Oklahoma State Department of Education

High school math teacher Rebecka Peterson focuses on the good in her Oklahoma classroom, and it’s paying off. Peterson has been named the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, an annual honor awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. 

“Rebecka is a caring and passionate educator who understands the importance of connections and providing individual supports for students, both in her math classes and beyond,” the Selection Committee said in a press release. “She has a deep knowledge of both education policy and teaching practices and understands that sustained change at a small scale can make a big difference for students.” 

RELATED: How One Teacher Uses an Empty Chair as an Inspiring Lesson of Inclusion

Peterson has worked at Tulsa’s Union High School for 11 years, but it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. She had a “difficult first year,” per the release, and decided to work through it by posting on a collaborative blog for educators. 

Called “One Good Thing,” the blog focuses on positive achievements happening in the classroom, and Peterson has submitted 1,400 posts to date. “I credit this blog to saving my career,” she wrote in October. 

“One day, I decided to post. Then the next day I did the same. And then again on the third day. And eventually, I got to 1,400 days of posting good things,” she continued. “More importantly, eventually my brain started shifting to notice the good all around me — to celebrate the beauty even in the middle of pain.” 

Lily Chris Photography

RELATED: Teacher’s Mental Health Chart for Students Inspires Educators Across the Globe to Follow Suit

In addition to uplifting fellow teachers, Peterson tries to cultivate a supportive environment for her students. 

“Now more than ever, we as educators have to create these spaces where we’re able to hold their stories and to sit with them and lean into what they’re telling us,” she told Good Morning America. “They’re counting on us. They’re counting on us to create these safe and open places.”

Naturally, Peterson cites her own former math teacher, Mrs. West, with nurturing her interest in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“With her making a space for me, I was able to see it so I did it,” she said. “I grew up in a time where history told us [that] girls don’t have a place in STEM, but because of Mrs. West, I get to be part of the narrative that says history was wrong.”

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services

It was one of the most tragic stories to come out of the deadly earthquakes in Syria and Turkey in February. And now it’s being hailed as a miracle.

The weeks-old baby girl who was rescued after being buried in the rubble in Turkey for 128 hours has been reunited with her mother, who for months was thought to have died in the disaster. 

The “miracle baby” was initially put under the care of the state in the capital city of Ankara, and named Gizem, meaning mystery, by nurses. DNA analysis, however, revealed that her mother, Yasemin Begdaş, was being treated for her injuries at a hospital about 300 miles away, in the city of Adana.

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Services
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With a quick private flight, the baby — whose real name is Vetin Begdaş — was finally with her mother again after 54 days apart.

“To witness their happiness is an emotional and beautiful moment for us, too. Uniting a mother with her child is one of the most precious deeds in the world,” Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Services, Derya Yanik, said in a video posted to Twitter, per a translation from CBS News.

In a press release, Yanik noted that baby Vetin’s story has been a miracle from the beginning. “The fact that [she] survived and had no health problems affected us all,” she said. Yanik added that though the child is now in the care of her mother, the state will continue to support the family — “Gizem is now our baby, too,” she said.

And this miracle is not the only one: The ministry told CBS that Vetin is one of 1,774 children who have been returned to their families after being separated in the earthquakes.

Courtesy of Andrew Rea

About seven years ago, Andrew Rea launched his simple but unique cooking show concept: recreating dishes that have appeared in TV shows and movies (think: the signature meal in Ratatouille, the Goodfellas prison sauce, and the krabby patty from Spongebob Squarepants). He dubbed his YouTube channel Binging With Babish, and it’s grown exponentially since then, into the larger “Babish Culinary Universe.” 

The New York-based, self-taught chef now has 10 million subscribers, his own line of cookware, a bestselling cookbook, and another on the way. Most recently, he partnered with Shef, a chef-to-consumer marketplace. Like what Etsy did for crafters and Uber for drivers, Shef makes it easier for cooks and bakers to make a living off of their work — and delivers homemade meals and treats right to customers’ doors. 

“It’s just really cool to me that anybody who has a kitchen and loves cooking can make a career out of it,” Rea told Nice News, adding that Shef also showcases a diverse array of cuisines. “These are people who are cooking generations-old recipes, and are making things that you might not have otherwise tried, or might have only ever tried the restaurant version of. There’s a lot of exciting possibilities for community and just interactions in the food world.” 

