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.
APAC, a Brazilian non-profit that advocates for better treatment of prisoners, has a unique model in the dozens of facilities it manages across the country. Inmates oversee security and discipline, make their own food and wear their own clothes. Referred to as "recovering persons", prisoners are called by their name rather than by a number. The more than 400 inmates in the Sao Joao del-Rei APAC facility have the keys to their own cells – and unlike in a typical prison, there are no armed guards monitoring their movements. This is a far cry from the norm in Brazil, where the total prison population exceeds 800,000. The country's human rights ministry has cited inhumane conditions, including rotten food and torture, inside prisons in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. In 2021, a report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said that across Brazil, inmates were "often held in overcrowded and structurally deficient prisons, maltreated, and frequently subjected to torture". In APAC prisons, cells appear clean, food is fresh and education is part of the rehabilitation programme. In terms of recidivism, while the Brazilian state reports its national average at 39 percent after five years – a number much lower than the 80 percent cited by international observers – APAC says its facilities have a rate of around 14 percent. New inmates entering the Sao Joao del-Rei facility are greeted by a sign bearing the words: "Here the man enters, the crime stays outside."
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When Garner entered the gates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, he didn't know what to expect. The maximum security facility has been dubbed "America's Bloodiest Prison" and its brutal conditions have made headlines for decades. It wasn't until five years later that Garner would get his chance to show everyone he wasn't the hardened criminal they thought he was. When the prison warden, Burl Cain, decided to start the nation's first prison hospice program, Garner volunteered. In helping dying inmates, Garner believed he could claw back some meaning to the life he had nearly squandered. For the next 25 years, he cared for his fellow inmates, prisoners in need of help and compassion at the end of their lives. The Angola program started by Cain, with the help of Garner and others, has since become a model. Today at least 75 of the more than 1,200 state and federal penal institutions nationwide have implemented formal hospice programs. The volunteers [in Angola] were issued hospice T-shirts that allowed them free movement through the prison. The primary rule of the hospice program was that no one would die alone. When death was imminent, the hospice volunteers conducted a vigil round-the-clock. The program used medications ... for the palliative care of patients, though the inmate volunteers were not allowed to administer them. The hospice volunteers ... functioned as confidants, giving dying inmates a last chance to get something off their chest.
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When you imagine a 3D-printed home, you probably picture a boxy concrete structure. As 3D printing's popularity has grown in the construction industry – thanks to its efficiency when it comes to time, energy and cost – carbon-intensive concrete has become the go-to building material. But a project in Maine has set its sights on something different: a neighborhood of 600-square-foot, 3D-printed, bio-based houses crafted from materials like wood fibers and bioresins. The aim: a complex of 100-percent recyclable buildings that will provide homes to those experiencing houselessness. In late 2022, an initiative between the University of Maine and local nonprofit Penquis unveiled its prototype – BioHome3D, the first 100-percent recyclable house. Now, the pioneering project is working toward completing its first livable housing complex. It will be fully bio-based, meaning all materials will be derived from living organisms such as plants and other renewable agricultural, marine and forestry materials. As the materials are all 100-percent recyclable, so become the buildings. The materials are also all renewable. And thanks to its natural composition, the home acts as a carbon sink, sequestering 46 tons of carbon dioxide per 600-square-foot unit. The materials for this project will mainly come from wood left over by local mills. "The wood fiber material that's used in the mix is essentially waste wood here in Maine," says Jason Bird, director of housing development for Penquis.
Note: Don't miss pictures of beautiful homes built by this process at the link above. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.
