The New Yorker calls it “The Year We Played Ourselves,” and even though we’re very much ready to turn over a new leaf in 2017, 2016 held some important milestones to celebrate, (and we mean more than memes and Pokemon Go).

Hope is something we choose, so here are some stories of victory from yesteryear that prove we can own this one.

It was in January of 2016 that Barbie announced that the household name would now represent the young girls of more households, including seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 different styles of hair. In March, the new faces of Barbie became available in stores!

This summer’s Olympics in Rio had a bit of a rocky start, but this year the first ever team of refugees competed at the events, and American athletes shattered records. Long distance swimmer Katie Ledecky won four gold medals and two silver, and surpassed her own NCAA record plus broke two world records.

According to NBC Olympics, the Rio games were the last to see a five-member gymnastics team. The USA women’s team went out with a bang, taking home the gold as best in the world. Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles’ entered as first-time olympians. Biles was later named espnW’s Woman of the Year, and Laurie Hernandez went on to claim the mirror ball trophy as champion of Dancing with the Stars.

Image via Cacá Santoro

Victory is of course sweet, but closer to the spirit of the games was a moment when New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin unexpectedly fell during a 5,000 meter race. American Abbey D’Agostino was tripped in the fall, but stopped to help her fellow athlete back up. Both finished the race in 16 minutes and 43 seconds and 17 minutes and 10 seconds, respectively. We’ll cheers to 2017 holding more outstretched arms and unbreakable sportsmanship!

August 25th marked the National Park Service’s centennial. According to the New York Times, some individual parks are celebrating this special 100th birthday as well: Maine’s Acadia National Park, California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park of the 50th state.

In October, President Obama announced that high school graduations are at an all-time high! What’s even more amazing, is that this is the fifth year in a row U.S. students have beat the annual record. Eighty-three percent of students were confirmed to have graduated at the end of the 2014–2015 school year.

We’ll cheers to 2017 holding more outstretched arms and unbreakable sportsmanship!

November was hectic for us in the United States to say the least, but we can only move forward with a greater passion to unite and not fear. Progress has been slow to diversify our representatives in the Senate and House, but in 2016 the number of women of color in the Senate quadrupled!

Marie Hirono of Hawaii was the first woman of color to join in 2012. But, this year she was joined by Kamala Harris (California), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) and Tammy Duckworth (Illinois). Thai-born Duckworth is a veteran of the Iraq war, who lost her legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting in 2004 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. With a total of 21 women, we’re in good shape to welcome more ladies to the legislative branch. Additionally, Ilhan Oman of Minnesota became the first former refugee to become a legislator!

Image via Alex Ry

The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition published their Food Sustainability Index in December, ranking France as the best in cutting down food waste. Huffington Post reported that the country’s reforms on expiration dates (deemed often confusing and even unnecessary for products like wine and vinegar) and even a market for “ugly” produce have made a real difference. We have a lot of work to do in the States, but we made it to #6 in the world! Not too shabby.

Snippets of news like these can be easy to forget, but are best found with simple questions, asked together.

Tumblr user Helthehatter was inspired by a Reddit thread from the summer that asked, “What GOOD things have happened in 2016 so far?” and in November posted “Good Things That Happened in 2016.” The listed covered all sizes of awesome happenings, from Pokemon Go players setting up lures (virtual objects in the game that attract new Pokemon) around hospitals for sick kids to 2015’s Ice Bucket Challenge yielding a breakthrough in ALS research!

Buzzfeed reported on the blogpost and 82 commenters from Facebook joined in on sharing their own heartfelt highlights: joy-filled births, marriages, anniversaries, new starts.

This Tumblr citizen poignantly ended the round-up by encouraging readers to share positive moments of their own (including glorious bites of cheesecake) with #NeverForgetTheGood.

So let’s remember that and take it to heart. Last year may have been marked by some of the most blatant division and violence our country has seen, but if it teaches us anything, then let us come away knowing it’s not enough to break us, and we will continue to fight becoming weary in doing — and remembering — the most good.

2017, we’re ready for you.

What did we miss? Big or small, let us know what good last year held for you! What do you hope 2017 holds?

Feature Image via Taylr Kreutziger


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