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 Dutch city of Utrecht ... has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays. Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful. The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country. Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt: "One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare. What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Lego just announced a bold 10-year plan to makes its goods more environmentally friendly. This comes after a 2013 partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a plan in reducing its overall carbon emissions, as well as those of its supply chain. Lego pledged to invest $150 million to find a replacement for the plastic used in its blocks as well as to reduce the size of its packaging. A commitment for this kind of strategy includes using recycled or renewed materials and improving the recyclability of its products. Hasbro and Mattel, producers of such iconic toys as Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, respectively, have also vowed to invest in this global issue. By 2020, Hasbro plans to reduce its waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also overhauling the packaging for most of its brands. These strides have led to Hasbro being named a winner of the EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award. After caving to mounting pressure from Greenpeace, Mattel committed to source new materials for its packaging, setting a goal of 85 percent recycled materials by the end of 2015. "The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit," said Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Words we should all try to live by.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In the past several months, a bevy of studies have added to a growing literature on the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. That includes recent research showing that short micro-breaks spent looking at a nature scene have a rejuvenating effect on the brain – boosting levels of attention – and also that kids who attend schools featuring more greenery fare better on cognitive tests. And Monday, yet another addition. It's a cognitive neuroscience study, meaning not only that benefits from a nature experience were captured in an experiment, but also that their apparent neural signature was observed through brain scans. 38 individuals who lived in urban areas, and who had "no history of mental disorder," were divided into two groups – and asked to take a walk. Half walked for 90 minutes through a natural area. The other half walked along a very busy road. Before and also after the walk, the participants answered a questionnaire designed to measure their tendency toward "rumination," a pattern of often negative, inward-directed thinking and questioning that has been tied to an increased risk of depression. Finally, both before and after the walk, the participants had their brains scanned. The result was that individuals who took the 90-minute nature walk showed a decrease in rumination. And their brain activity also showed a change consistent with this result. Spending time outdoors, in nature, is good for you.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Dervaes family [are] the founders of a home-based sustainable living resource center in Pasadena. [They own] one-fifth of an acre on an unassuming city block just north of the ... freeway. Yet on this relatively tiny patch of earth in the middle of the vast urban sprawl, the Dervaeses are quietly staging an ecological revolution. The Dervaeses grow their own food and preserve their own jam. They've got 12 solar panels on the roof, a biodiesel filling station in the garage and a solar oven in the backyard. Their kitchen is filled with hand-cranked appliances, but their computer room, where they operate a Web site ... that gets five million hits per month from 125 countries, is as high-tech as they come. The Dervaeses are self-declared "eco-pioneers" of the urban world. Jules Dervaes and his three adult children ... live a life that epitomizes "think globally, act locally." By turning their average city lot into a self-sustained homestead, they've ensured that their eco-footprint rarely extends beyond the bounds of their property. At the same time, they've gone global with their message, blogging ... and teaching others how to live sustainably since 2001. In a front and backyard that amount to one-tenth of an acre ... the Dervaes family now grows an average of 6,000 pounds of produce each year – nearly 400 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. They sell the majority to local caterers and restaurants. The remaining part sustains the family's vegetarian diet. The family doesn't expect everyone in a city environment to live the way they do; their hope is to inspire people to make incremental changes.
Meet Sam Tsemberis. He's all but solved chronic homelessness. His research, which commands the support of most scholars, has inspired policies across the nation. The results have been staggering. Late last month, Utah, the latest laboratory for Tsemberis's models, reported it has nearly eradicated chronic homelessness. Phoenix, an earlier test case, eliminated chronic homelessness among veterans. Then New Orleans housed every homeless veteran. Homelessness has long seemed one of the most intractable of social problems. For decades, the number of homeless from New York City to San Francisco surged – and so did the costs. At one point around the turn of the millennium, New York was spending an annual $40,500 on every homeless person with mental issues. Tsemberis ...unfurled a model so simple children could grasp it, so cost-effective fiscal hawks loved it, so socially progressive liberals praised it. Give homes for the homeless, and you will solve chronic homelessness. Success begat success. The federal government tested the model on 734 homeless across 11 cities, finding the model dramatically reduced levels of addiction as well as shrank health related costs by half. "Adults who have experienced chronic homelessness may be successfully housed and can maintain their housing," the report declared. Utah's Gordon Walker, explain[s] how his state succeeded at eliminating homelessness – and saved millions, "It was costing us in state services, health-care costs, jail time, police time, about $20,000 per person. Now, we spend $12,000 per person."
