and put in place a mechanism for resolving labor disputes between growers and farmworkers. The program also requires growers to allow farmworkers to form health and safety committees on each farm. Growers in compliance earn a "Participating Grower" designation, and if they lose the designation through violations, they won't be able to sell their tomatoes to the participating buyers, such as Wal-Mart. "This signifies a tremendous change," Lucas Benitez, a coalition leader, said of Wal-Mart's participation.
Note: Read more on this inspiring initiative.
Alice Herz-Sommer is known for her grace and wisdom. The 109-year-old, who is the oldest living pianist and Holocaust survivor, is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational people in the world. Now, a documentary called "The Lady In Number 6" is telling her incredible story from beginning to end - but just the 11-minute preview in itself is amazing enough. "Every day in life is beautiful," Herz-Sommer says in the video above. The 38-minute-long documentary is directed by Malcolm Clarke and produced by Nicholas Reed and has already been shortlisted for the Academy Awards' documentary short subject category, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Kids all over the world grow up on superheroes," Reed writes on the documentary's website. "What we, their parents, must remind them, is documentaries tell stories about ‘real superheroes.' Superheroes are based on great people, real people, like Alice Herz Sommer.” Despite everything she's been through, Herz-Sommer insists that she's never hated the Nazis and never will. "I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times - including my husband, my mother and my beloved son," she says on the documentary's website. "Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.”
When George Denny hired a 24-year-old nanny to care for his three children in 1996, the successful private equity investor ... wasn’t expecting to gain a future business partner. But Barbara Mattaliano was certain that a wild rice farm Denny owned in California had big commercial potential. We can create a niche brand of wild rice, she told him, and it will sell. Slowly, he came around. In 2009 they started Goose Valley Natural Foods to sell the rice grown on Denny’s 6,700-acre farm in Shasta County. Today, Goose Valley claims to be the world’s largest producer of organic and natural wild rice, harvesting between 5 million and 6 million pounds annually. As founding partner, Mattaliano earns a six-figure salary and owns a piece of the company. Just over a decade ago, she was cobbling together an income of about $17,000 working as a nanny and rotating through several part-time jobs. She [had] cut short her college education after being severely injured. For years, Denny had been content to sell his rice to SunWest Foods, a California company that buys and processes the rice from over 300 farmers. But Mattaliano had a different idea. She saw an opportunity to cash in on the growing popularity of natural and organic foods ... and kept pushing her idea to Denny. “I told him that in all this time at the ranch in the summers I learned the agriculture end of the business,” she said. The turning point came [once Denny admitted], “This is not just Barbara pestering me — this could be a nice business opportunity.”
It is every kid's worst nightmare and six-year-old Jaden Hayes has lived it - twice. First he lost his dad when he was four and then last month his mom died unexpectedly in her sleep. Jaden is understandably heartbroken. "Anybody can die, just anybody," he said. But there's another side to his grief. A side he first made public a few weeks ago when he told his aunt, and now guardian, Barbara DiCola, that he was sick and tired of seeing everyone sad all the time. And he had a plan to fix it. Jaden asked his aunt Barbara to buy a bunch of little toys and bring him to downtown Savannah, Georgia near where he lives, so he could give them away. "I'm trying to make people smile," said Jaden. [He] targets people who aren't already smiling and then turns their day around. He's gone out on four different occasions now and he is always successful. Even if sometimes he doesn't get exactly the reaction he was hoping for. It is just so overwhelming to some people that a six-year-old orphan would give away a toy - expecting nothing in return - except a smile. Of course he is paid handsomely in hugs -- and his aunt says the reactions have done wonders for Jaden. "It's like sheer joy came out of this child," said Barbara. "And the more people that he made smile, the more this light shone." Jaden says that's mostly true. "But I'm still sad my mom died," he said. This is by no means a fix, but in the smiles he's made so far -- nearly 500 at last count -- Jaden has clearly found a purpose. "I'm counting on it to be 33,000," said Jaden.
Most people ... don't tap into their full empathic potential. The good news is that almost everyone can learn to be more empathic, just like we can learn to ride a bike or drive a car. A good warm up is to do a quick assessment of your empathic abilities. Neuropsychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has devised a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes in which you are shown 36 pairs of eyes and have to choose one of four words that best describes what each person is feeling or thinking. Going a step further, there are three simple but powerful strategies for unleashing the empathic potential that is latent in our neural circuitry: 1. Make a habit of "radical listening" ... to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment. Let people have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. 2. Look for the human behind everything ... by developing an awareness of all those individuals hidden behind the surface of our daily lives, on whom we may depend in some way. Who is driving the train? Vacuuming the office floor? Stacking the supermarket shelves? Such mindful awareness ... can spark empathic action on the behalf of others. 3. Become curious about strangers. Having conversations with strangers opens up our empathic minds. We can not only meet fascinating people but also challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have about others based on their appearance, accents or backgrounds.
Note: Learn about the world's first Empathy Museum, which is launching in the UK in late 2015.
One of the stories that inspired bestselling author Susan Casey’s new book on the intricate world of dolphins, Voices in the Ocean, is almost too beautiful to be believed. A biologist named Maddalena Bearzi was studying a group of dolphins off the coast of Los Angeles when she noticed something strange. The “pod” (group of dolphins) had just landed upon a herd of sardines. They were about to start feeding when one, unexpectedly, darted off. The rest followed, swimming full speed out to sea. When she reached them, three miles offshore, the pod had a formed a circle - in the middle of it, a girl’s floating body. Very near death, the girl had a plastic bag with her identification and a suicide note wrapped around her neck. With the dolphins' help, she was saved. The first dolphins lived on land. It took them 25 million years to adapt to being in the water. Their bodies shrank and their teeth shrank and their brains got big. They did all kinds of shape-shifting evolutionarily. Their brains grew significantly. It’s fascinating because scientists don’t know why. Most scientists’ main guess is that it was due to their changing social behavior. How did the dolphin know the girl was there? That’s the big question. They don’t rely on vision. I suspect it had something to do with frequency and vibration but of course that’s a guess. We don’t know. They tend to treat us the way they would treat other dolphins. By themselves, they’re vulnerable - to sharks, getting lost, all these things. So when you see dolphins together there is constant touching. They know how to help each other.
