Michaela Haas

Michaela Haas, Ph.D., is a Contributing Editor at Reasons to be Cheerful. An award-winning author and solutions reporter, her recent books include Bouncing Forward: The Art and Science of Cultivating Resilience (Atria). Visit www.michaelahaas.com

A ‘High-Tech, Low-Cost’ Approach to Community Mental Health Care in India

7 min read

Maanasis innovative, women-focused strategy has been so successful that it has already been copied in Kenya, Lithuania and elsewhere.

This LA Restaurant Serves Up Empowerment for Refugees

5 min read

At Flavors From Afar, each chef brings their own unique history to the table — with vibrant, triumphant and delicious results.

Is It Time to Break Up With Fireworks?

4 min read

Fourth of July celebrations have long featured flashy pyrotechnics. But more environmentally friendly spectacles could take their place.

The Search for the Perfect Natural Period Product

7 min read

Most menstrual products contain plastic, and more ecological options are pricey. But the “sustainable menstruation” movement is finally gaining traction.

Could New Technology Eliminate Cervical Cancer?

7 min read

Health care nonprofits are sharing new screening and treatment methods, aiming to one day eradicate this preventable disease completely.

A Healthy Coral Reef Is a Symphony

7 min read

In the growing field of “ecoacoustics,” scientists use the ocean’s natural sounds to monitor the health of marine ecosystems — and even restore them.

How Do You Say ‘Danger’ in Sperm Whale Clicks?

2 min read

These massive sea creatures communicate in complex, techno-like patterns. Listening in could prove key to saving them.

What If Finding Affordable Housing Worked More Like Matchmaking?

7 min read

Personalized, flexible support is helping low-income Californians navigate an intense real estate market.

The Smart Heart: How AI Is Sharpening Cardiovascular Medicine

6 min read

Artificial intelligence tools have the potential to prevent thousands of heart attacks every year — if researchers can meet the technology’s challenges.

Could Wild Horses Help Fight Wildfires?

2 min read

The controversial animals graze on the grass and brush that fuel blazes. So one California naturalist asks: Why not send them to fire-prone wilderness?

The School Day When No One Eats Alone

5 min read

Lots of kids feel socially isolated — especially at lunchtime. A national movement is working to change that.

How Books Are Reaching Kids in ‘Book Deserts’

4 min read

Millions of children in the US grow up without books at home. A book bank aims to change that.

Banking the Most Valuable Currency: Time

6 min read

In a “time bank,” members accumulate bankable hours, for instance by babysitting or doing repairs, and get “repaid” with assistance when they need it, usually later in life.

A Surprising Way to Stop Bullying

6 min read

The strategy behind the “No-Blame” approach is counterintuitive but effective: enlisting the bullies’ help to solve the problem.

How I Got Hooked on Solutions Journalism

6 min read

Evidence-driven stories about solutions shed light on what’s possible, helping readers to overcome feelings of helplessness.

A Carnegie Hall Concert Series Designed for Mental Health

5 min read

With an emphasis on mindfulness and human connection, New York’s legendary theater is using culture to cultivate well-being.

The Legendary Ocean Explorer Protecting ‘Hope Spots’ Around the World

7 min read

Sylvia Earle, a pioneer of both deep sea diving and ocean conservation, has made it her mission to protect the ocean’s biodiversity, one spot at a time.

The Prison-to-Hollywood Pipeline Is the Stuff of Cinematic Dreams

7 min read

In a world where formerly homeless and incarcerated folks struggle to find work, an industry is opening its arms.

The Power of Sharing Patients’ Life Stories With Caregivers

7 min read

When one woman pasted her father’s brief biography on the walls, his caregivers became his champions. Now, more patients are sharing their stories.

The Texas Shrimper Holding Industrial Polluters Accountable

7 min read

The “reclusive fisherwoman” turned “controversial hell-raiser” is battling some of the biggest petrochemical companies — and winning.

Can a Tiny Restaurant Surcharge Move the Needle on Climate?

6 min read

Investing just one percent of food and beverage sales in regenerative agriculture could be key to changing the food system.

Getting the Soil Right: How Carbon Farming Combats Climate Change

7 min read

When it comes to maximizing carbon sequestration, one key strategy lies beneath farmers’ feet.

