Honest taxi driver reaps rewards
2009-05-07, BBC News
Hundreds of Argentines have been donating to a taxi driver who found a bag with $32,500 (£21,600) in cash in his taxi and returned it to its owners. The donations started after a website was set up in his honour calling for gestures of gratitude for what is seen as an extraordinary act of honesty. So far the equivalent of $14,580 has been donated, according to the site. Santiago Gori, a taxi driver in the coastal city of La Plata, found the money after driving an elderly couple. They only went a short distance but when he dropped them off, they left a bag in the back of his taxi. A few days later he managed to locate his passengers again and he returned the bag. For Argentines used to corruption at all levels of society, this was an extraordinary story. Two young advertising agency employees decided to set up a website to thank Mr Gori further for his exemplary behaviour. Now thousands of people have accessed the site and have left hundreds of rewards and messages for Mr Gori. One visitor offered to produce in his studio a song chosen by Mr Gori to kick-start a potential artistic career. Another offered a snow-boarding lesson in Argentina's ski resort of Bariloche, while an Argentine abroad promised to bring back a second-hand GPS satellite receiver for his taxi on his return. "Thank you", say many of the messages and one said it all: "I wish more people were like you." For his part, Mr Gori seems a bit bemused. He said he only did what had to be done - and that he does not quite know what to do with all the things he has been offered.
On Elephant Sanctuary, Unlikely Friends
2009-01-02, CBS News
When elephants retire, many head for the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn. They arrive one by one, but they tend to live out their lives two-by-two. "Every elephant that comes here searches out someone that she then spends most all of her time with," says sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley. It's like having a best girlfriend, Buckley says - "Somebody they can relate to, they have something in common with."
Debbie has Ronnie. Misty can't live without Dulary. Those are pachyderm-pachyderm pairs. But perhaps the closest friends of all are Tarra and Bella. That would be Tarra the 8,700 pound Asian elephant. And Bella. The dog. "This is her friend," Buckley says. "Her friend just happens to be a dog and not an elephant. Bella knows she's not an elephant. Tarra knows she's not a dog. But that's not a problem for them." Bella is one of more than a dozen stray dogs that have found a home at the sanctuary. Most want nothing to do with the elephants and vice versa. But not this odd couple. "When it's time to eat they both eat together. They drink together. They sleep together. They play together," Buckley says. Bella even lets Tarra pet her tummy - with the bottom of her enormous foot. They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices. Just two living creatures who somehow managed to look past their immense differences. Take good look at this couple, America. Take a good look world. If they can do it - what's our excuse?
Note: Don't miss the inspiring, four-minute video of these two available here.
Author's adventures with rats build schools
2008-12-07, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Stefan Lyon has many titles: Author, humanitarian, international philanthropist. And seventh-grader. Stefan has just finished his third book about his San Francisco adventures with his pet rats. As with his first two books, all proceeds go to build schools in Africa. "I want to help the less fortunate," said Stefan, 13, at a recent book signing at a law firm in a downtown high-rise. "There are a lot of AIDS orphans in Africa." For $5,000, he financed the conversion of an abandoned cowshed in Kakamega, Kenya, into a two-room school. He's now halfway through construction of an eight-room school for 100 children ... in the neighboring village of Bungoma. Stefan is on a book promotion tour for the holidays, hoping to raise the last $30,000 to finish the school. Stefan, who has his own nonprofit, the Stefan Lyon Foundation, knows that he's not a typical 13-year-old, but he also doesn't know what all the fuss is about. Stefan was always a compassionate child.
"He'd sit with the kids who got bullied at school until they felt better," [his mother] said. By elementary school, Stefan passed out cookies and blankets to the homeless at the Civic Center from his red wagon. He'd insert notes in the cookie bags: "I'm thinking of you." "God loves you." In the third grade at St. Brendan School, he was inspired by his teacher, Renée McHugh, who gave a lesson on Africa and explained how little money was needed to build schools for orphans. He wanted to sell cookies from his wagon to finance an African school. A supermarket gave him free cookie dough, and he got to work.