In much of the developing world, the electrical grid is a rickety, unreliable tangle of wires — if it exists at all. So starting quietly last year, SolarCity created a charity that installs solar arrays, complete with battery packs, at rural schools in developing countries. The GivePower Foundation has lit nearly 1,000 schools so far in Africa and Central America, a number expected to top 1,500 by the end of this year. Each solar and battery system is designed to generate and store enough electricity to light the schools for ... extending class hours. Students and community members can also use the systems to recharge their cell phones, increasingly popular in areas that never had widespread landline phone service. Hayes Barnard, GivePower’s president, says, “In certain parts of the world, there are opportunities to use renewable energy from the get-go. You don’t have to fight the status quo that’s been established around dirty energy.” The foundation aims to light one school for every megawatt of solar power SolarCity installs in the United States (a megawatt is roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 American homes in any given instant). Next up: lighting 200 schools in Nepal, as part of the country’s recovery efforts from this spring’s devastating earthquake. Barnard will participate in that installation project himself. SolarCity recruits its own employees to do much of the installation work abroad, offering the work trips as an incentive for outstanding job performance.
Many 16-year-olds might covet a smartphone. Ronald Hennig just wanted a suit so he could attend a relative's funeral. The teenager ... was living in a group home at the time. His caseworker was unable to justify the nonessential expense. But an anonymous benefactor stepped in to help Hennig through a website called One Simple Wish. "I was able to go to the funeral," said Hennig, now 18. "I could pay the same respect as everyone else." One Simple Wish was started by Danielle Gletow to help grant the wishes of children in foster care. Each child's wish is posted online, and anyone can pay to make that wish come true - from tangible items such as a bicycle, a varsity jacket or school supplies to an experience like music lessons or a trip to the theater. Since 2008, the nonprofit has granted more than 6,500 wishes for children living in 42 states. More than 400,000 children were living in the U.S. foster-care system in 2011. "The wishes that don't seem like the basic necessity are (often) the ones that are the most important," Gletow said. "Because those are the wishes that are really just a kid being a kid. We don't want to constantly remind them of how sad or tragic or challenging their circumstances are. Anybody can go on our website, and they can look at hundreds of wishes that are posted on behalf of children in foster care and children in vulnerable family environments," Gletow said. "These small things make an enormous difference in the life of a child who has spent their entire life wondering if anybody cares about them."
In neurosurgical training ... six years passed in a flash. Then, heading into chief residency, I developed a classic constellation of symptoms — weight loss, fevers, night sweats, unremitting back pain, cough — indicating a diagnosis quickly confirmed: metastatic lung cancer. The gears of time ground down. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest. Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. My daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past. That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.
GiveDirectly has a straightforward approach to helping the world's poorest people: just give them cash, no strings attached. The New York-based nonprofit has distributed about $1,000 — roughly a year's income — to thousands of ultra-poor households in Kenya and Uganda. Recipients don't need to pay back the money, and they can spend it however they wish. This might seem like a radical idea, but it's not. Cash transfers have quietly become one of the most widely researched and consistently effective anti-poverty strategies in the developing world. Now GiveDirectly's work is receiving a major boost from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, who on Monday announced a $25 million donation through their foundation Good Ventures. The gift is greater than GiveDirectly's entire 2014 budget. "Governments and donors spend tens of billions of dollars a year on reducing poverty," Tuna said in a statement, "but the people who are meant to benefit from that money rarely get a say in how it’s spent. GiveDirectly is changing that." Moskovitz and Tuna, both in their early 30s, are among the youngest billionaires to pledge the bulk of their fortune to charity. Their goal isn't just to do good, but to do the most good possible. That goal led them to support exhaustive research to determine which organizations working in poor countries are most effective and cost-efficient. That research, in turn, led them to GiveDirectly - the only nonprofit focused exclusively on cash transfers.
Before my freshman year of high school started ... my friend's car hit a guardrail with me inside. The railing amputated my leg instantly. Several years ago, more of my leg had to be amputated. Not only did this make it harder to wear a prosthetic, but it became a lot more expensive. In February of 2013, my life was forever changed when I attended the Executive Assistant Organization's Behind Every Leader event. During the conference, a sweet lady by the name of Alisson Frew dared to ask me why I did not wear a prosthetic. My short and simple answer was, "I don't have sixty thousand dollars. Do you?" The next morning I was in tears as I learned that Alisson had talked with Jeff Hoffman, founder of Priceline and mentor to GiveForward.com, along with a dozen other people, in order to help me get a prosthetic. From the first step, it was apparent to me just how much this would mean. A few days after I received the leg, I wrapped my son in my arms and experienced our first of many dances. This seemingly simple moment is forever ingrained into my heart. For the first time in my life, I was not only confident but I was empowered! I yearned to help those around me. In ... 2014, I started modelling. My dream is that one day a little girl will see me on a poster at her favorite clothing store and say, "Wow, she is beautiful, and she only has one leg. I could do that too someday, even though I have a disability." My dream is simple: to inspire every man, woman, and child into knowing and believing that they are beautiful just the way they are.
Note: Watch Marina's inspiring thank-you video to Behind Every Leader.