Mindful Breathing Is Coming to New York City Classrooms This Fall

4 min read

Every student in the city will engage in two to five minutes of daily mindfulness, a tactic that has shown positive effects in schools around the world.

Navigating the Waves

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Surf therapy is being embraced — from the US Navy to the British health service — as a surprisingly effective treatment for depression, anxiety and trauma.

For Outdoor Workers, Learning About Heat Protection Is a Lifesaver

7 min read

In the absence of legal protections, one nurse-researcher is educating workers on how to stay safe amid punishing heat waves.

In This Arizona City, Kids With Autism Are More Than Welcome

6 min read

For families with neurodiverse children, travel can be tough. In Mesa, locals have learned how to make it much easier.

The Life-Changing, Solar-Charged Power of ‘Regenerative Travel’

5 min read

Meet the intrepid e-bikers who are helping others to travel ecologically and give back along the way.

Purified Wastewater Is the Drink of the Future

5 min read

Wastewater recycling is gathering steam. If you’ve been to Disneyland lately, you’ve already tried the clean water it can produce.

A Wild Cat Comeback — Thanks to Vultures

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Birds and cats aren’t usually allies. But in Zambia, a common threat — and a concerted effort to fight it — unites them.

The Cascading Effects of Bringing Back Sea Otters

8 min read

In Oregon and California, efforts to repopulate these furry engineers could revive struggling ocean ecosystems.

Up-Close Ecotourism Is Nurturing Gray Whales in Mexico

9 min read

In the lagoons off the Pacific coast of Baja Sur, physical contact between tourists and whales is at the heart of a new model of marine conservation.

Over 2,000 Companies Buy and Sell Recycled Plastic at This Online Marketplace

6 min read

Activist-entrepreneur Christian Schiller’s global platform is where plastic sellers and seekers keep your old shampoo bottles out of the waste stream.

Why Won’t You Recycle My Batteries?

5 min read

Europe’s ubiquitous recycling system for household batteries means virtually none get thrown away. How come the US doesn’t have something similar?

Alongside Math and Reading, Schools Are Now Teaching Happiness

5 min read

With “gratitude necklaces” and “gardens of emotions,” mental wellbeing classes help young people with anxiety and confidence.

Recycled Glass, Turned into Sand, Is Restoring Louisiana’s Coastline

5 min read

It’s just one example of how pulverized glass has become an upcycling hero, finding new purpose in landscaping, construction, even coastal restoration.

The Woman Who Brought Dirt to Harvard

7 min read

Architecture pioneer Anna Heringer takes sustainable construction to a new — old — level, building with the earth beneath her feet.

Can the ‘Slow Flowers’ Movement Make Valentine’s Day Sustainable?

5 min read

Advocates shining a light on ecologically responsible bouquets want to do for the floral industry what locavorism did for food.

For the Housing Market’s Greenest Buyers, ‘Earthships’ Are Taking Off

10 min read

Long dismissed as hippie havens, off-grid communities are getting a fresh look as wasteful construction practices come under scrutiny.

“If You Can’t Say It, Write It”

4 min read

The white mailboxes in schools and sports clubs were to encourage kids to write about their sorrows. They became a powerful tool for stopping child abuse.

For More Sustainable Affordable Housing, Just Add Mushrooms

7 min read

Architect David Benjamin is bringing his biology-inspired recipe for construction materials to an affordable housing project in Oakland, California.

Where Do Abandoned Bicycles Go? In Some Cases, Madagascar

6 min read

In a largely unseen system, abandoned bikes are repaired and shipped to people across the US — and around the world — who can use them to travel to school or work.

What If Extinction Wasn’t Forever?

6 min read

At the frontier of conservation, scientists are learning how to bring back “functionally extinct” species using cryogenically frozen cells from the past.

San Diego’s Frozen Zoo Is Bringing Species Back from the Brink

7 min read

In what sounds like science fiction, geneticists are using cryogenically frozen animal cells to stop species from going extinct.

What If Donated Food Was Delightful?

6 min read

A Chicago nonprofit is reinventing the food bank with better-than-store-bought produce, friendly delivery and an emphasis on client satisfaction.

A Call for Help Answered

6 min read

Abuse survivors can call helplines to stop the violence. Now abusers can, too.

