The 162 Best Good News Stories From 2021

Best Good News From 2021

2021’s top positive news stories about climate change, coronavirus, politics, people, and all the good things in between

The Best Good News From 2022

2021 was filled with a lot of heartbreak, pain, and injustice. When that happens, we’re always guided by the words of Mister Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And looking back, 2021 was no exception. Where there were scary things in the news, there were also Helpers. All year long, every single time.

As we close this year out and look ahead to what 2022 will hold, we wanted to recap some of the top good news stories we shared each month of the past year. Most of these were originally shared on our good news Instagram — and are reshared here as they were reported at the time.

As they did for us, we hope these headlines will inspire you to join in the good work, and be a continued part of all the good to come in 2022.

This list is truly all of the top good news stories of the entire year. But to make things more bite-sized, we spun many of these stories off into smaller, more specific lists. You can explore our smaller "best of" lists from 2021 here:

→ Read all "best of 2021" good news stories.

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Good News Stories from January 2021

Paris is turning the Champs-Elysées into “an extraordinary garden.”

And, it will reduce car traffic by 50%! One of the city's most famous streets and attractions, the committee heading the redesign of the area said it's “The legendary avenue has lost its splendor during the last 30 years. It has been progressively abandoned by Parisians."

In response, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo approved plans to redesign it. The plans include reducing space for vehicles by half, turning roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tunnels of trees to improve air quality.

The firm who created the redesign renderings estimated that 100,000 people walk the avenue every day, 72% tourists and 22% Parisians who work there. It has extraordinarily high rents, and features an eight-lane highway used by an average of 3,000 vehicles an hour — most just passing through.

We love how Paris is creatively rebuilding and reimagining a once-beloved part of its city in a way that benefits those living in it, rather than car traffic and corporations.

After decades of work by activists, the Philippines raised the age of consent for sex from 12 to 16

After decades of lobbying from children’s rights activists, the Philippines are on track to approve a new law raising the age to consent to sex from 12 — one of the lowest ages of consent in the world — to age 16.

It's something activists have been pushing for decades, and hope the legislation will help protect young people in the country. Historically, prosecuting rape cases has been challenging for children as young as 12, because perpetrators can argue it was consensual.

While raising the age will deter sexual predators, activists acknowledge that much more needs to be done to combat sexual violence against and exploitation of children — like age-appropriate sex education from an early age, and changing "victim blaming" attitudes that are prevalent in the country.

But still, this is a really good point of progress to celebrate as we work toward the larger, more inclusive goal to protect children and young people from abuse and exploitation.

Raphael Warnock was elected to be the state of Georgia’s first Black senator

In the first of two senate runoff elections in Georgia, the Rev. Raphael Warnock won and will become the first Black senator to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. In addition to being the first from Georgia, Warnock will also become the 11th Black senator in all of U.S. history.

Representation among not just people in power, but *elected* people in power is so important. And while one Black person can't possibly represent the perspective of all — when we do have better representation, we get closer and closer to a more accurate depiction of what the country actually looks like, and the real-life, diverse perspectives within it.

According to 2018 U.S. Census data, around 55% of the country's Black population live in south and southeast regions — and 32.81% of Georgia's population is Black, the third-highest in the country (following Texas and Florida). In a state that has never before had Black representation at the federal level — and though long overdue, Warnock's election is a major progress point to celebrate!

Warnock was born and raised in Georgia, and is currently a preacher at the Ebenezer Baptist Church — the same church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.

In the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol, one Congressman stayed until 3am helping clean up the mess

On January 6, 2021, as the results of the 2020 election were being certified by Congress, a mob of then-President Trump supporters breached the security barriers around the U.S. Capitol. They clashed with Capitol Police officers trying to secure the building itself, and eventually forced their way into the building by smashing windows and breaking down doors. 

Members of the House and Senate, and then-Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated. Members of the mob were photographed on the House and Senate floors, destroyed property, and according to NPR, approximately 140 police officers were injured in the attack, and one passed away.

On one of the darkest days in American history, the heartbreak felt in Washington, D.C. and around the country was devastating. It was the first time in history we experienced a non-peaceful transfer of power — led and encouraged by the President himself. In the midst of that heartbreak — there were Helpers.

One of the most notable Helpers was Congressman Andy Kim from New Jersey. Congressman Kim was in the Capitol building until 3:00 AM helping clean up the trail of garbage — food containers, signs, etc. —  left behind by the mob.

And later that night, members of Congress returned to the chamber to finish certifying the elections, and fewer lawmakers than expected objected to the free and fair results of the election.

‘The Bachelor’ Matt James gave his first impression rose to a contestant who shared about her disability and growing up deaf

Last season, Matt James made history as the first Black lead in Bachelor franchise history. At the end of the season premiere, James gave the first rose of the season — the first impression rose — to Abigail Heringer, who shared about her experience growing up deaf. When he gave her the rose, James told Heringer it was something he admired about her, that he appreciated her vulnerability sharing it, and that she was "a fighter."

Much like we're celebrating what having the first Black Bachelor means for representation on-screen, we're celebrating this good news for representation for the deaf and disabled community on-screen, too. 

We don't often see these experiences represented or disclosed on-screen in our television entertainment, much less in dating relationships. We love how journalist @kendallciesemier put it, "If we see more examples of non-disabled people falling in love with disabled people, maybe we will chip away both at the idea that a disability is 'baggage' in a relationship, and that if it is, it’s unlike or worse than other kinds of 'baggage' people bring to relationships."

Last season on The Bachelorette, contestants opened up about their experience with addiction and an eating disorder — both protected conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act — among others in past seasons of the franchise.

We still have lots of work to do to overcome the inaccessibility and ableism that makes living — and dating — with a disability more challenging, but we're celebrating this beautiful on-screen point of progress!

A coalition of more than 50 countries have committed to protecting 30% of the Earth’s land & oceans

The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People — including the UK and countries from six continents — pledged protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans at the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday.

In the announcement, the HAC said the pledge was critical to prevent mass extinction of wildlife, and ensure clean air and water. The coalition of more than 50 countries will ensure protections are in place by 2030.

This is good news: Good news that will require accountability, follow-through, and ensuring human rights are also preserved along with the protection of the planet. And swift action needs to happen well before 2030 if we're to reverse the damage already (and currently being) done to the planet and natural spaces.

The HAC is co-chaired by France, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom.

W. Kamau Bell and his community raised thousands of dollars to fund education projects around the United States

After Betsy DeVos resigned last week, W. Kamau Bell unofficially took over her role as Secretary of Education — by raising thousands of dollars for teachers, students, and classrooms with active fundraisers on Donors Choose.

From getting equipment for a high school track & field team, to making a virtual pizza party happen, thanks for helping, Acting Secretary (and all who donated)!

Newark police officers didn’t fire a single shot in 2020 after a de-escalation training program

​​​​Two years ago, the Newark Police Department implemented a new de-escalation training program for its officers. And while Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose told local news station that 2020 was the toughest year in his 34-year career in law enforcement, he said the program appears to be working. 

In 2020, not a single Newark police officer fired their weapon while on-duty. Ambrose credited the de-escalation program, "These things, it takes time for it to work. And I think it worked.

A test of the new training came on May 30 during a Black Lives Matter protest, when about 1,700 people swarmed a precinct. No shots were fired, and nobody was severely injured. 

Overall crime in Newark was down 6% from 2019, there wasn't an increase in homicides, and officers recovered more illegal firearms. In 2019, five shots were fired by officers.

Reimagining the way law enforcement works in our communities will take all of us — including officers themselves. We're celebrating the Newark police department's embrace de-escalation training, even amidst a tension-filled year. We're hopeful it will inspire more departments to pursue the same. 

The Boston Red Sox hired Bianca Smith, the first Black woman to coach in the history of professional baseball

Bianca Smith and the Red Sox organization are making history! Beginning in the 2021 season, Smith will be a minor league coach with the Red Sox organization at their player development facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

"I think it's a great opportunity also to just kind of inspire other women who are interested in this game," Smith said on MLB Network. "This is not something I thought about when I was younger and I kind of fell into it being an athlete, so I'm excited to get that chance to show what I can do."

Smith joins other woman trailblazers in the sport: Last season, Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field during a major league game for the San Francisco Giants. And in November, the Miami Marlins hired first woman general manager and first Asian American general manager, Kim Ng.

Representation matters: in sports, on coaching staffs, in office spaces, on television, in movies, and everywhere! Not only is it important for people to see themselves represented in all areas of employment, but diverse perspectives and experiences make us all better — in sports, too.

Around 200 veterans and volunteers cleaned up trash, signs and stickers left behind by the rioters who stormed the Capitol

After driving around the Capitol and downtown D.C., Navy veteran David Smith saw trash lining the streets, and signs and stickers with hateful, racist messages all over.

He wanted to do something about it, so he called on some fellow veterans and quickly organized a group of about 200 people for a cleanup of the area. 

The Sunday following the riot at the Capitol, veterans and volunteers spent two hours picking up garbage, and using scrapers and adhesive remover to peel off signs and stickers with logos and symbols of neo-Nazi and alt-right groups on them. 

“There was so much good energy, especially in the fallout of something so negative,” Smith told The Washington Post.

And the cleanup was part of a bigger operation for Smith. Back in June, he started an organization called Continue to Serve, with the goal of creating a community of veterans standing up for justice and equality.

“We want to empower like-minded veterans to get busy in activism and community service,” he said.

After the Ravens’ quarterback got an in-game concussion, Bills fans donated to his favorite charity

In yesterday's NFL playoffs game against the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback Lamar Jackson left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. The Ravens lost the game, but Bills fans stepped up to support Jackson — by sending in donations to his favorite charity, the Louisville Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack.

Blessings in a Backpack is a nonprofit that works to ensure children who receive meals through federal programs during the week, are also fed on the weekends. And during the pandemic, with school closures around the country, they're also making sure the children are fed every day of the week, too. Jackson is particularly connected to the Louisville Chapter due to his time playing at Louisville.

And this isn't the #BillsMafia's first time stepping up like this: in November they donated over $200,000 to support Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo in honor of their own quarterback's grandmother passing away.

It's unclear just how much total has been raised by Bills fans this time around, but it's a generous gesture of sportsmanship worth celebrating!

Volunteers removed over 9,000 pounds of trash from the Tennessee River

Over the course of three days, volunteers with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB) partnered with Johnsonville State Historic Park for a river cleanup.

25 volunteers helped remove 9,208 pounds of trash from the Tennessee River — including 1,819 pounds on one day with youth from the Humphreys County 4H Club.

KTNRB hosts cleanups throughout the year, including another later this month with students from the University of Tennessee, according to a post on Facebook.

Norway is the first country in the world to sell more electric cars than standard fuel cars

In 2020, Norway became the first and only country in the world to sells more electric cars (54% of cars sold) than standard combustion engine cars (46%), according to the Norwegian Road Federation.

They got there after significant investment in infrastructure. In 1990, the government began working on an extensive network of fast-charging stations, which not only encouraged private industries to shift their production focus to electric vehicles, but consumers to purchase them as well. Previously, consumers assumed charging stations and capabilities wouldn't be as readily available, but were proven wrong. 

Negative economic impact due to moving away from fossil fuels has also been proven wrong. New research from the Advanced Propulsion Centre found that moving toward electric vehicles could increase the UK’s GDP by £24 billion (about $32.8 billion).

And for a country with easy access to and an economically successful history with fossil fuels, Norway’s success story is a great example for countries around the world, and really good news for the planet and economies!

The University of Oregon is starting an environmental justice institute

The University of Oregon is starting an institute focused on environmental and racial justice thanks to a $4.5 million grant. 

The Pacific Northwest Just Futures Institute for Racial and Climate Justice will be a collaborative effort between the university's College of Arts and Sciences and College of Design, as well as with the University of Idaho and Whitman College in Washington.

Studies have shown that climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, and the institute will focus on those issues.

“This institute will combine the imaginative and scholarly work of the humanities with expertise in policy, design and historic preservation to help communities around the Pacific Northwest," Stephanie LeMenager, an English and environmental studies professor and co-organizer of the institute, said in a statement.

According to the university, a portion of the grant will also fund a scholarship program and environmental leadership training for students.

This is really good news: not just for addressing climate change, but to address other major issues that are intertwined with climate change — like racial justice. It's so exciting to know there will be a whole team of people researching, teaching, and learning more about how we can resolve environmental injustices, in the Pacific Northwest, and hopefully then all around the world.

Dressember has raised over $12 million to fight human trafficking and support victims

Human trafficking exists in every major city of the world. According to the United Nations and the International Labor Organization, more than 40 million people are currently being trafficked around the world, one in four of victims are children. Trafficking can include sexual exploitation, occurs in about 80% of cases, or forced labor, which is about 18% of cases. Victims can be any age, and any gender — though it disproportionately impacts women.

It's a big problem that we cannot ignore. And Blythe Hill founded Dressember as a creative way to make a really big difference: wearing a dress every day of the month of December to raise awareness and money for anti-human trafficking efforts and to support victims.

And in 8 years, Dressember has raised more than $12 million to fight human trafficking, raise awareness, and support victims. In 2020 alone, Dressember participants, called "advocates" raised a record $2.5 million.

On today's episode of the Sounds Good Podcast, Dressember's founder, @blythehill talks about the beginnings of the campaign, common misconceptions surrounding trafficking, and helpful ways we can make a difference and work towards ending it for good.

Denmark now officially and legally recognizes that sex without consent is rape

Danish law has changed to (finally) recognize that sex without consent is rape. They're only the 12th country in Europe to amend their laws, but both Spain and the Netherlands have announced plans to change theirs, too.

“This historic day did not come about by chance. It is the result of years of campaigning by survivors who, by telling their painful stories, have helped to ensure that other women do not have to go through what they endured," said Anna Błuś, @Amnesty International’s Women’s Rights Researcher.

According to the Danish Ministry of Justice, each year 11,400 women in Denmark are subjected to rape or attempted rape. Research from the University of Southern Denmark estimates it may have been as many as 24,000 in 2017 — but in 2019 only 1,017 rapes were reported to Danish police. Only 79 resulted in convictions.

These statistics show just how under-reported rape in Denmark is under-reported, and according to Amnesty International, even when victims do come forward, the chances of prosecution or conviction are really slim.

And while we need many, many more countries to step up and make similar changes to their laws, this is a standard-setting progress point that deserves celebrating!

Twitter launched its new ‘Birdwatch’ feature to combat misinformation on the platform

Twitter launched its newest feature, called Birdwatch, as a "community-based approach" to combating misinformation and disinformation on the platform. 

“Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context," Keith Coleman, Twitter's Vice President of Product, wrote in a press release. 

For now, the forum exists in a separate section on Twitter, and is only available to select users on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Twitter hopes to use the forum to build a community of "Birdwatchers" that will help moderate and label tweets, and eventually have the feature right within the main Twitter site.

"Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors," the company said in a statement.

The spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media is a big problem, and while Twitter's solution is still in the works, it's really good news for making progress in tackling the issue!

The White House will have an American Sign Language interpreter at all daily press briefings

Beginning Monday, the White House announced they will have an ASL interpreter at all White House daily press briefings. In the announcement, press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was "part of this administration's accessibility and inclusion efforts."

Daily press briefings are uploaded to the White House's YouTube page, and feature an ASL interpreter in the bottom right corner, who interprets both the initial remarks (from the press secretary as well as any guests in the briefing that day), as well as questions from reporters and the responses. 

This is really good news for inclusion and access for the deaf and hard of hearing community! And really, good news for all of us — the world is a better place when we're all included.

General Motors announced it plans to only offer electric vehicles by 2035

By 2035, General Motors announced it plans to no longer make vehicles with diesel- and gasoline-powered engines. Their entire fleet will be exclusively electric vehicles.

The announcement is part of GM's plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2040. It also plans to use 100% renewable electricity to power its production facilities in the U.S. by 2030, and globally by 2035.

GM acknowledged that other factors like regulations and infrastructure are needed to help them reach this goal, but that the change is necessary.

“We feel like this transition is one that will protect all of our futures and will help us create a future that will benefit not only the planet, but the people,” Dane Parker, GM chief sustainability officer, said in a press conference.

General Motors is the engine (pardon the pun 😉) Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. They also plan to introduce 30 new electric vehicles by 2025.

When more and more companies announce plans to embrace a carbon-free future, things change. Regulations change, consumer habits change, infrastructure changes, and minds change. We're celebrating this announcement with GM!

Stuck in a snowstorm, health care workers in Oregon gave expiring COVID-19 vaccines to other stranded drivers

Health care workers in Oregon were on their way to administer vaccines in Grants Pass when a snowstorm left them stranded on the highway. The six vaccine doses they had in tow were set to expire before the road would open back up, and rather than letting them go to waste — they decided to do some good with them.

They started going car-to-car to see if any other stranded drivers wanted to get the vaccine.

"Watching them go car to car in that horrible weather filled me with pride," one of the workers, Christi Siedlecki told NBC News. "I felt gratitude they were working so hard not to waste a single dose of vaccine, even in such horrible conditions."

"It is important for people to know how dedicated health professionals are to getting every single dose into people. My community should be so proud. I am," she said.

We are too.

Some health insurance companies are adding food to their coverage options

In the midst of the pandemic, we've seen all over the country that there are an increasing number of people without enough to eat. Insurers know that proper nutrition helps keep people healthy (and out of more expensive hospitals) — so some of them are adding that basic need to their coverage options.

“People are finally getting comfortable with the idea that everybody saves money when you prevent certain things from happening or somebody’s condition from worsening,” Andrew Shea, a senior vice president with the online insurance broker eHealth told the Associated Press.

Insurers like Oscar Health and Humana are paying for temporary meal deliveries, sending grocery store gift cards, and even teaching people how to cook healthier foods and meals. 

Is this a long-term solution to everyone having their basic nutritional needs met? Absolutely not. Is it really good news that health insurance companies are stepping in to make sure that need is met for those who need it right now? Most definitely. It's also encouraging to see health insurers thinking about a person's needs outside of a doctor's office — daily health and nutrition!

It's likely also helping, even in a small way, keep hospitals open for COVID-19 patients, and others who need critical care that only a hospital can provide. 

Good News from February 2021

The UK vaccinated almost 600,000 people in a single day for the first time

In a single day, the UK reported 598,389 people received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine — the most since the country's vaccine rollout began.

Just a couple weeks ago, the UK announced they'd vaccinated more people than had received a positive test, too. In total, 8.9 million people have received their first dose so far.

These are really encouraging figures in the UK, and we're seeing good news around the world, too. The World Health Organization announced it had secured vaccine doses to start distributing to poor and lower-middle income countries.

A team of veterans and volunteers are restoring the home of a 94-year-old World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient

Last year, 94-year-old World War II veteran Alfred Guerra's home was in such bad shape, he moved in with his daughter. Knowing how bad her dad wanted to be back in the home he'd lived in all his life — and having done all they could do to help make repairs — she put a call out to the community for help.

And the community stepped up. Though their restoration plans were delayed due to the pandemic, a team of fellow veterans and volunteers have gotten to work repairing walls, the roof, plumbing, electrical work and more at Guerra's home.

(Read more stories about veterans doing good)

Ikea bought 11,000 acres of forest in Georgia to protect it from development

An investment group with Ikea purchased 10,840 acres of forestland in southeast Georgia to protect it — and the diverse ecosystems within it — from development and deforestation.

The land is home to 350 plant and wildlife species, like the endangered longleaf pine and gopher tortoise. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, before the European migration to North America, the longleaf pine forest covered more than 90 million acres — spanning from southern Virginia to Florida, and as far west as Texas. Today, less than 4% of that forest is left.

And Ikea wants to help protect it. The investment group's managing director Krister Mattson told CNN, "We truly believe responsible forest management is possible and we see that a large part of our responsibility towards the land we own — and by extension, the planet — is to restore forests and plant more than we harvest."

11,000 acres might not sound like much compared to its glory days of 90 million acres, but investments in protecting land like this forest in Georgia is something we need to see more of. if we have any hope to protect nature, wildlife, mitigate climate change, and save the planet.

Additionally, Ikea is a key contributor to problematic "fast furniture" industry — a trend which is doing a lot of harm not just to forests, but the subsequent waste once people discard the no-longer-trendy items. 

This is a great step, and we're celebrating this investment news from Ikea — but it's not nearly enough. We hope to see more from Ikea, and hope even more companies who take from the land and resources make even bigger investments to give even more back to it.

The world is celebrating the life of 100-year-old Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised $45 million for the National Health Service last year

Today, Captain Sir Tom Moore died after contracting COVID-19. Last year, then 99-year-old World War II veteran Captain Tom walked laps around his garden to raise money for the frontline workers in the UK's National Health Service who were (and still are) courageously fighting the pandemic.

He inspired generosity in so many, and ended up raising a total $45 million for the NHS. He also inspired more fundraising campaigns, and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

In announcing his death, his family said, "The last year of our father's life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he'd only ever dreamed of."

May we all be inspired by Captain Tom's remarkable final year of life, and let it rejuvenate us into doing the things we think we could only dream of.

For the first time ever, more than one woman is nominated for best director at the Golden Globes

For the first time in history, THREE women were nominated for "best director" at the Golden Globe Awards: Regina King for “One Night in Miami”, Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”, and Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland”.

Zhao is also the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the category. And the last time a woman was nominated in the director category was 6 years ago — in 2015, Ava Duvernay was nominated for "Selma".

Up until this year, in the Golden Globes' 77-year history, a woman had been nominated in the category just 7 times. This year, the 78th Golden Globes bring the total up to 10.

It's not nearly enough, but we're celebrating this moment of progress in history with Regina, Emerald, Chloé, and all the women working in the film industry! And we hope to see this trend continue and more women creators recognized for their contributions to their respective fields — directing, producing, acting, and more.

Inspired by a request from a teen with Cerebral Palsy, Nike developed and unveiled their new “hands-free shoe,” the Nike GO FlyEase

In 2012, then 16-year-old Matthew Walzer wrote Nike with a request: a hands-free sneaker he could put on without having to tie the laces.

Doctors told him he wouldn't ever walk, or talk without a lisp — diagnoses he proved wrong. In the letter he wrote, "At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating, and at times, embarrassing."

He hoped to go off to college "without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday.”

Matthew's letter landed in the hands of Tobie Hatfield, a Nike designer who designs for Paralympians, who reached out and quickly got to work on a prototype for Matthew to try out.

This week, Nike unveiled their final design, which will be available later this year.

While we know there are major problems in Nike's overall supply chain, this is really good news for so many people needing a hands-free, adaptive solution for their footwear! Inclusivity is so important, and nobody should feel like they can't put on their own shoes — whether they have Cerebral Palsy like Matthew, arthritis, reaching your feet during pregnancy (we see you moms-to-be!), or anything else these shoes will be so helpful for!

We're celebrating this creative solution to a problem for so many individuals, and are hopeful it will inspire even more creative solutions.

A teacher raised over $420,000 to forgive more than $42 million in medical debt

Over the past couple of days, former high school teacher @sharonsaysso and her online community (where she continues to teach) have been fundraising to forgive millions of dollars in medical debt through @ripmedicaldebt — if you've been around here for a bit, you know how much we love all the good RIP Medical Debt is doing in the world!

