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Solutions Journalism Network
Solutions Journalism Network
Solutions Journalism Network: We train and connect journalists to cover what’s missing in today’s news: how people are responding to problems
1 day ago
Missing students: Educators knock on doors to find them
Apps that track students’ online activity, door-to-door visits, and receiving input from families on how to reopen schools, are all ways school districts across the country are responding to absenteeism during the pandemic. In one San Antonio district, they were able to locate around 2,900 of the 3,000 students who weren’t showing up to classes.
3 days ago
The daring plan to save the Arctic ice with glass
The nonprofit Arctic Ice Project is testing an unusual approach to combat climate change: by scattering a thin layer of reflective glass powder over parts of the Arctic. By putting this material on top of the ice, they’re studying if the powder can protect the ice during the summer months and rebuild it over time. In one pond in Minnesota, just a few layers of the material made young ice 20 percent more reflective and delayed the melting of the ice. Other scientists question the impact the material can have on the Arctic ecosystem, but the approach could be a way to counteract the effects of global warming.
5 days ago
Portugal's answer to the heroin crisis
When faced with an opioid crisis, the government in Portugual made a drastic decision to decriminalize drug use. This shift in policy allowed for a shift in perspective – addiction problems could now be treated as a public health issue, rather than a criminal issue. This approach resulted in a significant decrease in overdoses, and is now a model that U.S. cities, such as Philadelphia, are looking at to learn from.
Oct 22, 2020
Milwaukee has a problem with food insecurity. Urban agriculture can be part of the answer.
Urban agriculture is providing residents of Milwaukee with a direct link to their food through programs that include urban farming, community gardens, and the knowledge needed to maintain personal gardens. Gardening has been linked to a healthier lifestyle and an improvement in diet. The programs intend to create a healthy knowledge of and relationship with food.
Oct 20, 2020
How Do You Get Gun Owners To Give Up Their Guns During A Crisis? Ask.
"Voluntary storage" of guns is a growing movement that seeks to reduce gun suicides while avoiding political clashes with gun-rights advocates by instead promoting safety without government coercion. The Means Matter Campaign, Gun Shop Project, and a number of other private programs take what has long happened informally – friends disarming friends to prevent tragedy during a crisis – and promotes such practices as a public-health response. While research quantifying its effects is scant, anecdotes abound of people at risk being talked into surrendering their guns temporarily.
Oct 19, 2020
What happened when the BC government started selling cannabis
Legalized marijuana sales in Canada were supposed to make the industry safe, stable, and prosperous. But the rollout of licenses for pre-existing private dispensaries has turned into a debacle for small businesses in British Columbia. Ignoring the advice given to Health Canada by dispensaries seeking licenses about sensible ways to regulate, the agency delayed approving licensing applications for months, only to begin raiding applicants' businesses as soon as competing government dispensaries started opening. Hundreds were put out of work and quality product grew scarce.
Oct 14, 2020
Hawaii Marines Now Guarding The Nests Of Endangered Species
Members of the Marine Corps in Hawaii often pull double duty: military training and endangered species protection. For example, in June, the Marines roped off 13 green sea turtle nests on a local beach. Part of their job is to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of where they perform their training exercises. Sometimes there are military members or residents who might not understand why they have to preserve and manage the land, but education outreach has led to a ramp up in conservation efforts for turtles, birds, and other creatures.
Oct 13, 2020
Will the Special Investigative Unit decrease gun violence in Flint?
In the first full month since it was created to take illegal guns off the street, Flint's Special Investigative Unit seized 64 firearms and made dozens of arrests. The unit's predictive policing approach relies on data that tell the police where gun crimes are concentrated. Critics contend that focusing enforcement on historically high-crime areas creates a feedback loop of racially disparate policing, in that more cops in a neighborhood means more arrests, which in turn invites more enforcement. Targeted gun enforcement has a mixed record of crime reductions and racial inequities.
Oct 12, 2020
Hi, There. Want to Triple Voter Turnout?
Vote Tripling is a get-out-the-vote strategy where volunteers set up outside of polling places, a safer pandemic option, and ask voters to text three friends with a reminder to vote. A randomized trial showed turnout was nearly 8 percentage points higher among people receiving texts. The message to vote holds more weight coming from a friend and it empowers those doing the texting, who also receive an election day reminder to send the texts. To be most effective, the technique requires a busy polling place where proximity to the polling place is legally allowed.
Oct 8, 2020
In a Virtual Classroom, How Do You Care for Kids Threatened by Gun Violence?
Remote learning during the pandemic robs teachers and counselors of face-to-face contact that can reveal serious problems in children's lives, and so Philadelphia schools created the Healing Together program to train teachers to spot problems over a video connection. With gun violence raging in the city, many children are suffering trauma that can affect their performance and well-being. Because physical school presence provides safety from the streets' dangers, there's an urgent need for trauma-informed teaching that requires new skills and strategies.
Oct 7, 2020
'No one should go hungry': street fridges of free food help Americans survive Covid pandemic
Community refrigerators full of free food for anyone in need have popped up in the New York metro area. "Fridge keepers" help keep the fridges stocked either personally or through the help of locals and restaurants who want to help their neighbors. With federal aid ending for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, some locals have relied on the stocked fridges for their next meal.
Oct 6, 2020
‘Vigilantes' on a mission to reunite owners with their stolen bikes
Facebook groups are reuniting bicycle-theft victims with their property by creating a place to report thefts and alerting others to be on the lookout for the bikes. A pandemic-inspired boom in bicycling, as a means to avoid public transportation, has fed a concurrent boom in bike thefts. Police praise the Facebook groups' public spirit and effectiveness, but warn of risks when confronting those trying to sell stolen bikes. More than 90% of bike theft reports to police hit a dead end, lowering faith in the police as a solution.
Oct 1, 2020
Green teen memes: how TikTok could save the planet
Many young TikTok users are sharing videos about environmental issues, like climate change and biodiversity, and it is leading to resource sharing, personal connections, and people reaching out to learn more about environmental topics like gardening, soil restoration, renewable energy, and environmental racism. Some believe the Covid-19 lockdown has increased engagement even further. A subculture called “grass TikTok” emerged to share information about plant species and has nearly 380 million views. The potential ban of TikTok in the US could lead to declining biodiversity engagement online.
Sep 29, 2020
He's Fighting QAnon With Sunlight
Logically is an app that fact-checks news in real time using artificial intelligence and 30 employees. They review more than 500,000 articles a day. In 2019, the app found 12-14% of articles about the U.K. and Indian elections were unreliable, amounting to tens of thousands of fake news pieces. Recently, the app exposed QAnon groups co-opting dozens of child-trafficking events, which started as legitimate but eventually were canceled. Logically also introduced a fact-checking browser extension. While useful, misinformation will still spread if people are resistant to changing their minds.
Sep 27, 2020
Just What the Doctor Ordered: Produce Prescriptions are More Important—and Popular—Than Ever.
Produce prescription programs across the United States are seeing a resurgence in activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs provide healthy foods at a subsidized price to patients with chronic health issues. For example, the VeggieRx program in Chicago used to give out up to 70 boxes of fruits and veggies a week, but now they’re up to 160 boxes a week. While studies have shown that these programs can have a positive impact on patients' health, insurance companies usually only pay for patients to participate in them for a short period of time, so the health benefits might be limited.
Sep 24, 2020
The co-ops that electrified Depression-era farms are now building rural internet
Co-ops that have historically brought electricity and telephone services to rural America are now providing internet service. Broadband companies don't make a profit when covering a large area with limited households per mile so co-ops have filled the need under the "Smart Grid" program funded by the USDA. Thousands of households have been connected to fiber-optic internet as a result.
Sep 23, 2020
How Teacher Looping Can Ease the Learning Disruptions Caused by Coronavirus
Educators in California are exploring "looping" as a way to offer students and families some semblance of stability and continuity as schools prepare for what's to come amid the pandemic. Looping means a teacher, or a set of teachers, stays with the same group of students from one grade to the next. This method helps teachers "dive-in deeper", and explore their students' strengths, allows students to create stronger bonds with teachers and other students, as well as foster a larger sense of community.
Sep 22, 2020
They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won't Anybody Listen?
California’s wildfires historically were contained through periodic but limited burning. But “misguided fire police” over many decades, focused on overzealous fire suppression, has accumulated more dry fuel, resulting in wildfires that have grown progressively larger and more dangerous. Climate change only increases the likelihood of more fires. And the inventory of unburned acreage that has accumulated is now so great that it makes it increasingly difficult to ever catch up.
Sep 17, 2020
There's No Cure for Covid-19 Loneliness, but Robots Can Help
Robot pet therapy, which uses a social robot designed to look like a small animal, weigh the same as an infant, and communicate in a socially comforting way, is helping isolated seniors find a sense of companionship during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although some have raised ethical concerns about "the role of robots in caretaking," others point to evidence indicating success such as "reduced reliance on psychotropic drugs, improved blood pressure and oxygenation levels, and stirred the emotions of patients who otherwise often appeared disconnected."
Sep 15, 2020
U.S. town creates local currency to boost coronavirus relief
Facing the economic strain from the financial fallout caused by the coronavirus crisis, Tenino is printing its own money like it once did in the wake of the Great Depression. The small town in Washington has issued at least $2,500 worth of wooden bills to exclusively be used for small businesses on Main Street. Thirteen residents have applied for the funds and $150 have been spent by residents on necessities as of June. Other small towns across the country have already sent inquiries to the mayor of Tenino, seeking to imitate Tenino's effort.
Sep 13, 2020
How the ‘15-Minute City' Could Help Post-Pandemic Recovery
Some cities are using coronavirus shutdowns as opportunities to start infrastructure projects that support car-free living and encourage walking or biking to jobs, shopping, and city services. Car-free urban development benefits the environment, revitalizes cities by keeping resources local, and has become more appealing because of fears of virus spread. Paris, Milan, Tallinn, Ottawa, and Portland are among the cities using coronavirus-related lockdowns to kickstart bike lane and pedestrian zone projects. As the pandemic has decimated city budgets, it is a challenging time to begin infrastructure projects.
Sep 10, 2020
19 Volunteers Sharing an iPhone Are Trying to Support Incarcerated People Through COVID-19
Beyond These Walls launched a crisis phone line to provide emotional support for LGBTQ+ people who are incarcerated and to hold prisons and jails accountable for their virus-containment practices. Trained volunteers have fielded 369 calls so far, more than a quarter of which concern fears that reporting virus symptoms could land people in solitary confinement. Beyond These Walls and its coalition partners can provide safety by letting jailers know their practices are being monitored.
Sep 8, 2020
Can outdoor teaching enable Italy to safely reopen schools?
Some schools in Italy held trial reopenings after having to close due to the pandemic, and are modeling their new classroom environment after Denmark's "forest schools," where classes are held outside. In order to maintain social distancing, and high safety measures for both students and teachers, students are kept in small groups with assigned zones, and school days have been shortened. More schools across the country are also re-opening slowly and in small groups after seeing the results from the trial run.
Sep 6, 2020
Turning kids into entrepreneurs
In Uganda, which has high youth unemployment rates, schools are starting to incorporate entrepreneurship lessons into traditional curricula to prepare students for life and an unstable job market after school.
Sep 3, 2020
Silicon Valley Teen's Podcast Peeks Into The Minds Of Her Peers
A podcast designed and hosted by a Silicon Valley teenager has provided a place for local youth to share their struggles and combat loneliness. Although the podcast doesn't replace the work of actual counselors, it has helped some teenagers break through communication barriers with their parents.
Sep 2, 2020
This tech is bringing water to Navajo Nation by pulling it out of the air
Zero Mass Water partnered with the Navajo Nation to bring water into the homes of rural residents who may not have easy access to a water source. Hydropanels that connect to a tap inside the home use sunlight to absorb enough water vapor to make at least 10 liters of water per day. While people at first were skeptical about the idea during a pilot test, the company and Navajo officials are hoping to scale the solution.
Sep 1, 2020
Reformed leaders of rival gangs in Lehigh Valley collaborate on a community need: Diapers
An anti-violence program served as the spark for a “diaper drive” that delivered more than 163,000 donated diapers to 1,100 families as the coronavirus shutdown took hold, a charity drive enabled by a gang truce – and run by gang members themselves. Members of the Latin Kings, Crips, and Bloods, working through the Zero Youth Violence program of the organization Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, benefited from years of work to strengthen community relationships as a means of conducting “violence interruption” work.
Aug 30, 2020
Teens Learn Life Skills Training Therapy Dogs
Working to train therapy dogs helps kids with issues learn how to cope. Rising Ground, an organization in New York City, provides animal therapy as part of a residential placement program for juveniles facing problems with the law. The youth receive training in life skills, counseling, and peer support through their court-ordered program. In addition, Rising Ground engages them in an eight-week program to train therapy dogs, which helps the youth learn how to deal with their emotions, as well.
Aug 27, 2020
Fighting depression, door to door
In Uganda, an initiative known as StrongMinds is helping low- and middle-income women deal with depression. To address the shortage of psychiatrists in the region, StrongMinds trains former patients who have completed 12 weeks of group therapy to be facilitators who make home visits.
Aug 26, 2020
How This N.Y. Island Went From Tourist Hot Spot to Emergency Garden
For environmental organization GrowNYC, their one-acre teaching farm on Governor’s Island became a victory garden for New Yorkers who aren’t having their basic needs met during the COVID-19 pandemic. While future land development on the island could impact their work, the farm is on track to produce about 20,000 pounds of food that is distributed by other groups like the Black Feminist Project as free or low-cost coronavirus relief food boxes.
Aug 25, 2020
Teton County shows promise in paying off 'education debt'
Schools in Teton County are successfully addressing the achievement gap between English language learners, kids who don't have a strong grasp on English, and white students by taking a holistic approach. In order to improve graduation rates among ELL students, teachers, and administrators are focused on early interventions like additional lessons, and a funding model that offers more flexibility for the school's resource allocation. “If all of our students don’t feel connected to school culturally, it doesn’t matter what you do, they won’t do well.”
Aug 24, 2020
A tale of two pandemics: Is COVID-19 repeating the mistakes of HIV's past?
As Covid-19 spread throughout regions of South Africa, public health clinics began reporting seeing fewer patients for HIV viral load testing due to shelter-in-place orders. In trying to mitigate the longterm implications of people missing their appointments, a few HIV specialists have joined the frontlines in local communities to act as both coronavirus testers and information conduits for HIV programs.
Aug 20, 2020
Camden PowerCorps Recruits Youth to Green the City
PowerCorps is a program that provides job training for young adults in Camden, New Jersey. It matches participants with opportunities to improve the green infrastructure in the community and is supported by the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority. The ultimate goal is to connect PowerCorps graduates to full-time employment.
Aug 18, 2020
A Card Game Designed to Help Urban Communities Plan for the Future
A card game called Imaginable Guidelines offers a medium of shared vocabulary and collaboration that allows community members to easily talk about city planning. Played in cities around Turkey, Imaginable Guidelines acts as a bridge between city officials and community members, both of whom want to see a more functional and accessible use of space.
Aug 16, 2020
'Black At' Instagram accounts put campus racism on display
Students at colleges across the U.S. are taking to social media to confront racism and biases at their campuses. Over 40 "Black at" Instagram accounts were launched in June on which students share their personal stories of racism on campus, educate interested parties through reading lists, and share resources for those wanting to confront their biases and be actively antiracist. Many of the accounts have garnered large followings, and some have even raised thousands of dollars to support defense funds and community centers.
Aug 13, 2020
How one Seattle teacher kept his kindergartners engaged through the coronavirus closures
When many schools across the U.S. suspended in-person school and switched to virtual learning, a teacher was able to successfully keep his students motivated and hopeful despite the drastic decrease in physical interaction. Kevin Gallagher, a kindergarten teacher, recorded his lessons and uploaded them to YouTube where his students could watch at their convenience, and engaged his students through the use of fun props, as well as talking to them about the realities of living through the pandemic.
Aug 12, 2020
Doctors Are Prescribing Park Visits to Boost Patient Health
ParkRx, as one of many new programs spanning several states, allow doctors to give out Park Prescriptions to their patients in order to encourage them to go to parks and get physical activity. These programs are a way to encourage exercise, open patient and doctor dialogues, and reduce the use of medications or procedures.
Aug 11, 2020
#MakeCyclingSafer: In Nairobi and cities around the world
In Nairobi, as in other major cities around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted travelers away from mass transit to bicycling for social distancing purposes. This presents policy and safety challenges, as many more cyclists use streets designed only for automobiles. But, with benefits extending beyond virus protection to physical fitness and lowering carbon emissions, planners are pushing for cycling lanes and other design changes in hopes that the cycling craze will continue even after the pandemic danger eases.
Aug 9, 2020
How Violence Interrupters Brokered An End To Anti-Black Attacks In A Latino Neighborhood
When protests against police violence turned into looting and anti-Black violence in some Latinx neighborhoods, violence interrupters from groups such as UCAN, EnLace, and Chicago CRED brokered a peace agreement that almost immediately ended that violence. The outreach workers’ years-long relationships and training in dispute mediation gave them credibility to address historic racial tensions among gangs in Lawndale and Little Village. The violence could have escalated, but three days of negotiation – and a sense of common cause against racism in policing – united the neighborhoods.
