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.
Springing up on the edge of the Sahara desert are rows of curved mirrors as far as the eye can see. They're part of what could become the biggest solar power plant in the world. Morocco is investing about $2.6 billion on the construction of the Ouarzazate complex, which forms the heart of a $9 billion strategy to harness one of the country's greatest natural resources - sunshine. When completed in 2017, it will cover an area nine times the size of New York's Central Park and generate enough electricity to power about one million households. Morocco has been developing solar and other sources of renewable power for years. It has just set itself the ambitious target of meeting just over half the nation's electricity needs from renewable power by 2030. Morocco is using solar technology that operates very differently from traditional solar panels, which use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. The Ouarzazate complex uses large curved "mirrors" that track the sun like flowers and channel radiation to generate steam inside a network of tubes. The steam drives a central turbine that generates electricity, which flows into the national grid for use by Moroccan homes and businesses. Perhaps most impressive is that the complex can continue to operate after the sun sets. Heat from the system can be stored for hours in tanks filled with molten salts. That allows steam to be generated for hours and keep turning the turbine at night.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Citizens of one of the happiest countries on Earth are surprisingly comfortable contemplating a topic many prefer to avoid. Is that the key to joy? On a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I found myself sitting across from a man named Karma Ura, [confessing] something very personal. Not that long before, seemingly out of the blue, I had experienced some disturbing symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness in my hands and feet. I feared I was having a heart attack. So I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests and found... “Nothing,” said Ura. Even before I could complete my sentence, he knew that my fears were unfounded. I was not dying. I was having a panic attack. “You need to think about death for five minutes every day,” Ura replied. “It will cure you.” “How?” I said, dumbfounded. “It is this thing, this fear of death ... is what is troubling you.” “But why would I want to think about something so depressing?” “Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.” In Bhutanese culture, one is expected to think about death five times a day. The Bhutanese may be on to something. In a 2007 study, University of Kentucky psychologists [concluded] that “death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts”. Death is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Ignoring this essential truth comes with a ... cost.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiment has garnered a lot of attention since it first begun in 1999 and won a TED prize in 2013. It demonstrated that a group of students working together, motivated by a deep question and with access to a computer, could produce amazing results. Cleveland is a world away from Delhi, but Dora Bechtel says many of her students at Campus International School remind her of the Indian children she observed in videos about the Hole in the Wall experiment. Recently, Bechtel has been experimenting with Self-Organized Learning Environments, or SOLEs, in her elementary school classes. In a classroom SOLE, Bechtel asks her students a “messy question,” something that doesn’t have just one right answer, then sets them loose to research the question in small groups. Students choose who they work with, find their own information, draw their own conclusions and present their findings to the whole class. It can be a bit chaotic, but Bechtel says that’s often good. The method has students asking questions and taking ownership in a whole new way. As any teacher knows, finding challenging work for such a varied class of learners is extremely difficult. But because the SOLE is so open-ended, more advanced students are helping struggling students and kids access information in whatever way they can. The SOLE Cleveland website ... has question suggestions for teachers just getting started, arranged by grade level and subject.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Komal Ahmad was a UC Berkeley undergrad when she encountered a homeless man begging for food. Something compelled her to stop and invite him for lunch. He scarfed up the food. In between bites, he told her his story: He’d just returned from a second tour of duty in Iraq but hadn’t yet received his benefits. He had been evicted, had no money and hadn’t eaten in three days. Right across the street was the Berkeley dining hall, which she knew threw out thousands of pounds of food. “This is dumb; we can fix this,” she recalls thinking. Five years later, Ahmad, 26, is leading Copia, a company seeking to apply a Silicon Valley playbook to food recovery - retrieving surplus food for donation to nonprofits feeding the hungry. The problem is vast. About 35 million tons of food are wasted in the United States every year ... even while 1 in 6 people go hungry. Hundreds of local groups nationwide, largely run by volunteers, already pick up surplus food to feed the needy. In San Francisco, nonprofit Food Runners has been active for almost 30 years and has spawned similar efforts on the Peninsula and and elsewhere. Supporting the local efforts, Congress passed a Good Samaritan Food Donation law in 1996 to protect food donors from liability if products given in good faith cause harm. Copia is refining its approach in the Bay Area, picking up leftovers from tech companies, Super Bowl parties, Stanford Hospital and others for same-day delivery to nonprofits.