‘Open Source’ Seeds Loosen Big Ag’s Grip on Farmers

5 min read

A handful of companies own the patents on virtually every seed planted in the US. Now, a new crop of unowned seeds is bringing biodiversity back to farming.

Making a Desk with 10,000 Recycled Chopsticks

4 min read

A German engineer asked restaurants for their used chopsticks — and a sustainable furnishings business was born.

The Voluntary Gun Law Preventing Suicides

6 min read

Utah, Virginia and Washington allow people to ban themselves from impulsively buying a gun. Many more states could follow their lead.

The Sky’s the Limit

2 min read

How a last-ditch attempt to save the few remaining California condors became a conservation victory for the ages.

Inside the ‘Energy Villages’ Powering Germany’s Green Transition

9 min read

“We believe citizens taking responsibility for their own energy supply is the future.”

Want Safer Streets? Cover Them in Art

5 min read

With traffic deaths rising in the US, some cities are turning crosswalks and intersections into eye-catching murals — with life-saving results.

How America’s First ‘Heat Officers’ Are Cooling Miami and Los Angeles

7 min read

For the first time, two US cities are treating extreme heat as a crisis — and dealing with it accordingly.

‘Ventilation Corridors’ Funnel Cool Mountain Air Into Steamy Stuttgart

5 min read

With strategically placed channels for air flow, the birthplace of the automobile is using urban design to lower the temperature.

Want Fewer Abortions? Legalize Them

7 min read

The countries with the lowest abortion rates have one thing in common: access to safe, affordable abortion.

These Farms Are Living a Double Life

6 min read

Energy-hungry societies are confronting a dilemma: use precious land to harvest crops or green energy? A new kind of farm says you can do both.

Home Is Where the Art Is

7 min read

In Düsseldorf, revenues from sales of works by famous artists are used to buy apartments for those who need them most.

What Growing Up in Rural Germany Taught Me about Guns

6 min read

In the Bavarian village where I was raised, guns are a part of life. Mass shootings are not.

The Little-Known Tool Protecting California Towns from Polluters

7 min read

Most Californians have never heard of the CalEnviroScreen — even those whose communities it has shielded from ecological disaster.

Does This Water Have Legal Rights?

6 min read

Threatened by development, five bodies of water are suing the State of Florida, making the unprecedented argument that nature has legal rights, too.

Psychedelics Show Promise as a Treatment for Alcoholism

5 min read

As alcohol consumption surges, groundbreaking new experiments are showing the vast potential of psilocybin to treat addiction.

In Sweden, Drones Are Beating Ambulances to the Scene — and Saving Lives

5 min read

New technology is intervening in the moments where speed matters more than anything. Welcome to the future of emergency medicine.

Through Online Platforms, Thousands Open Their Homes to Ukraine’s Refugees

6 min read

Airbnb-style home sharing is changing what it means to be displaced.

A Bicycle Is an Anti-Poverty Machine

5 min read

Giving people bicycles may be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to support them. One group is distributing them by the thousands.

“If You Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them”

6 min read

A Berlin catering and food truck company is turning invasive species into haute cuisine. Will “invasivorism” be the next step in the sustainable food movement?

The Eco-Friendlier Future of the Disposable Spork

5 min read

As cities and countries ban single-use plastics, sustainable alternatives are emerging.

A Bridge Will Help Humans and Lions Coexist in Los Angeles

6 min read

As the only major Western city that is home to lions, L.A. is breaking new ground in infrastructure designed for big wildlife.

In the World’s Fastest Drummer, Scientists See a Bionics Breakthrough

6 min read

The same A.I. technology that runs Jason Barnes’ prosthetic arm can teach people how to read Braille or play the piano in a matter of hours.

Palm Oil Is the Worst. Could This Replace It?

5 min read

Environmentally destructive palm oil is in countless products. Sustainable yeast oil offers a tantalizing alternative.

Want Drastic Climate Action? Maybe It’s Time to Sue the Government

5 min read

When political leaders dither, “the only instrument that leads to non-negotiable results is the court ruling.”

A Diet Rich in Probiotics Could Climate-Proof Coral Reefs

5 min read

New research shows that the “gut health” microorganisms can enhance the immune systems of living coral.

