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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.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. See also a full index to revealing excerpts of key news articles on several dozen engaging topics.

Scientists document remarkable sperm whale 'phonetic alphabet'
2024-05-08, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/scientists-document-remarkable-s...

The various species of whales inhabiting Earth's oceans employ different types of vocalizations to communicate. Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, communicate using bursts of clicking noises – called codas – sounding a bit like Morse code. A new analysis of years of vocalizations by sperm whales in the eastern Caribbean has found that their system of communication is more sophisticated than previously known, exhibiting a complex internal structure replete with a "phonetic alphabet." The researchers identified similarities to ... human language. "The research shows that the expressivity of sperm whale calls is much larger than previously thought," said Pratyusha Sharma ... lead author of the study published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. "Why are they exchanging these codas? What information might they be sharing?" asked study co-author Shane Gero, Project CETI's lead biologist. "I think it's likely that they use codas to coordinate as a family, organize babysitting, foraging and defense," Gero said. Variations in the number, rhythm and tempo of the clicks produced different types of codas, the researchers found. The whales, among other things, altered the duration of the codas and sometimes added an extra click at the end, like a suffix in human language. "All of these different codas that we see are actually built by combining a comparatively simple set of smaller pieces," said study co-author Jacob Andreas.

Note: Explore more stories about amazing marine mammals.


How the virtual world is inspiring gamers to become botanists
2024-06-10, Positive.News
https://www.positive.news/society/virtual-world-inspiring-gamers-become-botan...

What if computer games could facilitate a tangible, meaningful connection with nature? Now they can thanks to a new botany project that empowers gamers to cultivate plants featured in their favourite video game. The idea was that of Hannah Young and Aleks Atanasovski, two gamers who wanted to fuse their love of nature with their passion for gaming. The result is Seed Saga, a botanical pilot that allows players of Guild Wars – a popular roleplaying game renowned for its spectacular flora – to apply for seed packs so they can grow plants that feature in the game. The pair pitched the idea to the developer behind Guild Wars, Arena Net, which was "really up for it". So much so, that the firm provided renders from the game for the seed packets and gave the project a push on its social channels. Due to the limited availability of seeds ... gamers must submit an application explaining why they want them. The responses, says Young, have been heartening. Said one applicant: "[Guild Wars] saved my life during a period of deep depression. It would be an honour to grow [crimson sunflowers] in my yard to pay homage to the game and support the surrounding insects that could benefit from these flowers." The first seed packs went out in April. The idea now is to partner with other players in the industry and scale the concept to cultivate a new generation of botanists. Doing so could boost mental health: research shows that interacting with plants counteracts stress brought on by computers.

Note: Explore more positive stories about using technology for good.


A woman undergoing chemotherapy gets a special message from a stranger
2024-06-11, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2024/06/11/nx-s1-4996500/chemotherapy-cancer-stranger-uns...

In 2003, Mary Fran Lyons was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. One day after a treatment session, she went to the mall to have lunch. Lyons had lost all her hair, so she was wearing a baseball cap. "You didn't have to look at me very hard to know things were not quite right," Lyons said. As she was walking along, looking at the stores, a woman approached her. She told her something that Lyons will never forget. "She said, ‘I've been sent to tell you that you're going to be OK,'" Lyons remembered. "I stood there and looked at her and I thought, ‘Well, who sent you? I mean, who are you?' And I did not say anything. And she said it again: 'You're going to be OK.'" Then the woman simply walked away. Lyons watched her leave, trying to understand what had just happened. But nothing about the woman stood out. "She looked like a completely normal human being," Lyons recalled. "I never met her before, never heard of her since." Later, Lyons told a good friend about her unusual encounter. "And she said, ‘Do you believe in angels?'" Lyons recalled. "And I said, ‘I do now.'" More than 20 years later, Lyons continues to hold the experience close. "If that woman were standing in front of me right now, I would say to her, ‘You gave me hope at a time when I really needed to hear it,'" Lyons said. "And I still think of that to this day."

Note: Explore more positive human interest stories.


The all-female patrol guarding Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest
2024-05-07, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20240503-the-indigenous-women-fighting-min...

