Year in Review

The Ingenuity of 2021

This year wasn’t all disappointment. Join us in a look at the creativity that emerged amid crisis.

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A garden that grows into a pandemic windfall. A hobby that transforms a town. As a second year of the coronavirus pandemic concludes, we examine how people from Zimbabwe to Mexico recast their struggles. 2021 was a year of hesitation and helplessness. It also was a year of creativity and innovation. Here are a few testaments to that ingenuity.

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From Subsistence to Small Business: Gardeners Hit Pay Dirt

Story by Fortune Moyo, GPJ Zimbabwe

Community gardening was a side hustle for some residents in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. But coronavirus restrictions turned it into a lucrative business.

Edith Hove, who usually sells clothes, suddenly made more money marketing her produce. “Because people were restricted from traveling to the city center,” she says, “community gardens became their vegetable shop.”

More from Zimbabwe

Can Caterpillars Save Us?
The Entrepreneurs Betting on Maggots

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Surfing Boom Brings Wave of Benefits to Tiny Coastal Town

Story by Maya Piedra, GPJ Mexico

Sayulita, a scrappy coastal village along Mexico’s Pacific shoreline, was once known for fishing, farming and cattle ranching. Now it receives national recognition for another reason: surfing.

This success has reshaped the town and transformed prospects for its residents.

More from Mexico

The Village That Ditched the Drug Trade for Tourism
Can Eggshells Save One of Mexico’s Most Polluted Rivers?

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The Next Must-Have School Accessory?

Story by Patricia Lindrio, GPJ Uganda

Children sit on cement floors in many Uganda classrooms because administrators can’t afford desks and chairs. One man believes he’s found an affordable solution. The “SeatPack” turns a backpack into a stool with a wooden writing board.

“When I visited a school in rural Uganda, the need for school furniture was evident,” says Arnold Mugagga, who conceived the idea. “In this school, the head prefect sat on a brick, and the rest sat on the floor. And I thought to myself, that is not an upgrade.”

More Innovative Responses

To Survive, Indigenous Community Must Adapt — Fast
Designers Weave Tradition Into Future of Fashion Industry

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Homegrown Oasis: Planting Initiative Battles Dust Storms, Boosts Economy

Story by Uranchimeg Tsogkhuu, GPJ Mongolia

Gobi desert residents built a green wall of trees to ward against dust storms and deforestation. The homegrown nature of these tree nurseries has protected them against financial ruin during the pandemic.

“Nothing will change if everyone just talks,” says Baraaduuz Demchig, 81, one of the first residents to start a nursery. “But things will change if everybody goes out with a shovel and plants trees.”

More Environmental Solutions

Officials Bet on a Country of Turmeric Growers
At Women-Run Nursery, a Quiet Revolution Takes Root

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A Troubled Region Attempts Revolutionary Reconciliation

Story by Merveille Kavira Luneghe, GPJ Democratic Republic of Congo

Communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s most violent regions, are trying something new in the search for peace. They’re engaging in conflict mediation.

So far, it appears a success. But next year will prove the real test.

More Unlikely Success

Keeping the Lights on in DRC
Outside a Metro Station, Women Vendors Foster Community