RTBC Staff

Reasons to be Cheerful is a non-profit editorial project that is part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world.

Tulsa’s $10,000 Offer to Remote Workers Is Paying Off

3 min read

Some 1,200 workers have moved to the city, and it looks like most plan to stay.

California’s Adopted Otter Pups Are Fighting Climate Change

3 min read

An effort that pairs the orphaned pups with adoptive otter moms has led to thriving kelp forests.

Should Your Landlord Really Hold Your Security Deposit?

3 min read

In the U.K., a government program holds onto deposits to make sure renters get back what they’re owed.

Why Our Staff Is Optimistic about Climate Change

4 min read

As the world’s biggest climate conference comes to a close, we see reasons for hope on the horizon.

6 Major Takeaways from the World’s Biggest Climate Conference

2 min read

Ending deforestation. Slashing methane. Achieving net-zero emissions. Here are the most impactful deals and pledges that have come out of COP26 so far.

California Wineries Are Trading Pesticides for Owls

2 min read

To control rodents, the vast majority of Napa Valley winemakers have turned to birds of prey.

The Stigma-Defying Wheelchair Dancers of Shanghai

2 min read

In a country where disability is often invisible, these dancers say, “I want to let more people see us.”

Paris Makes Public Housing Greener and More Livable

3 min read

The city has spent the last decade making its public housing better for the planet — and for people.

A Black-Owned Beach Is Returned to Its Owners after 97 Years

3 min read

The waterfront property, seized in 1924, is being given back to the family that originally bought it. It’s now worth $75 million.

The Juvenile Jail that Turned into a Youth Center

3 min read

Arizona is sending fewer kids to jail — and reinventing the places where they were once locked up.

The Inspiring Evolution of Pittsburgh’s Old-School Unions

3 min read

A steelworkers organization is embracing workers of all stripes, from nurses to coders.

The Nine Cent Taxis of Rural South Korea

3 min read

In places where bus service has vanished, dirt-cheap taxis are keeping people mobile.

Turning Prisons into Pure Potential

2 min read

What could we do besides lock people up?

The Mental Health Power of Mooncakes

3 min read

A Shanghai mental health center was a target for stigmatization. Then its syrupy snack went viral.

These Old British Coal Mines Now Pump Out Geothermal Heat

3 min read

Holes in the ground that once chugged out fossil fuels now provide clean, green energy.

Sierra Leone Is Turning Roadway Vibrations into Electricity

3 min read

A locally owned startup’s devices are powering hundreds of homes and over a dozen schools.

The Black Barbershop Guide to Post-Prison Life

3 min read

At an “intergenerational healing circle,” elders offer young men job advice while the youth teach the older folks how to use Instagram.

Washington, D.C. Turns a Parking Subsidy into a Transit Perk

3 min read

The city is giving non-car commuters a tax exemption normally meant for drivers.

Policing Without Cops Finds Its Way from Oregon to New York

3 min read

A program pioneered in the little city of Eugene is improving policing in Harlem.

Maine Will Charge Companies to Encourage More Recyclable Packaging

3 min read

The more easily a product’s packaging can be recycled, the lower the fees.

Having Trouble Staying on Task? Hire an Online Boss

3 min read

At the end of the day, you’ll need to send them photos to prove you’ve completed your work.

Locally Grown Food Could Have a Big Impact in Alaska

2 min read

In a state where a trip to the supermarket sometimes requires getting on a plane, biomass-powered greenhouses could be a game-changer.

Save America’s Lesbian Bars!

3 min read

There are only 21 left. A movement is taking shape to preserve them.

How 8 Tiny Island Nations Outsmarted the World’s Biggest Fishing Fleets

3 min read

Tired of being overfished by wealthier countries, they stopped competing and started collaborating.

This Country Turns Cocoa Into Electricity

3 min read

Ivory Coast produces more cocoa than anywhere else in the world. Now they’re using it to generate green energy.

‘Citizen Scientists’ Have Been Tracking Cicadas for Nearly Two Centuries

3 min read

Every 17 years the insects’ dramatic appearance is recorded by thousands of volunteers.

An Indigenous Modeling Agency Puts Representation in Focus

2 min read

“Culture, community and land-based wisdom” form the pillars of a new modeling agency that’s elevating representation above profit.

This River Restoration Project Is Literally Unearthing Gold

3 min read

A mining technique that damaged the environment for decades is now being used to protect it.

