Good News This Week: October 21, 2023 - Sanctuaries, Recycling, & Climate Education

A photo collage of a teacher and students in a classroom, a recycling bin, two men posing together, a portrait photo of Malala Yousafzai, and two people preparing food in the kitchen

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 —

To boost climate awareness and literacy, New Jersey just established the first ‘Office of Climate Education’ in the country

To continue building on its legacy as a leader in climate education (it became the first state to require schools to teach about climate change in 2020), New Jersey just made history as the first state in the U.S. to establish an Office of Climate Education. The goal of the office is to improve climate literacy and environmental awareness among the state’s students and educators.

The state’s governor said the office is their way of taking a “proactive stance” in the face of increasingly frequent and intense climate-related events. It will help prepare young people “to innovate, lead, and shape effective solutions for a greener world.”

The office will help implement the state’s standards for Climate Change Education, prepare students for future jobs in the green economy, and more.

Why is this good news? Climate change education is overwhelmingly supported by young people, parents (84%), and teachers (86%), but most states don’t require it, provide misinformation, or deny climate change entirely. New Jersey offers an alternative blueprint for states to embrace.

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In just three years, California increased its grid battery storage capacity from 500 megawatts to over 5,000 megawatts

One of the greatest challenges to the clean energy transition is storage — building enough capacity to store energy for when renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, aren’t producing enough to meet the real-time demand, like at night.

California is meeting that challenge head-on, and according to a recent report, is putting battery storage online faster than any other kind of power plant. Battery capacity in the state reached 5,000 megawatts in May this year — up from 500 megawatts in 2020.

The batteries they’ve gotten online have already paid dividends, backing up the state’s electric grid during its heat wave in September 2022.

The state has been able to lead the way through long-term policy strategy that prioritized storage for renewable energy. Like in 2010, when it ordered state utility services to install storage in anticipation of all the renewable energy capacity that would be built in the coming years.

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A new recycling program will provide detailed, local recycling instructions with the scan of a QR code

According to the national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership, about 60% of consumers are confused about what and how to recycle. Understandably so, since the recycling rules differ based on where you live. And that confusion contributes to low recycling rates in the U.S. — around 32% and under 6% for plastics.

The nonprofit wants to change that and launched a new program called Recycle Check, which will put a QR code on consumer products with hyper-local instructions about how to recycle the item.

Several larger brands have already signed up for the program, which will provide real-time instructions on how to recycle an item based on your ZIP code when scanned. And the information will update in real-time if a facility changes what materials it accepts or rejects.

What’s the nuance? Recycling isn’t a perfect solution to the problem of waste and pollution around the world — even before we get to the act of recycling, we ought to first be doing our best to do the other “R’s”refuse, reduce, reuse, and repair. Even better: the companies who produce it should be responsible for recycling it.

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In an act of solidarity, a group of Chicago-area rabbis attended the funeral of the 6-year-old boy killed in anti-Muslim hate crime

Tragically, this weekend, Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Chicago was reportedly killed by his landlord for being Palestinian and Muslim.

Al-Fayoume and his mother, Hanan Shaheen, were stabbed in their home by their landlord, who, according to the Will County sheriff’s office, was motivated by hate for Muslims amid the fighting in Israel and Gaza. Shaheen is now recovering from her serious injuries.

To share in the grief of their neighbors over the “heinous crime,” a group of Chicago-area rabbis attended Al-Fayoume’s funeral. Rabbi Ari Hart shared on Facebook that they wept and mourned with the community, Al-Fayoume's dad, and condemned the attack.

Why is this good news? In times of tragedy, it’s more important than ever that we reconnect with our shared humanity — and Rabbi Hart said it best: “The murder of a six year old because of his faith and identity is not complicated. It is a heinous crime. And that’s why we went today.”

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Malala just announced a $300,000 donation to three charities providing relief to Palestinians in Gaza

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai just announced a $300,000 donation to organizations working to meet immediate needs of Palestinian people in Gaza.

Malala’s donation will support three organizations: Anera, which has helped refugees and vulnerable communities in Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan since 1968; The PCRF, a nonprofit organization addressing the medical and humanitarian crisis facing children in the Middle East; and UNRWA USA National Committee Inc., a nonprofit showing Palestinian refugees that Americans care.

What’s the nuance? The scale of the heartbreak and injustice of what's happening in Israel and Palestine is too large to fathom. While it’s important to celebrate individuals like Malala stepping up and doing good in the ways that they can (and we’ll continue to share those stories!), diplomats and world leaders have the responsibility to bring an end to this crisis and save as many lives as possible.