From a Tampa performing arts conservatory comes the story of a blind jazz saxophonist who uses his disability as a teaching tool. He encourages his students to act on instinct; to feel the music through their instruments, and not let the waking world deceive them. "Welcome to every day of my life," says Matthew Weihmuller in his jazz improvisation class after turning the lights off. "Then we have a big laugh," he adds. When Weihmuller started playing, he needed braille sheet music, and pieces would take months; even years to learn. As if that weren't difficult enough, few people in the country were capable of providing braille music, so he started "brailling" his own, with the help of his mom. "They can't look at their instrument. Now, they have to feel their instrument with their fingers and hands, right?" Weihmuller told Fox 13. "Now, we've got to listen to the music. We can't read it. It forces the students to use their other senses." During improvisational sessions, a musician has to be ready for sudden changes in time signature or key. This is nearly impossible to express through sheet music. At least in this regard, the children are learning in the best way for this unorthodox, yet traditional form of jazz music. As an educator with blindness, Weihmuller stresses turning any disadvantage into an advantage, a teaching philosophy that has led some students to tell the man that he has changed the way they look at life.
Last week, the International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling that the charge brought by South Africa that Israel is guilty of genocide in Gaza is "plausible." The court called on Israel to take all measures to prevent the killing of civilians in the Palestinian enclave. The war began after Hamas struck southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The day of the attack has been described as the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. When [Holocaust survivor Estelle] Laughlin was a schoolgirl in Warsaw, children regularly pelted her and the other Jewish kids with pebbles. "We were so frightened," she recalls. "The antisemitism was right in front of me – it was so visceral." For Laughlin, besides luck, it was her mother and sister who helped her make it out of the camps alive. "Love maintained us," she says. She says she survived with an enduring sense of compassion and love for humanity, including for the Germans. "Without those values, survival would be hardly meaningful," she says. Laughlin says she's holding the Jewish pain of this war alongside the Palestinian pain. "When the dignity of any human being is diminished, the dignity of all humanity is diminished," she says. "Not only in relationship to my community but to any community of innocent people being attacked." When Laughlin considers the Palestinians living in Gaza, she says, "I identify with their plight ... with their isolation that the rest of the world keeps on going on as though nothing happened, and their world is crumbling." "I feel their pain," she adds. She longs for a better way forward.
Note: Check out the 12 organizations working for Israel-Palestine peace. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.
In 2012, according to FBI data, 2,774 violent crimes were reported to the Flint Police Department. In 2022, 985 were reported. Like other "legacy cities" that have experienced significant economic decline and population loss, Flint, [Michigan] is still struggling. But now, through the Genesee County Land Bank's Clean & Green program, Ishmel and hundreds of other residents have been mowing vacant lots. Greening projects like these maintain abandoned spaces, either by mowing them or converting them into gardens and parks. But these projects don't just make the neighborhood feel safer. Researchers who have been studying the effects of greening in Flint; Philadelphia; Youngstown, Ohio; and other legacy cities have shown repeatedly that it actually reduces violent crime. "It is one of the most consistent findings I've ever had in my 34-year career of doing research," says Marc A. Zimmerman, professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. A review of 45 papers found that the presence of green spaces, including parks and trees, reduces crime in urban areas. In Flint, Zimmerman and his colleagues compared streets where community members maintained vacant lots through Clean & Green with streets where vacant lots were left alone, over five years. The maintained ones had almost 40 percent fewer assaults and violent crimes. One study found that while simply maintaining vacant lots reduced burglaries, turning them into gardens reduced assaults.
Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.
Jimena Cordero is chopping up vegetables and fanning them out onto trays. Cordero is the farm manager at Ollin Farms, not far from Boulder, Colo. – she's put together bright pink and purple radishes, apple, fresh turnips. At the meeting with about a dozen local farmers, two state representatives, and the Colorado commissioner of agriculture, [Cordero's father Mark] Guttridge will explain how Boulder county has made creative investments in his farm that could be scaled up to the state or even national level. Before the meeting, Guttridge shows me one of those investments. A dozen sheep mill about in a field bordered by a simple white fence. Around the field is a special moveable type of fencing that Ollin Farms bought using grants from the Boulder County Sustainability Office. It allows them to move the sheep from one field to another, fertilizing as they go. The goal of these investments is "really building up our soil health," he explains. "That relates directly to the nutrient quality and nutrient density of the food – healthy soil grows healthy food." The county also makes an effort to get that healthy food out to different communities to be able to boost public health. That's where the Boulder County Public Health department comes in. It created a coupon program that low-income families – many of mixed immigration status – can use to get free fruits and vegetables from Ollin Farms' farm stand.