Business is Booming on Covid’s Car-Free Streets

3 min read

And now a lot of cities are making their “open streets” permanent.

Black Churches Are Turning Vaccine Skeptics Into Believers

3 min read

Public health and church officials have turned the shots into a Sunday ritual.

D.C. Is Lending Residents Free Canoes to Clean Up Its River

3 min read

Grab an oar — and some trash while you’re at it.

Vancouver’s Sex Workers Get Access to Covid Vaccines

2 min read

A pop-up site at a clinic that serves sex workers saw 99 vaccinations in a single day.

France Will Pay You to Swap Your Car for an E-Bike

3 min read

A credit-for-clunkers program offers drivers thousands of euros to switch to two wheels.

Why a Michelin-Starred Chef Loves Carbon-Negative ‘Sea Rice’

3 min read

It grows everywhere and could help save the planet with every serving.

Its Streets Safer, Baltimore Will Stop Prosecuting Minor Crimes

3 min read

An experiment started during the pandemic to reduce jail populations will continue indefinitely.

How Students Could Make Harvard Go Green

3 min read

A complaint filed by a student group argues the venerated university’s investments in fossil fuels are illegal.

The Arizona Nomadic Community That Runs on Solar-Powered Car Batteries

3 min read

The self-proclaimed boondocking capital of the world is going green.

How an Unloved Bird Captured a Community’s Heart

3 min read

The garbage-picking stork was considered a bad omen. Then the baby showers began.

Vermont Is Growing Wind Power by Scaling It Down

2 min read

A partnership to pool energy produced by smaller turbines could circumvent opposition to large wind farms.

When You Know How to Shop, There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea

3 min read

Meet the marine geographer teaching Chennai urbanites how to buy seafood the traditional way.

For a Dramatic Covid Recovery, Doctors Prescribe Opera Lessons

2 min read

The English National Opera has partnered with a hospital to turn lung recovery exercises into song.

California’s Farm Worker Dwellings Get an Upgrade

3 min read

When a newly elected county supervisor saw where farm workers were living, he was appalled — and inspired.

The NFL Team That Covid Couldn’t Touch

3 min read

How the Seahawks finished the season as the only team in the league without a single infection.

Indigenous Tribes Are Unearthing Traditional Crops

2 min read

A seed banking cooperative is making sure age-old agricultural practices don’t get lost.

Addiction Treatment RVs Hit the Road in Colorado

3 min read

Journeying to the state’s remote mountain hamlets, these mobile clinics are taking house calls to new heights.

Four-Day Work Weeks Are Here to Stay

3 min read

Some companies that reduced employee hours during the pandemic are keeping the shorter work week in place — even as they reinstate full pay.

Alaska’s Vaccine Rollout Is an Inspiration

3 min read

Defying harsh weather and roadless terrain, America’s most undeveloped state has achieved one of the country’s highest vaccination rates.

The Country That Invites New Immigrants to Dinner

2 min read

To fight xenophobia, nearly 2,000 families have shared a meal. Many have come back for more.

The Year in Cheer

10 min read

112 bits of good news that kept us sane in 2020.

A New Kind of Housing for Homeless Indigenous People

2 min read

An 80-unit complex in Seattle will provide housing that reflects the culture of the Coast Salish People.

Get Your Freedges Freebies Here!

3 min read

Community refrigerators are showing up on city streets, full stocked with food that’s free for the taking. Care for a snack?

When Life Gives You Milk, Make Cheese

3 min read

Large dairy farms started dumping their milk during Covid — until smaller ones swooped in to turn it into food for the hungry.

Lisbon Is Turning Empty Airbnb Apartments into Affordable Housing

2 min read

With tourism at a standstill, the city is leasing the flats and subletting them to locals.

Food Banks Get on Board With Fast, Free Delivery

3 min read

To reach those in need who don’t want to visit in person, one food bank is embracing Amazon-style shipping.

How Norway Helped Syria Rescue Its Seeds

3 min read

When war broke out, a group of intrepid scientists hustled Syria’s chickpea and lentil stash to a vault deep in the Arctic Circle.

The City That Guarantees the Right to Eat

3 min read

Defining access to food as a human right, a city in Brazil is making sure everyone can afford a trip to the market.

California Is Cultivating Forests That Stand Up to Wildfires

3 min read

The key is forest management processes that mimic what nature would do.