RIP Medical Debt purchases bulk amounts of medical debt from lenders at a hugely discounted price. They turn a $1 donation into $100 of medical debt forgiven. Sharon's initial goal was $20,000 to forgive $2 million. 

When her community, the Governerds, quickly surpassed that, she upped it to $150,001 (to beat John Oliver's $150,000 donation in 2015 😊) — and now, they've raised over $420,000, which will turn into $42 million in medical debt forgiven. And it's still going up!

Based on our research, it appears this is the largest single amount raised for RIP Medical Debt — and it all happened because of thousands coming together to give whatever they could to help strangers with crippling medical debt.

Together, we can do really good things for each other.

(Listen to our conversation with Sharon McMahon about how her community achieved this)

The number of deaths caused by terrorism is down 54% since 2006

Is the world becoming more peaceful? Or less? How would we know if it was? In an effort to measure peace, entrepreneur and philanthropist Steve Killelea founded the Institute for Economics and Peace, a nonprofit global research institute that measures peace levels around the world.

The Institute created the conceptual framework for “Positive Peace,” which describes the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin and sustain peaceful societies. Hint: Peace is more than just an absence of violence. The Institute’s work now informs influential institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

It also informs the work we do here at Good Good Good! We've quoted, linked to, and referenced the Institute's @globalpeaceindex here, in the Goodnewspaper, and the Goodnewsletter.

And now, we're thrilled to have Steve on the #SoundsGood Podcast!

On this week's episode, Steve describes the difference between Positive Peace and Negative Peace, and how the Institute developed the framework for positive peace — aka, how countries can get more of it!

Steve also shares some good news about positive peace from data the Institute has collected.

The Empire State Building and 13 others are now exclusively powered by wind

As of January 1, all 13 buildings owned by the Empire State Realty Trust — including the iconic Empire State Building — are officially being completely powered by wind.

Their 14 buildings have more than 10 million square feet total, and with the purchase of the 3-year contract, the trust is now the largest real estate user of entirely renewable energy in the U.S.

The Empire State Building itself has run on renewables since 2011, and the trust had already cut the skyscraper's emissions by about 40%. By adding all its buildings, they'll avoid producing around 450 million pounds of carbon dioxide. According to reporting from The Washington Post, that's the equivalent of removing all New York City taxis from the road for a year. 

Operating buildings is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. — and in New York alone, buildings generate over two-thirds of the city's entire carbon emissions.

We still have a long way to go in cutting emissions in New York City and all over the country, but this is a really big, incredible step in the right direction. We're celebrating the Empire State Realty Trust leading the way for more of the same!

Australia is making sure everyone in the country can get a COVID-19 vaccine – including refugees

As a part of their vaccine rollout plan, Australia said they will ensure anyone on Australian soil can get vaccinated — including refugees, as well as their neighbors on the Pacific islands like Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

"We will need to prioritize the most vulnerable and those likely to experience a serious disease, as well as frontline health and care workers and other essential service workers,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a speech.

The country plans to start vaccinations at the end of the month, and finish administering all of its 150 million doses by October.

Refugees around the world are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19, since many live in cramped conditions, and have limited access to healthcare and reliable information about the virus. And getting vaccines to more remote islands is logistically challenging, and some may not have the funds to purchase the vaccines on their own. We're celebrating with Australia for stepping up and stepping into meet this need!

People in Oakland are offering to accompany elderly Asian Americans in Chinatown to help them feel safe

In response to seeing the rise in attacks, violence, and racism towards the Asian American community, specifically the elderly, in Oakland, @jakeenbake posted on Instagram, "I'm sick of watching the videos and feeling helpless."

Jacob works graveyard shifts in the Chinatown area, and offered to make anyone who wanted feel more at ease by accompanying them to their car, waiting for their ride, so they wouldn't have to be alone.

There was such a massive response, Jacob created a separate Instagram and organization, @compassioninoakland to help pair volunteers with the most vulnerable in their community. In addition to safety measures like getting tested for COVID-19, adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing masks, volunteers are trained and then paired with a "buddy".

People in need can request a chaperone ahead of time on their website, or text a number to request one on shorter notice.

See a need: meet a need. We love the way Jacob stepped up to meet a critical need of those in the community. And the way the larger community came together to help, too. 

We need each other, right where we are, with what we have — even if what we have is a graveyard shift, walking shoes, and a desire to help.

Ford has started making N95 masks with clear panels to help people with a hearing impairment

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, wearing and communicating through a mask is challenging, if not impossible. While we've seen some ingenious DIY clear-panel masks make their rounds to address this issue, Ford Motor Company has started working on an N95 mask with clear panels!

This is great news, because as the latest CDC research found, wearing a proper, tight-fitting mask (or double-masking!) is significantly more effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. And this new N95 mask would do that, AND ensure those who need to see or use their mouth to communicate still can!

"We quickly identified that while it's difficult for everybody to wear a mask all day long, for folks suffering from hearing impairment, it's an even bigger challenge," Jim Baumbick, leader of Ford's PPE manufacturing effort, told CBS MoneyWatch. "That inspired us to think about how we could help serve those people because effectively [with a mask] you're taking away another sense from them that they rely on for communication and connection."

Plus, the company said it could help communication in general — as the mask allows you to see the speaker's expression while they're talking. Baumbick said they expect this to help improve communication and interactions between teachers and students and doctors and patients.

And maybe even all of us — no more explaining to someone that we are indeed smiling. We promise! 😊They're still developing the technology, and waiting on approvals, but expect them to be available in the spring.

Shell says its oil production has peaked and will continue to gradually decline annually

Because of shifting attitudes in favor of renewable energy and pressure from investors, Europe's largest oil and gas producer has been forced to gradually cut oil production and shift to greener energy.

In a statement, Shell announced that its "total oil production peaked in 2019," and that they expected it to continue to decline by 1-2% annually.

Thanks in part to a significant drop in oil consumption and market value at the start of the pandemic (that has since returned to pre-pandemic levels), oil companies like Shell have started shifting their investments to renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydrogen.

The damage corporations like Shell have done to cause climate change has been done. That said, this is really good news — and proof that pressure from consumers and investors, and shifts in public opinion really do make a difference.

New Zealand will offer free period products in all its schools starting in June

Several schools in New Zealand have been trialing a new "Access to Period Products" pilot program since last year. It was a success. And now, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced that beginning in June 2021, the program would be rolled out to ALL schools in New Zealand.

”There’s lots of barriers that shouldn’t exist for our young people,” Ardern said at a press conference. “And one of the things stopping our young people from going to school is an issue called period poverty. One in 12 of our students possibly miss school because they don’t have access to period products. That’s just not right and not in a country like New Zealand."

The program is opt-in for schools, and Ardern said they budgeted so that any school that wants to participate in the program will be able to.

The program has also raised awareness for a need for increased education surrounding periods. One former principal in a lower-income area of New Zealand said the issues she saw at school included embarrassment, stigma, missing classes, being "caught out" without product, cost, lack of knowledge, and discomfort.

This program is really good news for students in New Zealand, and we hope to see more of them in schools all around the world!

Volunteers made and delivered breakfast tacos to hundreds of Houston-area seniors without power

After they received a donation of 6,000 eggs, the nonprofit organization Texas Relief Warriors got to work cooking them to make and deliver hundreds warm breakfast tacos to two senior centers in the Houston area, plus hundreds of seniors at home who requested help.

The organization is used to responding in the aftermath of hurricanes, but adapted their operation to respond to the winter storm crisis that left millions without power for days — and food supplies running short. 

Founder Cara Adams told ABC News, "We had our volunteers going door to door, going up stairs in the dark delivering tacos. [The seniors] were excited and hungry for hot food. They were so grateful."

Since delivery trucks haven't been able to get into the area due to weather and road conditions, grocery store shelves have been limited in their supplies, too. That, coupled with the extensive power outages, has left residents' own food supplies running low.

From the donation of eggs, to the quick action by volunteers to get food to a vulnerable community — it's inspiring to see everyone coming together in Texas.

*Make sure to check out our previous post for ways YOU can help our neighbors in Texas right now, from wherever you are.

While making her last stop, a Texas grocery delivery driver’s car got stuck in an icy driveway – the homeowners invited her to stay with them

As the snow picked up in Texas last weekend, Chelsea Timmons picked up one last grocery delivery, thinking she'd have enough time to make it back home.

When she got to her clients' home, despite her precautions, her car started sliding in the driveway, and got stuck. The homeowners, Nina Richardson and Doug Condon came out to help, but failing to free it, Timmons called AAA for a tow. Richardson and Condon invited her to wait inside their home, but a few hours later, AAA called and said they couldn't make it due to the storm.

"As soon as we found out that AAA couldn't come and the conditions were getting worse, it seemed silly to even imagine that she would go to a hotel," Richardson told CNN. "It didn't even occur to us."

As we now know, the terrible weather conditions went on a lot longer than anyone thought, and Timmons ended up saying with them for 5 days. Her suggestions to leave to go to a hotel were met with, "Our guest bedroom is better than the Hampton Inn," or "If you leave, what are you going to eat?" and "Are you sure you can make it there all the way?"

The couple said she became like "part of the family" really quickly, preparing meals and riding out the storm together. On Friday, the weather and roads cleared up enough for Timmons to make it home. They're still all keeping in touch.

Condon and Richardson hope others would have done exactly the same for a stranger that needed help.

Timmons said, "I am so grateful that they were not only able but willing to let a complete stranger into their home in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a storm... with no hesitation. They just opened their doors, opened their home and said, 'Come in and relax.'"

Cedar Rapids’ Willy Ray’s Q Shack took their barbecue to Texas to help feed people – just like they did in Iowa after the derecho storm

After the derecho storm hit Iowa in August 2020, Willie Ray Fairley, owner of the barbecue restaurant Willie Ray's Q Shack in Cedar Rapids, fired up his smoker and gave out thousands of free meals to people impacted by the storm.

After the winter storm in Texas last week that left millions without power, and immeasurable damage afterwards, the restaurant wanted to help those impacted across the country, too.

Willie Ray's put out a post on Facebook asking for volunteers with trucks willing to pull the smokers for a week-long trip to Texas where they would feed "as many people as we can." A day later, the post had about 1,800 likes, 339 comments and more than 1,900 shares.

Some people were saying "thank you," while others were offering up connections for hotels or setup help in Texas once they got there.

While packing up the trucks with supplies (like 40 bags of charcoal donated by a local Hy-Vee, and four tubs of barbecue sauce) and hitching up the smokers, even more members of the community stopped by to lend a hand packing the trucks, dropped off cash donations, and offer words of encouragement for Willie Ray and the volunteers headed south to help.

Neighbors helping neighbors helping neighbors.

The English National Opera developed “ENO Breathe” – a breathing rehabilitation program to help with COVID-19 patient recovery

To help patients recovering from COVID-19 regain their respiratory and vocal strength, the English National Opera worked with a London hospital to develop a breathing rehabilitation program called "E.N.O. Breathe."

Opera-singing coaches teach patients clinically-proven recovery exercises, adapted for coronavirus recovery and taught online. Participants say the program has helped both with their recovery, as well as with feelings of isolation.

They started thinking about the program with the hospital last summer, after reports of "long Covid" cases — symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue, and chest pain lasting for months — started emerging.

“Opera is rooted in breath,” Jenny Mollica, who runs outreach for the Opera told The New York Times. “That’s our expertise. I thought, ‘Maybe E.N.O. has something to offer.’”

She reached out to a respiratory specialist at one of the country’s biggest public hospital networks, Imperial College N.H.S. Trust — and learned that hospitals were also struggling to find a solution for their patients experiencing long-term breathlessness.

The program's goal was two-fold: teach patients to make the most of their lung capacity, and to breath calmly to help with anxiety that was also common in many "long Covid" patients.

And it was successful. As one patient reported, “The program really does help. Physically, mentally, in terms of anxiety.”

Now, E.N.O Breathe is expanding throughout the country.

This isn't the first time the English National Opera has stepped in to creatively help with COVID-19 either. Early on in the pandemic, their wardrobe department quickly got to work making protective equipment for hospitals during the initial shortage worldwide.

A group of truck and bus drivers are working to help end modern-day slavery

Today is Shine A Light On Slavery Day — a day to raise awareness for modern-day slavery, and the estimated 40 million victims around the world. Slavery today looks like anything from forced labor to human trafficking.

Modern-day slavery also exists in all 50 U.S. states, impacting hundreds of thousands of victims. Despite trafficking being illegal, it's a booming business. Most victims are women and children, and many of them are forced to work in the sex industry.

There are also so many people and organizations working to #EndIt — like Truckers Against Trafficking. Members of the trucking and bus industries are uniquely positioned to make a difference because these are common areas where traffickers recruit victims.

The group exists to educate, equip, empower, and mobilize members of the trucking and bus industries to play a part in making trafficking history by recognizing the signs of trafficking and then reporting it to law enforcement.

They offer workshops, educational materials, and online resources to assist industry workers in taking the necessary steps to help save a life. Truckers Against Trafficking also partners with law enforcement and government agencies to facilitate trafficking investigations.

And according to their annual report, in 2020, Truckers Against Trafficking surpassed 1 MILLION drivers registered with TAT training. To date, their members have made over 2,692 calls to the National Trafficking Hotline, and identified 1,296 victims.

We're celebrating these inspiring truck and bus drivers — and all those at work to end modern-day slavery for good.

Costco raised its minimum hourly wage to $16 per hour

Starting next week, Costco's minimum wage will increase to $16 per hour for all hourly employees, up from $15 per hour which it implemented last year — in addition to a hazard pay bonus for workers during the pandemic.

Costco's CEO Craig Jelinek made the announcement at a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing on worker wages at large companies, "It takes a lot of time to interview, find employees, lot of labor involved just trying to hire individuals. We want people to stay with us.”

Last week, Walmart announced it would increase its minimum wage to $15/hour, and the federal government is currently working to pass a measure that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025.

Good News That Happened in March 2021

A New Jersey plumber drove to Texas to help fix broken pipes and other damage caused by the winter storm

We've all seen the images of burst pipes and other damage to homes caused by the winter storm in Texas. After hearing how overwhelmed and backed up local plumbers were, a New Jersey plumber, Andrew Mitchell (pictured right) drove his family and apprentice, Isaiah Pinnock (pictured left) down to help fix as many homes as they could.

The team of two at Mitchell’s Plumbing and Heating (@mitchells_plumbing_and_heating) has been there helping for about a week — and the work hasn't stopped. They extended their trip due to receiving so many calls from people needing help. 

Chloé Zhao is the first woman of color to win Best Director at the Golden Globes

At the Golden Globes, Chloé Zhao became the first-ever woman of color and only the second woman ever to win the award for Best Director (Barbara Streisand won it almost 40 years ago).

Zhao won the award for her directing on "Nomadland", a film about a woman who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

It was also the first time in Golden Globes history that more than one woman was nominated in the category for Best Director: Regina King for “One Night in Miami”, Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”, and Zhao.

In her acceptance speech, Zhao read a quote about compassion from one of the nomads featured in the film, Bob Wells: "Compassion is a breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart-to-heart bonding. Your pain is my pain. It's mingled and shared between us."

We're celebrating this good news for representation in the film industry!

A new European Union law requires companies to repair electronic goods for up to 10 years

Last month, a new law went into effect for the European Union's 27 member countries, requiring companies who produce electronic goods like refrigerators, TVs, and washing machines to repair them if they break for up to 10 years.

Sometimes referred to as the "right to repair" for consumers, it's part of an effort to reduce the environmental impact of these types of goods by making them longer-lasting, more durable, and energy-efficient.

Many of these types of electronic goods require special tools and/or parts that either aren't available to consumers to fix themselves, or it's extremely difficult to find them and then know how to even make the repairs.

Under the new law, manufacturers must make sure parts are available for up to a decade, even if it's just to professional repair companies that can ensure they are installed correctly. New products must also come with repair manuals, and made in a way that they can be taken apart with conventional tools when they can no longer be fixed — to help with recycling.

According to reporting from EuroNews, every year Europeans produce more than 35 pounds of electrical waste per person, about half of which is broken household appliances. The EU only recycles only about 40% of that.

The hope is that this new law will reduce this large amount of waste, and incentivize both companies to build longer-lasting products, and consumers to purchase products that they know will last longer.

This is great news for the environment, moving away from a "throw-away" mentality, and for reducing waste! We hope to see more "right to repair" laws take effect in more parts of the world, and including more electronic items like personal computers and smartphones!

Thousands of people are coming together to donate to AAPI GoFundMe campaigns to #StopAsianHate

Amidst a heartbreaking surge in violence directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, thousands of people are coming together to donate to GoFundMe campaigns to #StopAsianHate.

In addition to GoFundMe's overall AAPI Community Fund, they created a "fundraising hub" filled with verified GoFundMe campaigns to support those in the AAPI community who have been directly impacted by violence, efforts to increase protection and security, AAPI-owned businesses, and more.

And thousands of people are stepping up to donate to the various campaigns. At the time of this posting, the AAPI Community Fund itself has raised over $375,000 of its $500,000 goal — plus donations made to individual fundraisers.

Check out the entire fundraising hub, and make a donation at

And learn other ways to support the AAPI community during AAPI Heritage Month during May and all year.

For the first time, the U.S. is giving an average of 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses per day

Up from an average 1.3 million per day last month, the U.S. is now administering an average of over 2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each day, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of the numbers reported today, 54 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This news, on top of the COVAX program rolling out in its first country (Ghana), a third, single-dose vaccine being brought into the rollout program, the timeline of availability for all U.S. adults moved up two months is all really hopeful, encouraging news — not just for bringing a hopeful end to a devastating pandemic, but in saving lives, too. 

Wear a mask (even better, double mask!). Stay physically distanced. Get a vaccine when it's your turn. Keep taking care of each other!

The U.S. reaches 2 million vaccine doses per day

It seems like there's more good vaccine news to share every day.

Yesterday we celebrated the U.S. reaching 2 million vaccine doses per day. Today we get to celebrate that 21% of adults, 56% of those over the age of 65, and 66% of those over the age of 75 are vaccinated. This means fewer hospitalizations, more lives saved, and a step closer to the goal we've been collectively working toward for a year. has generated £1 million for independent bookstores in the UK during the pandemic, the online bookstore that shares profits of sales with local, independent bookstores, launched with huge success in the U.S. in January 2020. Initially planning to launch in the UK in 2021 or 2022, once the pandemic hit, shops, publishers and authors in the UK asked them to speed up the timeline — and it launched in the UK in November 2020.

Just four months later, announced it has generated over £1 million (about $1.38 million) in profit for the 410 independent UK bookshops selling on the site, and more than 200,000 UK customers have used it. £633,000 of the total profit has been distributed to bookshops chosen by the customer, and the remaining £367,000 was distributed equally among all the participating bookshops on the platform. allows independent bookshops to create their own virtual shopfront on the site, and for every sale, stores receive the full profit margin — 30% of the cover price. For sales not made through a specific bookstore, 10% goes to a pot that is split between all participating shops on the site. Bookshop handles all the fulfillment, customer service, and shipping.

In the U.S., now just over a year since launching, they've already generated over $12.2 million for independent bookstores.

If you've been around, you know we're HUGE fans of (you can even shop some of our favorite books through them), and we're thrilled to see their local, independent bookstore-first model be hugely successful in the UK, too!

All charges have been permanently dropped against Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend

In the events that led to the police shooting and killing of Breonna Taylor, her then-boyfriend, Kenneth Walker was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer after he shot one of the officers that broke into her home with a no-knock warrant.

Those charges were all dropped, and now Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens ruled Monday the charges would be "dismissed with prejudice" — meaning they've been dropped permanently, and Walker cannot be recharged again.

In an Instagram post, Walker celebrated the news saying, "I’m blessed for sure but there’s a lot more to be done we gonna get justice for Breonna Taylor."

When the officers burst into Taylor's apartment, they were not in uniform, leading Walker to think they were armed intruders. He fired a single shot, hitting an officer in the leg. The officers responded by firing 32 shots, killing Breonna Taylor.

We're celebrating with Walker, and that he won't face charges for what happened on March 13, 2020 ever again. And we will continue to work toward justice for #BreonnaTaylor, too.

440+ people in 42 states have pledged to donate over $295,000 from their stimulus checks

This week, Congress passed the latest stimulus package, which is expected to be signed in the coming day or so by President Biden. Included in it are $1,400 direct payments for many Americans.

For the two past rounds of direct payments, *hundreds* of people with the means to do so, pledged to give a portion of, or their *entire* stimulus check through @pledgemycheck. Donations range from a local organizations or small businesses in their community, to individuals needing help with rent payments, to nationwide organizations like Feeding America.

We love this simple way to make a really big difference. If you're in a stable financial situation, consider giving a portion — or all! — of your stimulus check to a neighbor, local business or organization who could use a little extra help right now. 

For inspiration and to add your pledge to the list — check out!

A veteran who uses a wheelchair went outside for the first time in 2 years after volunteers built a ramp at his home

When U.S. Coast Guard veteran Chuck Wood lost his left leg due to a blood clot, he began using a wheelchair. While he could get around his home, he wasn't able to go outside, since the front door leads right to a set of stairs.

He'd requested a ramp so that he could go out his front door again, and while permitting and other restrictions held up other organizations looking to help, California-based non-profit, Veterans of All War Riders (VAWR) made good on that request.

After construction was completed, Wood told Fox News, "It’s great to go out, get some sun, go check my mail. It’s been kind of hard because I couldn’t get out of here for two years."

VAWR also gave Wood a new, electric wheelchair. The organization was founded in May 2018, and helps veterans and their families with "anything they need," said VAWR President Richard "Sly" Randall. That includes anything from grocery delivery, rides to and from medical appointments, and wheelchair donations.

It's devastating that Chuck had to wait so long just to do something as simple as go outside his own home. We're celebrating these Helpers for making a huge difference in his life!

A new Colorado law makes it easier for women to know if they’re paid fairly

A new law that took effect this year in Colorado is making it easier for women to know if they're paid equally for equal work. The "Equal Pay for Equal Work Act" went into effect on January 1. 

It includes provisions like:

— Preventing an employer from retaliating against an employee for discussing salaries with coworkers.

— Requiring job postings in the state to include a salary range.

— Not allowing employers to ask the salary an applicant currently makes.

— Requires employers to let all employees know about promotion opportunities, not just a select few.

As a part of the new law, employees can also contact their company's HR department and ask for a salary audit.

"Based on today's wage gap, white women would lose approximately $400,000 over the course of a 40-year career," Lauren Casteel, president and CEO of The Women's Foundation of Colorado, told Denver-based NBC affiliate KUSA. "For Latinas, the career losses are over $1.1 million, and then for Black women, a little over $900,000."

As the impact of this new law become clearer, we hope to see less pay disparity, and other states following suit!

Alaska became the first state to open giving COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who wants one

Last week, Alaska became the first state to drop any and all eligibility requirements for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, anyone 16 and older in the state who wants one, can get one.

"This does feel like a gigantic milestone in so many ways to get to the point where we can offer protection for anyone who wants it in the state," Zink said during a news conference with Dunleavy.

