Skip to main content
Move the World.

Welcome back to our Cool Stuff Roundup (trademark still pending), where we collect the best stories shared on Freethink’s internal Slack channel, and share them with you.

This week, we’ve been talking amongst ourselves about how the good stuff that’s happening in the world often times gets lost in the news. My Facebook wall is a good example of this: Apocalyptic political rant about candidate A, conspiratorial rant about candidate B, an absolutely infuriating story about the sugar lobby lying to all of us, and an Onion video making fun of Tom Hanks’ new movie.

OK, The Onion video is pretty funny, but didn’t good things happen in the last week? Of course they did. Here are some of those things: 

Sri Lanka defeated malaria

More humans are killed by mosquitos every year than by the next 13 deadliest foes combined, and that includes other humans. And we can thank malaria for that. Thankfully, we also know how to beat malaria at the nation level, which is exactly what Sri Lanka has done.

(Sri Lanka) hasn’t seen a malaria case in three years.

This month, the World Health Organization declared that the country of 20 million people hasn’t seen a malaria case in three years, which is just long enough for Sri Lanka to claim a W over one of human history’s deadliest diseases. What made it possible? Despite recovering from a civil war, the country’s public health bodies were able to offer free screening and free treatment to at-risk populations of every ethnicity. That’s awesome.

Claire Lomas completed the Great North Run

lomasarticle
Claire Lomas also walked in the London Marathon in 2012 / Lulu Kyriacou

Who completed the what? Claire Lomas was paralyzed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident several years ago. The Great North Run is a half marathon in Britain. And Lomas was able to “run” it thanks to her ReWalk exoskeleton. (Speaking of: you should totally check out the video where we profiled paralyzed architect, Robert Woo, who has regained feeling in his legs thanks to using ReWalk). She traveled roughly three miles a day for nearly a week, and finished soundly in last place. But when you consider that just five years ago, people suffering from Lomas’s injury didn’t walk anywhere in any amount of time, it’s absolutely amazing. (Did we mention she completed the half-marathon while 16 weeks pregnant?!)

Google announced plans to treat cancer with artificial intelligence

Google’s DeepMind is one of the top artificial intelligence teams in the world. University College Hospital is one of the best cancer treatment centers in Britain. The two are teaming up to pit A.I. against cancer. Technology Review reports that “DeepMind will analyze 700 anonymized scans from former patients who suffered from head and neck cancers. They hope to create an algorithm that can learn how physicians make decisions about this part of the treatment process, ultimately segmenting the scans automatically.”

Incomes are rising in the U.S.

“That 5.2% (income) increase was the largest, in percentage terms, recorded by the bureau since it began tracking median income statistics in the 1960s."

Economy watchers rejoiced this week after the Census Bureau released data showing 2015 was the best year in decades for low-income and middle class American households. “Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015 up from $53,700 in 2014,” The Washington Post reports. “That 5.2 percent increase was the largest, in percentage terms, recorded by the bureau since it began tracking median income statistics in the 1960s. In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.” Yes, there’s room for improvement in the American economy, but also: This is improvement!

Homepage image from Lulu Kyriacou

Up Next

Catalysts
OGU: Original Gangsters United Ending Gang Violence
Can Former Bloods and Crips Unite to Break the Cycle of Violence?
Watch Now
Catalysts
OGU: Original Gangsters United Ending Gang Violence
For the children of Dallas, these ex gang leaders may be their only chance.
Watch Now

What do you get when former Bloods and Crips gang leaders come together? Original Gangsters United, a pathway to ending gang opposition, promoting peace, and saving younger generations from senseless violence. Antong Lucky is a former Bloods gang leader in Dallas, Texas. Like most children, Antong never aspired to be a part of a gang or to end up in prison. But sadly, many communities affected by peer pressure and gang violence leave kids with no choice. When Antong left prison, he began working to bring opposing Dallas gang leaders together to put an end to gang violence. And it worked.

Future of Food
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Future of Food
Clean Meat: A New Protein is Making its Way onto the Chef's Table
Clean meat is becoming a more widely known, and much loved food category. But do you expect to see it on your gourmet plate any time soon? These chefs think yes.

Clean meat is becoming a more widely known, and much loved food category. But do you expect to see it on your gourmet plate any time soon? These chefs think yes.

Social Change
Should We Legalize Street Gangs?
Should We Legalize Street Gangs?
Social Change
Should We Legalize Street Gangs?
Gangs are a major cause of violence and organized crime. Here’s why countries should think twice before trying to...

Gangs are a major cause of violence and organized crime. Here’s why countries should think twice before trying to smash them.

Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
Hope After Prison
Watch Now
Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
This former inmate is cleaning up his city and helping other ex-cons turn their lives around.
Watch Now

When Will Aliva got out of prison, he’d paid his debt to society - but that didn’t help him pay his bills. Like many ex-cons, he struggled to find companies that would take a chance on hiring him. Too often, this roadblock results in ex-cons winding up back behind bars as they turn to old illegal activities to make ends meet. He decided to tackle the problem head on and founded a landscaping company, Clean Decisions, that...

Catalysts
Could This Be the Future of Foster Care?
Could This Be the Future of Foster Care?
Watch Now
Catalysts
Could This Be the Future of Foster Care?
Take a look inside a town built for foster families
Watch Now

Peppers Ranch is a community of a dozen families raising at least five foster kids. Is it a model for providing better foster care to more kids? In this episode of Catalysts, we visit Peppers Ranch and meet some of the people and families who call it home. We talk to foster child Scott, who was close to aging out of foster care but unprepared to live on his own. We also meet Tonya Ratcliff, a mother of 13 children who felt...

Pop Revolution
Skatepunks of Myanmar
Skatepunks of Myanmar
Watch Now
Pop Revolution
Skatepunks of Myanmar
Is the booming skating scene in Myanmar a sign of a more hopeful future for the once isolated country?
Watch Now

After years of repression, smartphones and social media are giving Myanmar a taste of the outside world. And young people are eager to catch up on what they missed. We join a group of skaters who are reimagining life in the once isolated society and shaping its future in the process.

Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives...
By Mike Riggs

First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives service members an outlet whenever they need it.