80 form human chain to rescue family of 9 in riptide at Panama City Beach, Florida

An obvious addition to the PositiveNewsOnline treasure trove, CNN and others report that strangers on a beach formed an 80-person human chain to successfully rescue nine members of a family who had been caught in a riptide.

This is amazing and emblematic of the human spirit and human ingenuity.

Photo credit to theguardian.com.

The Language Barrier Will Soon Be a Thing of the Past

Forget the days of trying to talk to someone of another language and flipping through a pocket dictionary to find the right word, struggling through an awkward guessing game of various nouns, verbs and non-word sounds to try to communicate with the person. Today’s translation tools can provide real-time translation that you can carry with you in your pocket.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  translation tools of the modern age were developed by computing more than a billion translations a day for over 200 million people. With the exponential growth in data, that number is growing and the ever-evolving software is filling in the communication gaps in pronunciation and interpretation.

A pocket translator seems like fun in and of itself, but think of the possibilities in medical care, education, scientific collaboration, etc… when the communication barrier is removed, and we can communicate easily with people we would otherwise be cut off from. We will be more connected as a species. It’s almost biblical in proportions, isn’t it? Sayonara, language barrier!

Photo courtesy of wearbleo.com.

Eagle Scout Project Creates a Sensory Education Room to Help Kids With Autism to Learn

Responding to the needs he saw in his own brother and other autistic students, this Eagle Scout created a Sensory Education Room at his local middle school to help autistic students learn in a specially tailored environment.

He raised $30,000 and was able to develop and build two such rooms. The teachers are overjoyed at the new learning opportunities they are able to offer their students and the ways this room is developing them. This is awesome!

To learn more, watch the video here.

The Ocean Clean-Up Project Will Clean Up 50% of the World’s Largest Ocean Garbage Patch in Five Years


Photo credit: Dezeen.com

The Ocean Cleanup foundation, founded by Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat when he was just 20 years old, will begin work in the first half of 2018– two years ahead of schedule!

Its first major operation will begin in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a swirling vortex of mainly plastic waste located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.

As reported by dezeen.com —

“The team will use a floating barrier to slowly push the plastic to shore. This update of the initial design, which was recognised at the Designs of The Year awards in 2015, will be weighted to move with the current instead of fixed to the sea bed. Once ashore, the waste plastic would be recycled and turned into sellable products to help fund the project.

… ‘The elegance of the design is that we managed to make it even simpler,’ he added. ‘It’s just one barrier, one anchor, two lines connecting them and a central passive collection point for the plastic.’

… Slat first came up with the Ocean Cleanup idea in 2011 when he was 16, after a diving holiday in Greece where he saw a huge amount of plastic waste in the water. He developed this into a school project, which was given an award by Delft’s University of Technology.

His organisation now has over 100 volunteers, including scientists and engineers, and is supported by 15 other institutions.”

According to its website, a full-scale deployment of the system is estimated to clean up 50 % of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years.

Great news for our planet and how inspiring that one idea can make all the difference!


A Striving Community Heals Itself While Re-birthing a Natural Wildlife Habitat

NPR recently reported on the story of youth at the Southeast D.C.’s Valley Green housing project, who started a project more than 20 years ago to clean up an Anacostia tributary and transformed their own lives in the process.

As reported by NPR, “‘Those were some serious times, rough times,’ recalls Burrell Duncan, who was among the first volunteers.

The choices facing kids in Valley Green in the early 1990s were stark. ‘You could be three things,’ Duncan says — ‘a drug dealer, a killer or you could play sports.'”

Between 1994 and 1998, members of the group, who dubbed themselves the Earth Conservation Corps, raised and released 16 bald eagles. They named the eagles in memory of their friends who had been killed in street and drug-related violence.

Said one, “We wasn’t supposed to live to see the age of 21 … We was just as endangered as this majestic bird.”

A cocaine dealer who found his way to the Earth Conservation Corps more than two decades ago is now a licensed falconer – one of only 30 African-American falconers in the entire U.S., as he tells to schoolchildren when he visits them in their classrooms. He teaches kids to face their fears as part of a D.C. police program called Youth Creating Change, which works with at-risk youth to help them get a job and get involved in community service.