Aug 5, 2020
A weekly meetup aims to keep black male teachers in the classroom
Male teachers of color are often called on to do extra disciplinary work and mentor students of color in other classes in addition to their own. A weekly virtual meetup for Mississippi's male teachers of color provides a forum for instructors to discuss their unique experiences and share strategies.
Aug 3, 2020
Abolish the police? Organizers say it's less crazy than it sounds.
Police abolitionism, an idea that strikes many as fanciful and dangerous, lies at the root of many community projects in Chicago that have demonstrated on a small scale the ways that problems can be solved without police involvement. Run by acolytes of Mariame Kaba, these projects provided dispute resolution services, mental health responses, and a bond fund that uses donated money to bail pretrial defendants out of jail. The key idea is to demonstrate ways to scale back police powers, rather than wait for institutions to reform themselves.
Aug 2, 2020
Can Dirt Save the Earth?
One tactic for combatting climate change has to do with soil health. Soil can withdraw and store carbon from the atmosphere—at a higher rate when covered by manure—and also supports long-term soil sustainability and saves farmers money. Because agriculture already consumes much of the world's surface, proponents of carbon farming envision a world where large swathes of land act as a carbon sink. Potential drawbacks and things left to explore include how to produce compost without creating more energy than it saves and how to use cows effectively when they also contribute much of the carbon in the atmosphere.
Jul 30, 2020
A tale of two metros: how the London tube beat the New York subway
Though they started at similar points, the London Underground has become one of the most successful models of public transportation, while the New York Metro has declared a state of crisis. The reason? The London Underground learned from early financial and marketing failures and took advantage of financial incentives in expanding business into the transportation industry by renewing old infrastructure.
Jul 28, 2020
Training Police to Step In and Prevent Another George Floyd
While most police-reform ideas focus on top-down imposition of standards, peer intervention puts the burden on individual police officers to prevent misconduct. Grounded in studies of bystanders’ behavior in the face of abuses by others, the method first was adopted by the New Orleans Police Department in light of widespread misconduct following Hurricane Katrina and has been credited with that department’s “remarkable progress” in shifting its culture. Now its use is spreading nationwide.
Jul 26, 2020
Balancing out the doom and gloom: Why we're producing more journalism with a glass-half-full outlook
ABC News in Australia is using a solutions-focused, or constructive, approach to reporting on social problems. Focusing in particular on three areas, affordable housing, stormwater, and obesity, the Hobart newsroom is combating widespread hopelessness and mistrust of the media by highlighting what individuals and communities are already doing to address problems. The approach is used around the world and supported by organizations such as Solutions Journalism Network and the Constructive Institute. While change can be slow, these groups offer newsroom training to help shift reporting perspectives.
Jul 22, 2020
Changing the environment in Iowa's prisons to change results for women
The Iowa Correctional Institution for Women has reformed how inmates are treated, adapting approaches informed by gender and past trauma. A new campus provides private counseling suites and a mental health unit, larger cells with light controls and a visitation area with play space and a garden so women can engage with their children. Disciplinary policies have also shifted toward building women up for returning to society rather than automatic discipline for small infractions.
Jul 20, 2020
Face Masks, Temperature Checks: The New Reality For Summer School Students
Teachers and administrators at schools across Hawaii are adjusting to what it means to teach summer school during the time of coronavirus—and how it'll shape their protocols once fall rolls around. These adjustments include taking students' temperatures, drastically reducing the number of its in-person classroom capacity, and finding ways to equip those students who need equipment to join class online.
Jul 19, 2020
Black Fire Brigade gives $30K to train 30 South, West Side young adults as EMTs
Black firefighters in Chicago launched the nation's first organization aimed at mentoring young men and women of color and helping them prepare for the firefighters exam. It's a way to combat inner city violence and address a long history of discriminatory hiring. The Black Fire Brigade raised more than $30,000 to help 30 young people with the costs of a course in emergency medical technician training and will also provide them with job placement after they gain their certification.
Jul 15, 2020
The City that Really Did Abolish the Police
A decade after Camden crime and police relations hit bottom, and five years after President Obama lauded its new police department as a model for reform, the city's successful reboot of its police force offers both encouragement and cautionary notes for a radical makeover of a police department. Excessive force rates and homicides have both dropped. A toothless disciplinary system has been replaced. But, while residents agree conditions have improved, they point to a number of changes still needed after the entire department was replaced.
Jul 14, 2020
If you die early, how will your children remember you?
Experiencing the death of a parent is oftentimes extremely traumatic, but an app created by a woman who personally experienced this type of loss, aims to bring some sense of help and closure for family members. Implementing a simple design and based on question prompts, the app known as RecordMeNow has been widely used and shown to specifically impact those diagnosed with terminal cancer as well as Motor Neurone Disease.
Jul 12, 2020
What's Happened To Hawaii's Police Shootings Review Board?
The groundswell for greater accountability in police shootings has barely caused a ripple in Hawaii, where the state’s Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review board has finished only one case in its first three years of existence and has suspended meetings during the pandemic. With one of its two citizen member slots vacant on an otherwise law-enforcement-heavy board, the panel fails a basic tenet of accountability by severely limiting public access to the cases it’s considering and its deliberations, says one critic.
Jul 9, 2020
There's already an alternative to calling the police
CAHOOTS, the 31-year-old program considered a model for the growing number of community-based crisis programs, fielded more than 24,000 calls in 2019, less than 1% of which required police involvement. The program's unarmed first responders use "unconditional positive regard," meaning support and acceptance for people in a mental health crisis. Although Eugene is relatively small, its proven system of de-escalation, meant to avoid police violence, has now been adopted in Denver, Oakland, Portland, and elsewhere.
Jul 8, 2020
This Chef Is Fighting Gentrification With Hot Chicken
A chef shows the "absurdity" of gentrification with a creative fundraising campaign. At one of Tunde Wey’s pop-up dinners, he charged $12 for a plate, but charged white people $30, to spark up conversations about racial wealth inequality. His H*t Chicken Sh*t, “a dinner series to end gentrification,” successfully raised $52,000 to go towards residents of North Nashville, “a historically Black neighborhood,” and their affordable housing.
Jul 6, 2020
My Quixotic Quest for Quiet in New York City
Though cities around the world range in size, demographics, and countless other factories, they share a common trait: cities are loud. The app Hush City offers an easy way to find a quiet space amid the noise. The app uses crowdsourced data to report on quiet, and not so quiet, areas in densely populated areas around the world.
Jul 2, 2020
Michael Brown's death still galvanizes anti-racism efforts in Ferguson
After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Cathy Doherty, a leader at a local parochial school, became galvanized to do something. She started an after-school program bringing together youth from local schools with the intention to prevent them from developing racist attitudes. This is part of a broader effort in St. Louis by Catholic women to fight racism and work towards meaningful change.
Jun 29, 2020
As a North Jersey Farmers Market Goes Virtual, It Finds a New Kind of Community
In order to keep local farms and businesses afloat, the Metuchen Farmers Market in North Jersey went virtual. Volunteers for the market enlisted the help of the Canada-based Local Line to build the market's platform, which allows customers to place orders online for a weekend pickup.
Jun 28, 2020
Visiting days: How a Detroit high school extends its family feel by sticking with graduates through college
At Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit, the support of the high school doesn't stop at graduation. Staff at the school follow up with alumni at their new campuses to make sure they are on track and connect them with the resources they need to succeed, whether academic, financial, or social.
Jun 24, 2020
Dumplings Against Hate
The NYC-based campaign, Dumplings Against Hate, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Asian Americans for Equality’s Emergency Small Business Relief Fund by bringing together a virtual community of support. As the COVID-19 pandemic picked up in early 2020, Chinatown restaurants and businesses saw a decrease in revenue because of xenophobia and racism, inspiring the group’s creation. Since then, it’s acted as a model for similar groups across the country, and is creating a toolkit for cities to create their own campaigns.
Jun 23, 2020
Why San Francisco's Librarians Make Great Contact Tracers
Librarians’ skills have proved critical to San Francisco’s pandemic response, in roles ranging from translating to communicating public-health announcements, but especially contact tracing. The city’s largest-ever activation of disaster service workers meant sending librarians to the front lines. The dozens chosen for contact tracing work use a combination of research and people skills, striving to build trust with people reached by phone. Says one librarian, “You have to be agile and willing to lean in. It aligns well with my skills as a librarian."
Jun 21, 2020
A rewilding triumph: wolves help to reverse Yellowstone degradation
Rewilding wolves rebalances ecosystems. Following the 1970s Endangered Species Act (ESA), efforts to reintroduce wolves into the Yellowstone National Park have proven successful, helping to reduce land degradation from overpopulated grazing animals. The effort began in 1995 with the introduction of wolves captured in Canada, with the help of Canadian agencies. Today, the wolves keep the park’s biodiversity in balance and attract tourists.
Jun 21, 2020
It's Electric Moped Time, America
Revel, a new electric scooter startup, is taking Brooklyn by storm. In an era of increasing shared mobility options, the e-scooter is carving out its niche as a faster option than bikes but a more accessible option than cars. Parking is easy and it doesn’t make much noise, improving the riding experience. It still remains to be seen whether users in New York will adopt this, and the company founders see Brooklyn as a test run before expanding.
Jun 18, 2020
This Nonprofit Is Calling Out Racism In Unexpected Places
Governing Hope, an anti-racism organization, is combating racism in Portland by asking white people to pay reparations. The organization created an event called “Reparations Power Hour,” which invites people of color for a discussion and food. They also receive $10 for showing up. The money is donated primarily by white people. “ We call on folks to imagine what reparations in their own communities could look like.”
Jun 17, 2020
In 2017, Illinois passed a bill to re-establish the Women’s Correctional Services Division in response to the disproportionate level of discipline handed out to female inmates and in an effort to create more trauma-informed practices. An initial audit showed declines in discipline and there is now mandatory training for correctional officers on working with female inmates. But the main reform champion retired after the law passed and the state wouldn’t provide updated data on discipline.
Jun 16, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic strains supplies, Native Americans fight food insecurity
As a response to the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted food supply chains, especially in remote parts of the Navajo Nation, the new “Seeds and Sheep” program is mailing seeds to families so they can grow food for themselves and their community. The nonprofit running the program, Utah Diné Bikéyah, has connected with over 300 families so far. It is part of a larger trend of Native efforts to provide agricultural education, teach people to grow culturally relevant food, and reduce food insecurity.
Jun 15, 2020
New York City Pilots Mobile Methadone Program to Help Treat Addiction
New York City is piloting a methadone distribution system for residents struggling with opioid addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially intended to avoid unnecessary visits to medical centers, the model is now championed by policy experts as a permanent solution for reaching more patients. “It’s amazing, unprecedented, ground-breaking, and will be something that we’ll continue to fight to make sure that it stays in place after COVID has passed,” one proponent said.
Jun 15, 2020
Parisians fight climate change with a surprising weapon
Les Alchimistes is a social enterprise outside of Paris that turns the 900,000 tons of food waste produced every year into compost that is then sold to farmers. The group is supported by industrial composters named Tidy Planet who have managed to speed up the natural composting process from 6-12 months to less than two weeks. The Alchimistes have six composting sites across France, and they rely on city cyclists to pick up the food waste from each participating restaurant.
Jun 9, 2020
The breath of life
Scientists from Uganda and Australia have worked together to come up with a device that produces oxygen without the use of electricity. Although this solution was originally intended to help address the high rate of children suffering from pneumonia, it is now also relevant for those suffering from respiratory issues due to COVID-19, especially in rural areas.
Jun 9, 2020
Lifelines: Farming Program Helps N.H. Refugees Move Forward From Past Trauma
Fresh Start Farms is a program by the New Hampshire Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success that invites refugees in the state to apply their farming skills here in America to earn an income. Many of the refugees in New Hampshire are from Somalia and witnesses to the Civil War there—and they carry that trauma with them. Having this outlet, where you can do what you know how to do alongside people who have similar experiences as you, is therapeutic. The program is now moving forward with opening up a storefront despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
Jun 6, 2020
The Farm to Food Bank Movement Aims to Rescue Small-Scale Farming and Feed the Hungry
Supply chains have been disrupted with the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, and farmers are suffering from a lack of buying customers. Meanwhile, food banks are in dire straits as more and more people seek support after losing jobs to the pandemic. What's needed? A middle man. This article looks at a range of solutions across the United States in which organizations and community groups are stepping up to fill the gap between the two needs. They largely do this by purchasing, packaging, and distributing surplus product to local food banks who need more donations for the community.
Jun 3, 2020
Pastured Meat Producers are Facing Catastrophic Losses. These Efforts Could Help Them Weather the Pandemic.
Small-scale livestock producers and farmers are facing dire economic consequences from the coronavirus pandemic, so many are turning to a collective approach to help one another out. From home-delivery services to pivoting to online sales, farmers across the nation are testing out different models to survive the economic downturn.
Jun 2, 2020
California readies army of coronavirus detectives
California state government is pivoting to a tactic that will allow for state employees to be reassigned and retrained to help efforts towards implementing contact tracing. Only one-third of the state's local health departments are performing contact tracing in some capacity, but the new training – designed in partnership between the government and two universities – will help the state reach the necessary increase required to assess the pandemic.
Jun 1, 2020
How do you build a city for a pandemic?
Major populated cities such as New York and London were once regarded as "death traps," but a series of deadly outbreaks led to structural changes that worked to improve the public health outcomes for those living there. From sewer systems to therapeutic gardens, the health of those living in cities has improved in a variety of ways, however, that has not stopped densely populated areas from turning into hotspots for coronavirus. To address this, local governments are experimenting with even more structural changes such as turning city streets into walking and biking paths.
May 28, 2020
Green stimulus: Pakistan sets virus-idled to work planting trees
A solution in Pakistan to the economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic is also tackling another crisis at the same time: climate change. A program called 10 Billion Tree Tsunami employs workers who lost their job due to the quarantine by having them plant saplings all over the country. Wages aren't high, but it does offer workers an opportunity to feed their family until the crisis passes. The jobs created are focused in rural areas for women and other young people. The program is one of the few continuing through the pandemic, and already they have planted 30 million trees.
May 27, 2020
Poop may tell us when the coronavirus lockdown will end
Researchers and public health experts across the world are turning to "wastewater-based-epidemiology" as a practice that could help trace and track the spread of COVID-19. This methodology has already proved successful in helping mitigate diseases such as polio in Israel and track the usage of illicit drugs in Australia. Most recently, in both France and the Netherlands, early sewage samples have revealed useful data about the coronavirus outbreak.
May 24, 2020
The chewing gum you don't mind stuck to your shoe
Did you know that the main ingredient in most chewing gum is a synthetic rubber, which resembles a close relationship to plastic? "It's called polyisobutylene," explains Anna Bullus, a British designer, "the same stuff you find in the inner tube of bicycle wheels." After realizing this, Anna decided to embark on a mission to recycle used chewing gum as a means of cleaning up the streets. What resulted was a way to create everyday products that include at least 20% gum, while simultaneously saving institutions money on what otherwise would have gone toward cleanup efforts.
May 19, 2020
Engineers Offer DIY Solutions to Coronavirus Equipment Shortages
As U.S. hospitals face a shortage of personal protective equipment during the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, creatives and engineers across the nation have begun a DIY movement to help create back up surgical masks. Using communication tools such as Slack and utilizing individual's backgrounds and skill sets, the groups have successfully designed a supply chain for distributing their alternative face shields but also caution that they're not replacements for N95 respirators.
May 18, 2020
A Pound Of Flour To Go? Restaurants Are Selling Groceries Now
Across the United States, restaurants have been forced to close their dine-in services due to the coronavirus, but many have switched to online order and to-go options in order to stay open. Now, some of these restaurants are offering grocery orders as well, helping customers access ingredients that may be sold at local supermarkets.
May 17, 2020
Lowering costs, improving lives, even during a pandemic
A new initiative at St. John’s Health in Wyoming aimed at bettering people's health while saving the hospital money by combining wellness services with behavioral programs has shown promise but was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of pausing the program in entirety, however, program administrators have instead adapted it for St. John's employees as a means of keeping staff healthy.
May 14, 2020
Seattle Turns Soda Tax Revenue into Emergency Grocery Vouchers During Pandemic
When Seattle passed its tax on sugar-sweetened beverages like soda in 2018, the program met a lot of resistance. But now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the city is drawing on this tax revenue to provide $800 emergency grocery vouchers to families in need.
May 13, 2020
Utah And New Mexico Lead The Region In COVID-19 Testing. Here's How They've Done It
Deploying a state-wide COVID-19 testing strategy requires coordinating both public and private-industry stakeholders. In Utah and New Mexico, the appointment of “testing czars,” or public health leaders in charge of coordinating testing, has led to targeted, successful strategies to ramp up testing. These “testing czars” work to coordinate with commercial and public labs to find supplies and address bottlenecks. Suppliers work to connect via conference call to discuss logistics, allowing for successful scaling in both rural and urban testing strategies.