Many studies have shown that people living in greener neighborhoods have several health benefits, including lower levels of stress and cardiovascular disease. But new research indicates that exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age. The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that people who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had longer telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower ageing. Telomeres are structures that sit on the ends of each cell's 46 chromosomes, like the plastic caps on shoelaces, and keep DNA from unraveling. The longer a cell's telomeres, the more times it can replicate. When telomeres become so short that cells can't divide, the cells die. [Study co-author Aaron] Hipp and his colleagues looked at the medical records (that included measures of telomere lengths from biological samples) and survey responses from more than 7,800 people who participated in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted between 1999 and 2002. The researchers connected that information with census data to estimate the amount of green space in each person's neighborhood. They found that a 5% increase in a neighborhood's green space was associated with a 1% reduction in the ageing of cells. "The more green the area, the slower the cell ageing," said Hipp.
On the outskirts of Austin, Texas, what began as a fringe experiment has quickly become central to the city's efforts to reduce homelessness. To Justin Tyler Jr., it is home. Mr. Tyler, 41, lives in Community First! Village, which aims to be a model of permanent affordable housing for people who are chronically homeless. In the fall of 2022, he joined nearly 400 residents of the village, moving into one of its typical digs: a 200-square-foot, one-room tiny house furnished with a kitchenette, a bed and a recliner. Eclectic tiny homes are clustered around shared outdoor kitchens, and neat rows of recreational vehicles and manufactured homes line looping cul-de-sacs. There are chicken coops, two vegetable gardens, a convenience store ... art and jewelry studios, a medical clinic and a chapel. In the next few years, Community First is poised to grow to nearly 2,000 homes across three locations, which would make it by far the nation's largest project of this kind, big enough to permanently house about half of Austin's chronically homeless population. Many residents have jobs in the village, created to offer residents flexible opportunities to earn some income. Last year, they earned a combined $1.5 million working as gardeners, landscapers, custodians, artists, jewelry makers and more. Ute Dittemer, 66, faced a daily struggle for survival during a decade on the streets before moving into Community First five years ago with her husband. Now she supports herself by painting and molding figures out of clay at the village art house. A few years ago, a clay chess set she made sold for $10,000 at an auction. She used the money to buy her first car.
A time bank does with time what other banks do with money: It stores and trades it. "Time banking means that for every hour you give to your community, you receive an hour credit," explains Krista Wyatt, executive director of the DC-based nonprofit TimeBanks.Org, which helps volunteers establish local time banks all over the world. Thousands of time banks with several hundred thousand members have been established in at least 37 countries, including China, Malaysia, Japan, Senegal, Argentina, Brazil and in Europe, with over 3.2 million exchanges. There are probably more than 40,000 members in over 500 time banks in the US. Many time banks are volunteer community projects, but the one in Sebastopol, [CA] is funded by the city. "Every volunteer hour is valued around $29," Wyatt calculates. "Now think about the thousands of dollars a city saves when hundreds of citizens serve their community for free." The Sebastopol time bank has banked more than 8,000 hours since its launch in 2016. Five core principles ... guide time banks to this day: First, everyone has something to contribute. Second, valuing volunteering as "work." Third, reciprocity or a "pay-it-forward" ethos. Fourth, community building, and fifth, mutual accountability and respect. "What captured me is that people are doing things out of their own good heart," Wyatt says. "Many years ago, a woman ... said to [civil rights lawyer] Edgar Cahn, â€I have nothing to give.' Edgar Cahn listened and finally responded, â€You have love to give.' And the whole room just went silent." Every hour of service is valued the same, no matter how much skill and expertise a task takes, whether it's an hour keeping someone company, helping them file their taxes or repair a roof. Through a simple online platform, every member can offer and request services and then register the hours they served or received. Especially during and since the Covid pandemic, the bank has also been an antidote to the epidemic of loneliness. >
