Hello! The Center for Peace & Conflict Studies has compiled a list of acts of kindness and peace. The initiative began as a response to COVID-19 and the racism pandemic but has broadened to include any act of compassion or service to others. Please share these stories with others. If you have stories of positive acts people/organizations are taking and you would like to share them with us, please email them to Madison Pavone (email@example.com). All the stories starting from week 1 are available online. Additionally, you can follow the Peace Center on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) at bsu4peace.
Week of August 28th, 2023
The First Oral Drug for Postpartum Depression Gets Approved by the FDA
On August 4, 2023, the drug, Zurzuvae, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and became the first oral medication used for Postpartum Depression (PPD). PPD is a type of depression when a mother, typically one who just gave birth, suffers a major depressive episode. Before the pill, PPD was only treated by an IV injection. This is very important because women who suffer from this can have symptoms such as: feeling worthless, sadness, and in extreme cases, wanting to harm themselves or their child. Zurzuvae was tested on women diagnosed with PPD. Within 14 days, they were medicated with the drug and were monitored for 4 weeks after to watch their progress. Patients treated with Zurzuvae showed a great amount of improvement in their symptoms. The daily dose is recommended to be taken every day for 14 days.
People of Ecuador Vote to Protect Rainforest from Oil Drilling
In Ecuador, one huge victory for rainforest preservation has just taken place as the country’s citizens voted to protect Yasuní National Park from the destruction wrought by oil drilling. Election statistics show that over 58% of votes supported the notion of preventing oil exploitation in the park. The park is estimated to have enough oil to fill approximately 726 million barrels underneath it, which the referendum will henceforth prevent oil companies from mining to protect the many diverse species within the rainforest. This decision is a triumph not only for those who wish to combat the growing effects of climate change but also for the indigenous people of Ecuador who have been fighting to protect their land. The indigenous Waorani peoples are one example of indigenous efforts that were instrumental in the results of the referendum (which also guarantees certain protections to indigenous groups). This decision has set an important precedent for the preservation of biodiversity and indigenous lands in the region and showcased to the world that the people of Ecuador are ready to take a stand against climate change.
The All-Female, Grassroots Network Moving Millions Away from Fossil Fuels
Emma Sheppard shares in her Positive.News article, “The All-Female, Grassroots Network Moving Millions Away from Fossil Fuels,” an organization in the UK that is using a unique method to fight the climate crisis. Currently, in the UK, around £88bn in pension funds are invested in the fossil fuel industry. An all-female organization, Money Movers, has found that “switching to a greener pension provider is 21 times more impactful than giving up flying, becoming vegetarian and switching energy supplier combined,” (Sheppard). Since women traditionally feel disempowered when it comes to personal finances, Money Movers serves as an educational space for them to learn how to enter the world of sustainable investing. Through their training sessions, the organization has successfully moved £1.9m to greener providers, with another £4.4m expected to move very soon. Money Movers is making amazing progress in uplifting women and fighting climate change in the UK.
Week of September 4th, 2023
China's War on Pollution Has Given Civilians 2 More Years of Life
China's cities, specifically the big city of Beijing, have shown momentous changes in their air quality since they have acted against pollution. Beijing was once popular for its grey skies but now they are showing the lowest levels of pollution. Now at 42%, which is lower than their average from 2013, they have increased Chinese lives by 2.2 years. A few separate ways that they fight pollution are reducing steel production and not allowing any more coal power plants within the city along with taking out the current ones. Some cities along with Beijing have even reduced the number of cars that can drive on the roads at certain hours. To add, many other cities in China have even increased life expectancy between 4-6 years.
Seven Years After Raising Minimum Wage to $70k, Company Continues to Profit
In 2015, CEO Dan Price made waves when he announced that he would be raising the minimum pay for all of his employees to $70,000 per year. To make this change possible, Price willingly took a $1 million pay cut and placed his second home up for sale. After Price decided to raise the minimum wage at his company, Gravity Payments, skeptics predicted that the change would drive his company to bankruptcy. However, seven years later, Price's company remains in the black–all while doubling the number of employees and maintaining the $70,000 minimum salary. While the pandemic caused severe roadblocks for the company, Price’s treatment of his employees was reciprocated during times of hardship; in fact, some employees voluntarily took on pay cuts to prevent the company from bankruptcy. According to The Optimist Daily, “It seems that Price’s gamble paid off, not only helping his employees but incentivizing his employees to help him when he needed it.”