May 6, 2020
RVs for MDs: Matching RVs with Medical Professionals Battling COVID-19
ER doctors and other hospital staff who need to isolate themselves from their families can use a camper or mobile home to create a safe distance. The Facebook match-making group, RVs for MDs To Fight the Coronavirus, has connected hundreds of camper and RV owners to healthcare workers in need of extra living space. The network has grown to include thousands of members willing to offer the use of their campers free of charge.
May 5, 2020
The home that cures loneliness in Sweden
To help young adults and seniors manage feelings of isolation, a retirement home was revamped into a housing project that caters to those under 25 and pensioners. Living in this new apartment complex comes with a provision in the agreement though – residents must spend at least 2 hours per week socializing with one another.
May 4, 2020
A New Tactic To Fight Coronavirus: Send The Homeless From Jails To Hotels
California’s governor signed an executive order allocating $50 million to lease hotel rooms for those experiencing homelessness after being released from prison as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. While the hotel business is at a standstill, it provides shelter and the needed self-isolation to one of the most vulnerable populations. So far, 7,000 hotel rooms have been reserved for these individuals.
Apr 30, 2020
Florida Community Land Trust Makes Affordable Housing Part of Hurricane Recovery
A community land trust is helping people in the Keys find another home, after Hurricane Irma ravished the area. “Four cottages are expected to wrap construction this fall, with another five finished by early 2019.” The arrangement was made possible after two friends got together and formed the Florida Keys Community Land Trust, secured land from the county, and raised $1 million to build affordable disaster housing.
Apr 27, 2020
Aggressive testing, contact tracing, cooked meals: How the Indian state of Kerala flattened its coronavirus curve
When coupled with long-term state investment in public institutions, a rapid response to a pandemic is most effective. In India, Kerala state acted quickly relative to its neighbors in communicating risks, tracking cases, testing, and requiring quarantines for tourists. The effectiveness of the measures benefitted from the states'investment in education and public health institutions.
Apr 26, 2020
How Baltimore City Started Listening to Its Residents about Food Policy
Leaders in Baltimore realized that improvements in food policy would be enhanced by more accurate language and more local activism. The Baltimore Food Policy Initiative brings together city agencies and uses data and shared terminology to improve their work, referring to “food deserts” as “ healthy priority areas.” The group also engaged 14 new “resident food equity advisors” to begin the work of assessing the landscape, in terms of accessibility of healthy food. This data will be used to move thoughtful policies forward.
Apr 22, 2020
Orange County Lab Runs Coronavirus Tests in 90 Minutes
Three people in Orange County came together to fill the gap in testing in their area. A surgeon named Dr. Yalamanchili, a scientist named Dr. Chris Crock, and a laboratory owner named Michelle Huston joined forces to create an independent testing lab that can produce results in only 90 minutes. Right now the lab is conducting up to 100 tests a day, and the three of them are also encouraging others to open independent labs to fill the gaps.
Apr 21, 2020
Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic
With experience from past regional disasters and supply-chain disruptions, supermarket chain H-E-B faced the coronavirus chaos with calm preparation, ensuring employees and management act quickly to mitigate their losses - and to keep their shoppers healthy. The chain got a head start by asking suppliers in heavily affected areas - like Italy - for tips and tricks, enforcing early-on social distancing rules, and increasing sick leave for employees.
Apr 19, 2020
One City Is Paying Restaurants to Make Meals for Homeless Shelters
Social distancing has negatively affected homeless shelters, because the volunteers who prepare the meals aren't considered essential employees. The city of Cambridge pledged to pay local restaurants to provide bagged or boxed meals for lunch and dinner at shelters for as long as social distancing guidelines remain in place. This also helps restaurants who are struggling without customers. The operation started in March of 2020 and has since distributed 1,800 meals to eight homeless shelters and meal programs. Other cities like Detroit and Portland are following their lead.
Apr 15, 2020
Bristolians are self-organising a phenomenal coronavirus fight back in ways that will outlast pandemic
As a grass-roots response to assist vulnerable populations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the world are using social media to distribute supplies, services, and advice. One such group on Facebook, the Bristol Community Care - Covid-19 Mutual Aid, has gone viral with thousands of members seeking to help or receive help.
Apr 14, 2020
‘There's sunshine again': Thousands of meals delivered daily to Anchorage students as coronavirus closes classrooms
In Alaska, the Anchorage School District’s mobile food delivery service is delivering thousands of meals every day to Anchorage students. By repurposing school buses, school district leaders are packing sack lunches, school nurses, and educators on board to help with the deliveries.
Apr 12, 2020
This chart of the 1918 Spanish flu shows why social distancing works
As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, social distancing is being implemented due to its proven success with helping to drastically slow the spread of the Spanish flu in St. Louis Missouri. In a comparison of St. Louis and Philadelphia – a city that did not institute social distancing practices – limiting the time in public spaces helped to keep per capita flu-related deaths in St. Louis "to less than half of those in Philadelphia."
Apr 8, 2020
On air: The live radio show tackling mental health taboos
Based out of the city of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, a live radio show is tackling the stigma around mental health care by combining their platform with those in the mental health care field. Not only does the radio show discuss psychological issues on air, but it also offers free and reduced-cost mental health services to those that serve as guests on the show.
Apr 7, 2020
How schools went virtual — in just 72 hours
In just a few days, Montana’s Jefferson County school district had to adapt to remote teaching in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, with the governor leaving it up to schools and teachers to figure out how. From using Zoom to teleconference with students, to calling parents regularly, to figuring out if and how to use computers at all, teachers and administrators are learning how to provide structure and learning to kids from afar.
Apr 6, 2020
Galion distillery creates hand sanitizer from high-proof alcohol
Six months ago, a distillery in Ohio had the idea to start making hand sanitizer on-site, but because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the FDA changing regulations, the business has now fast-tracked the idea into reality. With only their first batch ready to donate, the distillery has already received over 1,000 requests for deliveries of the sanitizer.
Apr 2, 2020
How to Save Elections From a Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic swept the nation at a time when many would be going to polling stations to cast their votes in primary elections, but vote-at-home practices are providing a solution for this civic inconvenience. Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and now Utah have all implemented statewide all-mail election campaigns that not only improve voter turnout, but also cost less to taxpayers than only relying on in-person polling booths.
Apr 1, 2020
The school beating the odds with music
An elementary school in Bradford, England has seen a direct correlation between embracing music as part of their curriculum and students' performance in English and Math. The school is in a low-income area with most of its students speaking English as a second language and was doing very poorly before they made the switch. The school is now in the top 10% of schools in England, and students say that school is now energetic and fun.
Mar 26, 2020
This virtual tip jar helps Philly out-of-work food industry employees during the coronavirus
As restaurants across the nation have been forced to close their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, some are turning to creative means to help account for the loss of revenue. In Philadelphia, restaurants have created a virtual tip jar to encourage patrons to "donate a tip" to a person or business while in San Francisco a restaurant owner has created a Facebook group that helps connect out of work servers with childcare jobs.
Mar 25, 2020
Can Volunteer-Run Online Platforms to Support Neighbors In Need Meet Demand?
As social distancing becomes increasingly important as cities and states work to control the coronavirus outbreak, people in New York are finding creative ways to communicate in order to help one another. In New York City, community members are utilizing a website where volunteers are matched with their vulnerable neighbors' requests for errands, while in Brooklyn, community organizers are using a spreadsheet to connect and find support.
Mar 20, 2020
When Your Stuff Breaks, Don't Throw It Away — Go to These Cafes
Encouraging people to repair their broken items is an important step toward reducing consumer-generated waste. The Repair Cafe Foundation, a nonprofit based in the Netherlands, helps volunteers open their own repair cafes worldwide. So far, thirty-five countries have opened such cafes, with more expected as consumer-rights advocates push for “Right to Repair” legislation.
Mar 19, 2020
On One Issue, Americans Are United. Too Many Are Behind Bars.
In such a divided country, many groups from lawmakers to advocacy groups are finding rare bipartisan cooperation around the issue of criminal justice reform. Two congressional representatives, one Republican and one Democrat, have found common ground, as well as the Justice Action Network, which forms bipartisan coalitions, one of which was instrumental in passing the First Step Act.
Mar 12, 2020
Can Zoning Actually Save Manufacturing Space in San Francisco?
Kate Sofis created SFMade in San Francisco to find creative ways to support local manufacturing. The organization has helped push the local government to create more inclusionary industrial zoning, which incentivizes developers to build manufacturing space along with traditional office space. Funded by grants and a New Markets Tax Credit, SFMade has opened 150 Hooper, a manufacturing hub. Its challenge now is how to maintain a sustainable funding source in the pricey city.
Mar 10, 2020
Depressed? Here's a Bench. Talk to Me.
Sometimes just having someone to talk to can help those who are suffering from depression. The Friendship Bench program in NYC borrows an idea from Harare, Zimbabwe, where healthcare workers—affectionately called Grannies—sit and consult with patients on benches outside of healthcare clinics. The Grannies help people discuss their issues and have had a measurably positive impact on those they’ve reached. In New York, the Friendship Benches connect individuals to peer mentors willing to listen across the city.
Mar 8, 2020
Trading Pencils for Hammers: These Kids Are Learning Math and Getting Jobs Right Out of High School
Hands-on experience can improve learning outcomes. By using the Geometry in Construction curriculum, developed by Contextual Learning Concepts, schools across the US are not only teaching kids geometry, they are also helping them gain valuable vocational skills. Several of the schools have even paired the program with service work by partnering with Habitat for Humanity.
Mar 5, 2020
A New Kind of Cooperative in Oakland Fights Against Speculative Development
Real estate cooperatives are able to raise capital from their members, ensuring re-investment in the communitie they serve. In Oakland, California, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EB PREC) finances real estate acquisitions through California’s cooperative ownership model. EB PREC also works with partners from the Sustainable Economies Law Center and the People of Color Housing Network, which provide additional resources and expertise.
Mar 3, 2020
Public Libraries' Latest Offering: Musical Instruments
Instrument rentals help to address a gap in privilege. The Central Branch of Brooklyn Public Library in New York City is one of several programs in the US and Canada that loan out musical instruments for free. The program in NYC began with the support of a grant from BKLYN Incubator. Similar programs in Philadelphia and Toronto, Canada, loan instruments to members of their community through funding from grant programs.
Mar 2, 2020
This Website Empowers People in Need to Make Art — And Sell It for Thousands of Dollars
For individuals who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged, art can be more than therapeutic—it can be lucrative. ArtLifting, a public benefit corporation started in Boston, MA, specializes in helping homeless and disabled artists sell their art. Business including Staples and Microsoft have bought art for their offices. ArtLifting splits the profits with artists and also funds art programs.
Feb 16, 2020
W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: an ‘Infodemic'
As word of the coronavirus outbreak spread, so did misinformation, so the World Health Organization began working with big tech companies to put a stop to it. Collaborating with the likes of Pinterest, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, W.H.O. has posted content that disputes the incorrect information across platforms and sites in order to make "falsehoods harder to find in searches or on news streams."
Feb 13, 2020
3D-printed pills will provide the solution to one of medicine's biggest issues
In the UK, 3D-printed tablets are being tested at a children's hospital to specifically address the difficultly many children face when they need to take pills that are either too high of a dosage or too big too swallow. Although still in early stages of research trials, the hospital is making strides in tackling barriers by using the children's feedback on size, shape, and even flavor of the printed pills.
Feb 12, 2020
7,500 Strangers Just Bought A Crumbling French Chateau Together
Dartagnans is a French crowdfunding platform that aims to use crowdfunding as a way to protect the “cultural heritage” of France. Most recently, a fundraiser for a historic castle succeeded in raising 500,000 euros, which will go toward restoring the heritage site that dates back to the 13th century. Though it’s not the most traditional way to restore old buildings, the platform has had several successes in this realm.
Feb 11, 2020
Amateur Radio Is There When All Else Fails
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, amateur radio help connect communities with emergency response teams. Across the United States, amateur radio stations are acting as frontline communication systems for those who have no other method of communication. Organizations like Oregon’s Jackson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service provides training and skill -building and -sharing for participants, who are then able to use those skills in an emergency or disaster.
Feb 10, 2020
What it Takes to Keep Independent Grocery Stores Open in Rural Communities
Small, rural grocery stores around the country keep their doors open by using creative, cross-sector financing, recruiting local volunteers, and thinking outside the box as many residents move closer to urban areas. One such store in Wimbledon, North Dakota re-organized as a non-profit and applied for government funds as well as opened a community cafe within the store to boost traffic and revenue.
Feb 9, 2020
How a Three Course Meal Gives Dignity for Those Without a Home
An organization named FEAST! in London offers a high-quality meal once a week in a homeless shelter using excess food from supermarkets. Not only does this tackle the issue of food waste, but it also aims to fill in the nutritional gaps left in the diets of those who are homeless and provides some dignity in a conversation over a community meal. The program has been running since 2015, and both the volunteers and recipients testify to the impact it has had on their lives.
Feb 8, 2020
To Save Their Water Supply, Colorado Farmers Taxed Themselves
Colorado is only now recovering from a 16-year long drought that resulted in the aquifer irrigation system becoming increasingly dry. Until the farmers decided to tax themselves for water consumption, realizing that saving water now and taxing themselves would protect their farms and livelihood in the long run.
Feb 7, 2020
Demystifying the MOOC
The creators of online classes hoped to provide quality education to the disadvantaged but have instead created an international supplement to classroom learning and tool for professional development.
Feb 6, 2020
High School Starts At 3 p.m. For These Michigan Students
In Lansing, Michigan, one high school gives students the option to take classes from 3 to 8 p.m., outside of the standard school day. This allows students to hold part-time jobs or internships, fulfill other responsibilities outside classes, and even get more sleep.
Feb 4, 2020
Vermont's first milk bank opens for parents who can't breastfeed
Vermont has opened its first donor milk center which acts as a breast milk bank for mothers that are in need of milk for their newborn babies. The Vermont Donor Milk Center aims to be a "one-stop shop," and also offers lactation consultation, maternal education, and supports for non-lactating partners.
Feb 3, 2020
Door-knocking neighbors help avert home seizures in Detroit
In Detroit, volunteers go door to door to talk with their neighbors who have properties at risk of foreclosure. The initiative has contributed to a 90 percent decrease in foreclosures in the city since 2015.
Feb 2, 2020
Dogs are helping save Florida's citrus groves from a devastating disease
Dogs can detect plant disease earlier than visual inspection and faster than lab testing. In Florida, dogs are helping farmers detect Huanglongbing (HLB), a bacterium with devastating consequences for the citrus fruit industry in the state. So far, HLB has decimated the citrus industry. With their sense of smell, the dogs offer an important tool for farmers who are struggling to stay ahead of infection.
Feb 1, 2020
Playoff Loss Births Nutritional Program at Morgan County High School
To better the health of their high school football athletes, Morgan County High School in Georgia implemented a program that focuses on ensuring the school's athletes are eating enough to compensate for the physical activity they're enduring. The program, which implements ideas from college models, provides players with breakfast, lunch, and a pre-practice snack or pre-game meal, while also monitoring each individual's nutrition.
Jan 31, 2020
From Australia to El Salvador to Vietnam, the environment is finally getting its day in court
Across the word, specialized environmental courts are being created to make sure the environment receives justice and protection against human destruction and exploitation. In the face of climate change, 44 countries across six continents have developed such courts, driven by a collective understanding of the intersection of human rights and the environment. While a seemingly major step toward justice, the new courts are hard to evaluate and have faced criticisms like bias and their impact in the larger context of climate change.
Jan 30, 2020
From surgery simulators to medical mishaps in space, video game tech is helping doctors at work
An orthopedic surgeon, software developers, and medical experts have teamed up to create a virtual reality headset that helps eliminate unpredictability during surgical procedures. Although this is one of many technological advancements that's being used to bridge a gap in health care, both virtual reality and video games have helped to assist not just during procedures but also in "highly irregular situations or those that would be impossible to replicate.
Jan 29, 2020
The ‘Badass Grandmas' Who Fought Corruption and Won
An unlikely group of "Badass Grandmas" came together in North Dakota to fight corruption in state government. Coming from both Democratic and Republican backgrounds, the group formed organically during an early morning discussion. Inspired by their neighbors in South Dakota, the group successfully passed a constitutional amendment approved by voters to overhaul government ethics oversight.
Jan 28, 2020
A road full of bottlenecks: Dutch cycle path is made of plastic waste
The first bicycle path made of recycled plastic opened in the Netherlands and the inventors see it as a way to prove a concept that could be adapted more widely to roadways as Europe works to eliminate plastic waste. The path has sensors to monitor its performance and the amount of traffic that uses it, as well as a design that drains rainwater and allows cables and utility pipes to be installed inside. A second path is under construction in another city and possibly in Rotterdam.
