The week's good news: July 8, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
High school graduates use senior trip money to help their community instead
They raised thousands for a senior trip to remember, but instead the graduating class of Isleboro Central School in Maine won't ever forget the lives they changed by donating that money. Pre-pandemic, the 13 members of the Class of 2021 organized festivals, worked concession stands, and held dinners to raise money for their trip. This spring, knowing international travel was out, the students started discussing going somewhere local. Senior Liefe Temple told The Associated Press it seemed "weird and definitely wrong" to take a trip now, so they decided to donate $5,000 to the Island Community Fund, to help people who needed money for food or expenses. "It felt really good to do that with our money, to give it back to the people who gave it to us," Temple said. Isleboro Community Fund President Fred Thomas told AP the decision "demonstrated an awareness of the hardship in their community and a willingness to do something about it. They learned that giving is hard, but giving is good."
Empty storefronts in New York are being transformed into free art exhibits
Barbara Anderson found a way to showcase New York City artists while also preventing blight. Anderson lives in Manhattan's Upper West Side, and told The Christian Science Monitor that seeing stores in her neighborhood shutting down because of the pandemic was disheartening. She decided to do something about it, and last June, launched an initiative called Art on the Ave, which turns empty storefronts into art exhibits. The first show, "Healing," featured 55 works of art by 41 New York artists across 12 storefronts in the Upper West Side. People walking by scanned QR codes in the windows, and could listen to artist talks or buy a piece that caught their eye. By the end of the exhibit, more than a dozen works of art were sold, bringing in $60,000 for the creators. "Healing" was a success, and so was a second exhibit, "Awakening," held in the West Village. A third exhibit, "Resiliency," is slated for later this year in lower Manhattan.
Rescue cat makes it to the top of New Hampshire's 48 tallest mountains
In New Hampshire, there are 48 4,000-foot peaks, and Floki the rescue cat has now reached the summit of each one. She hasn't done it on her own — during every journey, Floki was in a backpack, carried to the top by her owner Mel Elam. Elam adopted Floki from a shelter last year, and they almost immediately started spending much of their time together in the great outdoors. It took the pair nine months to hit all the mountains, and they documented their adventures on Facebook. Elam told WMUR that the duo's dedicated fans were worried that this would be the end of their escapades, but "we're still going to be out there," she said. Having tackled the tallest mountains in New Hampshire, Elam said she and Floki will now start hiking up the "52 With A View" – mountains that have elevations under 4,000 feet with spectacular views.
An act of kindness on a California street sparked a lifelong friendship
A chance encounter two years ago in California led to Scott Kuczmarski and Robert Pineda becoming best friends and living within an hour of each other in Rhode Island. During a visit to Palo Alto, Kuczmarski was handing out water when he met Pineda, who had been homeless for 32 years. Over the next three weeks, they had breakfast together every morning. "I stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit," Pineda told Good Morning America. When Kuczmarski went home to Rhode Island, he kept in touch with Pineda over Facebook. He wanted to help Pineda get housing and treatment for his mental illness, and to prove he was sincere, Kuczmarski asked Pineda if he could spend the night with him on the streets. "I was in so much shock I couldn't believe it," Pineda said. The experience bonded them for life. Pineda began taking medication, and found affordable housing in Rhode Island, just 60 minutes from Kuczmarski's house. Kuczmarski and Pineda now regularly golf together and Pineda attends all Kuczmarski family celebrations.
Researchers say ancient bone carving suggests Neanderthals could make art
Inside a German cave, researchers discovered what they say is one of the oldest pieces of art ever found. It is the toe bone of a prehistoric deer, with lines carved into, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. They say the lines were made by Neanderthals, and the bone carbon dates to 51,000 years ago. It has long been thought that Neanderthals were unable to express symbolism through art, NBC News reports, and the researchers said this is evidence to the contrary. They don't know if the lines on the toe bone have any meaning, as the object is "quite unique," archaeologist Dirk Leder said. The team has been "discussing different interpretations," Leder added, and the shape "could be like a female figurine with the head and the chest part, but then the chevron pattern to some of us looked like three mountains in a row, a landscape view."