Friday Feel-Good News: A refugee-run restaurant, wind and solar powered car, and Galapagos tortoises

Yassin's Falafel House

Today we are starting a new regular feature at Trading Places: Feel Good Fridays!

Feel Good FridaysThere is always plenty to worry about in this world — plenty of bad news, plenty of evil and mean people and horrible stories. Too many disasters and violence; too many social ills and political outrages.

I’m not saying we should ignore these things, or bury our heads in the sand. Far from it. Personally, I am a very active and aware person when it comes to important global, social and humanitarian issues. I’m the last one to say that we should ignore these important issues going on in our world, in favor of entertainment or celebrity “news.”

That said, though, we need the feel-good stories, too. As many as possible.

Because in the midst of all the terrible things that we are deluged with every day, there are rays of sunshine always. Incredible stories of people doing generous things for others. Heroes and kind-hearted folks; strangers who lend a helping hand; young people who take a stand for what’s right; people who rise out of difficult circumstances to do something amazing.

Those are the stories we need to hear, too. Those are the voices that need to be amplified.

I’ve also noticed that on the Trading Places Facebook page and Instagram channel, those kinds of posts are the most popular – the ones that get the most likes, shares and interactions. And so on select Fridays, we will be bringing to you a few of those stories. I hope you will love this series as much as I do! And so I give you our inaugural Feel Good Friday News:

Refugee-Run Restaurant Voted ‘Nicest Place in America’ is Now Feeding Furloughed Workers

Yassin’s Falafel House, a refugee-run restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee, was voted the Nicest Place in America last year – and its latest initiative to care for furloughed government workers only reenforces the title. Yassin’s has been offering free meals to federal employees who have not been receiving paychecks since the US government shut down in December.

Furthermore, local community members are pitching in to cover the costs of the free meals by making donations to the restaurant.

Yassin's Falafel House

“Government employees are our brothers and sisters and they are not going be alone during the longest shutdown and we can’t be the nicest place in America if we leave them alone,” the restaurant wrote on its Facebook page.

The owner of the restaurant, a Syrian refugee named Yassin Terou, has become a beloved part of the community since he migrated to the US in 2011.

For the last four years, Terou has used the restaurant as a neighborhood sanctuary for everyone, regardless of their religion, race, or politics. During a local candlelit vigil in 2017, Terou was praised for reaching out to a man who attended the gathering and spent the event yelling to the crowds about how immigrants were stealing American jobs.

Instead of reciprocating the man’s venom, however, Terou approached him and offered to buy him dinner so they could talk – and he even offered the man a job at his restaurant. Now, that’s class.

Source: The Good News Network


Nigerian College Student Builds a $6000 Wind and Solar Powered Car

Segun Oyeyiola started with a Volkswagen Beetle and converted it into a fully renewable off-road vehicle.

8,000 miles away from Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters, Segun Oyeyiola has managed to make a renewable car of his own on a smaller scale. The engineering senior at Nigeria’s Obagemi Awolowo University spent a year retrofitting a Volkswagen Beetle into a wind and solar-powered car. Friends and family donated free scrap parts for the project, and everything else cost under $6,000.

Talking about his motivation for the project, in an email to Co.Exist Oyeyiola writes:

“I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emission[s] going to our atmosphere that lead to climate change or global warming which has become a new reality, with deleterious effect: seasonal cycles are disrupted, as are ecosystems; and agriculture, water needs and supply, and food production are all adversely affected.”

“Therefore, I came up of building a car that will use both winds and solar energy for its movement,” he continued. “This was my personal project because of the problem I’m planning to solve.”

The battery takes 4-5 hours to charge, but Oyeyiola says he’s working on that. The biggest challenges, he says, came from finding the best materials to use, and ignoring the people telling him he was wasting his time.

They don’t appear to be stopping Oyeyiola, who wants to create solar and wind-powered cars that take advantage of hot, sunny Nigerian weather. When asked what he is going to after his last finals, his answer is to “Keep improving on it, until it becomes Nigeria’s future car.”

Source: Intelligent Living

Baby Tortoises Show Up In The Galapagos Islands For The First Time In 100 Years

After 100 years of dwindling birth populations, attacks by invasive species, and heavy casualties from fishing and whaling, baby tortoises were found born in the Galapagos Islands. This is huge news for a species that has been struggling to survive for a century, relying on humans raising young tortoises bred in captivity until they are large enough to not fall prey to rats and predators. Finding naturally born young is evidence that conservation efforts are helping rebuild the islands ecosystem, which has been damaged, possibly irrevocably, since the 17th century.

Rats have been the biggest threat to the tortoise population since their accidental introduction to the island via ships infested with them. The rats root out nests and eat the eggs and newborns of numerous island species, hurting more than just the tortoise population. Thankfully, the island of Pinzón, home to the newborn tortoises, was declared rat-free in 2012, and the results are already showing.

It’s encouraging to see conservation efforts pay off so quickly. The tortoise population has gone from around 150 in 1959 to almost 500 today. Celebration is certainly in order, but there is still more hard work ahead. And it’s never too late to help the cause.

Source: The Rainforest Site (story by Adam Greene)

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