Inside the Mind of a Mind-Changer

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Swing voters. Covid converts. Some people seem highly persuadable. Why does that bother the rest of us?

Check Out Our New Project!

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For the next six weeks, Reasons to be Cheerful is doing something a little bit different.

Conservation Comes to Hawaii’s Rain-Triggering Tropical Forests

3 min read

Private landowners are part of a statewide push to save the trees that make it rain.

Cleveland Is Taking Its Voter Registration Drive Literally

2 min read

Registration caravans on wheels are making sure Latino communities don’t get missed.

Guides for Life After a Life Sentence

3 min read

“Lifers” face a daunting re-entry after decades in prison. One California program recruits their formerly incarcerated peers to help them navigate.

Bogota Cyclists Are Getting Much More Than Just Bike Lanes

3 min read

From bicycle parking spaces to a citywide registry for stolen bikes, the Colombian capital is creating a full-fledged cycling ecosystem.

The Tiny Town With Its Own Currency

3 min read

A Depression-era form of relief is helping residents of Tenino, Washington through the crisis.

Vocabulary ‘Fitbits’ Are Changing How Babies Learn Words

2 min read

The devices could help close the language gap between kids from wealthy and low-income families.

Nuns Convince Wall Street to Create $130 Million Climate Change Fund

3 min read

Sixteen congregations of Dominican nuns are collaborating with Morgan Stanley to invest in marginalized communities impacted by global warming.

Lesotho’s Top-Flight Soccer Team Just Broke the Glass Ceiling

3 min read

The African nation’s Premier League football club will become the first in the world to fund its men’s and women’s teams equally.

How to Make a Billion Tons of Carbon Dioxide Disappear

2 min read

New research shows that sprinkling rock dust on fields where crops are grown could have a huge effect.

The Deep-Red City that Elected a Trans Woman

3 min read

“When folks say, ‘I cannot believe a trans person could win in a place like West Virginia,’ I think, ‘This is the very place I believe a trans person could win elected office.”

Kentucky’s Abandoned Coal Mines Are Elk Heaven

3 min read

The remnants of a destructive form of mining have inadvertently helped the elk return to coal country for the first time since the Civil War.

Making Art Is Keeping Us Sane

2 min read

Neuroscientists have determined that creation can keep you from going Covid crazy, so we asked you to send us the art you’ve made under lockdown. It’s amazing.

Protesters Are Showing What Policing Could Look Like

3 min read

At a police-free zone in Seattle, “sentinels” are keeping the peace in peaceful fashion.

Seattle’s Tiny Houses Keep the Virus Out

3 min read

Shelters and hotel rooms are expensive and temporary. Are tiny houses a homelessness solution that can outlast the crisis?

What Police Budgets Are Being Spent on Now

3 min read

Minneapolis isn’t the only city starting to redirect the funding it spends on law enforcement.

An Antidote to Violence

3 min read

Some advocates, seeing violence as an epidemic, are starting to treat it like one.

Muslims and Christians Are Sharing Space

2 min read

So that everyone can worship safely, the walls that separate churches and mosques are coming down.

France to Airlines: Go Green If You Want a Bailout

2 min read

How one country is using its economic rescue to clean up a polluting industry.

The Kaleidoscopic Community of a Coronavirus Hotel

3 min read

Masked chambermaids, sanitized keycards and nurses who pop in to see how you’re feeling.

Seeing the Forest for the Bees

3 min read

In this week’s briefing: Reviving a woodland refuge for honeybees and partnering with poachers to bring back buffalo to a national park.

Infrastructure that Helps Wildlife Migrate

3 min read

In this week’s briefing: building bridges to assist wildlife on their journeys, Italy gets homeschooled and a debate over the merits of poop-powered energy.

China’s Green Decade Impacts the Whole World

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: renewable energy has an undisputed leader, and anti-violence outreach workers help their at-risk clients shelter in place.

New Zealand May Completely Eliminate the Coronavirus

3 min read

In this week’s briefing: Kiwis crush the curve, a Brazilian school exceeds all expectations and transit projects leverage car-free streets to hurry forward.

Scuba Tours Are Planting Coral Instead

2 min read

In this week’s briefing: Australian tour operators repair the Great Barrier Reef and a city keeps its restaurants afloat by hiring them to cook for the homeless.

