Thinkingshift good news story

May 2, 2007 at 3:00 am 3 comments

Photo taken by Kim in NamibiaThis week, I found five examples of good news stories that hopefully means our world is not totally screwed up. There are some inspirational people out there!

First up, is the story of a Zambian man named after a former UN Secretary General who died in Zambia in 1961. Hammerskjoeld Simwinga has been awarded the so-called Nobel green prize for his work in helping to curb widespread elephant poaching.

Simwinga is persuading local villagers that keeping elephants alive is an economically smart thing to do. Elephants attract tourists and their money, so Simwinga has assisted locals to set up bee-keeping and fish-farming projects in the North Luangwa valley where elephant numbers have dramatically diminished. If elephants are poached in the area, funding for the projects is withdrawn.

70% of loans to set up economic projects have been given to women and 35,000 people benefit from healthcare and educational services provided. Humans and elephants have a troubled relationship but Simwinga is influencing people to realise that they can coexist peacefully.

Our next story is about an elegant pink-coloured bird – the flamingo of Kenya. There were once 1 million or so flamingos on the pink-lined shores of Lake Nakuru but burning of farmlands in the 1990s caused the birds to fly the coup.

Pre farmland burning, I visited Lake Nakuru in the early 1990s, and was astounded by the noise and beauty of the resident flamingos. A local community has planted more than 3000 trees since last January in an effort to tempt the flamingos to return. The region has lost valuable tourist dollars because of the departure of the pink-tinged beauties but they are starting to return and I might just put Kenya back on my “To Visit” list.

Another environmental prize has been given to a determined Icelandic businessman, 64 year old, Orri Vigfusson. He has won a Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts to save Atlantic wild salmon, whose numbers have been rapidly declining due to overfishing.

Seventeen years ago, Vigfusson founded the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), a coalition of conservation groups, that buys fishermens’ netting rights along salmon migration routes. The result has been a resurgence in salmon numbers in the North Atlantic and Vigfusson wants to see salmon stock return to the historical abundance of 50 years ago.

Salmon from the US, Canada and Europe gather in the sea around Greenland and the Faroe Isles. During the 1950s, a commercial fishing industry was set up to throw driftnets across the salmon migration routes. You don’t need to be Einstein to figure out that as a result salmon catches fell from 4 million to 700,000 between 1979 and 1990. And so the NASF simply pays fishermen not to fish.

So far $US 35 million has been raised to retire net licences in key salmon spawning rivers. Alternative employment has also been found for the netsmen, either is sustainable fisheries or in the revived angling tourism industry, which has been boosted by replenished rivers. This is green capitalism at its best! And over the last 3 years, Iceland has enjoyed its best salmon season ever.

And the next story has caused me to really smile. Every woman (not sure about guys) has a horror story about clothing sizes. We’ve all heard about the stick-thin models that totter down the fashion catwalks and how there is increasing resistance to these Size 0 figures. Any woman can tell you that in one shop a size 10 fits; but in another shop, you’re a size 12 or 14.

Our new hero is John Lewis of the UK, who is the first retailer to use ‘normal-sized’ women in his advertising campaigns. Women of different shapes and sizes will be used to model clothing. A size 12 woman recently modelled Lewis’ summer swimsuit collection (gasp: size 12!!!).

Apparently, the average British woman is a size 16 (I will investigate the average Australian size) but, as we know, designers and stylists use size 8 or less models, which of course encourages young girls as young as 10 years to diet. Several models have died of eating disorders. But at last, we have a responsible fashion industry person showing courage and leadership!

Our final story is about a Scottish town, Biggar, which plans to become Scotland’s first carbon-neutral community. This is community cohesiveness at its best. The 2,000 people of Biggar plan to grow their own food, create their own electricity and improve their recycling efforts.

Edinburgh University will help Biggar work out its current carbon footprint. Residents are busy watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to learn more and leaflets are being distributed with suggestions on how to reduce energy consumption.

The Cheshire village of Ashton Hayes, which is also trying to become carbon neutral, has joined forces with the good citizens of Biggar and the two towns will work together to become as carbon neutral as possible.

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Entry filed under: Good news story.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anneli  |  May 3, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Include more pictures in your text.

    Reply
  • 2. MWANSA  |  May 3, 2007 at 9:06 am

    more of pictures

    Reply
  • 3. thinkingshift  |  May 3, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Hello
    I’ll be including more pictures in future posts as I realise it helps to flesh out context etc. Thx for visiting ThinkingShift and leaving your comments!
    Kim Sbarcea

    Reply

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