For the partnership, Rea developed a cookie recipe to be sold exclusively via Shef, and they sold out in no time. Called the “everything cookie,” it really does feature everything, including chocolate, pretzels, kettle corn, caramel morsels, browned butter, and Rea’s secret ingredient: finely ground hazelnut coffee. He hopes to one day have the cookies on grocery store shelves.

He said he spent a few days in a commercial kitchen with a couple of bakers, ultimately mixing enough batter to make a whopping 1,500 cookies in total — “That’s the most that we could physically make,” Rea said. And all the proceeds he made will be going to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit on a mission to end child hunger in America.  

“It felt like a very natural crossover to support an important organization that’s dealing with food security,” Rea explained. 

Shef, available in 11 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., was founded by Alvin Salehi and Joey Grassia — both entrepreneurs from immigrant families where food was “an experience meant to be shared, and meals nourish not only your body, but also your heart.” The company is a love letter to that experience, and a reflection on how the platform could have helped their own families make ends meet while they were growing up. 

“Through Binging with Babish, Andrew has inspired and educated millions on both the basics and endless possibilities of cooking, as well as the unique and powerful stories generational recipes can tell,” Salehi said in a statement to Nice News. “We’re thrilled to welcome him and the whole Babish Culinary Universe to the Shef community.” 

Indeed, working with Shef feels natural for Rea, who said “accessibility has always been the name of the game” for his entire brand. That’s clear in his upcoming cookbook, Basics With Babish, which he called “a practical guide to making, learning from, and brushing off mistakes.”  

Courtesy of Andrew Rea

“My entire skill set in the kitchen is mistake derived. I have no formal training, so anything I know how to do, I know how to do it because I screwed up multiple times until I figured out how to do it right,” he said. “And I want to make home cooks less afraid of making mistakes in the kitchen and more open to seeing them as learning and growing experiences.” 

Each recipe within the cookbook, out October 17 and now available for pre-order, is accompanied by a story of how Rea himself has “screwed up” and a troubleshooting section on possible mistakes and solutions.

“It’s going to be a really great guide for people who are looking to get into cooking or get a little better at it, or just try to step up their game in the kitchen,” he said. “I’m hoping that it’s something that’s going to bring them confidence.”

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Alex Wong/ Getty Images News via Getty Images

The famed cherry trees that line Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin reached peak bloom on Thursday, March 23, drawing hordes of visitors looking to see the springy pink and white flowers during their short bloom period. 

According to the National Park Service, peak bloom is defined as the day when 70% of the trees’ blossoms are open. The average peak bloom occurs on March 31, though “extraordinary warm or cool temperatures” can lead to earlier or later dates — the earliest was March 15, in 1990, and the latest April 18, in 1958. This year was the ninth earliest on record, tied with 1946 and 1976, per The Washington Post

RELATED: 15 Spring Cleaning Essentials to Make Your Space Sparkle — From Sustainable Detergent to a Smartphone Label Maker

In addition to being an important cultural event in the D.C. area, with many local restaurants adding cherry blossom-themed menu items, the yearly bloom is steeped in history. The trees were a gift to the United States from Japan in 1912.

“In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or ‘Sakura,’ is an important flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a symbol with rich meaning in Japanese culture,” the park service explains. “For more than a hundred years, we have [been] celebrating cherry trees blooming in solidarity.” 

Scroll through to see more photos of peak bloom and the people enjoying this beautiful work of nature. 

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Alex Wong/ Getty Images News via Getty Images
Paul Morigi/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
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Shauna Townley/ Focus Features

Growing up, Kevin Iannucci didn’t often see himself represented in his favorite movies and TV shows, so he came up with a solution to change that. 

“I started rewriting them to include myself in the plot,” the 28-year-old, who has Down syndrome, told Nice News via email ahead of World Down Syndrome Day. “I’ve always believed that film and television should look like real life — and real life includes people like me, too.” 

He doesn’t have to do that anymore, though: Iannucci has a growing list of acting credits, most recently the heartwarming basketball comedy Champions, in which he stars alongside Woody Harrelson and Kaitlin Olson. Harrelson plays Marcus, a former minor league basketball coach who receives a court order to lead a team of players with intellectual disabilities. Initially disgruntled, he soon grows close to his players, including Iannucci’s Johnny, and forges a romance with Johnny’s older sister, Alex (Olson). 

