Cross in the Closet: Straight Christian Lives a Year as Gay Man
2012-10-11, ABC News
Posted: 2012-10-16 10:37:45
In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God's wrath in the Biblical story of "Sodom and Gomorrah," and he believed that homosexuality was a sin. But about four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her. He wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called "spiritual espionage." He would live like a gay man for a year. Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, The Cross in the Closet. Only three people knew the truth, and he needed them to carry out his audacious project: his closest friend, an aunt and Shawn, a gay friend whom Kurek also met at karaoke night. Kind-hearted Shawn, whom Kurek described as "a big black burly teddy bear," became his "pretend boyfriend." But most of all, Shawn was the "first gay person that I let into my heart," said Kurek. "He was totally there for me through emotional turmoil ... I trusted him." Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally from Memphis ... said she was "proud" of him. "The transformation in him was life-changing," she said. "It's what you hope for -- the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It's enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is."
Note: For more on this amazing story, click here.
Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife
2012-10-08, Daily Beast/Newsweek
Posted: 2012-10-16 10:36:27
As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states—is there. It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial. “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” “You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.”
Note: The author of this stirring account, Dr. Eben Alexander, has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His engaging book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.
Sir Nicholas Winton, the 'British Schindler', meets the Holocaust survivors he helped save
2009-09-04, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2012-10-16 10:34:51
By virtue of the foresight, humanity and sheer bloody-mindedness of a young British stockbroking clerk called Nicholas Winton, 669 Jewish children were saved from the clutches of the Nazis. On Friday, 22 of them were reunited with their 100-year-old saviour – now Sir Nicholas – who has come to be known as the 'British Schindler'. Between March and August 1939 eight trains carried 669 children to Britain, who otherwise would probably have perished in the death camps. Fifteen thousand Czechoslovakian children died in the war. The ninth train, containing 250 children, was due to leave Prague on 3 September 1939, the day Britain declared war. The Germans never let it leave the station, and most of the children never lived to see 1945. Almost as remarkable as the scheme itself, and a mark of Sir Nicholas's modesty, was that he chose to conceal his achievements for decades.
It was only when he wife Greta unearthed a briefcase in the attic contained lists of the children he saved and letters to the parents did he admit his part.
He said in 1999: "My wife didn't know about it for 40 years after our marriage, but there are all kinds of things you don't talk about even with your family. "Everything that happened before the war actually didn't feel important in the light of the war itself." He also rejected the comparison with Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,200 Jews in the war, saying unlike the German his actions never put him in danger.
Note: For a touching, short video on this amazing story, click here. To listen to the story on NPR, click here.
Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness
Posted: 2012-10-09 09:17:31
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. But Bhutan, which has only 700,000 people — most of whom are farmers — has another shot at international fame if it can make good on a recent pledge to become the first country in the world to convert to a 100 percent organic agricultural system. [In June] at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said his government is developing a National Organic Policy because the country's farmers are increasingly convinced that "by working in harmony with nature, they can help sustain the flow of nature's bounties." Andre Leu, an Australian adviser to the Bhutanese government and the president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, says it's very doable. "I don't think it's going to be that difficult given that the majority of the agricultural land is already organic by default," Leu [said]. The Ministry of Agriculture says the organic program, launched in 2007, is not just about protecting the environment. It will also train farmers in new methods that will help them grow more food and move the country closer to self-sufficiency. The ministry is now training extension workers in organic methods and giving farmers who go organic priority for government assistance.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.
'Psychic' parrot expected to ruffle scientific feathers
2001-02-12, USA Today
Posted: 2012-10-09 09:14:29
N'Kisi may look like an ordinary Congo African gray parrot, but she's the subject of a series of telepathy experiments by a former Cambridge University researcher who says the results are "astounding." "The parrot seems to be able to pick up her owner's thoughts with an amazing degree of accuracy," says Rupert Sheldrake, a former Royal Society researcher at Cambridge and author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals. N'Kisi's owner, Aimee Morgana of Manhattan, ... says she first noticed N'Kisi's psychic abilities when she saw an explicit picture in the Village Voice personals. "I was thinking, 'Wow, that's a pretty naturalistic work.' " Then, she says, N'Kisi spoke from the parrot's cage across the room: "Oh, look at the pretty naked body." Sheldrake was interested. He explored N'Kisi's psychic abilities using a double-blind test. He asked Morgana to look at photographs in one room while the parrot was in a cage in another. One camera videotaped Morgana looking at photographs, another camera about 55 feet away videotaped the parrot, who made comments that seemed to correspond to many of the photos Morgana was looking at. N'Kisi made 123 comments during the test sessions, and 32 of those were "direct hits" corresponding to the images Morgana was looking at. The chances of that occurring, Sheldrake says, are less than 1 in a billion. Telepathy is made possible, he says, by the emotional bonds between people and animals. "In the case of N'Kisi, there's a very strong connection between her and Aimee."