When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly - a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota's economy - that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country, it has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota's economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.
An autistic teenager has become an online sensation after a video demonstrating his unique technique as a barista - which involves plenty of dancing - went viral. Sam was filmed making a cup of coffee for a customer while working alongside his boss Chris at the Starbucks restaurant, believed to be in North America. The clip shows the teenager smiling and dancing while heating the milk and later pouring it into the cup of coffee, before adding whipped cream and sprinkles. Carly Fleischmann, who lives in Toronto, Canada, posted the video to YouTube and Facebook alongside a caption introducing Sam. Carly explained that when Sam was offered a position at Starbucks he told his parents that for the first time in his life he felt like he had real meaning. She added: 'Sam was diagnosed with autism and like some people with autism Sam has a movement disorder. Sam has a hard time keeping his body still. 'Sam never thought that he would be able to work behind the bar because of his sudden movements but his manager Chris believed in him and got Sam to channel his movements into dance.' The partnership was not an overnight success however and it has taken Sam and Chris many shifts and hours to get to the level demonstrated in the video. Sam is now known as the 'dancing barista' and Carly noted that if it was not for Chris believing in the ability of his employee then he would not have had the confidence to believe in himself.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring six-minute video of Sam and Chris on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves under new provisions of a law signed by President Barack Obama. "This law slams shut an unconscionable and archaic loophole that forced America to accept products made by children or slave labor," said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who worked on the legislation. The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labor was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000, and has been used only 39 times all together largely because of two words: "consumptive demand" - if there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, imports were allowed regardless of how they were produced. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama on Wednesday eliminated that language, allowing stiffer enforcement. To start an investigation, Customs needs to receive a petition from anyone - a business, an agency, even a non-citizen - showing "reasonably but not conclusively" that imports were made at least in part with forced labor. A Labor Department list of more than 350 goods produced by child labor or forced labor provides a detailed breakdown that human rights groups plan to use as they petition the government to take action.
An episode of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” that turned out to be a life-changing experience for sporting goods mogul Mitchell Modell first aired last November. Mitchell Modell, the CEO of the 153-store chain Modell’s, shaved his head, donned an oversized walrus mustache and transformed into “Joey Glick,” a worker inside the company’s warehouse and at Modell’s Sporting Goods locations in Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. In disguise, he drove forklifts in the warehouse, ran a cash register, and was a stock boy, sales associate and shipping clerk. The eye-opening experience of working on the front lines alongside some of his lowest paid associates changed the chain - and Modell himself - forever. “As CEO, one of the things you always wonder about is what your associates (employees) are really thinking and what their days are like. It was a great education,” he said. Among the episode’s most moving moments is when he gifted one of his associates with a $250,000 check when he learned she had been living in a homeless shelter with her two kids. He also suffered greatly from the physicality of the job and vowed to lose weight. On the professional side he adjusted the company’s entire approach to customer service and implemented dozens of changes to increase profitability and cut red tape. “I tell everybody if you’re fortunate enough to be on ‘Undercover Boss’ to do it in a heartbeat,” he said. “If you’re not fortunate enough, then go work on the front lines. It’s an eye-opening experience.”
Note: Watch the inspiring video of how Modell gives one employee a huge, unexpected gift.
People repurpose old shipping containers for lots of things. But Shawn Cooney may have found the greenest use yet. On a vacant lot near Boston's Logan Airport, Cooney is using four former freight containers ... to grow some 30,000 heads of lettuce, herbs and other leafy greens. "I'm not really a farmer," said the 61-year-old Cooney, who ran software companies before starting Corner Stalk farms in 2013. "But it's more interesting than a desk job." If 30,000 heads of lettuce sounds like a lot, it is - and it's the reason why he's able to run a successful farm in one of the country's most expensive cities. The containers come from Freight Farms, a Boston-based startup that outfits the boxes with lights, growing racks and irrigation systems - creating what are essentially super efficient growing machines. The boxes themselves are former freezer containers that were used to ship meat, so they're insulated against the heat and cold. Inside, the plants get light from LEDs and there's no soil. The roots are instead placed in a peat moss base that gets a dollop of nutrient-rich water every 12 minutes. The entire container, floor to ceiling, is filled with plants in a totally self-contained operation. And it churns out the plants. Cooney said he harvests 4,000 to 6,000 plants a week - roughly 80 times the number he'd get from a similar amount of space on a conventional farm. The plants are sold to a wholesaler, which distributes them to mostly high-end restaurants in the Boston area.
