Good News This Week: June 8, 2024 - Parks, Pride, & the Olympics

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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 —

A British town’s first-ever Pride celebration will celebrate “inclusion” in hopes of building a lasting legacy

Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire, England prides itself on being a “very inclusive place” — but there’s just been one thing missing: a Pride celebration.

That all changes this year, as the town is set to stage its first Pride celebration ever, complete with a parade, family disco, drag takeover, and local businesses participating in their own unique ways.

Wotton Pride’s director said she hopes the celebration will create a lasting legacy for the town — and more personally, show her own children that “growing up in a same-sex family is just the same and just as legitimate as everybody else.”

Why is this good news? Everyone deserves to feel welcomed, celebrated, and safe in their community — during Pride and all year long. Pride celebrations in communities large and small do so much good to set the tone for inclusivity all year long.

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A “stand-in dad” created an entire movement of “stand-in parents” for LGBTQ+ folks in need of support

Dan Blevins first went viral in January 2021 when he put out a bat signal to LGBTQ+ folks who needed a stand-in parent at their weddings.

After walking his own daughter down the aisle, Blevins was heartbroken at “the thought of someone not having that parent at their wedding or in their life.”

Since then, his network of loving parents has grown exponentially. Stand In Pride’s international Facebook group started small and has now reached nearly 50,000 members in over 60 countries.

He was inspired by Sarah Cunningham, the founder of Free Mom Hugs, an organization with a similar approach to connecting affirming volunteer “parents” with members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The impact is immeasurable. In addition to being flooded with support just in Facebook group comments, folks stand in at weddings, graduations, and beyond — opening up their dining tables on holidays, swapping life advice, and providing simple care and consideration in a non-traditional way.

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National parks just got $700 million in federal funds to fight climate change — and it’s already making a difference

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the National Park Service was given $700 million to make its land more protected and resilient to inevitable climate change — and conservation and restoration projects are already underway across the country.

In Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, for example, efforts are underway to preserve and protect whitebark pine trees, which are now a threatened species on the Endangered Species list.

While their goals are wide-ranging — from protecting coral reefs to studying fish in warming streams — all the projects underway will help federal lands weather the climate-changed future.

What’s the nuance? While the IRA funds are a welcomed and much-needed boost to these resiliency efforts — they’re mostly helping in the short term, and more support will be needed to help the parks prepare for the impacts of climate change.

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Demand for hybrid vehicles is surging — and carmakers are making more of them than ever before

In model year 2023, sales of hybrid vehicles hit a new high, comprising 13.6% of all production.

The rise continued in 2024, with sales of gas-electric hybrid vehicles in the United States increasing five times faster than that of fully electric automobiles in February.

In 2023, 29% of Toyota’s sales were hybrid vehicles and it’s expected to reach closer to 45% by the end of this year. Sales of the Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid increased from 37% of total Wrangler sales in the first half of 2023 to 50% in the second half of last year.

Toyota’s production of hybrid electric vehicles sits at 31.8%, it’s second only to Mercedes, which leads the way with 43.1% production.

Growing steadily since 2017, the hybrid electric vehicle market in the U.S. is expected to be worth over $55 billion by 2032.

While hybrids are more environmentally friendly (and better for human health) than gas-powered vehicles, they emit significantly more emissions than fully electric vehicles, which produce zero emissions.

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Paris is turning an industrial neighborhood into Olympic Village — it will become permanent housing post-Games

Potentially the first to take this kind of approach to its Olympics buildout, Paris is keeping the city’s future in mind as it creates the 2024 Summer Games’ Olympic Village.

Rather than the usual approach — figuring out what to do with Olympics-specific buildouts as an afterthought — Paris is building a new low-carbon, mixed-use neighborhood in a part of the city that needs more housing. Olympic athletes will just be its first residents.

Once the 2024 Games — historic already as the first to achieve gender parity — are over, the neighborhood will resume “normal” operations with rental housing, apartments for sale, offices, and more. Paris is also adding bus stations, bike paths, a park (where the athlete bus areas will be), and retail space (the athletes’ medical facilities).

Why is this good news? The essentially single-use construction of the traveling Olympics is a notoriously wasteful aspect of the Games.

Aside from an incredibly sustainable and innovative way to approach construction (not the first time Paris has led the way in that regard!), the neighborhood they chose needed to be revitalized in this way. It’s so thoughtful of the city to build for its needs outside of hosting the Olympics.