Woman Risks Her Life for the Wolf Man She Loves
2008-10-08, ABC News
There is hunger in the forest at night. It is the witching hour of stealth and surprise, when wolf packs hunt their prey. Using a natural calculus of speed and distance, wolves drive their quarry deep into the snow. The chases end with an assault of teeth and snarls. Learning what's beyond the menace is not for the faint of heart. But Shaun Ellis and his girlfriend Helen Jeffs are willing to risk their lives and leave behind the last remnants of a human existence to survive in the world of the wolf. "It's almost like the wolf brings out a subconscious in you, a way of dealing with the world," Ellis said. But to do so, Ellis and Jeffs have to become wolves themselves. "Lose your human, think wolf," Ellis said to Jeffs. It is a skill he has honed in the last few decades. He has done what many scientists thought impossible and has become an accepted member of a captive wolf pack. "This is the way that you need to study these animals. Get close to their world. And then they will share their secrets," he said. As a man living among wolves, Ellis bade farewell to the comforts of human society and took his place on the ground to learn the ways of a canine hierarchy. He created his own sanctuary to study captive wolf behavior at the Coombe Martin Wildlife Park, on England's southwest coast. His goal is to find ways for wolves to peacefully co-exist with ranchers whose cattle are susceptible to attack. At a nearby pub one night, he met a woman who discovered she was fascinated both by the wolves and the man living among them. Jeffs became Ellis' assistant. And later on, something more.
Note: Don't miss the amazing and touching five-minute video of this love affair at the link above.
For This Generation, Vocations of Service
2008-10-14, Washington Post
Drew Chafetz, 25, a graduate of the private Maret School with a degree in economics from the University of Colorado, makes no money. He lives with his parents in Northwest Washington, sleeping in the same poster-filled basement room of his teenage years. But Chafetz, despite failure-to-launch appearances, is no slacker. He is actually on an alternative achievement track popular with his generation: social entrepreneurship. Using cheap Internet phone service and free coffee-shop wireless, Chafetz works full time on a project he founded called love.fútbol. The nonprofit organization helps build low-maintenance soccer fields in Guatemalan communities where children often have no place to play except garbage-strewn lots or hard-to-reach fields. Social entrepreneurship, the movement in which people launch nonprofit or business ventures to address systemic problems in impoverished areas, emerged nearly three decades ago and is growing in appeal among young adults who want to help vulnerable people. Rather than working their way up at a government agency or large nonprofit, Chafetz and others in their 20s or early 30s are leveraging business partnerships, grants and donations for their own initiatives to do good in the world. Every generation has its altruists. But many Millennials, born in the late 1970s or early '80s, are displaying a notable urgency to make social change. UCLA's national poll of college freshmen has found that ... about 70 percent of incoming freshmen in 2007 said it's "essential or very important" to help others in difficulty, the highest that figure has been in 36 years.
Note: For lots more inspiring stories from major media sources, click here.
Dolphin rescues stranded whales
2008-03-12, CNN/Associated Press
A dolphin swam up to two distressed whales that appeared headed for death in a beach stranding in New Zealand and guided them to safety, witnesses said. The actions of the bottlenose dolphin -- named Moko by residents who said it spends much of its time swimming playfully with humans at the beach -- amazed would-be rescuers and an expert who said they were evidence of the species' friendly nature. The two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of the capital of Wellington, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith. Rescuers worked for more than one hour to get the whales back into the water, only to see them strand themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea. It looked likely the whales would have to be euthanized to prevent them suffering a prolonged death, Smith said. "They kept getting disorientated and stranding again," said Smith, who was among the rescuers. "They obviously couldn't find their way back past (the sandbar) to the sea." Along came Moko, who approached the whales and led them 200 meters (yards) along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea. "Moko just came flying through the water and pushed in between us and the whales," Juanita Symes, another rescuer, told The Associated Press. "She got them to head toward the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience. The best day of my life." Smith speculated that Moko responded after hearing the whales' distress calls. "They had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her."
