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.
When researchers sent plants to the International Space Station in 2010, the flora wasn't meant to be decorative. Instead, the seeds of these small, white flowers - called Arabidopsis thaliana - were the subject of an experiment to study how plant roots developed in a weightless environment. Gravity is an important influence on root growth, but the scientists found that their space plants didn't need it to flourish. The research team from the University of Florida in Gainesville thinks this ability is related to a plant's inherent ability to orient itself as it grows. Since the flowers were orbiting some 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth at the time, the NASA-funded experiment suggests that plants still retain an earthy instinct when they don't have gravity as a guide. "The role of gravity in plant growth and development in terrestrial environments is well understood," said plant geneticist and study co-author Anna-Lisa Paul. "What is less well understood is how plants respond when you remove gravity. [The] bottom line is that although plants 'know' that they are in a novel environment, they ultimately do just fine." The finding further boosts the prospect of cultivating food plants in space and, eventually, on other planets. "There's really no impediment to growing plants in microgravity, such as on a long-term mission to Mars, or in reduced-gravity environments such as in specialized greenhouses on Mars or the moon," Paul said. The study findings appear in the latest issue of the journal BMC Plant Biology.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. In 2005, Utah had nearly 1,932 chronically homeless. By 2014, that number had dropped 72 percent to 539. Today, explained Gordon Walker, the director of the state Housing and Community Development Division, the state is “approaching a functional zero.” How Utah accomplished this didn’t require complex theorems or statistical models. For years, the thought of simply giving the homeless homes seemed absurd, constituting the height of government waste. But that’s exactly what Utah did. “If you want to end homelessness, you put people in housing,” Walker said in an interview. “This is relatively simple.” The state started setting up each chronically homeless person with his or her own house. Then it got them counseling to help with their demons. Such services, the thinking went, would afford them with safety and security that experts say is necessary to re-acclimate to modern life. Homelessness is stressful. It’s nearly impossible, most experts agree, to get off drugs or battle mental illness while undergoing such travails. These days, Walker says the state saves $8,000 per homeless person in annual expenses. “We’ve saved millions on this,” Walker said. And now, the chronic homeless are no longer tallied in numbers. They’re tallied by name. The last few are awaiting their houses.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A recent report by the communities and local government committee on homelessness pointed out that the “housing first” model “appears to have had a positive impact in Finland”. The ... model is quite simple: when people are homeless, you give them housing. The idea stems from the belief that people who are homeless need a home, and other issues that may cause them to be at risk of homelessness can be addressed once they are in stable housing. Homeless people aren’t told they must conquer their addictions or secure a job before being given a home: instead it is accepted that having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier. Finland is the only European country where homelessness has decreased in recent years. At the end of 2015 the number of single homeless people was for the first time under 7,000 and this number includes people living temporarily with friends and relatives, who constitute 80% of all homeless people. This development is mainly due to a national programme to reduce long-term homelessness. The main explanation for this success is quite simple: when the national programme started housing first was adopted as a mainstream national homelessness policy. This costs money, but there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Aidan Dwyer, 13, went to the woods and had a eureka moment that could be a major breakthrough in solar panel design. The 7th-grader ... noticed a pattern among tree branches, and determined (as naturalist Charles Bonnet did in 1754) that the pattern represented the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Aidan wondered why, and figured it had something to do with photosynthesis. In a pretty innovative experiment, this intrepid young scientist set about duplicating an oak tree, comparing its sunlight-capturing abilities to a traditional rooftop solar panel array. He copied the pattern using a computer program, and built an oak tree-shaped solar array out of PVC pipe. He next built a flat-panel array mounted at 45 degrees, like a typical home rooftop array, and attached data loggers to each model to monitor voltage. Aidan's award-winning essay ... walks you through his experiment design and his results. But the short story is that his tree design generated much more electricity - especially ... when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. At that point, the tree design generated 50 percent more power, without any adjustments to its declination angle. He determined the tree's Fibonacci pattern allowed some solar panels to collect sunlight even if others were in shade, and prevented branches on a tree from shading other branches. Now Aidan is studying other tree species and improving his PVC model to determine how it could be used to make more efficient solar arrays.