Jan 27, 2020
Since Ascend Charter Schools switched from the popular "No Excuses" model to a Responsive Classroom philosophy, test scores have steadily risen, suspension rates have dropped dramatically, and the racial achievement gap has all but disappeared. While traces of the former structures, such as repeated routines, still exist today, the school has also incorporated trauma-informed elements and social-emotional learning curricula.
Jan 26, 2020
In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery With Dulcimer Strings
To help those struggling with opioid addictions, an apprentice program in Kentucky uses art and music taught by local artisans to provide participants with a path forward. After learning various skills as part of the program, a local instrument company also considers the new apprentices for hire as part of a “recovery-friendly” employment movement.
Jan 25, 2020
Past and present traumas can make it difficult for new mothers to bond with their babies. A program at Carnegie Hall uses songwriting and music to support mothers in this process in prisons, intensive care units, high schools, and other places.
Jan 24, 2020
Desert city uses water, then uses it again
Tucson has slashed its per capita water consumption by more than a third, and one of the more startling ways it's done that is by reusing water after it's flushed down the toilet or run through a washing machine.
Jan 23, 2020
These shops will sell you shampoo, but it's BYOB — bring your own bottle
Eschewing packaging reduces waste. Cleenland, a store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, encourages low-waste shopping by selling household items like soap, cleaner, and detergent in bulk. Customers bring their own containers and purchase the products by weight. The store is among the first in the country to offer package-free shopping.
Jan 22, 2020
Turning Farm Workers Into Farmers
Farm incubators provide aspiring farmers with training, land, and access to business networks. Across the United States, organizations like California’s Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) are working to support small farmers by serving as small farm incubators. Following a ten-month training course for aspiring farmers, ALBA allows the fledgling entrepreneurs to rent land at below-market rates while they expand their businesses.
Jan 21, 2020
Ruff justice: Meet the dogs helping put child rapists behind bars
A practice in Johannesburg is making the courtroom and trial process less scary for sexually abused children by letting them play the role of court officials alongside therapy dogs in a pretend court. The Teddy Bear Foundation, responsible for this role play activity, wants children to be less scared but also prepared for their day in court when it comes.
Jan 20, 2020
A Construction Company Embraces Frank Talk About Mental Health To Reduce Suicide
Making mental health a priority at the workplace reduces the risk of suicide. The RK construction company in Salt Lake City has responded to employee suicide by changing its workplace culture. The company has implemented measures such as counseling services, mental health training for managers, and 24 hour access to counseling services. Work teams also practice “Toolbox Talks,” opening up and discussing issues with each other several times a week.
Jan 19, 2020
No Sex For Fish: How Women In A Fishing Village Are Fighting For Power
Along Kenya's Lake Victoria, the practice of jaboya - where fishermen guarantee that day's catch to a woman fish trader in exchange for sexual favors - is all too common, in part due to a lack of economic opportunity in small villages. Kenya's fishing communities also have rates of HIV prevalence between 30% and 40%. To combat these issues, local women and non-profits teamed up to start No Sex for Fish, an organization committed to providing women fish traders their own boats so they could catch the fish themselves. While initial results were promising, the initiative ultimately has not yet succeeded.
Jan 18, 2020
This DNA database for trees will help track illegal logging
The west coast of the United States is taking a stand to stop the poaching and selling of trees from prohibited areas in the region. By creating a DNA database that can be used to determine the specific genetics of trees as they relate to different regions, the Forest Service will be able to tell if wood is being illegally harvested.
Jan 17, 2020
30 Million Words
A Pensacola project is providing new parents with “brain bags”—books to read to their children as well as resources about early childhood development as it relates to language. By educating parents about the impact of how and how much they speak to their children during fundamental years of development, the bags help build babies language skills and create strong brain development.
Jan 16, 2020
Books on wheels: When the library comes to the homeless shelter
A bookmobile program in Queens brings stories, computers and wifi to family shelters to help expand access to these vital resources to children and families without a permanent home. The book-filled bus has served over 1,400 children and adults in Queens and offers titles and videos in Spanish as well as free library cards for families.
Jan 15, 2020
Everyone Knows the Benefits of Meal-Sharing. Here's How to Actually Do It
As family and community style dinners become increasingly less commonplace, studies are showing that communication, academics and nutrition may suffer, but The Family Dinner Project is working to change this by offering a toolkit to make group dinners easier. The resources offered in the toolkit include "games to play at the table, conversation starters, and tips to prevent conflict," all with the goal of creating community around the dinners again.
Jan 14, 2020
320,000 High Schoolers to Get Free Water Bottles. The Goal? 54 Million Fewer Single-Use Drinks
S’Well, the namesake of trendy water bottles, was founded on the environmental principle of reducing single-use plastic bottles throughout the world. As part of their mission, the company is donating a water bottle to every New York City high school student in order to promote this environmental awareness.
Jan 13, 2020
Iceland has largely kicked teen drinking. What can it teach other countries?
In the late 1990s, Iceland had both a high rate of teen alcohol abuse and a lackadaisical attitude towards that abuse. Responses to these issues included instituting a curfew, investment in after school activities, and programs to change parent attitudes. The result has been a large decrease in alcohol use among teens and a strengthening of family relationships.
Jan 12, 2020
African farmers are saving their cows with some antelope cologne
Millions of cows die each year from a disease called nagana, which is carried by tsetse flies. But waterbucks, a kind of antelope, manage to keep the flies away thanks to their smell. So scientists are harnessing the scent to protect cows, and hope to do the same for people soon.
Jan 11, 2020
20 years later, a small Maine town finally found a way to solve its 27,000-ton carpet dump problem
After sitting abandoned for 20 years, 27-thousand tons of plastic carpet are in the beginning processes of being removed. The pile, located in an old rifle range in Warren, Maine, is being transported to a local cement plant who uses such materials to burn for fuel. The disposal is being funded by the Department of Environmental Protection, but with such a massive amount, risks only being partially disposed.
Jan 10, 2020
A novel idea for California: requiring students to fill out financial aid forms
Val Verde Unified School District in California requires high school students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Though advocates have documented significant positive culture changes, researchers say the impact of such requirements on college enrollemnt rates remains uncertain.
Jan 9, 2020
Earthbags Are Harnessing Soil to House the Nepalese
In an effort to rebuild after Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake, Earthbags have become a growing method of sustainable, affordable construction. These bags are carefully filled with soil, and stacked on one another to build structures like homes and schools. Across the country, officials, local residents, and non-profits like Good Earth Nepal have embraced the method in a grassroots push to rebuild the country for and by themselves.
Jan 8, 2020
Lettuce-Weeding Robots, Coming Soon to a Farm Near You
Blue River Technology is getting ahead in the agtech industry by using “robots that help farmers manage their fields more efficiently.” They use data to selectively spray fields with pesticides, drastically saving farmers money and reducing the amount of chemicals that go into their farms. The company is convincing investors, farmers, and regulators that this is the future of farming.
Jan 7, 2020
How Steep Is That Sidewalk? A Digital Map for People With Disabilities
Crowdsourcing data allows developers to help those with limited mobility find accessible routes. The AccessMap Seattle project, in collaboration with the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington and OpenStreetMap, has tested and is improving a map where users can find and edit information about the elevation of rotes, sidewalks, and crosswalks to serve those who are challenged with their mobility.
Jan 6, 2020
Wisconsin nonprofit seeks to better connect U.S. farmers with their Mexican employees
In the rural landscape of Wisconsin dairy farming, a local nonprofit organization connects American farmers with their immigrant employees to build a bridge with language and comprehensive job training. While the immigrant workers face many hardships on their trek to America, language and cultural barriers can prove difficult once they settle; Puentes (Bridges) offers support for folks who struggle to adapt to American lifestyle and working conditions.
Jan 5, 2020
Beyond Meat is going public. Meat alternatives are going mainstream.
Food company Beyond Meat recently went public - a business success to be sure, but more than that, it is a reflection that environmentally-friendly meat alternatives have achieved more widespread appeal. The environmental impact of meat alternatives reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to the polluting effect of raising factory farm animals, and vegans and non-vegans alike have more and more options to make planet-friendly food decisions.
Jan 4, 2020
Can old-fashioned journalism combat fake news?
Human-based fact checking offers a more dynamic and thorough way to determine the credibility of news outlets than the use of machine learning software. Although humans are still prone to implicit biases, NewsGuard’s model of employing a team of human fact-checkers to rate news websites pushes back against the tendency of algorithms to disseminate false or misleading content. A user-installed plug-in offers details about the credibility and transparency of over 2,000 websites.
Jan 3, 2020
Bug reserve: Inside Britain's brownfield rainforest
Insect populations are rapidly decreasing across Europe thanks largely in part to human-introduced pesticides. In Britain, entomologists are trying to slow the decline and reintroduce insects by turning abandoned sites into nature reserves for insects.
Jan 2, 2020
Could 'invisible barcodes' revolutionise recycling?
A pilot recycling sorting method hosted in Germany has created an easier way for recyclable and non-recyclable products to be separated. Designers printed invisible digital codes - much like invisible barcodes that can be picked up by a grocery store scanner - onto a myriad of products for a sensor machine to be able to sort products by material; the sorting machine saw over 90% success in correct allocation. Now, some of the largest food companies in the world are working together to use this technology on a wider scale.
Jan 1, 2020
Temple Students “Swipe Out Hunger” in Philly
Students at Temple University are using their unused meal "swipes"--or prepaid dining hall entries--to help buy food for those in need in Philadelphia. The organization Swipes for Philadelphia now has expanded their initial idea to host general meetings on topics like food insecurity, homelessness, and overall struggles of low-wage workers. The organization also tackles related issues like food waste.
Dec 31, 2019
The Lionfish Have Invaded, But a Ragtag Army of Divers and Chefs Are Fighting Back
Regions across the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts are taking multi-pronged approaches to what some have called a lionfish epidemic. In Pensacola, Florida, the entire community has rallied behind a comprehensive strategy: lionfish catching tournaments. The tournaments challenge teams to catch as many lionfish as possible, while providing supplementary education for residents on how to cook and prepare them for eating and environmental responsibility.
Dec 30, 2019
Scientists just figured out how to turn CO2 back into coal
Researchers in Australia have discovered a way to capture CO2 from the air and turn it back into solid carbon. The new method uses liquid metal and electricity to process the CO2 and store it at room temperature – something that until now had not been possible. Scientists say it shows potential for large scale use – in combination with sustainable energy – as the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change.
Dec 29, 2019
Leading Maggot Farmer to Expand From Cape Town to California
AgriProtein, a large-scale maggot farm in Cape Town, is one of many companies addressing the “long on waste and short on protein” problem the world is facing. Maggots provide protein sustenance for animals like fish, poultry, and pigs while also eating organic waste. While the facilities are costly to make, the industry has been booming as the world shifts how it thinks about waste and sustainability.
Dec 28, 2019
Airbus is making planes lighter with technology we barely understand
An engineering company called Autodesk uses the concept of "generative deisgn" - design facilitated by Artificial Intelligence to create structural renderings unimagined by the human brain - to create lighter and more durable airplanes. Generative design uses the calculations of artificial intelligence software to create thousands of ergonomic designs, based on an input of desired force and shape of the plane part - or other architectural puzzles pieces.
Dec 27, 2019
What happens when people win this basic income raffle? They have time to find meaning in their lives
A nonprofit in Berlin tests the success of the Universal Basic Income structure, which is founded on the idea that a monthly stipend awarded to all individuals can create an invigorated labor force and allow people to do what they love. The organization called Mein Grundeinkommen (My Basic Income), has found that recipients of the monthly cash stipend have become less anxious and more curious and willing to reimagine their dream job.
Dec 26, 2019
The Town Where Public Toilets Are Everywhere
In cities all around the world, locals as well as tourists struggle to find adequate public restrooms. In Bremen, Germany, a creative partnership is solving the public restroom problem. “The Nice Toilet” initiative allows the local government to pay small businesses a stipend in exchange for putting a sign in their window notifying visitors of their public toilets. The government saves money, businesses make money, and visitors are happier.
Dec 25, 2019
Our Zoo is Greener Than Your Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo has created an in-house, vertical garden – housed in a shipping container provided by the nonprofit, CropBox – to grow food for the animals. So far, it has shown to be a more sustainable way of feeding the animals, producing 275 lbs of greens per month and using 70-90% less water than traditional farming. The garden is just one of the zoo’s newest sustainability initiatives, which include increasing energy efficiency, using solar-powered vehicles, and creating more trails and spaces for the animals.
Dec 24, 2019
Sucking Carbon Out of the Air Is One Way to Help Save Our Planet
While many organizations and individuals are working on solutions to address climate change worldwide, a company in Iceland is focusing on removing carbon dioxide directly from the air. Although small in scale, this new technology known as direct air capture has made it possible to suck the carbon dioxide from the air and turn the emissions into stone.
Dec 23, 2019
Conversations about Confederate Monuments in the Former Confederate Capital
In the midst of heated debates surrounding the removal of Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia, a partnership between a university design collective and a community nonprofit welcomed student suggestions to keep conversation flowing - and respectful. Students submitted ideas to redesign Monument Avenue, a historical boulevard lined with Confederate statues, in a way that takes into account race, cultural history and the modern community.
Dec 22, 2019
Papua New Guinea's Meri Seif Bus Program Provides Safe Transport to Women and Girls
A public transportation system just for women has been developed in New Guinea in response to the extreme harassment that women face. Launched in 2014, the program called "Meri Seif (“Woman Safe”) now serves 170,000 female riders annually and has more than 10 buses. The program is still growing, as more buses get donated, but women already praise the program for increasing their sense of safety.
Dec 21, 2019
The Amazon's solar-powered river bus
The isolated Achuar peoples in Kapawi village in Ecuador live in an area without roads, and they'd like to keep it that way. As a way of proving they can function without them while still allowing for public transport, the village has implemented a solar powered canoe that can transport villagers up a network of interconnected navigable rivers.
Dec 20, 2019
How this North Salt Lake plant will turn table scraps into natural gas
Food waste often ends up in landfills, but the Wasatch Resource Recovery facility in Utah transforms the thrown-out food into renewable energy instead. Companies such as Kroger, Dannon, and Nestle send their food waste to the facility on a daily basis, where it is liquefied, broken down by microbes and eventually converted into natural gas.
Dec 19, 2019
Be a sport: games coaches teach boys how to be better men
Coaches and players around the world are using sports to teach boys about masculinity and the importance of integrity, both on and off the field. From cricket in India to rugby in Fiji, games are used as a foundation for teaching important life lessons and values. As a result, young men participating in these programs have been found less likely to show aggression and more likely to believe abuse against women is wrong.
Dec 18, 2019
Dress Rehearsal For Death: Using Virtual Reality To Foster Empathy For Dying Patients
Virtual reality is being used as part of medical education providing a way for nurses and other medical workers to better understand how a patient may experiencing their surroundings. Virtual reality modules have been created for blind, colorblind, dementia, and dying patients.
Dec 17, 2019
These College Startups Don't Charge Tuition Until Grads Make $50,000 a Year
In response to the rising cost of college and a changing labor market, several startups are offering an alternative to traditional 4-year higher education programs. In exchange for on average one year of training in computer programming at no cost upfront, students turn over a portion of their salary for a set number of years after graduating. If they are not offered a job within a certain period of time, students don't have to pay. "How many people have tried to learn programming on their own and not made it?" co-founder of Lambda School said. "Usually that's just a matter of not sticking it out ."
Dec 16, 2019
Vermont's Radical Experiment to Break the Addiction Cycle
A pre-charge program in Vermont offers low-level, non-violent drug offending criminals the opportunity to abide by a personalized contract of recovery to avoid criminal charges. Program participants are often required to seek treatment for drug addiction, maintain employment, and engage in behaviors that will improve their quality of life. This program gives addicts a chance to rebuild their lives and frees up resources within the criminal justice system to be used on higher profile crimes.
Dec 15, 2019
Dentists at Asian Health Services Screen for Depression
Dentists at the Asian Health Services Group in Oakland added a screening for mental health to their pre-appointment paperwork. Due to language barriers and cultural reluctance to acknowledge mental health issues, many Asians, especially seniors, were suffering from depression without help. Last year, the program referred 10 people to mental health services and Asian Health Services was contacted by a large dental provider to learn about the initiative.
Dec 14, 2019
The bizarre and inspiring story of Iowa's fish farmers
A family in Iowa, living 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and 1,500 miles from the Pacific Ocean, are paving the way for the future of fish farms. By filling their unused barn with fish tanks, this third-generation Webster City farming family found a solution for successfully and sustainably raise up to 10 million pounds of barramundi per year.
Dec 13, 2019
To Treat Chronic Ailments, Fix Diet First
California's version of Medicaid, called Medi-Cal, has launched a pilot that provides strict nutrition guidelines for individuals with a chronic illness, as a way to help keep them from having to visit the hospital. For many patients, a change in diet can help with inflammation and reduce painful or uncomfortable symptoms of their diseases. A study of the pilot program showed drastic decreases in medical costs for these patients, as well as in inpatient and emergency room visits.
