Positive News Stories From September To Brighten Your Week (Part 1)

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Okay folks, fall is in the air, and it’s time for the second instalment of what we’ve decided will be a bi-monthly positive news report. Because who couldn’t do with a pick-me-up, and because there’s a lot more happening out there to smile about than you’d expect! But before we begin, we’re going to insert what is certain to become our standard disclaimer for this series:

Yes, we realize some of these stories can have a critical lens dropped on them, some contradiction or hypocrisy drawn from them or even just some general, “but we still have this and this and that pile of #&%@ to deal with so what does it help” comment launched at them. It does help. Let that cheer shine on you. Good news! Yay!

Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get right to it.

1. 3500 Volunteers Show Up for World Clean Up Day in Lebanon

Galvanized by the ongoing effects of the 2015 garbage crisis, environmental engagement has certainly taken a fantastic upswing in our lovely Lebanon, and thank goodness for that.  We really need it. On September 15th, Junior Chamber International, in partnership with a number of local organizations, organized 3500 volunteers from all different backgrounds and age groups to hit 30 locations in the country over the span of 5 hours. They did an amazing job gathering as much waste as possible, and sorting it to be sent to local recycling initiatives. Where there’s a will there’s a way. And where there’s a way, there’s hope! For more details, check out the full article here

 

2. India Decriminalizes Homosexuality

Picture from Asia’s first genderqueer pride parade in Madurai, South India.

In a historic ruling on September 6th, the Supreme Court of India has officially scrapped a 150 year old anti-gay legislation put into place under British Colonial Rule. The LGBTQ community now has the same fundamental rights as other citizens, and an official rhetoric of overcoming ‘stereotypes and prejudices’ has been put into place. While this may take some time to cause a wave of genuine change in the community, it’s a momentous first step! ‘Love is love’ and we can all do with more of it! For more details check out the full article here.

 

3. Refugees as City-Makers Report

In an extensive and comprehensive 163 page research report, released this month by the AUB Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, various contributors make the case for reimagining the role of ‘refugees’ in Lebanese society. An excerpt from the conclusion of the report best captures its scope and importance for transforming social understanding:

More than five years into the “refugee crisis”, popular discourses and media debates in Lebanon still lack the vocabulary to describe the impressive competence of individuals and groups fleeing a war-torn country and the resilience they have demonstrated in facing difficult residency in nearby host countries. In this collection of essays, scholars, writers, designers and artists have set out to contest the stereotypical representation of Syrian refugees as destitute, powerless and passive aid recipients. Through original research, direct documentation, analytical representations, and visual investigations, they present a kaleidoscope of refugees as workers, entrepreneurs, dwellers, visitors, artists, artisans, students, drivers and –mostly– as active agents in the reconstruction of their livelihoods, as well as political subjects engaged in a reflection about the future of their country and the significance of their presence in today’s Lebanon. In doing so, the authors invite readers to reconsider the widespread conception of Syrian refugee presence as “a burden”, highlighting instead their important contributions in reimagining and enacting Lebanon’s cities and towns as places of refuge and diversity. Throughout these narratives, we read about coping mechanisms, ingenious schemes, but also abusive official policies and discriminatory legal frameworks that polarize social groups and undermine possibilities of collective reorganization and emerging solidarities.”

Pretty beautiful right? This kind of research opens us up to new conversations and new versions and visions of community. And that’s always a good thing, no matter where you stand on an issue. To peruse the whole report, check out the PDF right here

 

4. Billionaires Save Piece of California Coast

Photo Source Credit: ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-11/dangermond-nature-preserve-coastline/10222648

Seemingly in partial response to Trump’s rollbacks of environmental protection, billionaire couple Jack and Laura Dangermond paid $225 million to buy and save 10,000 hectares on the California coast from development. Then, they donated this land to The Nature Conservancy, an organization that raises money to buy up threatened land worldwide. The Dangermond’s are quoted by ABC News as saying:

“I want those who really have large means to look at the amazing places in Australia before it’s too late. And everybody else in Australia to plant one more tree, protect one more thing, to play at all levels”

We can play at all levels, folks. Don’t need to be a billionaire to make a difference, but it’s always nice to see when a billionaire does make a difference. To read more about this fascinating couple, and the technology they’ve created to influence environmental policy at a government level, check out the full article here

5. Little Free Libraries Flourish

Picture from Asia’s first genderqueergender queer pride parade in Madurai, South India.

We figured we’d end with this little heart-warming gem. Mini house-shaped libraries for free books? Yes please. And apparently others agree. As of this month, The Little Free Library, which started in 2009 as a literacy project, now has 75,000 installations worldwide. The goal is to give anyone, anywhere, access to books, and to have it be a community effort. Tod Bol, who began the non-profit, is quoted by the Good News Network as saying “we estimate that 54 million books will be shared this year alone and 900,000 neighbors will meet each other for the first time.”

The best part is that Lebanon is not left out from this worldwide phenomenon. The Learning to Care Institut made efforts to inspire Lebanese citizens to build their own Little Free Libraries across the country. As of now, you can find them in Tripoli, Bishmizzine, Bcharreh, Beirut Digital District, Horsh Tabet Public Garden, Mar Mikhael, and Saida!

Check out the full article here 

To start a Little Free Library of your own, you’ll find everything you need right here.  

And that’s all folks. Hope this has brightened your day, and remember if you’ve got any good news to share, put it in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

 

References:

https://www.the961.com/arts-culture/little-free-libraries-in-lebanon

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1398526/world-cleanup-day-3500-volunteers-united-waste-free-lebanon

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/06/indian-supreme-court-decriminalises-homosexuality

http://website.aub.edu.lb/ifi/publications/Documents/research_reports/20180910_refugees_as_city_makers.pdf

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-11/esri-founders-spend-225-million-on-california-nature-preserve/10221170

http://www.learningtocare.com/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-11/dangermond-nature-preserve-coastline/10222648

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/there-are-now-75000-little-free-libraries-around-the-world-and-heres-why-you-should-add-more/

https://littlefreelibrary.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tala is currently completing her psychotherapy certification at the Ontario Psychotherapy and Counseling Program. Her passions include alternative knowledge systems and overcoming boundaries and blockages both within and outside of the self, and finding critical, holistic, conscious approaches to education.

She believes that encounters and explorations of tensions related to race, class, gender and colonization—in both old and new forms—can lead to healing and a greater awareness of the interconnections between self, ‘other’ and the environment we live in. She believes that looking at food from farm to plate and its role in environmental, communal/cultural and personal health is a pivotal way to do so.

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