On a late-November afternoon, at the head of a cramped classroom, David Carrillo stood at a small podium and quizzed 17 students on macroeconomic terminology. For the two-hour class, Carrillo, the adjunct professor teaching for Adams State University, mostly kept his hands in his pockets as he lectured students in green uniforms. Like his students at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Carrillo, 49, also wears green. He holds a position that is extremely rare in prison: He's an incarcerated professor teaching in a prison bachelor's degree program. A new initiative at Adams State – one of the first of its kind in the country – focuses on employing incarcerated people with graduate degrees as college professors, rather than bringing in instructors from the outside. Most people in Colorado prisons only make 80 cents a day, so it would take them around 17 years to earn the $3,600 that Carrillo gets for a single class. Higher wages help incarcerated individuals build savings to help cover their basic needs when they are released. Poverty can often be a driver of decisions that land people back in prison. Adams State hopes to eventually employ more graduates of their own programs in the future. Currently ... around 100 people in prisons across the country are working towards their MBA through Adams State like Carrillo did. The 36-credit print-based MBA correspondence program costs $350 per credit for a total of $12,600, plus textbooks.
Boogying the night away produces meaningful improvements in one's body mass and waist circumference in people who are overweight or obese, a new study found. Dancing was also seen to improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, physical fitness, cognitive disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, and mental health–in other words, all the root causes of the non-communicable diseases that kill most people in the West. The researchers believed that dance would be a more ideal form of exercise because it is sustainable–it's a sociable, entertaining way of exercising that participants will enjoy, rather than a drudgery they have to push themselves through. "Dance is effective on fat loss in people overweight and obese and has a significant improvement on body composition and morphology," said Zhang Yaya, a Ph.D. student at Hunan University, China. To get their results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team studied data from 646 participants who were overweight and obese across ten different studies. They found that dance is very effective for improving body composition and showed that more creative dance types had the most pronounced body composition improvement when compared with traditional dance. Improvements were also found in overweight children and patients with Parkinson's disease.
India's famous potholes actually saved a life on Friday. The â€late' Darshan Singh Brar was being transported to the Indian version of a wake after his untimely death from a chest infection at the age of 80. Family, relatives, and friends had already gathered for a banquet and cremation, when the ambulance he was being caried in received a nasty jolt from a pothole on the roads in Nising, in far-Northern India' Haryana state. It was then that Mr. Brar's grandson who was onboard the ambulance at the time noticed his hand moving. Checking his pulse and finding–to his great shock–there was one, he notified the driver to immediately turn toward the nearest hospital. He was declared alive and savable, and was referred to the Rawal Hospital in the city of Karnal. "It is a miracle. Now we are hoping that my grandfather recovers soon," said Balwan Singh, another of Mr. Brar's grandsons. "Everyone who had gathered to mourn his death congratulated us, and we requested them to have the food we had arranged. It is God's grace that he is now breathing and we are hoping he will get better." Doctors at Rawal Hospital said that the grandfather is breathing without the aid of a ventilator and his heartbeat has normalized. They can't say for certain why the other hospital declared him dead, but speculated it may have been a technical error. The next time you are planning to go to town hall or the council about the potholes on your street, consider the story of Darshan Singh Brar.