RELATED: Cookie Company CEO With Down Syndrome Is Creating Jobs for People With Disabilities

Iannucci cites meeting the Oscar-nominated Harrelson for the first time — “and getting to bear hug him” — as his favorite moment from making the film, which hit theaters earlier this month. 

And though he’s come a long way from adjusting TV scripts, he’s quick to note he hasn’t done it alone. “It takes a village!” he said, thanking his family and friends. Indeed, Iannucci’s acting journey began with his loved ones, when his older siblings and their friends included him in their short films. 

“It was amazing to get the chance to play so many different kinds of characters, and it made me want to pursue acting even more,” Iannucci said, adding that his passion for acting grew from there and he now loves “everything” about his chosen profession. 

“I enjoy being on set, making new friends with the cast and crew, and making people laugh,” he said. “As a performer, I really enjoy the process of becoming each of my characters.”

Marion Curtis/ StarPix for Focus Features

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, celebrated annually on March 21, Iannucci emphasized the importance of representation on the screen. “I hope young people with Down syndrome and disabilities can see themselves in Champions and are reminded that they can accomplish more than people may think they can,” he said. 

“I first started acting because I believed in myself and wanted to chase my dreams, and it’s been an unexpected and amazingly rewarding experience to have also become a role model for others along the way,” he continued. “I am very proud to be a role model for others with [intellectual disabilities], and I hope they continue to chase their dreams, just like me.” 

His final message? “Down Syndrome may make me different, but it doesn’t mean I want to be treated differently than anyone else.” 

Champions is in theaters now.

BraunS/ iStock

Yoga has long been touted as a beneficial practice for both physical and mental health, and recent research is only adding to that positive reputation. 

A March review out of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that yoga could help prevent frailty, an age-related condition linked to an increased risk of death and decreased quality of life. The team looked at 33 past studies, involving a total of 2,384 participants over age 65. Per a press release from the hospital, they concluded that yoga can help improve walking speed and being able to rise from a chair, capabilities “associated with reduced frailty and increased lifespan.” 

“When you look at a whole person, especially an older person, there may be a number of difficulties that each contribute to frailty,” said lead author Julia Loewenthal. “Since yoga is an integrative practice that impacts multiple areas of health, it may be effective for preventing a syndrome like frailty, which has multiple causes.”

RELATED: Grab Your Clubs! How Golf May Help Older People’s Heart Health — Even More Than Walking

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best free, online yoga classes geared toward older adults. With options for sitting-only and low-impact workouts, some as short as 10 minutes, there’s something for everyone — just be sure to check with your doctor before adding a new exercise regimen to your routine. 

1. Slow and Gentle Yoga for Seniors (28 minutes) 

2. Gentle Chair Yoga (15 minutes) 

3. Evening Yoga for Seniors (10 minutes) 

4. Slow Paced and Gentle Yoga for Seniors and Beginners (40 minutes)

5. Yoga for Arthritis: Chair Yoga for Improved Mobility (7 minutes) 

6. Wheelchair Yoga (10 minutes) 

7. Standing Yoga for Seniors and Beginners (20 minutes) 

8. Chair Yoga for Restricted Mobility and Seniors 65 and Up (20 minutes) 

9. Adaptive Yoga Workout (20 minutes) 

10. Yoga for Those With Physical Limitations (17 minutes) 

Photo Credit: Georgette Douwma / Stone via Getty Images

In our fast-paced, ever-changing, and chaotic world, it can often feel difficult to remember something good that has happened in the past week, let alone an entire year. Nice News is here to help you remember some of the most significant positive stories from 2022 — from the endangered species that are bouncing back (looking at you humpback whales and monarch butterflies!) to the new mental health hotline and the most efficient malaria vaccine yet. 

Read about those and more below; we can’t wait to see and report on all the good that happens in 2023. 

1. Some Endangered and Threatened Species Bounced Back 

We frequently hear about animals that are threatened by extinction, but 2022 saw a resurgence in various species — a sign that conservation efforts are working. 

In January, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation announced that California’s population of monarch butterflies — an endangered species — jumped from just 2,000 in 2020 to nearly 250,000 in 2021. And way over in Australia, humpback whales were taken off the threatened species list, thanks to decades of anti-whaling protections. 