Note: Don't miss the pictures of this amazing invention at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In 1973, a book claiming that plants were sentient beings that feel emotions, prefer classical music to rock and roll, and can respond to the unspoken thoughts of humans hundreds of miles away landed on the New York Times best-seller list. “The Secret Life of Plants,” ... described the experiments of a former C.I.A. polygraph expert named Cleve Backster, who ... found that simply by imagining [a houseplant] being set on fire he could make it rouse the needle of the polygraph machine. Much of the research on plant intelligence has been inspired by ... the ways in which remarkably brainy behavior can emerge in the absence of actual brains. “If you are a plant, having a brain is not an advantage,” Stefano Mancuso points out. Mancuso is perhaps the field’s most impassioned spokesman for the plant point of view. His somewhat grandly named International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, a few miles outside Florence, occupies a modest suite of labs and offices. Giving a tour of the labs, he showed me maize plants, grown under lights, that were being taught to ignore shadows; a poplar sapling hooked up to a galvanometer to measure its response to air pollution; and a chamber in which ... an advanced kind of mass spectrometer continuously read all the volatiles emitted by a succession of plants. “We are making a dictionary of each species’ entire chemical vocabulary,” he explained. He estimates that a plant has three thousand chemicals in its vocabulary, while, he said with a smile, “the average student has only seven hundred words.”
Following 9/11, reports of hate crimes against Arab-Americans, or those perceived to be, went up 1,700 percent. While distrust and ignorance toward American Muslims remains a reality today, we found the opposite in one Tennessee community. On one recent Sunday morning in Cordova, Pastor Steve Stone was rocking along with his congregation, clapping and singing along with the choir. Heartsong Church, just outside Memphis, sits on a rural road - directly across the street from a Muslim worship center. When Dr. Bashar Shala, co-founder of the Memphis Islamic Center, or MIC, began construction two years ago, at best, he hoped to be ignored. Instead, Stone welcomed the Muslims with a surprise - a sign welcoming MIC to the neighborhood. When they saw the sign, Shala said, "We knew that we have good neighbors." Acting on the biblical phrase "love thy neighbor," the two sides forged a friendship that's now expanded to plans for building a park with land from both sides of the road, connected by a bridge or a tunnel, and to interfaith events, such as a joint Labor Day party. One church member, Lee Raines, looking at tables with Muslims and Christians together, called it "awesome." Stone and Shala say they hope others will practice being good neighbors as they do. Not only have they fed the homeless and organized food drives together, this Sunday, on the 9/11 anniversary, they're hosting a joint blood drive.
Note: Watch a wonderfully inspiring, three-minute video on this unusual friendship.
Creating the Atlantic Ocean's first marine national monument is a needed response to dangerous climate change, oceanic dead zones and unsustainable fishing practices, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument consists of nearly 5,000 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast. "If we're going to leave our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us, then we're going to have to act and we're going to have to act boldly," Obama said at a ... conference. More than 20 countries represented at the meeting were also announcing the creation of their own marine protected areas. Monument designations come with restrictions on certain activities. The designation will lead to a ban on commercial fishing, mining and drilling, though a seven-year exception will occur for the lobster and red crab industries. Others, such as whiting and squid harvesters, have 60 days to transition out. Recreational fishing will be allowed. The ... monument will include three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four underwater mountains. It is home to such protected species as the sperm, fin and sei whales, and Kemp's ridley turtles. Expeditions also have found species of coral found nowhere else on earth. Supporters of the new monument say protecting large swaths of ocean from human stresses can sustain important species and reduce the toll of climate change.
Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: “Want a Job. Anything Helps.” Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go. Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. The city could bring the work to them. Next month will be the first anniversary of Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program, which hires panhandlers for day jobs beautifying the city. The job pays $9 an hour, which is above minimum wage, and provides a lunch. At the end of the shift, the participants are offered overnight shelter as needed. In less than a year since its start, the program has given out 932 jobs clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. And more than 100 people have been connected to permanent employment. Berry’s effort is a shift from the movement across the country to criminalize panhandling. A recent National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty report found a noticeable increase, with 24 percent of cities banning it altogether and 76 percent banning it in particular areas. When panhandlers have been approached in Albuquerque with the offer of work, most have been eager for the opportunity to earn money, Berry said. They just needed a lift.
