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Good News: The CROWN Act, Investments in Local Journalism + More

By Manna Zel

In just a few weeks time, we’ve seen incredibly impactful good news hit the headlines, from the largest urban rooftop farm in the world, to the CROWN Act passing the House, to the freshly-minted name of a University of Maryland academic department. Read on for the good details.

August 26: Montreal is now home to the world’s largest urban rooftop greenhouse and farm in the world (TimeOut)

Lufa Farms, a grocery delivery service local to Montreal, recently constructed the world’s largest rooftop garden and farm. At approximately 163,800 square feet, the rooftop farm is about the size of three football fields and utilizes double-paned glass, energy-saving insulation screens, rainwater for a closed-loop irrigation system, and is completely pesticide free. Lufa Farms’ greenhouses can produce over 100 different kinds of vegetables, and the rooftop farm itself can grow enough food to feed 10,000 families

September 5: University of Maryland Names an Academic Department After Harriet Tubman (CNN)

The University of Maryland is the only university in the United States to offer students a minor in Black women’s studies, and now, they’ve announced their first honorific naming of an academic department: the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. According to UMD president Darryll J. Pines, this department is known for its “unique concentration in Black feminist thought and intersectionality.” An American abolitionist and literal trailblazer, Harriet Tubman was born as an enslaved person in Maryland, escaped to Pennsylvania, and later strategized the rescue of a countless number of enslaved people via the Underground Railroad.

September 8: Colin Kaepernick returns to Madden as a playable character for the first time since 2016 (CNN)

Colin Kaepernick sparked a nationwide debate when he began protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. Kaepernick hasn’t played on an NFL football field since his time with the San Francisco 49ers and hasn’t appeared in the popular Madden NFL video game since the 2016 release of Madden NFL 17; but in Madden 21, Kaepernick is back as the top free agent quarterback in the league. Typically, EA Sports negotiates licensing agreements for NFL players through the NFL Players Association, but they lost rights to Kaepernick’s likeness when he became a free agent in 2016. This time around, EA Sports worked directly with Kaepernick, involving him in discussions about his character’s appearance and in-game celebrations. In Madden 21, Kaepernick sports his signature Afro—as opposed to the cornrows of Madden 17’s past—and celebrates successful plays with the Black Power fist, according to The Undefeated.

September 11: California bill clears path for ex-inmates to become firefighters (NPR)

For decades, incarcerated people in California have trained as firefighters and fought on the frontlines of deadly California wildfires for very little pay—think $1.90 per day—but weren’t legally allowed to work as firefighters upon re-entering society. This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law that will allow formerly incarcerated people who trained as firefighters to petition courts to clear their convictions—making them eligible for EMT certification, a key requirement for becoming a municipal firefighter.

September 15: Facebook announces $5M investment supporting diversity and entrepreneurship in US local news (Facebook)

Between the pandemic, natural disasters, the ongoing fight for racial justice, and the looming U.S. election in November, local newsrooms are working hard to keep their communities up to date. After a $16 million investment in immediate local news relief made in early 2020, Facebook has announced a $5 million investment in diversity and entrepreneurship programs for journalists and local newsrooms.

September 22: The House Just Passed A Law That Could End Natural Hair Discrimination Nationwide (Refinery29)

Since The CROWN Act was first introduced in California by State Senator Holly Mitchell, seven states have passed this law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a Black person’s natural hair and texture. The CROWN Act—which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”—was recently introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Cedric Richmond, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Marcia Fudge, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Good news: it passed! Next step? The CROWN Act is sent off to the Senate for their consideration and approval.