Chosen Families, Books, & Food

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

Researchers are creating winter road salts that aren’t terrible for the planet

When the snow falls in winter, it means local governments will start spreading de-icing salts on the roads. Typically a less-refined form of table salt, they can include other compounds and work by lowering the freezing point of water.

In addition to sticking to people’s shoes, clothing hems, and cars, these salts also do extensive damage to autos, infrastructure, and the environment. They cause issues and faster aging in cars, damage roadways and bridges, and more.

But by taking a page from nature — fish, insects, and even some plants have adapted to cold climates by making their own antifreeze agents — materials scientists and researchers are developing effective but more benign antifreeze compounds.

Why is this good news? In addition to the problems we mentioned before, road salts also damage the environment, displacing minerals in soil and groundwater to create conditions where trees cannot take up water through their roots. This causes even further damage (and risk of wildfires) where natural drought conditions already exist.

It’s also bad news for fish and aquatic life, as waterways are especially vulnerable to runoff that contains de-icing salts. It can inhibit fish from spawning and reduce dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

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Guinea worm has nearly been eradicated — it once infected 3.5 million people per year

The Carter Center recently announced that “Guinea worm is poised to become the second human disease in history to be eradicated,” having recorded just 12 cases worldwide in 2022. It represents the lowest annual figure since 1986, when the Carter Center began leading global efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

The painful, parasitic disease once infected 3.5 million people per year, mainly among the world’s most vulnerable and poor communities. There are no vaccines or medicines to treat it — the current best treatment is very low-tech: treat the wound and slowly extract the worm over several painful weeks.

Due to the intense pain both of the disease and treatment, infected adults cannot work or provide for their families, and infected kids miss school, falling behind on their education. And while there are usually no long-term complications, infection confers no immunity, so people can get infected repeatedly over their lifetimes, too.

There are currently efforts to fully eradicate the disease, including working with communities to break the transmission cycle.

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A study found leaning on “chosen family” can have positive health outcomes for people with estranged family relationships

A series of polls in 2022 found that estrangement isn’t a rare phenomenon. Rather, more than a quarter of Americans surveyed were estranged from at least one member of their immediate family (parents, children, spouses, etc.).

This disconnect can happen for a variety of reasons, from discrimination and trauma to a radical disconnect over values. Being disconnected from biological family members leads many to fill those roles with “chosen” family members — friends or even more distant family members.

And a recent study found that these chosen family dynamics have a significant, positive impact on the healthcare experiences of queer and transgender adults, in particular. The authors of the study hope it will lead to more research and renewed focus among healthcare providers to understand and provide care with these dynamics in mind.

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An Alabama community is supporting a Black children’s book author after their school district canceled his Black History Month events

For Black History Month, award-winning author Derrick Barnes was booked to appear at three elementary schools in Alabama to read and sign books for the students — until the school districts canceled them. They vaguely cited an inability to reach a contract with Barnes, as well as a complaint from a parent about his “controversial ideas.”

And many parents in the community were looking forward to Barnes’ events. So much so, along with some teachers, they got 140 signatures on a petition demanding transparency from the superintendent and school district for why the events were canceled.

Another parent held a fundraiser to compensate Barnes for one of the events, with any additional money raised going to help prevent the “school-to-prison pipeline.” And another launched a “Derrick Barnes Book Drive” — people bought and donated his books to give to kids in the area and put in little free libraries.

Why is this good news? Alabama is one of a number of states banning Black literature. And in a book landscape that often portrays Black people in the context of slavery or civil rights, Barnes writes about young Black children experiencing what he calls “slice of life” things like going to school or spending time with their family.

All children and especially Black children deserve to hear these stories — and we’re so glad to see this community not only agrees but is putting real action behind that agreement.

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A new solar farm in Colorado is pulling triple duty as a prairie restoration project, a carbon sink, and clean power source

Farmland is an ideal candidate for solar farm installations for a number of reasons: the ground is flat, treeless, gets full sun exposure, is accessible, and more. Another lesser-known reason: regenerative agriculture.

Long-practiced by Indigenous peoples, regenerative agriculture prioritizes soil health and water conservation — restoring biodiversity to land that’s been stripped of its nutrients due to commercial farming practices. When you put solar panels on this land, the soil below it gets to rest for about 25 years.

A solar farm doing exactly that just went into commercial operation in Pueblo, Colorado — and along with a sister solar farm nearby, the two are conserving more than 3,000 acres of shortgrass prairie land.

