This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week
. For an index to revealing excerpts of news stories on several dozen engaging topics, click here
The ‘One Billion Rising’ on the Streets of Delhi
2013-02-15, New York Times
Posted: 2013-02-19 10:19:20
On Valentine’s Day in Delhi, the pink band was ubiquitous, tied around arms, on wrists and foreheads, around necks and backpacks. Printed on it were the words “Enough! No More Violence Against Women.” 'On Thursday evening, as many set out for the customary Valentine’s Day dinner in the nation’s capital, several hundred men, women and children gathered at Parliament Street for an unorthodox celebration: a movement using music and dance to oppose violence against women. “We don’t want violence; we want love,” said Kamla Bhasin, the movement’s South Asia coordinator, to a cheering crowd of about 500 people. “We want a just love, a love based on equality.” In nearly 200 countries around the world, people took to the streets Thursday with a carnival spirit as part of One Billion Rising, a campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, to highlight violence against women. In India, the message mirrored widespread public sentiment that has swelled after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi in December, bringing women’s rights and safety to the center stage of civic and political discourse. The campaign Thursday was a continuation of that fight. In recent months, young Indians have poured out in angry protests, condemning a police force that often exists for the preservation of power rather than the protection of people, and a political class that has routinely displayed apathy.
Note: For a powerful three-minute video on women breaking free, click here. To join the "One Billion Rising" movement, see their inspiring website here.
Couple hopes their voluntourism films inspire others
2013-01-01, Marin Independent-Journal (Marin Co, CA's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-19 09:35:23
When [Steve and] Joanie Wynn stumbled upon Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy, a fledgling business started by a former New York Times war correspondent, she thought, here's a chance to do something different — document six women volunteering at a school for AIDS orphans in Tanzania while also enjoying a trip abroad and scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. The experience was "life-changing." [The] couple returned with a lot more than a sense of adventure and some great footage; they discovered a new purpose and passion. They launched Journey for Good, a website that lists voluntourism opportunities in hopes of inspiring others to participate. Their documentary, "A Journey for Good: Tanzania," which aired on public TV stations around the country, garnered four Emmy nominations and two Telly Awards. Now they're in talks with KQED-TV to turn "Journeys for Good" into a series. The Wynns and their 9-year-old son, Ryan, ... left for Cambodia on Dec. 26 with Globe Aware to document their second voluntourism trip together. Their focus is not only on the projects, but also on the people who volunteer — what motivated them, how it changed them. "Our goal is to show people that this is a great way to travel differently," she says. "You can still go and experience a different culture, a different country and have an even richer and deeper experience by working side-by-side with local people." Voluntourism has been one of the fastest growing forms of travel, according to VolunTourism, which follows the industry.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
'Bank of Bob' finances $25 startups
2013-02-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-12 09:50:37
For years, writer Bob Harris enjoyed a unique opportunity - traveling to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world on behalf of ForbesTraveler.com. But, as he bounced from one five-star palace to another, he felt uneasy about the inequality of the industry: The people who build these places don't get to see or experience them. He decided he would somehow give back his salary from the decadent escapes he'd had. That's when he discovered Kiva, the San Francisco crowdfunding site that enables individuals to offer $25 loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Harris began lending via Kiva.org. Then, some friends joined in, building a community of lenders they called, aptly, Friends of Bob Harris. Over the last three years, they've collectively lent more than $3 million. In 2011, Harris decided to go meet some of the entrepreneurs and write about his travels, microfinance and Kiva's impact. That took him to a dozen countries - Bosnia, Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya and more - and resulted in a book: The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Loan at a Time. Recently, he spoke with The Chronicle about his travels and what he learned. Q: Did you ask the entrepreneurs point blank about ... what did they think of the lending criteria? A: I did get feedback on what ... changes they wanted. They wanted longer grace periods; a longer length of time between getting the loan and their first payment so that they could think more about long-term investments; they wanted a version of "revolving credit." I never once heard [complaints] about the interest rate.
