Dear 2016-

It has been quite a year. Not all bad, not at all. It was filled with moments that will last a lifetime. This is the end of a 9 year cycle and 2017 marks the beginning of a 1 Year cycle.

It is time for me to lay on the table a few of the things I am so grateful for and then walk the hallway and enter the door that has all the light shining under it…the one marked 2017…

Someone I have admired for several years said yes to beginning a friendship and although it has not been an easy start, it has healed me in ways I never thought possible. Because they were a mirror, a soulmate of the deepest kind…I learned how to have an open heart, how to surrender, how to let go of the old patterns and stories that held me back. I faced my fears head on and charged through them, not always so gracefully but unrelentingly honest to my core self, feelings and intuitions. I love them deeply, unconditionally and see them for the imperfectly perfect soul they are.

I discovered that music will always be a part of me but not necessarily a career…but who knows. I have so many new memories from that as well. New musicians I have discovered and added to my list. Images captured and held as memories of shows that will never play again.

I found that the best way to live life is to surrender to it. I finally understand that word. I found it after taking 30 days out of my life and seeing things I never thought I would. Orcas in the wild. The Oregon and Washington coast lines. Enough nature to take me home to myself and help me find my core.

To know that words are magic and have intent and to learn how to pause and measure each one as it comes from my lips and across my keyboard. To understand that it is “spelling” at it’s finest. To know that is the core of this” When you believe it, you will see it”. I believe in magic.

To know that self care is not selfish. That when I feel good about myself, I can offer the finest to others.

To understand that the word ‘Love’ is so much more powerful than we give it credit for and that it is so much more than romantic love. That romantic love springs from this deep, warm, inky ocean of feeling. That Love is always there and you don’t necessarily need to have it returned to feel it at it’s depth.

That I finally understand the loss of hope, the lack of feeling that people face when they decide to end their life, I have been there twice and come through it.

I am stronger for all I faced and walked through. I was graceless and ugly and complicated and messy and so imperfectly perfect and I finally see that about myself. To know that when I believe it, I will see it…and that applies to everything. But I also had some times where I saw how beautiful and full and open and loving I am…balance

Unlike many,  the election results did not faze  me. They simply put a light to all the ugliness that people were content to turn away from and now we have to stand against it and be strong and be the one in the room who won’t look away when we are face to face with whatever it is. That violence will never be the way as violence is hate and not love….and that is the hardest thing to find when you are angry.

And yet so many things that were beautiful happened. If we continue to allow the media and ourselves to focus only on the bad, that is all we will ever see. How many wonderful, selfless things do people do every day for each other that never make it to media-social or otherwise…so let’s celebrate the good things that happened…here are a few…

Australia. 52,000 hectares of land returned to Larrakia Aboriginals

New Zealand: Lands and Rivers can be people (legally speaking)

And here are a list of other things as well: Original list appeared on Medium

Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation

 British Columbia protected 85% of one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests, home to the wonderfully named ‘Spirit Bear.’ Reuters

In February, Peru and Bolivia signed a $500 million deal to preserve Lake Titicaca. HNGN

In March, the US government abandoned its plan for oil and gas drilling in Atlantic waters, reversing its decision from a year ago. Guardian

 After nearly 13 years of difficult negotiations, Malaysia established a 1 million hectare marine park that pioneers a mixed-use approach to marine conservation. Guardian

 In 2016, more than 20 countries pledged more than $5.3 billion for ocean conservation and created 40 new marine sanctuaries covering an area of 3.4 million square km. Reuters

 That included a new record holder for the world’s biggest marine reserve, off the coast of Antarctica. National Geographic

New research showed that acid pollution in the atmosphere is now almost back to the level that it was before it started with industrialisation in the 1930s. Science Bulletin

 In 2012, the US and Mexico embarked on an unprecedented binational project to revive the Colorado River. By 2016, the results had astonished everyone. Audubon

 In November, the Obama administration followed up its March announcements by banning offshore exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until 2022. Politico

Political and economic progress in many parts of the world

In 2016, for the first time ever, the amount of money it would take to end poverty dropped below the amount of money spent on foreign aid. Vox

World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years. New York Times

In February, Ontario announced a $100 million initiative to curb violence against indigenous women. The Star

 Black incarceration rates fell in the United States. Not fast enough, but certainly something worth celebrating. Washington Post

Homelessness in the United States declined by 35% since 2007, and Los Angeles committed to $1.2 billion to help get more people off the street. CS Monitor

Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. New York Times

 The Gambia and Tanzania banned child marriage, following sustained lobbying by civil society groups. Independent

In June, after years of wrangling, the drive to end female genital mutilation in Africa made a major breakthrough, when the Pan African Parliament endorsed a continent-wide ban. The Wire

 Germany took on rape culture, introducing a law to broaden the definition of sex crimes by zoning in on the issue of consent. Catalogue

 The United States now feeds healthy lunches to more than 30 million children, is about to ban trans fats, and has enacted one of the biggest overhauls of nutrition labels in decades. Vox

Italy became the last large Western country to recognise same-sex unions in 2016, following a long-running battle by campaigners. Independent

 Denmark became the first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness, and Canada announced a ban on transgender discrimination. Telegraph.

2016 marked the 24th year in a row that teenage pregnancy rates declined in the United Kingdom and the United States.

