Good News This Week: February 17, 2024 - Moccasins, Reefs, & AI

A photo collage of a moccasin, a dog poop bag with the name 'Chad' written on it, a large wind-wave tank to study artificial reefs, a screenshot from The Shotline website featuring Joaquin's story, and a flatlay photo of the Goodnewspaper

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

For the first time since they were first sold in 1965, Minnetonka’s iconic moccasins have been designed by a Native American artist

Based out of Minnesota, Minnetonka started selling souvenirs at roadside gift shops in the 1940s, including Native American-inspired moccasins. While the company wasn’t started or run by Native Americans, the footwear quickly became its biggest seller.

For decades, the company has made various attempts to repair its history of cultural appropriation and began working with a Native American advisor (who was hesitant to work with the brand) in 2019 to go even further.

In addition to issuing a public apology and diving deeper into its past wrongs, the company began working with Native artists and designers on a collection featuring, significantly, its most popular product: moccasins. Lucie Skjefte, a member of the Red Lake Nation, designed the beadwork for the “Thunderbird” moccasin and a pair of slippers for the brand.

Why is this good news? Minnetonka’s president admitted that, for a while, fear prevented them from taking this step — because it’s often easier to do the same (profitable) thing, and it’s harder to ask questions and commit to making meaningful, but necessary change.

While one collection doesn’t make decades of appropriation right, this story is a hopeful, encouraging reminder that it’s never too late to start doing the right thing — as a corporation, or as an individual.

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Following tighter regulations, California’s food waste decreased by 10% in 2022

In 2022, consumers and businesses in California created almost 13 million tons of food waste — which is still a lot, but it’s a notable 10% decrease from what they produced in 2016.

The decrease is thanks to state efforts to reduce food waste, including a new state law requiring residents to sort food scraps and other organic waste into a compost-specific bin. That same law requires the state to recover 20% of edible food that would otherwise go to a landfill to instead address food insecurity.

Food waste is a major issue all across the country, making up 24% of what’s sent to municipal landfills, and contributing 6.1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

California has set an ambitious goal of cutting its organic waste disposal by 75% by next year — and while it has a ways to go, this is good, important progress toward that goal.

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For a Valentine’s Day donation, a Nebraska animal shelter will write your ex’s name on a dog poop bag

This Valentine’s Day, the Nebraska Humane Society — which has become well-known for its hilarious social media antics — is looking to help animal lovers turn their “pettiness into a positive.”

For a small donation, the shelter is offering to write “the name of your choice” on a doggy bag (or a full-size trash bag for a larger donation). A doggy bag that will eventually contain doggy waste.

When the shelter announced the fundraising campaign on social media, commenters started rattling off creative ideas beyond shaming a crappy ex, like writing a politician’s name, or even decorating a kitty litter box with the same theme.

Why is this good news? While some found the fundraiser a bit unsavory — the shelter said it really is all in good fun and, most importantly, for a good cause. The funds raised from the campaign will help support animals in need and the ongoing operations at the shelter.

It’s also a great reminder that doing good and making a difference can be fun, simple, and not complicated (unlike your ex, we suppose).

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Researchers in Florida are working to restore coral and protect coastal communities with artificial reefs

On Florida’s Virginia Key, a multidisciplinary team from the University of Miami is using a massive wind-wave tank to study how artificial reef structures stand up to wind and waves and how well live corals planted on those structures survive and grow.

Their work could lead to a unique combination of “grey” or human-built infrastructure, such as concrete seawalls, and “green” or natural systems like coral organisms — resulting in systems that provide both shoreline protection and coral reef habitat.

And those systems are essential, especially as hurricanes grow in intensity due to climate change. Studies show that shallow coral reefs can buffer up to 97% of the energy from waves, reducing flooding and helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion from storms.

Plus, the reef is in desperate need of some help: nearly 90% of corals on it have died due to climate change, hurricanes, disease, and human development.

What’s the nuance? While these types of projects are an important part of reef restoration, saving coral reefs — which are essential to support marine ecosystems, fishing industries, protecting shorelines, and more — requires other major systemic changes like dramatic cuts in energy consumption, switching to renewable energy, and managing overfishing and pollution.

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A new AI deepfake campaign recreates the voices of gun violence victims to demand action from lawmakers

On the sixth anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Change the Ref — an advocacy organization founded by two parents, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, who lost their son that day — launched a chilling, powerful new advocacy campaign called The Shotline.

The Shotline is a campaign and website that used AI to recreate the voices of those shot and killed by guns, so they can be the ones to call representatives in hopes of changing U.S. gun laws. Or as the campaign slogan says, “the voices lost to gun violence make the call for change.”

Alongside other family members of gun violence victims, the Olivers launched the campaign outside of Congress in Washington, DC — ​​with the hope that these voices could finally capture the attention of lawmakers.

Why is this good news? Along with organizations like March for Our Lives, Change the Ref has launched several campaigns to take action to end gun violence and school shootings in the U.S.

As March for Our Lives founder David Hogg said during the launch event, “We have to do more.” And this campaign is already making a difference, within an hour of the campaign’s launch, hundreds of calls had been logged.

