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7 Wonderful Things That Have Happened So Far in 2021

This year has for many people felt like a slow sludgy scary rollover from 2020 with an underlying vibe of ‘there are glints and glimmers of better times maybe ahead but don’t get your hopes up’. Today, I want to help add more glints and glimmers with 7 things that definitely spark joy. Not much more preamble needed than that.

1. That Video of Lebanese Street Vendors Getting Support

Have you come across @theworldsucks.lb yet? Neither had I until earlier this year, and their Instagram handle makes you think you’ll be entering a rage venting zone of some kind. Nothing could be further from the truth! Instead, you discover videos of young Lebanese spontaneously providing financial support to individuals who have been suffering even more than usual under the extensive lockdown. The first one I came across, posted on January 16th, shows a really touching series of clips where some of the most vulnerable members of our society- elderly street vendors- are given a notable amount of money to help survive the quarantine.

While I usually don’t like recordings like this because they can be exploitative and self-serving, I didn’t get that feeling here. They provide a spotlight on people who are largely forgotten or ignored, allow you to connect with their humanity, and help you remember the profound impact of an act of kindness. Check it out if you haven’t yet:

2. The Bernie Sanders Inauguration Day Meme Sensation

January 20th represented a huge day for Americans for many reasons, and for the rest of the world too, not the least of which is an end to Trump’s reign of…idiocy. But that’s not what we’re focusing on today. Instead, we’re focusing on another reason why January 20th was a huge day for the world: Bernie Sanders + Mittens = The Best Memes of All Time. Unless you’ve literally just gotten back from the moon, you’ll be very familiar with these pure delights of photoshop. They lit up the whole world. It was ridiculously wholesome, felt like a universally shared joke (and let’s be real, how often do those come around?), and was eventually overdone to the point of absurdity. But no matter what heinous or marvelous things happen in 2021, we will not forget the Bernie Sanders with Mittens Moment. He even made it into @thebackburner in Saifi Village.

Photo Credit: @thebackburner

If you’d like to revisit the experience of joy that was scrolling through these Bernie memes, here is a compilation of some of the funniest. Did you know that someone created a crochet doll version of him in his now infamous pose and outfit? If you somehow missed that gem, here THAT is. You’re welcome.

3. The Defeat of Shell Oil by Nigerian Villagers

On January 29th after a 13-year legal battle during which two of the original plaintiffs died, a small group of Nigerian farmers in partnership with Friends of the Earth Netherlands won their pollution case against Shell Oil. This case was launched to gain retribution for the significant land damage and illness the community faced due to oil spills. The farmers are being compensated, and mandates for safety and clean up have been enacted.

Nationofchange.org quotes the son of one of the farmers, saying:

“Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil. But it is a bittersweet victory since two of the plaintiffs, including my father, did not live to see the end of this trial. It is a long time victory that we have been dreaming of. It is not only a victory for me, it is a victory for the entire Niger Delta region, the Ogoni people, the civil society organizations. It is a victory for me and my family. It is a victory for humanity,”.

4. The “I’m here live. I’m not a cat” Video

If you haven’t seen this Feb 9th fountain of merriment, I’m just going to let it speak for itself. As a Guardian article headline perfectly states The joy of ‘Lawyer Cat’ is that it teaches us nothing- it’s just very funny .

5. Black Lives Matter Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

According to CNN, Norwegian politician Petter Eide chose the organization “for their struggle against racism and racially motivated violence. … BLM’s call for systemic change has spread around the world, forcing other countries to grapple with racism within their own societies.”

BLM has transformed the conversation around race in countries across the world, including Lebanon. There has been more accountability and action in dismantling systemic oppression than ever before because of them. And while we can debate the value and optics of the Peace Prize, we can’t debate the visibility and recognition it provides. BLM deserves some damn recognition, and it’s getting it! Follow them @blklivesmatter

6. New Zealand Designer Makes Solar Skylight

Henry Glogau, recent graduate of the Royal Danish Academy in Denmark, and finalist of the Lexus Design Awards 2021, has created a solar salination skylight that purifies water and uses the leftover brine to create batteries that power an LED strip. These Solar Skylights are already being installed in informal homes in Chile. You can read more about it on The Good News Network and see it in action in this awesome video.

7. Sawti is Being Launched

Last but not least! One of Impact Lebanon‘s initiatives, Sawti (meaning ‘my voice’ for the non-Arabs reading), is, in their words “…a global campaign and platform designed to inform and support the Lebanese people around the world to participate in Lebanon’s elections”. A volunteer-led and independent project, it is developed with the premise that change in Lebanon is only possible through increased citizen engagement, by Lebanese locally and abroad.

I’m a big Impact Lebanon fan, and anything they put their constantly expanding clout behind is worth noting. We watched @sawti.vote emerge on Instagram at the beginning of the year, and momentum has been building since their A Better Beirut interview about a month ago. We’re less than two weeks away from their March 11th launch, and as a diaspora kid, I’m pretty excited. Check out their instagram and don’t miss this interview! You can also sign up to their website to receive updates at sawti.vote.

And that’s all folks! As usual, we love hearing from you, especially if you’ve got some good news stories that you think we should’ve shared. We know times are dark and heavy, so we’ve got to keep training our eyes on the light.

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Featured Image Credit: https://www.stufflovely.com/new-zealand-designer-makes-ingenious-solar-powered-skylight-that-desalinates-water-for-drinking/