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.
Against all odds, Jim Harris was walking. There he was, at a music festival, getting around with the assistance of a walker, eight months out from a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. In November 2014, a snowkiting accident in Chile changed how the mountaineering instructor turned adventure photographer moved through the world. His days ... were now filled with rehabilitation exercises. A friend and former physical therapist invited him to the High Sierra Music Festival. "The disability made me feel like an outsider," he says. Then someone offered him magic mushrooms, which are packed with the psychoactive compound psilocybin. He commandeered an acquaintance's padded knee scooter so he could rest one leg at a time and still sway to the music. In the middle of a switch, he discovered that he could pick up his right foot and pull it back toward his butt. He tapped his right hamstring with a finger and the muscle contracted - a muscle that had been completely unresponsive since his injury, even in the low-gravity environment of a pool, despite eight months of physical therapy. With wonder and some degree of hesitation, he showed his physical-therapist friend. They marveled together at what had been impossible for Harris earlier that day. The next morning, Harris woke up afraid he'd imagined the whole thing, or that he'd lost his newfound ability while he slept, but his hamstring was still firing. The neuromuscular connection that had formed the night before wasn't going anywhere.
America's biggest "food forest" is just a short drive from the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson. When the Guardian visits the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill there are around a dozen volunteers working. Food forests are part of the broader food justice and urban agriculture movement and are distinct from community gardens in various ways. They are typically backed by grants rather than renting plots, usually rely on volunteers and incorporate a land management approach that has a focus on growing perennials. The schemes vary in how they operate in allocating food ... but they are all aimed at boosting food access. Organizers in Atlanta stress that they properly distribute the food to the neighborhoods that the food forest is intended to support and it's not open to the public beyond volunteer workers. Other schemes have areas where the public is free to take what they want. Celeste Lomax, who manages community engagement at the Brown Mills forest and lives in the neighborhood, believes education is key to the forest's success and beams like sunlight when sharing her vision for the fertile soil she tends. "We're using this space for more than just growing food. We have composting, beehives, bat boxes, and this beautiful herb garden where we're teaching people how to heal themselves with the foods we eat. We'll be doing walkthrough retreats and outside yoga. This is a health and wellness place. It's so much more than just free food."
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A dad has left medics baffled after waking from a coma with extraordinary artistic talents he never had before - and he's now a professional carpenter and model maker. Moe Hunter, 38, spent more than a month in a coma where his heart even stopped after being diagnosed with a rare form of bacterial meningitis and tuberculosis in his brain. He awoke from brain surgery with no memory but soon left his friends and family gobsmacked when he started to display a special gift he didn't possess before. Moe suddenly discovered he had a newfound creative flair and an inexplicable talent for drawing, painting and model building - despite being 'rubbish' at art at school. He used his new skills to embark on a career as a self-employed carpenter and began building intricate life-size model replicas from the world of TV and film. Married dad-of-one Moe has since sold pieces of his artwork and has displayed his amazing creations at Comic-Con events. Moe said: "I really wasn't creative before in the slightest, in fact people used to laugh at my drawings. "Even to this day some of my family can't believe it. When I spoke to the neurologist he just said 'enjoy it' and said there's so much about the brain they still can't decipher and this is just a phenomenon. I look at all of my stuff now and I'm like 'never in a trillion years could I do this stuff'. I have no idea how it happened. "My doctor said that I was a walking miracle to be able to recover as quickly as I did - but when I started displaying these new artistic talents they were just stumped."
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With breakfast finished and backpacks prepped for the day, children across Spain's Barcelona province strap on their helmets and, at around 8 a.m., head to school not by bus or car, but in a critical mass of bikes dubbed "bicibĂşs." As with traditional bus lines, each bicibĂşs route has stops where other cycling students can join along the way. Parents, teachers and other volunteer adults ride, too, to ensure the kids' safety. BicibĂşs is just a couple years old, but already more than 1,200 kids pedal 90-plus routes to more than 70 schools across 25 cities in Catalonia. (Barcelona is one of four provinces in the region, in addition to being a major city.) Biking in groups increases awareness of riders on the road, especially where dedicated infrastructure is lacking. And families around the world, from Portland, Oregon to Edinburgh, Scotland, have embraced this commuting alternative. "The idea for bicibĂşs came from the mix of my two passions: the bike and education," says Helena Vilardell, the elementary school teacher who started bicibĂşs in February 2020. She subsequently launched the nonprofit Canvis en Cadena ("change in chain") to widely promote bicycles as a healthier, more sustainable commute for all. Fewer gas-powered vehicles on the road decreases pollutants that contribute to unhealthy air. "I have been working as a teacher for many years. The children in my class who arrive by bike are more active during the first hours, more attentive and participatory," [Vilardell] says.