Dec 12, 2019
Scooter Riders Hate Wearing Helmets. Maybe This Will Help.
Electric scooter companies across the United States brainstorm and pilot creative ideas to get their riders to focus more intently on scoot safety. One e-scooter company, Bird, has launched a pilot that asks riders to take a selfie with their helmet and parked scooter in exchange for future discounts and even free rides. To address the lack of hemet-wearing among riders, companies have also hosted helmet giveaways, online "safety marketplaces," and more.
Dec 10, 2019
Brooklyn Middle Schoolers Are Launching Homemade Boats to Test Their STEM Skills
A New York organization called Brooklyn Boatworks conducts an after school program for students across NYC to learn STEM skills through the construction of a boat. The teaching model is built to support students who do and do not excel within a traditional school setting, and they strive to create a safe space for students to make mistakes and build self-confidence and social skills. Students also learn tangible skills like tool safety, map reading, environmental education, and project management, and the program culminates with each student setting sail in their handmade boat at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Dec 9, 2019
The hip hop school taking on Medellin's mean streets
Learning the art of hip-hop provides youth with an alternative to the violence and despair that characterize disadvantaged neighborhoods. In Medellin, Colombia, a program called 4 Elementos teaches kids dance, Dj’ing, rap, and graffiti in a structured way, providing a creative outlet. Hosted in the high school of one the cities most troubled neighborhoods, the program began as an initiative of the Colombian hip-hop group, Crew Peligrosos. Having already reached thousands of kids, the program is looking to expand across Colombia with support from the ABC Foundation.
Dec 8, 2019
In Ecuador, one woman has given shelter to over 8,500 Venezuelans
Carmen Carcelen lives in northern Ecuador with her husband, eight children, and hundreds of Venezuelan migrants who are fleeing poverty, violence, and hyperinflation at home. Carcelen has been providing food and shelter (and even foot rubs) to over 8,500 migrants for two years now. Carcelen says that she is spurred to action by her Christian faith, but welcomes any donations because it is currently financed on her husband's small income.
Dec 7, 2019
Court Observers Are Shining a Light on the Immigration Court System
One way that any ordinary citizen can lend a hand to the plight of those caught in the American immigration system is by being a court observer: someone who sits in immigration court and takes notes by hand. Several organizations are working to develop a standardized way of evaluating judges' treatment of migrants to put it in a central database so that the data can be used to evaluate the human impact by the system as a whole. People who participate testify to the job alleviating despair over the situation as they can mitigate any unfair practices going unnoticed.
Dec 6, 2019
A new 'Sesame Street' show in Arabic aims to help refugee children
Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee created a special show for displaced Syrian children conducted entirely in Arabic. The show teaches children lessons like counting and the alphabet, but it also teaches them emotional coping skills, which is very important for refugee children. The show is accompanied by trained early childhood development facilitators who visit homes and interact with the children playing games or reading books.
Dec 5, 2019
This new neighborhood in Amsterdam is made of floating houses
A community in North Amsterdam tackles the issue of rising water levels head on by building homes that can float. The houses are built to include solar energy grids using blockchain so neighbors can share electricity, and the structures rise and fall with the ebbs and flows of flooding.
Dec 4, 2019
Building a better helmet
In an effort to create more effective helmets, developers and consumers have come up against both cost and technological concerns. Building helmets that protect against concussions is challenging, and those that have been promising come with the additional concern of working so well that players aren’t able to recognize when they’ve been hit too hard. Furthermore, safer helmets cost more – as much as $200 per helmet – making it hard to afford for schools with limited budgets.
Dec 3, 2019
Barcelona's superblocks are a new model for "post-car" urban living
The implementation of "superblocks," or large areas of urban space dedicated to pedestrian & bike multi-use traffic and the unification of urban and rural living benefits, helped one Spanish city reduce automotive traffic. Now, an urban innovator aims to bring superblocks to Barcelona in an attempt to scale this community-oriented solution.
Dec 2, 2019
$1,000 a month, no strings attached
A pilot program in Jackson, Mississippi called Springboard to Opportunities is providing 20 single, African-American mothers living in public housing with $1000 a month, with no stipulations on how that money should be spent. The experiment so far has allowed mothers to save money, avoid predatory loans, pay off loans, and consider classes and higher education.
Dec 1, 2019
Yankees Suck Slightly Less After Joining the Paris Climate Agreement
The New York Yankees are the first and only baseball team to sign onto the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action Framework. In doing so they hope to lead their fanbase into committing to five principles: making systemic changes to improve environmental responsibility; reducing overall climate impact; education; promoting sustainable consumption; and advocating. The team has recently hired their first environmental science advisor, but they still have a long way to go to achieve the goal of “net-zero emission economy of 2050”.
Nov 30, 2019
San Francisco voters rank their candidates. It's made politics a little less nasty.
In 2002, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to adopt ranked choice voting, which allows voters to rank their candidates by 1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on, in what effectively becomes an instant run-off. This heads off voter fatigue in successive rounds of voting. But also, ranked choice voting encouraged more campaigning, voter engagement, and coalition-building.
Nov 29, 2019
From Dead Store to Pop-Up 'Social Infrastructure'
A nonprofit organization in Boston utilizes abandoned storefronts as a gathering space to create "social infrastructure," or a way to bring different communities together. The pop-up store fronts host community game nights, shows, and other captivating events - and the best part? The organization works with local landlords to use empty store fronts rent-free.
Nov 28, 2019
Syrian women find confidence and community in Canada through catering events
A select group of women Syrian refugees are helping cater dinners in Vancouver, British Columbia. The dinner events, titled “Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine,” help the women both earn a small living and create a support network. Anyone is able to buy a ticket, and attendee numbers have only grown since the first event.
Nov 27, 2019
Vanuatu Has One Of The World's Strictest Plastic Bans. It's About To Get Tougher.
What started as a Facebook campaign to ban plastic bags has become legislation in the island country of Vanuatu. The country has banned many single-use plastics, including bags, drinking straws, and containers, and hopes to ban more plastics in the future. Citing a cultural respect for the environment, such legislation has been welcomed by residents.
Nov 26, 2019
How One City Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm
A well-designed algorithm can help increase the efficiency of complex, and troublesome, transportation systems. In 2017, Boston Public Schools hosted a competition to redesign its complicated bussing system. The selected proposal, an algorithm created by PhD students, increased efficiency by 20% overall, helping BPD cut tons of carbon emissions and ease budget constraints. The savings will allow BPD to reinvest in its schools.
Nov 25, 2019
A Workable Alternative To Nursing Homes In Vermont — Adult Family Care
Vermont is home to many senior patients with serious medical needs, but doesn't have enough nursing homes to accommodate. Now, some people are opening their homes to the elderly and providing necessary services - while the programs vary, residents often pay for room and board and the host family is paid by the state through Medicaid dollars. So far, the program has proven popular.
Nov 24, 2019
San Diego startup launches new way for people to shop
A San Diego startup addresses the vicious debt cycle in America by creating a way for consumers to shop using credit without interest rates, credit checks or late penalties. The startup, called Zebit, acts as "sort of an Amazon for the under-served" and uses a simple sign-up that determines the amount of credit consumers receive for the site and allows shoppers to purchase with 6- to 12-month payment plans.
Nov 23, 2019
Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government
In North Carolina, the Cherokee tribe members receive cash payments every year from the revenue of local casinos. Native American reservations have one of the highest poverty rates in the country, but this payment has shown a positive impact on children's lives. As inequality increases, tech companies are advocating for "universal basic income," using the Cherokee community as a case study. More research needs to take place in order to define what the universal basic income will be, how people will respond to it, and what will be the overall effects.
Nov 22, 2019
Schools That Separate the Child From the Trauma
Children are often punished for acting out without consideration of the root cause of their behavior such as a toxic home environment. A trauma center in Washington state is teaching educators to focus on making kids feel safe which more effectively curbs bad behavior.
Nov 21, 2019
The cities designing playgrounds for the elderly
In China, elderly people tend to exercise in groups in public parks which has lead to the formation of senior playgrounds. Promoting a "longstanding cultural tradition" as well as good health, these playgrounds are gaining attention of cities worldwide.
Nov 20, 2019
Turning Paris's underground car parks into mushrooms farms
Mushroom farms are popping up in underground parking lots in Paris. The city, facing a surplus of lots as car ownership declines, has been holding competitions to find creative, new purposes for them. Urban farmers, Cycloponics, won one of these competitions and now operates three of these mushroom farms, selling their crops to local organic grocery stores in the area.
Nov 19, 2019
A Public Library Brings Opportunity to the Blind
The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library is a branch of the New York Public Library system that offers a wide array of services for vision-impaired adults and children. They hold the largest physical collection of braille books in the country, as well as thousands of downloadable digital braille books, audio books, and newspaper subscriptions. Included amongst these offerings are also the Talking Books program which records and distributes their collection of 200,000 recorded books, hardware and software tech to help illustrate things like tactile maps or diagrams, and simple community classes.
Nov 18, 2019
How Penn State Is Cutting Greenhouse Emissions In Half — And Saving Money
Enrolling administrators and financial planners in sustainable projects takes proving that investments pay for themselves. With the help of pressure from students and faculty, Penn State Universities administrators have adopted a long-term strategy to reduce the university’s carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices. Students produced the data that illuminated the university’s unsustainable practices; the numbers now show that their efforts are paying off.
Nov 17, 2019
Idaho School District Teachers Get Radios for Safety Communications
A sprawling rural school district in Idaho has placed two-way radios with every teacher that connect directly to first responders and triage bags in every classroom as part of a plan to increase safety and coordination in emergencies across nine different buildings. The idea is to cut down response times from fire and police and deal with emergencies onsite. Teachers train monthly with the radios and the district may add an app would use GPS to locate students if there's an emergency.
Nov 16, 2019
Colorado is only state testing military tech to keep firefighters safe
Colorado is adapting a military technology to help crews fight wildfires. The Android Team Awareness Kit, or ATAK, was designed to keep Special Forces safe in combat zones by showing pilots their locations, and now firefighters will be able to use the free app on their phones to find where they are and assess what kind of fire they are seeing on the ground. Colorado is the only state allowed to tweak the app for use in fires, but the plan is to roll it out nationwide after modification.
Nov 15, 2019
Scientists develop 10-minute universal cancer test
A new inexpensive and fast procedure can detect the presence of cancer cells in a person’s body. The ease and 90% accuracy rate of this test could make it an effective initial scan for malignant cells detecting cancer earlier.
Nov 14, 2019
Using virtual reality to teach medical students empathy for elders
Through the use of virtual reality, medical students in Maine are experiencing what it is like to live with aliments common to older adults such as hearing and vision loss. These visceral experiences will help students work with greater care, imagination, and empathy with older adults upon graduation.
Nov 13, 2019
The library of things: could borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money?
From London to Vancouver, across the globe libraries of things are popping up to rent out common, but rare-to-use, household objects. Items include telescopes, lawn mowers, ice cream makers, power drills, you name it. These volunteer-led shops take reservations online and lease the items at no or low-cost to the user, all while strengthening the sharing economy and reducing waste.
Nov 12, 2019
Food truck church brings faith and calzones to those in need
Mobile Action Ministries in St. Paul, Minnesota is bringing church to those who often don’t have access to it. Led by Reverand Margaret Kelly, the church brings those experiencing poverty and homelessness meals and worship in a food truck. The initiative operates on donations and partners with suburban congregations in the hopes of bridging socio-economic divides.
Nov 11, 2019
A New Deal for Turkey's Homeless Dogs
Thanks to increased awareness and public pressure, Turkey has shifted from culling street animals to catching, neutering, and vaccinating them. Following social media campaigns and the work of activists, Turkey's government has changed its policies. Today, instead of being poisoned, street dogs are treated and tagged by animal welfare teams funded by the state. The vaccinations help reduce the risk of diseases like rabies, while neutering the animals avoids the use of chemicals potentially harmful to humans.
Nov 10, 2019
Off the Shelf
The first Human Library emerged in 2000 in Copenhagen, and has since exploded in popularity to the point of operating chapters in more than 70 different countries. The concept is that readers should not judge a book by its cover, so in this library, actual people are the books available to read with titles like "Polyamorous", "Soldier (PTSD)", and "Refugee". The 30-minute "reading sessions" (face-to-face conversations) allow people to learn in a judgement-free zone and put a real person behind the story they are hearing.
Nov 9, 2019
'Plastic recycling is a myth': what really happens to your rubbish?
After decades of recycling plastic, the world is now coming to terms with the waste industry it has created, and seeking more sustainable models. One promising model is material recovery facilities, like England’s Green Recycling, that has invested in an AI sorting machine to help humans more efficiently and accurately find materials that can be recycled. While a costly model of sustainability, new strategy proposals are emerging that can help the world make this change possible.
Nov 8, 2019
American democracy is fracturing. Libraries say they know how to help
Public libraries have remained one of the last public non-commercial spaces where people from all walks of life can coexist and learn. New York Public Library in particular is working to improve and expand their services to match the recent dramatic rise in engagement in things like ESL classes. The library is spending $700 million to, among other things, open 2 new branches in prison to reach more than 20,000 prisoners, offer 10,000 free WIFI devices, and to refurbish the physical space to add a floor dedicated to workforce development and skills training.
Nov 7, 2019
‘Our goal is to halve the male suicide rate': why no-frills therapy works for men
Studies conducted throughout the United Kingdom have shown that men are far more likely to commit suicide than women, but a series of monthly meetings by Andy’s Man Clubs are helping to fight against this. Built on the ideals of “ordinary blokes” and “speaking normally," these clubs that have spread throughout the country are providing space for men to speak more openly about difficulties in their lives.
Nov 6, 2019
Selling entrepreneurship to a million students
Educate!, a social enterprise started in Uganda, helps students start businesses while they are still in school - students are "creating jobs instead of looking for them." The organization trains teachers and youth mentors, who then work with the students in their schools to get businesses off the ground. A randomized trial conducted in 2014 found that graduates of the program earned double the income of their peers.
Nov 5, 2019
Incarcerated Women Help Recover Rare Northwest Butterfly Species
In a collaboration with the Oregon Zoo, the Institute of Applied Ecology, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, women experiencing incarceration are helping save the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Participants learn data gathering, environmental skills, and record keeping – all skills that can translate to life after release – so that they may help the species flourish from larvae to butterfly.
Nov 4, 2019
No Background Check, Drug Test or Credit Check. You're Hired!
Greystone Bakery in Yonkers, N.Y., hires applicants without requiring drug tests, background checks, or credit checks as a way to prioritize future success rather than past actions. The bakery's system of "open hiring" is gaining traction around the country, giving employees a second chance after incarceration or other incidents that usually prove to be obstacles in the job market.
Nov 3, 2019
The Country Winning The Battle On Food Waste
In South Korea, a combination of grassroots movements and government campaigns have dramatically reduced the country's food waste by 95% (about 400 metric tons a day). Residents are required to buy special biodegradable bags, which serves as a tax that finances 60% of the city's food processing. It's a pay-as-you-waste tactic that also prompts citizens to find creative ways to recycle and compost, and special weighing machines encourage them to extract the moisture first, saving even more money on collection costs.
Nov 2, 2019
Sweden's surprising rule for time off
In Sweden, employees are allotted up to 6 months in an unpaid leave of absence for the purpose of entrepreneurship. Because of the reported decrease in fear of job loss or financial insecurity, this law has said to increase the potential for entrepreneurs around the country to succeed, as it encourages risk-taking with a built-in safety net.
Nov 1, 2019
This Charcoal-Coated Seed Could Bring Kenya's Forests Back to Life
To combat the rapidly decreasing forest density in Kenya, an organization created "seedballs," or seeds from trees coated in charcoal and other nutrients that help the seeds survive long enough to germinate. The organization created a competition for schoolchildren to scatter the seeds using slingshots and encourages other creative ways to spread the seeds across the country.
Oct 31, 2019
You can now pay to turn your carbon emissions to stone
A company based in Zurich pulls carbon dioxide from the air and turns it in to stone -- and you can subscribe to their services. The subscription program through Climeworks allows customers to sign up for different price levels in order to purchase the trapping of a certain amount of carbon dioxide per year.
Oct 30, 2019
Since 2002, New York City’s Hate Crime Task Force (HCTF) has solved every single hate crime homicide and gang assault. While hate crimes are notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute, the HCTF has developed methods like predictive models and alternative questioning tactics that strengthen their work. The unit has had strong support from marginalized communities, but now under new leadership, the sustainability of their successes are being called into question.
Oct 29, 2019
Anyone Who Needs Help Seeing Has 2 Million Pairs of Eyes Available With This App
Using the camera of a smartphone, individuals who are blind or visually impaired can receive quick and easy help from volunteers. The Danish company, Be My Eyes uses a smartphone application to connect those who are blind or visually impaired to an international network of sighted volunteers ready to assist. The on-demand access to assistance provides visually impaired individuals with more independence in their daily lives.
Oct 28, 2019
Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.