Alaska's chief medical officer said in a news conference that their officials were seeing open appointments on their vaccination schedules, and made the decision to open it up to all Alaskans who wanted a vaccine.

This is really exciting news that fills us with a lot of hope for the days and weeks to come — as more and more states reach this milestone, and a May 1 target date to make this option available in ALL of them!

Steven Yeun made Oscars history as the first Asian American to be nominated for best actor

On Monday, actor Steven Yeun made history as the first Asian American to ever be nominated for "best actor" at the Academy Awards for his role in "Minari."

Yeun plays Jacob, a Korean immigrant who moves his family from California to Arkansas in pursuit of his American dream. Yeun also received nominations for his role from the Screen Actor's Guild and Critics Choice Movie Awards.

"I read the script and I was blown away," Yeun told CBS This Morning. "I was in tears. Seeing the words of how a life similar to mine could be put on a page was very liberating."

The film was written by Lee Isaac Chung, based on his own family's story. Chung was nominated for best director and best original screenplay for "Minari" as well.

More good news for representation: The Oscars also included two women in the "best director" category for the first time ever. Chloé Zhao for "Nomadland" and Emerald Fennell for "Promising Young Woman." Zhao is the first Chinese woman and woman of color to be nominated in the category at the Oscars.

Representation on-screen and off-screen in the films that find our theater and television screens is incredibly important. By being introduced to stories different from our own, we can grow in knowledge and empathy for the experiences of others. And while this good news for representation is *long* overdue, we're hopeful there's only more to come.

The U.S. gave 100 million vaccines in just 58 days

The U.S. reached its goal of administering 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in just 58 days — weeks ahead of the original 100-day goal.

The White House also announced there will be enough vaccines to fully vaccinate every U.S. adult that wants it within 10 weeks.

With the U.S. ahead of schedule on vaccinations, the White House also announced it is finalizing plans to "loan" 4 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses — which has not been approved for use in the U.S., but has in other countries and by the WHO — to Mexico and Canada.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing that “ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is a mission critical step, is mission critical to ending the pandemic.”

Over 50% of adults in the UK have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

The UK reached a major milestone in its vaccination rollout: 51% of all adults in the UK have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They passed the halfway point last week Friday, after the National Health Service delivered its highest single day of vaccinations — 660,276 first and second doses.

26.9 million people in the UK have received at least one dose, and over 2 million have received both doses. The country extended the time allowed between doses from 2 to 12 weeks apart, since officials said the first dose still provides significant immunity. This helped more first-doses reach more people, faster.

This is an incredible milestone to celebrate in the fight to bring and end to the COVID-19 pandemic! And a testament to the efforts of all those involved to create and distribute the vaccine in record time.

It also serves as a reminder that the work is far from over: as more wealthier countries reach milestones like this, we need to make sure we're including countries without the funding and resources in our vaccination rollout plans.

We aren't fighting this as individual nations, and it will take a global rollout plan to truly bring an end to the pandemic.

U.S. Senate security now has its first all-women leadership team

Karen Gibson is the new U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms, replacing the former top security official who resigned after the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capital.

Gibson and her top assistants, Deputy Sergeant-At-Arms Kelly Fado and Chief of Staff Jennifer Hemingway make up the first all-women Senate security leadership team since the office was established in 1789.

Gibson is a retired Army lieutenant general who served as director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command. According to the Senate's website, the sergeant-at-arms, formally known as the sergeant-at-arms and doorkeeper of the Senate, "is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, as well as protection of the members themselves." Gibson's team will also be responsible for Senate computers, IT support, administering Senate recording and photography studios, media galleries, and other administrative services.

In her swearing-in on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a "great and historic day."

Women belong where important decisions — like the security and protection of our elected officials — are being made. We're sure Gibson and her team's perspective and insight will be invaluable to their new roles, and are celebrating these women making history during Women's History Month!

Thanks to Native tribes, all Oklahoma residents can now get the COVID-19 vaccine

All residents of Oklahoma are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine — thanks to several Native tribes in the state.

Last week, the Chickasaw, Osage, Choctaw, and Citizen Potawatomi Nations opened vaccine appointments to the public, regardless of whether they are citizens of the tribe. The Cherokee Nation also opened appointments to anyone living in its 14-county jurisdiction.

The state itself is still in Phase 3 of vaccine rollout, full public rollout doesn't happen until Phase 4.

The Native tribes credit their infrastructure and community's commitment to herd immunity with the quick rollout. They were able to get the doses into arms quickly, which allowed them to receive more doses, and then expand distribution beyond their own tribal citizens.

For example, the Chickasaw Nation opened up a 16-lane drive through site, in addition to its 3 other locations, and has a team that travels to people's homes. 

"We are a part of these communities, and they are a part of us," Dr. John Krueger, chief medical officer for the Chickasaw Nation told CNN. "The faster we can get all of us back to essential protection, the better it is for us and the better it is for everyone."

Many native health providers have outpaced the rest of the country in distributing the vaccine — which has beenn a bright spot in a pandemic that has seen Native people disproportionately affected by the virus.

We're so grateful for the good work of these Native tribes, and are inspired by their commitment to each other and their community and neighbors in distributing life-saving vaccines.

The world’s first 3D-printed school will be built in Madagascar, addressing the need for educational infrastructure

One of the barriers to education for children around the world is physical infrastructure — a place to go and learn. @thinkinghuts and their partners are looking to tackle that barrier with a new, innovative solution: 3D-printed schools!

Thinking Huts and architectural design agency Studio Mortazavi will soon build the world's first 3D-printed school on a university campus in Madagascar.

With technology developed by a Finnish company Hyperion Robotics (hello, global collaboration!), Thinking Huts says the school will be built using 3D-printed walls and locally-sourced materials for the doors, roof and windows. Members of the local community will also be taught how to replicate the construction process so they can build schools in the future.

The school will be built in under a week with less of an environmental cost than traditional concrete-based construction — the process uses less concrete overall, and the mixture emits less carbon dioxide compared to traditional concrete.

This is exciting news for Madagascar, and for children around the world facing this unnecessary barrier to education: a place with the resources for them to go and learn. Knowing how important early education is in fighting poverty, and opening up doors for people around the world, this is extra special good news!

New Zealand unanimously passed legislation providing paid leave after a miscarriage

Employers in New Zealand were already required to provide paid time off in the event of a stillbirth at 20 weeks or later — and new legislation, unanimously passed by Parliament, expands it to anyone who loses a pregnancy, at any time. Couples who have a miscarriage or stillbirth can get up to 3 days paid leave.

“I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief,” said Ginny Andersen, the member of Parliament who drafted the bill.

Andersen said they believe New Zealand is the first to enact this kind of legislation, though others have related laws in place: In Australia, people who miscarry can take *unpaid* leave if they lose a pregnancy after 12 weeks, and in the UK, people who experience a stillbirth after 24 weeks are eligible for paid leave. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 20% of all known pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health estimates that 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Sands New Zealand, an organization that supports parents who have lost a pregnancy, says 5,900 to 11,800 miscarriages or stillbirths occur each year. And according to the New Zealand College of Midwives, more than 95% of miscarriages occur in the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Though Andersen admits there's still much progress to be made, this legislation is really good progress for both acknowledging the statistics around pregnancy loss, the struggle women specifically face related to pregnancy and work, and caring for the physical and mental well-being of those who experience a pregnancy loss.

We're celebrating New Zealand making history with this legislation!

The scientist who developed one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is now using the technology behind it to fight cancer

For two decades, Dr. Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder at BioNTech, her husband Dr. Uğur Şahin, and her team were had been working on technology to use the body's immune system to attack tumors — then, last year they heard about an unknown virus infecting people in China.

They shifted gears, using the technology they'd worked on so far to develop one of the first COVID-19 vaccines to be given emergency use authorization around the world: the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine.

Their swift work in getting the life-saving vaccine to people around the world resulted in funding to help them continue pursuing their goal of developing a new way to fight cancer.

Messenger RNA, or mRNA vaccines carry instructions into the human body for making proteins that teach it to attack a specific virus. That same idea can be applied to teach the immune system to take on tumors.

"We have several different cancer vaccines based on mRNA," Türeci told The Associated Press.

Türeci was born in Germany to Turkish immigrants, and credits the hard work and global collaboration for the swift development of the vaccines.

"It's about the effort of many, our team at BioNTech, all the partners who were involved, also governments, regulatory authorities, which worked together with a sense of urgency," she said. "The way we see it, this is an acknowledgement of this effort and also a celebration of science."

While it's difficult to predict when their new tool to fight cancer will be ready, Türeci said they "expect that within only a couple of years, we will also have our vaccines [against] cancer at a place where we can offer them to people."

This is incredible news for science and technology, and in the fight against both COVID-19 AND cancer!

A group of women in Yemen built and are now managing their own solar microgrid

Solar energy is empowering young women in Yemen! A group of women built and now manage their own solar microgrid, overcoming criticism to get their communities electricity.

With assistance from the UN Development Program, 10 women started the Friends of the Environment Station solar microgrid project — and now they now run it as their own business, providing affordable, renewable energy to a community living near a war zone.

The project has been so successful that now plans are in motion to replicate the project and build 100 microgrids around the country, which will not only provide clean energy to communities with no electricity but also employ local women and people displaced by civil war.

Currently, women make up just 7% of Yemen’s workforce, according to BBC. Career opportunities for women are severely limited, expanding this project will help empower even more women.

Station manager Iman Ghaleb Hadi Al-Hamali told BBC the work has given the group confidence and hope.

“We are graduates, but we had no job opportunities, so this project was a dream for us,” she told BBC.

The women have diverse roles on the project: Some read meters and converters, while others clean the batteries and solar panels.

“This work has given us more confidence and hope for a better future,” Al-Hamali said.

A new approach to making jet fuel from food waste cuts carbon emissions by 165%

Currently, when food scraps are used for energy, they're converted into methane gas — which contributes even more significantly to climate change. Scientists at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a new, more environmentally-friendly way to use it: jet fuel.

The researchers say they found a way to turn this waste into a type of fuel that works in a jet engine, which reduces both the carbon emitted from airplanes, as well as the emissions by diverting the would-be food waste from a landfill. In total, the approach cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 165% compared to fossil energy.

They plan to scale up their efforts, and are scheduled to begin test flights with Southwest Airlines in 2023.

Developments like this are so exciting to see, and encouraging to know people are working on sustainable solutions — even for air travel! And while this certainly won't eliminate emissions from air travel — and will need to be balanced with less air travel overall — it's great progress to celebrate!

50% of all U.S. seniors have now been fully vaccinated

Good vaccine milestone! According to Andy Slavitt, the White House COVID Response senior advisor, the U.S. has now officially fully vaccinated 50% of all seniors in the country.

Seniors have faced high risk of hospitalization and death from contracting COVID-19. This is really good, exciting news for the vaccination rollout, and for saving lives!

Also as of this posting, according to the CDC, more than one in five adults over 18 have received a full dose of the COVID-19, and 28.9% of the total population have received at least one dose.

Best Things That Happened in April 2021

Pfizer just reported its vaccine is showing 100% effectiveness in younger teens

Pfizer announced this morning that in its initial trials with young people between the ages of 12 and 15 years old, its vaccine is safe and 100% effective in preventing illness in younger teenagers.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were *zero* cases of COVID-19 among those who were fully vaccinated — and 18 cases among those given placebo shots, Pfizer reported.

They also announced that the side effects were similar to those seen in adults, like sore arm, fatigue, headache, fever, and chills.

Uğur Şahin, CEO of Pfizer's German partner, BioNTech, said in a statement with Pfizer that the results were "encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks" regarding the spread of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

While the trial continues, they plan to request emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds in the coming weeks. Pfizer's CEO said they hope to start vaccinating the age group before they go back to school in the fall.

While the adult trial of the vaccine was much larger, with more than 43,000 participants, so far it's encouraging to see the results that "it behaves the exact same way that it does in adults, or even better," said Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Creech told NBC News it was "exactly the news we hoped to hear."

Thanks to extensive conservation efforts, the American bald eagle population has quadrupled in the last decade

NO JOKE: the American bald eagle was almost extinct. 

Thanks to extensive conservation efforts, like giving them protected status, banning the pesticide DDT, breeding programs and habitat protection around nesting sites — their numbers have quadrupled in since 2009.

In 1963, there were just 417 known bald eagle nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. But according to a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the population is now thriving.

There are now an estimated 316,700 individual bald eagles in the contiguous United States, including more than 71,400 nesting pairs. For comparison, in 2009 the population was estimated to be 72,434 individuals, including 30,548 breeding pairs.

The eagle was one of the original species protected by the Endangered Species Act when it was enacted in 1973, primarily because DDT use after World War II decimated the population across the nation.

"Today's announcement is truly a historic conservation success story," U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. "Announcements like ours today give me hope. I believe that we have the opportunity of a lifetime to protect our environment and our way of life for generations to come. But we will only accomplish great things if we work together.”

A group of Nepalese climbers spent 47 days removing 2.2 tons of trash from Mount Everest while tourists were away

A group of 12 climbers in Nepal spent 47 days collecting over 2.2 tons of trash around Mount Everest. The mountain had been collecting discarded items like plastic bottles, cans, food wrappers, kitchen waste, discarded oxygen cylinders and more.

With the pandemic shutting down a lot of tourism travel, the climbing community took the opportunity to clean up the famous climbing destination.

The expedition was the result of a partnership between Bally Peak Outlook and locals, and was lead by Nepalese climbers and environmental activist Dawa Steven Sherpa. According to reporting from The Telegraph, Steven Sherpa has been removing trash from the mountain since 2008.

The Swiss luxury brand Bally created Bally Peak Outlook to protect and preserve mountains and environments from the impact of excessive tourism and climate change.

The expedition sent the 12 climbers to clean up the 8 tallest mountains in Nepal.

Instagram is rolling out an auto-caption feature in stories to improve accessibility

Good news for accessibility! You may have already seen some people you follow using Instagram's latest feature: Auto-generated captions in Instagram Stories!

Instagram is in the process of rolling out the feature for everyone, which will improve accessibility in the app for all its users, especially those who are deaf and/or hard of hearing.

The feature works just like a typical sticker you'd place on your Story, but instead of adding a poll or tagging a product, it will automatically transcribe the audio in the story.

We've been so encouraged to see so many users manually transcribe the audio in their videos to aid in accessibility, and this exciting new feature will not only make it a little simpler to add captions, but hopefully expand the number of people doing it! We're celebrating this good, long-overdue news for the social media app.

A startup is fighting deforestation and climate change by replanting trees 6 times faster using drone technology

The severity and frequency of wildfires, combined with global deforestation is putting much of the world's trees and forests at risk. Seeing the inability of traditional methods of tree-planting to keep up, tech startup DroneSeed wanted to speed up and scale up reforestation efforts.

They created a special drone that can plant seeds 6x faster, and can plant seeds on 40 acres in a single day, according to their website. The drone is also able to plant seeds post-wildfire within 30 days.

And it's not just helping after wildfires. According to DroneSeed, 15 million acres of forest in the U.S. are turned into wood products every year. 300 million acres have been deforested worldwide since the 1990s. At current replanting rates, it would cost $100 billion to replant those areas.

"The reason we started this business is to make a dent in carbon emissions, and trees, far and away are our best source to do that," DroneSeed's CEO Grant Canary told Mashable. "There are no machines currently that humans have that can do that more efficiently."

DroneSeed also removes some other barriers to rapid reforestation: they plant seeds, so there's no need for a nursery, and they can include a number of different species in one "seed drop."

One of the best carbon-capture "technologies" out there = TREES. And DroneSeed might just be the best new tree-planting technology, getting seeds in the ground quickly, so they can grow and start sequestering carbon faster.

For the first time, the U.S. is giving an average 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses per day

This time last month, we were celebrating the U.S. reaching the milestone of averaging 2 million doses per day — now, the U.S. is administering an average of over 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each day, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of the numbers reported today, 104.2 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than half of those people are fully vaccinated.

Remember: As we celebrate this good news in the U.S., we need to be mindful of how important the *global* rollout of the vaccine is. We won't see an end of the COVID-19 pandemic until the whole world is able to be vaccinated. When you have the opportunity, encourage your elected officials to support the WHO’s COVAX global vaccine rollout program. 

Wear a mask. Stay physically distanced. Celebrate when you see/hear friends, family, and neighbors get vaccinated. Get vaccinated when it's your turn. Keep taking care of each other

A Tallahassee church paid off $2.8 million of Floridians’ medical debt during Lent

St. Johns Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, Florida issued a challenge to its members at the beginning of Lent this year: to raise $10,000 over the Lenten season to forgive $1 million in medical debt for families in Florida through RIP Medical Debt.

The announcement on the church's website said: "Imagine a scenario where you need medical attention but must choose between going to the doctor or feeding your family. Or, imagine a situation in which a single trip to the emergency room ruined your credit rating and sent you into a debilitating debt from which you may never recover. As a parish, we can prevent such scenarios."

And church members rose to — and far exceeded — the challenge. Over the past few weeks, they raised $28,000, forgiving $2.8 million in medical debt.

RIP Medical Debt stretches $1 into $100 by purchasing debt in bulk from debt collectors and hospitals. They've paid off nearly $4 billion in medical debt since 2014.

And this latest donation will be a welcome surprise for so many families in Florida. In the challenge, the church had members imagine someone getting a letter telling them their debt was forgiven by donations from St. Johns, "Families can pay mortgages, utility bills, put food on their tables, and, most importantly, remain in the neighborhood.”

Medical debt is crushing and debilitating for so many. It shouldn't be this way. We're celebrating all those who helped their neighbors by paying off medical debt as a part of this church's challenge!

Researchers developed a strong new “bioplastic” that degrades in 3 months

To address the growing problem of excessive plastic pollution, scientists and engineers have long been working on alternative solutions. Researchers at Yale University developed a new "bioplastic" made from wood powder that matches the strength and versatility of plastic, but can then completely degrade in 3 months.

According to reporting from New Atlas based on the team's research published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the team used a biodegradable solvent to reduce wood powder (a typical waste product at lumber mills to "a slurry of organic polymers and cellulose with hydrogen bonding and entanglement at a nanoscale level." Then, the slurry was cast as a bioplastic, which was tested against "conventional" plastics.

It proved sturdy when holding liquid and exposed to UV light, but became "fractured" after two weeks when buried in soil, breaking down completely after 3 months.

The bioplastic can also be returned to its original "slurry" form, allowing it to be recovered and reused.

“There are many people who have tried to develop these kinds of polymers in plastic, but the mechanical strands are not good enough to replace the plastics we currently use, which are made mostly from fossil fuels,” co-author of the research, Yuan Yao told New Atlas. “We’ve developed a straightforward and simple manufacturing process that generates biomass-based plastics from wood, but also plastic that delivers good mechanical properties as well.”

This is really good news in the hunt to find a material that can rival the versatility and effectiveness of plastic, but with little to no impact on the environment. And since wood powder would normally go to waste, this could be a viable alternative!

The COVAX program has sent over 36 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 86 countries

Today is World Health Day! If there was ever a year we saw world health on a global scale — it was this past year. Our shared experience as a globe with coronavirus opened heightened our awareness of what global health really means, and what it takes to achieve it.

"As COVID-19 as highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others — entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work, and age," the WHO said in a statement, "This is not only unfair: it is preventable."

COVAX is an initiative from the World Health Organization to make access to vaccines more equitable worldwide by delivering at least 2 billion free doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries this year.

This week, they announced they'd reached 36 million doses sent to 86 countries around the world in pursuit of that goal.

So far, the majority of vaccine doses given have been in "a few, wealthy countries," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

This inequity is heartbreaking. Getting a vaccine to protect yourself from coronavirus shouldn't be reserved for only those countries that can afford it. We're celebrating all those who have stepped up to ensure our neighbors all around the world can access the vaccine too. Especially for this one — we need each other, and this pandemic won't be "over" until people in nations around the world are vaccinated.

A study found parole officer “empathy training” led to a 13% drop in parolee reoffending rates

A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of American found that a 30-minute "empathy training" exercise for probation and parole officers (PPOs) led to a 13% drop in parolee reoffending, or recidivism rates.

Researchers working on the study set out to, according to the abstract of the study, "test whether an 'empathic supervision' intervention with PPOs — that aims to reduce collective blame against and promote empathy for the perspectives of adults on probation or parole (APPs) — can reduce rates of violations and recidivism."

The study was conducted with 216 PPOs overseeing more than 20,000 APPs. Researchers had the parole officers complete a 30-minute online exercise designed to grow their empathy for their parolees, as well as to instill a sense of purpose within *them* for the important work they do.

Over the course of 10 months, recidivism dropped 13% among parolees who had a PPO who received the empathy training.

These findings are incredibly encouraging, and in the words of the researchers "illustrate that very low-cost psychological interventions that target empathy in relationships can be cost effective and combat important societal outcomes in a lasting manner."

According to data from the World Prison Brief, the U.S. is the most incarcerated country in the world. Not only is incarceration, probation, and parole extremely costly financially, more importantly the negative impact on families, communities, and society is devastating.

Most of us probably aren't surprised to see the effectiveness and impact of increased training in empathy — it's so, so important. We're celebrating the positive initial results of this study, and hope to see it catch on!

President Biden just announced initial actions to address gun violence prevention

President Biden announced initial actions his administration will take to address gun violence prevention in the U.S. He addressed things like the proliferation of "ghost guns," weapon stabilizing braces, leadership over the agency that enforces U.S. gun laws, "red flag" laws for states, and more.

"Ghost guns" can be assembled at home using kits with no serial numbers, and buyers aren't subject to background checks. Biden instructed the Justice Department to develop rules to "stop the proliferation" of them, according to a White House press briefing, like serial numbers and background checks for buyers.

A stabilizing brace makes weapons more accurate when fired. The gunman in the recent Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting used a pistol with an added brace. Biden instructed the Justice Department to develop clear rules that when a weapon has a stabilizing race, it is "subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act," like registration and licensing.

"Red flag" laws allow law enforcement and family members to get a court order to remove firearms from someone who might be a threat to themselves or others. While Biden cannot pass national "red flag" legislation without Congress, he instructed the Justice Department to write and publish a template "red flag" legislation that states can use as a guideline, if they want to adopt laws sooner.

Biden also said multiple departments in his administration would be "investing in evidence-based community violence interventions," to reduce gun violence in communities "through tools other than incarceration."

Ahead of Biden's live address, founder of Moms Demand Action, Shannon Watts posted on Instagram, calling the announcement "a huge victory for the gun safety movement," and that the actions would save lives.

Biden also announced the nomination of David Chipman as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the "key agency enforcing our gun laws." It hasn't had a confirmed director since 2015. Chipman was an ATF agent for 25 years, and currently advocates for commonsense gun safety laws with @giffordscourage.

Here’s how to take action to help end school shootings — and other forms of gun violence

A Virginia family’s nonprofit has donated over 32,400 pounds of food and 55,400 sandwiches during the pandemic

In June 2020, Amber and Sterling Marchand saw something devastating on the news: the spike in food insecurity and increased need at food pantries around the country, including right in their own Northern Virginia community.