Note: For a nine-minute video of this fascinating experiment, click here. For a sample of N'Kisi talking, click here. For a brilliant lecture by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, the above-mentioned researcher, questioning the rigid dogmas of the current scientific paradigm, click here.
Pot compound seen as tool against cancer
2012-09-18, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-09-25 08:33:24
Marijuana, already shown to reduce pain and nausea in cancer patients, may be promising as a cancer-fighting agent against some of the most aggressive forms of the disease. A growing body of early research shows a compound found in marijuana - one that does not produce the plant's psychotropic high - seems to have the ability to "turn off" the activity of a gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers. Two scientists at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute first released data five years ago that showed how this compound - called cannabidiol - reduced the aggressiveness of human breast cancer cells in the lab. "The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana - called cannabinoids - as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade. Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, [a] group that works to raise awareness of the scientific promise of the compound, described the cannabidiol research as potent both as a medicine and a myth buster. "It debunks the idea that medicinal marijuana is really about people wanting to get stoned," said Lee, author of Smoke Signals, a book published last month about the medical and social history of marijuana. "Why do they want it when it doesn't even get them high?"
Note: For an educational, 45-minute documentary on this topic titled "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?," click here. For an informative 15-minute documentary on the health benefits of juicing raw cannabis, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.
Global Social Benefit Incubator still strong
2012-09-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-09-18 08:53:18
Shivani Siroya was one of 19 entrepreneurs at this year's Global Social Benefit Incubator who have been undergoing a critical evaluation from this group, whose members also include venture capitalists and experts in social enterprise. Beyond building successful enterprises, the incubator wants ones that alleviate social needs. "People are not going to give money to you indefinitely, even if you're doing some good in the world. So we have to help these entrepreneurs develop sound business models that will flourish and last," said Eric Carlson, director of the incubator and dean's executive professor in the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. This year's gathering brought together more than 150 mentors, who will continue to work with these enterprises into the fall. One is Jeff Miller, former director of Santa Clara's Center for Science, Technology and Society. He's been an adviser since the program's inception and sees one common thread in many of the young people. "They have such huge, wonderful, passionate visions of how to change the world in energy, water, education and more. But they lack focus. So we encourage them to look at an area that they can focus on and make an impact. This can be a particular demographic or region, which makes for a more concentrated effort." Impact investing, an emerging field for social effect as well as monetary return, has been gaining prominence. But Miller and Carlson are cautious, noting that the area needs to mature and develop an infrastructure. Yet it's quickly become a topic of discussion at the incubator.
Note: For information on microlending, one of the highest impact forms of investing for eliminating poverty in our world while still gaining interest on investment, click here.
Ernestine Shepherd: The 75-year-old bodybuilding grandma
2012-06-10, BBC News
Posted: 2012-09-18 08:51:25
The world's oldest female bodybuilder wakes up every day at 02:30 to fit in a 10 mile (16km) run before hitting the gym. But 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd insists that "age is nothing but a number". "Miss Ernie", as she is known in the world of competitive bodybuilding, began training at the tender age of 71. She says her true calling in life, however, is helping others to follow a more healthy lifestyle. The BBC caught up with her at an exercise class at her church in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland, to find out why she started bodybuilding.
Note: Click on the link above to watch an amazing three-minute video with this inspiring grandmother.