After passing the National Firearms Agreement in 1996, Australia saw a striking decline in suicide and homicide raters. The agreement – a result of a mass shooting – included a ban on certain kinds of guns, a mandatory buyback on those guns that had been deemed illegal, as well as amnesty for those who illegally possessed firearms to turn them in. In the years leading up to the agreement, the country witnessed 13 mass shootings; since then, Australia has seen only one.
Oct 27, 2019
Need a Mental Health Day? Some States Give Students the Option
In Utah and Oregon, students can now take "mental health days" in addition to routine sick days. Lawmakers and parents say this move is necessary to continue breaking stigmas and to address pervasive anxiety in the country's middle and high schools.
Oct 26, 2019
After Hurricane Dorian, The 'Wikipedia Of Maps' Came To The Rescue
Humanitarian, crowdsourced street mapping has become a crucial part of disaster relief efforts. Initiatives like Missing Maps and OpenStreetMaps call on volunteer cartographers – professional or not – to fill in maps and data gaps so that emergency humanitarian efforts can help as many people as possible. Such platforms became necessary after Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in September 2019, with over 100 people coming through to map previously unidentified roads and buildings.
Oct 25, 2019
How can mindfulness help kids?
Researchers are adapting MindUp, a mindfulness program first used in North America and Europe, to non-Western countries to help with sex and gender-based violence education. While the program has been shown to reduce aggression in some cases, MindUp teams have had trouble getting buy-in from new countries as a result of religious concerns and differences in opinion about the appropriate role of students in their own education.
Oct 24, 2019
After A Run Of Tainted Food Scandals, Women In This Country Took Control Of The System
Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, a group of women took the initiative to ensure that the food they consume meets radiation standards twice as strict as the government's. The Seikatsu Club formed in 1965 and has since built itself up to 400,000 members (about 90% of whom are women) and works with 200 producers. The group is highly productive: they run their own milk factory, join with worker collectives to sell goods like jam or cookies, operate a fund for farmers whose products are tainted, offer child and elder care, and much more. Seikatsu is a success due to its local citizens' control.
Oct 23, 2019
Colombia's Hip-Hop Gardener Fuels a Green Resistance
In one of Colombia’s most violent neighborhoods, Comuna 13, lives Agro Arte, a garden and community outreach center. The center works with local residents to turn places of violence into green spaces, dedicating new plant life to those that have passed. Besides the gardening work, the center is rooted in artistic expression to help the youth of the neighborhood break the cycle of violence.
Oct 22, 2019
Scientists are getting creative to save this muppet-faced, flightless parrot
Scientists, volunteers, and rangers are working around the clock to save the endangered kakapo, a native New Zealand bird. With only 147 of these charismatic birds left in the world, they’re taking a multi-pronged, highly technological approach. Efforts include smart transmitters that track every bird and when they’re mating, artificial inseminations, and hatching fertile eggs in captivity while mothers sit on 3D-printed smart eggs.
Oct 21, 2019
This Man Says His Anti-violence Plan Would Save 12,000 Lives
With support for a New York-based grant program, Buffalo has been trying various evidence-based approaches to decrease violence, especially gun violence, in the city. The grant program, Gun Involved Violence Elimination, or GIVE, provides funding for police departments to adopt strategies like hot-spot policing, deterring those most at-risk, or street outreach to break the cycle of violence. While such strategies are linked to success, the process of implementing them, gaining support and trust from the community, and waiting for long-term change has proven challenging.
Oct 20, 2019
Step by Powerful Step, Citizens Lead Puerto Rico into Its Solar Future
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, knocking out power across the country, solar energy has stepped in to be a sustainable possibility. Such efforts have included lobbying local legislatures to incentivize communities to create their own solar project and training residents to install solar panels on their own. Many of the solar initiatives that have started have been community-led and hyper-local, meaning that what many deem a basic right – access to energy and electricity – are more accessible than ever.
Oct 19, 2019
W. Va. Blockchain Experiment Could Be the Future of U.S. Voting
West Virginia became the first state to test out voting in a federal election using blockchain technology. A pilot program allowed military voters from two counties in West Virginia to use a mobile app called Voatz in order to vote while overseas. Instead of a traditional paper absentee ballot, the app relied on blockchain to secure the voting process. The state expects to spread the program statewide for the general election this November.
Oct 18, 2019
Living without plastic: One family's journey
For one family, living plastic-free was a lifestyle decision made after they learned more about the harm that plastic waste causes. The Watt family lives as plastic-free as possible – carrying their own utensils, buying in bulk and bringing their own glass containers, making their own household cleaner, and using reusable beeswax wraps instead of cling wrap. While these are all steps in the right direction toward reducing the nearly 335 million tons of plastic produced every year, experts say we need to rely less on individual actions and push for tougher laws and systemic changes.
Oct 17, 2019
How Abandoned Big-Box Stores Can Bring Communities Together
When big box stores shutter, communities can suffer: vacant buildings deter investment and sites can encourage vandalism and other crimes. Because demolishing the stores can prove prohibitively expensive, three cities are putting their empty buildings to good use. In Greenville, Michigan, community members transformed a Meijer big-box store into a year-round BMX playground. In Olathe, Kansas, a community megachurch now occupies an old PACE warehouse. And in Indianapolis, an International Marketplace inhabits a once-abandoned mall.
Oct 16, 2019
Drive-thru brothels: why cities are building 'sexual infrastructure'
Attitudes towards the legalization of sex work are changing around the world, and now some cities have even started considering public spaces for sex work while developing urban infrastructure plans. From Cologne, Germany (where there are "sex drive-throughs" that are equipped with safety features, facilities for rest, and toilets for the workers) to Amsterdam (where they are developing new rules for window-based sex work), governments are now increasingly inviting sex workers and their representatives to the negotiating table.
Oct 15, 2019
It Takes a Teenager to Help a Teenager in Crisis
Connecting to peers makes coping with emotional distress easier for youth. Youthline, a youth suicide crisis intervention service operated by Lines for Life puts those struggling in touch with volunteers their own age via call, text, or email. The youth volunteers are supervised by a clinician and are trained in SafeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).
Oct 14, 2019
How New York and Milwaukee approach juvenile justice
New York’s Close to Home legislation approaches the juvenile justice system through the lens of rehabilitation, moving those in up-state juvenile facilities to local, sometimes residential housing that emphasizes family and community. The approach has led to a 71% decrease in the number of youth placed in these facilities and a drastic increase in academic performance. Halfway across the country, as Wisconsin closes two of its upstate juvenile facilities, Milwaukee legislators are seeking to implement similar, community-centered programming.
Oct 13, 2019
Spray Parks Have Been Helping To Keep Cape Town Cool
As temperatures across the world increase, many low-income areas are being hit the hardest without anywhere to turn. In South Africa, spray parks are becoming more popular as a solution, providing an inclusive place for children to not only play, but also keep cool in the rising heat.
Oct 12, 2019
These Austin Tiny Homes Could House 40% of the City's Chronically Homeless Population
A tiny home and RV community outside of Austin, Texas does more than house the homeless; it provides community and economic independence. With backing from local business, nonprofits, and religious institutions, Community First Village houses over 200 people and provides residents with ways to find jobs in the community as well as access to healthcare information and services. With homelessness on the rise in Austin, Texas, one community has a solution that includes housing, employment and above all a sense of social connection.
Oct 11, 2019
Three Dogs Are Rebuilding Chilean Forests Once Devastated By Fire
In the wake of more than 100 forest fires in Maule, Chile, hundreds of burned acres of forest are being replanted by three Border Collies named Das, Olivia, and Summer and an organization called Pewos. The dogs bound through miles of terrain with special backpacks that release native seeds to regrow the area. So far the dogs have worked in 15 forests in the region and plants are starting to come back.
Oct 10, 2019
A Lesson for the Toy Industry's Future: Sharing
Millennials are having fewer children and caring more about environmental impact, so the toy industry is now experimenting with a newly popular "toy subscription" service. Rather than accumulating mass quantities of plastic, children can now receive monthly boxes filled with toys that are designed to pique their interests and can even be themed. Parents say that children look forward to a new box each month and that the plastic consumption could be cut in half if kids share. Large companies like Amazon are now creating their own toy sharing services.
Oct 9, 2019
A Greener Afterlife
Philadelphia’s West Laurel Hill Cemetery has gone green. While the burial business may be notoriously filled with chemicals, this cemetery has introduced 50 different sustainability initiatives, including banning machinery use, only allowing biodegradable caskets – or no caskets at all – and keeping the grounds flourishing with native plants instead of manicured lawns. The efforts also include community engagement to bring residents into the environmental shift as part of a larger, cultural trend toward sustainability.
Oct 8, 2019
These Brilliant Nets Don't Just Glow in the Dark — They're Saving Sea Turtles' Lives
Fishermen are attaching LED lights to the gillnets they use to trap fish to ward off unintended captures like turtles, dolphins, and sea lions. The lights warn the wildlife that something is there so they don’t get caught and has led to global decreases, as much as 60%, in the amount of sea turtles accidentally trapped. In order to increase accessibility to this response, organizations like the World Wildlife Foundation and governments are partnering with scientists to create subsidies.
Oct 7, 2019
Sexual-Harassment-Reporting Apps Help Stop Abuse in Global City Streets
Using data collection and visualization, apps like SafeCity, HarassMap, and #WalkFreely are crowdsourcing locations where individuals have been sexually harassed or assaulted so that others know to take precautions. Some operate on a global scale, others locally, but what they all offer is a platform for people to share their story and hopefully prevent it from happening again. Such apps have led to action from community members, the media, and officials who have taken notice of the high rates in certain places and taken action.
Oct 6, 2019
How A Prenatal 'Bootcamp' For New Dads Helps The Whole Family
Some health care providers across the U.S. have started to offer single-sex prenatal classes for men that are tailored to the needs and questions of new dads. "While a new mother's role in modern society is often directed by her baby's needs to breastfeed, cuddle and sleep; a new father's role isn't always spelled out." Research suggests that when men feel prepared they are better able to support their partner.
Oct 5, 2019
The Courtroom of the Future Looks a Lot Like This Navajo Tradition
Brooklyn’s Red Hook Peacemaking Program, part of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, is bringing together individuals in conflict to practice restorative justice. The program accepts cases coming through various courts, schools, and personal references, and brings together families, friends, and adversaries to participate in moderated, peacebuilding discussions. Seeing over 100 cases each year, the program has decreased recidivism rates and spread to other cities in New York.
Oct 4, 2019
When Citizens Assemble
Ireland held a citizens’ assembly to discuss the country’s contentious abortion laws and demonstrated the potential of such democracy-building initiatives. A random selection of participants gathered over five weekends and formulated recommendations after hours of respectful, fact-based discussion.
Oct 3, 2019
Fresh pickings: prescribing produce, not pills
Fresh Prescription is a Detroit-based program that creates a mechanism for doctors to prescribe healthy food and fresh produce instead of medications to low-income patients, pregnant women, and people with young children. The program provides patients with a card where they can spend money on fresh fruits and vegetables from local food vendors, bridging the gap between good nutrition and good health.
Oct 2, 2019
Humans are damaging the fragile Galapagos ecosystem. Maybe coffee can help save it.
Scalesia, is a species of tree native to the Galapagos Islands that is quickly disappearing thanks to human activity. With much of the island's wildlife dependent on this tree, the ecosystem is threatened with the tree's extinction. Conservationists have taken action, however, by planting thousands of the trees as part of a shade-grown coffee operation.
Oct 1, 2019
Less Trash, More Schools — One Plastic Brick at a Time
The recycling economy is helping Ivory Coast overcome a building shortage and create jobs. The Fighting Women, a community organization in Abidjan, collect plastic waste to resell to manufacturers. In partnership with UNICEF, the Columbian company, Conceptos Plásticos purchases plastic waste from the Women and recycles it into bricks, which are used to construct classrooms.
Sep 30, 2019
Veterinarians Are Killing Themselves. An Online Group Is There To Listen And Help
Recent statists are showing that an alarming number of veterinarians are committing suicide due to a variety of reasons from emotional stress to financial strain. Not One More Vet, a Facebook group started by a veterinarian in California, is serving as an unofficial mental health resource for many in the field.
Sep 29, 2019
How A Radio Frequency Is Delivering High Speed Internet To Small Towns
Northern Michigan University has found a way to tap into the Educational Resource Spectrum to secure high speed internet access for off-campus students and nearby underserved communities. To figure out if this little-known option is a viable choice for other isolated rural communities in the U.S., the FCC is working through how to regulate the radio spectrum.
Sep 28, 2019
The Unusual Weapon Yellowstone Is Using To Combat Invasive Species
At Yellowstone National Park, they’re renting dogs to sniff out invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels. The dogs are part of the Working Dogs for Conservation non-profit organization and have been trained to sniff out invasive and endangered species. By catching species like the zebra and quagga mussels, the dogs are able to save ecosystems from environmental crises.
Sep 27, 2019
Gig economy platform Thumbtack is helping its users get benefits
The National Domestic Workers Alliance created a platform called Alia to deliver job benefits to home cleaners. Now, the NDWA is partnering with Thumbtack, a gig economy platform, in order to deliver this service to thousands more workers around the country. Alia allows employers to pay into a portable benefits fund for each cleaning session, funding paid time off and other job benefits.
Sep 26, 2019
State of decay: How Maine's dentists get help to practice in underserved areas
Rural areas of Maine were being underserved when it came to dental hygiene, so the state opened a dental college and a loan repayment program in order to increase the amount of industry professionals. Since opening, the amount of dentists serving these areas has increased and now the university is looking to scale even further by increasing the amount offered in the loan repayment program.
Sep 25, 2019
How To Get Meat Eaters To Eat More Plant-Based Foods? Make Their Mouths Water
Red meat consumption requires a great deal of water and land resources to produce and is even responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gases. To combat this, the Better Buying Lab is experimenting with marketing strategies to get people to buy more vegetarian and vegan items. After rebranding food with sensory descriptors like "Cuban" or "grilled", sales increased 13% in California and 76% in the UK. Influential brands like Panera are now increasing their efforts to continue this trend.
Sep 24, 2019
The all-electric home: Tackling air pollution by cutting off natural gas
In a collaborative effort between developers, power companies, and the government, a new apartment complex in Utah will be almost entirely powered by solar energy. The complex, developed by Wasatch Premier Communities, will work with Rocky Mountain Power to determine how to integrate such technology into the region’s electricity grid. This kind of development is gaining ground in Utah, and those in the industry hope to educate others of the benefits of going electric.
Sep 23, 2019
Program Could Offer Possible Solution to Trash on Skid Row
In Southern California, trash often litters the streets in many of the areas where homelessness is abundant, but one homeless man in Van Nuys decided to change that. Launching an initiative known as Clean Streets Clean Starts, Don Larson enlists his fellow homeless community members in keeping the streets clean, and in turn, many local businesses donate gift cards to the cause.
Sep 22, 2019
How Norway turns criminals into good neighbours
Norway’s Halden Prison is taking a different approach to incarceration: emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment, which has led to a 20% decrease in recidivism in just two years. Over the past two decades, the country has sought rigorous criminal justice reform, which at Halden Prison means job training and certifications, yoga and other recreational activities, reenvisioning the role guards play, and spaces that look more like home than a jail cell.
Sep 21, 2019
In Cambodia, Rats Are Being Trained To Sniff Out Land Mines And Save Lives
In Cambodia, demining rats have been trained to detect TNT in the ground, effectively identifying unexploded materials like landmines, bombs, and grenades. These two-feet-long Gambian pouched rats have an excellent sense of smell and are trained by Apopo – an international nonprofit – using bananas as a reward for finding TNT. While they are highly effective, they are just one way the region, hit hard by conflict, is attempting to demine its land.
Sep 20, 2019
The rise of urban food forests
Creating and supporting local food systems requires public-private partnerships in urban planning. Across the United States, nonprofit organizations such as Trees Atlanta in Georgia successfully work with cities to operate and maintain community orchards, or "food forests", on public lands. Planting food forests with several layers of fruit-bearing vegetation reduces the prevalence of food deserts, adding both green space and nutritional value to communities.
Sep 19, 2019
A new solution to the student housing crisis: retiree roommates?
In a hot housing market like Berkeley, CA, it can be hard for students to find affordable apartments. At the same time, spare rooms often sit unoccupied in the nearby homes of retired UC Berkeley faculty and affiliates. As one possible solution, a pilot program is testing out intergenerational living, pairing students with retirees who are willing to open up their homes at a discounted rate.
Sep 18, 2019
Perth's first ocean rubbish bin is sucking plenty of plastic out of the sea
Two surfers, appalled by debris they found off of Australia’s coast, crowdsourced a way to build Seabin, a floating trash collector. They are tracking and analyzing the debris collected. Though not yet a widespread solution, the Seabin is helping keep the local marina clean.
Sep 17, 2019
Chicago Youth Help Decide Where Public Funds Go
Chicago is asking its citizens, including youth, to help determine how to spend public money. Participatory budgeting involves communities identifying their greatest needs and guiding spending towards solutions.