Note: Watch an inspiring video on this great program.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that US has an "obligation" to help Laos recover from a brutal secret bombing campaign that destroyed parts of the Southeast Asian nation. During an address to the Lao people in the country's capital, Obama pledged $90 million in a joint three-year project with the country's government to clear ... some 80 million unexploded cluster bombs dropped during a secret US bombing campaign as part of the Vietnam War 40 years ago. "The remnants of war continue to shatter lives here in Laos," Obama said. "That's why I've dramatically increased or funding to remove these unexploded bombs." The move was welcomed by Laos President Bounnhang Vorachit as a way of strengthening mutual trust after the devastating campaign, that still maims or kills 50 people who stumble upon unexploded mines each year. Efforts to find the bombs will be aided the Pentagon, who will supply records of where they were dropped. To this day, less than 1% of the bombs have been cleared, according to US-based non-government organization Legacies of War. US funding for clearance of unexploded ordnance and victims' assistance has steadily grown since 2010. This year, Congress allotted $19.5 million, but now, for the first time, an American president has publicly recognized that the US has a responsibility to do more. "That conflict was another reminder that whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children," Obama said.
“Has anybody heard of rainbow chard?” Larry Moore asked a group of elementary school children. No one answered. “What about this?” Moore asked again, pointing to green leaves emerging from the dirt, their orange base peeking through the brown soil. “That’s a carrot!” several young voices called out. But this carrot wasn’t growing in the ground or a pot. It was growing in the bed of a red pickup truck, a garden on wheels known as the Louisville Truck Farm. “With this, our primary audience is kids, but I’m always in awe at how amazed adults are when they see vegetables growing in the bed of a truck,” said Moore, one of the educators who takes Truck Farm into the community. For the past year, the 1995 Chevrolet truck has traveled more than 450 miles to visit farmers markets, schools, and community events around Louisville, Kentucky, to show that it’s possible to start a garden anywhere, even in an urban environment. In the warmer months, the truck boasts as many as 40 different plants in its bed so that visitors can experience a variety of sights, smells, and tastes. The truck bed ... opens to reveal a plexiglass tailgate, which allows people to get a visual of what’s going on beneath the soil.
Note: Don't miss the pictures of this amazing mobile garden available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A nondescript office building just a short walk from the Limmat River – which runs through the picturesque center of Zurich, Switzerland – houses the hub of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation. The effect of the nongovernmental organization, however, is anything but ordinary. “We work for the poorest,” says Rupa Mukerji, co-head of advisory services for Helvetas and a member of its management board. The organization operates in 32 countries to address rural poverty, harnessing a $150 million annual budget and the efforts of some 1,500 staffers, more than 95 percent of whom are local to their projects. That mission is personal to Ms. Mukerji. “I am supporting a program in Mali where we are investing our own resources to develop a climate change plan,” she explains. “Many times climate change is seen as an issue of science ... but communities are already feeling the impact,” she says. Her home country of India has been suffering from serious drought – something she sees as showing why her work is so critical. “When you work at the field level, you see how hard [people] work, how difficult the conditions are. Many things they are facing are completely out of their control,” she says. “My passion lies in really addressing these global challenges, and to make life better for the people in these rural communities.”
The last remaining U.S. manufacturer of cluster bombs is ending production of the controversial weapon, citing regulatory scrutiny and reduced orders for the internationally banned munitions. The decision by the Rhode Island-based Textron, whose subsidiary Textron Systems produces the bombs, follows a White House order last May to block the transfer of a Textron shipment of CBU-105 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. The White House had come under intense pressure by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International after those groups documented instances in which Saudi-led forces used CBU-105 munitions in multiple locations across Yemen. The blocked transfer was the first concrete step the United States took to demonstrate its unease with the Saudi bombing campaign. Following media coverage of the White House’s block, peace activists picketed outside the Wilmington, Massachusetts, offices of Textron Systems, calling for an end to the production of cluster bombs. Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Mary Wareham praised the decision. “Textron was the last U.S. manufacturer of cluster munitions, so this decision now clears the path for the administration and Congress to work together to permanently end U.S. production, transfer, and use of cluster munitions,” she said.