The 13-year-old who has the world planting trees
2011-04-29, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2012-09-18 08:50:04
At the age of nine, Felix Finkbeiner hatched a plan to plant a million trees in his native Germany. Now he's a global eco-superhero. Felix, from the unremarkable town of Pöcking, near Munich, is an environmental superstar at the helm of a global network of child activists whose aim is to mitigate climate change by reforesting the planet. His organisation, Plant for the Planet, recently achieved its target of planting one million trees in Germany; now, Felix is spreading his message around the world. Plant for the Planet is up and running in 131 countries, and the British chapter was established last month, with the aim of planting a million trees here over the next few years. Individuals or planting groups can either 'pledge’ to plant a certain number of trees or make a cash donation – €1 buys one tree. The results are logged on the Plant for the Planet website. Plant for the Planet started as a school project four years ago. 'I was supposed to give a presentation on a Monday,’ Felix says, 'so over the weekend I Googled stuff on climate change and came across Wangari Maathai’s campaign.’ Maathai, the daughter of Kenyan farmworkers..., began her own tree-planting campaign, the Green Belt Movement, in 1977 as a method of tackling soil erosion and encouraging local communities, particularly women, to stand up for themselves, not only environmentally but also politically. In 2004, 45 million trees later, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. 'She achieved so much with so little,’ Felix says. 'So I had the idea that we children could also do something.’
Note: For inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience?
2011-08-03, ABC News Nightline
Posted: 2012-09-11 10:38:09
What does a NDE look and feel like? There are thousands upon thousands of descriptions, all of which show striking similarities between different people's experiences -- the white light, a tunnel, a life review and sense of peace -- so there does seem to exist a unifying thread throughout. Caroline Myss, a best-selling author and a speaker on spirituality and health, focuses on the first explanation. "A near-death experience is a phenomenon in which a person's physical body ceases to have any signs of life, and the soul detaches from the body and begins what could be called the journey into the afterlife. ... A long tunnel of light begins to appear. ... What's so phenomenal is that the descriptions [people] give, no matter what culture, no matter what background, match the ancient descriptions ... from various cultures. So if these experiences were in fact made up or hallucinatory, somebody did a very good job of getting that information out to multiple cultures at the same time." Dr. Jeffrey Long runs the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. He defines the physical conditions of someone having a NDE as "unconscious ... or actually clinically dead, with absent heartbeat and no spontaneous respiration. ... And yet when they shouldn't have any conscious remembering at this time, they do. ... While no two NDEs are the same, if you study large numbers of NDEs you see that very consistent pattern of elements."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on NDE's, click here.
Ari Hallmark’s Story: To Heaven After the Storm
2012-05-07, WHNT-TV (Huntsville, Alabama CBS affiliate)
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:51:52
Ari Hallmark could be one of the most remarkable 7-year-olds you will ever meet. Somewhere between gymnastics and finishing up the first grade, she’s managed to become an author. What adds to Ari’s remarkable story is the subject of her book, titled To Heaven, After the Storm. On April 27th of last year, Ari, along with her mom and dad, Shane and Jennifer Hallmark, her grandparents, Phillip and Ann Hallmark and her two cousins, Jayden and Julie, sought shelter in a bathroom to ride out an EF-4 tornado that came through the Ruth community of Marshall County.
Her book talks about it all. Only she and her cousin Julie survived. However, Ari says for a while, she joined her family members in Heaven. She describes in vivid detail seeing her father Shane, who had been bald all of her life, with hair. She writes that, “my daddy did not have his glasses.” She says an angel came to her and told her it was time to go back. She says she then remembers waking up in a field near the house. The proceeds from Ari’s book will help a ministry for other children dealing with death. Her therapist suggested the idea. “She’s was like, ‘Hey, let’s make a book. And do it to help other kids’,” Ari says.
Note: For more on the beautiful story of how this seven-year old girl foresaw her family's death in a tornado and went through an inspiring near-death experience, click here. For many other most inspiring stories of near-death experiences, click here.