For more than 10 years, I spent hours at a time ... looking for the inner light. This meditation was how I opened myself to the divine within me. Then, one day, my brother Billy, a troubled soul and sometime drug addict, changed all that by telling me an important secret. "Being in an earthly body limits the way you perceive light. Your eyes can't see the light directly, only the things it shines upon, so the light remains invisible, just like the soul does. The light of the higher worlds makes visible what is invisible on earth: the divine nature of all things. God, or Spirit, or whatever you choose to call it, is undeniable where I am. The light rays that sparkle all around me ... erase any harm I suffered in my entire lifetime." Had Billy said these words when he was still alive, I might have thought he was experiencing drug-induced euphoria. But quite miraculously, my brother shared this with me months after he died. To sync with Billy [I tried] to emulate what he's doing up there down here. Put On Your "Divine-Colored" Glasses: 1. Close your eyes and imagine rays of light beaming into you from higher, kinder, more beautiful worlds. 2. Take a few deep breaths and with each inhalation, imagine you are breathing this divine presence filled with understanding and healing deep into your core. 3. Rest in this space for a while; float in it like a warm, soothing pool. Everything in existence, what you can and even what you can't see, is sending you light. As you practice this, over time ... you'll feel nurtured and protected. Your mind may ease up on focusing on what is "wrong" and become more attuned to the simple beauty of being alive.
Note: The author of this article wrote the popular book "The Afterlife of Billy Fingers." Explore lots of incredibly inspiring information on near-death experiences. And don't miss a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A baffling and beautiful rescue [raises] questions about the power of prayer. People are scouring some 70 photographs looking for man they swear they saw at the scene of a car accident. He prayed, a life was saved. Why did he disappear, even from the photos. It's being called the Missouri miracle. A teenager with a beautiful smile, 19-year-old Katie Lentz, trapped in her mangled car, hit by a drunk driver. And first responders trying to get her out. [The] fire chief ... was concerned, because he was out of options. The tools weren't working. While inside that car, Katie had one request, to pray with the rescuers out loud. And then, right there, amidst the rows of corn, at the scene blocked off for nearly a mile, a man appears. He was dressed with a black priest's shirt, with a white collar. He had a small little white container of anointment oil. He asked if he could anoint the girl in the car. They allowed him to do it. A sense of calmness came over her. [One firefighter said] "we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work." Moments later, it happened. A neighboring fire department arrives with a new set of stronger tools, finally able to cut through in the frame. They all turned to thank the priest, but he was gone. In fact, in all of those photos at the scene, no sign of the priest. Tonight, family and friends are grateful. Whether it was just a priest serving as an angel, or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie. Katie's mother [was] very pleased that Katie's near tragic accident provides proof to all that miracles still happen. In Katie's words, pray out loud. Everyone at the scene, touched by that stranger.
An extraordinary heart-shaped solar farm is set to be built on the Pacific island of New Caledonia. The 2MW "Heart of New Caledonia" is being built by solar company Conergy and should start producing power for 750 homes from early next year. The plant ... is expected to save around 2m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its projected 25-year lifetime and reduce the French overseas territory's dependence on oil, gas and coal. The eye-catching heart shaped installation is made up of 7,888 panels across the four-acre site on Grand Terre, New Caledonia's largest island, with the design only visible from the air. The design is inspired by the "Coeur de Voh", or "Heart of Voh", an area of nearby wild mangrove vegetation that has naturally taken the shape of a heart. The "Coeur de Voh" gained worldwide recognition thanks to the aerial photography of environmental campaigner Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the best-selling book, The Earth from Above. David McCallum, managing director of Conergy Australia, said, "The 'Coeur de Voh' is an important landmark for the people of New Caledonia, and shows just how extraordinary nature can be. The 'Heart of New Caledonia' solar plant will be its man-made double, a landmark for clean power generation. It will also probably be the world's first beautiful PV plant, and perhaps the first beautiful power station of any description, anywhere on the planet."