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A neighborhood in Massachusetts is now home to the first-ever geothermal heating and cooling network

A neighborhood in Framingham, Massachusetts is being retrofitted for a first-of-its-kind geothermal heating and cooling network — and the project is now officially up and running.

The process itself is nothing new, but this mile-long project marks the first time that geothermal energy has been used to heat and cool a shared network of buildings on this scale. (Boise, Idaho has a similar setup in place for its downtown buildings!)

Residents in the neighborhood say they feel like they “won the house lottery” when their community was handpicked for the project. It’s expected to reduce the residents’ greenhouse gas emissions by 60% — and cut their average utility costs by 20%.

Why is this good news? Typically, green energy upgrades are only affordable to wealthier residents, but when it came to considering candidates in Framingham, the group behind this landmark project made sure to prioritize low-income residents — making it good news for environmental justice, too.

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A group of eight Alaskans is suing the state to block construction of a massive gas pipeline over climate concerns

A group of young Alaskans is suing the state of Alaska and the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. to block construction of the corporation’s long-planned trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Ranging in age from 11 to 22, the group argues that the corporation’s founding laws are unconstitutional because the gas pipeline would result in so much climate-altering greenhouse gas that it would endanger their constitutionally guaranteed ability to access Alaska’s fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

[Related: Indigenous activists have long been fighting against pipelines for their damaging environmental impacts.]

They’re being supported by Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit that’s supported similar climate-related lawsuits in state and federal courts around the U.S.

While a similar case was brought to the court just a few years ago, the new lawsuit contends that the Alaska Constitution contains an implicit right to a livable climate.

If they’re successful, the ruling could have ripple effects both in courts and for climate action around the country.

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The Biden administration just announced a first-of-its-kind ocean conservation plan that prioritizes Indigenous knowledge

The Smithsonian and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced the rollout of a first-of-its-kind National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy. It’s the first nationwide strategy aimed at taking action to save marine life (and, subsequently, all life).

The new strategy calls for a “stronger, more unified and inclusive approach to ocean conservation.”

Importantly, the first step in the strategy brings together federal agencies, states, Tribes, and local communities to document the economic and cultural values of the ocean, ensuring all costs of a degrading ocean ecosystem are understood and included in decision-making.

Why is this good news? The total ocean territory under U.S. management covers an area larger than all 50 states combined. While protections for marine life have increased in recent years (globally, too!), much of it remains unprotected or misunderstood.

The new strategy aims to close those gaps by working alongside local and Indigenous stakeholders.

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More good news of the week —

Last year, drag queen Pattie Gonia hosted her third-consecutive Pride with Yosemite Park Rangers — and it was fabulous. Every year, Pattie hosts a summer Pride tour with partnering organizations to host drag events and environmental stewardship outings across the U.S.

Dylan Mulvaney says her first Pride as a trans woman “felt honest and free.” Dylan writes how even prior Pride celebrations, though they looked different, helped bring her “closer to my truth and gender identity.”

During Pride Month, queer activists host a multi-faith “day of prayer” for the “safety, well-being, and flourishing” of LGBTQ+ youth. Queer Youth of Faith Day was created by Beloved Arise, the first national organization for queer youth of faith.

A transphobic politician made Dylan Mulvaney the butt of a joke on Cameo — now she's saving lives on the same platform. Mulvaney is donating Cameo profits made over the next month to Save The Children, which is bringing humanitarian relief to children in Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine, and more.

[That’s not all: Dylan is also giving back to The Trevor Project through the end of the month via streams of her new single, “Days of Girlhood.”]

A teen created an app to help give people a safe, convenient way to explore their gender identity. Josh Tint got advice from Apple’s Tim Cook in creating the Discover Me app, which launched in 2022 and has been downloaded by over 2,000 people.

A speech clinic in Northeast Ohio provides free voice therapy to trans individuals. Voice therapy is a life-changing and potentially life-saving service for the trans community, who are at higher risk of experiencing violence, homelessness, and abuse.

A transgender TikTok creator is responding to his hate comments with a joyful approach. Ernie Thompson started off ignoring hate comments, then decided he could use them to do some good: and he started responding by doing the macarena.

A Fort Worth, Texas salon provides free and sliding-scale gender-affirming haircuts for the queer community. Acute Salon has a number of initiatives to make hair care more inclusive since the beauty industry can be intimidating for those in marginalized communities.