Note: To watch a video featuring Moko's rescue of the whales, click here.
Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s bait
Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark ... had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone. That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life. The attack occurred ... at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif. “Truly a miracle,” Endris [said]. “[It] came out of nowhere. Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark.” The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said. That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected. The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go. The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore. No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn’t want it any other way. “I wouldn’t want to go after the shark anyway,” he said. “We’re in his realm, not the other way around.”
Note: For dozens of other inspiring news stories, see our engaging collection available here.
Savings program helps India's street kids bank on change
2007-08-19, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Kanaiya Kumar handed his day's wages of 20 rupees, or about 50 cents, to the stone-faced bank teller, who scribbled the transaction into a ledger before raising his head to attend the next fidgety customer. It could have been any weekday evening at any Indian bank, except for a few exceptions. Every customer and employee was under age 18. And they were all street kids, hustling to earn a buck shining shoes, picking rags and selling tea along the mobbed streets of Delhi's crumbling old city. They are among a growing number of children flocking to the Children's Development Bank, a unique program started by a children's advocacy group six years ago that has become a crucial resource for many of Delhi's estimated 45,000 street kids. Begun from a bright yellow booth in the corner of a boys' night shelter in Old Delhi, the bank now has 14 branches throughout the city, giving the children a safe place to stash their money, earn interest and even borrow to start a business. "When I used to work in the tea stall, there was no place to sleep, there was no security, people would steal my money," said Mohammad Azad, a spindly 14-year-old boy with luminous brown eyes. "Now, no one will steal my money. It's safe and I can use it in the future." The bank gives this underground workforce - nearly all boys whose average daily wage is 60 cents - more than a place to manage money. In India, where more than three-quarters of the population lives on less than 50 cents a day according to a recent government report, the bank could be [a] way out of the grinding poverty that has defined their lives. Most bank members are runaways from impoverished villages throughout North India, whose parents have taken them out of school to help the family economically.
Note: For inspiring related stories on microlending and microcredit which are powerfully pulling the poor out of poverty around the world, click here.
The Air Car
Many respected engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable "zero pollution" car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India's largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car. How does it work? 90m3 of compressed air is stored in fibre tanks. The expansion of this air pushes the pistons and creates movement. It is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km. The car has a top speed of 68 mph. Refilling the car will ... take place at adapted petrol stations to administer compressed air. In two or three minutes, and at a cost of approximately [US$2] the car will be ready to go another 200-300 kilometres. As a viable alternative, the car carries a small compressor which can ... refill the tank in 3-4 hours. At the moment, four models have been made: a car, a taxi (5 passengers), a Pick-Up truck and a van. The final selling price will be approximately [US$11,000]. "Moteur Development International" (MDI) ... has researched and developed the Air Car over 10 years.
Note: Why aren't U.S. automakers interested in this breakthrough technology? For abundance of reliable information on the exciting new developments in auto design for super-efficient mileage, click here.
A new way to do well by doing good
2006-01-05, Wall Street Journal/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Making tiny loans to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries has long been a popular charitable cause, but it is now gaining traction as an investment. Microfinance, as these loans are known, is aimed at lifting some of the world's most destitute people out of poverty by providing seed money for small businesses. Funding for the loans traditionally has come from charities and government-aid organizations. Now, an increasing number of private funds are steering capital to microfinance. Many of the new investment instruments have been launched by nonprofit organizations long involved in the industry, including Grameen Foundation USA, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, both in Washington. Microfinance investing got a boost this fall when eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, gave $100 million to Tufts University to create a fund that invests in microfinance vehicles. Microfinance investment funds...lend money for small-scale businesses, such as vending fruit, weaving shawls or operating small farms in poor countries around the world. Calvert Foundation offers Community Investment Notes, which require a minimum $1,000 investment, and can be earmarked to invest in developing countries or other initiatives, including post-Katrina recovery on the Gulf Coast.