Peer-to-Peer Lending: No Longer Just a Curiosity
2013-01-20, Bloomberg Businessweek
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:18:06
Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.
Conscious Capitalism ready for spotlight
2013-01-26, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:16:39
Conscious Capitalism Inc. [is] an organization that came to public attention ... with the publication of a book with the same title and the controversial comments made by its author, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. Not the capitalism that's been "hijacked by the 'story-of-me,' " explained the organization's CEO, Doug Rauch. "It should be the story of us. "Us" as in employees, customers, investors, surrounding communities, the environment - also known as "stakeholders" - to whom business leaders owe an obligation over and above the bottom line and mere shareholder value. These are not new ideas - they've been expressed by a number of business leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microlending Grameen Bank ... and pushed by organizations like San Francisco's Business for Social Responsibility. Still, Conscious Capitalism - registered trademark - has rounded up a number of corporate chieftains in addition to Mackey, including those running Patagonia, The Container Store, Southwest Airlines, Motley Fool, Zappos, Herman Miller, Gibson Guitars and Nordstrom. POSCO, the giant South Korean steel company, is a major financial contributor. Up to now, the 6-year-old nonprofit has been operating mostly under the radar, but with a $1 million annual budget - funded by individual and corporate contributions and revenue from conferences - Conscious Capitalism appears ready to spread its wings.
10 things you might not know about love
Posted: 2013-02-05 10:15:18
In writing the book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, here are 10 lessons I have learned: 1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it. Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another. 2. Love is not exclusive. In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone -- whether your soul mate or a stranger. 3. Love doesn't belong to one person. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once. 4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony. 5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier. When we ... learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily life, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. 6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love. People who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells. 7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. 8. Don't take a loving marriage for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day. 9. Love and compassion can be one and the same. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs. 10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it. When people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits.
Note: Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
MoveOn founder, Tea Party figure meet
2013-01-17, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-01-22 10:25:21
It was a mind-blowing political tableau: a co-founder of liberal bulwark MoveOn sitting in her Berkeley living room, laughing, sharing homemade blueberry scones and occasionally agreeing with a national Tea Party figure. MoveOn's Joan Blades ... and Mark Meckler, ... have been talking online and over the phone for a few years now. Quietly, until now. "Transpartisanship" is the genteel word for what they're doing. Blades has been involved in similar types of projects for about a decade, but this is a fairly new school of political thought, which posits that people can come together to find some common ground without abandoning their core beliefs. The occasion was the latest installment of Living Room Conversations, Blades' latest national transpartisan project that she co-founded with former GOP operative Amanda Kathryn Roman [of] New Jersey. It involves one or two co-hosts pulling together an intimate gathering of folks who might believe they agree on little politically - until they sit down together to listen to one another's perspective. Civilly. Eventually, they find places they agree. That's what happened between Blades and Meckler, and it should give hope to a nation locked in scrums over guns and immigration and taxes. The day's assigned topic was "crony capitalism." It was conservative commentator Ralph Benko who introduced Meckler and Blades online. As Meckler recalled Benko saying, "If MoveOn and the Tea Party ever agree on anything, all politicians should watch out."
Note: What would happen if we focus less on what separates us and more on what brings us together?
The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
2013-01-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-01-22 10:18:08
Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide on [January 11] in New York at the age of 26. Much of Swartz's tragically short life was filled with acts that are genuinely and, in the most literal and noble sense, heroic. He became something of a legend in the internet and programming world before he was 18. His path to internet mogul status and the great riches it entails was clear, easy and virtually guaranteed: a path which so many other young internet entrepreneurs have found irresistible, monomaniacally devoting themselves to making more and more money long after they have more than they could ever hope to spend. Swartz had little interest in devoting his life to his own material enrichment, despite how easy it would have been for him. He committed himself to the causes in which he so passionately believed: internet freedom, civil liberties, making information and knowledge as available as possible. Critically, Swartz didn't commit himself to these causes merely by talking about them or advocating for them. He repeatedly sacrificed his own interests, even his liberty, in order to defend these values and challenge and subvert the most powerful factions that were their enemies. Nobody knows for sure why federal prosecutors decided to pursue Swartz so vindictively. I believe it ... was waged as part of ... the war over how the internet is used and who controls the information that flows on it - and that was his real crime in the eyes of the US government: challenging its authority and those of corporate factions to maintain a stranglehold on that information.