France’s High-Speed Hospital

2 min read

In this week’s news briefing: Governments help companies pay their workers, France uses its bullet train for high-speed triage and Indigenous graduation rates soar.

Can Facebook Predict Coronavirus Spikes?

2 min read

In this week’s news briefing: social media data is tracking COVID-19 and schools begin to open with anti-viral measures in place.

Coronavirus Help Is Everywhere

3 min read

American bartenders get a lifeline, French perfumers churn out hand sanitizer, Britain grows a volunteer army and locked-down Chinese students find classmates in Israel.

A Balm to Heal Strip-Mined Mountaintops

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: the strafed summits of Kentucky find a grizzled savior and an underground turbine keeps the lights on in Halifax.

The DIY Wheelchair Ramp

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: a device that turns impassable into accessible, a preschool wrapped in a bus and free legal help for tenants facing eviction.

Growing Pot with Beer Bubbles

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: Brewery emissions find a higher purpose and transit-oriented soccer fields sprout in Atlanta.

This Apple Computer Stops Food from Spoiling

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: a device to prevent rotting produce, gay rights advance in Virginia and Japan makes a science of lost-and-found.

A Proven Way to Change Voters’ Minds

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: empathy-based political canvassing, old seeds grown anew and pavement that lets the water in.

The Pack Is Back

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: The triumphant return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and a company dispatches teenagers to help seniors with their iPads.

Why Australia Is Lighting New Bush Fires

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: a millennia-old approach to controlling Australia’s wildfires, and a city in Illinois gets to know its homeless.

A More Sensitive Supermarket

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: simulating disability in a retail environment, turning down take-away plastics and tidying up the ocean floor.

Uber’s Ambulance Service

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: Medicaid picks up the tab for ride-hailing to the doctor, and wind farms sprout from Fukushima’s abandoned farmland.

The Fixer: Fighting Pollution Like a Mother

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: moms get mad, journos shack up and cash for cops finds a new home.

The Decade in Cheer

9 min read

Homicides fell, green space grew and your weather forecast got a lot more precise. The last 10 years were filled with positive change—really! Read our list…

The Fixer: Water under the Bridge

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: the need to hydrate brings peace between rivals in Darfur, and renewable energy gets some unlikely proponents.

The Fixer: Welcoming in the Formerly Incarcerated

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: housing former prison inmates in people’s homes, building bird-friendly skyscrapers and solving an equestrian community’s poop problem.

RTBC holiday cards: DIY!

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From us to you, to yours. Give your loved ones a reason to be cheerful this holiday season.

The Fixer: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: buying up housing to keep it affordable, crunching the data on opioids and stopping storm surges with sand.

The Fixer: CPR Training With Curves

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: CPR dummies finally get breasts, lettuce becomes natural gas and an ancient air conditioner cools New Delhi.

The Fixer: Turning Farm Workers into Farm Owners

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: incubating a new generation of agri-preneurs, soaking up stormwater and canceling carbon.

The Fixer: Darkening the Sky to Reveal the Heavens

4 min read

In this week’s news briefing: bridges help disadvantaged university students get ahead, Holland brings back the night sky and an end to scooter segregation.

The Fixer: A Japanese City’s Brazilian Lifeline

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: Brazilians put down roots in Japan, Jamaican gardeners cultivate coral and medical care arrives on the islands of Bangladesh.

The Fixer: An Insurance Giant Embraces ‘Housing First’

4 min read

In this week’s news briefing: ending homelessness for profit, coffee saves the rainforest and rural America takes on climate change.

The Fixer: A Power Plant You Can Ski

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: healing Israel’s overcrowded hospitals, healthier snacks for condors and a ski slope that converts waste into energy.

The Fixer: Guiding India’s Wanderers

4 min read

In this week’s news briefing: helping India’s “wandering” people find their way home, a broader lens on bikeability and a plan to keep teachers from walking away.

The Fixer: Picasso Over Prosecution

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: a choice between art class and prison, engineers without bathroom borders and license and voter registration, please.

The Fixer: A Cool, Refreshing Glass of Fog

3 min read

In this week’s news briefing: Pulling drinking water from the mist, post-prison seniors and hyper-humane malaria eradication.

The Fixer: Who’s Afraid of Collectivism?

3 min read

In this first edition of RTBC’s weekly news briefing, stories of street redesign in Amsterdam, solar systems in California and cooperative farming in China.

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