Working as a guidance counselor five years ago in Palm Beach County, Estella Pyfrom noticed that [few] students had access to a computer after school. "They needed food. They needed to pay their mortgage or their rent," said Pyfrom, a former teacher. Without a computer at home, or reliable transportation to get to a computer, Pyfrom feared that many of these students would get left behind. So she bought a bus, filled it with computers and brought technology to the kids. Her mobile computer lab, Estella's Brilliant Bus, has provided free, computer-based tutoring for thousands of students since 2011. Pyfrom ... retired in 2009 and used money from her savings to buy the bus, [which] is outfitted with 17 computer stations that are connected to high-speed Internet via satellite. Emblazoned on its side are the words "Have Knowledge, Will Travel" and "We bring learning to you." The bus travels to schools, shelters and community centers throughout the county. Pyfrom and her team provide about 8,000 hours of instruction to at least 500 children a year. She also partnered with a community nonprofit to help provide meals to 3,000 residents each month. To keep up the momentum of her efforts, Pyfrom has continued to pour her savings into maintaining and modifying her bus, so far spending about $1 million, she says. "I don't think I'm going to get tired," she said. "I'm constantly charged up. I look at the faces of the children and I get energized."
Note: Watch an inspiring video on Estella's Brilliant Bus.
France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks. Under a law passed unanimously by the French senate, as of Wednesday large shops will no longer bin good quality food approaching its best-before date. Charities will be able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat. The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste. Campaigners now hope to persuade the EU to adopt similar legislation across member states. Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins. In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. People have been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. Some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach, [or] deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks. Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750 (Ł2,900).
A section of the Mic Mac Mall was transformed into a bright anti-bullying statement Wednesday, as the Pink Shirt Promise anti-bullying campaign officially kicked off. The campaign will go for the next eight days, ending just in time for national Pink Shirt day, which was started in Nova Scotia eight years ago by Travis Price. Wearing pink has become an international symbol for the Anti-Bullying Movement. “It was a simple act of kindness, one act, just stand up for him. Show him that he wasn’t alone,” Price said at the opening for the campaign. The boy he’s referring to is a fellow student who wore a pink shirt to school on the first day of classes. He was teased and bullied for wearing the shirt. After seeing the bullying, Price decided to stand up and take action, encouraging other students to wear pink shirts in support of their fellow student and as a way to stand up to bullies. “We didn’t know at the time that Pink Shirt Day would turn into the movement that it has today. It was simply to try and show this student that he wasn’t alone. Now, this simple act of kindness has grown into something that simply blows my mind, that I can say is now in over 27 countries around the world,” [said Price]. The idea behind Pink Shirt Promise is simple: by making a personal pledge to end bullying and spread positivity, you could change someone’s life. Price says it only takes a few seconds for a bystander to intervene.
Note: Watch a great five-minute video on the origins of this inspiring movement.
A Spanish runner has shown the world that sometimes, just sometimes, winning isn't everything. Last month, Spanish athlete Ivan Fernandez Anaya impressed the world by giving up victory to do the right thing. According to El Pais, it happened as the 24-year-old raced a cross-country event in Burlada, Navarre on Dec. 2. In second place to Abel Mutai, the Kenyan athlete who won a bronze medal in the London Olympics, Anaya suddenly had a chance to surge ahead. According to El Pais, Mutai mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did, and stopped running. Then, he “looked back and saw the people telling him to keep going," Anaya told CNA. "But since he doesn't speak Spanish he didn't realize it." So Anaya slowed, guiding Mutai to the actual finish line. And he didn't think much of it, either. Anaya told El Pais:"I didn't deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn't have closed if he hadn't made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn't going to pass him." His actions may not have won him the match, or the approval of his coach, but they did get him a few new fans.