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[Pamela] McGhee and her neighbors are participating in a pilot program to build zero-waste systems for Detroit. It's something they say the city sorely needs. For decades, Detroit was home to one of the country's largest waste incinerators. East Side residents formed Breathe Free Detroit, one of several groups behind a successful campaign to shut down the incinerator; the plant closed in 2019. Now, that same group is working with the city to develop a composting system. Many ... see a direct line between composting and recycling and improving their community health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is the most common material found in landfills and sent to incinerators in the U.S., comprising 24% of landfill materials and 22% of combusted municipal solid waste. But Detroit organizers didn't have much experience with communitywide composting, so when they began developing a program, they turned to an unlikely mentor more than 8,000 miles away: the Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines. Over the past 20 years, the organization has earned a reputation for training low-income communities, government agencies, civic organizations, and businesses in zero-waste practices. The two groups organized monthly calls, in which Mother Earth Foundation organizers offered advice based on their experiences setting up community composting systems. Members of Mother Earth Foundation and community organizers in Detroit plan to visit each other's cities early next year.
In May, India's Supreme Court ruled that sex work is a legitimate profession. Now, its older practitioners are finding ways to start their life anew. 47-year-old [Jyoti] is a former sex worker from the brothels of Delhi's biggest red light district ... who has left her previous life behind. "I was sold to a brothel by an aunt when I was only 12 years old, so there never was any time to learn anything else," she says. Now, Jyoti not only has a job, she is earning enough to give her children a promising future: $250 a month through Savhera, a women-led organization that connects and provides retired sex workers with jobs. As a result of the capacity building training by Savhera, the workers have successfully launched their own collective, WePower, with technical support from Shakti Vahini, an anti-trafficking NGO. The collective aims to manufacture handmade goods that provide ongoing employment and empowerment to the women. Savhera and similar organizations are helping aging and retired Indian sex workers transition into their new lives with jobs, bank accounts and ID cards. Now, as one of the core members of WePower, Jyoti makes handmade goods like candles, bags, and jewelry. She intends to use the money she earns to build a fund for her daughter's future education. Like Savhera, the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a group of 67,000 sex workers in West Bengal, helps aging sex workers ... and even runs its own bank, USHA co-operative, for sex workers without ID cards.
A new rooftop wind harvesting device is capable of generating 50 percent more electricity than solar panels for the same cost, according to its inventors, a Texas-based startup called Aeromine Technologies. The new technology replaced the blades found in traditional wind turbines with an aerodynamic system that harvests energy from the airflow that's created above a building, which makes it silent and safe for birds and other wildlife. These units produce the same amount of power as up to 16 solar panels. As their company website states: "Aeromine's patented aerodynamic design captures and amplifies building airflow in wind speeds as low as 5 m.p.h., similar to the airfoils on a race car. Unlike turbines that require rotating rotor blades and many moving parts, making them prone to maintenance issues, the motionless and durable Aeromine solution generates more energy in less space." This is a game-changer ... helping corporations meet their resilience and sustainability goals with an untapped distributed renewable energy source. The Aeromine system can utilize a small footprint on a building's roof, leaving ample space for existing solar and utility infrastructure. It provides commercial property owners, who are facing increased energy costs and rising demand for features such as electric vehicle charging stations, with an effective new tool. Aeromine's patented technology was validated through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University.
Joost Bakker believes a house can be more than a place to live: it can be a self-sustaining weapon against the climate crisis. A new Australian documentary explores his bold blueprint. Bakker – a multi-disciplinary designer, no-waste advocate and the film's eponymous protagonist – has long been something of a provocateur. In 2020, the Dutch-born, Australian-raised designer's two decades of high-concept sustainability projects came to a head when he hit go on the construction of Future Food System. Erected in one of the busiest areas of Melbourne, the off-grid, three-storey house and urban farm produced all of its own power and food. Even the cooking gas was generated from human and food waste. "We can have it all," Bakker [says]. "We can have houses covered with biology, plants, ecosystems and waterfalls. It's not necessary for us to be destroying the planet or killing each other with materials that are making us sick. The infrastructure is already there. It's just about reimagining our suburbs and reimagining our buildings." Shadowing Bakker throughout the project from set-up to pack-down, was film-maker Nick Batzias ... who squeezes plenty of action into the pacy 90-minute documentary. The bulk of the film focuses on the building's green-thinking initiatives. Steam from the showers is used to grow mushrooms; the foundation-less building is anchored by self-watering garden beds filled with 35 tonnes of soil.