Sep 16, 2019
San Diego Is Showing California How to Use Its Red Flag Law
In San Diego, California, more than three Gun Violence Restraining Orders, or “red flag laws,” have been used to prevent gun violence. These laws have gained in popularity across the country, and allow courts to temporarily take away firearms from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. With such success in San Diego, their attorney’s office is now training law enforcement and government agencies across the state on how to use such orders.
Sep 15, 2019
Heartland High: Ohio's First School For Students With Addiction
When students return to school after receiving treatment for drug or alcohol addictions, they often face new pressures and are convinced to again use substances. At Heartland High in Columbus, Ohio, a small class size, peer support, and access to a recovery coach help students stay sober.
Sep 14, 2019
How Daily Farm Work and Outdoor Projects Make Learning in High School Better for Teens
After teachers noticed high school students were lacking interest and motivation, one rural Maine town decided to completely reimagine the curriculum for the first year of high school. The school developed a program, based around outdoor project-based learning and community-building exercises, that incorporated state academic standards. Standardized test scores are already improving.
Sep 13, 2019
A New Generation of Students Is Teaching Us How to Reduce E-Waste
The company, iFixit, is training college students to repair electronics and then create manuals so that others can do the same. The company has helped students make more than 30,000 guides and reaches 1.5 million users every month. iFixit partners with colleges and universities to with the hopes of teaching students about the importance of sustainable engineering.
Sep 12, 2019
Heat is deadly—even in Montana. But the city of Missoula is doing something about it.
Adapting to climate change takes planning and partnerships. In Missoula, Montana, partnerships with nonprofits like Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) and Climate Smart Missoula reinforce the city’s climate planning. TEX connects cities and urban planners with professors, experts, and other nonprofits that can assist in tackling climate change issues. By layering socioeconomic data over a heat map of the city, TEX scientists could reveal populations at highest risk of extreme temperature impacts. The team then shared data with health officials, policy makers, and the community.
Sep 11, 2019
How teen Greta Thunberg shifted world's gaze to climate change
All over the world, more than 2 million children and teens are participating in classroom walkouts in an effort to bring attention to the severity of climate change. Called, Fridays for the Future, leaders of the movement are gaining traction, and have developed a declaration that emphasizes their demand that world leaders do something to stop the rising global temperature. This movement was sparked by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, who, at 16-years old, has started this movement, spoken to global leaders, and continues to do what’s needed to demand action in the face of climate change.
Sep 9, 2019
California to build largest wildlife crossing in world
A bridge is being designed to cross over U.S. 101 so that wildlife in the region will have a safe way to travel. When development, especially freeways, happens, ecosystems are cut off, leaving animals like wildcats, deer, and snakes, with no way to access their entire habitats. This bridge, funded mostly by private donors, will cost $87 million and is being designed as part of the ecosystem so that the wildlife that does use it, will barely know they’re on a bridge at all.
Sep 8, 2019
This little robot helps care for people with chronic conditions
Patients suffering from chronic illnesses can often be overwhelmed with their care routines and doctors typically only have limited time to monitor them. A small robot is changing this narrative, however, by providing personalized health monitoring.
Sep 7, 2019
The London Marathon's method for reducing plastic bottles: Edible seaweed pouches
The London Marathon debuted a new, environmentally conscious way of keeping runners hydrated: edible seaweed pouches filled with sports drink. The pouches, or “Ooho,” created by Skipping Rocks Labs, can be eaten along with the liquid inside of them, or users can bite the corner and drink the contents, discarding the seaweed wrapping. This was the first mass use of such pouches, with the hope that they can be used to cut down on plastic at large scale events in the future.
Sep 6, 2019
The Biggest Police Department In The US Has A Suicide Crisis. Another Department Thinks They Have An Answer.
California’s Los Angeles Police Department has built mental health into its force. The department has 16 psychologists on staff, offering free counseling and debrief sessions after traumatic incidents. As the New York Police Department faces an increase in officer suicides, it looks to the LAPD as it rolls out its new suicide prevention initiatives, like a mental health app, mental health insurance, and access to counseling.
Sep 5, 2019
The Restaurant Chain With Nothing But Food Waste On The Menu
To play a part towards the reduction of food waste, especially that which was being perpetrated by his own store, grocery store manager Bart Roetert decided to pitch an idea to the Netherlands grocery chain owner Albert Heijn. With the support and financial backing securing, he and two colleagues launched Instock - a niche startup restaurant that serves meals only made from surplus food.
Sep 4, 2019
How AI could predict disease outbreaks
Diseases such as dengue can quickly escalate into pandemics, but one organization is using leveraging the power of technology to prematurely predict when and where these outbreaks will take place. Using an artificial intelligence algorithm that relies on previous statistics, researchers are seeing an approximate 85% success rate at outbreak detection.
Sep 3, 2019
How One School District Used Buses to Bring the Internet Home
Many in the rural town of Indio, CA, didn't have access to the internet. Darryl Adams, superintendent of Coachella Valley schools, devised a frugal way to provide internet access to many of his district's poor neighborhoods - mobile, school bus-based WiFi hotspots.
Sep 2, 2019
UPS Trucks Don't Turn Left and Neither Should You
By having its drivers eliminate most left turns on their routes UPS has saved millions of gallons of fuel and reduced the output of tons of carbon dioxide. The company put the policy in place in 2004 after its vehicle routing software in all its trucks determined left turns wasted time and money stopping them also reduces accidents. These gains could increase exponentially if every driver eliminated left turns but that is probably unlikely.
Sep 1, 2019
Uber, but for Grandma
The way cities are built in the United States makes getting around without driving a car difficult. This means that, for an increasingly aging population, mobility can be a significant issue, leading to challenges such as missed medical appointments and loneliness that can actually decrease lifespan. But in the age of the sharing economy, ride services such as Lyft and Uber reach out to the demographic that arguably needs them most, partnering with medical centers and hospice providers to get smartphone technology - or more "old school" alternatives such as hotlines - into the hands of senior citizens.
Aug 31, 2019
The schoolchildren confronting speeding motorists
In London, a new initiative called Junior Roadwatch is engaging children as traffic safety enforcers. Around one particularly busy and dangerous section of road, drivers who are caught speeding have two options: get a ticket or be questioned by a group of school-aged children. While newly developed, the initiative, devised by The Met Police and Transport for London, has stopped over 90 individuals for speeding, all of whom chose to answer questions from children about the consequences of their actions.
Aug 30, 2019
Straws Made of Seaweed Could Replace Their Plastic Nemesis
An innovative solution to the massive amount of plastic in our oceans is a new startup called Loliware. It produces 100% biodegradable straws "that look, feel, and act like plastic" but are actually made of seaweed. Not only do the straws decompose in a few weeks and are gluten-free, non-GMO, and sugar-free, but the process of creating them sequesters carbon dioxide, which further increases their positive environmental impact.
Aug 28, 2019
California's Latest Weapon Against Climate Change Is Low-Tech Farm Soil
California’s Healthy Soils Initiative is providing funding for farmers across the state to grow cover crops that will help move carbon from the air to the soil. Doing so not only cleans the air, but helps the soil and crops retain moisture in a state that has often faced water scarcity. Besides being a response to climate change, the initiative has bridged the deep divide between California’s coastal and valley populations, showing that they need each other to respond to climate issues.
Aug 27, 2019
Appetites: Food truck helps keep Minnesota kids fed when school is out
Food trucks have taken much of the United States by storm, but now the concept is being applied to helping keep children well nourished during summer months when school is out. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trucks are now roaming the streets in St. Paul, Minnesota serving nutritional meals to children in the local school district.
Aug 26, 2019
France had a big heroin epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. Here's how the country fixed it.
When France changed their policy in 1995, and allowed primary care doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, an anti-drug medication that reduces cravings for opioids, a drastic change happened. “Within four years, overdose deaths had declined by 79 percent.”
Aug 25, 2019
Americans want fewer prisoners. What's art have to do with it?
"Songs in the Key of Free" is a program in a Pennsylvania prison brings together inmates to play music and write songs that they perform inside, while professional musicians also play the songs in venues outside prison. The program is just a year old and is based on a successful theater program in California that cut recidivism rates and helped decrease prison infractions. The founders of "Songs in the Key of Free" are creating an album of the work, but after that, future funding is unclear.
Aug 24, 2019
These Tree-Planting Drones Are About To Start An Entire Forest From The Sky
Villages along the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar have spent years replanting mangroves in at attempt to restore their ecosystem and guard against the negative effects of climate change, but it is a labor intensive and time-consuming process. Now, with the help of specially-designed tree planting drones from startup BioCarbon Engineering, as many as 10,000 trees can be planted in a single day, using technology that not only distributes seeds in special pods, but is able to calculate optimal soil conditions, locations, and species of tree most likely to survive in any given area.
Aug 23, 2019
The End of the Polling Booth
In Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, the traditional polling place has all but disappeared. In its place is the rise of the mail-in ballot, a convenient, inclusive method where states mail ballots to every registered voter--automatically. Evidence from all three of those states, as well as five California counties with a similar initiative, have showed an increase in voter turnout.
Aug 22, 2019
Barber pays kids to read a book during haircut to boost literacy, confidence
City Cuts is a special barbershop in Kutztown, PA that, in addition to being a barbershop, is simultaneously running an internationally-acclaimed literacy program for kids. Barber Jon Escueta gives young clients $3 to read a book aloud to him during their haircut for a program he calls Books for Kids, which boosts confidence in public speaking and literacy. When a video of a client reading to a City Cuts barber went viral, Books for Kids starting receiving hundreds of donations of money and books from around the world, and the kids themselves love and respect the program as well.
Aug 21, 2019
Lego releases Braille bricks to teach blind and visually impaired children
The Lego Company has released a new product called Lego Braille Bricks that is designed for blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille in a playful way. The concept was originally proposed to them by two foundations for the blind (one is Danish and one is Brazilian), so Legos prototyped with them to come up with the final set of 250 bricks that feature the complete Braille alphabet, numbers from zero to nine, math symbols, and more. These bricks will improve education for children with vision impairments, and reactions to the product have already been glowing.
Aug 20, 2019
What are nature-based solutions?
Nature-based solutions to climate change involve strategic use of greenery to staunch the negative impacts of climate change broadly, but these solutions also have been proven to increase jobs and contribute to the overall economy. For instance, in Portland, the Green Streets project used trees rather than concrete to absorb excess runoff, helping the city in multiple ways in the process.
Aug 18, 2019
Finding Your Inner Doctor: The Rise of New-Age DIY Tools
At-home health care isn't new, but technological advancements have allowed for the niche industry to expand beyond pregnancy tests and heart rate monitors. Although not without controversy, mail-in swab kits, artificial intelligence tracking tools and diagnostic apps are just a few of the technologies that have allowed many to take both proactive and affordable control of their health.
Aug 17, 2019
Using Giant Mirrors to Light up Dark Valleys
Small towns located deep in the valleys of steep mountains, like Rjukan, Norway, and Viganella, Italy, can be cut off from sunlight for almost half a year but computer-controlled mirrors are helping to change that. The tailor-made, computer-driven motors on giant mirrors track sunlight throughout the day.
Aug 16, 2019
Always Under Construction
To resolve road construction communications with frustrated drivers, the New Orleans government developed RoadWork NOLA - an app that showed planned road construction. Unfortunately, no one was using it. Instead of giving up on their idea of a solution, they decided to embark on a plan to make it better through project iteration and human-centered design.
Aug 15, 2019
Save the Lemurs! Eat the Crickets!
Crickets are the new cows - at least, that’s what researchers in Madagascar would have you believe. They are encouraging cricket consumption with a twofold goal: decrease malnutrition through the protein it provides while also cutting down the threat to the lemur, an endangered species that is hunted as a food source. An added environmental benefit of crickets is the minimal resources needed to grow them.
Aug 14, 2019
Kids In America Are Missing School Because They Can't Afford Toothpaste And Tampons
A lack of access to basic personal hygiene necessities will hinder anyone's everyday life, but it especially impacts children that have to attend school where they are often bullied because of it. To provide these children with a better educational environment, teachers are implementing "hygiene closets" that are stocked with items such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and tampons.
Aug 13, 2019
How Baltimore is saving urban forests – and its city
Baltimore’s urban forest is one of the best-protected in the country. Since a 2006 scientific analysis of Baltimore’s trees, the city has become a leader in tracking and preserving green space and using data to shed light on the interaction between greenery, temperature, safety, and more.
Aug 12, 2019
Feeling Lonely? Perhaps You'd Like to Talk to Some Strangers
Feeling isolated often leads to increased feelings of loneliness, but is also a reason why new meet-ups such as Tea With Strangers are becoming widely used as a solution. Based on the idea that strangers can become more like neighbors, these gatherings promote conversation and connection with the goal of reducing isolation.
Aug 11, 2019
For Refugee Children, Reading Helps Heal Trauma
We Love Reading, an organization backed by UNICEF and USAID, works with all of Jordan's Syrian refugee camps and one of Ethiopia's South Sudanese camps to use storytelling as a tool for psychological healing. It started in 2006 out of Amman, Jordan, and has since gained respect with children specialists and international aid organizations. We Love Reading works on the premise that story time boosts healthy development by giving children the courage and language to speak about what they are going through.
Aug 10, 2019
Your Local Library May Have A New Offering In Stock: A Resident Social Worker
Libraries across the United States are expanding what they offer to not just include books, but also a host of social and human services. From stocking an anti-overdose drug to offering mental health services and legal support, libraries are preparing to serve anyone that may walk through the door.
Aug 9, 2019
First of its kind refugee-owned sewing group launches in Chicago
Blue Tin Production Co-operative taps into the sewing talents of immigrant and refugee women in Chicago by offering a living wage to produce work for designers and eventually their own clothing line. The program also offers trauma-informed yoga, legal services, child care, transportation, and language translation to fully support the women. It is the first of its kind and is currently raising money for supplies, but already has produced "life-changing" results for the women's purpose and self-confidence.
Aug 8, 2019
Asian Ride-Sharing Apps Speed Up to Cut Men Out of Equation
Across Asia, ride-sharing startups are being created to provide women with safe transportation options. From India to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, these companies starting all-women teams of drivers or offering women the option to hire female drivers. These companies are part of a larger, global trend as a – albeit short-term – response to the #MeToo culture.
Aug 7, 2019
Sustainability Behind Bars: Washington Inmates Are Connecting with Nature
The Sustainability in Prisons Project has brought environmental lectures, work, and support to thousands of inmates since 2003. It offers a unique type of prison work - wildlife preservation, such as taking care of endangered butterflies. It has also started composting and educational programs, in addition to the therapeutic effects of greenery on prisoners and assistance in reentry.
Aug 6, 2019
Sweden Finds a Simple Way to Improve New Mothers' Health. It Involves Fathers.
New mothers are often overwhelmed once they leave the support of the hospital and find themselves home alone with a newborn. In Sweden, a new law that allows the other parent to take a month off from work to help with infant care has shown promising results in reducing maternal stress and improving overall health.
Aug 5, 2019
Middlebury is walking towards restoration
The town of Middlebury, Ohio organizes community walking audits that allow residents to actively relay concerns and complaints about their community. The audits focus on neighborhood improvement and encourage active community members to lead the charge in local development.
Aug 4, 2019
How One Community Brought Child Mortality Down From 154 To 7 Per 1,000 Live Births
Providing door-to-door health care for mothers and children under five years of age greatly reduces mortality. Thanks to a program of home visits by community health care workers funded by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Yirimadio neighborhood of Mali’s capital city, Bamako, has succeeded in dramatically reducing childhood mortality. The government intends to scale the pilot program into a nationwide campaign by 2022.
Aug 3, 2019
Campus vending machines offer emergency contraception without the stigma
College campuses across the United States are installing emergency contraception vending machines in order to expand access and decrease stigma around medications such as Plan B. Although not all universities support this solution, many that have implemented the vending machines report that they are "the machines have been extremely well-received and heavily utilized by students."
Aug 2, 2019
How a new diet for gassy cows is helping the environment
Growing flowers and plants in fields where cows graze leads to a healthier diet, larger cows, more enriched soil, and less methane emitted into the atmosphere. About 4,000 farmers have received funding to transform their farms away from traditional grazing, moving towards a system that is healthier for the animals and the environment.
Aug 1, 2019
Treat dental patients with community-based solution
Dr. Angie’s Dental Health Exchange is bringing equitable dental care to the South Bend, Indiana community by offering free exams in exchange for good deeds. Catering to community members that may not be able to financially consider dental care, clients are able to pay for their treatments in community service or blood donations.
Jul 31, 2019
How Tech Helped San Francisco Clear 9,300 Marijuana Convictions
Using an algorithm designed by Code for America, the city of San Francisco has been able to identify and start the process of expunging almost 10,000 marijuana-related convictions. While the initiative has faced some opposition, the city’s District Attorney asserts that convicted individuals should be given dignity and respect by not have to carry the weight of crime for something that’s no longer illegal.