Every school teaches math and reading, but what about mindfulness and kindness? Twice a week for 20 minutes, pre-kindergarten kids were introduced to stories and practices for paying attention, regulating their emotions, and cultivating kindness. The initial results of our research ... suggest that this program can improve kids’ grades, cognitive abilities, and relationship skills. Having classrooms full of mindful, kind kids completely changes the school environment. Imagine entire schools - entire districts - where kindness is emphasized. That would be truly powerful. Teaching kindness is a way to bubble up widespread transformation that doesn’t require big policy changes or extensive administrative involvement. If you had visited one of our classrooms during the 12-week program, you might have seen a poster on the wall called “Kindness Garden.” When kids performed an act of kindness or benefitted from one, they added a sticker to the poster. The idea is that friendship is like a seed - it needs to be nurtured and taken care of in order to grow. Through that exercise, we got students talking about ... how we might grow more friendship in the classroom. Students who went through the curriculum showed more empathy and kindness and a greater ability to calm themselves down when they felt upset, according to teachers’ ratings. They earned higher grades at the end of the year in certain areas (notably for social and emotional development), and they showed improvement in the ability to think flexibly and delay gratification, skills that have been linked to health and success later in life.
In 1978, 5-year-old Frank "Bopsy" Salazar was diagnosed with leukemia. A woman named Linda Pauling ... had lost her 7-year-old son, Chris, to leukemia that spring. But before Chris passed, the Arizona Department of Public Safety had fulfilled the little boy's dream of becoming a police officer. DPS officers Jim Eaves and Frank Shankwitz had met Chris with a patrol car and motorcycle and made him the only honorary Arizona Highway Patrol Officer in the department's history. The incredible effort inspired Pauling and Shankwitz to start the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "[Pauling] told me that instead of letting the kids just feel sorry for themselves, they wanted to grant wishes, to do something every kid would benefit from, to fulfill their dream while they're still a part of this world," Trujillo said. Shankwitz took over from there, and he went to visit Bopsy to find out more about the boy's dreams. After learning that he'd be granted a wish, the 7-year-old mulled it over. "I want to ride in a hot air balloon," he told Shankwitz. Then he thought about it some more. "No, I want to go to Disneyland." He paused again. "No, I want to be a fireman." But Shankwitz didn't make him pick. All of Bopsy's wishes would be granted. He got his balloon ride and his trip to Disneyland. Fireman Bob - whose real name is Bob Walp - did more than was asked of him to help the sick boy. "We didn't want to just give him a tour," Walp [recalled]. "We decided to give him a badge and a jacket. We let him use the hose. We took him in the truck."
Note: For more on this inspiring story, see this webpage.
Seventeen-year-old Gabe Adams was born without arms and legs and suffers from a rare disease called hanhart syndrome, but that doesn't stop him from dancing. After spending most of his life in a wheelchair, he decided to join the dance team at Davis High School. During halftime at a basketball game Friday night, he performed in front of the whole school. Cheers rang out as Gabe put the word disability to shame. "I wanted to prove to myself and to others that there’s more to myself than just a kid in a wheelchair," Adams said. With practices three days a week, which last for more than three hours, dance team is no easy commitment. However, teammate Alexis Delahunty says Gabe makes it seem easy. "I can’t even imagine doing this without my arms and legs. It's so inspiring. He’s just amazing," Delahunty said. His dance teacher, Kim King, says Gabe has brought so much joy to the team and has pushed them all to work harder. "When they see him, they don’t realize how hard it is to get dressed, how hard it is to get in and out of his chair, but Gabe does everything by himself," King said. Gabe's father, Ron Adams, said Gabe is always pushing himself and taking each challenge in stride. "I don’t think everyone understands what it takes, the muscle coordination and development to balance when he doesn’t have limbs," Ron Adams said. He may not realize it, but Gabe is constantly inspiring the people around him.
Note: Note: Don't miss the amazing video at the link above. For more on this most impressive teenager, see this story. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The lobby of TerraCycle’s global headquarters is far from what might be expected for a company that reported $18.7 million in revenue in 2014. the company’s core mission: reducing waste. “Everything around us will become waste,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s chief executive officer. “Our focus is on anything that you cannot recycle today, and that is 75 percent of all objects in the world.” Mr. Szaky founded TerraCycle in 2001 while a freshman at Princeton University. He and another student fed dining hall leftovers to worms and liquefied the worm compost, creating an organic and highly effective fertilizer. Lacking the money to package their product, the duo used soda bottles they retrieved from recycling bins as containers to peddle the worm poop. “That was the inspirational moment,” says Szaky, who decided to drop out of Princeton to pursue TerraCycle as a full-time endeavor. “What got me very excited was ... waste as a business idea.” Today, TerraCycle is an international leader in “recycling the unrecyclable,” building off the worm compost idea and using other waste materials to craft new products. TerraCycle runs recycling programs in more than 350,000 locations in 22 countries. [They] devise a plan to deal with each type of waste, and then process the waste through refurbishing it into something useful or through reprocessing it for recycling.