Embracing the Practice of “Forest Bathing” Benefits Both Mind and Body
Since the 1980s, studies have consistently shown that spending time in nature has considerable positive effects on our minds and bodies. These findings are what led to the term “forest bathing,” which was coined by Japanese researchers to describe the practice of devoting time to being present in nature. According to NPR’s Life Kit, “If you want to get all the benefits of forest bathing, your primary focus should be connecting with nature.”
Forest bathing allows you to capitalize on the numerous benefits that surrounding yourself with nature provides. Gary Evans, the director of the Forest Bathing Institute in the U.K., asserts that simply being in nature can increase parasympathetic activity, causing you to feel more relaxed. Furthermore, forest bathing has been proven to boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, and defend against cancer. Fortunately, forest bathing can be tailored to fit any schedule: researchers recommend at least one session of 2 to 6 hours once a month to achieve the full benefits. However, shorter and more frequent sessions can allow anyone with a busy schedule to achieve the same results. All you need is a patch of forest, a nature-oriented mindset, and an hour or two of free time!
Week of September 11th, 2023
Ocean Cleanup Launches Huge System in Pacific Garbage Patch to Clean a Football Field Every 5 Seconds
There is a new revolutionary technology that is making waves in ocean cleanup efforts. With the launch of System 03, Ocean CleanUp will be able to increase the amount of garbage they can capture within the Pacific Garbage Patch. Dutch CEO Boyan Slat and his team have plans to “rid the oceans of at least 90% of the plastic trash by 2040,” with “over 275 tons of plastic [already extracted] from the Garbage Patch since 2021” (Good News Network). The new system includes a 1.4-mile-long floating barrier and is towed between two slow-moving vessels. Upon capturing the trash, plastic is sorted out and recycled or reused. Thanks to efforts like these, our oceans are becoming cleaner every day.
Through Collaborative Charity, one NFL Running Back helped 218 Single Parents become Homeowners
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former NFL star recently gave a single mother and her daughter a brand-new house as a surprise, but it was only one of 217 such blessings that Warrick Dunn was able to finance. The house was constructed, furnished, and stocked with food thanks to a partnership between Warrick Dunn Charities, Habitat for Humanity, and Catholic High School, from which Dunn himself graduated. When Dunn welcomed the family back to his hometown, he said, "Dominique and Miracle, single mother, first-time homeowners, I think it's important to help change the community and the environment, create stability for a family that could potentially have good long-term positive impacts." For the house, Catholic High School raised $85,000. Dominque entered the new house for the first time and stated, "A new home, a new, fresh start, a new beginning—I'm blessed," fearing dreadfully that her makeup would run from all the crying she knew she would be doing. The fridge was stocked with food, and sheets were already on the bed. The mortgage was available for signing at the dinner table, with a donation from Dunn's charity to assist with the down payment. Dunn received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2005. The Waller Payton Award is the only one that honors a player for both their outstanding performance on the field and their involvement in the community.
Treating Brain Injuries with Psychedelic Drugs May Stimulate New Neurons to Replace Impaired Ones
The majority of brain injury research to date—conducted in test tubes and lab animals, with only a few small studies in humans—points to the potential of psychedelics to reduce brain damage after injury, stimulate the development of new neurons to replace damaged ones, and open the learning windows that allow the brain to learn new skills. One recent study indicated that lab animals given psychedelics acquired abilities that were thought restricted to youth. The study was published in the journal Nature. This has been demonstrated in previous psychedelic experiments at Johns Hopkins, which discovered that the drug MDMA, often known as "ecstasy," reopened "critical windows" of brain development that are typical of specific stages in life when the brain is more responsive to environmental stimuli. In jurisdictions where psychedelic-assisted therapy is recognized as a legitimate medical practice, these crucial windows are crucial to post-dose treatment sessions. In those crucial periods, a trained psychoanalyst can assist patients in recovering from severe trauma because the brain is now receptive to new ideas. Even though most of this is already well-known, Johns Hopkins University has discovered that other substances, like the hallucinogenic element in psychedelic mushrooms called psilocybin and LSD, can cause this crucial window to reopen. Furthermore, researchers from the renowned university have discovered that these crucial window times develop spontaneously in people after suffering a stroke or traumatic brain injury, and that psychedelics can prolong this critical window period. The hope is that by keeping the crucial windows open for a longer period than would be possible without it, psychedelic therapy can help patients regain far more function.