The green sea turtle population is also making a comeback after hunting and egg harvesting during the 19th and 20th centuries landed them a spot on the endangered species list. But in 1968, Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles became the first nesting site to ban turtle hunting in the Western Indian Ocean. From then to now, the breeding ground has seen a roughly 500% increase in the number of new eggs laid — and it’s expected to keep going. 

2. The World Rallied Around Ukrainians 

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, leading to the war that wages on today. While that’s not “nice news,” the way the rest of the world responded absolutely is. In less than two months, the country received more than 600 grants totaling nearly $900 million for humanitarian aid and relief efforts, per a report from Fortune

Beyond the record-breaking amount of donations, various nonprofit organizations have sprung to action to feed people, find homes for refugees, help Ukraine’s pets, and more. And individuals have stepped up, too: opening their own homes — or hotels, in one case — and hearts to those affected by the conflict. 

maki_shmaki / iStock

3. U.S. Wind Power Was the Second-Leading Source of Electricity for First Time

In March, energy generated by wind turbines was the second-highest source of electricity for a 24-hour period for the very first time. Wind beat out both nuclear and coal power, but fell behind natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

“The amount of wind electricity generation has grown significantly in the past 30 years,” the EIA website reads, noting that “advances in wind energy technology have decreased the cost of producing electricity from wind.”

As outlined in the United Nations’ 2022 climate report, relying on wind power, as well as solar and other forms of renewable energy, will help keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and maintain a habitable and thriving planet for generations to come.

4. Scientists Sequenced the Complete Human Genome for the First Time 

Scientists studying genetics reached a major achievement in March: sequencing a complete human genome for the first time. In 2003, researchers revealed what was then called a complete human genome, but it was missing about 8% of the code. This one was gap-free — and it’s a huge step forward for the study of DNA.

Eric Green, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), called the sequence “an incredible scientific achievement” that could help inform how we identify, treat, and cure human diseases. Adam Phillippy, a senior investigator at the NHGRI, compared the triumph to “putting on a new pair of glasses.” He added: “Now that we can clearly see everything, we are one step closer to understanding what it all means.”

5. World’s Largest Kindness Study Suggested the Pandemic Made People Kinder

In the world’s largest public study of kindness, released in March, two-thirds of participants said they believe the COVID-19 pandemic has made people kinder. 

The Kindness Test, an online questionnaire created by researchers and psychologists at England’s University of Sussex, reached over 60,000 people from 144 countries. The questionnaire sought to understand how people experience kindness in their daily lives. 

Three in four people said they received kindness from close friends or family quite often or nearly all the time. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said they had received an act of kindness within the last hour, and an additional 43% received one within the past day.

Income had no correlation with kindness, proving that acts of kindness don’t have to cost a ton of money — or any money — to have an impact.  

Living Habitats and National Wildlife Federation

6. World’s Largest Urban Wildlife Crossing Planned Above Busy California Freeway 

In April, California broke ground on the world’s largest urban wildlife crossing, located over U.S. Route 101 near Los Angeles. The crossing will allow mountain lions, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes, and other animals to safely cross through the Santa Monica Mountains and have better access to food, open space, and mates.

In addition to being the world’s largest, the planned bridge will be the first of its kind near a major city. Once completed in 2025, it will stretch 200 feet above 10 highway lanes. Beth Pratt, the NWF’s California executive director, said: “Crossings like this are nothing new. This one’s historic because we’re putting it over one of the busiest freeways in the world.” 

7. New Malaria Vaccine With 77% Efficacy Sparked Hope Among Researchers 

In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria around the world, 95% of which were on the African continent. But newly developed vaccines are sparking hope among researchers and locals alike. One shot was endorsed by the World Health Organization last year, and another — with remarkable efficacy rates — is on the way, researchers revealed this summer. Called R21, the second vaccine had a high-level efficacy of 77%.

“The data was being presented. And … you get goosebumps. It was absolutely extraordinary,” Mainga Hamaluba, the principal investigator on the phase III trial for R21, told The Guardian. “It still is.” Once it’s ready for public distribution, the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, will be able to deliver at least 200 million doses per year. Adrian Hill, who heads a research institute at Oxford University, added that he believes the vaccine could reduce malaria deaths by 75% by 2030, and help fully eradicate it by 2040. 