August 9, 2014, was one of the most memorable days of my life. On that day I entered a maximum-security prison in Lancaster, Calif. to witness an extraordinary event connecting the lives of some of its inmates with a pack of rescued shelter dogs. Five lucky dogs ... were pulled from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles and entered this Level 4 prison for a chance at a better life. Earlier this year, Karma Rescue, a nonprofit that saves at-risk dogs from high-kill shelters across Southern California, partnered with the California State Prison Los Angeles County in Lancaster to create "Paws for Life," a program that matches rescued dogs with inmates who train them to boost their odds of adoption. Fourteen inmates were ... selected to train five shelter dogs who stayed at the prison this summer for a 12-week program. From the very beginning, the program struck a chord with everyone involved. Karma Rescue's founder Rande Levine wrote, "Men who had not seen an animal in decades were openly emotional at the sight of the beautiful creatures before them. Just petting our dogs brought many to happy tears. It was a day I will never, ever forget." Several times a week, professional dog trainer Mark Tipton and several dedicated Karma Rescue volunteers drove out to the prison to instruct the inmates on how to train their assigned dogs for 'Canine Good Citizen' certification, a designation that increases the chance that a dog will be successfully adopted.
Note: Don't miss the moving pictures of this inspiring program at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
What started as a small gesture, of feeding underprivileged children, by 31-year-old Darshan and his friends has turned into a full-blown movement. An email he shot off to a restaurant, after being deeply disappointed with the service he got there, just changed the course of Darshan’s life. When the restaurant management apologised for the poor service and offered to give him free food, Darshan refused the offer and asked them to feed underprivileged children instead. The restaurant went ahead with his suggestion, and after feeding the children, sent pictures to Darshan. “This is the moment that changed me forever. The smile on the faces of those children left me touched. And that is when I decided to do something about it,” he says. Thus, the BhookMitao campaign was born. On June 7, 2015, Darshan and his friends went and fed a couple of children in a slum in Vadodara, Gujarat. Today, the BhookMitao movement provides nutritious lunch to as many as 1,200 children in Vadodara. As the volunteer network grows, Darshan has divided it into groups. Each group takes up a particular spot in the city. They coordinate with those who want to donate, procure the raw materials, and cook the meals in their own kitchens. The programme usually begins ... with some fun activities for the kids. They screen movies on education or make them do some craft work etc., and then ... volunteers and children eat the same food together. The movement ... has spread, [and] the number of volunteers has grown from six to over 600.
Marcin Jakubowski, the owner of a small farm in northwestern Missouri, is an agrarian romantic for high-tech times. He holds a Ph.D. in fusion physics. In 2003, the year that he received his doctorate, Jakubowski started a Web site, Open Source Ecology, or O.S.E., with the aim of collecting the best techniques for creating sustainable communities. In 2009, Jakubowski posted on the O.S.E. blog a list of fifty machines that, in his view, could cheaply provide everything that a small community needed to sustain a comfortable existence. The list became the Global Village Construction Set. It includes mainstays of contemporary life (tractor, bakery oven, wind turbine) and also exotic, and relatively untested, equipment: an aluminum extractor, developed for lunar missions, that wrests the metal from clay; a bioplastic extruder, which converts plant-based plastic into such domestic necessities as window frames and adhesive tape. So far, Jakubowski has built sixteen of the machines - most of them prototypes - and he has also sold a few. The boldness of his dream resonates widely. In 2012, Time called the Global Village Construction Set one of the year’s best inventions, and Jakubowski’s TED talk has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. And, nearly every day, he receives e-mails from strangers who want to help him remake civilization, without the competition, bloodshed, or environmental depredation. To Jakubowski, the antidote to specialization and secrecy [is] obvious: self-sufficiency and a willingness to share information.
Note: Don't miss the great, four-minute TED Talk on this inspiring development.