Classy. Professional. Sportsmanlike. Words not often used to describe soccer players these days – but this football team is gaining world attention for exactly those qualities. The players are 12 and 13 years old. A video of Barcelona’s Infantil B side has been posted to YouTube showing the children, from La Masia, comforting their Japanese opposition players after beating them in the final of the World Challenge Cup in Tokyo over the weekend. The Barcelona under–13s won 1–0 thanks to a goal by Xavi Planas, and after the final whistle many of the Omva players were in tears. Barcelona’s youth teams are arguably the most famous in the world, thanks to the La Masia academy, which has produced countless superstars over the years. But on this occasion, rather than bask in their success, the Spanish children consoled their opponents and offered words of advice, with the captain urging the devastated losers to keep their heads up. He then led his side to a bow in front of the crowd.
Note: Don't miss this beautiful, one-minute clip, which has received over 75 million views. Such grace!!!
Rob and Sam Fatzinger, lifelong residents of Bowie, Md., lead a single-income family in one of the country’s most expensive regions. Rob’s income never topped $50,000 until he was 40; he’s now 51 and earns just north of $100,000 as a software tester. They have 13 children. Which means they require things like a seven-bedroom house and a 15-passenger van. Four children have graduated from college, three are undergrads and six are on the runway. Yet they paid off their mortgage early four years ago. They have no debt - never have, besides mortgages. And Rob is on track to retire by 62. This family is the Einstein of economical. These days, frugality is not about clipping coupons. It’s about rethinking your finances, and maybe your life. Rob’s philosophy: “Spend money on what makes you truly happy and on what you enjoy. We don’t feel deprived or poor. We pick and choose carefully.” Until a couple of years ago, Rob Fatzinger had a blog called Sardonic Catholic Dad, focusing on family, faith and frugality. Two of his hits: “College on the Cheap — How the Sardonic Family Does It” and “How to Retire Early With 13 Kids.” Frugalism is often about math, determination and thinking a bit differently. A few key principles: How much you save, as a percentage of your paycheck, will foretell when you’ll be able to build your own business or retire. Small financial changes can make a big impact. And it’s not really about your income; it’s about your savings.
California’s booming solar industry had a record day this week when the state’s largest utilities generated more power than ever from the sun. The state’s largest power grid, the California Independent System Operator, or ISO, on Tuesday managed enough solar energy to power 2 million homes. Its 8,030 megawatts recorded at 1:06 p.m. from solar sources stood out as double the network’s best day in 2014. It also was 2,000 megawatts more than its solar peak from last year. “It’s a great milestone for California and the solar industry,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president for state policy at the Solar Energy Industries Association. He said California represents about half of the nation’s solar industry in megawatts produced. The utilities have been racing to meet the state’s increasingly stringent renewable fuels mandates, which require them to produce a third of their power from renewable sources by 2020 and half by 2030. With those goals in mind, PG&E has added over the last two years two of the largest photovoltaic solar installations in the world. The company’s Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, connected to the grid last year, can generate up to 300 megawatts from the sun. When it’s finished, its capacity is expected to hit 550 megawatts. Meanwhile, PG&E’s Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Ariz., brings in another 300 megawatts. It was completed in 2014.
Note: California's success with solar power pales in comparison with the entire country of Germany, which produced 22 gigawatts of electricity back in 2012, nearly three times the record amount produced by California in 2016.
A Massachusetts-based lesbian couple received an amazing display of solidarity from their neighbors this week after vandals stole a Pride flag from the front of their home and egged their front porch while they were out of town. Lauri and Cari Ryding initially hung the Pride flag following the Pulse nightclub massacre. The incident at their home served as a reminder why they hung the flag in the first place. "It was our first experience in Natick of having any type of prejudice," Cari Ryding said. "We hadn't experienced it all, and it kind of broke open our little cocoon." After the egging of the Ryding's home, their neighbors came together to show their love and support for the couple ― by flying rainbow flags from all of their houses as well. Over 40 homes in the neighborhood made hung flags from their houses, showing love and support for their lesbian neighbors. "It just happened so quickly ― the whole neighborhood said, Get me a flag. Get me a flag. Get me a flag," neighbor Penni Rochwerger [said]. This moment in Boston is just one of many powerful displays of community-based solidarity with the LGBT community since the Pulse nightclub massacre. The Rydings ... filed a police report in case the vandals return, but they feel encouraged and hopeful from the support from their friends and neighbors.
