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Shoots of hope

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Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the fears of a second wave, devastating loss of lives and livelihoods globally, and the worst economic fallout in history looming large, it may be difficult to find much to smile about these days. Yet, such periods of instability often make way for opportunities to thrive in what is now often called the “new normal”.

If we look hard enough, there are also stories of communities pulling together, businesses collaborating and individuals showing the best of humanity amidst the devastation.

As the new edition of Positive News magazine landed on my desk, I was delighted to find out about some of these bright sparks of hope.

Masks for Africa
Tailors in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, are busy sewing masks, as part of a crowdfunded venture, African Masks. To date, almost 10,000 colourful African print masks are being delivered to communities in the DRC, Kenya, Senegal, Benin and Nigeria to fight the spread of the virus. The initiative launched by humanitarian worker Emilie Serralta is not only providing much needed jobs during a tough economic time but also keeping those at risk, like market traders and motorbike taxi drivers, protected.

The lead tailor, Kitumaini Ngabe Rafiki said, “The idea was to create something that could be reusable and low-cost. But at the same time we hope the colours create a less stressful atmosphere in the street and are more aesthetically pleasing.”

Carbon falling
The International Energy Agency predicted a fall of 8% in carbon emissions in the UK as a result of lockdowns across the world. The drop in air pollution has not only impacted positive on the environment but also on human health too, with symptoms of respiratory conditions easing for one in six patients, as a British Lung Foundation survey found out.

Going green
With risk of coronavirus spread on public transport and ease of commute during the lockdown, cycling is having a major comeback around the world. Back in May, the UK government dedicated a £2bn fund to kickstart a green transport revolution and create a “new era for walking and cycling.” While in Paris, 50km of roads will be reserved for cyclists, aiming to ease passenger numbers on public transport. Another place building back greener is Houston, Texas where the Houston Climate Action Plan pledged 500 miles of bike lanes in the next five years.

New ways of working
The global work from home experiment has worked so well that some major companies are making return to the office in 2021 optional for their employees while in New Zealand, Jacida Ardern is exploring the possibility of a four-day working week.

Harvard Business Review started surveying a diverse group of more than 600 US-based white-collar employees during the second half of March and have continued to do so every two weeks since. Comments made by everyone from frontline employees to CEOs highlighted the perceived benefits from working from home. Many reported that they had “more focus time,” “shorter meetings,” and “more flexible time with family” — and, most commonly, were “not missing the daily commute.” By the eighth week, many employees reported getting “into the groove of working from home” and “wanting to continue” working virtually. Several even said, “I love it.” Is it finally time we explore new ways of working?


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