Note: For a video showing the inspiring activism of this young man, click here. This video shows why this courageous man was likely targeted to stop him from empowering others. Please spread the word.
Saudi Arabia’s King Allows Women to Join National Advisory Council
2013-01-11, New York Times
Posted: 2013-01-22 09:44:38
Women are not allowed to drive and cannot yet vote in Saudi Arabia, but on [January 11] they were given a voice in an advisory council that debates the kingdom’s legislation. The Saudi king, Abdullah, issued a decree that for the first time gave women seats on the Shura council, an assembly whose members are appointed to discuss laws and other issues and advise the king, but that has no legislative power. The decree ... gave women 30 of the 150 seats on the council with all the duties of their male counterparts. The decision was met with a mixture of optimism that the country was inching forward with reforms and skepticism from activists who are pushing for greater freedom for women in the conservative kingdom, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. In a decree in 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections scheduled for 2015, the biggest change in a decade for women in the puritanical kingdom. He also promised to name women to the Shura council at that time. But Saudi women still cannot make ordinary decisions, like marrying or traveling abroad, without written permission from a legal male guardian, “effectively treating her as a minor all her life,” [a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif,] wrote in a separate statement on the Web site of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Women also continued to be arrested for driving. In one case in 2011, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for violating the ban. The king later revoked the sentence.
Note: Why is there so little national or international pressure on Saudi Arabia to promote gender equality, or democracy for that matter? Could it be that their huge wealth buys sways the political will of nations around the world? How sad.
Global Campaign ONE BILLION RISING To Stop Violence Against Women and Girls
2013-01-07, 11alive.com (Atlanta's NBC affiliate)
Posted: 2013-01-15 09:57:08
On February 14, 2013 ... activists around the world [will join] ONE BILLION RISING, the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Valentine's Day 2013 will be an official ONE BILLION RISING DAY OF ACTION for the City of Atlanta, declaring Atlanta a Rape and Violence Free Zone. ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. V-Day Atlanta will bring together a coalition of organizations, businesses, schools, entertainers, and elected representatives to work to end violence and empower women. At 12:00 noon, thousands of Atlantans will dance down Peachtree Street in a flash mob choreographed by the legendary Debbie Allen to the One Billion Rising anthem "Break the Chain." V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq.
Note: For a powerful three-minute video on women breaking free, click here. To join the "One Billion Rising" movement, see their inspiring website here. Another article on this in the UK's Guardian is available here.
Malala Fund launched to help girls go to school
2012-12-10, KGO-TV Channel 7 (San Francisco ABC affiliate)
Posted: 2013-01-15 09:52:14
A plan to motivate girls around the world to enroll in school was launched ... by the United Nations and Pakistan. The fund is named for Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban. One of Malala's quotes is, "Education is our basic right." The Pakistani Government donated $10 million to the Malala Fund for girls' right to education. That will help the UN with its goal, to ensure that all girls have access to schools by the end of 2015. "The idea that a girl, simply for going to school or wanting to go to school, was shot by the Taliban is just so unspeakable," said Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy for global education. Her cause to educate all girls got the attention of Washington-based Vital Voices, which promotes extraordinary women and girls around the world. An estimated 32 million girls around the world don't have access to an education. Malala has certainly inspired many young people. "I have a right to sing, I have the right to talk, I have the right to go to market, I have the right to speak," said Malala. The song "Richochet" was written by 12-year-old Lafayette resident Samantha Martin in honor of Malala. Two days ago Malala's father emailed Samantha saying, "I and Malala watched the song and I could not control my tears."
