Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to ask voters if they want to create a publicly owned bank, something no city or state in the United States has done in nearly a century. Council members voted Tuesday to start the process of putting a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would allow for the creation of such a bank by amending the city charter. The move is an early step in council President Herb Wesson’s plan to create a public bank, which he said could offer accounts to scores of city cannabis businesses that are shunned by commercial banks because of federal drug laws. It also could help finance affordable housing, he said. David Jette, legislative director of advocacy group Public Bank L.A., said putting the issue to a citywide vote could be a make-or-break moment for public banking, an idea that has gained steam since the financial crisis and lately seen an influx of support from the cannabis industry. Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and the state of California are all in the process of studying whether they can or should start public banks, in part to serve cannabis businesses. For now, though, the U.S. has just one public bank: the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919. “We’re cautiously ecstatic,” Jette said after Tuesday’s vote. “This will be a referendum on the idea of public banking. I think this is an existential vote for our entire national movement.”
Note: The measure was approved and will be on the November ballot for LA voters. For more, see this excellent webpage. Read a revealing article on how the Bank of North Dakota allowed the state to sail through the 2008 financial crisis while all other 49 states suffered. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Chinese researchers have taken what they say is a major step forward for the development of a new generation of solar cells. Manufacturers have long used silicon to make solar panels because the material was the most efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. But organic photovoltaics, made from carbon and plastic, promise a cheaper way of generating electricity. This new study shows that organics can now be just as efficient as silicon. Organic photovoltaics (OPV) can be made of compounds that are dissolved in ink so they can be printed on thin rolls of plastic, they can bend or curve around structures or even be incorporated into clothing. Commercial solar photovoltaics usually covert 15-22% of sunlight, with a world record for a silicon cell of 27.3% reached in this summer in the UK. Organics have long lingered at around half this rate. In April researchers were able to reach 15% in tests. Now this new study pushes that beyond 17% with the authors saying that up to 25% is possible. This is important because according to estimates, with a 15% efficiency and a 20 year lifetime, organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2017, the average cost of electricity in the US was 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Flexible, printed solar cells offer a wide range of possibilities. They can work indoors and they can be made semi-transparent, so they could be incorporated into windows and generate power during daylight.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Most synthetic polymers - Greek for “many parts,” because they are long chains of many identical molecules - were not designed to disintegrate. They were meant to last as long as possible. But synthetic polymers became so popular [that] they’re at the root of the global burden of billions of tons of plastic waste. The environmental effects of plastic buildup and the declining popularity of plastics have helped to spur chemists on a quest to make new materials with two conflicting requirements: They must be durable, but degradable on command. In short, scientists are in search of polymers or plastics with a built-in self-destruct mechanism. The starting point requires picking polymers that are inherently unstable. Dismantling these polymers is sometimes called unzipping them, because once the polymers encounter a trigger ... their units fall off one after another until the polymers have completely switched back to small molecules. “We can have a big change in properties or complete degradation of the polymer just from one event,” says Elizabeth Gillies, a polymer chemist. On-demand, rapid disintegration gives unzipping polymers an edge ... she says, as biodegradation is often slow and difficult to control. These next-generation polymers could help mitigate pollution problems associated with plastic products. If the units were collected after unzipping to make new polymers, that would lead to chemical recycling. Most recycling done today simply involves melting the plastic and remolding it.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The sprawling, gated campus of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) sits on a spit of land about an hour north of Amsterdam. In a nearby control room, engineers ... were working on one of clean energy’s intransigent problems: how to turn waste into electricity without producing more waste. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when heated to extreme temperatures, wood and agricultural leftovers, as well as plastic and textile waste, turn into a gas composed of underlying chemical components. The resulting synthetic gas, or “syngas,” can be harnessed as a power source, generating heat or electricity. But gasified waste has serious shortcomings: it contains tars, which clog engines and disrupt catalysts, breaking machinery, and in turn, lowering efficiency and raising costs. This is what the Dutch technology is designed to fix. The MILENA-OLGA system, as they call it, is a revolutionary carbon-neutral energy plant that turns waste into electricity with little or no harmful byproducts. The MILENA-OLGA process ... is 11 percent more efficient than most existing energy-from-waste plants and over 50 percent more efficient than incinerators of a comparable scale. The process also emits zero wastewater and produces no particulates or other pollutants. Just 4 percent of the original material is left over as inert white ash, which can be used to make cement.