"Food is a basic necessity, it shouldn't be a source of stress for a family," Sterling told People.

They wanted to do something to help. So, along with their four kids, they hosted a food drive right outside their home.

"The box kept filling and filling," Amber said. They knew they were on to something, and a month after that initial food drive, they turned the operation into a nonprofit: @bethegood_project. They also began partnering with local organizations like D.C.-based @marthastable.

One service Martha's Table provides is delivering hundreds of sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in the city. When the Marchands learned they needed more sandwiches to meet the community's need, they started making those, too.

Now, hundreds of local volunteers make, pack, and deliver sandwiches (as well as food!) to the Marchands' home. Amber said when their 3-year-old sees boxes stacked in the house, he asks, "'Is this food for us or food for neighbors?' It's taught them how to think and care about other people."

Since that first food drive, Be The Good has donated over 32,400 pounds of food, 55,400 sandwiches, and this year started on their latest project: Little Free Pantries.

After learning some families face challenges actually getting food pantries due to transportation issues, they wanted to bring the pantry to them. They've installed 6 around their community so far, with more on the way.

"I hope they see that their community cares about them, that even in hard times like this, we're not forgetting about one another," Sterling said. "It's a good reminder that there are always people out there who genuinely want to help their neighbor."

More than 1 in 4 U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Good news in the fight against coronavirus in the U.S. — according to the latest CDC data, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

And more than one-third have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccines.

As we're seeing more transmissible, and possibly more deadly variants of the virus surging, and an average 60,000 new cases still per day, this is hopeful news. And a great reminder that our collective, continued diligence now — wearing masks, physical distancing, and resisting the urge to get back to "normal" pre-pandemic activities — will help keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, allow time and space for more vaccinations to occur, and ultimately *save lives.*

And remember: As we see these encouraging vaccination numbers in the U.S., we need to be fighting for equitable access to vaccines all around the world. It's essential for bringing an end to the pandemic!

Hideki Matsuyama just won the Masters, making history as the first Japanese man to win a golf major

Hideki Matsuyama just won the Masters, making history as the first Japanese man to win both the Masters, and one of men's golf's four major tournaments overall.

He finished at 10-under par, earning his 15th win worldwide, and 6th on the PGA Tour. Matsuyama is the second man from an Asian country to win a major. Y.E. Yang of South Korea won the 2009 PGA Championship, another of the four major tournaments. 

We're celebrating this good news for representation in golf, and in sports overall! Whether in sports, film, television, or elected officials, we'll always celebrate someone becoming the "first" and break down barriers. When more of us see people who look like and have a similar background as us reaching the highest levels of achievement, that's a really good thing.

Congratulations, Hideki!

Singapore now has one of the world’s largest floating solar farms – it can offset more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year

Singapore now has one of the world's largest floating solar farms — with 13,312 panels on more than 30,000 floats, it's about the size of seven football fields, according to Sunseap Group, the sustainable energy provider behind the project.

It's also capable of offsetting more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year — which is about the same as the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 900 passenger vehicles.

Frank Phuan, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sunseap, told The Straits Times, "This is an important milestone for Sunseap as we believe that offshore space like the sea, reservoirs, lakes... offers exciting opportunities for land-scarce and densely populated cities to tap solar energy."

This is a really great way to bring sustainable solar energy to places like Singapore, which is one of those cities Phuan referenced that's strapped for space for land-based installations.

Though this installation was closer to shore, those involved are hopeful the technology could be adapted for more remote areas at sea, expanding the capacity to utilize renewable solar energy.

A U.S. federal court affirmed a ban on offshore oil leases in the Arctic & Atlantic Oceans

​​A U.S. federal appeals court confirmed a ban on offshore oil leasing in most federal Arctic waters and all of the Atlantic Ocean.

A 2017 executive order from President Trump looked to sell oil leases in protected federal waters. When President Biden came into office, he signed an executive order restoring the no-lease protections.

This latest ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals means that areas previously subject to possible development “will be withdrawn from exploration and development activities regardless of the outcome of these appeals,” the court said.

This is really good news for protecting our oceans (and land, and air) from the devastating impacts of offshore oil drilling. And less time (and money) spent on offshore oil exploration and development = more time (and money) to invest in renewable infrastructure and resources!

France wants to give people money to trade in their car and buy an electric bicycle instead

Lawmakers in France just approved a measure to give car owners in the country €2,500 ($2,975) when they trade in their vehicle to buy an electric bicycle instead.

"For the first time it is recognized that the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number," Olivier Schneider of the French Federation of Bicycle Users told Reuters.

The measure is an amendment to an existing draft climate bill in France, aimed at reducing emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. If its adopted, it will be one of the first programs like it in the world.

Lithuania adopted a similar cash-for-clunkers program last summer, and it was hugely successful. It was so well-received by Lithuanians, the government actually increased the budget for the program to meet the demand, according to national news broadcaster LRT.

“The initiative received a lot of attention from the population. The number of applications exceeded all expectations," a spokeswoman for the Lithuania‘s Environmental Project Management Agency, who developed the program said.

We love this creative solution to getting old, gas-guzzling cars off the road, lowering traffic congestion, and reducing all the associated carbon emissions!

Half of all U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

The U.S. reached another vaccine rollout milestone: Just over 50% of all adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nearly 130 million people 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, which is 50.4% of the U.S. adult population. And about 1 in 3 adults are fully vaccinated.

This is an exciting milestone to reach in the U.S., and one we should celebrate. But it comes amidst a heartbreaking reminder that just this week, we reached 3 million deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts think it could be even more.

It's also a reminder that as vaccine distribution continues to be successful in the U.S., we need to be mindful of global distribution too — and help ensure equitable access to vaccines however we can.

This nonprofit is organizing immediate aid, advocating for long-term solutions, and building empathy around the U.S.-Mexico border crisis

This week on the Sounds Good Podcast, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with Border Perspective founder Yonathan Moya to talk about what’s happening right now at the U.S.-Mexico border, the nuanced and complex historical and political contexts of immigration, and the opportunities we all have to create solutions.

We're facing a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to NPR, more than 170,000 migrants were detained at the U.S. southern border in March 2021 — the highest monthly total since 2006. It's up 70% from February 2021, and includes almost 19,000 minors.

Challenging conditions in countries in Central America, exacerbated by the pandemic, has led to this record number of people seeking refuge in the U.S. At the same time, the number of refugees the U.S. is accepting it at an all-time low — plus the systems for even those who do want to seek legal resettlement in the U.S. are almost non-existent and/or antiquated.

The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is a result of compounding issues, and our guest on Sounds Good has been working to both provide immediate aid to those impacted by it — and help create long-term solutions that address the issues at the core of it.

Yonathan Moya grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border and sought out a way to tell the stories of the people living there. Following a nine-day photographic journey in 2017, he launched an organization supporting families along the border. Border Perspective leads service-learning trips along the south Texas border to provide opportunities to support local organizations that support immigrants and to better understand the complexity of immigration.

This episode is educational, perspective-widening, and inspiring. If you're confused about how to feel or how to help, this episode is for you.

All territories in Australia are phasing out single-use plastic items by 2025

Federal, state, and territory leaders across the entire country of Australia agreed to a comprehensive national plan to phase out single-use plastics by 2025. 

The announcement came after different Australian states announced their own single-use plastic bans — those will all be replaced by the new National Waste Policy Action Plan. It includes phasing out phase-out of lightweight plastic bags, plastic misleadingly marketed as degradable, plastic straws, plastic utensils and stirrers, polystyrene containers, polystyrene consumer goods packaging, and microbeads in personal care products.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia generated 75.8 million tons of waste in 2019, 2.5 million tons of it classified as plastic waste. 9% of that plastic waste was recycled, and 84% of it sent to landfills.

This is great news for seeing an end to the wide-ranging use of single-use plastic items, and we hope it becomes the standard for other countries moving forward!

Climate Neutral just certified 230 brands – offsetting more than 700,000 tons of carbon

Happy #EarthDay! We're celebrating with our friends at Climate Neutral for certifying 230 brands for Earth Day, offsetting over 700,000 tons of carbon!

All 230 Climate Neutral companies have:

✅ Measured their 2020 carbon footprint, including all of the emissions from making and shipping their products or service.

✅ Offset all of their 2020 emissions by purchasing carbon credits, which support projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere or prevent emissions in the first place.

✅ Made a plan to reduce future emissions by implementing reduction methods.

And in more good news: Good Good Good is extremely proud to announce that we are one of those 230 companies! We've been working with Climate Neutral for the past few years to measure our annual carbon emissions, offset our entire footprint by investing in climate change solutions, and implement plans to reduce our emissions every year.

One of the areas of our business that impacts our carbon footprint most is the #Goodnewspaper: our monthly print publication filled with good news

We wanted to make sure a newspaper filled with good didn't have a bad impact on the planet, so in addition to offsetting the emissions related to shipping, we've implemented ways to decrease the associated emissions in the first place.

We're so grateful to the team at Climate Neutral for their help in creating solutions for us — and for so many other companies looking to do good for the planet. We can make a difference!

Greta Thunberg donated €100,000 to support COVAX program

In an effort to support more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, Greta Thunberg announced her foundation is donating €100,000 to support the COVAX global rollout program.

COVAX is an intimation from the WHO to make access to vaccines more equitable worldwide by delivering at least 2 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries this year.

According to her tweet, and confirmed by CDC data at least in the U.S. — 1 in 4 people in high-income have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

In low- and middle-income countries, its 1 in 500.

In order for us all to be safe from this deadly pandemic, we ALL need to be protected — no matter where you live or what the income level of your country is. Keeping others safe keeps us all safe.

We’re grateful for people like Greta, organizations, and countries stepping up to meet this important moment and ensure vaccine equity globally.

A rancher in Texas installed wind turbines in the same fields that pumped oil for decades

79-year-old cattle rancher Bobby Helmers hosted oil rigs on his land for decades — 3 years ago, he swapped them for 6 massive wind turbines.

125 cows share the land with the turbines — and the turbines are contribute half of the ranch's revenue. The potential gain in revenue is what actually led Helmers to make the switch and install the turbines.

Oil reserves and profits can drop, he told TechXplore, while "in wind, the production is stable," and profit shares rise over the years. His income from oil, he said, fluctuated as the market did — but wind has proved to be much steadier.

We love hearing stories like this — whether the intention financial or environmental, more people seeing the benefits of and investing in renewable energy is a win for the planet!

A malaria vaccine developed by Oxford scientists is showing up to 77% efficacy

Today is #WorldMalariaDay! And we have good news to celebrate in the decades-long fight to end the deadly disease around the world — a vaccine developed by Oxford scientists is the first to reach and surpass the WHO’s goal of 75% efficacy.

The vaccine showed up to 77% efficacy in a trial of 450 children in Burkina Faso over 12 months.

The mosquito-borne parasite disease kills around 400,000 mostly young children every single year. Scientists are hopeful these initial results will significantly lower that death rate.

“What we’re hoping to do is take that 400,000 down to tens of thousands in the next five years, which would be absolutely fantastic," Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute told The Guardian.

Now, the vaccine moves to larger trials involving 4,800 children in four African countries. Hill said they hope to have approval by 2022, and by then would have the capacity to produce 200 million doses a year.

The ‘Climate Clock’ in New York City is now counting a more hopeful statistic, too: the percent of global energy coming from renewable sources

A public art project by artists Andrew Boyd, Gan Golan, and others — called "Metronome", but also known as the Climate Clock — was unveiled at One Union Square South in 1999.

It featured a clock not telling the time of day, but the estimated time remaining to significantly reduce carbon emissions and prevent some effects of global warming from becoming irreversible — about 7 years, according to the artists.

It communicated with each passing second the urgency of the climate crisis.

Last year, the artists upgraded the clock to include a more hopeful statistic, too — the percentage of global energy use coming from renewable sources. And this one is counting up, not down!

The number displayed is based on information from the Our World in Data project — swipe to see a map of their country breakdown. When they first turned it on, the world was at about 12% global renewable energy.

“It’s nice to have positive climate news,” a project participant Greg Schwedock told The New York Times. “That’s something that the environmental community can be proud of.”

The climate crisis is incredibly urgent, and while global adoption of renewables certainly isn't happening as fast as some would argue it needs to be — we still need to be mindful of the progress we ARE making as a global community.

This progress can inspire us to continue making both our individual choices that help reverse climate change, and continue advocating for changes to the larger systems that made it a crisis in the first place.

4 women who made history at the Academy Awards

Last night was historic for the Oscars — nine of the 20 nominees in the acting categories were people of color. It was a historic night for women, too:

→ Youn Yuh-jung became the first South Korean actress to win an Oscar, and the second of Asian descent to win for best supporting actress for her role in "Minari"

→ Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win the Oscar for best makeup & hairstyling for their work on "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" alongside Sergio Lopez-Rivera

→ "Nomadland" director Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color, the first Chinese woman, and the second woman ever to win best director.

→ “Nomadland” also became the first film with a woman as both the director and lead actor (Frances McDormand) to win the Oscar for best picture.

The U.S. will give 60 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to other countries

The White House announced it would begin releasing its entire stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world after it clears a final federal safety check.

This means about 60 million doses not being used by the U.S. will make their way around the world to countries in need of more doses in the coming months.

“Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the U.S. already has and that have been authorized by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S., we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said in a news briefing. “Therefore the U.S. is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is used widely around the world, but has not been authorized for use in the U.S. yet. About 10 million doses have already been produced in the U.S., and about 50 million more are set for production pending FDA approval.

This is really good news for the global vaccine rollout. The U.S. has already surpassed 50% of its population having at least one dose, and many other countries around the world are further behind.

Equitable access to the vaccine is so important, they shouldn’t be reserved for only the wealthiest countries in the world. This pandemic won’t be over until people in nations around the world are able to vaccinated, too. 

An entrepreneur who lost her leg in a car accident invented a line of adaptive pants specifically for amputees just like her

Entrepreneur Erica Cole lost her leg in a car crash in 2018. After starting to wear her prosthetic leg, getting dressed in the morning became a challenge when nothing would fit properly over it. She quickly traded her personal style for practicality.

Then, drawing on her experience as a costume designer for plays and shows at her university, she took matters into her own hands and designed the perfect jeans — they were easy to get on and off, fit over her prosthesis, and were durable against the carbon fiber parts of it. It helped her so much, she thought it could help others, too.

Cole founded No Limbits in Fall 2018, and after winning pitch competitions and receiving seed funding, they've successfully developed and launched their first product on Kickstarter: a line of adaptive pants made specifically for amputees.

The Amp Pant has hidden zippers (on both legs, so they work no matter where your prosthesis is) to make dressing and undressing easy, areas reinforced with soft, durable fabric where No Limbits found prosthetics tend to rub through, and are tapered to account for any extra bulk from the prosthetic while maintaining a fitted shape

No Limbits' Kickstarter to produce the first run of the pants is currently live, and even if you aren't an amputee, they have a line of "Accessible Ally" merchandise for those who want to support their mission to make fashion more inclusive.

A new report predicts wind and solar energy could replace fossil fuels entirely by 2050

A new report published by the think tank Carbon Tracker says wind and solar energy could completely replace fossil fuel use by 2050.

It also says that if wind and solar power capacity continue growing at their current trajectory they "will push fossil fuels out of the electricity sector by the mid-2030s."

The report found that solar power had grown at an average annual rate of 39% over the last decade — almost doubling in capacity every two years, which is "faster than any previous energy technology."

Wind energy grew in capacity by 17% a year. Technological advancements for both renewable sources have helped reduce costs and contributed to their growth.

“We are entering a new epoch, comparable to the industrial revolution. Energy will tumble in price and become available to millions more, particularly in low-income countries. Geopolitics will be transformed as nations are freed from expensive imports of coal, oil and gas. Clean renewables will fight catastrophic climate change and free the planet from deadly pollution," said Kingsmill Bond, Carbon Tracker’s energy strategist and the report's lead author.

The report also pointed to the trend in financial markets, with clean energy companies raising more money than fossil fuel companies through public offerings.

As well as the potential in countries like Africa, which it estimates it holds about 39% of global potential and could become a "renewables superpower."

We're always encouraged to see reports like this confirming what a solid investment renewables are: financially, and for a secure future for the planet.

Positive News from May 2021

Pakistan is sending supplies and support to India to fight the country’s COVID-19 outbreak

Answering a call for help from India, Pakistan is sending supplies and offered their support to India in the country's fight against its record-setting COVID-19 outbreak.

"As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of Covid-19, Pakistan has offered to provide relief support to India including ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X-ray machines, PPEs, and related items," a statement from the Foreign Office said.

India is so dangerously low on oxygen supply, they requested assistance for it specifically in a news conference last week. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to countries in a news conference, "Please help us get oxygen, there will be a tragedy here."

Pakistan was one of the countries to answer that call. The U.S., British, and German governments also quickly pledged their support and announced they would help equip India with the medical supplies it needs.

It's so important to remember, especially for those of us living in a country that has higher rates of vaccination, that this pandemic is far from over. We need to continue to take care of each other, and advocate for support in fighting the pandemic around the globe: vaccines, medical supplies, and whatever else it takes.

A Sikh aid group is providing oxygen for people in need during the COVID-19 outbreak in India

As it becomes available, a Sikh aid group, Khalsa Help International, is purchasing and providing oxygen to people struggling impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in India.

India recently set a world record for the number of new cases in a single day, surpassing 345,000 cases — the most recorded since the start of the pandemic. The country also surpassed 2,000 deaths in a single day — and health experts fear it could get as high as 5,500. 

The outbreak has led to many of those impacted by the virus unable to get the help they need due to overcrowded hospitals, which are also already low on oxygen supplies.

For those who aren't able to find space at a hospital to get treatment, this group is able to provide at least some help. Is it the perfect solution? No. Does it help someone get much-needed oxygen? It absolutely does, and its absolutely needed.

"People are dying on the streets. That's why we started this," the founder of Khalsa Help International and president of the Sikh temple where the oxygen is distributed, Rummy told Reuters.

Rummy said in one night, they saved an estimated 700 patients.

British Veterans Who Were Dismissed Being LGBTQ+ Can Now Reclaim Their Medals

In February of this year, the British government admitted that their pre-2000 policy to only allow heterosexual people to serve in the military was a “historic wrong,” CNN reported.

Only heterosexual people were allowed to serve in the British Armed Forces until the turn of the century, and service members whose sexuality was discovered often had their honors removed before they were discharged.

Now gay and bisexual British veterans who were stripped of their medals because of their sexuality will be able to reclaim them.

The change comes after a legal campaign by Falklands War veteran Joe Ousalice, who was forced from the Royal Navy after 18 years of service in 1993 for being bisexual. He told the BBC that when his superiors discovered his sexuality, "they cut [the medal] off [his] chest with a big pair of scissors."

"It was a very great injustice that this was denied to some members simply because of their sexuality,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted. “I hugely welcome the fact we can now address this historic wrong."

Activists have also urged the government to address claims for compensation, lost pension rights, the mental health of veterans, and other issues facing people who fell victim to the pre-2000 legislation.

H&M’s new rental service lets people borrow a suit for a job interview for free

H&M's new ONE/SECOND/SUIT service lets people rent a suit for 24 hours for a job interview — free of charge.

“Research shows that it takes less than one second for an employer to judge your ability based on your appearance,” said Sam Knight, H&M Experience Operations Manager.

People in need of a suit for a job interview can head to H&M's website, input their measurements, and a navy blue suit (complete with a white shirt and red handkerchief) will be sent to them. They can keep it for 24 hours, and return it when they're done. H&M even coordinates dry cleaning it once its returned — the whole thing is free of charge.

Fast fashion is incredibly problematic, and H&M is a key contributor to the industry. As clothing rental services grow in popularity, and more and more people embrace both that and shopping secondhand, reducing consumption overall — we're excited to see a company like H&M embrace it, too.

And we love that they've chosen helping people look and feel their best for this service!

On the program's website, in addition to both styling and interview tips, H&M says, "A suit isn’t an outfit. It’s confidence. A signal to the world and a reminder to yourself you’ve got what it takes."

Moderna just announced it will supply 500 million vaccines to the COVAX program

Breaking good news! Moderna just announced it will supply the WHO’s COVAX global vaccination program with 500 million of its vaccine doses later this year.

COVAX is the initiative to get COVID-19 vaccines to middle- and lower-income countries throughout the world. It's been struggling due to funding, vaccine supply, and other inequities.

Even though the vaccines won't be made available until later this year and into 2022, this is really good, hopeful news for the global vaccine rollout. Remember: If the pandemic is a threat to anyone, anywhere in the world, it's a threat to everyone, everywhere.

A new EPA rule will reduce the production & use of hydrofluorocarbons by 85% in 15 years

A new rule proposed by the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) would reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over the next 15 years. 

HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases, and are considered a major driver of global warming. They're being phased out worldwide.

“With this proposal, EPA is taking another significant step under President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “By phasing down HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, EPA is taking a major action to help keep global temperature rise in check.″

The EPA says it will prevent the equivalent of 187 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere — which is about the annual greenhouse gas emissions for one out of every seven vehicles registered in the U.S.

And the initiative won't just help avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the EPA said it could also save the economy more than $280 billion over the next three decades.

HFCs are being phased out all around the world, and now the U.S. will join the global effort. The effort also bipartisan, environmentalist, and business community support. There are companies already working on — and implementing the use of — HFC-alternatives.

The U.S. has now begun reuniting families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border

Earlier this week, the U.S. began reuniting families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the "zero-tolerance" policy.

Four families were reunited in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called “just the beginning” of the larger reunification effort.

Mayorkas gave minimal details about the families: one Honduran mother and one Mexican mother were separated from their children in late 2017. The children were 3 years old at the time, as well as “teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years.”

An estimated over 5,500 children were separated from their parent/s at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy" of criminally prosecuting anyone who crossed the border illegally. The policy ended in June 2018 under a court order.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said of the known family separations, about 1,000 are believed to still be separated, and more than 400 parents still need to be located.

“We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months ahead,” Mayorkas told reporters. “We have a lot of work still to do, but I am proud of the progress we have made and the reunifications that we have helped to achieve.”

While we're really excited about this news, and are hopeful for the reunification stories that will surely follow it, we're feeling the heartbreak of thousands of separated families — and are supporting the efforts of those working tirelessly to bring them back together.

Ahead of Mother’s Day, brands invited customers to opt-out of emails that might be difficult to receive around the holiday

Today is difficult for a lot of people, and a growing number of brands are acknowledging that, too. Ahead of Mother's Day (and looking forward to Father's Day), brands invited their customers to opt-out of receiving promotional emails and communications that might be challenging for them to receive around the holiday.

NPR counted more than a dozen brands who sent messages out, like Our Place, Etsy, Jeni’s, and Milk Bar.

In an especially difficult, heartbreaking year with so much loss, it gives us hope to see so many more brands taking a human-centered (rather than profit-centered) approach and recognizing the varying life experiences of their customers.

Many people struggle with these holidays for a lot of different reasons, losing parents or children, are struggling with fertility issues, and/or relationships with family members are strained or complicated.