It is the break of dawn in the Serena community, in the middle of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Elsa Cerda, a 43-year-old indigenous Kichwa woman, brews guayusa leaves – a native plant from the rainforest – in a pot. It marks the start of the Guayusa Upina, a ritual performed by Amazonian indigenous peoples before beginning their daily activities. This tradition is more than a routine; it's a spiritual connection to their ancestral roots. As the first rays of light begin to filter through the tree canopy, a diverse assembly of 35 women, ranging from 23 to 85 years old, arrives one by one at the ceremony. The group goes by the name of "Yuturi Warmi". Their role as Amazonian guardians involves safeguarding the territory from pollution and preserving the land and rivers from activities that jeopardise biodiversity – such as deforestation and mining operations. The women undergo regular training sessions, with younger women teaching older members how to operate these phone cameras and drones. Each patrol involves a rotation of members, particularly the younger ones, who primarily patrol the land, ensuring continued presence and surveillance. The women do not carry any weapons, relying instead on their collective presence to act as a deterrent. In the event of witnessing illegal mining activities, the women prioritise non-violent measures such as contacting the authorities and gathering evidence.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this about healing the Earth.


How Electric Harps Are Protecting Honey Bees
2024-05-23, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/electric-harps-protect-honey-bees-from-asia...

Michel Costa had become a frustrated veteran of an obscure yet devastating war in Europe. The enemy: invasive Asian hornets, which had been massacring his honey bees. When Costa, a retiree and avid beekeeper, discovered a new weapon with the potential to change the course of the entire war, he was intrigued. Several companies had begun selling so-called "electric harps," which they claimed could kill the hornets in droves by electrocuting them as they flew through. Although the harps take different forms, each one is made of some sort of large frame, which is then "strung" with conductive metal wires. These are then connected to a source of electricity, often solar panels, so that the wires conduct simultaneously positive and negative charges. When a hornet flies through, its wings touch the wires on either side, completing a circuit, and thereby delivering a fatal current of electricity. Beekeepers then place the harps around their hives in positions along the hornets' frequent flight paths. The harps can reduce predation pressure by 89 percent – enough to give hives the chance to replenish their stores. In one study only 56 percent of unprotected hives survived through winter, while 78 percent of those protected by harps did. Harps are also cheaper than other methods for beekeepers to install and operate. Beekeepers can buy them in complete kits that cost around $300 ... as Costa did. When combined with solar panels, maintenance costs are minimal.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this about healing the Earth.


‘The tranquility frees you': Bogotá, the city that shuts out cars every week
2024-05-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/may/30/the-tranquility-f...

Once a week the citizens of Bogotá take back the streets of their city. Every Sunday, between 7am and 2pm, many of the biggest roads are shut to cars and left open to bikes, skates and feet. "CiclovĂ­a is really cool because there is a lot more space for us," says seven-year-old Oliver Rojas, who is out cycling with his parents and is baffled to hear that this innovative scheme does not exist in the rest of the world. The weekly event was born out of a one-day protest in 1974 against cars taking over the world's streets. It now covers 127 km (79 miles) of streets in the city and, on average, 1.5 million Bogotanos use the CiclovĂ­a every Sunday. It has spread to most other Colombian cities and has been copied by mayors across the world, from Buenos Aires to Bengaluru, who hope the initiative can help get people in shape, improve mental health, reduce car usage and help fight climate change in the way that it has in Colombia. Part of the attraction is the fun and the family-friendly atmosphere. Bogotá's cycleways are punctuated with aerobics classes, people selling fresh juices, and the sound of salsa. On a regular weekday, the level of PM 2.5 particles on the main road through Bogotá ... is dangerously high at 65 µg/m3. During CiclovĂ­a, however, that number falls to 5 µg/m3 on the same stretch of road – 13 times less and in line with the WHO's recommendations for the tiny, harmful particles. Noise levels are seven times lower.

Note: Read about the successful story of a US community that banned cars.


At age 90, America's first Black astronaut candidate has finally made it to space
2024-05-19, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2024/05/19/1252354052/blue-origin-rocket-ed-dwight-astronaut

Ed Dwight, the man who six decades ago nearly became America's first Black astronaut, made his first trip into space at age 90 on Sunday along with five crewmates aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. The approximately 10-minute suborbital flight put Dwight in the history books as the oldest person ever to reach space. He beat out Star Trek actor William Shatner for that honor by just a few months. Shatner was a few months younger when he went up on a New Shepard rocket in 2021. In the 1960s, Dwight, an Air Force captain, was fast tracked for space flight after then-President John F. Kennedy asked for a Black astronaut. Despite graduating in the top half of a test pilot school, Dwight was subsequently passed over for selection as an astronaut, a story he detailed in his autobiography, Soaring On The Wings Of A Dream: The Untold Story of America's First Black Astronaut Candidate. After leaving the Air Force, Dwight went on to become a celebrated sculptor, specializing in creating likenesses of historic African American figures. Speaking with NPR by phone a few hours after Sunday's launch, Dwight said, "I've got bragging rights now." "All these years, I've been called an astronaut," Dwight said, but "now I have a little [astronaut] pin, which is ... a totally different matter." He said he'd been up to 80,000 feet in test flights during his Air Force career, but at four times that altitude aboard New Shepard, the curvature of the Earth was more pronounced.

