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Carol Van Strum, crusader against Agent Orange, wins prestigious environmental award
18 March 2018 - Longtime environmental activist Carol Van Strum is now also the recipient of a prestigious environmental protection award for her decades of work. Strum was awarded the international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding environmental and social justice work on the first of March 2018. Strum is the author of 'A Bitter Fog,' which tells the story of the fight she helped lead against aerial herbicide spraying in the Five Rivers area of Oregon, which led to a temporary ban on aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests. (more)

Thailand: Tourist islands unite to save environment
18 March 2018 - Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province will ban 'unfriendly activities' which hurt the environment and marine ecological systems at the country's top tourist destinations. The measures include: no anchoring at a coral reef, a ban on feeding marine animals, no catching fish, no construction that has harmful results on marine and coastal resources, no waste water discharges, and no sea walker activity. (more)

France to commit 700 million euros to International Solar Alliance
17 March 2018 - France will commit 700 million euros to the International Solar Alliance (ISA), President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday (11 March) at the founding conference of the organization, reiterating the European country's commitment to the alliance and clean energy. ISA is an inter-governmental organization that aims to mobilize $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage, and technology across the world. It has 60 signatories, with 30 of those countries having ratified the agreement. (more)

Growing your own in 30 below - the chef on an Arctic self-sufficiency mission
17 March 2018 - 'We're on a mission ... to make this town very sustainable. Because if we can do it here, then what's everybody else's excuse?' In one of the planet's most northerly settlements, in a tiny Arctic town of about 2,000 people, Benjamin Vidmar's domed greenhouse stands out like an alien structure in the snow-cloaked landscape. He is the sole supplier of locally-grown food in the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago. The North Pole is about 1,050 kilometres (650 miles) to the north; mainland Norway is about as far south. (more)

15th-century pot of gold (and silver) found in the Netherlands
17 March 2018 - While digging in Hoef en Haag, a town in central Netherlands, waterworks employees recently unearthed a remarkable archaeological relic: a centuries-old pot filled with hundreds of gold and silver coins. ...As Janene Pieters reports for the NL Times, experts are nevertheless excited by the discovery, which they hope will shed light on a little-known period in the area's history. (more)

America's most beautiful botanical gardens
17 March 2018 - One of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of the clearer, warmer, and certainly brighter months of spring is to visit a botanical garden and marvel at nature's awakening beauty, with a full spectrum of radiantly colored plants and flowers that are just now starting to bloom across America. ... The following is a brief preview of five of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the country. (more)

Real-life pot o' gold discovered during Dutch construction project
17 March 2018 - Utility workers in the Netherlands stumbled across a centuries-old pot of gold earlier this month while laying down new pipes, according to news reports. The remarkable find includes 500 coins -- 12 of them gold and the rest silver -- dating to the 15th century, which were nestled inside of a glazed, earthenware cooking pot, according to the NL Times. (more)

US: Entering a 'rainforest' at the Philadelphia Flower Show
17 March 2018 - The 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show's theme was 'Wonders of Water.' The PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) chief of shows explained, 'We want to capture all the sensory elements of the rainforest -- its fantastic colors, scents, and sounds -- and demonstrate its unique and vital role in purifying water and sustaining our environment.' (more)

US: This is what the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show looks like
17 March 2018 - Snow may be falling in the City of Brotherly Love, but it's decidedly spring once you head inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Philadelphia Flower Show, put on by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, invites guests to walk into a rainforest, marvel at a 25-foot waterfall, and get lost in scores upon scores of flower displays. (more)

Just desserts - Sara Lee foundation to invest all assets into social change
16 March 2018 - The charity founded by the previous owner of frozen dessert-maker Sara Lee in the United States said it would invest its entire $440-million asset pool in ways that drive social change. The New York-based Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF), which in 2016 agreed grants of $23 million, said its decision would make it 'one of the largest foundations to commit 100 percent' to so-called impact investing. (more)

Largest-ever growth seen in global acreage of organic crop land
16 March 2018 - A total of 57.8 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2016, representing a growth of 7.5 million hectares over 2015, the largest growth ever recorded. This is according to the latest global data on organic farming worldwide, that was presented by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL and IFOAM -- Organics International at the BIOFACH world organic trade fair 2018 in Nuremberg, Germany. (more)

US: How the Ford Foundation is investing in change
16 March 2018 - The 82-year-old Ford Foundation is upending the model for grant-making institutions by wielding its endow­ment like an impact investor. Though foundations traditionally spend 5 percent of their funds on cause-related grants and initiatives, the other 95 percent typically goes toward unrelated investments that keep the endowment growing. Ford spends between $500 million and $550 million a year to support social justice work around the world. But last year, it also pledged to plow up to $1 billion of its overall $12.5 billion endowment over the next decade into so-called mission-related investments (MRIs) that generate both financial and social returns. (more)