Note: A similar technology was developed and implemented over 10 years ago, as detailed in this Popular Science article. Why wasn't this amazing invention widely reported and used? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In New Prague, Minn., population around 7,600, Kendra and Paul Rasmusson [opened a grocery] store that is largely unstaffed. The couple’s young daughter has epilepsy, and they discovered early on that a healthy diet could help her feel better. They couldn’t find enough local, organic items at the big-box store close to town. So ... they opened Farmhouse Market. The numbers wouldn’t work if they were to run it in a traditional way. Inspired by a nearby 24-hour fitness center, they had an idea: Why not create a store that didn’t need staff, for shoppers who wanted organic [food] from local farmers? Members pay $99 a year and use a key card to open the door. They can shop anytime they want. Local farmers, beekeepers and other suppliers have cards, too, so they can restock their supplies at midnight if they want. In Baltimore, the Salvation Army market is tackling an urban version of the grocery-store drought. The DMG Foods was built in the front of a Salvation Army distribution center in a neighborhood where families in public housing mix with Johns Hopkins students and older people who grew up there. The cheery store, whose name is an abbreviation of the organization’s motto, Doing the Most Good, feels a little bit like what Amazon would ship if you typed “grocery store” into the search bar. And in a way, that’s what [founder Maj. Gene]. Hogg did. “We didn’t do this to make money selling groceries,” Mr. Hogg said. “We did this so people could have a neighborhood grocery store with fresh food.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
This week, two of the biggest economies in Europe set new records for clean energy. The UK’s electrical grid has not burned any coal for about 1,000 hours so far this year. Though it’s just a symbolic achievement, the pace at which the UK is reaching such figures shows the pace of the energy transition. In 2016 and 2017, the comparable figures for the full year stood at 210 hours and 624 hours, respectively. There are two reasons for the shift: a carbon tax on coal has made cleaner natural gas more attractive, and subsidies for solar and wind power have ensured wider deployment of new clean-energy technologies. Germany’s case has been slightly different. Though it began pushing for renewable energy much earlier than the UK, its gains have been slower. The coal lobby in Germany is a lot stronger than in the UK. But as the costs of renewable energy have come down, change is finally showing. In 2018 so far, coal generated about 35.1% of the country’s electricity. In comparison, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass, generated about 36.5%. At the half-year mark, it’s the first time in Germany’s history that renewables sources have generated more electricity than coal. Such records and falling renewable costs have made it easier for the EU to set more ambitious clean-energy goals. Last month, the bloc’s member nations agreed that each country must get 32% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
While most countries are struggling to reach their renewable energy targets, others are breezing past them. Thanks to both its geography and impactful policies, Sweden is set to achieve its 2030 goals in mere months. In 2012, years before the Paris Agreement, Norway and Sweden signed a joint agreement to increase production of electricity from renewables by 28.4 terawatt hours within eight years. It only took a few years for Sweden to realize it was ahead of schedule, and in 2017, it increased its target, aiming to add another 18 TWh by 2030. Lo and behold, once more, Sweden is moving much faster than anticipated and now there’s a good chance it will reach the 2030 goal in mere months — maybe even by the end of the year. Wind energy is one of the main drivers propelling Sweden’s renewable targets forward. According to the World Economic Forum ... there will be 3,681 turbines functioning in the country by the end of the year. But this is only the start of the road for Sweden. Sweden already has a cross-party agreement to achieve 100% renewable energy production by 2040, and the figure is already hovering around 57%. The country has also set a target of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045. According to the Paris Agreement, all EU countries have agreed to achieve 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles that fuel the operation of the cell. A series of experiments has found that fresh mitochondria can revive flagging cells and enable them to quickly recover. In animal studies ... mitochondrial transplants revived heart muscle that was stunned from a heart attack. Infusions of mitochondria also prolonged the time organs could be stored before they were used for transplants, and even ameliorated brain damage that occurred soon after a stroke. In ... human tests, mitochondrial transplants appear to revive and restore heart muscle in infants that was injured in operations to repair congenital heart defects. The idea for mitochondrial transplants was born of serendipity. Dr. Emani is a pediatric surgeon. Dr. McCully is a scientist who studies adult hearts. Both were wrestling with ... how to fix hearts that had been deprived of oxygen during surgery or a heart attack. One day, [Dr. McCully] decided simply to pull some mitochondria from healthy [pig] cells and inject them into the injured cells. To his surprise, the mitochondria moved like magnets to the proper places in the cells and began supplying energy. The pig hearts recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Emani was struggling with the same heart injuries in his work with babies. [When] the two researchers met, “it was almost an ‘aha’ moment,” Dr. Emani said. The scientists have now treated 11 babies with mitochondria. All of the more recent patients survived and are doing well.