Note: Explore more positive human interest stories.


Priced Out of Housing, Communities Take Development Into Their Own Hands
2024-05-13, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/13/business/gentrifying-neighborhoods-communi...

"Community-owned cooperative real estate" ... was developed a decade ago by a nonprofit legal group and a nonprofit neighborhood group in Oakland, Calif., and has been refined by legal and development groups in Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., and other cities. The cooperative strategy enables neighborhood groups to finance unconventional construction or renovation projects that banks and institutional lenders, which prefer strong cash-flow operations, won't touch. Much of the approach stems from efforts by the federal and local governments to make it easier for small investors to put money into real estate developments. Federal rules once barred small investors – those whose net worth is less than $1 million or who make less than $200,000 a year in income – from participating in development projects; that changed in 2015. At the same time, a few states enacted laws allowing small investors to put their money into local developments. "Until that change, 90 percent of the residents in a community couldn't make direct investments in a real estate project," said Chris Miller [with] the National Coalition for Community Capital, a nonprofit group. "Michigan allows nonaccredited investors to invest up to $10,000 in a project now." In Oakland, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative is widely credited with being one of the first community groups to apply the community-owned cooperative concept to a neighborhood project.

Note: Explore more positive stories about reimagining the economy.


How Women Are Helping Their Neighbors Heal From Depression
2024-05-16, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/women-peer-led-therapy-depression/

Rhoda Phiri was having a hard time sleeping. She found it difficult to mingle with people in her community and at church. Even basic chores were hard. She was, she says, in a "dark corner." Then one day in 2020, a couple of women knocked on the door of her home in Zambia. The women were with StrongMinds, an international nonprofit that provides support for depression, particularly among women and adolescents. She accepted the women's invitation to join a group therapy program, held under a tree in an area near her home, and as she learned about depression, she recognized the signs in herself. "All the symptoms they were talking about, it's like they were talking about me," Phiri says. "It's like they knew what I was going through." Instead of relying on mental health professionals, StrongMinds offers group therapy facilitated by trained community members – often clients who have completed the treatment themselves, like Phiri. This group therapy model has proven to be an effective way to treat depression. Since the organization launched in 2013, half a million people have gone through the treatment program. Three-quarters of participants screened as being free of depression symptoms two weeks after completing it. "What we've learned in 11 years is that depression treatment can be, what we call, democratized," says StrongMinds founder ... Sean Mayberry. "You can take it out of the hands of doctors and nurses and give it to the community itself."

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Future Space Travel Might Require Mushrooms
2021-08-03, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/space-travels-most-surprising-futu...

The list of mycologists whose names are known beyond their fungal field is short, and at its apex is Paul Stamets. In a new "astromycological" venture launched in conjunction with NASA, Stamets and various research teams are studying how fungi can be leveraged to build extraterrestrial habitats and perhaps someday even terraform planets. [Stamets:] Fungi were the first organisms that came to land, munching rocks, and fungi gave birth to animals about 650 million years ago. We're descendants of the descendants of these fungal networks. [Plants that support terraforming] need minerals, and pairing fungi up with the plants and debris from humans [causes them to] decompose into a form that then creates rich soils that could help generate the foods that astronauts need. We grow lots of reishi mycelium. We grow reishi blocks. We wanted to crush these blocks in order to turn them into soil. This great engineer built us a hydraulic stainless steel press, and I had like 2,000 psi [pounds per square inch] in this press, and we gave it my reishi blocks, and it bent the stainless steel. Trying to compress it, it actually broke the machine. This thing will crush rocks all day long and could not crush mycelium. They're also good at retaining heat, so their insulation properties are phenomenal. Moreover, these could become batteries. You can have solar panels on a structure on Mars made of mycelium. (The entire mycelium is about 85 percent carbon, and studies have shown that porous carbon can be an excellent capacitor.) You could then pregrow these and arrange them on a form such that they become nanobatteries. And they could then not only insulate you from the cold on the Martian or asteroid surface, but the house itself becomes a giant battery for power because they're so rich in carbon fibers.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Try something new to stop the days whizzing past, researchers suggest
2024-04-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2024/apr/22/try-something-new-to-stop-the...