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Hailed among the world’s “most ambitious,” England just implemented new biodiversity rules for developers to help compensate for the loss of nature

Under new rules that went into effect this week, any new road and homebuilding projects in England are required to result in more or better natural habitats than before.

Called “biodiversity net gain,” requires all new construction projects to achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity or habitat. In other words, any natural space destroyed by a development must be recreated either onsite or somewhere else.

One expert in conservation called it “one of the most ambitious schemes we’ve seen,” and noted that, if successful in protecting and restoring biodiversity and habitats, it could inspire similar changes in other countries.

Why is this good news? You’ve likely witnessed land being cleared to build more housing or add a roadway near you — the loss of land that comes with those projects harms larger ecosystems (which include all of us!), contributes to climate change, negatively impacts our communities, and more.

The reality is: sometimes these developments are necessary. So it’s very good news that there are people who recognize that protecting nature is equally necessary, and are doing something not only to protect it — but to make it even better. England is leading the way, giving a model for others to implement around the world!

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Bystanders tackled one of the suspected gunmen at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration shooting

On Wednesday, as the Kansas City and Chiefs’ community came together to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win, three suspected gunmen opened fire into the crowd, killing one and injuring at least 21 others — including 11 children.

In a video posted to social media, two bystanders chased and tackled one of the suspected gunmen as he appeared to be fleeing the scene. One of the bystanders, Trey Filter (who drove three hours with his wife and children to attend the celebration) tackled the suspected gunman after people around him were yelling, “Get him!”

Once on the ground, another bystander, Paul Contreras helped to keep the alleged shooter on the ground until law enforcement arrived to detain him.

We’re celebrating both Contreras and Filter for stepping in to prevent an already tragic situation from potentially getting even worse. At the same time, we acknowledge that their efforts shouldn’t have been required in the first place.

Gun violence like this is a uniquely American problem — at the same time we’re celebrating the heroic actions of these helpers this week, we’re demanding change so that nobody is put in this situation ever again.

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More good news of the week —

TikTok creator “Mychal the Librarian” was just announced as the new guest star in an upcoming “Ms. Rachel” episode. At the end of February, the two beloved creators are coming together on Ms. Rachel’s “Songs for Littles” YouTube show for an episode about learning to read.

New Zealand is set to be the first country in the world to ban PFAS, or “forever chemicals” in cosmetic products. PFAS are used to make products resistant to water, stains, and heat, are virtually indestructible, have been linked to cancers and birth defects, and have been found in drinking water, sea ice, and human blood.

Black communities are using “restorative mapping” to document their stories and reclaim their history. Interstate highway maps, for example, do not reflect the realities that in most U.S. cities the building of major roads was accompanied by the displacement of thousands of Black people from cities.

National Geographic just named drag queen and climate activist Pattie Gonia its 2024 Traveler of the Year. Co-founder of The Outdoorist Oath, Pattie helps create a space for LBGTQ+ youth in the great outdoors and engages in environmentalism with humor and joy.

Australia introduced a “right to disconnect” bill to give workers the right to ignore calls and messages outside working hours. The bill ​— which already passed in the Senate, and is expected to easily pass the House — would also introduce new standards for gig workers, like food delivery drivers.

Decades after it burned down in a suspected arson, a historic Black church in Pennsylvania just reopened as a Black History museum. The Spring Valley African Methodist Episcopal church was a “pillar to the community” before it was abandoned in the 1980s.

Since 2004, a music festival in Phoenix has donated millions of dollars to area charities. The M3F Music Festival’s philanthropic journey started in a backyard and has since grown to a massive, star-studded event that gives back to the community.

Women in Turkey can now keep their own surnames after getting married. The Turkish Constitutional Court overturned Article 187, which previously said women could only use their own surname after submitting a written application.

Yellowstone Club just became the first ski resort in Montana to turn wastewater into snow. Skiing on what was once sewage might seem odd, but resort officials and local conservation groups said it’s both safe and beneficial to the environment, especially during dry winters like this one.

Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost just introduced new legislation that would allow credit card companies to track suspicious firearm purchases. Frost said this could've prevented the mass shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Orlando Pulse night club.

After months of debate in parliament, Zimbabwe just agreed to abolish the death penalty. Zimbabwe hasn’t executed anyone since 2005, and its president, who was once put on the death row, has been pushing to become the latest country to end the death penalty.

A seaweed packaging startup is replacing plastic for major companies like J. Crew and Burton. The technology offers a scalable alternative to single-use plastics in an age of increasing pressure for waste accountability, especially in the fashion industry.

A new, world-first blood test for brain cancer could dramatically improve survival rates. The inexpensive test can help diagnose even ‘inaccessible’ tumors earlier, speeding up treatment and improving outcomes.

Thanks to longtime conservation initiatives, 2023 was the first year without elephant poaching in a Republic of Congo national park. Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park also recently became the first certified Gorilla Friendly National Park, ensuring best practices are in place for all gorilla-related operations.

Franklin, the first Black character in the “Peanuts” comic strip, is getting his own animated Apple TV+ special. Franklin first appeared in the comic strip in 1968 after a teacher and advocate requested the author add a Black character in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Article Details

February 17, 2024 5:00 AM
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