Note: Microfinance is one of the most empowering movements in the world. When we let go of our fears around finances and put our money where our heart is, we invite major transformation into both our personal lives and our world. For how to get involved, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/051023microcredit
After Finding $40,000 In Thrift-Store Couch, Roommates Return Money
Many of us have stories about old couches — particularly ones we had in college, or shortly after. But not many stories are like the one three roommates in New Paltz, N.Y., can now tell. After the trio realized their beat-up couch was stuffed with more than $40,000, they decided to return the money to its rightful owner. It all started when roommates Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo realized that the lumps in their couch's pillows were actually envelopes stuffed with money. Just two months earlier, they'd bought the couch for $20 at a Salvation Army store. "It had these bubble wrap envelopes, just like two or three of them," Werkhoven tells. They kept finding more envelopes in the couch, pulling money out of it like an upholstered ATM. As they counted the money, they talked about what they might do with it; Werkhoven says he wanted to buy his mom a new car. But then they spotted a name among the envelopes, and realized "that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to ... it's their money." A phone number led them to the family that had donated the couch — and to answers about why it was full of money. It turned out that the money was socked away out of the woman's late husband's concerns that he wouldn't always be there for his wife. It represented decades of savings. "This was her life savings and she actually said something really beautiful, like 'This is my husband looking down on me and this was supposed to happen,' " Guasti [said]. After they returned the money to the woman, Guasti, Russo and Werkhoven received $1,000 as a reward.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Tenacious gardeners put down roots in 'America's most desperate town'
2014-06-25, Christian Science Monitor
Pedro Rodriguez’s [chicken] coop occupies one corner of a vacant-lot-turned-garden in Camden, New Jersey. It’s an oasis of abundance and order in a city of abandoned buildings, street trash, and drug deals that few attempt to hide. Rodriguez, 50, grew up down the street. Near the chickens, he has planted neat raised beds of corn, tomatoes, cabbage, kale, asparagus, eggplant, onion, 20 varieties of hot peppers, and broccoli. Fruit trees (cherry, apple, peach, and pear) line the perimeter of the lot, as well as two beehives. He’s considering getting a goat. In September of 2013, the last centrally located grocery store [in Camden] closed its doors. The city needs fresh food, and residents are doing what it takes to grow it. The success of community gardens is thanks in large part to the Camden City Garden Club, which has been supporting the city’s gardens with organizing power, education, materials, and food distribution since 1985. The club’s founder and executive director, Mike Devlin, [built] an organization whose programs now include the Camden Children’s Garden on the waterfront; Camden Grows, a program that trains new gardeners; a Food Security Council, which was soon adopted by the city; the Fresh Mobile Market, a truck that sells fresh produce in the neighborhoods and provides a place for residents to barter their surplus vegetables; a youth employment and training program that has lasted nearly two decades; and Grow Labs, a school program to teach kids about healthy food—in addition to supporting the growing network of community gardens.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Minnesota teen's YouTube song strikes emotional, viral chord
2014-04-30, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
An Austin teen is getting some big attention online for belting out an original song on YouTube. Molly Kate Kestner,18, posted a video on April 20 of herself singing "His Daughter." Since then, the song has garnered more than 1.3 million views (and climbing fast). Among those who have noticed: the Huffington Post and social media star George Takei shared the video on his Facebook page. Reached by phone ..., Mary Jane Kestner said her daughter was taking the sudden Internet fame in stride (but was exhausted from the attention and taking a nap). The Austin High School student is in the midst of graduating and also preparing to participate in the Distinguished Young Women of America scholarship program in a couple weeks (in Mobile, Alabama). She said her daughter hopes to record the song soon and release it on iTunes. Kestner said Molly hopes to one day be a motivational speaker, which is in line with the song's faith-centric vibe. "She's definitely more than just a pretty voice. The song is really showing something about her character," Mary Jane Kestner said. "She has a real interest in helping young girls discover their value."