Voters in four states approved ballot measures that will change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and forcing someone to work against their will as punishment for crime. The initiatives won't force immediate changes in the states' prisons, but they may invite legal challenges over the practice of pressuring prisoners to work under threat of punishment or loss of privileges if they refuse the work. The results were celebrated among anti-slavery advocates, including those pushing to further amend the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits enslavement and forced work except as a form of criminal punishment. Nearly 160 years after enslaved Africans and their descendants were released from bondage through ratification of the 13th Amendment, the slavery exception continues to allow jails and prisons to use inmates for low-cost labor. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Representative Nikema Williams of Georgia, both Democrats, reintroduced legislation to revise the 13th Amendment to end the slavery exception. If it wins approval in Congress, the constitutional amendment must be ratified (approved) by three-fourths of the states. After Tuesday's vote, more than a dozen states still have constitutions that include language permitting slavery and forced labor for prisoners. Prison labor is a multibillion-dollar practice. Workers usually make less than $1 per hour, sometimes only pennies. Prisoners who refuse to work can be denied privileges such as phone calls and visits with family.
Though the people held at Sanganer open prison are technically incarcerated, they can leave the facility during the day and travel within the city limits. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Arjiram's sense of self-worth grew. "It didn't feel like I was in a prison," he says. "I could go out and work and come back, and the best thing was they trusted me." After being faceless and nameless for over a decade, he felt like a person again. According to the country's National Crime Records Bureau, there are about 88 open prisons in India, the largest share of which are in the state of Rajasthan, where the model is being pioneered. India's open prisons are defined by minimal security. They are run and maintained by the state, and those incarcerated within them are free to come and go as they please. At Sanganer, the prison is open for up to 12 hours each day. Every evening, prisoners must return to be counted at an end-of-day roll call. Designed to foster reform as opposed to punishment, the system is based on the premise that trust is contagious. It assumes – and encourages – self-discipline on the part of the prisoners. Letting incarcerated folks go to work also allows them to earn money for themselves and their families, build skills, and maintain contacts in the outside world that can help them once they're released. In addition to allowing inmates to support themselves, open prisons require far less staff, and their operating costs are a fraction of those in closed prisons.
When floods devastated Bangkok more than a decade ago, Thai landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom became determined to help her sinking hometown fight this deadly climate threat. The floods "changed my life," said Voraakhom. "I started using the tools of landscape architecture (to tackle) climate change." The 2011 floods killed hundreds and displaced millions. "For us, climate change is primarily a water crisis," she said. "Our people can feel its impacts in their daily lives, each year through worsening floods, rising sea levels, and severe drought." In many sinking cities, including Bangkok, the current urban infrastructure is not fit for purpose and is "reducing our ability to adapt," said Voraakhom, noting that many of Bangkok's waterways and canals have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair. "For us, as a city of water, the only way is to go back to our amphibious culture and reclaim the relationship with water." The architect said she integrates nature and water into her designs to create landscapes that help alleviate flooding and add greenery to densely populated cities. Voraakhom also created Asia's largest rooftop farm, Siam Green Sky, transforming 22,400 square meters (241,000 square feet) into a lush haven. The farm, which recycles food waste from restaurants in the building below and uses it as plant fertilizer, also slows down, soaks up and stores large amounts of rainwater. It is then used to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit, as well as rice.
Imagine you're eating dinner on a ceramic plate and drinking water from a plastic cup while sitting in a brick house – a seemingly ordinary scenario except that your plate, cup, and your home are all fashioned in part from recycled feces. In my upcoming book, "Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure," I describe how the misunderstood byproduct of our daily living is a vastly undervalued natural resource. Try to reimagine wastewater treatment plants ... doubling as multipurpose resource recovery facilities. As an alternative to plastics made from fossil fuels, for example, researchers are making headway in producing safe and biodegradable bioplastics from existing waste streams. Creating planet-friendly bottles, containers, and other bioplastic products from what we leave behind is still a work in progress, said Zeynep Cetecioglu Gurol ... at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Developing an efficient and affordable method for recovering new products from wastewater could help offset the money, time, and effort spent by treatment plants to meet pollution limits in discharged water. "It's a win-win," she said. Engineers ... have focused on relieving the environmental problem of excavating clay soil for brick production, in part by exploring how to incorporate treated sewage solids, or biosolids, into fired bricks. Bricks with varying amounts of treated biosolids from Melbourne residents weren't quite as strong as traditional counterparts. But they were lighter and better insulators.