We finally started responding seriously to the climate change emergency

The Paris Agreement became the fastest (and largest) United Nations treaty to go from agreement to international law in modern history. CBS

Global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all in 2016. It’s the third year in a row emissions have flatlined. Scientific American

 Thanks to rapid technological innovation and political support from around the world, renewables now account for more installed capacity than any other form of electricity in the world, including coal. Gizmodo

The Chinese government placed a ban on new coal mines, created new rules for grid access, and doubled its renewables targets for 2020. WRI

 In April, the UK’s Chatham House released a report saying “Big Oil is screwed.” Chatham House

 In the same month, 25% of European countries announced that they had quit coal. EcoWatch

The BRICS New Development Bank approved $1 billion in renewables investments in China, Brazil, South Africa, and India. RT

In 2016 Costa Rica ran solely on renewable energy for over 100 days. Now it’s aiming for an entire year with no fossil fuels. The Independent

 In July, the US, Mexico, and Canada committed to getting 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2025. Their leaders also nailed the awkward handshake thing. Time

China installed 20GW of solar in the first half of 2016, three times as much as during the same period a year ago. Reuters

In October, the International Energy Agency reported that half a million solar panels were installed each day around the world in 2015. It also drastically increased its five year growth forecast for renewables. IEA

 In the same month, 197 countries agreed to drastically reduce their use of HFCs, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed to measures to combat the impact of flying on greenhouse gas emissions. Scientific American

The world’s biggest offshore wind farm received the go ahead for its second phase. Guardian

Mexico announced $6 billion in renewables investments, Argentina $2.7 billion, Scotland connected underwater turbines to its grid for the first time, and solar energy generated more power than coal in the United Kingdom. Independent UK

In November, India unveiled the world’s largest solar-xpower plant, and revealed that it is now on track to be the world’s third biggest solar market in 2017. Al Jazeera

 And in the same month, the United Kingdom agreed to phase out coal by 2025, France said it would get there by 2023, and Germany promised to reduce emissions by 95% by 2050. Guardian

The world got less violent

Following the end of conflict in Colombia in 2016, all of the war in the world is now limited to an arc that contains less than a sixth of the world’s population. Associated Press

ISIS quietly started preparing its followers for the eventual collapse of the caliphate it proclaimed with great fanfare two years ago. New Yorker

 In April, a new report revealed that for the first time ever, the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries. Article

Juarez, in Mexico, used to be the world’s most dangerous city. In 2016, crime came down and residents started losing their fear. National Geographic

Crime rates in Holland plummeted, with total recorded crime shrinking by 25% in the last eight years. One third of the country’s prison cells are now empty. Dutch News

Three years ago Honduras was the most dangerous place on earth. Since then community crime programs have achieved a remarkable reduction in violence. New York Times

Signs of hope for a life-sustaining economy

Good science and simple economics have started a reversal in overfishing in the United States. New York Times

Norway became the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation. The Independent

 In June, a new survey showed that the ozone hole has shrunk by more than 3.9 million square kilometres since 2006. Scientists now think it will now be fully healed by 2050. Sydney Morning Herald

In July, more than 800,000 volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in one day. The country is planning on reforesting 12% of its land. National Geographic

Later that month, Israel revealed that it now makes 55% of its freshwater. That means that one of the driest countries on Earth now has more water than it needs. Ensia

The average number of large oil spills around the world has been drastically reduced, from an average of 24.5 per year in the 1970s to just 1.8 a year in 2015. ITOPF

The citizens of Mumbai conducted the largest beach clean-up in human history, removing more than 4,000 tonnes of rubbish. Washington Post

Plastic bag use plummeted in England thanks to the introduction of a 5p charge in 2015. BBC

The Italian government overwhelmingly backed a new set of laws aimed at cutting down the vast amounts of food wasted in the country each year. Independent

In December, four of the world’s biggest cities, Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City, agreed to ban diesel cars from their centers. Guardian

Endangered animals got a some well-deserved breaks

At this year’s CITES conference, 183 countries agreed to the strongest protections ever for endangered animals, with big wins for parrots, rhinos, porpoises, rays, and elephants. Washington Post

In February, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the global manatee population is no longer endangered. Scientific American

Wild wolves started coming back to Europe, and for the first time since the American Revolution, wild salmon began spawning in the Connecticut River. Al Jazeera

In March, Yellowstone’s grizzly bears passed a major milestone, completing one of the greatest wildlife comeback stories in history. National Geographic

Fifty years ago, the Columbian white-tailed deer population was 450 animals. This year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service took it off the endangered list. CS Monitor

Green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico were taken off the endangered list. Huffington Post

Sea World agreed to stop breeding captive killer whales. NPR

Humpback whales were removed from the endangered species list, having fully recovered in the last 46 years. Science Mag

The US finalized new regulations to shut down commercial elephant ivory trade within its borders and stop wildlife crime overseas. WWF

Mongolia created one of the world’s largest protected areas for snow leopards. Snow Leopard Trust

In September, giant pandas became the latest species to be taken off the endangered list. Guardian

And in 2016, for the first time, we heard that the number of tigers in the wild rose for the first time in 100 years. National Geographic

The world got more generous

Online crowdfunding raised almost $1 million for the kids of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to go to college.

Warren Buffett gave $2.9 billion to charity, again. And his son, a farmer and environmentalist, quietly continued to spend his billion dollar inheritance on sustainable agriculture and hunger eradication. The Atlantic

The Gates Foundation announced another $5 billion in charity for Africa. They also tweeted this video about progress on malaria.

Germany took in an additional 300,000 refugees in 2016, despite growing concerns about integration and a backlash from populists. Guardian

In Canada, hockey moms, poker buddies, and neighbors took in Syrian refugees, one family at a time. New York Times



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