Note: See a photo of this beautiful solar array at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the global microfinance movement, is perhaps best known for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Yunus thinks the American Dream — or at least key components of it — is kind of a sham. “It’s the tyranny of employment,” Yunus told me. It’s not the working that he objects to. It’s the idea that so many simply aspire to work for someone else. For him, the idea of employment is the result of an artificial economic system that anoints the few as entrepreneurs and the rest of us workers. The philosophy goes to the heart of Yunus’ lifelong work in microfinance to combat poverty. Since 1997, Grameen Bank, the nonprofit financial institution he founded in Bangladesh, has lent billions of dollars to poor people, mostly women, to start their own businesses. Yunus’ ideas are incompatible with ... the venture capital model. “Some people tell me ‘Not all human beings are entrepreneurs,’” he said. “‘Some have that capability. Others do not have that capability.’ I say ‘Why do you say that? You distort them to make them workers. You already ruined them, giving their mind this idea of job.’” Is a poor woman in Bangladesh who cleans people’s homes any less of an entrepreneur than Mark Zuckerberg? The only difference is that Facebook got millions of dollars in venture capital whereas the woman received a $5 loan from Grameen Bank to buy a vacuum cleaner and a mop. There is no such bank for poor people in America to start businesses, let alone open a savings and checking account.
Note: Read more on the empowering microcredit movement and the inspiring work of Muhammad Yunus.
On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said a woman will be featured on a redesigned $10 bill in 2020 - the 100th anniversary of the Constitution's 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. A decision on who the woman will be won't be made for several months. The last woman on U.S. paper currency was Martha Washington, who was on the $1 Silver Certificate between 1891 and 1896. "We have only made changes to the faces on our currency a few times since bills were first put into circulation, and I'm proud that the new 10 will be the first bill in more than a century to feature the portrait of a woman," Lew said. The department will launch a website, and is asking for input over social media with the hashtag #TheNew10. Lew wants the next generation of U.S. currency to underscore the theme of American democracy. The portrait must also be of someone who is no longer living. Hamilton, who was the nation's first treasury secretary, has been on the $10 bill since 1929. Bills are flagged for updates mainly for security reasons, Lew said. It was a "happy coincidence" that a push to put a woman on American money happened as the $10 note came under consideration. Lew said Hamilton will also be a part of the new design. He said it's up for discussion whether Hamilton will appear alongside a woman or be the centerpiece of one version of the new bill.
What if there were an alternative corporate model ... that was still globally competitive but empowered local workers and addresses income inequality? Mondragon Corporation [is] a federation of 103 worker-owned cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. The corporation employs more than 74,000 people around the world. About 60,000 are worker-owners. Managers at Mondragon cannot make more than six times the salary of their lowest paid workers. YES! talked with Josu Ugarte, the president of Mondragon International. UGARTE: We combine economic issues with social ones. Apart from sharing profits, ownership, and management, we have three key values: solidarity, inter-cooperation, and social transformation. Our solidarity in terms of salaries changes the distribution of wealth in society. If the Basque region in Spain were a country, it would have the second-lowest income inequality in the world. This is social transformation. One thing I want to point out is that we’re a business, so we need to remain competitive. If we don’t do that, then we cannot create and share value. There are differences in the profitability of different companies within Mondragon. For example, if one company is turning a profit every year, then they are giving 30 percent of that profit to Mondragon. [If] another company gives nothing because they are not making a profit, [then] that can seem unfair. But the company that is successful today may have needed help 20 years ago. That is ... one of the keys of our success.
Ahh, chocolate. There probably isn't a more magical ingredient on earth than the sweet, dark brown flavoring used for more than 3,000 years. Today most chocolate is consumed in the form of candy. Common sense tells us that too much of something so fatty and full of calories is a bad thing. But a surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome. The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal "dose" for chocolate eating? A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is - a lot. Those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection. The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.
Kyle Schwartz teaches third grade at Doull Elementary in Denver. In a bid to build trust between her and her students, Schwartz thought up a lesson plan called "I Wish My Teacher Knew." For the activity, Schwartz's third graders jot down a thought for their teacher, sharing something they'd like her to know about them. "I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously," she says. "I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know. "Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, 'I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencils at home to do my homework.' I care deeply about each and every one of my students and I don't want any of them to have to suffer the consequences of living in poverty." Blown away by her class' honesty, Schwartz shared some of the notes on Twitter using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, encouraging fellow teachers to employ the same lesson with their own students. "After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, 'we got your back.' The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls. Not only can I support my students, but my students can support each other." Schwartz says she also hopes her lesson can help her connect students and their families with the proper resources they need to live comfortably.
Note: Read another inspiring article on this great idea.
For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates. It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life. The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more. The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed. Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this - the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network. At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women. For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge.
Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Whenever we debate similar measures in the U.S. - marijuana decriminalization, for instance - many drug-policy makers predict dire consequences. But in Portugal, the ... prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down. Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union. Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the U.K., all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The E.U. average is 17.3 per million. Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of ... so-called "synthetic" marijuana, "bath salts" and the like is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.
Note: Portugal's inspiring approach has contributed to public health outcomes that starkly contrast U.S. trends.