Note: Samantha Martin emailed WantToKnow.info with her truly amazing song, which you can listen to at this link. To sign the petition supporting Malala, click here. For more on the Malala fund, click here. For an inspiring 30-minute New York Times documentary on Malala, click here.
Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?
2013-01-06, New York Times
Posted: 2013-01-15 09:50:46
Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But a concept called “restorative justice” considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends. And it allows victims, who often feel shut out of the prosecutorial process, a way to be heard and participate. In this country, restorative justice takes a number of forms, but perhaps the most prominent is restorative-justice diversion. There are not many of these programs — a few exist on the margins of the justice system in communities like Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland, Calif. — but, according to a University of Pennsylvania study in 2007, they have been effective at reducing recidivism. Typically, a facilitator meets separately with the accused and the victim, and if both are willing to meet face to face without animosity and the offender is deemed willing and able to complete restitution, then the case shifts out of the adversarial legal system and into a parallel restorative-justice process. All parties — the offender, victim, facilitator and law enforcement — come together in a forum sometimes called a restorative-community conference. Each person speaks, one at a time and without interruption, about the crime and its effects, and the participants come to a consensus about how to repair the harm done. The methods are mostly applied in less serious crimes, like property offenses in which the wrong can be clearly righted. The processes are designed to be flexible enough to handle violent crime like assault, but they are rarely used in those situations.
Note: This deeply moving and highly educational piece from the New York Times Magazine about the power of restorative justice is well worth reading in its entirety at the link above.
Lessons from the 'World's Ugliest Woman': 'Stop Staring and Start Learning'
Posted: 2013-01-15 09:17:26
When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds. In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it" and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself. Now 23 years old, she's been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She's a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, Lizzie Beautiful, came out in 2010 and her second, Be Beautiful, Be You, was published earlier this month. She's even reclaimed YouTube, video blogging about everything from bullying to hair-styling tips to staying positive. Of course, the horrible comments left on that old YouTube video stung. "I'm human, and of course these things are going to hurt," she said. "Their judgments of me isn't who I am, and I'm not going to let these things define me. I didn't sink down to their level," she said in a follow-up video on YouTube last year. "Instead, I got my revenge through my accomplishments and determination. In the battle between the 'World's Ugliest Woman' video vs. me, I think I won."
Note: Though looking at this woman can be disturbing for some, consider that you can see beneath the surface to the beauty within. Watch Lizzie share some of her wisdom in a three-minute video at this link.
DIY Africa: Empowering a new Sierra Leone
2012-11-14, CNN blog
Posted: 2013-01-15 09:15:16
When Kelvin Doe, a then-13-year-old from Sierra Leone, saw that off-the-shelf batteries were too expensive for the inventions he was working on, he made his own at home. Kelvin did not have the privilege to do his project in a school environment. Rather, he was compelled to act by necessity and for the joy of solving practical problems. Kelvin combined acid, soda, and metal, dumped those ingredients in a tin cup, waited for the mixture to dry and wrapped tape around the cup to make his first battery. He hasn’t purchased a battery since. Next up: A generator. Kelvin made one of those by hacking an old rusty voltage stabilizer he found in a dustbin. In addition to providing electricity to his home, where neighbors come to charge their mobile phone batteries, the generator powers Kelvin’s homemade FM radio station, fully equipped with a custom music mixer, recycled CD player and antenna that allow his whole neighborhood to tune in. Now 16, Kelvin has expanded operations: he employs his friends as reporters and station managers, tasking them to interview spectators at local soccer games and keep the calendar of requests for his DJ services at parties and events. The average age of his crew is 12. Kelvin ... was at the 2012 World Maker Faire held in New York at the end of September. He was invited to participate in a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with four other amazing young makers from America. He is the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT, and he presented his inventions to undergraduate students at Harvard College and MIT.