Jul 30, 2019
Campus Thrift Stores
Recycling and repurposing second hand items helps to reduce a community’s carbon footprint. At Bard College in New York, the FreeUse Store collects second hand items from students and redistributes them free of charge to members of the community. Run by the university’s Office of Sustainably, the program provides a model for using campus bins to recycle textiles and other items to reduce landfill use.
Jul 29, 2019
Some states reuse tons of unused prescription drugs; Maine burns them
Every year, unused medications are thrown away costing states millions of dollars. A program in Iowa that has now spread to other states throughout the nation is tackling this issue by recycling and repurposing these drugs so that they can be distributed to populations that wouldn't otherwise be able to access them.
Jul 28, 2019
The traffic solution most cities haven't tried
Cities across the world have implemented “congestion pricing” – meaning that cars in high-traffic areas will have to pay a fee to drive within those limits. New York City is one of the most recent cities to potentially implement this approach in its attempt to reduce congestion and encourage walking, biking, and public transportation.
Jul 27, 2019
Washington’s Snohomish County has implemented a program that embeds social workers with the police. The program has been an effective method to bring services to people in need rather than arrest and process them as criminals.
Jul 26, 2019
Denver Builds Out Pioneering Gun Crime Investigation Unit
Denver has formed a law enforcement collaborative, called the Regional Anti Violence Enforcement Network (RAVEN), to bring together eleven agencies to solve gun crimes in the surrounding cities and counties. RAVEN was borne out of Denver’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center – an earlier collaboration – and uses the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network to share information, technology and resources, and identify regional patterns of crimes rather than local, isolated events.
Jul 25, 2019
Virtual Reality as Therapy for Pain
Virtual reality isn't just for gaming anymore. Known as Virtual Reality Therapy, this new use for the technology is bringing relief to those suffering from intense pain by immersing "the patient in an entertaining, relaxing, interactive environment that so occupies the brain, it has no room to process pain sensations at the same time."
Jul 24, 2019
How New Yorkers Stood Up to Amazon and Won
When Amazon came close to establishing its second headquarters in Long Island City, the Queens borough of New York, community organizing successfully halted the development. Community leaders credit their success to a diverse group of organizations teaming up (like Queens Neighborhoods United and New York Communities for Change), politicians teaming up with the communities they represent, and quick mobilization.
Jul 23, 2019
Oakland restaurant devises system to combat customers' harassment of workers
In Oakland, California a restaurant has created a system that allows servers to covertly notify management of harassment from customers. Employees of the establishment, Homeroom, came together to develop a color-coded system that keeps servers safe from customers, gives managers the opportunity to intervene, and empowers and trusts employees when they say they’re being harassed.
Jul 22, 2019
These Millennials Got New Roommates. They're Nuns.
For millennials looking to gain a stronger sense of commitment to social justice and service work, religious traditions can provide a helpful framework. The Nuns and Nones program in Burlingame, California, places young participants into convents. In exchange for low-income housing, the young people help provide care and company for the aging sisters, while also drawing lessons from their participation in—and devotion to—service work.
Jul 21, 2019
Snapchat Surgery: The Doctors Sending Video Updates Mid-Operation
When loved ones undergo surgery, the more information that they have access to, the better supported they often feel. To increase efficiency while also improving information access, nearly 60 hospitals across the nation have begun using the Electronic Access to Surgical Events which sends secure, one-way messages via an app to those in the waiting room.
Jul 20, 2019
Yoga class while waiting for refills? CVS tests new “health hubs”
CVS is expanding their coverage from beyond just selling medical supplies to also offering on-site medical assessments as well as nutrition and wellness classes to address a growing population of people that don't have a primary care doctor. “We refer to this care concierge as the Geek Squad for healthcare,” jokes Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy.
Jul 19, 2019
Preaching Faith in Democracy
Shared expressions of community and fellowship are fostering a non-partisan approach to civic engagement. The nonprofit Citizen University, based in Seattle, Washington, provides small grants to trained community leaders who host Civic Saturdays. The meetings take place across the country in libraries, town centers, and at small businesses. Groups gather to share song, poetry, and to discuss political concepts as ideas on a spectrum, rather than in opposition to one another.
Jul 18, 2019
This spice company is building an ethically sourced supply chain
A benefit corporation called Burlap & Barrel brings together social enterprise work with quality products through the ethical production and distribution of single-source spices. The founders of Burlap & Barrel learned from previous business attempts and ethical quarrels to form a passion project that focuses on the quality, not quantity, of the spices.
Jul 17, 2019
Designing the Butterfly-Friendly City
As the monarch butterfly nears endangerment, cities across the US are integrating butterfly-friendly spaces into their urban environments. Such spaces reside in schools, firehouses, parks, and more, and they enable the butterfly to rest, feed, pollinate, and procreate at any stage in their lifecycle. St. Louis in particular already has over 400 monarch gardens and have ample evidence of public support for the projects.
Jul 16, 2019
Lessons Learned From California's Pioneering Microgrids
Years after the California Energy Commission funded and launched demonstration microgrids, they’re seeing results. These microgrids, which are localized energy sources that can work independently from large electric grids, were fairly costly, but have shown demonstrable success in lowering utility bills and delivering low-carbon power. As the Commission moves forward with this effort, they hope to continue to learn by doing and improving their processes.
Jul 15, 2019
School turns old buses into mobile cafes for students
Across America, there is a food insecurity problem that increasingly impacts children as they head into summer breaks from school. To address the gap that is created during this time, a school district in Denver, Colorado has turned to recycling out-of-use school buses into mobile cafes that are open to all students during lunchtime, regardless of the district they live in.
Jul 14, 2019
Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint
Teaching students to fact check encourages resilience and builds resistance to the post-truth phenomenon. In Finland, a school curriculum implemented at the national level equips elementary and high school students with a digital literacy toolkit geared toward recognizing disinformation online. In addition to specific exercises spotting fake news on social media platforms, a critical thinking curriculum is built into all subjects. Finland's success in fostering a social resilience against disinformation also draws on lessons from the country's oftentimes fraught history with its eastern neighbor.
Jul 13, 2019
The Great American Cardboard Comeback
Rather than close their doors for good, Wisconsin paper mills have adapted to the booming internet business and begun making something even Amazon needs: cardboard. Though traditional glossy paper sales have plummeted since the early 2000s, the demand for cardboard in the online shopping industry has skyrocketed, leaving an open market for American paper mill factories.
Jul 12, 2019
This old coal plant is now a solar farm, thanks to pressure from local activists
Turning a coal plant carbon neutral requires a community effort. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, community organizers from the Toxics Action Center and Neighbor to Neighbor, a local Latinx organization, succeeded in getting the coal plant in their city shut down and transformed into a commercial solar farm. Today, Holyoke’s electric utility uses the solar energy as part of a carbon-neutral plan.
Jul 11, 2019
Finding the Sweet Spot for a Sustainable Nonprofit Grocery in D.C.
A nonprofit grocery store in Washington, D.C. brings fresh, affordable food to regional food deserts. Through community engagement, public partnerships, and the willingness to learn from failure, Good Food Markets brings small grocery stores into communities that need them most.
Jul 10, 2019
Can ‘Tennessee Promise' of free tuition offer lessons for Seattle and Washington?
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan looks to Tennessee's initiative that offers free community college education for every high-school graduate in the state. Only one year after Tennessee became the first state to offer such assistance, the college enrollment rate by five percent.
Jul 9, 2019
‘Feels like home': Israeli school for migrant kids wins by bridging worlds
A school in Tel Aviv welcomes immigrant and refugee children with open arms, providing language classes, long school days, extracurricular activities, and more. Members of the community volunteer to tutor and lead after-school courses, allowing children to learn while their parents work late. Now, more schools are popping up in Tel Aviv with similar aspirations.
Jul 8, 2019
In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets
In Sweden, waste is not just waste, or so the country explains with a total of 34 waste-to-energy power plants that turn garbage into electricity. With an already staggering low percentage of waste ending up in landfills, 50 percent of the portion that does is transformed into energy through an incineration process that plays a large part in heating many homes throughout the winter.
Jul 6, 2019
The loneliness problem in L.A. starts with traffic. Could it end with a walk?
Rates of loneliness are increasing across the United States, as people rely on technology rather than human interaction for their day-to-day lives. To directly combat this, a man in Los Angeles created the People Walker app that allows people to request walks in order to create connection.
Jul 5, 2019
Senior centers often offer activities for senior citizens to choose from, but most of the options aren't centered around physical activity or fostering community. Men's Sheds, Australian concept that has recently caught on in the United States, combats this issue by bringing men together to work on projects "shoulder to shoulder, from building furniture to volunteering at community events."
Jul 4, 2019
Business For Good: iBreastExam
Accessing preventative health care, such as routine mammograms, is often dictated by socioeconomic levels and geographical boundaries. To change this, an engineer sought out technology and partnerships that eventually lead to the creation of iBreastExam, an affordable and mobile way to conduct a breast exam that is being used in 12 countries and has screened 250,000 women.
Jul 2, 2019
In Istanbul, You Can Pay Your Subway Fare with Recyclables
A pilot program in Istanbul, Turkey allows subway commuters to pay for their fares with bottles and cans instead of cash. While a one way fare via the "reverse vending machines" costs about 28 1.5 liter bottles, the government is working to make the recycling system more efficient and easy for travelers.
Jul 1, 2019
Periods! Why These 8th-Graders Aren't Afraid To Talk About Them
When a group of middle school girls got tired of having their periods treated as a stigmatized issue, they decided to start their own podcast in order to educate their peers and start a conversation around this natural process. "When I heard we were gonna talk about periods, at first I was disgusted and uncomfortable because that's just how I am," says Kassy Abad. "But once we got to talk about it, and I learned that what happens to me happens to all these other girls, it made me feel more comfortable. It made me feel safe."
Jun 29, 2019
Citizen Science Comes of Age
As climate change accelerates, there is a growing need for scientific data to track and respond to the changes in our environment. Unburdened by the stress of academia or funding, volunteer citizen scientists are stepping in to fill the gaps. A citizen science group in Australia called Reef Life Survey says that trained volunteers help set a baseline of information on things such as water temperature that can be referred back to later. They also have many eyes gathering data over a long period of time, allowing more minute data to be recorded as well as getting data from the edges of studied territories.
Jun 28, 2019
Why robotic pets may be the next big thing in dementia care
Providing senior citizens with animal-assisted therapy has been known to lessen rates of loneliness while also aiding in brain health by reducing cases as dementia. Because taking care of a living animal is not always a reality, robotic pets may help fill that void by being requiring commitment while still providing companionship.
Jun 27, 2019
Depression Can Be Hard To Talk About, So Farmers Turn To Twitter For Support
#Agtwitter provides a space for social connection among farmers. What started as a hashtag to disseminate advice about farming practices and farm equipment has grown into a digital space where people can connect and even vent about their personal challenges. In a region characterized by high suicide rates, Agtwitter helps lessen the often-isolating expanses of America’s mountain west.
Jun 26, 2019
Meet Singapore's robotic police task force
The Singapore Police Force is utilizing technology to expand their surveillance efforts with patrol robots and drones. From search and rescue operations to identifying concerning sounds, these tools will support officers by increasing the efficiency of response protocols.
Jun 25, 2019
Climate Change Is Bad For Peru's Pastures ... But There's A 1,200-Year-Old Fix
Not all solutions have to be new in order to work, some just have to be modernized for today's needs. This was the lesson learned when villagers in Peru decided to restore centuries-old hydraulic systems to revitalize their depleting wetlands.
Jun 24, 2019
A Crisis Line That Calms With Texting and Data
Anxiety, suicidal ideation, and depression are all alarmingly prevalent amongst Americans. Crisis Text Line lets you text immediately with a crisis counsellor when you need someone to talk to. The organization is growing and 86% of users report that the conversations are helpful.
Jun 23, 2019
A new way to preserve West Virginia's beauty
Family farms are facing challenges nationwide amidst a backdrop of land development. A community in West Virginia took a stand by piloting a new way or rural co-habitation in the form of a farm community protected via a farmland protection program that allows very limited development.
Jun 22, 2019
Poachers become protectors: How tigers bounced back in an Indian park
With poaching on the rise in the South Indian Periyar Tiger Reserve, officials turned to the poachers themselves to see if they could turn their problem into a solution. In lieu of facing charges, the poachers became the protectors and the reserve saw a reduction in poaching all while offering an alternate form of income for the former full-time poachers.
Jun 21, 2019
Graffiti punished by reading - 'It worked!' says prosecutor
After graffitiing a historic landmark with swastikas and racist phrases, a juvenile prosecutor chose to educate rather than punish the perpetrators. Each teen was given a list of 35 books that covered topics like race, religion, and culture, and they had to pick 12 and do monthly assignments for a year. The books included titles like, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, and Night, by Elie Wiesel. After the year, the learning opportunity given to the teens showed demonstrable success.
Jun 20, 2019
Can't Afford a Lawyer?
Washington state is piloting an initiative to increase access to legal aid for low-income folks. For civil issues such as divorces or evictions, the state has “legal technicians,” which are licensed professionals who fall between attorneys and paralegals. Legal technicians offer services for a fraction of the cost. Other states are looking to scale the solution, such as Utah and Oregon, but there is also some pushback from attorneys’ groups.
Jun 19, 2019
Denmark's "sex week" helps kids navigate their sexuality
Every year, the sixth week of classes in Denmark is dedicated to sex education. Over 20,000 teachers and 400,000 students participate in programming that goes beyond the basics to challenge participants to analyze gender norms, sexual rights, and laws in other countries related to sex.
Jun 18, 2019
Rape Victim Advocates Get a Role Alongside the Police
Partnering police agencies and advocates for survivors of sexual assault in cities like Philadelphia and New York City has helped to solve some of the difficulties investigators have faced in cases of sexual assault while also holding investigators accountable for their attitudes and follow-through. Audits by advocates have "changed rape investigations nationwide" and provide a model for other cities.
Jun 17, 2019
Mexico's Cartoon Therapists
In order to address dynamics that may keep a child from talking about traumatic experiences, a Mexico City-based child psychologist developed Antennas. Antennas is an animated character controlled and voiced by the psychologist who, as an alien, can ask naïve, basic questions about people and relationships. This approach has been effective for psychologists and use of Antennas has spread to the judicial system as well.
Jun 13, 2019
A Shave, a Haircut – and a Blood Pressure Check
The African American community is disproportionately impacted by high blood pressure, but barbershops across Los Angeles County are stepping up to fill a gap between diagnosis and care. The businesses offer a detection and management program to that includes checking patrons blood pressure as well as connecting the client with an on-site pharmacist.
Jun 13, 2019
In Sacramento, trying to stop a killing before it happens
Sacramento is implementing a program developed in 2011 in Richmond, Calif., that showed success curtailing gun violence among young men caught up in gangs or potential shootings. They get numerous social services and mentoring from men previously incarcerated. Stipends are a controversial part of the program, but a review of the Richmond program in 2015 found most participants were still alive and had not suffered a gun related injury, or been arrested for gun-related activity.
Jun 13, 2019
In African Villages, These Phones Become Ultrasound Scanners
In rural parts of Africa, where access to quality medical attention is hard to come by, a hand-held portable ultrasound scanner is revolutionizing care. Although primarily being used to diagnose cases of pneumonia, doctors in these isolated areas are finding that the device has other uses, such as organ scanning which leads to proactive medical attention for many community members.
Jun 13, 2019
Wireless in Gaza: the whizz-kids making code not war
A coding academy in Gaza in the Occupied Territories trains young people computer skills and how to think like entrepreneurs, in a quest to offer alternative futures beyond endless conflict. With support from international funders and nonprofits, the academy is on its fourth cohort and graduates are receiving business from international clients. It's a way to develop paying jobs and industry in a place where it's very difficult to do business as usual.
Jun 13, 2019
This City Made Access to Food a Right of Citizenship
In 1993, a new administration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's fourth largest city, declared food access a fundamental citizen right. The city government partnered with rural farmers to bring fresh food into the city limits, make produce more affordable, and ensure healthy options are distributed to all members of the population, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Jun 13, 2019
Welcome To The World's First Vegan Soccer Club
The consumption of meat and dairy has long been deemed a leading cause of climate change, yet production continues to rise. To contribute to environmental sustainability, Dale Vince – owner of the U.K.’s Forest Green Rovers soccer team – has achieved the status of having the world's first carbon neutral team. From vegan-only menus to a solar-powered grass-cutter, the organization is bringing light to this topic in front of a new audience.
Jun 13, 2019
Laughter an Unlikely Medicine for America's Veterans
“Yes, and,” encourages resilience. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program offers injured service members and their caretakers the option of attending improv workshops as part of rehabilitation. Improv helps build social skills and help adopt to life after an injury.
Jun 13, 2019
A Billboard That Acts Like 1,200 Trees
Lima has the worst air quality of any city in Latin America due to its mostly windless climate, growing economic developments and ongoing construction. A local engineering school, however, has set out to transform billboards throughout the region to act as air purifiers and water generators.