LGBTQ+ Swifties raised money for the trans community by throwing a ‘Tortured Poets’- themed listening party. The Denver Gaylors raised over $1,300 for femme, trans and nonbinary folks facing homelessness in the Denver area.

Mercury Stardust and friends raised millions to fund gender-affirming care for trans folks. Even though transphobic trolls threatened to derail their annual fundraiser, Stardust remained committed to getting care to people in need.

A new Netflix committee is awarding $50,000 grants to trans, nonbinary, and female filmmakers. Industry giants like Greta Gerwig and Lily Gladstone joined the committee to distribute the life-changing grant money.

The newly launched American Climate Corps is placing around 20,000 young people in jobs in its first year. They’ll be working on projects like restoring land, improving natural disaster resiliency, deploying clean energy, and more.

By removing dams, communities are adapting to intensifying extreme weather and protecting the health and safety people. Many dams were built when the water-related weather landscape looked completely different, and do more harm in intense climate change-related weather.

Painting streets and buildings white and planting more trees is helping keep people and communities cooler. Climate change is causing more frequent and intense heat waves, sending more people in communities to the hospital.

Philadelphia kicked off Pride Month by setting a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest drag story time. An “important statement” as states try to ban drag story hours, 263 people attended the event to kick off Pride Month.

In response to firefighters continuing to die of cancer, San Francisco is now going completely PFAS-free. Research suggests that firefighters have higher rates of cancer than the general population, including a 26% higher risk for brain cancer.

An innovative “sign language ambulance” service is helping reduce barriers to care and save more lives. The implementation of this technology will make emergency services more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing patients.

A company just became the first to install wood-based wind turbines. While others are working on solutions to recycle turbine blades more efficiently, this solution helps address this specific clean energy source’s waste issue.

A new study found that the increase in sustainable energy in the U.S. has resulted in $249 billion of climate and health benefits. From 2019 to 2022, the country’s increasing use of wind and solar power cut emissions by 900 million metric tons — the equivalent of taking 71 million cars off the road every year.

New research shows birdwatching can improve your mental health and foster a sense of well-being. The mental health benefits of being in nature have long been acknowledged, whether through activities like listening to birdsong or taking a walk in the park.

An innovative aluminum plant can reduce carbon emissions by 75% — it just got federal funding to expand production. Aluminum is a crucial raw ingredient in the fight against climate change, but the industry needs a makeover to ensure the transition off fossil fuels is a clean one.

[Related good news: People are working on cleaning up another carbon-intensive industry.]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate just announced a new media partnership to protect his legacy. P3 Media will now help ensure Dr. King’s life, writings, and history-making speeches serve as catalysts for advancing his ideals of nonviolence, racial justice and equality for all.

The first statewide program of its kind, Colorado will offer in-person voting for eligible voters who are incarcerated. The state’s governor signed a bill that aims to make it easier to vote for incarcerated people awaiting trial or serving time for misdemeanors.

Google and Global Fishing Watch just announced an AI oceans project to track and mitigate human harm at sea. This first-of-its-kind interactive map, years in the making from GFW, updates daily and shows wind turbines, fish farms, and more.

Ten Indian Ocean nations are creating a network of marine conservation areas called the “Great Blue Wall.” It’s part of a larger global effort to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 — currently only around 5-8% of the marine area in the Indian Ocean is under some form of legal protection.

Old buses and decommissioned fishing boats are being turned into new homes for marine life in Sri Lanka. Since Sri Lanka has a narrow continental shelf, apart from a few coral reefs, there are very few sites around the island that facilitate fish breeding.

A group of YouTubers raised $30 million to remove 30 million pounds of trash from the ocean. #TeamSeas partnered with the Ocean Conservancy to organize beach cleanups and an in-ocean cleanup, and The Ocean Cleanup to focus on trash in rivers.

Scientists are developing innovative artificial reefs to help restore corals and protect coastal communities. Coral reefs support vibrant marine ecosystems, stimulate tourism and fishing industries, and protect shorelines from tropical storms and erosion.

Combat diving veterans are using their unique underwater skills to help restore ocean health. Force Blue is a nonprofit that unites military veterans with the world of coral reef conservation for the betterment of both.

Article Details

June 8, 2024 5:05 AM
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