Scientists have developed a new type of fuel cell that can provide endless power through electricity harvested from dirt. A team from Northwestern University in the US say the book-sized unit could be used to power sensors used in farming, as well as remote devices in the Internet of Things (IoT). The technology works by generating electricity from naturally-occurring bacteria within the soil, offering a sustainable and renewable alternative to toxic and flammable batteries. "These microbes are ubiquitous; they already live in soil everywhere," said George Wells ... at Northwestern University. "We can use very simple engineered systems to capture their electricity. We're not going to power entire cities with this energy. But we can capture minute amounts of energy to fuel practical, low-power applications." The soil-based microbial fuel cell (MFC) is based on a 113-year-old technology first developed by British botanist Michael CressĂ© Potter, who was the first person to successfully generate electricity from microorganisms. It took until the 21st century for the first commercial applications to be proposed, with Foster's Brewing using a prototype to convert the yeast in brewery wastewater into electricity. The latest fuel cell was tested in wet and dry conditions to power sensors measuring soil moisture and detecting touch, outlasting the power of similar technologies by 120 per cent.
When the bell rings at Jerusalem's Hand in Hand school, you hear something that's not common in Israel: the sound of young people's voices rising together in laughter and conversation in both Hebrew and Arabic. Israeli society is largely segregated. The separation begins at kindergarten, when Jewish and Arab children are sent to different schools and experience completely separate education "tracks" or systems. "Arabs go to Arab schools in their neighborhoods and Jews go to Jewish schools in the areas where they live," says Nour Younis, events manager for Hand in Hand. Hand in Hand [was] founded in 1998 by a group of parents who wanted their children to grow up differently. What began as two kindergarten classes in Jerusalem and Galilee has now become six campuses nationwide, with some 2,000 students. The school's eventual goal is to create a fifth track of education within the Israeli school system. Today there are four options: Arab schools and three Jewish tracks – secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox. The students at Hand in Hand campuses are around 60% Arab and 40% Jewish. There is a waiting list of Arab children who would like to attend. Since Oct. 7 ... this school has become a rare oasis of freedom for Palestinians who say they can be harassed or worse for expressing their anguish over the war. "For our students, this is a safe place, a safe environment," says [school vice principal Engie] Wattad.
When Ben was 11 years old, his parents noticed that his grades dropped. He stopped talking about school. "These are all typical signs there might be a bullying problem," says Bettina DĂ©nervaud, co-founder of the Swiss initiative Hilfe bei Mobbing, which translates as "Help with Bullying." She and her two colleagues use a 30-point checklist to evaluate if there is an underlying issue of mental, emotional and physical bullying or something else – maybe a conflict, which might require conflict resolution. Instead of being punished, the bullies are invited to help the bullied student. In a 2008 study that looked at 220 bullying cases, the No-Blame Approach was successful in 192, or 87 percent, of the cases. In most schools that were evaluated, it only took two or three weeks for the bullying to stop. The second step is the core of the No-Blame Approach. It includes calling six to eight children that the teacher chooses into a meeting that is set up as a social get together: in Ben's case, three of the bullies, three students Ben felt he could count on and two "neutral" tag-alongs. The children are not told the meeting is about Ben. "I have a problem," the teacher might start the discussion. "I noticed some students don't feel supported in class. What can we do to help them, for instance, Ben?" The third step includes follow-ups with all students, including Ben, within the next few weeks. If necessary, the intervention might be repeated or tweaked. "The goal is to change the social dynamic," DĂ©nervaud says. Younger children often start crying in these meetings, DĂ©nervaud has observed, "because they realize for the first time what has been happening and how unhappy the bullying victim has been."
More than 300 electric cooperatives across the United States are building their own Internet with high-speed fiber networks. These locally-owned networks are poised to do what federal and state governments and the marketplace have not accomplished. First, they are protecting open Internet access from the Internet service providers (ISPs) that stand to pocket the profits from the rollbacks of net neutrality the Trump administration announced. Second, they are making affordable and fast Internet accessible to anyone. In Detroit, for example, 40 percent of the population has no access of any kind to the Internet. Detroit residents started a grassroots movement called the Equitable Internet Initiative, through which locals have begun to build their own high-speed Internet. The initiative started by enlisting digital stewards–locals who were interested in working for the nonprofit coalition. They aim to build shared tools, like a forum and a secured emergency communication network–and to educate their communities on digital literacy. Just 30 of the more than 300 tribal reservations in the United States have Internet access. Seventeen tribal reservation communities in San Diego County have secured wireless Internet access under the Tribal Digital Village initiative. Another local effort, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative ... has organized to crowdfund the necessary resources to establish its own network. The biggest dilemma for cities is the erosion of the capacity for communities to solve their own problems. As a result, local Internet service providers are bringing the power back to their people.
