Good News This Week: March 2, 2024 - Park, Trees, & Free Tuition

A photo collage of a water tank sign in the outdoors, a portrait image of Dr. Ruth Gottesman, two men removing concrete off the ground, a document from the State of California, and a flatlay image 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 —

Colorado is now home to the country’s newest national park — and it honors a painful chapter in U.S. history

The newest national park in the U.S. isn’t home to unique rock formations or massive trees like you might imagine. The newly-established Amache National Historic Site is a former incarceration site that unjustly detained Japanese Americans during the 1940s.

Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, was one of 10 such sites created during World War II. More than 10,000 people were incarcerated at Amache from 1942-1945.

The preservation of this site is meant to confront the “painful chapter of American history,” and through this formal designation, it will be permanently protected. While the original buildings were demolished when it closed, foundations and road networks are still visible on the landscape, making Amache “one of the most intact examples of a World War II incarceration site.”

Why is this good news? National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said it best: “To heal and grow as a nation we need to reflect on past mistakes, make amends, and strive to form a more perfect union.” Amache will help us learn from the past and honor what has been lost so we can build a better, more just future.

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Trees are stalling the impacts of global warming in the eastern U.S. thanks to massive reforestation efforts

Despite a larger warming trend across most of the U.S. since industrial times due to burning fossil fuels, scientists have noticed a pocket of much cooler air temperatures the eastern part of the country — where they’ve stayed relatively the same, or even cooled down.

A new study found that this “warming hole” is thanks in large part to massive reforestation efforts following the deforestation that came with European settlement in the U.S. In the last century, the U.S. government replanted about 5 million hectares of forest area — enough to cover an area larger than England.

The researchers looked at satellite and weather station data from 1900 to 2000 and found that the reforested areas provided a massive cooling effect — most of it within 400 meters of the replanted trees.

The reforested areas cool the eastern U.S. by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) every year — and 2 to 5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) on the hottest days of summer.

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A former Bronx medical school professor just donated $1 billion to provide free tuition for all students “in perpetuity”

In what’s believed to be the largest-ever charitable donation to a medical school in the U.S., a former professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx just donated $1 billion to provide free tuition for all students going forward.

Dr. Ruth Gottesman was left a large stock portfolio when her husband passed away, with instructions to “do whatever you think is right with it.” She decided to make sure new doctors could start their careers without upwards of $200,000 in medical school debt.

Gottesman hopes her donation will help encourage aspiring doctors who previously wouldn’t have considered medical school because of their economic status and the debt burden. Gottesman’s donation is enough to cover tuition “in perpetuity.”

Why is this good news? Among other barriers, the high cost of medical school has rendered it inaccessible to people in historically marginalized communities, which has a well-documented impact on health disparities.

While nearly 60% of Einstein’s first-year medical students are women, almost half are white and only 5% are Black. This investment will likely help boost the number of Black doctors that can enter the medical field and help address those disparities.

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In cities around the world, organizations are “liberating soil” by removing unnecessary stretches of concrete

From Portland, Oregon to Leuven, Belgium, organizations around the world are working to bring thriving green spaces back to cities through “depaving” — replacing as much concrete, asphalt, and other “hard landscaping” as possible with plants and soil.

In Portland, for example, the Depave group has depaved more than 360,000 square feet of asphalt since 2008 – the equivalent of nearly four and a half soccer fields. By creating so much more “spongy” space for water to go, 24.5 million gallons of rainwater are diverted from entering storm drains every year.

And that level of water diversion will be critical as the climate crisis brings more extreme rainfall weather events to cities and communities all over the world.

Why is this good news? In addition to helping reduce flooding, green spaces have been shown to improve biodiversity (especially in urban areas, but it’s true for the suburbs, too!), dramatically reduce air temperatures, improve mental health, and even reduce gun violence.

It’s also important to note that, to truly make a difference, these projects must prioritize accessibility, too.

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A California inmate donated his life savings to relief in Gaza — and then a GoFundMe campaign raised $100,000 for him

An incarcerated man in Sacramento named Hamza has been in prison for 40 years due to a tragic accident in his teen years. This week, he reportedly donated $17.74 — his earnings from 136 hours of working as a janitor during his time in prison.

Justin Mashouf, an LA-based filmmaker and a correspondent of Hamza's, shared this act of generosity on X (formerly Twitter) — the donation accounted for his entire life savings.