Note: For a popular video on this amazing, young genius from Africa, click here.
414 Homicides in ’12 Is a Record Low for New York City
2012-12-29, New York Times
Posted: 2013-01-01 08:47:03
Murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years, city officials announced on [December 28]. There were 414 recorded homicides so far in 2012, compared with 515 for the same period in 2011, city officials said. That is a striking decline from murder totals in the low-2,000s that were common in the early 1990s, and is also below the record low: 471, set in 2009. Shootings are also down for the year so far. The number of murders is the lowest since 1963, when improvements in the recording of data were made. In the last two decades, trumpeting declines in crime trends has become an annual end-of-the-year event, even when the numbers inched up. There were also several anomalies in the 2012 homicide tally, including a serial killer who murdered three shopkeepers in Brooklyn. But overall killings have dropped to such a low level that more New Yorkers now commit suicide than are the victims of homicides. About 475 New Yorkers kill themselves each year, according to the city’s health department. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said. Domestic-related homicides dropped to 68, from 94 in 2011. The likelihood of being killed by a stranger was slight. The vast majority of the homicides ... grew out of “disputes” between a victim and killer who knew each other.
Note: Though most American believe murder and violent crime rates are increasing, these rates in fact have decreased dramatically in the last 20 years, by over 2/3 in many cases. For more great information on this trend, click here. For other inspiring reasons for hope and optimism in the new year, click here.
Finding healing for the healers
2012-07-17, Boston Globe
Posted: 2013-01-01 08:25:44
Seventeen years ago today, in the Boston Globe Magazine, a dying man issued a plea for greater compassion in medicine. He worried that medical professionals faced increasing work demands that prioritized efficiency over empathy. Kenneth Schwartz died of lung cancer two months later, but not before founding an organization that would bring increased attention to the importance of human interactions in medicine. Research suggests that without intervention, physicians may risk becoming less empathetic over time. A recent survey of 18 studies found that medical students and residents tended to report declining feelings of empathy over the course of their training. Another study found that self-perceived empathy dropped sharply after the third year of medical school, when students start working with patients in the hospital. The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare’s flagship program, which started at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1997, encourages doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to share the complex and often distressing feelings that arise from patient care. In recent years, the Schwartz Center Rounds have expanded rapidly, spreading to more than 260 institutions in the country and 14 hospitals in the United Kingdom. The program’s growth reflects an increasing recognition that traditional ideals of the stoic, superhuman medical professional may not be healthy — for either the patient or the caregiver. Schwartz Center Rounds highlight feelings — guilt, fear, anger, or sadness — that might lead caregivers to withdraw emotionally from their work.
Berkeley center funds gratitude research
2012-12-04, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2013-01-01 08:23:52
At UC Berkeley ... a group of researchers thinks about gratitude year-round. Formed in 2001, the Greater Good Science Center is dedicated to unpacking the neuroscience and sociology behind traits such as altruism, compassion and empathy. The goal is not only to understand how gratitude works, but also to build a healthier, kinder society, said Dacher Keltner, the center's faculty director and a UC Berkeley psychology professor. "The U.S. underperforms in terms of the well-being of children, the well-being of adults and the physical health of children and adults," he said. "We also have one of the most individualistic, self-focused societies in human history. And I put those two facts together." Thanks to a $3.1 million grant recently awarded by the center, 14 researchers nationwide are studying various aspects of gratitude, from its role in initiating friendships to its effects on children's socializing. The grant is part of a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, in collaboration with UC Davis. And last month, the center launched Thnx4.org, an online journal where visitors explain what they're thankful for and researchers analyze their responses to understand gratitude's influence.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
America on the cusp of social change
Posted: 2013-01-01 08:21:50
As the final days of 2012 trickle away, an uncommon emotional intensity hangs in the air in America. The country stands on the cusp of major change. Today, a majority of Americans support stricter gun laws, a majority support a more progressive tax system and most favor same-sex marriage. A majority of voters even support the idea of legalizing marijuana. The laws have not caught up with this dramatic change in attitudes, and entrenched interests will fight what amounts to a quiet but pivotal social revolution. The coming year will see continuing battles in the courts, in the media and in legislatures, as the forces of change -- now representing the majority -- seek to upset the status quo. Attitudes are changing [in] ways that seemed unthinkable not long ago. Who would have thought Americans would favor legalizing drugs? Two-thirds of voters under age 30 support legalizing pot, bringing the overall total to 51%. Truly radical transformation has come in the area of gay rights. For the first time, Gallup Polls show a majority of Americans support full marriage equality for gay couples. That's an astonishing change. But it's not as astonishing as the wholesale acceptance of gay people that has suffused American society in the last few years. Once again, the people are leading their leaders. Public views, especially among the young, hold that discrimination is not only wrong, it's silly. Something is happening in America.