8. NASA’s James Webb Telescope Delivered Deepest and Sharpest Infrared Image of Space 

The James Webb Space Telescope — the largest and most powerful telescope in the world — launched on December 25, 2021 and traveled nearly 1 million miles over almost 30 days to reach its permanent vantage point, a gravitationally-stable spot in space near earth opposite the sun. On July 12, the telescope’s much-anticipated first images were finally released

The five stunning shots include a “glittering landscape of star birth” called NGC-3324 within the Carina Nebula, a stellar nursery about 7,600 light-years away. The image features what have been dubbed the “Cosmic Cliffs” for their resemblance to a mountain range but are actually the gaseous edges of a cavernous area inside the nebula. The other images are of the Southern Ring Nebula (a cloud of gas surrounding a dying star), Stephan’s Quintet (a grouping of five galaxies), WASP-96 b (a distant giant planet), and galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which shows the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared.

“It cannot be said enough that an achievement like the James Webb Space Telescope is something bigger than any one of us. It’s bigger than any organization, than any country,” NASA scientist Michelle Thaller said at the time. “This truly takes a planet — Webb belongs to all of us and starting today, the discoveries start and are not going to stop. This is just the beginning.”

9. Mental Health Alternative to 911 Launched Nationwide — and Proved Successful 

In another one of this year’s top positive stories, a new alternative for 911 — 988 — rolled out in the U.S. in July in an effort to better address mental health emergencies. “When you get on the line with someone who is trained as a professional counselor, they are able to help instill hope,” Dale Adair, chief psychiatric officer at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The person taking the call is able to help the person develop a safety plan.”

The hotline routes to the already existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is currently at 1-800-273-8255. Officials hope that the easier-to-remember 988 will prompt more people to reach out for help when they need it.

And it’s been working: As of September, 988 had led to a 45% increase in calls and a reduction in average response times from 2 1/2 minutes to 42 seconds, USA Today reported.

byrneck / iStock

10. Parts of the Great Barrier Reef Showed Highest Coral Coverage in 36 Years 

Some portions of the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest coral reef system —  are showing the highest coral coverage in 36 years, according to an August report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Though the area is still threatened by climate change and warming waters, the recovery is “good news for the overall state of the [Great Barrier Reef],” the report reads.

The institute, which surveyed about two-thirds of the reef, said that one reason for the increased coverage is low levels of “acute stress” over the past year. There have been no severe cyclones and fewer outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish — a species that preys on coral. And while higher water temperatures have led to some coral bleaching, it has not been hot enough to kill the coral. Overall, the Great Barrier Reef has proven to be resilient and able to recover after ecosystem disturbances, a sign that continued conservation and protection efforts are as necessary as ever.

11. Ozone Layer Recovery Hit a “Significant Milestone”

The NOAA announced in September that the concentration of chemicals and substances that deplete the ozone layer had fallen more than 50%, back to the levels observed in 1980. In a press release, the organization said the latest tracking data “shows the threat to the ozone layer receding below a significant milestone in 2022.”

The ozone layer is essential, as it protects the planet and everything that lives on it from the sun’s UV rays. In the 1980s, scientists discovered that human-made chemicals were severely damaging the ozone and mobilized for change. By 1987, every single country on Earth agreed to the Montreal Protocol to regulate the harmful chemicals — the first and only time the entire world has ratified a treaty in unison.

Stephen Montzka, senior scientist for NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, noted that there’s still a ways to go in restoring the ozone layer to where it needs to be, but the milestone offers hope for a full eventual recovery. “It’s great to see this progress,” he said.

12. The Patagonia Founder Gave the Company — and His Billions — Away

For years, outdoor gear brand Patagonia has led the charge in how corporations can be part of the solution, rather than the problem, when it comes to climate change. And in September, founder Yvon Chouinard made a radical move to further that mission: donating the entire $3 billion company.

In a press release titled “Earth is now our only shareholder,” 83-year-old Chouinard wrote about realizing the efforts Patagonia was already making to combat climate change still weren’t enough, and feeling uninspired by what he saw as the available options for change — selling the company outright or going public. “Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own,” Chouinard explained.

“Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose.’ Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”

xavierarnau / iStock

13. Cheaper Hearing Aids Became Available Over the Counter

There was positive news for the hard of hearing this year: The Food and Drug Administration approved a measure that allows some hearing aids to be sold over the counter, a rule that took effect in October. Officials hope that the move will make the products cheaper, more widely available, and potentially even higher-quality. 