'Enough': US students come together in spectacular walkout to end gun violence
15 March 2018 - Thousands of students poured out of classrooms in the US on Wednesday (14 March) in an unprecedented expression of mourning and a demand for action to stem the country's epidemic of gun violence. The protesters called for new gun safety legislation, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and the introduction of universal background checks. They also opposed the additional fortification of schools with fences and armed guards, policies endorsed by the NRA, America's powerful gun lobby group. (more)

Finland is the happiest country in the world, says UN report
15 March 2018 - Finland has overtaken Norway to become the happiest nation on earth, according to a UN report. For the first time the UN also examined the happiness levels of immigrants in each country, and found Finland also scored highest. (more)

ISA summit: French President Macron applauds India's efforts in promoting solar energy
15 March 2018 - As world leaders gathered here [New Delhi] to discuss ways to promote more efficient and feasible methods of harnessing solar energy for power generation, visiting French President Emmanuel Macron today [11 March] pledged over $860 million for solar projects in developing countries and lauded India's efforts in making International Solar Alliance (ISA) a reality. The French president in 2015 joined hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cobble together a solar alliance of over 120 nations, situated between the two tropics. On Sunday [11 March], the alliance held its first summit in Delhi, which was attended by heads of 23 nations and 10 ministerial representatives. (more)

US: The surprising state where solar energy is flourishing
15 March 2018 - Minnesota is on a hot streak in converting sunlight into usable power. The state tripled its solar energy capacity through the first quarter of this year [2017]. And, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, it has increased solar output twelve-fold since 2015. (more)

'Enough is enough': US students stage walkouts against guns
14 March 2018 - Declaring enough is enough, tens of thousands of young people from Maine to Alaska walked out of school to demand action on gun violence Wednesday (14 March) in one of the biggest student protests since the Vietnam era. Braving snow in New England and threats of school discipline in places like Georgia and Ohio, they carried signs with messages, railed against the National Rifle Association, and bowed their heads in memory of [the 17 students who lost their lives] in the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (more)

Finland is world's happiest country: U.N. report
14 March 2018 - Finland is the world's happiest country, according to an annual survey issued on Wednesday (14 March) that found Americans were getting less happy even as their country became richer. The U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network's (SDSN) 2018 World Happiness Report ranked 156 countries according to things such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. (more)

This is the world's happiest country
14 March 2018 - Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to the latest World Happiness Report. Norway, last year's winner, came in second place in the 2018 report. It's followed by Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. The World Happiness Report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 14, days before World Happiness Day on March 20. (more)

Cherry blossoms, tulips, and lilacs: Flower festival time
13 March 2018 - We're coming up on cherry blossom festivals, tulip time, and lilac season. Here's a look at some of the places that celebrate spring flowers with festivals and other events. Tulip Time: You could go to the Netherlands to see the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, which are planted with 7 million flowering bulbs ... Or you could visit Holland, Michigan, which hosts a Tulip Time Festival. Pella, Iowa, has also been hosting a Tulip Time celebration. ... Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Macon, Georgia ... Japan. (more)

500 Canadian doctors protest pay raises because they already make enough money
11 March 2018 - Hundreds of Canadian doctors, medical specialists and residents, as well as medical students, have signed a petition protesting their own pay raises, instead asking that the money be reallocated to help nurses and patients in need. (more)

How Washington, DC's National Cherry Blossom Festival became a celebrated US annual spring tradition (+ video)
10 March 2018 - The more than a century-old tradition of commemorating the continued close relationship between the United States and Japan has flourished into one of America's most celebrated springtime festivals. The festival honors Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C., in 1912. The history of cherry trees in the nation's capital dates back to 1885, when Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, an American writer, photographer, and the first female board member of the National Geographic Society, returned with the idea following the first of her many trips to Japan. (more)

Solar power stations, made in Germany (+ video)
9 March 2018 - A German startup is converting containers into portable power stations -- which can provide clean, cheap electricity for a whole village. Communities in Mali and Niger are already benefitting -- Somaliland could be next. (more)

Uganda: RUCID College for Organic Agriculture
9 March 2018 - RUCID ('Rural Community in Development') is a privately run College for Organic Agriculture in Mityana, Uganda. Directly funded by The Tudor Trust from the UK, this project created new dormitory space for 72 students as well as two additional classrooms and kitchens, organized into two villages. Existing teaching and accommodation buildings were refurbished as part of the project. (more)

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