If every day appears to go in a blur, try seeking out new and interesting experiences, researchers have suggested, after finding memorable images appear to dilate time. Researchers have previously found louder experiences seem to last longer, while focusing on the clock also makes time dilate, or drag. Now researchers have discovered the more memorable an image, the more likely a person is to think they have been looking at it for longer than they actually have. Prof Martin Wiener, co-author of the study ... said the findings could help develop improve artificial intelligence that interacts with humans. Writing in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, Wiener and colleagues described how they showed scenes of six different sizes and six different levels of clutter to participants for between 300 and 900ms, and asked them to indicate if they thought the duration was long or short. Participants were more likely to think they had been looking at small, highly cluttered scenes – such a crammed pantry – for a shorter duration than was the case, whereas the reverse occurred when people viewed large scenes with little clutter. More memorable images were processed faster. What's more, the processing speed for an image was correlated with how long participants thought they had been looking at it. "When we see things that are more important or relevant, like things that are more memorable, we dilate our sense of time in order to get more information," Wiener said.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


The children who remember their past lives
2024-05-02, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2024/05/02/children-past-lives/

Since the 1960s, more than 2,200 children from across the world have described apparent recollections from a previous life, all documented in a database maintained by the Division of Perceptual Studies within the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Sometimes a child presents enough identifying information for relatives or researchers to pinpoint a deceased person, but that level of specificity is elusive; about a third of the cases in the database do not include such a match. The phenomenon, with its aura of the paranormal, has long been fodder for books, academic studies, newspaper stories and dramatized documentaries. All of these explorations tend to orbit the same existential questions: Is reincarnation real? What happens after we die? How can this be explained? Certain consistent patterns have emerged: The most pronounced and convincing cases ... tend to occur in children between the ages of 2 and 6. They might suddenly describe places they have never been, people they have never met, sometimes using words or phrases that seem beyond their vocabulary. Nightmares or sleep disturbances are occasionally reported. Many of these children are highly verbal and start speaking earlier than their peers. Their descriptions of past-life recollections often fade away entirely by the time the child turns 7 or 8.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Balinese Foundation Treats Autistic Children with Organic Food
2017-01-02, Jakarta Post
https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2017/01/02/balinese-foundation-treats-aut...

"People think that Bali is a paradise, but if you come inside you see it's a different story," said Ni Nyoman Sri Wahyuni. For 12 years she has been caring for orphans, autistic children and children with Down Syndrome. "Many Balinese believe that these children are cursed, due to bad karma." children with very low IQs are not received by Sekolah Luar Biasa (Special Needs Schools). Such children, many with autism and Down Syndrome, have little to no support. This is what inspired Sri Wahyuni and her husband, I Ketut Sadia, to open the Yayasan Widya Guna school 10 years ago. Today Yayasan Widya Guna provides daily schooling to over 100 students, both disabled and non-disabled. Besides providing English, exercise and art classes to the children, it also teaches organic farming and promotes a healthy diet among students. "We've received lots of information suggesting that poor nutrition is a factor in developing autism," said Sri Wahyuni. The foundation serves meals with lots of vegetables, and tries to not include too many fried foods. Sri Wahyuni says that kids who used to catch colds and the flu rarely fall sick these days. A student with epilepsy, whose parents complained was having three seizures a day, has stopped having seizures completely since he started attending the yayasan. The Yayasan Widya Guna ... also offers English classes for local children attending regular schools.

Note: Explore more positive stories on healing our bodies.


The miracle that cured my son's autism was in our kitchen
2015-06-17, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2015/06/17/is-diet-the-key-to-curing-autism/