It’s estimated that the new rule will save people around $2,800 per pair, a significant improvement for the nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. who could benefit from them.

“Today’s action will not only help adults who have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss gain access to more affordable and innovative production options, but we expect that it will unleash the power of American industry to improve the technology in a way that it will impact the enormous burden of disability from hearing loss affecting the world,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said at a news briefing.

Gareth Fuller / PA Images via Getty Images

Most parents aren’t too pleased when their kids draw on the walls, but Sam Cox’s folks didn’t mind. That creative freedom inspired Cox, also known as Mr. Doodle, to produce a one-of-a-kind work of art: a house completely covered in doodles.   

“I have wanted to live in a property completely covered in characters of my own creation. A DoodleLand filled with happy creatures that bring me joy when I see them,” the U.K.-based artist wrote in an Instagram post. “For me, that’s what I create art for, to make myself happy and to hopefully make others happy along the way.”

Cox’s mammoth creative project took two years to complete. According to his Instagram, he used 900 liters of white paint and 401 cans of black spray paint for the exterior, and 286 bottles of black drawing paint and 2,296 pen nibs for the interior. He covered every inch of the sprawling 1.35 million-pound (around $1.5 million), 12-room mansion, from pillowcases and lampshades to the stovetop and bathtub.  

“It is a project I have been dreaming about since I was very young. Everything I have done up to this point has been in aim of being able to realize this piece,” Cox wrote about his Tenterden, England, home. “I spent years planning the work; every part of the piece was carefully thought and rethought before final completion.”

He told the BBC he’d loved doodling since he was a child but didn’t realize he could make it a career until people began asking to purchase or commission his pieces. According to Artsy, he studied illustration in Bristol, England, where a professor nicknamed him “Mr. Doodle” for his animated apparel featuring hand-drawn patterns. 

Today, Mr. Doodle is world-famous, his whimsical style instantly recognizable. He shot to fame after a viral Facebook video showed him covering an entire shop floor in doodles and has since amassed millions of followers on social media.

He has also shown his work in exhibits around the globe, from London to Seoul, and collaborated with brands like MTV, Adidas, Puma, and Fendi, per Artsy. In August 2020, his painting Spring (2019) sold for nearly $1 million, and that same year, he was the world’s fifth-most successful artist under age 40 at auction, according to the BBC

“I’ve always loved doodling since I was a little kid. It just became an obsession of mine and I never really realized I could kind of make a career out of it until people started to ask if they could buy my work,” he told the outlet n 2020. He added: “My influences mostly stem from video games and comic books that I played, or watched, or read as a kid.”

While doodle décor might not be for everyone, Cox shared, “This is sort of a paradise for me.” He and his wife, Mrs. Doodle, and their Doodle Dog don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. 

“There’s a whole world to doodle over,” he said.  

Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

For nearly two decades, Yasmeen Lari — Pakistan’s first female architect — has directed her considerable talents toward building sustainable shelters and infrastructure for people experiencing homelessness due to natural disasters. A co-founder of the nonprofit Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, 81-year-old Lari had initially retired from her storied career in architecture in 2000. However, she was mobilized back into action by a devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan in 2005, and has remained on her current path ever since.

The bamboo shelters she designs nowadays are highly portable, easily disassembled and reassembled, and are made with materials that can be repurposed to build more permanent housing as warranted.  “The beauty of it is that it’s low-tech,” Lari explained in an interview with Fast Company — made so by utilizing a simple design and affordable materials, with zero carbon footprint. 

The use of sustainable materials, such as bamboo, is an altruistic consideration, albeit one born from a practical need that arose in the aftermath of the 2005 quake. “You could not find other materials,” Lari said. “Everything was taking too much time [to source], like bricks … You could find bamboo. And I said, ‘OK, let’s give it a try.’” 

Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

Lari now runs a training center called Zero-Carbon Campus, where artisans construct these disaster-relief shelters for people displaced by flooding and landslides. It’s here where designs of the original bamboo hut evolved to incorporate prefabricated bamboo panels that can be quickly and easily pulled together with rope. At the campus, the artisans build eight shelters per day, on average. 

