Women, Traveling Surgeons, & Bicycles - Good News This Week: January 7th 2023

A photo collage of an aerial view of a street, women firefighters, women at a graduation ceremony, electric motorbikes, and french fries

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 —

Rather than making patients come to him, a traveling oral surgeon meets small-town people where they live

As of 2018, over 46 million Americans lived in a dental health professional shortage area, and of those, two-thirds were in rural areas. Patients who live in rural areas also experience a disproportionate burden of oral health disease, owing to under-resourced and remote healthcare infrastructure, often complicated by geographic challenges.

To help fill that need, Dr. Cameron Lewis decided early on in his career to travel to provide oral surgery where those services may not be available.

For the past eight years, Lewis has traveled to parts of Upstate New York and western Connecticut to work out of other dentist’s offices. Using their equipment, he is able to provide care for residents who otherwise have had to travel to another city to see an oral surgeon or wait until a local surgeon has time to see them.

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Commuting to work by bicycle is picking up in more and more cities around the U.S.

Of the more than 154 million Americans who commuted to work in 2021, just 616,153 did so by bike. While many cities aren’t at all bike-friendly (no dedicated bike lanes, etc.), there are some cities where bike commuting is on the rise.

Bike League identified seventy-six bike-friendly cities and analyzed how much bicycle use increased between 2015 and 2020:

In Boise, Idaho, there were 271 bikers per 10,000 people in 2020 — up from 256 in 2015. Organizations like the Boise Bicycle Project, a cooperative that promotes riding in the city through refurbishing bicycles and other initiatives, have helped energize the biking community with events and education opportunities.

Boston, Massachusetts went from 189 bikers per 10,000 people in 2015 to 218 in 2020 (an increase of 29 commuters). One of the city’s biggest biking successes was the establishment of 20 mph safety zones to promote traffic calming and reduce fatalities as part of its Neighborhood Slow Streets program.

The most growth in commuters by bicycle was in Portland, Maine, which saw 211 bikers per 10,000 people — 54 more commuters than the 157 it had in 2015. The city boasts 45 miles of bike lanes and recently launched a bike-share program that clocked 2,220 rides during its first month. The city also continues to develop bike-friendly infrastructure through its Better Bikeways Initiative.

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A new National Park Service program is helping recruit, train, and hire more women in wildland firefighting

Only about 12 percent of wildland firefighters are women, and even fewer ascend to leadership positions, with women making up less than 5 percent of National Park Service (NPS) wildland fire leadership at the park level.

Like other fields dominated by men, societal bias and discrimination have made it difficult to grow and retain the number of women in the field.

The Yosemite Women’s Fire Internship is part of a new pilot program launched last year to bring more women into wildland firefighting in the NPS. It aims to provide a smoother entry for women, giving them the opportunity to become certified for federal wildland firefighting in a more welcoming environment.

And as wildfires worsen due to climate change and states like California deal with a growing shortage of firefighters, the need to diversify the workforce is as much about practicality as it is about equity.

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A group of immigrant women is disrupting the cleaning industry through training and labor empowerment

About 50 women make up the quickly-growing Liberty Cleaners, a group under the New York City-based Worker’s Justice Project that started with just a few women four years ago.

The group recently celebrated the completion of a first-of-its-kind training program with a focus on green cleaning, technology, and labor empowerment. They learned cleaning training focusing on “green” products with fewer health implications, technology basics, negotiation, advocating for better working conditions and wages, and more.

Now, Liberty Cleaners is building off the curriculum developed for that program with twice-a-week ESL classes, which include tech practice skills to help women negotiate in English.

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A battery-swapping program is helping speed up the adoption of electric motorbikes in Kenya

In recent months, a growing number of battery swapping stations have popped up around Nairobi, Kenya, allowing electric motorbike riders to quickly and easily exchange their low battery for a fully-charged one.

In countries like Kenya, two-wheeled vehicles are a cheaper and more convenient alternative to cars — but environmental experts say they can be up to ten times more polluting.

Battery swapping systems save motorbike owners time, as well as money by allowing them to swap the most expensive part of the bike — the battery — instead of owning it outright.

Plus, with a grid already powered mainly by renewables, Kenya is looking to be a leader in adopting this carbon-free method of transportation.