Note: Don't miss the video on this inspiring expression of neighborly support at the link above.
This election cycle has been more dramatic than most. But the real political drama this year has taken place in the streets of cities like Oakland, New York, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and St. Paul. The anger on display in the presidential race built on the outrage expressed in protest movements from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, in places like Manhattan, where activists occupied City Hall Park for fairer policing practices; in North Carolina, where they challenged voting rights restrictions; and in Chicago, where teachers went on strike for the schools Chicago students deserve. Americans have rediscovered the fine art of direct action, making what Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis calls “good trouble, necessary trouble” to bring about the change that they want to see. This new wave began of activism began in 2008. Although inequality in the U.S. had been expanding for decades, the financial crisis - which caused people to lose their jobs, evaporated retirement savings and evicted families from their homes - raised its profile. It’s not just inequality of income that has driven people to the streets, though. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Jr., John Crawford III, Eric Garner and other black men sent protesters to the streets declaring “Black Lives Matter.” People were angry at the way it seemed that a police officer could shoot or choke a black man to death and walk away with a few weeks of desk leave while the man who videotaped the killing could lose his job or end up in jail himself. The movements that have shaken the country in recent years ... have fed one another, overlapped and intersected. As the streets ring with protest again this year, we should remember this country’s long history of making trouble to make change.
Jenny Colgan is one of Britain’s most prolific writers. Last year she wrote five books and this year eight are scheduled to come out. To produce this volume of work you might think Colgan, 44, wrote into the small hours every night. She doesn’t. She works for no more than three hours every day, from 11am to 1pm. “Like a marathon runner building up resistance I started to push how much I could get into every day. And every time I stretched it a hundred or so here and there, I found that I could, even though the time I have for working stayed about the same. “Weirdly, the work started getting better. I'm now finishing my novels more quickly, immersing myself more, focusing better. The arcs of the books, the reviews and the sales all improved massively.” This will come as no surprise to Colin McKenzie and his team at Keio University in Japan, who has just published a paper suggesting that part-time workers over the age of 40 – especially those who work about 25 hours a week – have the sharpest brains. Part-time work, the report has concluded, is the perfect balance between brain stimulation and stress. The findings echo those of a celebrated study that has followed 10,000 middle-aged civil servants in Whitehall since 1985. In short, working too hard is bad for you. The report’s title is “Use it too much and lose it?” It has been welcomed by a host of people who have called for Britain to end its culture of hamster-wheel offices.
In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one. Even as late as 1782, the pattern was still going strong. The native cultures were more communal. If colonial culture was relatively atomized, imagine American culture of today. As we’ve gotten richer, we’ve used wealth to buy space: bigger homes, bigger yards, separate bedrooms, private cars, autonomous lifestyles. Each individual choice makes sense, but the overall atomizing trajectory sometimes seems to backfire. According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries. Every generation faces the challenge of how to reconcile freedom and community. But [possibly no] generation has faced it as acutely as millennials. Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy ... a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t [be a surprise] if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap.
Sister Madonna Buder stood on the shore of People’s Pond at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park on Saturday morning. She made the sign of the cross and said a small prayer just before diving in head first. Her journey sent her through one mile of water, 24 miles on a bike and six miles on foot. But this was not new to her. The Ellensburg Olympic Triathlon was not her first race. Buder ... did not develop a passion for running until she was 48 years old. By then she was heavily involved in the Catholic church after becoming a nun at the age of 23. Since she started training, she has competed in many events including the 1982 Boston Marathon and her first triathlon in Banbridge, Ireland. In 2006 she was the oldest woman ever to complete the Hawaiian Ironman and in 2014 was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. Having raced more than 325 triathlons, people are still amazed at her accomplishments. “She is an extraordinary accomplished person in general fitness,” said fellow Olympic Triathlon participant Vince Nethery. “She finished and was able to take care of business.” Buder has not only seen victories but also had to climb over some obstacles during her career. Over her 39 years of competing she has fractured her pelvis, torn her meniscus and broke her femur. Buder just celebrated her birthday on Sunday, and although she completed one more triathlon, she still wonders how she is still completing triathlons. “I don’t know,” Buder said. “You’ll have to ask God.”