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In 24 hours, a group of humanitarians fed 30,000 people displaced in the war between Israel and Hamas

Earlier this week, Washington, D.C.-based chef José Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen — the global nonprofit that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters and crises by partnering with local chefs — announced they have helped feed thousands of families displaced by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

In 24 hours alone, Anera, the nonprofit’s local partner in Khan Yunis (a city in the southern Gaza Strip), has been able to distribute 30,000 food kits and warm meals to Palestinian families seeking safety at shelters in the city. And they’ve been preparing and providing thousands of meals every single day.

According to the nonprofit’s website, it is also working with local restaurants across Israel, serving meals to people who have been displaced from their homes there.

Why is this good news? The war between Israel and Hamas is a humanitarian crisis; many innocent people have been caught in the middle of the volatile and escalating crisis — and its led to countless barriers to delivering crucial aid. When humanitarian organizations are able to overcome these barriers and help meet people’s most basic needs, it’s worth celebrating.

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A woman in Congo has turned her “pain into power” by opening a leadership center and sanctuary for women in the country

After her best friend was murdered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998, Christine Schuler Deschryver dedicated her life to ending violence in her region and empowering the women of Congo.

Deschryver is the co-founder and director of City of Joy, which is both a leadership center and sanctuary for women in war-torn Congo. Since it opened in 2011, the center has served 90 women at a time – from ages 18 to 30 – for six-month spans. Since then, 1,987 women from the program have gone on to become restaurant owners, farmers, educators, entrepreneurs, and more.

Deschryver said that she opened City of Joy in the most “impoverished, impossible place in the world” and succeeded against all odds.

To help survivors of sexual violence heal and recover, the center prioritizes group therapy and uses song, art, dance, and creativity to build a sense of community. Women also have the opportunity to connect with nature as they learn to grow a range of foods, take care of farm animals, and make honey from beehives.

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More good news of the week —

A Minnesota judge dismissed charges against three Native women for peacefully protesting an oil pipeline. The three activists, from the Mississippi band of Anishinaabe were arrested in January 2021 for protesting the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline while dancing to a drumbeat.

The flu vaccine is highly effective — but it works in a way that most people don’t (yet) appreciate. This year, the CDC has shifted its messaging to present a more nuanced (and accurate) framing of how the vaccine works to prevent serious illness.

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department is using artificial intelligence to find missing hikers. The region’s terrain is challenging to hikers and rescue services alike, but the fire department is partnering with a local tech startup to locate people lost in remote areas.

A 2,000-year-old water system is helping people in Sri Lanka cope with drought made worse by climate change. The hydraulic system uses natural features to help harvest and store rainwater and is a lifeline for rural communities.

The World Bank approved $365 million to help advance girls’ and women's empowerment in Africa. Bringing the bank’s total investment to over $1 billion, the funding will also support economic opportunities and access to health services to strengthen gender equality.

With 55,646 fans in attendance at a preseason game, Iowa just broke the women's college basketball attendance record. The previous record was just under 29,619 fans at the 2002 national championship game between UConn and Oklahoma.

The European Union is launching a “humanitarian air bridge” to get essential aid supplies into Gaza. The first two flights with supplies will be sent to Egypt this week to then be brought to aid organizations on the ground in Gaza.

In Nigeria, AI and a mobile app are helping save children’s lives. The app is helping mothers keep on top of their babies’ immunization schedules and lowering infant mortality rates.

In Massachusetts, farmers are restoring wetlands by turning former cranberry bogs into carbon-storing swamps.  Wetlands are effective at storing carbon, filtering overabundant nutrients (like nitrogen) out of water, provide good fish habitat, and can serve as buffers that shield nearby communities from flooding and sea-level rise.

A new PlayStation controller is making play easier for gamers with disabilities. With its adaptive design principles, the new controller could also be a gamechanger for aging gamers suffering from arthritis or other limiting conditions.

Parking lots across the U.S. are being turned into affordable housing and parks. There are currently between 700 million and 2 billion parking places in the U.S., but as cities realize that they’ve built more parking than they need, they’re repurposing these car-centric areas to better serve communities.

Crash and fatality rates for drivers under 21 years old have fallen sharply in the U.S. in the past 20 years. Young people are driving less than they were 20 years ago, but state programs that phase in driving privileges for teens (such as driving at night or with peers) were also a significant reason for the dramatic improvement.

Scientists created a biodegradable sponge that can soak up microplastics. The new invention could be used in wastewater treatment plants to filter microplastics out of the water or in food production facilities to decontaminate water.

A new device could make life easier for those with Type 1 diabetes by freeing them from insulin injections and pumps. MIT engineers have created an implantable device that’s about the size of a quarter and could mitigate the daily difficulties, discomfort, and potential health problems the condition brings.

The Supreme Court of Mauritius just overturned an 1898 law criminalizing same-sex relationships. Four years ago, four young people in the East African nation filed a legal challenge against the law, and the new court ruling said the law did not align with the values of indigenous Mauritians.

Article Details

October 21, 2023 5:00 AM
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