Pope Francis has created a church tribunal to judge bishops who fail to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the Vatican announced Wednesday, a move long sought by abuse victims and their advocates. The new court will be part of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church's chief watchdog. Since 2001, the congregation has judged priests accused of sexual abuse, but there has been no Vatican office with a similar role to judge bishops. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the Pope will appoint a secretary and permanent staff for the tribunal. Longtime critics of the Vatican called Wednesday's move a "sea change" within the Catholic Church. "Priests abuse children, and so do bishops," said Terence McKiernan, president of the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. "Bishops who offend are inevitable enablers, and the commission's plan must confront that sad fact." Advocates for sexual abuse victims gave the new tribunal qualified approval. "Time will tell whether these moves actually result in holding bishops accountable for cover-ups of crimes," Boston-based church reform group Voice of the Faithful said. "But these steps are the most promising the Vatican has yet taken." The new court was advocated by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who has long pushed the Vatican to discipline bishops who failed to protect children.
Have you heard the story about the Muslim community in Belgium that raised money to restore a local synagogue? Probably not. But it is really important that you do. The oldest Jewish house of worship in Belgium, Synagogue d'Arlon, had been forced to close its doors because of structural problems with the building. The Jewish congregation was short of the funds needed to re-open, [so] a local Muslim community took it upon themselves to call for donations at Friday prayer - even though they themselves do not have a permanent mosque and pray in a converted house. The movement ... spread to Muslims across Belgium who contributed to the fund. In a communiqué released by the Association of Muslims of Arlon (AMA), Hajib el-Hajjaji urged fellow Muslims to contribute. The Muslim community ended up raising 2,400 Euro (about 2,600 dollars), which they presented to Rabbi Jacobs at an emotional roundtable discussion on the theme of "Living Together". Ultimately it was not about the money, but about "a much larger project," [General Secretary of AMA] Bouezmarni explained: "Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries. Do you know that the first hydraulic clock was invented by a Jew so that Muslims can observe prayer times? Imams in France protected Jews during war. It is regrettable that religions are used for political purposes and sow discord between men." This intentional peacemaking is happening all around the globe.
Note: How sad that the media focuses so little on the many inspiring stories of people of differing faiths working together and supporting each other. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Welcome to “Spring Fever” week in primary schools across the Netherlands, the week of focused sex ed classes. In the Netherlands, the approach, known as “comprehensive sex education,” starts as early as age 4. You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. All primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject. “There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” [health promotion official Robert] van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.” The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes. The teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.
Peter Sharp of Liberators International ... has created impromptu dance parties in the Perth CBD, he’s shocked shoppers by dancing through aisles at the supermarket and, most recently, he challenged notions of racism by staging an act in which a blindfolded Aboriginal girl stood on the beach with a sign asking for free hugs – and received them. In Spain, Pete would wander the streets of Barcelona. "Spain [had] just been smashed by the economic crisis. There’s so much negativity, uncertainty for the future. I thought what we could do is create positive actions in a public space that prove to people that we don’t need to feel this despair." Pete grabbed a bunch of his mates ... and welcomed a busload of tourists arriving in Barcelona as if they were celebrities. Next ... they started approaching people with biscuits and saying “How could you pay for this cookie without money?” At first confused, people soon started getting creative. Someone started singing opera for a cookie, others danced in the street. “It’s just astounding how much creativity is out there – every single moment of every single day if you create the platform for that to be expressed,” Pete says. If people were so willing to connect, to share love and joy when given the opportunity, perhaps there was no need for the distrust that permeates modern society. Perhaps, Pete pondered, we could rewire our brains to trust others, to connect with strangers, to spread love and kindness.
Note: Watch videos of Sharp's playful, inspiring work in action at the link above.
The number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, despite a surge in population growth, the United Nations reported Wednesday. In developing regions, the number of hungry people has fallen to 780 million today, or 12.9 percent of the population, from 991 million 25 years ago, or 23.3 percent of the population at the time. Despite the finding that nearly 800 million people in the world remain hungry, the report described the progress made as a significant achievement. It said that 72 of the 129 nations monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization had achieved the target under the so-called Millennium Development Goals of halving the percentages of hungry people in their populations and that developing regions had missed the target by only a small margin. The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight international objectives, including hunger eradication, established by the United Nations in 2000. “The near-achievement of the M.D.G. hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime,” said José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Progress was most pronounced in East Asia, Southeast and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. But the report also illustrated failures, especially in parts of Africa, where ... “extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife have all impeded progress.”