After receiving an outpouring of support, Mashouf created a GoFundMe campaign for Hamza to add money to his commissary fund and build a financial well for his upcoming release — it raised over $100,000 in one day.

What’s the nuance? Hamza’s decades of nearly unpaid labor to the prison system are emblematic of the systemic exploitation of incarcerated individuals in America. It also shines a light on the devastating implications of the treatment of youth in the justice system. Despite these systemic injustices, Hazma’s generosity is an inspiring example that even our “small” actions really do make a difference, and move others to make a difference, too.

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Thanks to ‘remarkable treatment,’ a California man — and the fifth-known person ever — is in remission from both HIV and blood cancer

Paul Edmonds contracted the blood cancer acute myelogenous leukemia while living with HIV and after receiving what doctors are calling a “remarkable and encouraging” treatment — is now in remission from both potentially fatal illnesses.

Edmonds’ remission is significant for a number of reasons: he’s the oldest person to be in remission for blood cancer and is now the fifth-known person in the world to be simultaneously in remission for HIV, too.

He had HIV for 31 years and received treatment at the national cancer institute, City of Hope. His treatment involved receiving stem cells with a rare genetic mutation that makes people who have it resistant to getting HIV.

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More good HIV/AIDS news:

More good news of the week —

Olivia Rodrigo just launched a reproductive rights initiative alongside her Guts World Tour. On the first night of the tour, Rodgrigo announced the Fund 4 Good, which “works to support all women, girls, and people seeking reproductive health freedom.”

Cambodia is installing hundreds of wildlife cameras to help restore its tiger population. The cameras will help conservationists learn how to support the tigers, which were last seen in the country in 2007 and declared “functionally extinct” in 2016.

The governor of Kansas just signed a bill to ensure employees with disabilities aren’t paid less than minimum wage. The newly-inked Disability Employment Act also eliminates the minimum work-hour requirement for disabled people to qualify for health insurance coverage.

The Foo Fighters are headlining a benefit concert that will raise awareness for affordable healthcare access. The concert is just the latest instance of activism from the band, whose frontman Dave Grohl consistently hosts barbecues to feed unhoused people.

The FDA just approved a new drug that successfully treats severe food allergies, including milk, eggs, and nuts. The first drug of its kind, its designed to treat multiple food allergies at once and be taken repeatedly every few weeks to help reduce the risk of reactions over time.

Connecticut just announced it will be the first state to cancel millions in medical debt for its residents. Local governments, organizations, and even individuals have provided medical debt relief, but Connecticut will be the first state to cancel roughly $650 million in medical debt for an estimated 250,000 residents this year.

Nebraska is investing $20 million in a Malcolm X museum to honor the Black history icon. It’s a particularly important investment to come at the back-end of Black History Month, considering Malcolm X’s history in the state.

After the death of Nex Benedict, at least 40 of their classmates participated in a walkout to protest school bullying policies. The students said bullying at Ossawa High School often goes unpunished, causing students to feel like there’s no point asking for help — and they want to see that change.

California just released its formal plan to end the practice of fracking in the state. Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting liquids, mostly water, underground at high pressure to extract oil or gas, and it’s long been criticized by activists for its negative impact on public health and climate change.

A transgender TikToker is responding to hate comments with a joyful approach — dancing to the Macarena. Ernie Thompson initially ignored the hateful comments, until he realized he turn them into something good, bring people together, and even make money off of them.

A new study found that the shift to mass adoption of electric vehicles could prevent millions of childhood asthma attacks. For the millions of children who live near highways especially, transitioning to zero-emission vehicles will improve their health — and the planet's.

The FDA just approved the first therapy to treat the most aggressive forms of skin cancer. It’s intended for patients whose melanoma cannot be removed with surgery or has spread to other parts of the body, which often happens when a tumor is not caught and quickly removed.

A new Michigan law will automatically register people to vote when they leave prison. The law is the first in the nation and expands the Department of Corrections’ current effort to restore voting rights to returning citizens.

Jon Stewart helped raise over $25,000 for a New York City animal shelter after a heartfelt tribute to his late dog, Dipper. Animal Haven shared a clip of Stewart’s tribute on their social media pages, and supporters of the organization immediately began donating in Dipper’s honor.

Baltimore just finalized an $18 million deal to secure two hotels downtown to convert into long-term housing for unhoused residents. While they will initially provide temporary shelter space, the longer-term plan is to convert the buildings into permanent subsidized units for unhoused people.

Article Details

March 2, 2024 5:00 AM
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