Note: Don't miss this touching video about a father with a drinking problem who left his daughter and how it changed her life.
For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Venezuela: A Call for Peace
2014-04-02, New York Times
Venezuelans ... have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people. According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously — to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank’s data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent. We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil. Since 1998, the movement founded by Hugo Chávez has won more than a dozen presidential, parliamentary and local elections through an electoral process that former American President Jimmy Carter has called “the best in the world.” Recently, the United Socialist Party received an overwhelming mandate in mayoral elections in December 2013, winning 255 out of 337 municipalities. Popular participation in politics in Venezuela has increased dramatically over the past decade. The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The antigovernment protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people.
Note: This article was written by Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela. We have long observed a strong media bias against Venezuela. Thanks to the New York Times for finally printing an article in support of this country which, despite its problems, has made remarkable strides in recent years.
Young boy comes to the aid of cash-strapped family
2013-01-16, Fox News (Atlanta affiliate)
Aidan Hornaday may only be 12, but he's got his sights set on big things. The Woodstock boy is trying to rally kids all over the country to make a difference. The youngster has created Aidan Cares. He wants to prove to kids and grownups that everybody has something they can use to help other people. He found his something when he picked up his big brother's harmonica four years ago. The next night, waiting for his mom at C & S Seafood Oyster Bar in Vinings, Aidan took off his cap and started playing. "[I] was blowing harmonica, one note, then looking at it, then blowing another. And then, out of nowhere, I got $80. And I thought, 'Wow, 80 bucks for taking my hat off,'" said Hornaday. A 7-year-old philanthropist was born. "That night I came home and I said, 'You know what, I'm going to donate this $80 to African orphans to help fight intestinal parasites,'" said Hornaday. Soon people were asking him to play at their events and inviting him to speak to them. And the more he played, the more donations rolled in. In four years, he's raised more than $60,000.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs
2013-12-17, New York Times
The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said ..., effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest. The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales. For decades, pharmaceutical companies have paid doctors to speak on their behalf at conferences and other meetings of medical professionals, on the assumption that the doctors are most likely to value the advice of trusted peers. But the practice has also been criticized by those who question whether it unduly influences the information doctors give each other and can lead them to prescribe drugs inappropriately to patients. Under the plan, which Glaxo said would be completed worldwide by 2016, the company will no longer pay health care professionals to speak on its behalf about its products or the diseases they treat “to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing.” It will also stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences, a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry-imposed ethics code but that still occurs in other countries.
Note: For more on this, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
New York photographer turns strangers into friends
2013-08-02, CBS News
Forty-five-year-old Richard Renaldi is looking for someone -- two someones, actually. Two total strangers who were meant to be together, if only for a moment. Richard is a New York photographer working on a series of portraits. For each shot he grabs strangers off the street -- like Jenny Wood, an airline employee from Virginia, and Dominek Tucker, a college student from Brooklyn -- and poses them like adoring family. Richard calls the project "Touching Strangers." He started shooting it six years ago and now has hundreds of portraits of these unlikely intimates. Richard puts the people in these poses, but the sentiment that seems to shine through is real -- at least so say the subjects. At first, Brian Sneeden, a poetry teacher, saw no rhyme or reason for posing with 95-year-old retried fashion designer Reiko Ehrman, but eventually he, too, felt a change. "I felt like I cared for her," Brian says. "I felt like it brought down a lot of barriers." Pretty much everyone shared that same sentiment. "Everyone seems to come away with kind of a good feeling," Richard says. "It's kind of lovely. It's lovely." Most photographers capture life as it is, but in these strangers, Richard Renaldi has captured something much more ethereal and elusive. He shows us humanity as it could be -- as most of us wish it would be -- and as it was, at least for those one fleeting moments in time.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