Author and grief advocate Megan Devine told NPR, "there are so many ways to lose a mother or to lose mothering."

All of those experiences are valid, and should be considered not just in how we market goods and services, but in our every day interactions with each other.

Be the good today, and every day, neighbors.

The percentage of Americans struggling with hunger is now at the lowest level since the pandemic began

The hunger rate in the U.S. is down 40% since peaking in December 2020, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau — and the percentage of Americans struggling with hunger is now at the lowest level since the pandemic began.

In late April, the percentage of adults living in households that "sometimes or often" didn't have enough to eat dropped to just over 8%, down from nearly 11% in March 2021. The drop came right after a third round of stimulus payments went out.

“Money helps,” Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, economist and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, who has been tracking hunger rates closely throughout the pandemic told Politico. “We’re continuing to see signs of progress. That’s exciting. That’s good news.”

The Census Bureau has been conducting regular surveys to learn how people are doing on issues like household debt, missed rent payments, and utilizing food banks.

With COVID-19 restrictions preventing Barcelona's Islamic population from celebrating Ramadan at the usual indoor venues, a Catholic church has offered up its open-air cloisters for Muslims to eat and pray together.

Today is the last day of Ramadan! Earlier this month, in order to help those celebrating Ramadan also comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, a Catholic Church in Barcelona shared its open-air “cloisters” so the city’s Islamic population could eat and pray together.

During Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat between sunrise and sundown, and at sundown they break the day’s fast with a meal called Iftar. Since they typically gather at indoor venues, which wasn’t possible with COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Reuters, every evening of Ramadan, which began at sundown on April 12, between 50-60 Muslims — most of them experiencing homelessness — would gather together in the church, and receive a meal made by volunteers.

“We are all the same... If you are Catholic or of another religion and I am Muslim, that’s fine,” 27-year-old Hague Oubrahim, who attends the dinners said, “We are all like brothers and we must help each other too.”

Father Peio Sanchez, the church’s rector, said they see the meeting of different faiths as “emblematic of civic coexistence,” as reported by Reuters.

Massachusetts reported no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since June 2020

On Tuesday, the state of Massachusetts had no deaths from COVID-19 reported to its health agencies. It's the first time the state has had zero deaths reported since June 30, 2020 — and the second time since June 1, 2020.

That same day, the state also reached a vaccination milestone, crossing 3 million full vaccinations. 

The International Energy Agency is now forecasting 40% more renewable energy growth than expected in 2021

In its latest update, the International Energy Agency revised some of its previous forecasts for renewable energy growth:

— It raised the growth forecast of solar and wind energy capacity by 25% from figures it released just 6 months ago

— It now forecasts 40% higher growth of renewable energy in 2021 than it did a year ago

These new figures put renewable energy matching coal by next year, and the IEA says renewable energy will overtake coal and gas globally by 2024.

The IEA said there was a “huge” 280 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity, mostly wind and solar, installed globally last year — which is about 45% higher than in 2019.

In their report they added that this “exceptional” level of annual additions will be the “new normal” in 2021 and 2022, and could potentially grow even faster in subsequent years.

Swipe to see the big jump from 2019-2020 that resulted in the adjusted forecast. This is really good, hopeful news for renewable energy adoption, and moving away from fossil fuels... globally!

Snapchat is redesigning its camera technology to better capture a wider range of skin tones

Snap, Inc. — the parent company of Snapchat — announced a new initiative to redesign its camera technology to better capture a much wider range of skin tones, it told Axios.

Some context: Snap engineer Bertrand Saint-Preux said that historically, the chemical processes behind film development used light skin as its chemical baseline. Digital photography and computer cameras had similar issues.

While technology has improved for both, Snapchat's "inclusive camera" initiative will address biased assumptions even beyond skin tone that its camera development could have had at the onset — like "preferred" shapes of faces (ie: smaller, thinner noses are "better) in facial recognition for filters.

Snap is working with directors of photography in the film industry to learn their techniques for best capturing actors with darker skin tones. Some of the techniques will include adjusting images after they've been captured, like correcting brightness and exposure, improving the front camera and flash's ability to capture low light and properly illuminate skin tone, and more.

We know that so many of the systems and tools we use every single day haven't been developed in an inclusive, equitable way — and social media and technology are no different. We're excited to see Snapchat (which has made its share of mistakes in the past) recognizing this, and taking initiative to work towards a better, more equitable solution.

The largest coal miners’ union said it will accept a switch to renewable energy in exchange for jobs

The largest coal miner's union in the country, the United Mine Workers of America announced they would accept a transition away from fossil fuels in exchange for jobs in the renewable energy industry, investment in making coal cleaner, and financial support for miners who lose their jobs.

“There needs to be a tremendous investment here,” Cecil E. Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, said in an interview. “We always end up dealing with climate change, closing down coal mines. We never get to the second piece of it.”

Transitioning to renewable energy (and quickly!) is critical for slowing and reversing climate change — and considering the people working in the fossil fuel industry needs to be a key part of that transition, too.

The union's plan includes things like creating new jobs in "coal country" through tax credits that would subsidize the making of solar panel and wind turbine components, and funding the reclamation of abandoned mines that are a public health risk.

They also want to see investment in carbon capture and storage technology, which would allow the mines to store carbon, rather than release it into the atmosphere — and allowing mines that implement the technology to stay open.

Many of the proposals in the plan, presented with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, are also already included in President Biden's jobs and infrastructure plan, too.

We're so excited to see more and more people — from lots of different, would-be competing sectors — getting on board and working together to come up with solutions and plans to adopt renewable energy around the country, and do our part in stopping climate change.

A New Study Found that Most Young People Would Support A Friend Who Came Out As Transgender

A new study found that almost all young people would support a friend if they came out as transgender.

Just Like Us, a LGBTQ+ youth charity based in the United Kingdom, surveyed youth from the ages of 11 to 18 in 375 schools and colleges.

Of the 2,934 pre-teens and teens surveyed, 39% identified as LGBTQ+ and:

— 84% of all respondents reported they would support their close friends if they came out to them as transgender

— 96% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they would be supportive, and 76% of those not identifying as LGBTQ said the same.

More than half of the respondents, 57% added that they already have a friend or peer who is trans.

And when asked if they believed their teachers would be supportive of a trans student when they came out, about 76% said they do.

“We are really glad that, with this independent research, we are able to shine a light on the opinions of young people themselves and how supportive they are of their trans peers,” Dominic Arnall, chief executive of Just Like Us, said in a statement.

— On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we acknowledge that these statistics aren't true everywhere. We wanted to share them to celebrate that change is possible, and that while the fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia isn't over, we have a lot of progress and hope to celebrate, too.

When we can imagine a better, more inclusive and accepting future, we can then work to keep building it.

Australians installed a record number of rooftop solar panels in 2020 – now one in four homes in Australia have them

According to data from the Clean Energy Regulator, in 2020 over 362,000 rooftop solar PV installations were issued in Australia — a 28% increase over 2019, and a record-breaking number of rooftop solar panels.

Australia has the most rooftop solar panels in the world, with more than 2.68 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed in Australia in total as of late December 2020 — meaning one in four Australian homes have solar panels on their roofs!

"Australia is one of the sunniest places on the planet. We lead the world in PV capacity on a per capita basis at 591 watts per person which is almost eight times the worldwide average," Senior Experimental Scientist Michael Ambrose told Tech Xplore.

The increase in solar panel use is both lowering carbon emissions, and helping the planet!

Weekly deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. just fell to their lowest in 14 months

According to a Reuters analysis of state and county data, deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months last week. Additionally, the number of new cases declined for the fifth week in a row.

For the week ending on May 16, total deaths reported were 4,165 nationwide — the lowest weekly since March 2020, when the total was 2,293. 

Back in January, the U.S. was peaking at a devastating and heartbreaking over 3,000 deaths per day, it's now averaging around 600. 

We're hopeful and celebrating these numbers trending down, but even one death is still far too many. Lets continue to do our part to keep our neighbors and communities safe — and do whatever we can to bring an end to COVID-19 around the globe. Get vaccinated, encourage others to get vaccinated, wear your mask (when/where it's recommended or required, we know the guidance has changed here!), and continue advocate for global vaccine access and equity.

We'll only get through this together.

Four U.S. states reported zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time in months

Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas all recently reported days with zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time in months.

Texas in particular reached the milestone for the first time since March 2020.

This good news comes as reporting also showed the entire country reporting the lowest number of daily deaths from COVID-19 in 14 months.

We're hopeful and celebrating these zero-death days — but know the numbers aren't the same in other parts of the country, and in other parts of the world. 

We should all continue to do our part to keep our neighbors and communities safe — and do whatever we can to bring an end to COVID-19 around the globe. Get vaccinated, encourage others to get vaccinated, wear your mask (when/where it's recommended, requested, or required), and continue advocate for global vaccine access and equity.

Wix launched a new ‘Accessibility Wizard’ tool to help its users detect and fix accessibility issues on their websites

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! According to The World Bank, 15% of the world's population, or about 1 billion people have some form of disability — and many of them rely on web accessibility features to navigate the internet.

Knowing these statistics, and that a majority of website accessibility issues come from developer mistakes — either because they are unaware that their websites aren't accessible, or they don't know how to fix them — Wix developed a solution.

Wix recently launched their new 'Accessibility Wizard' — a first-of-its-kind tool that will allow their 200 million users to scan their websites to detect accessibility issues, and then guide them through the process to resolve them.

The tool adheres to website accessibility standards as set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the international guidelines for standardized web content accessibility.

"The web is meant to be a place for everyone, and we push our platform and products to serve this vision," said Nir Horesh, Head of Accessibility at Wix. "In developing the first-ever Accessibility Wizard, we hope to encourage our users to build sites that are more inclusive and that everyone can visit and enjoy." 

The Accessibility Wizard will help users with things like accessible templates, full keyboard functionality, alternative texts, heading tags, site language, and more. The tool is available to Wix users at no additional cost.

Access to information, products, and services on the web shouldn't be limited to people with specific abilities only. The web as many of us know it was designed this way — but we can design a better, more inclusive, and accessible way that includes everyone. 

We're celebrating with Wix for developing and launching this tool for its users to help move in that direction!

Scientists just discovered ‘a new class of compounds’ that kill liver and breast cancer cells

Scientists at Oregon State University just discovered what they call "a new class of compounds" that can effectively kill liver and breast cancer cells.

Their findings, published in the journal Apoptosis, describe their discovery and characterization of compounds: Select Modulators of AhR-regulated Transcription (SMAhRTs).

The researchers identified a molecule that activates aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) signaling "and kills liver and breast cancer cells." They studied cells from a common type of liver cancer, as well as those from "triple negative" breast cancer, which accounts for 15% of breast cancers with the worst prognosis.

“We focused on these two types of cancers because they are difficult to treat and have limited treatment options,” Siva Kolluri, a professor of cancer research at Oregon State, told local news outlet KVAL. “We were encouraged by the results because they are unrelated cancers and targeting the AhR was effective in inducing death of both of these distinct cancers.”

The lead researcher, Edmund Francis O'Donnell III, said "This is an exciting development which lays a foundation for a new class of anti-cancer therapeutics acting through the AhR."

We might not be cancer researchers, or scientists, and the technicalities of this research and development might be over our heads — but we ARE still thrilled to learn about the helpers working hard to develop new, innovative ways to treat cancer — something that has surely impacted most, if not all of us in some way.

For the first time since June 2020, the U.S. is reporting fewer than 30,000 new daily COVID-19 cases

The U.S. is reporting fewer than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, the lowest levels since June 2020. Daily deaths are also the lowest they've been since last summer.

The U.S. is reporting about 25,700 coronavirus cases daily, down 39% from two weeks ago. Deaths are also down 14% to an average of 578 per day.

According to data from the CDC, U.S. Census, and state reporting, almost half of all people living in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine — and though we've seen the pace of vaccinations slowing down, it's still growing by two percentage points per week.

“I think by June, we’re probably going to be at one infection per a hundred thousand people per day, which is a very low level,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said on CBS "Face The Nation".

Right now, the U.S. rate is 8 cases per 100,000, down from 22 during the most recent peak in mid-April.

Remember: As we continue to receive good, encouraging news like this in the U.S., we need to continually shift our focus to the global fight against the pandemic!

On the anniversary of his death, George Floyd’s family announced a $500,000 fund to support the Minneapolis Black community

On May 25, 2020 we all received the devastating news of George Floyd's murder by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One year later, as we reflect on the tragedy that occurred, we stand with all those feeling overwhelmed and grieved by the injustice and inequality we saw that day, and that still exists today.

There have no doubt been points of progress to celebrate over the past year — and we should all stop to do so, allowing them to inspire our continued efforts toward greater justice and equality.

We're also inspired by the commitment and work of George Floyd's family. Today, one year after George's death, the Floyd family announced a $500,000 George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund to support the predominantly Black neighborhood in Minneapolis where he was killed. The fund will award grants to businesses and community and charitable organizations that benefit those living in the area, according to a statement from the family's legal team.

While we don't believe the Floyd family bears any responsibility to pay for improvements to the community where George was killed — we're inspired by the intention behind the fund, as described by his brother, Terrence:

"George's legacy is his spirit of optimism that things can get better, and our family wants to bring that hope to the community where he died, so that together we can make things better for the Black community in Minneapolis and beyond."

May we all draw inspiration from George, his family, and use whatever resources we have to bring hope, a spirit of optimism, and positive change wherever it's needed.

World Central Kitchen is providing emergency food assistance to thousands of people and families in Gaza

When disaster strikes, you can all but guarantee World Central Kitchen is standing by ready to help.

According to the United Nations, 58,000 Palestinians in Gaza are officially considered "internally displaced persons." And according to World Central Kitchen, 2,800 families have lost their homes completely. They are dealing with power and water outages — making it challenging, if not impossible to access food, too. This is all on top of an existing humanitarian crisis and food insecurity due to COVID-19.

Enter: World Central Kitchen. They've partnered with American Near East Refugee Aid to prepare thousands of fresh, nourishing meals for people displaced or unable to access food in Gaza.

They're also working with local organizations to prepare and distribute the meals: approximately 50 women are preparing the meals at 5 kitchens in Gaza, with produce coming from 25 local farmers.

They started producing meals a day after the ceasefire was announced, and plan to expand their efforts to utilize local restaurants when its possible.

The U.S. added over 116,000 square miles of protected ocean to save endangered humpback whales

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Commerce agencies of the Biden administration gave final approval for the protection of 116,098 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean as "critical habitat" for three populations of endangered humpback whales.

The regulation, which went into effect on May 21, aims to protect the endangered species from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and oil spills.

One population of endangered humpback whales that feeds off California’s coast contains fewer than 800 individuals. The biggest threats to the whales are ships and fishing gear.

“Today is a good day for humpback whales and the ocean all living things depend on,” Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, said in a statement. “Designating 116,000 square miles of critical habitat in the ocean is something to celebrate, but whales, turtles and dolphins still need additional protection from industrial fishing and ship strikes to recover and thrive."

Like Steiner said, we're celebrating this good news — and continuing the fight to protect humpback whales, ocean habitats, and all the marine life who call them home from preventable threats.

The U.S. Army expanded its ‘allowed hairsyles’ for women and made other updates to its ‘grooming’ policy for soldiers

This month, the U.S. Army announced it was expanding its list of approved hairstyles for women to include ponytails, braids, and more. 

The newest changes mean women can keep their hair in a bun, single ponytail, two braids, or a single braid; locks, braids, twists, or cornrows can come together in one or two braids or a ponytail; and braids or a ponytail can go as far down as the bottom of the shoulder blades.

Previously, women soldiers were only allowed to wear their hair in a tight bun, which resulted in hair loss and other hair damage, especially for Black women.

“This new modification is more practical for our female Soldiers. It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison,” said Sgt. Maj. Brian C. Sanders, Army G-1 Uniform Policy Branch Sergeant Major. “This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp.”

In the announcement, the Army said they revised the policy following the Department of Defense mandate that they revisit all their policies, "Through feedback from the Force resulting in a clear, consolidated policy recommendation from a group of Soldiers, the Army reconsidered and approved the wear of ponytails."

The new policy also eliminates the minimum hair length of 1/4-inch for those who prefer to shave their head, and it "removes potentially offensive language used to describe several hairstyles."

They also made other updates to the 'grooming policy' for soldiers, including allowing hair highlights in natural colors, lipstick and nail polish in "non-extreme" colors for women, and clear nail polish for men, and earrings in combat uniform for women.

We welcome these changes by the Army! While not perfect, it's incredibly more inclusive than the previous policy.

Good Things That Happened in June 2021

The UK reported zero deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since July 2020

For the first time since July 2020, the UK announced it had no deaths from COVID-19. Official figures showed all four UK nations recorded no new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. In total, the UK has seen 127,782 deaths from the coronavirus.

The same day they reported zero deaths, the UK also reported 3,165 daily new cases of the virus, and more than 288,000 daily vaccinations.

We'll never get tired of seeing these headlines, and look forward to the day zero deaths are a reality for all people in all countries.

Dr. Jane Goodall just became the first ethologist and fourth woman ever to win the prestigious Templeton Prize

Dr. Jane Goodall was awarded the 2021 Templeton Prize, becoming the first ethologist and fourth woman ever to win the prize. According to the announcement, the prize "celebrates her scientific and spiritual curiosity" and "rewards her unrelenting effort to connect humanity to a greater purpose."

“We are delighted and honored to award Dr. Jane Goodall this year, as her achievements go beyond the traditional parameters of scientific research to define our perception of what it means to be human,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation. “Her discoveries have profoundly altered the world’s view of animal intelligence and enriched our understanding of humanity in a way that is both humbling and exalting."

Goodall was the first to discover that chimpanzees engaged in activities that we previously thought were exclusive to humans: creating tools, having individual personality, forethought, and complex societies, and under certain circumstances waging war and showing compassion.

The Templeton Prize is one of the world's largest lifetime achievement awards. Founded by the late philanthropist and global investor Sir John Templeton, it's awarded annually "to honor those who harness the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it."

In her acceptance speech, Goodall said, “I have learned more about the two sides of human nature, and I am convinced that there are more good than bad people. There are so many tackling seemingly impossible tasks and succeeding. Only when head and heart work in harmony can we attain our true human potential.”

We're deeply grateful for Jane Goodall's conservation work, and the connections she's made between animals, humans, and the entire natural world. We're thrilled to see her work recognized in this way.

Brazil is finalizing legislation that would pay farmers to preserve the rainforest

The Brazilian government announced they are finalizing new legislation that would offer financial incentives to farmers to preserve undeveloped rainforest and savannah.

During an online event announcing the planned legislation, Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said the new rules would allow farmers to get paid if they decide not to clear land for agriculture or to raise livestock, even if in some areas they are legally permitted to.

The legislation comes after international pressure to curb deforestation and preserve the rainforest.

Though farmers would still be allowed to cut down forests to make room for livestock or crops, the new law would offer incentives for them *not* to do so.

They did not announce a timeline for the bill yet, but this is encouraging news, and hopefully will be a great incentive for farmers to preserve key areas of land, and the biodiversity and climate regulation that comes with it!

The U.S. is sending 25 million of its surplus COVID-19 vaccines around the world

The U.S. just announced its plan to send 26 million surplus COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world, like India, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and more through the COVAX global vaccine sharing program.

According to the White House's announcement on Thursday, the vaccines could begin being shipped out as soon as that day.

"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions," President Biden said in a statement. "We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values."

Nearly 19 million doses will go to the COVAX program for distribution in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa. And 6 million doses will be sent directly to India, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea.

The U.S. also announced it would be lifting restrictions to allow more countries to purchase U.S.-made supplies for vaccine production.

Biden has pledged to share 80 million vaccines total this month internationally, including 60 million AstraZeneca doses.

We've said it before: If the pandemic is still a threat anywhere, it's a threat everywhere. We're celebrating this good news from the White House to bring an end to the global pandemic — globally!

Twitter’s ‘read before you retweet’ prompt resulted in 40% more article opens and is now a permanent feature on the app

Last year, Twitter rolled out a new beta feature for when users attempted to retweet an article they hadn't clicked into. When tapping "retweet," Twitter displayed a prompt advising the user to first read the content before sharing it.

The goal of the prompt was to promote “informed discussion” and “healthier conversations." And it worked.

Twitter Communications announced that:

📰  People opened articles 40% more often after seeing the prompt

📰  People opening articles before retweeting increased by 33% 

In the announcement, they added, “Some people didn’t end up RTing (retweeting) after opening the article—which is fine! Some Tweets are best left in drafts 😏."

Because of these encouraging results, Twitter moved the feature out of beta and it's now a permanent feature on the app. Go ahead, try it! Just head over to Twitter, find a tweet that includes a link to an article, and tap retweet!

We all know social media can have a less-than-good impact on things like mental health, genuine human interaction, misinformation, and more. While this might not be a perfect solution from Twitter, we're celebrating that they're working on ways to combat it — and hope even more innovation will follow!

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. just hit the lowest point since the pandemic began

According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, CSSE Johns Hopkins University, and state health departments, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. just hit the lowest point since March 2020.

In the past week, the U.S. averaged about 16,500 new cases per day, a 30% improvement over the prior week. New cases either declined or remained the same in all 50 states.

Amsterdam banned fossil fuel advertisements from its entire metro system

The Amsterdam City Council banned all advertisements for products and services that promote fossil fuels — like gas-powered cars and cheap airline flights — from its entire metro system.

According to the company that places ads in Amsterdam's metro system, CS Digital Media, the metro's 4 million weekly passengers have between 4 and 8 minutes of average waiting time on platforms.

According to CS Digital Media's CEO Radjen van Wilsem, they want that time and ad space to be used for "advertisers to tell how we move forward in changing the environment.”

They also hope the ban will inspire other cities in The Netherlands to do the same.

About 10% of ads currently running will be discontinued, like ones for rental cars and cheap flights throughout Europe. The ad company will give financial incentives to companies that want to advertise renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Banning advertisements on public transportation might not seem like a big deal — but when we think about the messages we see throughout the day, ones that promote a fossil-fuel-intensive lifestyle probably make up quite a few of them. And whether we like it or not, those messages and images have power to impact our choices. 

When the ads we see better reflect the future we want to see, it has the potential for more people to see and then make positive changes in their own life and lifestyle, too!

Male teachers across Spain are wearing skirts to class to support students and fight homophobia, bullying, and gender norms

Male teachers across Spain are joining the Clothes Have No Gender (#laropanotienegenero) movement, which started in October 2020 after a student, Mikel Gomez was expelled and referred to psychologists after wearing a skirt to school.

Gomez made a viral TikTok about the incident, saying he wanted to show support for feminism and diversity by wearing the skirt. Jose Piñas (pictured at right) was one of the first teachers to join the movement and wear a skirt to class.

Piñas tweeted with the photo, "20 years ago I suffered persecution and insults for my sexual orientation in the institute where I am now a teacher… many teachers, they looked the other way."

Two more teachers, Manuel Ortega (left) and Borja Velazquez (center) joined in and started wearing skirts to class after one of their students was bullied for wearing an anime shirt. The student was called homophobic slurs and eventually changed out of embarrassment. 