At the same time that youth in the Earth Conservation Corp are being built up themselves, they are also helping to rebuild a historically polluted and overlooked wildlife habitat.  On the day that NPR interviewed them, the group was building the bones of a new osprey nest – welded out of decommissioned firearms seized by the D.C. police.

The Earth Conservation Corps has a website, with a Live Eagle-cam.

I took this photo this morning of ECC Headquarters at the Diamond Teague Pier.

My family and I recently took a trip down the Anacostia, where we spotted several bald eagles along the way. If you would like to take your own trip, contact the Anacostia Riverkeepers to arrange a free tour (supported by the D.C. 5-cent plastic bag tax), and enjoy the beauty of the emerging wildlife, and the hope inspired by the ongoing renewal of nature and community.

Photo credit: Nicole Boucher



Girls on the Run is building the next generation of female community service leaders in inner cities and around the country


You may have already known that Girls on the Run encourages young girls- especially in the inner cities- to take charge of their lives and cultivate healthy relationships.

You might not have realized, however, that each Girls on the Run team creates and executes a local community service project.

For example, one group has raised more than $10,000 to help their school crossing guard – an Ethiopian native who fled his home country where he was enslaved as a child soldier- to cover medical costs associated with his prosthetic leg to help him walk without pain. Other groups are raising money for MS, collecting money and supplies for local hospitals, donating to homeless shelters, and countless other projects. Here’s to the next generation of girls and women leading and supporting their communities!

Dementia Sufferers Find Joy and Purpose in Community Chorus

According to scientific studies reported at livescience.com, Alzheimers sufferers often retain their love and appreciation for music even other parts of their brain are failing.  In fact, experts say, music can “awaken” Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, triggering emotional memories and words that have been forgotten.

Taking advantage of this phenomenon, the Giving Voice Chorus of Minneapolis, MN is a chorus that brings joy, well-being, purpose and community understanding to people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.  Its goal is to “celebrate the full potential of people living with dementia.”

Check out this heartwarming video of the chorus and some profiles of its participants.

The group has expanded to 3 separate independent choruses and is reportedly being “inundated” with inquiries from around the nation from people who want to start similar programs in their communities. The group provides resources and a toolkit on its website for those who are interested in starting one.

Even as humanity continues to uncover more information and preventative approaches to Alzheimers and dementia, it is comforting to know that fun and fulfillment is still possible even for people with dementia, and for their hard-working and loving care partners.

Anyone can be someone’s hero. :-)

Man rescues cat from London Docks

Cat-astrophe avoided — the moment a passer-by saved Felix the cat after she fell into the Thames. ?

Posted by BBC News on Monday, May 1, 2017

Transparent solar cell technology will turn windows into power sources!

This fully transparent solar cell could make every window and screen a power source

Photo credit: ExtremeTech.com

As reported by ExtremeTech.com, Michigan State researchers have invented transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which are fully transparent solar cells that can turn every window and screen into a power source.

“The researchers — and Ubiquitous Energy — are confident that the technology can be scaled all the way from large industrial and commercial applications, down to consumer devices, while remaining affordable. So far, one of the larger barriers to large-scale adoption of solar power is the intrusive and ugly nature of solar panels — obviously, if we can produce large amounts of solar power from sheets of glass and plastic that look like normal sheets of glass and plastic, then that would be incredible.”

The Economist: “A global attack on long-neglected tropical diseases is succeeding”

Through the persistent joint efforts of private entities, international institutions, donor governments and charities, humans are winning the fight against some debilitating, long-neglected tropical diseases!

“International institutions such as the World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) teamed up with donor governments and charities. By 1999 the Gates Foundation, a charity set up by Bill and Melinda Gates, was funding work in lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis, a debilitating ailment caused by a parasitic worm transmitted by freshwater snails.

By then the long-running effort to eradicate guinea worm led by the Carter Centre, a foundation set up by Jimmy Carter in 1982, had gained pace. The worm’s larvae are ingested in dirty water and grow internally to as long as a metre; they emerge, agonisingly, through the skin over several weeks. The only treatment for an established case, even now, is to speed up this expulsion by gradually winding the worm’s emerging body on a stick. But public-information campaigns about the need to filter drinking water and keep sufferers away from water sources, where they might pass on the infection, have brought new cases down from an estimated 3.5m a year globally in 1986, when eradication efforts started, to 25 last year.”