For the first time, adults with mild to moderate hearing loss in the US will be able to buy over-the-counter hearing aids. Those who are under 18 or who have severe hearing loss will still need a prescription. In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order meant to promote competition; it encouraged the US Food and Drug Administration allow over-the-counter, prescription-free hearing aids, and the FDA announced the long-awaited rule change in August. The move ushers in options that should be cheaper and possibly even better. Now, instead of getting a prescription and having a custom fitting with a hearing health professional, adults can buy hearing aids directly from a store or online. Some doctors estimate that 90% of the population with hearing loss could benefit from these over-the-counter devices. Experts say the move is a "game-changer." The number of people with hearing loss is substantial. About 1 in 8 people in the US ages 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears. About a quarter of people 65 to 74 have hearing loss. On average, people spend at least $4,000 out of pocket for devices for both ears, according to a 2020 study published in the medical journal JAMA. Prices can vary: Large retailers may offer a pair for about $1,400, but some can cost as much as $6,000 per ear. Until now, five companies have controlled 90% of the global marketplace for hearing aids. That kind of consolidation meant there was little price competition.
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Suicides across the active duty U.S. military decreased over the past 18 months, driven by sharp drops in the Air Force and Marine Corps last year and a similar decline among Army soldiers during the first six months of this year, according to a new Pentagon report. The numbers show a dramatic reversal of what has been a fairly steady increase in recent years. The shift follows increased attention by senior military leaders and an array of new programs aimed at addressing what has been a persistent problem in all the services. The numbers provide a glimmer of hope that some of the recent changes – which range from required counseling visits to stress relief education and recreational outings – may be working. According to the data, the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marine Corp dropped by more than 30 percent in 2021 compared with 2020, and the Navy saw a 10 percent decline. The Army saw a similar 30 percent decrease during the first six months of this year, compared with the same time period last year. The National Guard and the Reserves both saw a small dip in suicides, from 121 in 2020 to 119 in 2021. And there were also fewer Guard deaths in the first half of 2022, compared with last year. The Guard has worked over the last year to reduce suicides through outreach and other changes, including policies to destigmatize getting mental health help and a program that provides firearms locks for service members who keep weapons at home.
Psychedelic therapy is the use of psychedelic substances, often alongside traditional talk therapy (psychotherapy), as a treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidality and PTSD. Michael Mithoefer, M.D. ... at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), likens psychedelic therapy to applying a cast to a broken bone. "[Psychedelic]-assisted therapy engages the mind's innate power to heal itself–the participants' â€inner healing intelligence,'" claims Dr. Mithoefer, going on to explain that "the source of the healing process is the person themselves–the psychedelic and therapists are catalysts." In the U.S., psychedelics continue to undergo medical trials, with some being granted a "breakthrough therapy" designation by the FDA, indicating that preliminary clinical evidence has shown the drug can demonstrate substantial improvement over currently available therapy. COMPASS Pathways, a mental health treatment company, received the designation for its psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression in 2018. In 2019, Usona Institute ... received the designation to continue its testing of psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Psilocybin-assisted therapy is also being tested as a treatment for various addictions ... as well as certain conditions such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), cluster headaches, migraines and chronic pain.
Aaron Rodgers and Kenny Stills are among the few who have spoken publicly about their use of psychedelics for mental health purposes. But a future where the treatment is more widespread across sports may not be so far away. "Some people still ... don't recognize these as legitimate, life-saving medical medicines," [NBA agent Daniel] Poneman says. "There are athletes that I know who have had life-changing experiences with these medicines, but only a few of them are brave enough to speak out for fear of being stigmatized." There's still stigma around taking medication of any kind for mental illness, but it's slowly lessening. Aaron Rodgers said on a recent podcast that he has taken psychedelics to improve his mental health. The Packers' quarterback said he does not identify as having a mental illness like depression or anxiety, but that his most recent psychedelic experience–with ayahuasca, in March 2020, in Peru–has helped increase his "self-love." Before Rodgers spoke out, NFL free-agent wide receiver Kenny Stills was thought to be the only active professional athlete vocal about his psychedelic use. Stills, who last season played for the Saints, says his case of depression in 2016 felt like a "permanent cloud." Last year he went to a clinic run by Field Trip Health, a for-profit that provides people with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy–meaning they have to take the medication under supervision of a licensed therapist and debrief with them afterward.