Ortega tweeted, "A school that educates with respect, diversity, co-education and tolerance. Dress how you want! We join the campaign #clotheshavenogender."

Teachers are the best. We're proud of these ones for joining in to support and advocate for their students!

Worldwide, weekly COVID-19 cases have declined for the past 6 weeks

According to reporting from Bloomberg, weekly COVID-19 cases have declined for the past 6 weeks globally.

This good news comes as Reuters reported India's case count is at its lowest in 2 months, and the country is easing lockdown restrictions. It also comes as the global vaccination effort is further ramping up.

The U.S., specifically, is also seeing its lowest case count since the pandemic started in March 2020.

A giant, semi-autonomous, solar-powered sailboat is set to begin collecting, treating, and recycling plastic waste from oceans

Created by The SeaCleaners, Manta is a giant, hybrid sailboat designed to collect, treat and repurpose large volumes of floating plastic debris in highly polluted waters: oceans, along coastlines, in estuaries, and in the mouths of large rivers.

It relies primarily on solar power, and runs autonomously 75% of the time. Expected to be in use in 2024, Manta will be able to clean up 5,000 to 10,000 tons of plastic waste every year.

We love technology for good. While we believe wholeheartedly in reducing consumption of plastic (and other) waste in the first place, and coming up with creative solutions to stop it from ever reaching waterways at all — the reality is, there's so much plastic pollution there right now that also needs an innovative, creative solution.

We're celebrating with The Sea Cleaners for developing this technology to address the heartbreaking problem of plastic pollution in waterways!

A 17-year-old pilot rescues and flies animals across New Mexico, saving them from euthanized

An Albuquerque high school student got his pilot’s license in December and is already using it for good. He rescues and flies animals all over New Mexico, saving them from being euthanized.

A nonprofit called Barkhouse in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has more pets that it has room for, so they help get these animals to cities where there are eager adopters but fewer pets to adopt.

After the nonprofit’s go-to pilot had an issue with a plane engine, they started asking for help from the flight community. Now, they’re working with SAMS Academy Aviation to fly these rescue missions — while giving students much-needed flight time.

“We realized we have this perfect opportunity where we have students who need cross-country flight time,” Lauren Chavez, chief flight instructor at SAMS Academy Aviation, told KRQE.

Cody Anderson, a 17-year-old high school student and pilot, helped transport 22 puppies and two adult dogs from Las Cruces to Albuquerque. From there, another pilot in the “relay mission” took them to Aurora, Colorado.

The academy says the best part of this collaboration is that the dogs aren’t going from shelter to shelter. These transports are taking them straight to their forever homes.

The academy has only done flights with dogs so far but hopes to start transporting cats and other animals in the near future.

The first hospital in Canada to admit a COVID-19 patient just had its first COVID-free day

GOOD NEWS! The first hospital in Canada to admit a COVID-19 patient just had its first COVID-free day.

Lions Gate Hospital admitted its first COVID-19 patient at the end of January 2020, and last week had its first day without a single positive COVID-19 case since then.

Dr. Kevin Mcleod, an internal medicine specialist at Lions Gate tweeted, "The hospital I work at had the very first case of covid in Canada in January of 2020. Today we have…wait for it… zero covid cases in the hospital. First time since that first case! Very optimistic. Vaccines are working!"

This is extremely hopeful news for the success of vaccine rollouts in countries around the world — and we need to continue to ensure access to vaccines is equitable globally so even more countries can see good news headlines like this!

A Taiwanese architect and engineer created the world’s first hospital ward made entirely out of recycled trash

We LOVE this good news story highlighted in this week's #Goodnewsletter! // When the pandemic hit, many of architect and engineer Arthur Huang's constructions projects were put on hold. And like so many others who wanted to help, he knew he could do something to address the need for more medical supplies and hospital space. 

Huang is the co-founder and CEO of Miniwiz, a Taiwan-based company that transforms different types of waste into more than 1,200 materials that can be used for construction, interiors, and consumer products.

When shipping of conventional building materials was impacted by the pandemic, Miniwiz started making them out of a plentiful material: trash.

"We have been building medical parts, medical components and a medical modular ward system all out of local trash," Huang told CNN.

And they built the Modular Adaptable Convertible (MAC) ward at Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital in Taipei — the world's first hospital ward made entirely out of recycled trash. The walls are lined with 90% recycled aluminum panels, the insulation is made from recycled polyester, and cupboard handles and clothes hooks are made from recycled medical waste like personal protective equipment (PPE).

"We don't need to create new things," Huang said. "We just need to use our ingenuity, innovations, and our good heart and good brain to transform these existing materials into the next generation of products.”

We couldn't agree more!

In 2020, the U.S. consumed a record amount of renewable energy

According to new data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. consumption of renewable energy in 2020 grew for the 5th year in a row — reaching a record 12% of total U.S. energy consumption.

Renewable energy was also the *only* source of U.S. energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019 — both fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined.

The renewable energy sources included wind and solar (these two saw the most growth), hydroelectric, biomass, and biofuel.

12% may not sound like a lot — and it's definitely not where we need to be — but celebrating points of progress like this in the transition to renewable energy is so important. Knowing we're making progress can help each of us continue to do our part, hold corporations and those in leadership accountable.

We can make a difference.

A record-high number of humpback whales were counted in Japan this year

A record 1,087 humpback whales in 670 pods were observed migrating to waters off Amami Oshima Island in Japan between December 2020 and March 2021, according to research by the Amami Whale and Dolphin Association.

Humpback whales migrate to waters around the island in the winter to breed and raise young. Among the 670 pods were 105 pods with mothers and calves — also a record high. One pod stayed in the area as long as 48 days.

Research on whales began in 2014 as part of the Environment Ministry's cetacean research program. Confirmed whale numbers have been increasing for six consecutive years and exceeded the previous record of 971 whales in 578 pods last season. This season's count surpassed 1,000 whales for the first time.

Humpback whales spend their summers in cold waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia and migrate south to waters around Japan in the winter breeding season.

The species was decimated by commercial whaling in the 19th and early 20th century. But thanks to global conservation efforts, most humpback whale populations are no longer endangered, and the population continues to increase.

Maine is now the first U.S. state to pass legislation to divest from fossil fuels

The state of Maine just passed a new law that will require all state funds to be divested from fossil fuel assets — becoming the first in the U.S. to do so statewide.

Agencies impacted by the new law must develop a divestment plan by 2026.

"Fossil fuel industries are simply not as stable as they once were, so a move toward divestment makes both financial sense and supports our overall renewable energy goals," Maine Senate majority leader Eloise Vitelli said in a statement earlier this month.

As we look to a future that's less (and not at all) dependent on fossil fuels, we're celebrating the news of Maine's statewide divestment from those assets!

India just gave over 9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in one day

According to India's vaccine tracker, on Monday the country administered over 9 million vaccine doses — 8.2 million of them first doses, and the remaining were second doses.

Tuesday, they gave 5.4 million doses total, and yesterday 6.4 million doses — bringing its daily average up from about 3 million per day, to 7 million.

This is really good news in the global fight against COVID-19! Plus, the WHO just announced that new cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are at their lowest globally since February.

Philadelphia is dimming the city’s lights to make it safer for migrating birds

Earlier this year, the lights in Philadelphia didn’t shine as brightly as usual as a coalition worked to prevent millions of migrating birds from crashing into skyscrapers and onto the sidewalk.

Bird Safe Philly announced the Lights Out Philly initiative, a voluntary program in which external and internal lights in buildings are turned off or dimmed at night during the spring and fall.

The coalition formed after the city’s largest collision event in 70 years was reported last October — hundreds of dead birds were found around the city.

Birds navigate during migration using celestial cues, and when they can’t see stars on a cloudy night they get confused by bright city lights, NPR reported. Windows also pose a problem because birds might see a reflection of trees or the sky.

Scientists estimate between 365 million and one billion birds are killed by collisions with buildings or other outdoor structures in the U.S. every year, and it can take a toll on some species.

The program runs from April 1 through May 31 and from August 15 to November 15. Property managers and tenants are asked to voluntarily switch off lights between midnight and 6 a.m., especially in a building’s upper levels, lobbies, and atriums. The initiative has the added benefit of reducing energy consumption.

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Philadelphia, which represents over 475 members who own or manage commercial properties or provide services to buildings, told NPR the response has been “extremely robust.”

The National Audubon Society established the first Lights Out program in 1999 in Chicago. Philadelphia now joins 33 other cities in enacting this type of program, including New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

Italy’s first publicly-authorized mural of two women kissing was unveiled in Rome

We spotted this good news headline in the "Celebrating Queer Joy" hopeful headlines section of The Pride Edition of the Goodnewspaper — and we HAD to track down a photo!

Italy's first-ever publicly-authorized lesbian street art, a pixel art mural of two women kissing, was unveiled at a subway station in Rome earlier this year. 

"Before today no public institution in Italy had ever authorised murals showing a kiss between two women or two men," actor Paolo Turano told Italian news outlet La Repubblica on behalf of Gay Help Line.

The mural was created by street artist Krayon, in collaboration with Zon Productions agency with the support of the local town hall authorities.

The mural also displays a phone number to reach a center against homotransphobia, which offers support to victims and reportedly receives about 20,000 calls a year.

The location of the mural is symbolic, too — not far from a plaque memorializing Paolo Seganti, who was killed in a homophobic attack in 2005.

We're thrilled to see better representation for the LGBTQ+ community in all forms of creative expression: music, movies, television, art... and street art!

Lego announced it’s working on developing bricks made out of recycled plastic bottles

In the company's latest move towards building (pardon the pun) a more sustainable business, Lego announced it began working on a prototype for bricks made out of recycled plastic bottles.

"The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks — and fit with Lego elements made over the past 60 years," Tim Brooks, Lego's vice president of environmental responsibility, said in a statement.

The company says they've tested hundreds of formulas, and have landed on a prototype that meets "several" of their quality and safety standards. They still have a way to go before rolling out the bricks, but this is a really exciting development in addition to other pledges the company has made. 

In 2020, Lego announced it to invest up to $400 million in sustainability efforts, including its Sustainable Materials Program, social initiatives, and making Lego's manufacturing operations carbon neutral by 2022. Lego also pledged to eliminate single-use plastics in its packaging by 2025. They also have a "Lego Replay" program that lets people donate used bricks to be gifted to a child in need (And it's free! Check it out at

"We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable," said Brooks. "Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us."

Currently, Legos are made with a non-recyclable plastic that's also found in many other childrens' toys. Brooks acknowledged Lego has a long way to go, but that they are "pleased with the progress we’re making."

We'll celebrate any step towards a more sustainable, planet-mindful future!

In April 2021, a record 25.7% of electrical generation in the U.S. came from renewable sources

According to a new analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable sources provided a record-setting 25.7% of all U.S. electrical generation in April 2021! 

Data provided by the EIA through April 30, 2021, and in the first four months of 2021, renewables accounted for 22.5% of total electrical generation — up from 22.0% over 2020. Ten years ago, in the first four months of 2011, renewables were 13.7% of the total electric generation.

Sometimes good news is slow, steady progress over time. And while we know we need to make the switch to renewables much quicker than this to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change — it's important that we recognize and celebrate these progress points. They'll inspire us to keep going!

Best Good News from July 2021

Over 325 million people worldwide are pledging to go plastic-free for the month of July

#PlasticFreeJuly begins tomorrow! In 177 countries around the world, more than 325 million people have taken Plastic Free July’s pledge to go plastic-free for the month of July.

From refusing all single-use plastics, to refusing the top 4 plastic items (bags, bottles, straws, and coffee cups), to going completely plastic-free for the entire month, Plastic Free July is a great way to raise awareness about our daily plastic consumption, practice making sustainable swaps, and form new, better, long-term habits that are healthier for the planet!

Because it's such a durable, cheap (except for the environmental cost) material to make, plastic has found its way into so many areas of our daily lives. It's extremely difficult to recycle, lasts forever, are made with chemicals that come from fossil fuels, microplastics are extremely harmful to waterways and marine life, and much more. There are rare cases where plastic can be a useful material, but our daily use of it has far exceeded its value.

The good news: there are so many other options. Many coffee shops are accepting reusable containers again, you can bring your own bags to the grocery store, opt for non-plastic-packaged food items, choose soda in a can instead of a bottle, and much more.

Want to join in, take action and be the good in July (and beyond)? Sign up to take the Plastic Free July challenge, and you'll even get resources, ideas, and encouragement throughout the month.

The U.S just announced it will add a third gender marker to all U.S passports

Non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming will soon be able to select a gender other than "male" or "female" when applying for a U.S. passport. The U.S. State Department announced this week that it would be adding a third gender marker to the current "male" and "female" options.

In a statement released by the department, the move is part of its commitment "to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons."

The department said it the process of adding the third gender marker to its systems would take time, and they were "evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal."

But starting right away, people will be able to self-select either "M" or "F" on their passport application without providing medical documentation if their passport does not match their gender on other citizenship or identity documents. The same will be true once the third marker is added (reportedly, it will be an "X").

“This is an important step towards achieving meaningful progress for LGBTQ equality in America, and will empower and enable millions of citizens to travel domestically and internationally with greater confidence that the United States recognizes their gender identity,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.

The U.S. will join countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Nepal and New Zealand in having a third gender marker option on its passports.

More than 7,300 schools in the U.S are solar powered, an 81% increase since 2014

According to the 2020 Brighter Future report solar installations at schools grew 81% since 2014 — bringing the number of schools across the U.S. powered by solar energy up to 7,332.

The report was released by Generation180, a non-profit that advocates for campuses to gain more access to solar power.

Additionally, total solar capacity installed at schools also grew 139% since 2014.

Solar-powered schools now make up 5.5% of all public and private K-12 schools, up from 3% in 2014. According to the report, the average school solar installation size is 182 kW.

California leads the way with the most schools having solar installations — 2,430 schools have deployed 616 MW of solar in the state. The next closest is New Jersey with 621 schools.

We love seeing and celebrating the progress we're making towards adopting 100% renewable energy solutions!

Maine Introduced a bipartisan bill to shift recycling costs from taxpayers to corporations

Maine just introduced a bipartisan bill to shift some of that cost from a city's taxpayers to corporations and packaging manufacturers. If the bill is passed, it will be the first state to implement such a law.

Maine would join several Canadian provinces and all European countries to have "extended producer responsibility programs" or EPR, for packaging.

The proposed legislation would put the cost of collecting and recycling materials and disposing of non-recyclable packaging on large packaging producers, rather than solely on cities' taxpayers. The idea being to financially incentivize corporations and manufacturers to create packaging that is easier to recycle.

If this sounds a little far-fetched — you may actually already have an EPR program in your community! Many states already have them for toxic and bulky products like pharmaceuticals, batteries, paint, carpeting, and mattresses. This would be just like those programs — but for packaging, which makes up about 40% of a city's waste, according to the Product Stewardship Institute.

“These are tried-and-true strategies,” CEO of the institude Scott Cassel told the Washington Post. "None of these first bills will be perfect. But this is a path that we need to start down in the U.S.”

The U.S. used to ship a lot of its recycling and other waste around the world to places like China, which in 2018 said it would no longer accept it. We already needed to come up with better, more sustainable recycling and waste solutions, and we're excited to see Maine introducing a way to hold corporations accountable for their part of the issue.

Maine's been at the forefront for a while too: they were one of the first to pass a "bottle bill" in the 1970s, required manufacturers to cover recycling costs for computers and televisions, and its 2019 styrofoam ban goes into effect soon.

Rome just held an overnight vaccination drive for the city’s homeless, migrants, and “most fragile”

Nearly 900 people came to Rome's Santo Spirito hospital over the weekend to get a COVID-19 vaccine at an overnight vaccination drive — called Open Night — organized by health authorities in the region.

The drive was targeted for “people on the margins of society, the most fragile,” said Angelo Tanese, the director general of ASL Roma 1, the region’s largest local health unit.

People who aren't registered in Italy's health service, or don't have an official residence or a social security number aren't able get a vaccine through the country's coronavirus vaccine rollout — so the event organizers wanted to make sure they were still able to get one.

That night, doctors and nurses gave the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to nearly 900 people experiencing homelessness, undocumented migrants, foreign students, and foreign workers who can legally work on Rome, but are not registered with the national health service.

Tanese said around 80% of those who received vaccines were undocumented migrants.

The event even featured a jazz pianist to play for those in line waiting for their vaccine, and handed out free coffees and breakfast in the morning of the overnight vaccine drive.

Ensuring the vaccine is available and accessible to *everyone* is crucial to ending the pandemic. We're celebrating this vaccination drive organized in Rome that targeted those who might be overlooked or excluded from the national rollout!

India is installing solar panels over its canals

Though still a much better option than the alternative, even renewable energy options come with drawbacks. Solar energy, for example requires the use of *a lot* of land.

And for highly populated countries like India, space can sometimes already be an issue. The country has still committed that at least 10% of its energy production will come from solar by next year — and they came up with a creative way to help reach that goal.

Part of a $100 billion solar energy investment, India is installing solar panels over its existing irrigation canals, rivers, and offshore in reservoirs. Not only does this conserve space and land efficiently, it also serves a dual purpose of reducing water evaporation.

For example, according to reporting from Knovhov, a ten-megawatt plant has conserved almost 40 acres of land and could stop well over 23 million gallons of water from evaporating every single year. Plus, the lower temperatures caused by the water bodies underneath the solar panel systems increases panel efficiency by around 2.5 to 5%.

There are some logistical hurdles to overcome: The waterways can also cause corrosion, so the systems need a special coating, making them more expensive to produce.

Still, we're celebrating this creative solution and India's commitment to reaching its solar energy production goals!

After growing his hair out for 6 years, an Alabama teenager cut it off and raised over $45,000 to help children with cancer

After losing a friend to brain cancer when they were in middle school, now 18-year-old Kieran Moïse started growing his hair out. He hoped to one day donate it to make wigs for children who had lost their hair due to cancer treatment.

"Kieran has always been known for his hair. It was a big part of his personality and who he was," Kieran's mom, Karen Moïse said. "But he has always been the most compassionate and caring person. Since he was 6 years old, he somehow had the mindset of raising money and giving it to people who need it, and that never changed."

Upon graduating high school, and before entering the U.S. Air Force Academy, Moïse organized a live event to cut his hair, as well as an online fundraising campaign through St. Jude called "Kieran's Curls for Cancer." His goal was to raise $1,000 for each of the 19 inches he'd be donating. 

A goal he far surpassed. At the time of this post, Moïse has raised $45,846 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

On the fundraising page, Moïse wrote, "One of my good friends in middle school died from cancer and I know St. Jude's really helped his family. This is just one way that I feel like I can give back."

In Utah, there was nearly a 50% drop in human-caused wildfires over the 4th of July holiday

Some belated good news to celebrate based on data from the holiday earlier this month! Despite dry conditions in the region, new data from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Land showed that between June 28 and July 4, there were 46 human-started wildfires in Utah. And most of them were put out the same day.

In that same time period in 2019, there were 69 human-started wildfires. And in 2020, there were 88 — almost double the number seen this year.

Kaitlyn Webb, the forestry division's communications coordinator said the sharp decrease in human-caused wildfires are due to people being more cautious surrounding fireworks, and adhering to restrictions based on current weather conditions.

“They’re taking to heart our terms of fire sense and being aware of the drought conditions we’re in and what that means for travel, recreation and work, however you might engage in accidentally starting a fire,” Webb told The Herald Journal.

We have the opportunity to make choices every day that take care of the planet, rather than putting it in danger — we're so encouraged by this story, and hope it inspires you to keep make those sustainable, planet-friendly choices. It does matter, and it does make a difference!

A Michigan school district will now offer universal Pre-K to families regardless of income

The Lansing School District just announced that it will offer free universal Pre-K to all families in the school district beginning this fall — regardless of family income.

The school district's new superintendent Benjamin Shuldiner made the announcement in a press conference, "Having children be in a school earlier with great teachers, with great support networks, they're going to do better."

Families living in the Lansing School District with a 4-year-old child will be welcomed "with open arms (and) reduce the bureaucracy of saying you have to qualify based on this or that," Shuldiner said.

Right now, according to reporting from the Lansing State Journal, Michigan's state-funded preschool program does offer tuition-free services, but it's only for children whose families are at or below 250% of the federal poverty line, or about $66,250 annually for a family of four.

"This creates a more inclusive program for the whole community," Interim Deputy Superintendent Sergio Keck told the Lansing State Journal.

We're celebrating with all the families who this will positively impact in so many ways — and with the Lansing School District for implementing a more equitable, inclusive program for families and children in its community!

69% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Nice!

Good news for vaccinations! According to the latest data from the CDC, 69% of adults in the U.S. have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — and 60% are fully vaccinated.

And the percent is even higher among older adults, with 89.5% of those 65 and older receiving at least one dose, and 79.8% fully vaccinated. 

In total, for those 12 years and older, 163 million have officially received at least one vaccine dose — or 56.8% of the population.

We're so close to reaching that 70% milestone for vaccinated adults, and with cases rising due to the Delta variant in parts of the country — continuing to advocate for and help our neighbors (close by and around the world!) get vaccinated is so important. And of course, the higher the percentage, the better to protect younger children and those who cannot be vaccinated.

New technology will soon make wind turbine blades fully recyclable

A coalition of industry and academic leaders has developed a new technology to ensure the material used to make wind turbine blades is fully recyclable. The new technology overcomes the final hurdle on the journey towards a fully recyclable wind turbine.

Within three years, the initiative, called Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites, aims to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption, based on commercialization of the new technology.

The new technology consists of a two-step process: Firstly, composites are disassembled into fiber and epoxy. Secondly, through a novel chem-cycling process, the epoxy is further broken up into base components similar to virgin materials. These materials can then be reintroduced into the manufacturing of new turbine blades — offering a new circular pathway for epoxy resin.

Currently, wind turbines are 85-90% recyclable, with the turbine blade material constituting the remaining percentage that cannot be recycled because of the nature of thermoset composites.

But this initiative aims to close this recycling gap and enable a significant step forward in the elimination of waste across the wind energy industry. When fully developed, the solution may also have an impact for other industries that rely on thermoset composite in production, such as automotive and aviation.

Texas representative Colin Allred Just took his second paternity leave – in 2019, he became the first congressman in U.S. history to take one

In 2019, following the birth of their first child, Texas Representative Colin Allred became the first member of Congress in U.S. history to take a paternity leave.

And now, after the birth of his second child, he announced he'll be taking another, month-long one to help support his wife, Alexandra Eber and 2-year-old son during their new child's first few weeks of life.

“Family is so important and I will continue working so all parents have the opportunity to be with their new baby during this special time,” Allred said in a statement. “Being there for your partner and newborn during this critical period leads to better outcomes for kids, dads and their partners, and men taking paternity leave promotes equality for working moms.”

In a letter to People, Allred also commented on his time in the NFL saying it "was a big deal if you missed the game for the delivery of your child," and that even if players did, there was no room to take time off during those first few critical weeks. He hopes to break down the stigma and expectation surrounding both paternity leave, and family leave in general surrounding the birth of a child.

