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The work of journalism has always meant coping with a certain amount of despair, but the past few weeks have been particularly unrelenting. From the shooting in Las Vegas and the hurricanes in Puerto Rico to our cover package this week on the horrific misconduct of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the headlines have been a sobering reminder of what nature can inflict on humanity, and what humanity can inflict on itself.

So it is a pleasure this week to have a hopeful story in the mix: Next Generation Leaders, a biannual project we began four years ago in partnership with Rolex that spotlights rising artists, activists, athletes, scientists and entrepreneurs. “One of the joys of reporting on these pioneers,” says Europe editor Dan Stewart, who oversees the list, “is seeing how many of them go on to an even bigger stage.” He cites as examples Feng Zhang, 34, a 2016 NGL who helped develop gene-editing technology and last month won the vaunted Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventors, and 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, a 2017 NGL who is poised to become Chancellor of Austria. You can see all of these leaders, and videos about them, at

On a similar note, if you find Washington’s partisan gridlock disheartening, you might be inspired by 28-year-old Mike Gentry, the Republican mayor of Lebanon, Ind. Anyone on his staff who defends a decision with “That’s how it’s always been done” has to put money in a bucket. He is one of the young mayors in Charlotte Alter’s story on how government might work when, someday soon, millennials rule.

Finally, I want to salute four of TIME’s leaders who are paving the way to our own future. On Oct. 5, TIME won an Emmy Award for A Year in Space, a documentary we produced with PBS on astronaut Scott Kelly’s year aboard the International Space Station. The project was led by director of photography and visual enterprise Kira Pollack, executive producer Jonathan Woods, editor at large Jeffrey Kluger and head of programming Ian Orefice. The second hour of A Year in Space airs on PBS on Nov. 15. We hope you’ll tune in.


This appears in the October 23, 2017 issue of TIME.

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