A New Zealand firm that let its employees work four days a week while being paid for five says the experiment was so successful that it hoped to make the change permanent. The firm, Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills and estates, found the change actually boosted productivity among its 240 employees, who said they spent more time with their families, exercising, cooking, and working in their gardens. Similar experiments in other countries have tested the concept of reducing work hours as a way of improving individual productivity. In Sweden, a trial in the city of Gothenburg mandated a six-hour day, and officials found employees completed the same amount of work or even more. In Perpetual Guardian’s case, workers said the change motivated them to find ways of increasing their productivity while in the office. Meetings were reduced from two hours to 30 minutes, and employees created signals for their colleagues that they needed time to work without distraction. “They worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter,” [Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor] said. Andrew Barnes, the company’s founder ... said he came up with the idea for a four-day workweek after reading a report that suggested people spent less than three hours of their work day productively employed, and another that said distractions at work could have effects on staff akin to losing a night’s sleep.
Of all the measures of the continent’s poverty, few are starker than that about two-thirds of its people have no access to reliable electricity. But thanks to a happy combination of innovation and falling costs for renewable energy, Africa may now be able to leapfrog ahead not once but twice, skipping both polluting fossil fuels and, often, the electricity grid itself. This is partly due to falling costs: the price of solar panels has come down by more than 80% since 2010, and that of wind turbines is also dropping fast. Yet generating power is useful only if it can be sent to where it is needed, and in many parts of Africa electricity grids seldom stretch beyond big cities. [A] set of innovations is offering to sidestep this problem with mini rooftop solar installations that can power a home, or slightly larger “micro-grids” that can light up a village. Rooftop solar systems usually consist of a small solar panel and a small rechargeable battery and controller which typically powers ... lights, a radio and a phone charger. Most systems have a built-in connection to the mobile-phone network that allows the provider to switch it on or off remotely. Instead of shelling out $250 or so upfront for an entire system, customers can buy electricity for the equivalent of 50 cents a day using mobile money. Thanks to this new “paygo” model, venture capital is pouring into an industry that now has at least half a dozen significant firms. The largest of them, M-Kopa, has electrified more than 500,000 homes and is adding almost 200,000 more a year.
When Andrew Parker’s grandfather began suffering from dementia three years ago, his grandmother had to start taking care of the house and caring for him. It was hard work, and one day, Parker got the idea to hire a college student to help out. His grandfather loved it. So did his grandmother. For a few hours, he said, “She got to go do her own thing.” It got Parker thinking. “There’s so many seniors and so many college students out there.” So in January, [he] launched a business called Papa, after his name for his grandfather. It connects students with seniors for light housekeeping or driving chores, but the company’s real goal is in its slogan: “Grandkids on-Demand.” “We are specifically a service that links two generations,” Parker said. “Our emphasis is this is a really fun day for a senior. Someone who might say, ‘I don’t want to bother my daughter or son but I want someone who can be with me for a day so I don’t have to annoy my kids.’” To date, the company has around 250 members who pay a monthly fee of $15 to $30 to belong, and then pay $15 per hour for visits by students, or Papa Pals. Pals must be enrolled in a 4-year college, or be working on a masters degree, a social work degree, or a nursing or medical degree. They must have a four-door car and pass a background check. “The biggest thing we’re focusing on is curing loneliness,” Parker said. The ... nature of the relationship – and the relative youth of the Pals – can also make them easier to work with than more traditional aides.
