It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: March 25, 2021

The Week Staff
Indonesia.
Syaif Udin/iStock

1.

Indonesian man spends 24 years transforming fire-ravaged land into lush ecosystem

A man in Indonesia has transformed barren, arid land into a lush ecosystem over the course of 24 years, defying naysayers. The land in Central Java was destroyed by a fire meant to prepare it for cultivation. Sadiman, 69, said he knew if he didn't plant banyan and ficus trees to store water, the little resources left would dry up. So he planted more than 11,000 trees across 617 acres, and paid for it by selling and bartering goats and plants from his nursery. Eventually, springs formed and water was piped to homes and farms. Now, the area's once-annual harvest takes place two to three times a year thanks to the additional water. "I hope the people here can have prosperous lives and live happily," Sadiman said. [Reuters]

2.

Baltimore chef drives to Vermont to cook customer her favorite dish

Brandon Jones' mother-in-law adored the tempura broccoli at Ekiben restaurant in Baltimore, and after learning she had terminal cancer, Jones made it his mission to serve her that favorite dish one more time. His mother-in-law lives in Vermont, so Jones sent an email to Ekiben's owner, Steve Chu, asking if he'd share the recipe for the family to recreate at home. Chu responded with a better idea: "We'd like to meet you in Vermont and make it fresh for you." He assured Jones that he understood it was a six-hour drive, but was happy to make the trek. When Chu and his business partner arrived in Vermont, they got cooking in the back of a pickup truck outside of the mother-in-law's condo. She recognized Chu and his crew, and was in disbelief that they drove up to Vermont to cook for her. [The Washington Post]

3.

Teenager saves her best friend's life, 1 day after learning CPR

Torri'ell Norwood's CPR training came at exactly the right moment. Last month, Norwood, 16, finished a basic life support class at her high school in St. Petersburg, Florida, just one day before she used her new skills to save the life of her best friend, A'zarria Simmons. On Feb. 20, the girls were driving when another car plowed into their vehicle. After Norwood climbed out to safety, she saw Simmons was still in the backseat, unresponsive. Norwood carefully pulled Simmons out of the car and began to perform CPR — after 30 compressions and two rescue breaths, Simmons regained consciousness. Norwood told CNN she "never would have thought" that out of all her classmates, she would be the one to save someone's life, but Simmons wasn't surprised. "She will always help any way she can, to help anybody," Simmons said. [CNN]

4.

Doctor and patient find a way to run a marathon together, 355 miles apart

As he recovered from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and reconstruct his hip, Colin Jackson could only think of one thing: running his next marathon. His surgeon, Dr. James Flint, was against the idea, worried Jackson would dislocate his new hip, and he "half-jokingly" told his patient he'd join him for the marathon. A year later, the pair came up with a way to tackle the Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Marathon together. Flint ran and walked 26.2 miles in San Diego, while Jackson and a support group did the same in Phoenix. During the 12-hour marathon, they kept in touch through phone calls and text messages. Jackson told the San Diego Union-Tribune Flint has "made such a difference this entire journey," and he "can't put it into words because it means so much." [San Diego Union-Tribune]

5.

Once nearly extinct, the American bald eagle has made a comeback

In 1963, there were just 417 known nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States. Now, that number has soared to 71,400 pairs, according to a report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The bald eagle population has quadrupled since the last major count in 2009 — there are now an estimated 316,700 individual birds in the lower 48 states, with more than half living in the Mississippi Flyway, spanning roughly from Minnesota and Wisconsin down to Louisiana. Conservation methods were enacted in the 1960s, and the bird was removed from the list of endangered and threatened species in 2007. For the best chance at spotting the bird, visit shoreline forests, where they often perch atop trees. In flight, they pump their wings slowly, with a 5- to 8-foot wingspan. Their large brown bodies and white heads are unmistakable, though younger birds are almost completely brown. [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service]