Allred's announcement also comes as the federal government works to move forward the American Families Plan, which would include 12 weeks of paid family leave — to care for a new child, sick parent, or any other family need.

Among 41 of its "peer" countries — the U.S. is the only nation that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents. The smallest amount required among those 41 countries is in Ireland, which mandates about 2 months.

We're celebrating with Representative Allred, his family, and are hopeful his example will lead to some true, positive change in the U.S.

Coral coverage in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef increased by as much as 39% in 2021

According to the latest report from the Australian Government's Great Barrier Marine Park Authority, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and CSIRO, coral coverage in the country's Great Barrier Reef increased by as much as 39% in the summer of 2020-2021.

In the northern part of the reef coverage increased by 27%, in the central part of the reef coverage increased by 26%, and in the southern part coverage increased by 39%.

Summer in Australia falls between the months of December to February, and is a critical time for reefs to recover from winter and weather events.

According to the report, "Summer 2020-21 was a relatively good year for the Reef’s corals. No major cyclone or prolonged high sea temperature disturbance events occurred. Many reefs will have been able to continue their recovery from past impacts."

Other metrics that improved for the health of the Reef — there were no areas anywhere in the Reef with high or medium levels of coral bleaching. Though corals can survive bleaching, but its an indication the reef is under stress, and prolonged stress can eventually kill the coral.

We need coral reefs to survive because of the ecosystems they uphold — so many marine species depend on them for survival. A summer of recovery for one of the world's most important ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef is incredibly good news to celebrate!

Hopeful News from August 2021

The rate of new vaccinations in the U.S is now at its highest in weeks

On Sunday, the CDC reported 816,203 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in the U.S. — marking the fifth straight day more than 700,000 shots were given. It also increased the seven-day average of doses given to 662,529 per day — the highest its been since July 7.

While those figures aren't as high as April when vaccinations peaked at nearly 2 million per day, they're still really encouraging — especially in states with low vaccination rates that are seeing more cases due to the Delta variant.

In fact, in the states seeing some of the highest case numbers — like Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri — for three consecutive weeks, they also have now been seeing the highest rates of vaccination in the country.

Following outbreaks of the Delta variant, according to data from the CDC, from July 1 to July 28, Louisiana saw almost 4 times its seven-day average of first vaccine doses. Mississippi more than tripled their 7-day average. Missouri, Arkansas, and Alabama have all almost doubled theirs in the last month. 

"It's not as optimal as we would like, but anything that trends in a positive direction with respect to vaccination is fantastic," Dr. Bertha Hidalgo, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University Alabama at Birmingham, told The New York Times. "It's absolutely not too late because Delta is, unfortunately, likely not the only variant that we may see unless we continue to increase vaccination rates."

While we wish it hadn't taken something as devastating as the Delta variant to lead to an increase in vaccinations — but we're celebrating the news that more people are recognizing the life-saving and community-protecting benefits of the vaccine, and making the decision to get theirs!

The ‘world’s most powerful turbine’ just started sending clean, renewable power to the grid in the U.K

After more than 15 years of research development, a new 80-yard long tidal turbine from Orbital Marine Power has officially started sending clean, renewable power back to an energy center in Scotland.

What Orbital Marine Power calls the "world's most powerful tidal turbine," the O2 is expected to operate for the next 15 years with the capacity to meet the annual electricity demand of around 2,000 UK homes with clean, predictable power.

“This is a major milestone for the O2 and I would like to commend the whole team at Orbital and our supply chain for delivering this pioneering renewable energy project safely and successfully. Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector," Orbital CEO, Andrew Scott said in a statement from the company.

The turbine is anchored in a body of water in the north of Scotland called the Fall of Warness with a subsea cable connecting it to an onshore electricity network.

Harnessing tidal and marine energy has the potential to contribute a significant portion of the world's clean, renewable energy needs. We're celebrating this step closer to a world that isn't dependent on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs!

Uganda is paying farmers to grow trees to help reserve deforestation

After decades of losing thousands of hectares each year, Uganda has found a way to not only slow deforestation but to reverse it — mainly by helping people grow their own trees to cut down instead of clearing ecologically valuable rainforest.

New data released by the state-run National Forestry Authority (NFA) in May showed the proportion of the country covered by trees rose from 9% in 2015 to 12.4% in 2017.

In a tweet about the figures, the NFA said its 2019 National Biomass Study, due out in December, will likely show that tree cover has increased further.

Stuart Maniraguha, the NFA's director of plantations development, said the data — collected using remote-sensing equipment and researchers on the ground — suggests things could be looking up for Ugandan farmers struggling to grow mainly rain-fed crops in increasingly extreme weather.

"As an agricultural country, (more forests) means more reliable rainfall," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It indicates that we are on a positive journey towards economic and ecology restoration."

Protection of the world's forests is seen as vital to curbing global warming as they store planet-heating carbon and help regulate the climate through rainfall and temperature.

To help provide affordable housing, a new program in Charleston will pay people to build backyard homes

Last summer, the Charleston City Council approved an ordinance permitting homeowners in every area of the city to construct backyard cottages and garage apartments, called accessory dwelling units (ADUs), on their property. 

It was part of a series of efforts to bring more affordable housing to the city, where, according to a 2020 report, half of renters and a third of homeowners are cost-burdened, home prices are rising faster than wages, and new supply falls well behind demand.

Permitting ADUs wouldn’t solve the problem, says Geona Shaw Johnson, director of the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development, but it could help. Johnson says Charleston knew from looking at other cities’ experiences that relaxing the rules alone wouldn’t generate a glut of new backyard apartments.

“It’s not likely people are running to local governments and raising their hand and saying, ‘I want to sign up right away,'" she said.

So to complement the new zoning rules, Charleston is planning to launch a small program aimed at helping homeowners finance the construction of accessory dwelling units, as the Post and Courier reported. The city is planning to spend around $200,000 to help up to 10 homeowners pay for the construction of new units.

Johnson says the city is planning to finalize the program and begin accepting applications sometime this summer.

“Charleston is doing this because we have identified ADUs as one additional opportunity … to effectuate change,” she says. “Our goal is to increase the availability of housing, and we see this as an opportunity to do it.”

Half of the U.S population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19

As of this morning, 50.1% of the total U.S. population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC. The country reached the halfway mark on Friday.

According to the White House's COVID-19 data director, Cyrus Shahpar, the seven-day average of new vaccinations is up 11% from last week and up 44% over the past two weeks.

This is really good, hopeful news as the Delta variant continues to impact areas with fewer safety restrictions and lower vaccination More people are getting the vaccine, and getting it quickly. If you're able, the COVID-19 vaccine is an incredible way to protect not only yourself, but to be a good neighbor to those around you!

We still have work to do to get that percentage even higher — and we need vaccination percentages to get to equitable levels around the world. Let this good news inspire that good work! 

We can all do our part to help us get there: be a vaccine advocate, help people who are unsure find the information they need, tell your elected officials to make sure COVAX (the global vaccination program) has all the resources it needs, wear a mask when you're indoors, and keep being kind to each other.

For the first time, the average pay for restaurant and grocery store workers is over $15 an hour

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the first time in history, the average pay for both restaurant and grocery store workers in the U.S. has surpassed $15 an hour.

Overall, nearly 80% of U.S. workers now earn at least $15 an hour, up from 60% in 2014.

Restaurant workers in particular saw the largest jump from pre-pandemic wages — with non-manager workers earning $13.86 on average in January 2019, and $15.31 as of June 2021. 

While this trend is encouraging, it's important to remember that it's still the *average* pay — some make more, and some make less. As the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, it's encouraging to see employers and entire industries recognizing the need to compensate employees with an adequate wage for the cost of living throughout the country. 

That, and without them, employers can't operate. We're celebrating this good news that these essential workers are being paid more!

A group of eviction-enforcers in Tucson is helping people stay in their homes - and saving the community money

Kristin Randall worked as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey for several years before being elected as a constable — a court-mandated officer tasked with enforcing evictions.

She learned that 90% of tenants in eviction proceedings do not even show up in court. Randall wanted to find out why, and so she started doing “courtesy stops" on her own time, wearing casual clothing, putting aside her badge and gun and tactical uniform for what was, essentially, social work.

Randall told High Country News that numerous residents expressed shock, telling her they had never been notified. In many Western states, including California, Utah and Nevada, tenants must be notified prior to eviction.

As Randall did more of her rogue courtesy stops, the rate of evictions tumbled — replaced by a new model of tenant advocacy, something she dubbed the “minute-entry program.”

Soon another constable in a different precinct — Bennett Bernal, a former city council member’s aide — followed Randall’s lead, as did Joe Ferguson, an Arizona Daily Star journalist-turned-constable. Together, their three precincts, out of Pima County’s 10 total, accounted for most of the county’s eviction cases. But they were determined to change that.

And they did. Their approach resulted in fewer evictions, and even saved their precincts money. It also led to working with the Pima County supervisor to create a new permanent position in the constables’ office: a behavioral health specialist to accompany them on courtesy stops.

Thanks to fire crews, 3 large wildfires in the Pacific Northwest U.S. are now 100% contained

According to the U.S. Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to the work of fire personnel, 3 large wildfires in the region — including the Bootleg Fire — are now 100% contained.

The Bootleg Fire had burned across 413,000 acres in 39 days — it's one of the largest wildfires in Oregon's history. At one point, more than 2,000 fire crew members were assigned to it alone.

This is really good news as we hear reports daily of heat waves, wildfires, and toxic air conditions throughout the western United States. However, there are still 26 active wildfires not contained in Washington and Oregon spanning 473,000 acres.

As we think of the firefighters, forest service staff members, and all those working to contain the wildfires and protect both people and animals — we also need to be mindful of each of our part in what's happening around the world. Wildfires, heat waves, and other extreme weather events have intensified (and will continue to) in recent years due to the impact of climate change caused by human activity.

Be mindful of the daily choices you make, the policies you support, and the leaders you vote for and hold accountable in how they are — or aren't — considering the health of the planet!

For the first time in nearly 7 weeks, the U.S gave over 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in one day

According to the White House, for the first time in nearly 7 weeks — the U.S. had a one-day total of 1 million COVID-19 vaccines administered!

Among those 1 million: 562,000 newly vaccinated people. 

We're celebrating this news that more and more people are making the decision to get vaccinated!

Oregon public schools will provide free period products to students starting this fall

Good news for students who menstruate in Oregon! All public schools in the state will provide free period products for students beginning this fall.

“This new program will help students participate actively in classes and school activities by alleviating some of the economic strain and experiences of shame that are often barriers for menstruating people accessing their education,” Sasha Grenier, a sexual health and school health specialist with the Oregon Department of Education told The Oregonian.

According to a study conducted by @periodmovement and @shethinx, “16% of students have chosen to buy period products over food or clothes as a result of the pandemic -- with Latinx, rural, low income, and college students being the most impacted.”

The passage of the Menstrual Dignity Act by Oregon's legislature is meant to address that heartbreaking statistic.

“This is a progressive policy, but also a bipartisan one,” said Michela Bedard, executive director at PERIOD, in a statement. “Because menstruation does not discriminate from race, class or political affiliation, we can all cheer the passing of this law.”

Cities across the U.S are testing out a new way to help residents: giving them cash

The Boston, Massachusetts suburb of Chelsea is a national testbed for a simple idea: help people by giving them money. Not a housing voucher, not food stamps, but a cash-equivalent payment that ensures recipients have a basic income that they can spend any way they want.

The rationale is that people know best what they need, and letting them make decisions on how to use the money, without restrictions, is direct and empowering, and doesn’t require a big bureaucracy to implement.

Chelsea is one of several U.S. cities experimenting with unconditional cash transfers to help some residents quickly — an idea that could become the basis for an alternative to traditional welfare and other safety net programs that have existed for decades.

The U.S just donated 1.75 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico

Good news for global vaccine distribution! The U.S. just donated 1.75 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico, and 500,000 doses to the Palestinian Authority to distribute in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to Our World in Data, as of August 22, 44% of Mexicans had received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot.

“These vaccines will help protect the lives of people in Mexico,” Eduardo Mendoza, who manages Direct Relief operations in Mexico and helped facilitate the donation, said in a statement. “Every lot of vaccine brings us closer to the end of the pandemic.”

And for Palestinians, the vaccines were provided through the WHO’s COVAX global vaccine distribution program. According to the Palestinian Authority, 300,000 of the doses will be distributed in the West Bank, and 200,000 will be sent to Gaza.

COVID-19 is reportedly surging among Palestinians, after students returned to school last week.

Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement is working to rescue Afghan climate activists

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg's #FridaysForFuture youth climate movement is working to rescue Afghan climate activists from the country.

A group of nearly 260 activists and their families, aged one to 80 years, have been waiting to be rescued for over a week, spokespeople for Fridays for Future told the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

The Afghan campaigners have been engaged in climate activism and social justice work in their country.

"We need help. Fridays for Future is a relatively new organization. We need better links with established humanitarian NGOs and experienced contacts to help us put these names on evacuation lists," said Sarah Greenfield Clark, co-founder of Climate 2025, a non-profit that supports emerging movements.

Thunberg and other activists are hopeful that increased attention for these activists will result in humanitarian assistance.

A woman-founded, Afghanistan-based start-up is sending live security alerts to Afghans to help keep them safe

From apps to air miles, charities, companies, and citizens worldwide to use everyday technology to help Afghan refugees and those in Afghanistan — doing everything from resettling refugees or helping those left behind.

One of those tech tools is helping keep residents safe with live security alerts. Founded by Sara Wahedi, the Afghan-based start-up Ehtesab runs a mobile app that delivers live security alerts, notifying users about anything from traffic jams to roadblocks at their location, or more grave events such as bombings and fires.

In July, as security concerns mounted, it crowdfunded to expand coverage outside Kabul and launch a text-based alert service for those who do not own a smartphone.

Uplifting News from September 2021

Houston’s ‘Mattress Mack’ is letting Louisiana evacuees stay at his furniture store for free - and sent a 30-truck convoy filled with donated relief supplies to the state

In the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, we're looking for the hope and the helpers.

One of them you may have heard of before: Houston's Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. Like they did during Hurricane Katrina, Mattress Mack's furniture store, Gallery Furniture opened for Louisiana residents who evacuated for the storm to stay at for free.

Vaccinations in rural parts of the U.S. just grew by the fastest rate in 6 weeks

According to CDC data analyzed by rural publication The Daily Yonder, the number of rural Americans who got a COVID-19 vaccine grew by nearly 300,000 last week, which was the largest single-week gain since mid-July.

In the past three weeks, the weekly number of new vaccinations of rural residents grew by more than two thirds — and as much as 88%, like it did in Missouri. 

This is really good news, as vaccinations in rural parts of the country have fallen behind that of more metropolitan areas. We celebrate growth in vaccinations wherever they happen, but especially in areas that need it most — whether in rural parts of the U.S., or in countries around the world.

A solar microgrid has kept the power on at an affordable, net-zero apartment building in New Orleans

We're still watching the recovery and relief efforts underway in the wake of #HurricaneIda — from Louisiana to New York. 

As utility workers are still working hard to bring power back to those without it, we were inspired to see a model of what the future of architecture and infrastructure in our cities and communities could look like.

A 50-unit affordable apartment building in New Orleans called the St. Peter Apartments is the first net-zero apartment complex in Louisiana. On top of the building, 450 solar panels send power to battery storage located onsite.

The system needed repair after the storm (which was delayed due to road closures), but the building was back to having power 2 days after Ida made landfall — and while the buildings around it were still without power.

“It came back online, and we were able to give people almost eight hours of electricity running off the battery,” Lauren Avioli, the director of housing development at SBP, the nonprofit behind the 50-unit building, told Fast Company.

The building was designed to be as efficient and resilient as possible — whether or not there's a natural disaster. Half of the units are prioritized for veterans, and many are transitioning out of homeless shelters or recovery centers. 

“It’s not just post-disaster emergency power,” she says. “It’s also helping people at the property save money on a blue sky day because we can use some of the energy that’s being generated by the solar panels to run the building. By doing that, we’re not pulling all of our power off the city grid. And so we’re not charging the tenants for all the kilowatts that they’re using, because, obviously, what’s coming from the solar panels is free.”

75% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

Good news for U.S. vaccinations! This week, the country reached the milestone of 75% of adults having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. The CDC reported that 64.5% of adults are fully vaccinated.

And the percent is even higher among older adults, with 92.6% of those 65 and older receiving at least one dose, and 82.2% fully vaccinated. 

In total, including those 12 years and older, over 208 million people have received at least one vaccine dose — or 62.7% of the total U.S. population.

This is really encouraging news to celebrate and drive our continued work to advocate for and help our neighbors (close by and around the world!) get vaccinated. The higher this percentage gets in the U.S. and globally, the better to protect younger children and those who cannot be vaccinated.

France just fast-tracked granting citizenship to 12,000 frontline workers

France announced a fast-track process that has granted citizenship to over 12,000 frontline workers whose jobs put them at greater risk during the pandemic.

“Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them,” Citizenship Minister Marlène Schiappa said in an announcement. “The country pulled through thanks to them."

According to reporting from The Guardian, the application was expedited from its usual two years, and the residency requirement was cut from five years to two. 

Schiappa said 16,381 had applied and 12,012 applications were approved — including "health professionals, security or maintenance agents, childcare, cashiers, home help, garbage collectors" and more.

We're celebrating with all these new French citizens, and with all of France — what an incredible way to honor and recognize those who are making a huge difference in your country's communities!

Seven late-night TV shows are teaming up for ‘Climate Night’ to talk about climate change

A group of late-night television show hosts are teaming up to address and raise awareness about climate change on "Climate Night."

On Wednesday, September 22, seven late-night shows will focus on climate change and produce original content surrounding the topic.

The shows set to participate in Climate Night: “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on NBC; “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden” on CBS; “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on TBS; “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC; and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” on Comedy Central.

It was organized by writer and producer Steve Bodow, who has worked on both "The Daily Show" and "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj." 

“Climate change, obviously, is something we’re all dealing with,” Bodow told The New York Times. “We’re all talking about it. We all need to be talking about it. What if these shows all talked about it at once? It makes a statement that they’re all willing to do this.”

If you're like us, you often find yourself disappointed in the lack of consistent coverage climate change receives on television, especially in news segments. And while one night is certainly progress worth celebrating — it's not even close to the coverage the topic deserves.

As Stephen Colbert said it, “I’m proud to dedicate one entire night of my show to the climate, so I can say I wasn’t part of the problem, I was 1/365th of the solution."

The threat of climate change needs to be a regular, consistent, 365-day part of news and current events coverage.

New water vending machines are giving 600,000 people in Nairobi access to cheap, clean water

The more than 600,000 residents living in one of Nairobi's largest slums have struggled with water access for years, a problem exacerbated by frequent bouts of city-wide water rationing, which has been ongoing since 2017.

But soon, Mukuru residents will be able to fill a jerry can with clean water for as little as 50 Kenyan cents, using token-operated vending machines that the city government is installing in an effort to ease the slum's water stress.

Kagiri Gicheha, an engineer at the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), which is helping develop the system, said the project is in the final stages, only awaiting the installation of the vending machines.

The Kenyan clean water vending machines, each costing 200,000 shillings, mean Mukuru residents will no longer be at the mercy of the slum's informal, exploitative water market, Gicheha said.

"This is a way of controlling the cartels that have long been stealing water in the slums because this is an automated system that is very easy to manage," he said.

The cost of the water from the vending machines is just enough to keep up with maintenance — and its a vast improvement from the inflated prices the cartels would charge people.

India is cutting emissions using biogas digesters that turn food waste into clean energy

Until four years ago, garbage disposal meant one thing to Savitri Bai Patil — stinking, putrefied heaps of trash spread around her neighborhood in Pune, in western India.

But now the streets of the Ashok Meadows housing complex where she lives are clear, with workers picking up garbage from residents' doorsteps each day and turning some of it into electricity.

Since 2017, the complex has fed its food waste into a digester that converts it into biogas used to light the area's streetlights, park, social club, and gym.

"Clean energy from our rancid food leftovers, vegetable peels, and other such throwaways? It is unbelievable how the concept of waste management has changed in the past few years," Bai Patil, 62, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Biogas generators like the one used in Ashok Meadows are now installed in more than 75 locations across India.

A Nashville startup is helping bring clean energy to parts of the U.S. where the grid is the ‘dirtiest’

​​To meet emissions targets and transition the country to clean energy, renewable energy systems are being installed throughout the U.S. — not necessarily in the places where it will make the most difference, but where it's easiest to do so because of state policies.

A Nashville-based startup called Clearloop is working to speed up the adoption of renewable energy in places like Tennessee where fossil fuels make up a larger portion of energy production. 

“If government’s not going to move and invest in climate solutions and decarbonize the grid in our area, we were going to do it,” cofounder and CEO Laura Zapata told Fast Company.

Clearloop's first project, a 2,000-panel solar field in Jackson, Tennessee, is funded by brands that want to offset their own carbon footprints. While not a new idea entirely, Clearloop's approach is. 

Many larger companies that invest in new renewable energy projects sign expensive agreements to buy power from a solar farm for decades — a challenging approach for smaller companies.

“Our thesis was that for every Facebook and Microsoft, there are thousands of other companies that are willing and able to invest in decarbonizing the grid, but don’t have the ability to sign up for power purchase agreements,” Zapata says. 

To participate in a project with Clearloop, there’s no minimum required investment. Once they have sufficient startup funding from brands, Clearloop gets financing for the rest. 

“We’re really looking at distressed communities and seeing where a solar project or climate action investment can be seen as an economic development tool,” Zapata said.

The U.S. announced it will donate 500 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses globally

The U.S. announced it will purchase 500 million more Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to be donated to countries around the world, bringing the total number donated by the U.S. to 1.1 billion.

While this is really good news, and a step in the right direction — we acknowledge it's not even close to enough. Lower- and middle-income countries are still falling devastatingly behind higher-income countries' vaccination rates. That needs to change much more rapidly than it's projected to.

As long as there are countries around the world with dangerously low vaccination rates, not only with the death toll continue to rise, but the virus will continue to be able to mutate and send variants throughout the world.

It's 500 million more than were promised yesterday, which is a positive step worth celebrating — and we need to continue to advocate for even more.

A California organization is fighting racism in surfing by offering free surf lessons to Black, Indigenous, people of color

A California based organization, @color_the_water, is fighting racism by offering free surf lessons to Black, Indigenous, people of color. While surfing is a great way to move the body, it hasn’t always been accessible to everyone.

Historically, there aren’t a lot of Black, Indigenous, people of color who surf due to deliberate exclusion and hostile environments in surfing, as reported in Color the Water’s documentary on racism in surfing. The nonprofit is hoping to encourage change both in and out of the water.

Color the Water began in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. The organization started just by offering free surfing lessons to Black, Indigenous, people of color in the Los Angeles area, and now works as a diverse, anti-racist, inclusive and safe space year round for hundreds of BIPOC surfers.

“We are here to create equity, so that we can have a safe space to enjoy the ocean,” Color the Water co-founder David Malana told ABC7. “The ocean belongs to no one, and is a gift we should all be able to enjoy.”