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Why is this good news? We’re longtime fans of regenerative agriculture, and while we appreciate it for its ability to restore the health and biodiversity of soil (which produces healthier food for us!), we’ll gladly take another reason to love it. And as the world moves to rapidly switch to renewable energy sources — we love this triply-beneficial approach.

A student-led organization recovered 2,907 pounds of leftover food from a Super Bowl tailgate to donate to a nearby food bank

The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student-led movement to fight food waste and end hunger in the U.S. — and they recently brought their work to Arizona for the Super Bowl.

At the 2022 game in Los Angeles, FRN saved 2,000 pounds of food from ending up in a landfill, redirecting it to people in need. In 2020, it was 5,000 pounds (pre-pandemic), and their goal this year was 3,000 pounds.

And they nearly made it, recovering 2,907 pounds of food from one of the largest tailgate parties on game day and donating it to the nearby Phoenix Rescue Mission’s food bank.

Why is this good news? Food waste is a massive problem, especially in the U.S., and not just for the Super Bowl. The University of Maryland students who founded FRN more than a decade ago did so after seeing pounds of food go to waste in their cafeteria — they’ve since expanded to 100 chapters and are on a mission to feed families all over the country.

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Ordinary citizens are organizing relief efforts for victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey

If you ever wondered if the action you take makes a difference for people — we hope these Helpers in Turkey prove to you that they really, truly do.

Alongside larger disaster relief organizations providing important, life-saving aid to people in need are everyday citizens from all walks of life doing ad-hoc organizing to help with recovery efforts.

Working from borrowed office space, they’re finding shelter for people who have lost their homes, distributing meals, coordinating delivery trucks (and even personal vehicles) to bring necessary supplies to hard-hit areas, and so much more.

“We are all here because we feel a real need to do something to help people,” one volunteer said.

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More good news of the week —

Shareholders are suing Shell for failing to prepare for a world more reliant on green energy. They say its “flawed” climate strategy puts the company at financial risk as the world transitions to clean energy.

One of the most effective global health programs in U.S. history, PEPFAR has saved 25 million lives in the last 20 years. Launched by President George W. Bush, PEPFAR has provided more than $100 billion in funding for AIDS prevention and treatment.

As millions struggle without electricity Bay Area nonprofit gave solar lanterns to Ukraine. Russia is still targeting and pummeling Ukraine’s power grid with missiles.

In the name of community care, an independent, volunteer-run coalition of scientists, healthcare workers, and advocates created a resource for what to do if you get COVID-19. The guide from the People’s CDC helps us care for our neighbors as healthcare remains inaccessible to so many.

A dad took his son to get a manicure and pedicure after his teacher told him it was “only for girls.” A teacher himself, Christian Shearwood used the incident to start a meaningful conversation about challenging gender norms.

Teen volunteers staff an Oregon crisis support helpline, helping their peers facing mental health challenges. Oregon ranks among the worst states for youth mental illness and access to care, so Portland’s YouthLine is taking a unique approach to helping young people in crisis — peer-to-peer support.

After 178 hours under rubble, a young girl was rescued from under and apartment building. This good news underscores the incredible, unrelenting efforts still underway by rescue workers, rescue dogs, and more.

In just the first month under its new president, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has fallen. Satellite data shows deforestation was down 61% in January compared to January 2022.

After decades of decline in many species due to poaching, populations are making a steady recovery in Uganda. Species like elephants and rhinos are making progress thanks to a series of conservation policies.

An international organization continues to send emergency support to help animals impacted by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. IFAW is giving $50,000 to local organizations rescuing and caring for injured animals.

Minnesota’s House just passed “universal” school meals, providing free breakfast and lunch to all students. The vote passed 70-58 and ensures all students receive meals, regardless of federal income requirements usually required to qualify.

For the first time since October, all Ukrainians had electricity for 24 hours for three days straight. Russia has been targeting its electric grid, but Ukraine’s defense systems have been able to stop the missiles.

Much sooner than expected, experts think electric vehicles could match the price of gas-powered vehicles this year. A combination of competition, government incentives, and falling prices of raw materials are contributing to the lowering cost.

For the first time in the U.S., New York City is replacing its largest fossil fuel power plant with offshore wind power. The current 27-acre waterfront site is being converted into a clean energy hub that will power one-fifth of the city with offshore wind power.

Once on the brink of extinction, the wood stork has made a huge recovery that could take it off the endangered species list. Officials say the restoration of the bird’s habitat, especially in the Florida Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve led to a dramatic increase in breeding pairs.


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