The week's good news: April 13, 2023
It wasn't all bad!
The art of poetry is alive and well in South Los Angeles
Hiram Sims' lifelong love of poetry is now benefiting his neighborhood in South Los Angeles. "Poetry's like a frequency that I can hear above all other frequencies," Sims told The Christian Science Monitor, and he has long been inspired by everything from the words of Edgar Allan Poe to the rhymes of The Notorious B.I.G. A creative writing and composition professor with three books of poetry under his belt, he launched the Community Literature Initiative (CLI) to help local poets polish their manuscripts and connect with presses. Many students couldn't afford to buy books and found their libraries didn't have robust poetry sections, so Sims bought 80 tomes, put them in a suitcase, and started dropping them off to students. One called the suitcase "the little Sims library of poetry," and Sims thought this was an "incredible concept." With the support of friends and family, in 2020 Sims opened the Sims Library of Poetry. It has comfortable spaces for reading, writing, studying, workshops, open mics, and performances, and is home to 9,000 poetry books, many of them donated.
Researchers hopeful vaccines for cancer, heart disease will be ready by 2030
Studies into vaccinations for cancer and cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases are showing "tremendous promise," Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer of Moderna, told The Guardian, with the success of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines accelerating this technology. As The Guardian explains, "therapies based on mRNA work by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers the body's immune response against disease." Burton thinks his pharmaceutical company will offer treatments for "all sorts of disease areas" by 2030, and is developing cancer vaccines targeting multiple types of tumors. By offering personalized cancer vaccines, it will "save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives," Burton said. He estimates that 10 years from now, "we will be approaching a world where you truly can identify the genetic cause of a disease and, with relative simplicity, go and edit that out and repair it using mRNA-based technology."
Doctoral student designs plastic windows for use in Ukraine
Through the Insulate Ukraine project, Harry Blakiston Houston is replacing glass windows across the country damaged by bullets and bombs with a window he designed made of polyethylene, PVC piping, pipe insulation, and duct tape. A biotechnology PhD student at Cambridge University, Blakiston Houston is taking a break from his studies to set up Insulate Ukraine. His goal is to have facilities in several Ukrainian cities, where locals can put together the plastic windows in about 15 minutes. His design has four layers of insulation, and costs about $15 per square meter to make. So far, hundreds of windows have been installed, and Blakiston Houston said Insulate Ukraine is "essentially empowering Ukrainians because we're giving them a way to solve this problem for themselves. All we have to do is show them how to build the windows and help them to get hold of the materials."
This teacher in Kenya found a way to turn motorbikes electric with old laptop batteries
Old laptop batteries are getting new life, thanks to Kenyan high school teacher Paul Waweru. He gathers the batteries, find cells that hold a good charge, and uses them for battery packs that replace the internal combustion engines in gas-powered bikes, making them electric. It takes about 45 minutes to fully charge the battery pack, which can then go for 60 miles. Waweru launched a company for these e-bikes called Ecomobilus, and said they are "more advantageous compared to other gasoline-powered bikes" because there's really no maintenance required. They also help with air pollution, and are especially popular with people who need to zip around town and want to avoid high gas prices. Delivery driver John Mwangi told USA Today he bought an Ecomobilus electric bike and is happy that it costs much less than his old gas-powered bike. "It consumes less time, it's efficient, and I save on fuel," he said.
Senior living community staffer connects with residents through manicures
Hearts, flowers, and even Easter bunnies...Marielle Smith can nail them all. Smith, 19, works part-time at the Good Samaritan Society - Ambassador senior living community in New Hope, Minnesota, and spends several hours a shift giving residents free manicures with nail art. Two of those residents, Toots Holland and Dee Lowell, encouraged Smith to go to beauty school, and the recent graduate, now a certified nail technician, enjoys practicing her newfound skills on them. "It's a talent, it truly is," Holland told KARE 11. This is a great way for residents to indulge in some self care, with Lowell saying, "I feel wonderful. That's one of the best things I can do for myself." The community's director of nursing, Kim Stoltzman, told KARE 11 residents are quick to show off their manicures, and "they're very proud of their nails. It just makes them feel good. It just adds so much joy to their day and their life."