Jessica Cox pilots her own course
2012-08-23, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:48:47
She can put on contact lenses, drive a car and sign her name - all with her feet - but Jessica Cox's biggest accomplishment may be up in the air. The 29-year-old Arizona native and Tucson resident was born without arms as a result of a rare birth defect, yet she got her pilot's license in 2008 and made the 2011 Guinness World Records for being the world's first licensed armless pilot. "It was tough being different growing up. For me it was a challenge to go to public school and always be stared at," Cox said. "I had a choice to embrace that part of my life or avoid it." So she chose to not hide behind long-sleeve sweaters and instead took up surfing, scuba diving and tae kwon do (she is a black belt), and conquered her biggest fear - flying. Like other tasks, she pilots with her feet. Cox is the subject of a documentary being filmed about her life and accomplishments, titled "Rightfooted." A trailer for the film can be seen at rightfooted.com/movie. In the trailer, Cox is seen as a girl with prosthetic arms as she explains that she was called "hook" and "robot girl" growing up. She is later seen wearing her favorite flying shirt, which reads, "Look Ma, no hands!" "I remember that as a child I always wanted to fly like Superwoman over my playground because I was so angry about how limited I was," she says during the trailer. "With the documentary, I will be able to reach millions of people to say it's OK to be different," Cox said in an interview.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Grandmother helping Chicago kids 'off the block'
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:46:40
In Roseland, one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, many residents stay off the streets to protect themselves from rampant gang violence. But one grandmother opened her door and invited gang members to come inside. "They say I'm a nut because I let kids into my home who I didn't even know," said Diane Latiker, 54. "But I know (the kids) now. And I'll know the new generation." Since 2003, Latiker has gotten to know more than 1,500 young people through her nonprofit community program, Kids Off the Block. "I invited them into my living room," she said. "They all started saying: 'I want to be a doctor. I want to be a rapper. I want to be a singer.' They didn't want to be out here running up and down the street. They wanted to be involved in something." Latiker told them her house was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They could come over for food, or homework help, or just to talk about their hopes, dreams and fears. Kids Off the Block was born. "We've had six gangs in my living room at one time. ... But that was the safe place. And you know what? They respected that." As Latiker began to see positive change in many of the kids, she quit her job as a cosmetologist to focus on them full-time. She set up tutoring sessions with teachers and retired educators. She provided job interview training and opportunities to play football, basketball and soccer. Latiker and volunteers also started taking the kids on field trips to museums, movies, skating rinks, water parks and professional sports games.
Note: For lots more on this amazing woman and her great work, click here.
The Politics of Happiness
2004-05-20, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:45:05
We really have to admit that over the past 100 years we have been building cities much more for mobility than for people's well-being. Every year thousands of children are killed by cars. Isn't it time we build cities that are more child-friendly? Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people. When I was elected mayor of Bogotá and got to city hall, I was handed a transportation study that said the most important thing the city could do was to build an elevated highway at a cost of $600 million. Instead, we installed a bus system that carries 700,000 people a day at a cost of $300 million. We created hundreds of pedestrian-only streets, parks, plazas, and bike paths, planted trees, and got rid of cluttering commercial signs. We constructed the longest pedestrian-only street in the world. It may seem crazy, because this street goes through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá, and many of the surrounding streets aren't even paved. But we chose not to improve the streets for the sake of cars, but instead to have wonderful spaces for pedestrians. All this pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity. We're telling people, “You are important—not because you're rich or because you have a Ph.D., but because you are human.” If people are treated as special, as sacred even, they behave that way. This creates a different kind of society.
Note: For more on the amazing work of Enrique Peñalosa, click here. For the highly inspiring story of Mayor Antanas Mockus, also of Bogotá, click here.
2012-09-01, The Intelligent Optimist (formerly Ode Magazine)
Posted: 2012-08-28 09:10:59
In 2006, after a less than illustrious career in the restaurant business, 31-year-old Ben Zempel got a job with wholesaler Costco. That wouldn’t be remarkable in itself, but Zempel has Down syndrome. Since he got the job, he’s happier than ever, according to his mom, Jane. It’s not just employees with a disability—all 163,000 people on Costco’s payroll around the world can count on extraordinary amounts of attention. They’re better paid than competitors’ staff, management solicits their input on store strategy, and full- and part-time workers alike enjoy complete health insurance coverage. It all adds up to low turnover: Just 6 percent of employees decide to leave the company after more than a year. In fact, after 20 Costco staff from Melville, New York, won a $200 million lottery prize last year, only one of them quit—not because of the unexpected fortune but because at 73, he figured it was time to retire. More and more businesses are beginning to realize, as Costco has, that it pays to invest in people. Strikingly, it’s companies that put staff at the top of the list that seem to be doing best. Costco ended 2010 and 2011—tough years for most companies—with hefty profits.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.
The women of India's Barefoot College bring light to remote villages
2011-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2012-08-21 09:40:05
Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.
Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.