A Tall, Cool Glass of Air

5 min read

For drought-stricken places, pulling drinkable water from the atmosphere could become one of the easiest ways to stay hydrated.

The App That Lets You Lend Your Eyes to a Blind Person

5 min read

If you have a phone, you can be one of the 5.4 million volunteers who help the visually impaired with their daily tasks.

Should We Protect Children or Privacy?

5 min read

Technology exists to scan people’s devices for evidence of child abuse. Should we use it?

The Library Where the ‘Books’ Are Human Beings

6 min read

With branches in 80 countries, the Human Library allows you to borrow a person — a rugby player, a refugee, a sex worker — and ask them anything you want.

Amsterdam’s Instant Fix for Getting Rid of Junk Mail

4 min read

By only delivering it to people ask for it, the city is saving thousands of tons of paper per year.

Would You Compost Your Body to Create Life after Death?

6 min read

Three U.S. states have legalized “natural organic reduction,” in which the dead are returned to the earth to help nourish its growth. 

How One Woman Protected Millions of Acres

8 min read

Kristine Tompkins has conserved more land than any other single individual, calling it “capitalist jiujitsu” for the planet.

How to Turn a Desert into a Forest

6 min read

A group of “holistic engineers” wants to return the arid Sinai peninsula to the lush, green landscape it once was.

Could Products Made of CO2 Help Cool the Planet?

6 min read

The growing carbontech industry is capturing CO2 from the air and turning it into everything from bras to vodka to fresh baked bread.

The Movement to Give ‘Personhood’ Rights to Animals

6 min read

Legal systems around the world are beginning to confront an existential question: What rights does an animal have?

Locked Up and Finding Their Way Together

6 min read

In California’s prisons, lifers — both human and canine — are setting each other free.

Doctors Are Soothing Pain with Virtual Reality Worlds

5 min read

Some patients are undergoing difficult procedures while surrounded by fluffy bouncing bears and winter wonderlands.

You May Already Be Wearing the World’s Most Sustainable Jeans

5 min read

A family-owned Italian denim manufacturer is turning one of fashion’s most toxic staples green, one global brand at a time.

Can We Suck Up Enough CO2 to Cool the Planet?

6 min read

As we speak, giant machines are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an urgent attempt to slam the brakes on climate change.

L.A.’s New Reflective Streets Bounce Heat Back into Space

5 min read

The air in these neighborhoods is getting cooler — with huge implications for sweltering cities worldwide.

Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club

5 min read

An all-vegan stadium. A field fertilized with seaweed. How the owner of the sport’s most sustainable team is cultivating “a new kind of soccer fan.”

America’s Star Teenage Scientist Is Catalyzing Generational Change

6 min read

At 15 years old, Gitanjali Rao has half a dozen inventions to her name. Now she wants to reinvent the world of science itself.

Cleaning Up Rivers Is Saving the Oceans

5 min read

When an architecture student’s dazzling ocean cleanup concept fizzled, she started thinking smaller — and tackled the problem at the source.

When Oil Spills Strike, Call in the Hair Force

5 min read

Human hair is becoming a major player in ocean cleanups as a free, highly effective resource that never runs out.

“Menstruation Vacations” Are Adapting Work for Women’s Health

4 min read

“I call it a ‘do-what-you-can day’ — stay at home, take it easy, cancel all your appointments, or come in and work as usual.”

The Sounds of Healing

6 min read

When musician Yoko Sen ended up in the hospital, she was overwhelmed by the cacophony of noise. What if all those beeps and alarms could sound like music instead?

Notifications Off! The Distraction-Free Benefits of Five-Hour Work Days

5 min read

By minimizing wasted time, companies are increasing productivity — and workers are going home before lunch.

Ask Me Anything! Our New Contributing Editor Michaela Haas

3 min read

From the farmlands of rural Bavaria to the beaches of Southern California, our new colleague’s life has been a fantastic journey.

The ‘Cosmetics Shop’ Using Code to Help People Escape Their Abusers

4 min read

“When a woman places an ‘order’ and gives us her address, that’s the signal for us to send the police.”

Inside the L.A.P.D.’s Experiment in Trust-Based Policing

5 min read

Can the notoriously hardline force become an ally to Black communities?

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