An African American family of six sits inside the Nissan Quest in this first-ring suburb of St. Paul. The car tells a story of poverty: Plastic covers a broken window; rust lines the wheel wells. Officer Erin Reski pulled the vehicle over for a burned-out taillight, a problem similar to the one that led an officer to stop Philando Castile in the Twin Cities two years ago. That incident ... ended with Castile fatally shot. This situation ends very differently. Reski walks back to the minivan ... hands over a sheet of paper and offers a brief explanation. The response is swift and emphatic. “Oh, thank you!” the driver says. Scenes like this have been taking place across the Twin Cities thanks to the Lights On program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year. For motorists such as Sandy Patterson, another African American resident who was pulled over for a burned-out headlight in January, the small gesture of being offered a coupon makes a big difference. “I was relieved that I was getting a voucher to purchase a service that could’ve been quite expensive,” she said. “I had an overwhelming feeling of decreased anxiety because of the whole way the communication went, with somebody helping out versus giving a ticket.”
New York City is the safest big city in the nation. The city is betting it can [get even safer]. The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety is being employed in 15 of the most dangerous public housing complexes in the city. The idea is to lower crime by making these neighborhoods better - places where residents live in well-maintained buildings, have necessary services, are engaged in civic life and can collaborate to solve problems. Working elevators, summer jobs for teenagers, community centers open till midnight, residents who know what to do when the trash piles up - no one would doubt that these are good things. But it seems a stretch to call them crime prevention measures. Will people really commit fewer robberies and shootings if the trash gets picked up? Crime has dropped more in the 15 complexes involved in the plan than in other public housing. Why? It might be this: Crime is in part a function of trust. “Trust is the heartbeat of civic life,” said Elizabeth Glazer, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “These neighborhoods feel completely estranged.” Perhaps more important ... is what social scientists call “collective efficacy” - achieved when neighbors feel that they can trust and rely on one another and work together to get things done. Collective efficacy is so important that the lack of it - common in disadvantaged neighborhoods - is most of the reason poor communities have more crime. When they build collective efficacy, even without other changes, crime drops.
Two prominent California doctors, with bestselling books, insist we have the power to heal our own brains from diseases. They say it should start when we're young and begin with a look at the way we eat. Two women we spoke with who followed that advice say ... they reversed their early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by making food and lifestyle changes based on research by neuroscientist Dr. Dale Bredesen. He wrote a book called "The End of Alzheimer's." "Two years ago, I scored mildly cognitively impaired on a cognitive assessment test," said Dr. Sally Weinrich. "Most recently, I scored perfect!" Weinrich, a former cancer researcher and grandmother, followed the Bredesen protocol for several months and is able to cook once again for her large family, pick up the grandkids from school and she's learning Spanish. Deborah, a very active mother of four and a lawyer, says, "Over a period of four to six months, the symptoms I was experiencing all reversed and I returned to my cognitive functioning that had been my norm when I was younger." She was able to recover her ability to sight-read notes when she plays the piano. Adda, an active 51-year-old grandmother, [said] that she improved her ability to think clearly and she lost almost 80 pounds after making dramatic food and lifestyle changes ... after she started working for cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry nearly six years ago. He wrote a book called "The Plant Paradox."
China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country's forest coverage. A large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border to work on non-military tasks inland. The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, according to the Asia Times. The area is known to be a major culprit for producing the notorious smog which blankets the capital city. The idea is believed to be popular among members of online military forums as long as they can keep their ranks and entitlements. It comes as part of China's plan to plant at least 84,000 square kilometres (32,400 square miles) of trees by the end of the year, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Ireland. The aim is to increase the country's forest coverage from 21 per cent of its total landmass to 23 per cent by 2020. Zhang Jianlong, head of China's State Forestry Administration, said by 2035 the figure could reach as high as 26 per cent."
Homegirl Cafe, a Los Angeles breakfast and lunch spot with a Latino twist, offers a unique dining experience prepared by former gang members. The popular cafe in the city's Chinatown allows visitors to relish carefully crafted meals while getting inspired by former inmates who willingly retell their stories about seeking a better life. The cafe is an offshoot of the Homeboy Industries social enterprises founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle to give former gang members job training and social services. Trainees learn all aspects of culinary arts while developing new social prowess that gives visitors a tender encounter. Plates like chilaquiles — fresh crisp tortilla chips tossed with warm tomatillo salsa, egg, crema fresca, and queso cotija — are made from ingredients that come straight from urban farms.