Earlier this summer, six of the artisans on campus started building a small village that will eventually include 100 bamboo homes — all of which reportedly survived the current flooding. And, in true pay-it-forward fashion, the artisans are training others on how to build these structures. “My artisans, who are my best entrepreneurs, will now teach other artisans from surrounding villages to be able to go back and build your own unit,” Lari said. “If I can disperse it all over the country, we can make hundreds of these a day.” 

Yasmeen Lari Tori Ferenc for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Heritage Foundation also makes assembly instructions for the temporary shelters available on YouTube, for emergency situations when the need is more urgent.

Lari’s current focus on disaster relief projects is something of an unexpected detour from an illustrious career that once encompassed building opulent, high-profile corporate and government structures in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. The city’s finance and trade centre and the Pakistan State Oil House are two of her most celebrated designs. 

In 2020, Lari was awarded the prestigious Jane Drew Prize, an award granted to a select few female architects who have made extraordinary contributions to architecture in the traditionally male-dominated industry. 

In an interview with The Guardian, not long after receiving the award, Lari reflected upon her change in direction, stating, “I feel like I am atoning for some of what I did. I was a ‘starchitect’ for 36 years, but then my egotistical journey had to come to an end. It’s not only the right of the elite to have good design.”

Lari’s change of heart, and its ripple effects via the new generation of artisans she trains at the Zero-Carbon Campus, seem to be delivering on that vow, exponentially. 

She elaborated on her philosophy in a Q&A session with Dwell magazine: “I often tell my colleagues: Let us not treat the disaster-affected households as destitute needing handouts; let us give them due respect, and treat them as we would a corporate sector client. If we can encourage that elusive element of pride among traumatized, shelterless families, half the battle would be won, for they would soon be on the road to self reliance.”

Courtesy of Unshattered

Kelly Lyndgaard is open about the fact that she once thought people struggling with addiction were irresponsible or simply making poor choices. But today, the former executive is their champion, having built a thriving business and a strong community with the goal of helping women put — and keep — the pieces of their lives back together. 

After spending time with a local recovery program, Lyndgaard’s eyes were opened to traumatic life experiences that drove many to substance abuse, and the lack of available resources for helping an individual stay sober. So she started Unshattered, a handbag and accessory brand, and hired only women in addiction recovery. 

“I felt that I could use my business skills to help close the gap between sobriety and long-term success, and Unshattered has been employing women in recovery for more than six years now,” Lyndgaard told Nice News. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance use disorders have a relapse rate of 40-60%, similar to other chronic medical conditions. With Unshattered, Lyndgaard wants to end that relapse cycle. “We’ve had just a single relapse for our employees,” she shared. 

“We’re seeing our women really thrive in recovery. Three of them have spoken at the White House. One of our employees was named 40 under 40 business leader for our community here in Dutchess County last year,” Lyndgaard continued, adding, “It turns out all that they needed was some safe community, purpose, and good work to do.”

The upstate New York-based nonprofit specializes in handmade leather bags and has established partnerships with companies like Southwest Airlines to recycle materials into new artisan products.

Courtesy of Unshattered

Each bag has a series of things that make it unique. First, the names, like Ashley, Joy, and Sheila, are in honor of somebody who’s still struggling with addiction. The woman making the item also incorporates a “secret message” with a personal detail about herself — perhaps her number of days of sobriety or something else meaningful — inside the liner of the bag. 

Finally, Lyndgaard looks to the Japanese art form of kintsugi as inspiration for both the bags and the organization’s overall ethos. 

“Kintsugi was when a piece of pottery was broken, they would use gold in the cracks to put it back together. And that was so beautiful that it became a form of art,” she explained. “The term roughly means ‘more beautiful for having been broken.’ So Unshattered is really celebrating that those places of brokenness, where we have been fully healed, are actually the places where our beauty and goodness shine through … those places that have been healed can actually be our biggest places of success.”

As an ode to that, each Unshattered bag contains a single gold thread. Beyond the products, though, Lyndgaard said the community is a critical part of what makes Unshattered work. Being around like-minded people who can encourage and motivate each other is key to sobriety, and creating a safe space like that is a lesson the women can take forth with them in the future. 

Looking ahead, Unshattered has plans to get bigger and better: The nonprofit is preparing to close on a new facility to further expand its mission and output. 

“It just never gets old to see a woman make something beautiful,” Lyndgaard said. “And that first moment of pride where she’s like, ‘I’ve made this!’ — it’s an incredible thing to witness their own shift into believing what is possible for them.”