It came to be known as the Sunflower movement, a sudden three-week stand-off in 2014 between the government and Taiwanese protesters. Months later, government officials arrived at a ... university campus to ask for the help of a group that few knew even existed: the civic hackers. Taiwan's civic hackers were organized around a leaderless collective called g0v (pronounced "gov zero.") Many believed in radical transparency ... and in the idea that everyone who is affected by a decision should have a say in it. They preferred establishing consensus to running lots of majority-rule votes. These were all principles, incidentally, that parallel thinking about how software should be designed – a philosophy that g0v had begun to apply to the arena of domestic politics. As g0v saw it, the problem of politics was essentially one of information. They needed a way not to measure division, but construct consensus. The hackers' answer was called vTaiwan. The platform invites citizens into an online space for debate that politicians listen to and take into account when casting their votes. As people expressed their views, rather than serving up the comments that were the most divisive, it gave the most visibility to those finding consensus. Soon, vTaiwan was being rolled out on issue after issue, especially those related to technology, and each time a hidden consensus was revealed. The system's potential to heal divisions, to reconnect people to politics, is a solution made for the problems of our age.
Tucked away in the mountains of Japan's Shikoku island, a town of about 1,500 residents is on an ambitious path toward a zero-waste life. In 2003, Kamikatsu became the first municipality in Japan to make a zero-waste declaration. Since then, the town has transformed its open-air burning practices for waste disposal into a system of buying, consuming and discarding with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality. Now, the town estimates it is more than 80 percent of its way toward meeting that goal by 2030. The Zero Waste Center is the town's recycling facility, where residents can sort their garbage into 45 categories – there are nine ways to sort paper products alone – before they toss the rest into a pile for the incinerators. Residents clean and dry dirty items so they are suitable for recycling. The town offers an incentive system in which people can collect recycling points in exchange for eco-friendly products. There are signs depicting what new items will be made out of those recycled items, and how much money the town is saving by working with recycling companies rather than burning the trash. It's a way to remind them of their social responsibility. Attached to the Zero Waste Center is a thrift shop where residents can drop off items they don't want anymore, and others can take them free. All they need to do is weigh the item they take from the shop and log the weight in a ledger so the shop can keep track of the volume of reused items. In January alone, about 985 pounds' worth of items were rehomed.
Michigan is a battleground state, in every sense of the word. Here, purple doesn't mean moderate; it means the 50-50, Red/Blue split is a chasm. On a recent Saturday in Traverse City, Mich., people gathered – half of them Red, the other half Blue – brought together by Braver Angels, a not-for-profit attempting to narrow the divide. "I'm here out of concern for our country, and our democracy," said one attendee, Jane. Started in 2016, Braver Angels now holds sessions nationwide. It was shaped by Bill Doherty, who teaches relationships at the University of Minnesota. He's also a marriage counselor. Correspondent Martha Teichner asked Doherty, "Is it a proper analogy: Reds and Blues in America, and couples on the brink of divorce?" "There is an analogy to couples on the brink," Doherty replied. "A big difference is that divorce is not possible in America." In Traverse City, participants arrived uneasy at first, defensive. Task #1 at a Red/Blue workshop: stereotypes. Reds and Blues, seated in separate rooms, are asked to list what "they" call "you." Facilitators then ask each side if there's is a kernel of truth in those stereotypes. Tim said, "The passion for the pro-life cause sometimes seems not to hear women." And so it goes, for three hours, peeling back the onion of opinion, looking for common ground. No trying to change anybody's mind. Divided they were, but they showed up, because they wanted to know each other not by label, but by name. Braver Angels has held more than 2,000 workshops and is growing.
A plump larva the length of a paper clip can survive on the material that makes Styrofoam. The organism, commonly called a "superworm," could transform the way waste managers dispose of one of the most common components in landfills, researchers said, potentially slowing a mounting garbage crisis that is exacerbating climate change. In a paper released last week in the journal of Microbial Genomics, scientists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, showed that the larvae of a darkling beetle, called zophobas morio, can survive solely on polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam. The findings come amid a flurry of research on ways bacteria and other organisms can consume plastic materials, like Styrofoam and drinking bottles. Now, the researchers will study the enzymes that allow the superworm to digest Styrofoam, as they look to find a way to transform the finding into a commercial product. Industrial adoption offers a tantalizing scenario for waste managers: A natural way to dispose and recycle the Styrofoam trash that accounts for as much as 30 percent of landfill space worldwide. Among plastics, Styrofoam is particularly troublesome. The material is dense and takes up a lot of space, making it expensive to store at waste management facilities, industry experts said. The cups, plates and other materials made from it are also often contaminated with food and drink, making it hard to recycle. Polystyrene fills landfills, where it can often take 500 years to break down.