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In The Book

How do you expand a shrinking public school in the middle of nowhere?

When Skip Hults became superintendent of Newcomb Central School in the heart of Adirondack Park, he inherited a tradition of excellence, a talented faculty, a supportive community, and 55 kids to fill 350 seats. It was a case of grow or die. But how do you grow a school?

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In The Book

Is it possible to make 600 cars a day without producing garbage?

When Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries suggested Denise and her team get as close as possible to zero landfill, she was shocked. How do you eliminate all waste from a car plant the size of six-and-a-half football fields that produces 15 tons of waste every 24 hours?

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In The Book

How does a hospital janitor play a critical role on the healing team?

When Mindi’s son needed specialized lifesaving surgery, she, her husband and little McKay flew across the country to find a qualified team. Surrounded by renowned doctors and world-class facilities, they were surprised to find the care and healing McKay needed came from the last member of the hospital’s staff they would have expected.

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In The Book

A Spanish biologist develops a fish farm that acts naturally.

Located on an island in the Guadalquivir River in Southern Spain, Veta La Palma looks more like a bird refuge than a fish farm. Miguel shared the full story behind the world’s most sustainable fish farm with us for Great Work. See chef Dan Barber talk about Miguel’s tasty fish.

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Great work can be as simple as pouring milk into coffee with a twist.

There’s a certain delight that comes when a barista pours the pattern of a leaf into your coffee or latte. Coffee expert David Schomer (who cares even more about how coffee tastes and smells than how it looks) invented this simple way to make a difference people love.

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In The Book

A pioneer in microloans empowers people who live on a few dollars a day.

KIVA co-founder Jessica Jackley helps connect lenders with potential borrowers around the world, whether it's a farmer in Cambodia or a shopkeeper in Sierra Leone, thereby funding entrepreneurship worldwide for as little as $25 a loan. See how microloans are making a difference.

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In The Book

The grandfather of snowboarding shares how it all began.

Every great work story begins with the desire to create something cool for others. For Sherman Poppen, it was his two energetic daughters and pregnant wife (who needed a bit of rest). The toy Snurfer that Sherm created not only delighted his daughters, it inspired an entire industry.

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Asked to create a solar-powered lamp, two men deliver much more.

From family camping to developing nations to the back porch there’s often a need for light that doesn’t burn through fuel or batteries. When Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves got the opportunity to create a solar-powered lamp, they went beyond and created the gravity light instead.

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In The Book

Green Microgym: bikes and ellipticals that make electricity, oh my!

As long as you’re burning energy, you might as well be making it too. Adam Boesel of Portland’s Green Microgym shared with us how he started with the expected gym elements and created something entirely new. Here, you can get a brief tour of the Green Microgym.

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In The Book

The art of being greeted by an elephant in your cruise cabin.

It’s hard to trace the origins of Cruise ship towel origami. Carnival Cruise lines popularized it (and has written the book). But this simple addition to the basic skill of cleaning a room is shows up everywhere from cruise lines to hospitals. It’s an out-of-the ordinary difference that people love.

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This unbelievably simple water carrier shows how problems inspire solutions.

Seeing how difficult it is for many of the world’s poor to transport water over long distances, the Hendrikse brothers reinvented the wheel. Sort of. Building on the simple principle that heavy objects are easier to roll than to carry, they created the Q Drum to help people carry water.

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How do you make a game-changing product sound even better?

The Apple iPad has transformed how the world consumes media. But the sound comes out of a speaker on the back corner. That’s fine when you’re alone in a quiet room. But what if you need more volume to share with a friend in a noisy space? The solution is so simple, it’s genius.

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The blanket that could save a baby’s life.

Neil Powell and his team of designers asked themselves how to spread essential facts to help decrease infant mortality. The answer was a simple new combination: information plus blanket. Mothers who line up for Neil’s free blankets get life-saving info as well.

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In The Book

A lesson in Legos: working with what you’ve got.

Whenever we feel limited by our jobs, we need to remember that our limitations are a starting point for great work. There are so many untried combinations. So many avenues to explore. As inspiration, consider that six eight-stud Lego bricks can be put together in more than 900 million different ways.

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