Note: For other rich and inspiring articles from major media sources, click here.
'Solar sisters' spreading light in Africa
Posted: 2012-12-24 08:35:32
Eva Walusimbi knows well how it is to live in darkness. As a community leader in the small town of Mityana, central Uganda, she's been witnessing the health hazards and financial strains that a shortage of electricity can bring to people living in energy poor, rural areas. In Uganda, some 90% of the population lives without access to electricity, according to World Bank figures. Apart from the health risks, Walusimbi, 50, says that lack of electricity is also preventing people from escaping poverty. "People that are living without electricity, their day ends up so quickly -- they can do less work compared to the people with full light," she says. But for Walusimbi, there is light at the end of the tunnel. She has joined Solar Sister, a group aiming to eradicate energy poverty while creating economic opportunities for women. Solar Sister trains, recruits and supports female entrepreneurs in East Africa to sell affordable solar lighting and other green products such as solar lamps and mobile phone chargers. The women use their community networks of family and neighbors to build their own businesses, earning a commission on each sale. Solar Sister founder Katherine Lucey, a former investment banker with expertise in the energy sector, says this model is creating access to safe, affordable and clean energy while helping women to earn a steady income to support their families.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Folks Who Are Fighting Hunger at Home
2012-12-02, Parade Magazine
Posted: 2012-12-24 08:33:49
When Joshua Williams was 5 years old, his grandmother gave him $20 to spend on whatever he wanted. "My mom and I were in the car on the way to church, and I was thinking about all the fun things I could buy," he says. But then, while waiting at a red light, he looked out the window and saw a homeless man begging for money. Joshua leaned forward and said he wanted to give the man the $20 so he could get a meal. "I suggested that we go buy the man some food," says his mom, Claudia McLean. "But Joshua pointed out, 'What if he doesn't like what we get him?' From that moment on, he was pestering me about how we could help more people." Soon, the family began cooking meals every Saturday to distribute to the homeless. Still, says Joshua, 11, "we only had so much food, and I knew people were still hungry." In 2007, Joshua and his mom established Joshua's Heart Foundation, which has since given away 400,000 pounds of food through a variety of initiatives. But the foundation's backpack program, which discreetly issues food-filled packs to needy schoolchildren before weekends, is closest to the seventh grader's heart. "When kids don't have to worry whether they'll have dinner that night, they can concentrate better, do better in school," he says. The program benefits 50 kids in two Miami-area schools, but Joshua hopes to expand it via corporate donations (Walmart has given $20,000). The foundation now has 700 volunteers, plus a Junior Advisory Board over which he presides. "When I look at the faces of the people we're helping and see how happy they are, that's my favorite moment," he says.
Note: For an inspiring article on how Howard Buffett (son of billionaire Warren Buffett) is doing incredible work to end hunger worldwide, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here