Color the Water’s founders are passionate about what they do and have firsthand experience with discrimination in the sport. David Malana is a first generation Filipino American educator and creator and Lizelle Jackson is a former professional volleyball Their free surfing lessons for Black, Indigenous, people of color are just the start of their impact — and they’re funded entirely by donations which help keep their lessons completely free for those who want to participate.

The Fridays for Future movement just resumed mass street protests for the first time since the pandemic began

From Nairobi and Barcelona, to London and Washington, D.C., youth climate protesters in Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement have resumed mass street protests for the first time since the pandemic began.

Though their numbers are lower than pre-pandemic, activists are confident more will be in attendance in the coming weeks. 

California just passed a historic law protecting garment workers, requiring hourly pay and more

California Governor Gavin Newsom just signed into law the Garment Worker Protection Act (SB62), which includes protections for long-exploited garment workers in the state.

Under the new law, all garment workers must now be paid by the hour, instead of "by the piece" — which corporations and fashion brands had exploited to pay workers unfair wages. According to reporting from Fashionista, the average hourly rate of a garment worker in Los Angeles was $6/hour. 

The law also holds companies accountable for labor violations. Previously, brands would use layers of subcontractors to get away with and avoid liability for unethical working conditions.

"Today we won justice for garment workers," Senator María Elena Durazo, who introduced the bill, said in a statement. "For too long, bad-actor manufacturers have exploited garment workers toiling in unsanitary conditions for as little as $5 an hour. I applaud Governor Newsom for signing this important legislation to safeguard legal wages and dignified working conditions for this highly-skilled workforce and level the playing field for ethical manufacturers that are doing the right thing."

But it wasn't just legislators who got this precedent-setting law passed — garment workers, organizations, and activists have long been working to ensure labor protections. 

"Garment workers have been exploited and failed by the system for far too long, and because of the tireless organizing efforts of those workers and the bold action that Governor Newsom took today, the industry will become something California can be proud of," Marissa Nuncio, director of the workers' rights group Garment Worker Center said in a statement.

We're celebrating this news with the state of California, its 45,000-some garment workers, and all of us — fair, ethical working conditions is good news for everyone! 

​​→ Learn how to support garment worker rights

Good News That Happened in the World in October 2021

A Portland church built tiny homes in its parking lot to help people experiencing homelessness

A 10-unit tiny home village is currently under construction at the Bridgeport United Church in Northeast Portland. 

“So much about this work is about building relationships and restoration of community. It’s not just about housing. And so, some of the residents have been helping to build the site and have been involved in the process and we look forward to having them here,” Reverend Tara Wilkins told local CBS affiliate KOIN. 

In April, Portland passed a law called the "Shelter to Housing Continuum" which eased zoning restrictions to allow for more housing and shelter options — like tiny homes. 

The church wasted little time in doing their part to help provide shelter for their neighbors experiencing homelessness. 

Nearly 100 years after the land was seized, California returned ‘Bruce’s Beach’ to its rightful Black owners

in 1924, a resort for Black families owned by Willa and Charles Bruce, called Bruce's Beach was seized by the town of Manhattan Beach. The city claimed they wanted to use the land to build a park, when in reality historical records showed the land was condemned because the owners and their customers were Black, and included complaints from white neighbors living there at the time. 

Over the years, ownership of the property transferred from the city to Los Angeles County — and now, nearly a century after it was first seized, the county is returning ownership of the property to the descendants of the Bruce family.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law that would allow the county to transfer ownership — the previous state law prohibited it and required the county to use it for public recreation.

According to reporting from NBC Los Angeles, at the bill's signing Newsom said, "I want to apologize to the Bruce family for the injustice that was done to them. We haven't always had a proud past."

The UN just declared access to a clean, healthy environment is a fundamental human right

The U.N. Human Rights Council declared that access to a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental human right.

While the resolution is not legally binding, supporters and climate activists are hopeful it will help set global standards, and climate lawyers say it could help them build arguments in cases that involve the environment and human rights.

The resolution was first proposed by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland in the 1990s — and passed with overwhelming support, with 43 votes in favor, and 4 opposed (Russia, India, China and Japan). The U.S. is not currently in the 47-member Council, and therefore did not vote.

"This has life-changing potential in a world where the global environmental crisis causes more than nine million premature deaths every year," said David Boyd, U.N. advisor on human rights and the environment, who called the decision a "historic breakthrough."

Costa Rica's ambassador, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, said the decision will "send a powerful message to communities around the world struggling with climate hardship that they are not alone."

Google has now banned all ads that spread climate misinformation

Across its platforms — including YouTube — Google announced it will no longer display advertisements that promote inaccurate claims about climate change. 

In a statement, they announced “a new monetization policy for Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change."

The policy also applies to content that contains climate misinformation, "referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change."

This is incredibly good news in the fight against climate misinformation. For years, the science behind the existence and threat of climate change has been clear — and it only got clearer with the recently released IPCC report. We're celebrating this move by Google to move us into a post-climate-change-denial internet.

Denmark is repurposing old wind turbine blades as bike shelters, pedestrian bridges, guard rails, and more

There's no doubt we need to move toward sustainable, clean energy solutions like wind power, but even these positive solutions come with challenges we need to solve — like the waste involved.

Wind turbine blades are made with materials that are difficult to recycle once the blades can no longer be used. The estimated lifespan of a blade is 20 years, and given the rate of wind energy expansion, experts estimate that by 2050 nearly 40 million tons of material from the global wind industry will be in need of disposal.

But, we have good news: People are already solving this waste problem!

One of them is a Danish organization called The Re-Wind Network, which exploring how to reuse the blades "across architecture and engineering."

Norway is on track to reach 100% of new car sales being electric vehicles by April 2022

According to a new analysis released by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, Norway is on track to reach 100% of all new car sales being sales of electric vehicles (EVs) by April 2022 — three years ahead of schedule.

Monthly new car sales data from Norway’s Road Traffic Information Council has the last new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle set to leave the dealership that month. The Norwegian government’s original target date to reach that milestone was 2025.

Some of the EVs sold are hybrids, so the country's use of fossil fuels won't be completely gone, and there will still be existing ICEs on the road and able to be re-sold.

Still, this is incredibly good news — an electrified transportation system is becoming a reality, not just a far-off dream!

In response to survey results, Lego says it plans to remove all gender bias from its toys

After conducting a global survey, Lego announced its plans to remove gender stereotypes and bias from its toys. 

Lego commissioned the survey, which found that 71% of boys were afraid they would be made fun of if they played with what they described as “girls’ toys” — and that fear was shared by their parents. 

“Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” said Madeline Di Nonno, the chief executive of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, who conducted the research.

The survey also found that while parents still encouraged sons to do sports or Stem activities, daughters were 5x more likely than boys to be encouraged to participate dance and dressing up, and 3x more likely to be encouraged to participate in baking.

Which is a problem, because all of these activities help nurture skills in everyone, regardless of gender — like spacial skills, critical thinking, nurturing, and creativity. 

As a result of these and other alarming statistics in the data, Lego started making some changes. Lego no longer labels any of its products “for girls” or “for boys”. On the company's website consumers search by themes (which they call "passion points"), not gender. They're also working to incorporate more female role models and designers.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them’,” Goldin added.

Since the beginning of 2021, the Geena Davis Institute has been auditing and consulting Lego to “address gender bias and harmful stereotypes." We hope to see more companies follow their lead

The U.S. just issued its first passport with an ‘X’ gender marker on it

The U.S. just issued its first passport with an "X" gender marker on it, an option the State Department says it expects to make more widely available next year.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist from Fort Collins, Colorado, told The Associated Press that they received that historic passport. Zzyym had previously served in the Navy and has been in a legal battle since 2015 with the State Department to get a passport that did not require Zzyym to lie about their gender by picking either male or female.

“Intersex, nonbinary, and transgender people need identity documents that accurately reflect who we are, and having mismatched documents can create problems with safety and visibility,” said Mary Emily O’Hara of GLAAD.

You may never have had to consider whether or not your legal or travel documents accurately reflect who you are or how you identify — but so many people in the U.S. have (and continue to). We celebrated the news that this third, gender-neutral, non-binary gender option would soon be added to U.S. passports — and are celebrating this historic milestone, too!

Positive News That Happened in November 2021

The largest Dutch pension fund announced it will no longer invest in fossil fuel companies

Ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference (which started today), the largest pension fund in The Netherlands announced it would top investing in fossil fuel companies. 

The Dutch ABP fund said the move was a longtime request from their members, and was prompted by recent climate reports. 

According to reporting from the Associated Press, ABP manages the pension savings of more than 3 million Dutch government and education workers. Nearly 3% of its assets, or $17.4 billion is currently invested in fossil fuels.

The head of climate and energy at the Dutch branch of Greenpeace, Faiza Oulahsen, said it was “fantastic news in the fight against the climate crisis."

“This step by ABP is extremely important and makes clear once again that the time of coal, oil and gas is passing,” Oulahsen said. “Quitting fossils is the only logical answer to scientists’ warnings. We also expect this step from other financiers, major polluters and governments.”

“We want to contribute to minimizing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Large groups of pension participants and employers indicate how important this is to them,” ABP Chairman of the Board Corien Wortmann said in a statement.

“The ABP Board sees the need and urgency for a change of course,” she added. “We part with our investments in fossil fuel producers because we see insufficient opportunity for us as a shareholder to push for the necessary, significant acceleration of the energy transition at these companies.”

We expect to see more of this kind of good news in the near future — and are celebrating this milestone of progress as we work toward building a world without fossil fuels!

The U.S. Senate just confirmed the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve on a federal appeals court

Beth Robinson, a Vermont Supreme Court judge who served as co-counsel in the country’s first case to establish that LGBTQ+ couples deserve the same legal protections afforded to straight married couples, was confirmed by a 51-45 Senate vote on Monday as President Joe Biden’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

The 19th reports that Robinson is the first out LGBTQ+ woman to serve on a federal appeals court, following the appointment of Judge Todd Michael Hughes in 2013 — the first LGBTQ+ person to hold such a position.

A new report found that the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the U.S. is outpacing forecasts

A 2017 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that, to support an estimated 15 million "light-duty" plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) on the road by 2030, the U.S. would need 601,000 "Level 2" and 27,500 "DC fast" charging ports.

As of March 2021, the U.S. had surpassed 100,000 ports installed. The NREL conducted a new analysis based on the 2017 report to see if the country was on track to meet those estimated charging needs.

The report found that about 15.2% of the necessary Level 2 ports and 63.8% of the DC fast ports have been installed as of March 2021. 

It's important to note that the report also found the number of Level 2 ports per 1,000 PEVs currently on the road dropped down to 52.4% of the estimated charging needs. The number of DC fast ports per 1,000 PEVs on the road was 10.1% of the estimated charging needs.

That's a lot of numbers, but compared with what NREL said the projected need would be at this point — of 40.1% of Level 2 ports and 1.8% of DC fast ports — this is good news! 

In the report, the NREL said, "This indicates that infrastructure development is keeping up with — and even surpassing —forecasted needs."

They also noted, however, that 56.7% of public DC fast ports are on the Tesla network, and are therefore only readily accessible to Tesla drivers.

Still, this is incredibly good news for U.S. electric charging infrastructure — as more "fueling" stations are available and accessible for drivers, more people will find it easier to switch to a PEV!

To help reduce single-use plastic, Hawaii’s first zero-waste, reusable to-go container program just launched in Maui

In an effort to help reduce the use of single-use plastic, Hawaii's first zero-waste, reusable to-go container program — @huizerohawaii — just launched in Maui. HuiZero's stainless steel to-go containers are food safe, easy to clean, and infinitely reusable.

According to Kevin Watkins II, owner of Maui Sustainable Solutions LLC which helped created the program with @mokuroots owner Alexa Caskey — HuiZero's mission is to help eliminate single-use plastic and curb plastic pollution across all the Hawaiian islands.

In places like Hawaii, single-use plastic pollution can be especially problematic due to its proximity to the ocean, and therefore marine life and marine ecosystems. Protecting them is so important.

Participating restaurants purchase the HuiZero containers, and when a customer orders food to go, they pay a $10 deposit for the reusable container. Then, the next time they order from a participating restaurant, they bring the container back and receive either $10 cash or a $10 credit towards their food. 

Customers don't even need to wash the tins themselves — the restaurants just add them in with the rest of their dirty dishes to get washed, rinsed, and sanitized. 

So far, the program has 13 participating restaurants. The creators also worked with relevant local government agencies to make it happen — proving that thoughtful, passionate citizens and governments can work together to make real, positive change in their community!

We love seeing programs like HuiZero emerging in cities around the country — and hope it can inspire more just like it.

Three nations are now ‘carbon negative’ - absorbing more carbon than they produce

The heavily forested Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan — which measures its success in "Gross National Happiness" — hasn't made a net-zero pledge, like a growing number of nations.

That's because it is already "carbon negative", absorbing more climate-changing emissions each year than it produces.

Bhutan absorbs more than 9 million tonnes of carbon each year, while its economy, designed to reduce fossil fuel use and waste, produces less than 4 million tonnes.

Bhutan joins a tiny but growing club of "carbon negative" countries including two others: Suriname — a small rainforest country north of Brazil — and Panama, which is expected to be certified later this year.

A new land fund is helping Black farmers in Detroit purchase the neglected land they’ve transformed into vital food sources

In the center of a residential neighborhood in Detroit, surrounded by empty lots and houses in disrepair, a once-abandoned lot was transformed into a community garden, called Nurturing Our Seeds.

“Nine years later, we are still planting,” Erin Cole, the great-great-niece-in-law of the woman who started the garden, told Grist.

It now stretches across several blocks, and has become an anchor for the neighborhood, providing affordable and nutritious produce, hosting events, and reminding the community that people still live on Helen Street, despite the derelict homes, and that they still care.

But for the nearly decade that the family has tended the land, they never actually owned it. Erica and her husband asked the city about purchasing it, but were told they didn’t qualify for Detroit’s side lot program because of taxes they owed on the house leftover from her aunt.

Finally last year, they were able to purchase the farmland, buying several lots with the help of the newly created Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund.

Over 100 experts and advocates are demanding the world’s largest PR firm drop all of its fossil fuel clients

A group of over 100 creators, educators, and advocates just shared a joint statement to Edelman, demanding they drop all its clients that are causing climate destruction.

"As experts in sustainability and advocates dedicated to climate justice, many of us are frequently asked by public relations and advertising agencies to participate in sustainability campaigns. Yet many of these same agencies are simultaneously working with fossil-fuel corporations to spread climate denial and misinformation," the statement, published on Clean Creatives, said.

According to Clean Creatives, "Edelman does more work for fossil fuel interests than any PR agency on earth."

In the statement, the advocates said private conversations with the firm went "nowhere," and were now publicly demanding Edelman "drop ExxonMobil and all other fossil-fuel clients. Ending advertising and PR for fossil-fuel companies is a crucial step toward climate justice."

The statement also invites other thought leaders, advocates, activists, creatives, influencers, and social media managers to join the #EdelmanDropExxon campaign and pressure the advertising and PR industry to drop fossil fuel clients.

We're celebrating these advocates — and all those who have joined them since — in using their voice and influence to advocate for change in one of the largest sources of climate misinformation and greenwashing: PR and advertising.

Senator Kirstin Gillibrand and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are working together to get paid leave passed in the U.S.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex recently called Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — who in 2013 proposed her own paid leave bill — and expressed her desire to help ensure the U.S. passes a universal paid leave policy. 

Last month, Meghan wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer as an “engaged citizen and parent” who recently gave birth to her second child.

Leave for their family was essential to provide the best care they could for their daughter, she wrote, but it’s a benefit most Americans go without.

“No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child,” Meghan wrote, adding that for the United States to “continue to be exceptional, then we can’t be the exception” on paid leave. 

As The 19ths reports, the U.S. is one of only a handful of nations that does not offer the benefit.

In just 5 years, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 21% to nearly 13 million total

Good news: More women are becoming entrepreneurs than ever before! The early 2000s have been a prosperous point in time, particularly for women. Despite an ever-persistent wage gap, women-owned businesses are on the rise.

A report commissioned by American Express found that, between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses climbed 21% to a total of nearly 13 million.

The same report found that businesses owned by Black women represent the highest rate of growth in the number of total women-owned businesses.

Yet, not everything is rose-tinted. There are still persistent wage gaps, workplace sexism, and other challenges facing women entrepreneurs.

Expanding global treatment access, both Merck and Pfizer now allow for generic production of their COVID-19 antiviral pills

Following a similar announcement from drugmaker Merck in October, Pfizer has now agreed to share the patent for its COVID-19 antiviral treatment pill with generic drugmakers so they can make and sell it inexpensively in low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Pfizer announced it granted a royalty-free license for its pill to the Medicines Patent Pool, a nonprofit backed by the United Nations. This will allow manufacturers to take out a sublicense, get the pill's formula, and then make and sell it (really inexpensively) to be used in 95 countries around the world. Merck's royalty-free license includes 105 countries.

The countries included are mostly in Africa and Asia, and in parts of the world where access to the vaccine has been extremely low. It's important to note that a number countries, like Brazil, who are experiencing devastating death tolls from COVID-19, were excluded from the list of countries that can purchase the cheaper pills.

Pfizer said its drug, sold under the name Paxlovid, reduced hospitalizations by 89% and also prevented deaths. It must be given with a booster medicine called ritonavir.

According to its preliminary findings, Merck's COVID-19 pill, called molnupiravir, reduced hospitalizations by 50% and prevented deaths entirely when it was given within five days of when symptoms began.

We know it's so important that the pharmaceutical industry are held accountable for the ways they've profited off of so many health crises — COVID-19 included. At the same time we demand that, we're also celebrating this step towards equity in treatment for COVID-19 globally.

New AI technology is helping speed up recovery efforts and support communities after wildfire disasters

Artificial intelligence stands to change wildfire recovery and containment forever during a time when fires in the West are doing things that seasoned firefighters of 40 years have never seen.

"You could not hire enough firefighters," said Brent VanKeulen, deputy director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA). "You can’t fly enough planes. You can’t get enough dozers on the ground to meet the challenge of what we’re facing now."

Over the last year, public safety teams have tested a new tool in western states like California and Oregon, and results have been promising. The tests involve imagery taken by a 360-degree camera both before and after a fire.

Thanks to cloud computing and machine learning, that visual product can be transformed into mapping data that shows what, where, and how badly things were damaged. It does days or weeks of manual work in hours, helps recovery teams start their work — where its needed most — quicker.

An all-women coral conservation group in Indonesia is reviving coral reefs and training others to do the same

There has been no shortage of alarming articles and videos in recent years about the imminent and inevitable destruction of the world's coral reefs — one of the key components to a healthy ocean and marine ecosystem. Heartbreaking images of bleached, broken corals have been the bellwether of the climate crisis for many coastal communities.

These images paired with messages of hopelessness have made many apathetic and fatalist about the plight of our coral reefs. Luckily, some grassroots environmental groups have looked past the despair to find solutions.

In Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, one such group, @coralcatch Gili Air, is working to regrow the island's coral reefs and launch a training program to teach other citizens to do the same.

“Although we've made great strides in the gender representation in ocean research and conservation, we still have work to do,” the group's founder Rose Huizenga told Global Voices.

The first major city to enforce a citywide food waste policy, Milan is working to cut its food waste in half by 2030

The Gallaratese Hub — one of three currently in Milan — is part of the city’s pioneering efforts to cut down food waste. Milan is the first major city to enforce a citywide food waste policy, relying on the wide-ranging cooperation of public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities, and private businesses.

In 2015, Milan launched a new Food Policy aimed at creating a more sustainable food system. The next year a memorandum of understanding, entitled “Zero Waste,” was drawn up to halve food waste by 2030 and implement a new method for recovering and redistributing surplus food.

Launched in January 2019, these Food Waste Hubs collect produce from supermarkets and companies, as well as purchased food aid, and give it to hundreds of Milanese families in need.

“It’s about making our food systems more sustainable and less wasteful,” Federica Giannotta, head of advocacy and Italian programs at Terre des Hommes Italy, the NGO running the solidarity supermarket as well as outreach distribution, told Reasons to be Cheerful. “And of course helping those families that are really in need of support.”

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is working and remove all derogatory language from all U.S. public lands

Many public land features, like lakes and valleys, still include derogatory and offensive names in them — and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is working to change that.

Haaland announced Friday that the agency is establishing a task force to identify and remove derogatory terms used in the names of public land features such as valleys and lakes, beginning with the word “squaw.”

Haaland signed an order that identifies the word — an ethnic slur to describe Indigenous women — as derogatory and establishes a Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force to rename the 650 places on federal land that contain it.

As reported by The 19th, she signed another order creating an Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, made up of history experts, members of the general public and representatives from Indigenous communities, that will review and recommend changes to other derogatory words used as names on federal land.

“Our nation’s public lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage, not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression. Indigenous people, and in particular women, know how offensive this word is, and I’m proud to be in a position to rid federal places of it,” Haaland said during a visit to Alcatraz Island.

Portugal just became the fourth European Union country to stop using coal plants

Good news for the planet and clean energy! 🌎 Portugal just became the fourth country in the European Union to completely stop burning coal to produce electricity. The country's last coal-fired power plant, the Pego plant near Lisbon officially stopped generating last weekend.

As reported by the Associated Press, coal is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The end of its use in another country is really good news. Portugal follows Denmark, Austria, and Sweden in eliminating coal.

“Coal’s dire economics and public desire for climate action are driving faster and faster phase outs across Europe,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, which aims to ensure coal is phased out in Europe by 2030.

The news wasn't all good, though, Portugal reportedly plans to convert the Pego plant into one that burns wood pellets — though less damaging to the planet than coal, it's another unsustainable solution.

“Freeing ourselves from our biggest source of greenhouse gases is a momentous day for Portugal. But it is soured by the prospect of the plant being converted to burn forests,” Francisco Ferreira, head of the Portuguese environmental association ZERO told AP.

There are other proposals for the plant on the table though, including solar power and electric vehicle production.

We're celebrating this news with Portugal, and are hopeful more countries will follow their lead — and that they'll continue in a more sustainable direction with converting the plant!

Selena Gomez just launched a new media platform to help end mental health stigmas

Singer, actress, and producer Selena Gomez, her mother, Mandy Teefey, and The Newsette founder Daniella Pierson, are teaming up to launch a new media platform — called Wondermind — to help address, challenge, and end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Launching in Feburary 2022, Wondermind will challenge these stigmas by offering educational resources, daily exercises such as journaling, tips from licensed therapists, and podcast interviews with mental health professionals and celebrities. 

“Mental health is something that is very close to my heart,” Gomez wrote in an announcement on Instagram. “It is so important to have places where people can come together and understand that they’re not alone in their mental fitness journey.”

Good News from December 2021

We rounded up the best good news from December 2021 in this separate positive news roundup

If you made it all the way through this good news recap, you are our kind of person.

As a gift to fill your next year with good news, here's 20% off a Goodnewspaper subscription. Just use the code RECAP2021.

Thank you for celebrating a year's worth of good news with us. We're looking forward to another year filled with hope, positivity, and action.

Article Details

December 16, 2021 11:03 PM
December 23, 2021
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