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Good News: Stacey Abrams Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, Startup Recycles Plastic into Bricks Stronger than Concrete, + More

By Manna Zel, she/they

From Stacey Abrams’ Nobel Peace Prize nomination to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s new Netflix show to Nzambi Matee’s startup that recycles plastic into bricks, celebrate this Black History Month with some Good News.

February 1: Stacey Abrams Has Been Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (Harper’s Bazaar)

Following her incredible efforts as one of the leaders in the movement to flip Georgia blue in the 2020 election, Democratic politician Stacey Abrams was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When announcing her nomination, Norwegian parliament member Lars Haltbrekken explained, “Abrams’ work follows in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps in the fight for equality before the law and for civil rights. Abrams’ efforts to complete King’s work are crucial if the United States of America shall succeed in its effort to create fraternity between all its peoples and a peaceful and just society.”

February 3: The Empire State Building and its Related Buildings are now Powered by Wind (The Washington Post)

After a purchase of wind power from Green Mountain Energy and Direct Energy made the Empire State Realty Trust the largest real estate company to use entirely renewable energy, the Empire State Building—along with multiple other buildings under the same ownership—will be entirely powered by wind. The Washington Post estimates that this move will stop about 450 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being produced, which roughly translates to one year without taxis on New York City’s roadways.

February 5: Virginia House Advances Legislation Recognizing Water as Human Right (NBC)

Introduced by Lashrecse D. Aird, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, House Joint Resolution 538 seeks to ensure that no one is denied water, acknowledging access to water as a human right. The resolution, which passed the House in a 61-33 vote, has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for another vote.

February 9: Michelle Obama Launches Netflix Children’s Show to Encourage Healthier Eating Habits (USA Today)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has partnered up with Netflix to launch a new show Waffles + Mochi which revolves around a pair of puppets who learn to cook foods from around the world with Obama herself. Alongside a magical shopping cart and guests like rapper Common, author Samin Nosrat, and actor Zach Galifianakis, Waffles and Mochi travel to places like Japan, Peru, and South Korea. 

“I’m excited for families and children everywhere to join us on our adventures as we discover, cook, and eat delicious food from all over the world,” Obama tweeted.

February 9: Nzambi Matee’s Startup Recycles Plastic Into Bricks That Are Stronger Than Concrete (designboom)

Nzambi Matee, a 29-year-old engineer and entrepreneur from Kenya, created Gjenge Makers in 2017 with the objective of reducing waste pollution. The startup recycles plastic waste into paving stones that are stronger than concrete. According to Matee, “Gjenge Makers is a social enterprise whose goal is to provide strong, beautiful, and durable construction products made from cement and polymer concrete, in addition to tackling the prevailing plastic waste pollution in Kenya and Africa at large by converting the waste plastic into alternative building products.”