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Fast food chains and other restaurants in France are now required to use reusable tableware for dine-in customers

A new law went into effect in France this week, banning any restaurant with more than 20 seats from using single-use silverware, packaging, cups, and more for anyone eating or drinking on-site.

There are about 30,000 fast-food restaurants in France that serve 6 billion meals per year, which generate an estimated 180,000 tonnes of waste. Environmental groups say that 55% of that waste is from people eating inside the restaurant.

While fast food outlets and restaurants will still be able to use single-use packaging for take-out orders, environmentalists are calling the new requirement a “revolution." They also plan to also ensure that restaurants also use reusable replacements that are long-lasting, and work to prevent customers from throwing away the reusable items.

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A “Lesbian Lumberjack” helped properly dispose of her community’s Christmas trees — and raised over $10,000 for the San Diego LGBT Center

In 2021, Janessa Goldbeck replied to a City of San Diego tweet telling residents where they could drop off their Christmas trees for proper disposal. In her tweet, Goldbeck offered folks an alternative: Donate $50 to the city’s LGBT Center, and she’d arrive “dressed in 100% authentic lesbian lumberjack attire” to haul away their tree for them.

That year, Goldbeck raised more than $11,000 for the center — and it was so successful, she did it again this year. There were so many inquiries, they had to rent a Uhaul to carry them all away, and in a tweet, Goldbeck said they raised over $10,000.

Goldbeck now also supports the LGBT Center year-round by serving as co-chair on its Board of Directors.

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More good news of the week —

Getting hundreds of guns out of the public, gun buyback events have proven to be hugely popular in cities all over the country. Events in Richmond, Virginia collected 474 firearms, Houston netted 845 guns, Dane County, Wisconsin received more than 500 guns, and Spartanburg, South Carolina collected 165 guns.

A parish council in the U.K. is planting flowers along roadsides to help reduce speeding. Long Newnton Parish Council initially planted flowers during the pandemic to help improve biodiversity, and they’ve had the secondary benefit of getting drivers to slow down.

Replacing one of Robert E. Lee, Henrietta Lacks’ hometown of Roanoke, Virginia is building a statue in her honor. Lacks’ cancer cells, taken without her knowledge, are the source of one of the most important cell lines in medical research.

The USPS announced its plans to buy 66,000 electric mail trucks, which will make it the largest electric vehicle fleet in the country. The Postal Service made the announcement following backlash over its plans to purchase more gas-powered trucks.

After the Taliban banned women from attending college, more than a dozen male university teachers in Afghanistan resigned. Several students walked out of their classrooms in support of women receiving higher education, too.

Brazil will have its first Indigenous woman chief in a key governmental role. The country’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that Sônia Guajajara will head up a new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples.

There is now a record number of women serving in U.S. Congress. Though still far below the share of the population, a total of 149 women now serve in the U.S. House and Senate, a 59% increase from the 96 women who served in Congress a decade ago.

After Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game, fans donated millions to his foundation’s fundraiser. Hamlin’s foundation gives back to the community he grew up in, and has received over $6 million in donations — and counting.

Carbon emissions in Europe reached a 30-year low in Europe in November. Driven by lower demand, emissions and coal use dropped for the third month in a row, defying expectations that emissions would rise due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For the first time, the FDA announced that it will allow abortion pills to be sold at retail pharmacies. The pill can be taken up to 10 weeks into pregnancy, is safe, effective, and the change will improve access to this aspect of reproductive health care.

A supercomputer is helping doctors predict brain bleeds in intensive care patients up to 20 minutes before they happen. A remarkable medical innovation, scientists in Australia used more than 40,000 of patient data to build an algorithm that could save countless lives.

Scotland approved a self-identification system for people who want to change their legal gender. It’s the only country in the U.K. to make the process simpler, removing medical diagnoses requirement to get a gender recognition certificate and more.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act, bald eagles, humpback whales, oysters, and more have returned to the New York Harbor. At the time the law passed, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage were being dumped into the Hudson River every day.

As of January 1, a new law caps the cost of insulin for seniors on Medicare at just $35 per month. The law impacts nearly 40 million Americans with diabetes, many of whom say they struggle to keep up with the costs of medication.

A new law in Ireland requires tobacco companies to help pay for the clean-up of cigarette waste. The money will go toward cleanup efforts and educating people about the plastic in cigarettes, which doesn’t biodegrade and pollutes both land and water.

Article Details

January 7, 2023 5:00 AM
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