From why the 'kindness economy' is coming to a town near you, to how goats can save your relationship, editor-in-chief Lucy Purdy shares 10 insights from creating the April–June issue of Positive News magazine
Yes, people are capable of bad things – from the disappointing to the downright dreadful. But we’re also relentless at making things better, and we do so in ingenious ways. Take, for example, the story in the news section of the latest Positive News magazine, about a Dutch startup that’s created a coffin made from fungus. Each fully biodegradable mycelium casket takes just a week to grow, helping to transform your body into compost after your death.
Then there’s the Welsh outfit resurfacing roads using nappies, which otherwise take up to 500 years to degrade in landfill. The “nappy-enhanced” asphalt improves durability they say – so it’s not to be sniffed at.
Another bright spark has “designed out toxicity” from a new social media platform that he’s built, while a different firm has created ‘bioreceptive’ concrete to encourage walls of moss to spring up in urban areas.
We don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done – and the April–June issue of Positive News magazine offers ample reminder of that comforting fact.
That’s according to the people we spoke to for this issue’s cover feature about reinventing the UK’s urban centres. They see little desire among people to return to shopping habits of old, and are instead setting up climate hubs, sustainable fashion centres, sharing libraries, arts and cultural hotspots, and ‘fixing factories’.
Retail guru Mary Portas forecasts huge growth in the “kindness economy” – shops and businesses that contribute “with decency” to making life better. “We’re looking at a whole new generation who aren’t going to prop up the likes of Philip Green any more,” she notes.
OK, so he’s actually a former pilot, and he’s now a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion and the founder of Safe Landing – an organisation for climate-concerned aviation workers. But the juxtaposition of him in his former uniform, among the scenery of a laidback canal-life, makes for one of my favourite-ever photo portraits that we’ve published in the magazine.
Todd Smith is one of the fascinating interviewees in a feature about people who are switching away from high-carbon careers to put their skills toward planetary good. There’s also a former cattle farmer turned dosa bar owner and veg grower.
Theirs aren’t tales of straightforward saintly transformations, just ordinary people who are trying their best to respond to the climate crisis.
…and figuring out how to do so is a critical skill in our day and age, author Oliver Burkeman suggests in the new issue. Submerging yourself 24/7 in dreadful news doesn’t help anyone, “least of all Ukrainian refugees”, he suggests in the piece titled: How to become news-resilient.
It’s full of practical tips on how to remain informed and engaged with global developments, without allowing stories in the media to become your “centre of psychological gravity”.
Of course, a key part of the media diet puzzle is balancing the bad with the good, so subscribe to Positive News magazine now if you want to break your bad news habit. Or, gift a subscription if you know someone else who needs to take a break from doomscrolling.
I’m paraphrasing and of course trauma is no joke, but humour-as-therapy is the premise of a new ‘comedy on referral’ course for trauma survivors, which we report on in this issue. Bristol-based standup comic Angie Belcher has worked with health advisers to develop the sessions for people who have lived through the likes of post-traumatic stress disorder and postnatal depression.
“I’m hoping this will be a way for people to learn a new way to talk about themselves,” she told our journalist.
That’s certainly proved the case in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone, where plans are well under way to create the world’s largest urban garden. Sprouting on land formerly designated as ‘cracolândia’ due to being dominated by drug-users, the linked series of organic veg gardens is set to provide food for low-income communities. I loved reading about some of the characters behind this ambitious – and inevitably not-straightforward – scheme.
For fashion label founder and former refugee Mohamed Malim, discarded lifejackets are symbols of perseverance. People who choose to wear garments designed by his label Epimonia, stand in solidarity with refugees the world over, he explains in the latest Positive News magazine.
Malim’s is a tough yet uplifting story, with his own family’s experience fuelling his desire to help others. It’s well worth a read.
Don’t take our word for it – these are among the tips readers submitted when we asked for your advice on nurturing successful romantic relationships. A couple in Southsea, England, chose the code word ‘goat!’ to signal when they needed to chew the fat on a relationship issue, while another from Leicester swear by couple time in the form of playing video games and letting loose in mosh pits.
Time apart, tidying up and tantra also get mentions – read the full feature in the magazine for more gems from the Positive News community’s collective wisdom.
That was certainly the experience of the chap in the following observation by writer Miranda Keeling. “A man walking along Caledonian Road falls over on to the huge roll of bubble wrap he is hugging, perhaps for just this sort of situation,” goes her note about a scene she spotted in north London one January.
Inspired by her popular Twitter account, Keeling’s new book is full of such poetic vignettes on the magic, humour and strangeness of ordinary life. Noticing the small things unlocks “a world of wonders”, she enthuses. We delve into more of them – and why she chooses to record them – in an interview this issue.
Image: Sam Bush
Many people are in a state of climate depression, paralysed by the complexity and enormity of the problem, says Tim Lenton, professor of climate change and Earth system science at the University of Exeter.
But hope is at hand. In a news story this issue, Lenton introduces his fascinating research into the potential of positive tipping points – for example, Greta Thunberg coming from nowhere to mobilise millions to take climate action. Working out how to identify and trigger such moments could put us on a fast-track to climate-solutions, he enthuses.
“Small changes can make a big difference,” he says. “We aren’t necessarily insignificant, and we can be the start of – or part of – something that becomes really powerful.”
I’m excited to say that the whole issue is packed with people who are doing just that. You can take one positive step right now, joining the movement for a more solution-focused media, by subscribing to Positive News magazine. I hope you enjoy the issue.