‘Samsara,’ Ron Fricke’s Cinematic Portrait of the Globe
2012-08-17, New York Times
The new film “Samsara” ranges across the globe: there are fantastical tiered temples in verdant Myanmar and glorious Japanese mohawks, the natural wonders of Namibian sand dunes and orderly production lines of modern agribusiness in China and Europe. The locations are unnamed, and a rich, varied score is heard instead of political or social commentary. One striking image flows into the next, loosely organized according to the cyclical Hindu notion of birth and destruction that gives the film its Sanskrit title. But in an era when the Internet and television overflow with eye-popping imagery from around the world, [“Samsara” ] is a twofold throwback. For one, it is shot in grand, rarely used 70 millimeter, a medium invented for [widescreen cinema]. In its mission, too, there is something old-fashioned about “Samsara.” Though touched with a certain spiritual mindfulness, the film is not intended to send a message. That’s a departure from similarly expansive, globally conscious nonfiction films in vogue now. And though [Ron Fricke, who directed and shot “Samsara,”] views the ambitious chronicles of “Samsara” as beyond documentary, audiences may approach that global tour with expectations molded by the flood of recent films that present Earth and its diversity as something in need of saving, not just gazing. The perspective of “Samsara” could instead be called cosmic, and its goals primarily aesthetic. “Our film is more about feelings and an inner journey than an intellectual experience,” Mark Magidson, who produced and co-edited the film, [said]. “We’re not trying to say anything.”
Note: Samsara was the highest grossing documentary release of 2012. To watch this hauntingly beautiful and politically poignant documentary online, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Mayor to take salary in Bristol pounds
2012-11-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
On his first day in office the new independent mayor of Bristol rebranded the Council House, scrapped a parking measure brought in only a few weeks ago and announced he would take his salary in the city's local currency. George Ferguson, who beat 14 candidates to become mayor, also revealed [that] the hole in the city council's budget was £32m – £4m greater than he had expected. Ferguson said he would work with anybody who could come up with a clever way of finding the savings needed without harming services. To applause, Ferguson said he wanted to move fast. He did not want to commission expensive surveys or report on initiatives. "Let's just do it and see how it turns out," he said. Of his salary – currently £51,000, though the figure could change – Ferguson said he would take it in Bristol pounds, a currency introduced this year and proving a success. Thanking the voters for entrusting him with the "ultimate project", Ferguson said Bristol had a minor link to London but a more important link to the rest of the world. "We are a proud provincial city," he said. "We are pretty self-contained and we are independent." Ferguson completed his speech by asking everyone present to join him as he took the oath made by young men of Athens when they became citizens: "I shall not leave this city any less but rather greater than I found it."
Note: For more on alternative and community currencies, click here and here and see a USA Today article here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Can we make ourselves happier?
2013-07-01, BBC News
Can we make ourselves happier? According to studies from all over the globe collated by the World Happiness Database in Rotterdam, we can. But the path to happiness may not be where we are looking for it. Prof Ruut Veenhoven, Director of the Database and Emeritus professor of social conditions for human happiness at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, says his own study found a slight negative correlation between the number of times people in a study spontaneously mentioned "goals" and their happiness. "Though it is generally assumed that you need goals to lead a happy life, evidence is mixed. The reason seems to be that unhappy people are more aware of their goals, because they seek to change their life for the better."
Although there is some positive correlation between seeing meaning in life and being happy, studies suggest this is not a necessary condition for happiness. In fact, studies suggest leading an active life has the strongest correlation with happiness. "In order to lead a happy life, a rewarding life, you need to be active," says Veenhoven. "So involvement is more important to happiness than knowing the why, why we are here. Research has shown that we can make ourselves happier because happiness does change over time and these changes are not just a matter of better circumstances but of better dealing with life. Elderly people tend to be wiser, and for that reason, happier." Studies collated by the database say you tend to be happier if you: *Are in a long-term relationship *Are actively engaged in politics *Are active in work and in your free time *Go out for dinner *Have close friendships.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.