USDA: Number of Farmers Markets up Due to Demand
2012-08-03, ABC News/Associated Press
Posted: 2012-08-14 09:02:45
As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced ... that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the past year, with California and New York leading the way. After 18 years of steady increases, the number of farmers markets across the country now registered with the USDA is 7,864. In 1994, there were 1,744. Organizations such as Slow Food, founded in 1989 to counter fast-food, junk-food lifestyles, first ignited consumer demand for fresh, local produce. Some markets are so popular that there are wait lists for farmers to sell there, including one of the largest and most diverse of all, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Farmers from across the region travel there three days a week to sell fruits, vegetables and artisan breads and cheeses to thousands of shoppers, including top chefs from the food-centric city. Operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the iconic market on the San Francisco Bay is celebrating its 20th birthday. "When we started there were only three markets in the city, and now there are 29," said Liz Hunt, a center spokeswoman.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Gore Vidal, 1925-2012: Prolific, Elegant, Acerbic Writer
2012-08-01, New York Times
Posted: 2012-08-07 10:36:46
Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on [July 31]. He was 86. The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy. Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate. Some of his political positions were ... provocative. Mr. Vidal was an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he wrote an essay for Vanity Fair arguing that America had brought the attacks upon itself by maintaining imperialist foreign policies. In another essay, for The Independent, he compared the [9/11] attacks to the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, arguing that both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush knew of them in advance and exploited them to advance their agendas.
Note: Gore Vidal was very outspoken on his belief that 9/11 was an inside job, yet the media give this very light coverage in discussing his career. For a video clip of Vidal recommending The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin, which reveals a major 9/11 cover-up, click here.
Unleashing the power of real girls
2012-07-17, Washington Post
Posted: 2012-07-31 10:21:27
A 14-year-old Maine girl named Julia Bluhm [has] mobilized more than 80,000 supporters to lobby Seventeen [magazine] to commit to [a] modest goal: printing one photo spread per issue without an unaltered image. Bluhm’s efforts are part of Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge or SPARK, a girl-fueled activist movement that is demanding an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media. In the magazine’s August issue, Seventeen editor Ann Shoket responded to the campaign with a carefully worded statement that vowed that the magazine will “never change girls’ body or face shapes” and will publish only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.” [This] represents a meaningful victory for young women seeking reality-based images in a seemingly unwinnable war against big publishing, big advertising and big fashion. Images of blemish-free cover models displaying skeletal arms, enhanced chests and disappearing waistlines are a time-honored magazine tradition. The breakthrough success of Bluhm’s campaign represents ... the beginning of a new era of female empowerment. Bluhm started her movement on the online organizing site Change.org, which allows users to share electronic petitions with their social networks. When petitions like Bluhm’s rally significant support, the site offers the additional assistance of its expert organizing staff and broad activist network. Now, with the momentum of a successful campaign, Bluhm and her peers have turned their attention to transforming the policies of other magazines, including Teen Vogue and Cosmo Girl.
Note: For a treasure trove of inspirational reports from major media sources, click here.
One Random Act of Kindness Turned $93 Into $100,000!
2010-08-27, Yahoo! News
Posted: 2012-07-24 16:20:56
Let's say you were at Trader Joe's Menlo Park, Calif., and you saw a woman standing at the checkout counter who couldn't find her wallet. Would you pick up the tab? Well, that's what Carolee Hazard did last summer. When she saw that Jenni Ware wasn't able to pay the bill because her wallet was missing, a knee-jerk reaction inspired her to hand over $207, the exact amount Ware needed for her groceries. The next day, Hazard received a check for $300 in the mail and a thank you card from Ware suggesting that she use the extra $93 dollars to get a massage. Uncomfortable with keeping the money, Hazard asked her Facebook friends what they'd do. Several suggested giving it to charity, which Carolee liked a lot, and she decided to match the money with $93 of her own. Again, she turned to her Facebook friends asking to whom should she donate the $186. Given the food connection, she decided to donate the money to her local Second Harvest Food Bank. To her great surprise, a friend added another $93. So did another and another and another! Soon the story was being posted and reposted on Facebook, inspiring others to donated as well. Thus was born the 93 Dollar Club. In just one year, the 93 Dollar Club has raised a whopping $100,000 for Second Harvest.
Note: For lots more highly inspiring articles from the major media, click here.