When a doctor told Susan Levin her 4-year-old son, Ben, was autistic, she was shocked. "Oh my God. What are we going to do?" Levin recalls. "Everyone knew autism was a lifelong disorder and couldn't be cured." Except that in Ben's case, it could be. And it was. The family's journey ... is detailed in her new memoir, "Unlocked: A Family Emerging From the Shadows of Autism." Levin is part of a growing group of people who are paying more attention to diet – organic, gluten- and casein-free among them – as a way to treat the symptoms of autism and other disorders. Now 12, Ben is studying for his bar mitzvah. Eight years after that chilling diagnosis, he's become more empathetic, frequently saying "I love you" to his mother, his father and sister. Levin says his newfound compassion is nothing short of a miracle. While the scientific verdict is still out on diet as a cure, statistics point to a definite link between gastrointestinal issues and autism. A 2012 study published by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found a direct link between GI issues and behavior. As many as 70 percent of children with autism have gastrointestinal issues at some point during childhood or adolescence. Kathleen DiChiara ... was diagnosed with sudden onset neuropathy, which left her unable to walk. When the doctors told her there was little to be done, she went back to school to study. She's now a nutrition educator, chef and speaker who credits an all-organic diet for healing not only herself, but her 11- year-old son, Steven, who'd been diagnosed as autistic but is no longer considered to be.

Note: Explore more positive stories on healing our bodies.


Watch these hungry waxworms eat through plastic and digest it too
2024-04-24, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20240419-the-worms-that-eat-through-plastic

At first glance there's nothing particularly remarkable about waxworms. The larval form of wax moths, these pale wriggling grubs feed on the wax that bees use to make their honeycomb. For beekeepers, the pests are something to swiftly get rid of without a second thought. But in 2017 molecular biologist Federica Bertocchini ... stumbled on a potentially game-changing discovery about these creatures. Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper, threw some of the waxworms in a plastic bag after cleaning her hive, and left them alone. A short time later, she noticed the worms had started producing small holes in the plastic, which begun degrading as soon as it touched the worms' mouths. The worms were doing something that we as humans find remarkably difficult to do: break down plastic. Not only that, but the worms appeared to be digesting the plastic as though it was food. Bertocchini and her fellow researchers began collecting the liquid excreted from the worms' mouths. They found this "saliva" contained two critical enzymes, Ceres and Demeter – named after the Roman and Greek goddesses of agriculture, respectively – which were able to oxidise the polyethylene in the plastic, essentially breaking down that material on contact. Bertocchini is now chief technology officer at bioresearch startup Plasticentropy France, working with a team to study the viability of scaling up these enzymes for widespread use in degrading plastic.

Note: Explore more positive stories about healing the Earth.


Plastic-eating bacteria can help waste self-destruct
2024-04-30, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-68927816

Scientists have developed a "self-digesting plastic", which, they say, could help reduce pollution. Polyurethane is used in everything from phone cases to trainers, but is tricky to recycle and mainly ends up in landfill. However, researchers have come up with a sci-fi like solution. By incorporating spores of plastic-eating bacteria they've developed a plastic that can self-destruct. The spores remain dormant during the useful lifetime of the plastic, but spring back to life and start to digest the product when exposed to nutrients in compost. There's hope "we can mitigate plastic pollution in nature", said researcher Han Sol Kim, of the University of California San Diego, La Jolla. And there might be an added advantage in that the spores increase the toughness of the plastic. "Our process makes the materials more rugged, so it extends its useful lifetime," said co-researcher, Jon Pokorski. "And then, when it's done, we're able to eliminate it from the environment, regardless of how it's disposed." The plastic is currently being worked on at the laboratory bench but could be in the real world within a few years, with the help of a manufacturer, he added. The type of bacteria added to the plastic is Bacillus subtilis, widely used as a food additive and a probiotic. Crucially, the bacteria has to be genetically engineered to be able to withstand the very high temperatures needed to make plastic.

Note: Explore more positive stories about healing the Earth.


Toward truly compostable plastic
2024-02-27, Knowable Magazine
https://knowablemagazine.org/content/article/technology/2024/compostable-plas...

Humans have created 8 billion metric tons of plastic. More than half the plastic ever produced –some 5 billion metric tons – lies smeared across the surface of the Earth. Chemists were creating "synthetic" plastics decades before the oil industry took off, from, among other materials, waste oat husks and vegetable oil. One of the tacks toward more sustainable plastics is to turn back to such biological sources. The ideal materials are not just biodegradable but also compostable – a narrower category that indicates the material can break down into organic components that are harmless to plants and animals. Compostability, unfortunately, is not easily achieved. The natural world already supplies promising polymers that are all compostable, says David Kaplan, a biomedical engineer at Tufts University. [Physicist Eleftheria] Roumeli, for example, has mined the promise of algal cells. They're small, and therefore easily manipulable; they contain large amounts of proteins, which are biological polymers, alongside other useful materials. She and her students took powdered algae and passed it through a hot presser. After several trials ... they found they could produce a material that was stronger than many commodity plastics. The material was also recyclable: It could be ground back to powder and pressed again. If it were to be carelessly tossed into the dirt, the material would break apart at the same rate as a banana peel.