To heal you must love - so believes a woman who not only forgave the man who killed her husband 28 years ago during Rwanda's genocide, but allowed his daughter to marry her son. Bernadette Mukakabera has been telling her story as part of continuing efforts by the Catholic Church to bring reconciliation to a society torn apart in 1994 when some 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. "Our children had nothing to do with what happened. They just fell in love and nothing should stop people from loving each other," Bernadette told the BBC. [In 1994] thousands of Hutus ... began well organised killings - turning on their Tutsi neighbours. One of these was Gratien Nyaminani, whose family lived next to Bernadette's. After the massacres ended, with a Tutsi rebel group taking power, hundreds of thousands of people accused of involvement in the killings were detained. Gratien was taken into custody and eventually tried by one of the community courts, known as gacaca, set up to deal with genocide suspects. At these weekly hearings, communities were given a chance to face the accused and both hear and give evidence about what really happened - and how it happened. The final reconciliation happens in public where the accused and the victim stand together. The victim stretches their hands towards the accused as a sign of forgiveness. In 2004, Gratien told Bernadette how he had killed her husband and apologised - and at the same hearing she chose to forgive him. This meant that he did not have to serve a 19-year jail term, but a two-year community service sentence instead.
Direct cash programs are growing across America, offering a path out of poverty through economic mobility. During a two-week period in 2022, nearly a quarter of a million people in the Chicago area applied for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, the nation's largest direct cash pilot, and ultimately 3,250 families were randomly selected to get $500 a month for two years. Similar direct cash initiatives have changed the physical, emotional, and economic lives of families that participate. Children are better cared for, and they excel in school. Adults experience improved health and stronger familial relationships. And crucially, when recipients have economic stability, they can plan and invest in their futures–many, for the first time in their lives. The Stockton SEED project, which gave $500 a month for two years to 130 people, saw results that mirrored prior direct cash research. The study ... found that the expansion of finances and the predictable, stable source of income brought by the program created "self-determination and capacity for risk-taking not present prior," meaning that when participants could predictably afford child care, transportation, and training programs they had the financial freedom to invest in their own futures. People have big ambitions, no matter the size of their bank account. For most Americans facing economic struggles, their chief problem is a lack of cash, and not a lack of character.
Michael Tubbs had just been elected the youngest and first Black mayor of Stockton, California, when he announced his intention to launch what would be the country's first universal basic income program in decades. The year was 2017, and the plan was to pay some residents $500 a month, no strings attached. In the years since his announcement ... the 125 participants of the Stockton program showed that they used that extra $500 a month not for luxuries or frivolities, but to pay off debt, obtain full-time jobs and get medical treatment like dental work that they had put off for years because they could not afford it. Now, more than 100 cities and jurisdictions around the country have launched their own guaranteed income programs. The basis of guaranteed income is simple: poverty, a problem at the crux of so many societal woes, can be solved with money and it is the government's job to solve it. It's a guaranteed monthly income without the requirements that come with a welfare program – requirements that often keep recipients in poverty when the program benefits outweigh any job or income advancement they could make. "We're talking about like life-changing impacts for a very small amount of dollars, in the grand scheme of things," Tubbs said. The Stockton program was originally funded by a grant from the Economic Security Project, but some programs today are drawing directly from their governmental budgets.
Note: A documentary about the Stockton program titled "It's Basic" was recently featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.