Note: Read more about Homeboy Industries' success in providing former gang members with a path to a better life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Campbell Remess is not like most 12-year-olds. For the last three years, Campbell has spent all of his free time sewing teddy bears for charity. "I do comfort bears, which are for parents if their kids are in hospital having a hard time," he said. "I do overseas bears, like for terrorists attacks. I sent one over to Paris when the people got hurt, and I'm sending some over to Brussels too." This charitable obsession started when Campbell decided he wanted to give Christmas presents to children in hospital. "He asked if we could buy presents for children in hospital and I said 'No way, dude'," Sonya Whittaker, Campbell's mum, said. She told Campbell that with nine children of their own, buying presents for sick kids would just cost too much. "He said 'No worries, I'll make them then'," she said. "He came down with this funky looking teddy bear that he'd made ... it was incredible," Ms Whittaker said. "He's just sewn and sewn since then." Campbell has pushed himself for the past two years to create a teddy bear a day. Ms Whittaker has since set up a Facebook group called Project 365 by Campbell to track her son's progress. One of the group's members, Kat, was recently inspired to help Campbell. "I sent his mum a message one night to ask if he needed fabric," Kat said. "She came back with a definite no, but [said] what he did need was storage space. "I set up a [online fundraiser, and] we reached $1,000 in 36 hours." Kat used the money to buy Campbell a work bench and storage space to hold all the donated fabric he has.
Across the world, almost half as many people are creating ventures with a primarily social or environmental purpose as those with a solely commercial aim, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. The movement is driven mainly by younger entrepreneurs and its growth has taken place against a backdrop of corporate scandals in mainstream businesses ... that have brought capitalism’s values into question. “Social entrepreneurship has gone mainstream and global,” argues Peter Drobac, a doctor who created healthcare ventures in Rwanda. Dr Drobac ... was inspired to get into the field 20 years ago when HIV infection was running unchecked. “Younger generations in my experience are much more deeply connected to the world and to societal challenges. They want careers that allow them to create positive change,” he says. Other factors, Dr Drobac adds, include the changing nature of work, “which means that the prospect of spending one’s entire career in the same company is becoming vanishingly small”. At the same time, technology is creating opportunities for disruptive innovation in sectors such as education and healthcare. While research suggests the majority of social entrepreneurs worldwide are young, the movement has been inspired by figures such as Muhammad Yunus. The septuagenarian Bangladeshi founder of Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering microcredit — loans for entrepreneurs too poor to get traditional bank loans, many of them women.
Note: Read more about the microcredit movement mentioned in the article above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Ireland will become the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels after politicians voted to withdraw all public funds from oil and gas companies. In an effort to meet the country's climate change commitments, as embodied in the Paris agreement, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will probably be brought into force after parliament's summer recess. First introduced by independent MP Thomas Pringle in 2016, the bill has since been backed by all opposition parties. Taking inspiration from universities and cities around the world that have withdrawn financial support from the fossil fuel industry, Mr Pringle began working on the idea after meeting Irish international development charity Trocaire. The passing of the bill will compel the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell off its fossil fuel investments, which stand at more than €300m (Ł265m) across 150 companies worldwide. Mr Pringle said the withdrawal of this money will not only remove funds from some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, it will act as a gesture of Ireland’s commitment to tackling climate change. Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, agreed that the bill made a “powerful statement” that would serve to improve the nation’s reputation as a “climate laggard”.
While many people wring their hands over the amount of plastic waste, Miranda Wang aims to reduce the mess. Ms. Wang, 24, is a co-founder and chief executive of BioCellection, a start-up that is tackling hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, focusing initially on plastic-film waste. Using a novel reaction system that employs a liquid chemical catalyst, BioCellection turns unrecyclable, contaminated film waste into chemicals that can be used by consumers and industry. Later this year, BioCellection will start a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area to build its first commercial machine, which can process five metric tons of waste a day. Many borrowers with poor credit scores ... can’t qualify for an affordable small loan. Jeff Zhou is offering an answer, in the form of Fig Loans. The lender’s goal is to offer an alternative to pricey payday loans that strapped consumers turn to when they have an unexpected financial emergency and have no other option. “We want to offer socially responsible financial products for people who are under banked,” he said. Customers can apply online for a loan from Fig, which makes lending decisions based on bank statements, taking into account expenses like rent, utilities and spending, Mr. Zhou said. Loans are $300 to $500 and, depending on the state, are repaid in four or six equal monthly installments — unlike payday loans, which typically must be repaid in two weeks.
Note: Read about more inventive solutions to common problems at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.