Note: Explore more positive stories about healing the Earth.


Compassion is making a comeback in America
2024-04-23, Vox
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/24137520/americans-empathy-new-compassion-...

Since the late 1970s, psychologists have measured empathy by asking millions of people how much they agreed with statements such as "I feel tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me." In 2011, a landmark study led by researcher Sara Konrath examined the trends in those surveys. The analysis revealed that American empathy had plummeted: The average US college student in 2009 reported feeling less empathic than 75 percent of students three decades earlier. A few months ago, [Konrath] and her colleagues published an update to their work: They found that empathy among young Americans is rebounding, reaching levels indistinguishable from the highs of the 1970s. Our biased minds tempt us to see the worst in people. The empathy decline reported 13 years ago fit that narrative and went viral. This decline is almost certainly an illusion. In other surveys, people reported on kindness and morality as they actually experience it – for instance, how they were treated by strangers, coworkers, and friends. Answers to these questions remained steady over the years. As with the decline, we might grasp for explanations for this rise. One possibility is collective suffering. Hard times can bring people together. In her beautiful book, A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit chronicles disasters including San Francisco's 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11. In the wake of these catastrophes, kindness ticked up, strangers stepping over lines of race and class to help one another.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Loretta Ross doesn't believe in cancel culture
2023-11-04, Boston Globe
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/11/02/magazine/loretta-ross-has-a-radical-idea/

[Loretta] Ross has worked at the forefront of the movement for reproductive justice. But recently she has become better known for championing "call-in culture," a philosophy that approaches someone's wrongdoing with accountability and, most importantly, love. In the summer of 2020 ... I felt myself crumbling. I called out snide comments by alumni of my college about Black Lives Matter protests, demanded people boycott the college newspaper ... and used Twitter to call out the behavior of fellow students. Each tactic left no room for discussion. Calling in, by contrast, asks us to always be the bigger person, even in the most hateful and painful situations. I ask Ross: Whose well-being are we prioritizing here? And why isn't it our own? Ross tells me about another Black woman who asked the same question. "I'm confused," Ross recalls the woman saying. "I don't want to fall into the stereotype of the angry Black woman. But I feel like if I embrace the calling-in strategies you're talking about, then I'm ... giving a pass to all this injustice. What should I do?" Ross responds with a question of her own: "Well, who are you inside? Go deep inside and find out who you are. What's the emotion that you feel is true to you?" "Inside, I feel like I'm filled with love," the woman replies. "Then, why aren't you leading with your authentic self?" Ross asks her. Accountability and love are not mutually exclusive, Ross explains.

Note: Smith College Professor and civil rights activist Loretta Ross worked with Ku Klux Klan members and practiced restorative justice with incarcerated men convicted or raping and murdering women. Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues. Explore more positive stories about healing social division and polarization.


‘Healing spaces' in post-conflict societies
2024-03-01, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2024/0301/Healing-spac...

The Afghanistan Memory Home is a growing online archive of testimonies of endurance by ordinary Afghans during years of conflict and repressive rule under the Taliban. The virtual museum is an example of the kind of community-led initiatives that Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has described as "healing spaces" – local sites of nation-building where the traumas and resentments of war are salved through traditional forms of civic engagement based on cultural values, spirituality, and listening. These projects in reconciliation quietly persist almost everywhere people seek freedom from conflict or repression, from Afghanistan to Yemen. They often supplant the work of national transitional justice initiatives stalled by political disagreements or lack of cooperation. They also underscore that "justice isn't just punishment or prosecution and presenting evidence against perpetrators," said Ruben Carranza, an expert on post-conflict community healing. In South Sudan, for instance, a local peace and reconciliation process called Wunlit gave grassroots strength to a 2018 national peace agreement. Led by tribal chiefs and spiritual leaders, the "peace to peace" dialogue defused cattle raids and abductions between the Nuer and Dinka communities. In Iraq, the Ministry of Human Rights has relied on tribal, religious, and civil society leaders to help forge local support for a national dialogue on reconciliation. History has "taught us that relying solely on military force will not bring about lasting peace and stability," Hodan Ali, a Somali presidential policy adviser, wrote. The more durable work of peace involves empowering individuals and communities to tell their own stories – and listen to each other.

Note: Explore more positive stories about healing the war machine.


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