Understatement of the year: 2020 was one for the history books. In a year full of surprises, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges 2020 brought. It’s for good reason, too: At the time of printing, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1.3 million people worldwide, shutdowns have cause financial ruin for businesses, families, and individuals, and the United States is facing what some call the most divisive political landscape we’ve had since the Civil War.
It’s been rough for so many people. And it’s OK if you haven’t loved this year. At Good Good Good, we never want to avoid the reality of the world’s greatest pains. Instead, we look for hopeful stories happening right within them. In seeking good news, we’ve been able to see that no matter how bad the world may seem, there is still reason to hope. Here’s the good we found out of 2020 →
Good News from January 2020:
Gestures of Goodwill to Support Australia’s Bushfire Crisis
It might feel like a lifetime ago, but remember the bushfires that ravaged Australia? They burned millions of acres of land, destroyed thousands of homes, displacing thousands and killing wildlife.
Australians banded together by offering accommodation, food, medicine, and funds for the heroic firefighters fighting the blaze.
Doctoral student Erin Riley founded an impromptu organization in just four days’ time. The organization, FindABed, is a database of volunteers offering a place to stay for evacuees and animals.
Riley is just one example of Australians stepping up to support one another amid the devastation of the bushfires.
A pharmacist named Raj Gupta kept his pharmacy open despite the area having no power and no cellular service — and despite the fact that his home had burned down from the fires that week.
The loss of power meant he couldn’t take payment for the medications.
“People will come back and pay,” he told the Guardian. “They are very honorable people.”
The rest of the world rallied by donating to the cause and spreading the word on social media. Celebrities and public figures appealed to their followers on Instagram, and musicians held fundraising gigs.
Good News from February 2020:
A Glimmer of Hope in Syria
The conflict in Syria has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, internal displacement of more than 7 million people, and more than 5 million refugees.
The conflict is complex and ongoing. There’s been little, if any, progress toward peace in the country since it started. There have been peace talks several times since 2011, but there isn’t an end in sight
for the war.
One small glimmer of hope is that Syria resumed commercial flights in February this year. A Syrian Air flight took off from Damascus and landed in Aleppo, a first since 2011, when the airport in Aleppo closed because of the crisis. The flight was a symbolic win amid a war that has torn the country apart and led to a global
(Note: This story is nuanced because of all the parties who were involved to make this happen. The conflict is obviously complex, but we think it’s good news because it’s a sign of greater stability in the region.)
Good News from March 2020:
The World Stepped Up to Fight COVID-19
March marked a month when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. It was also the month that the whole world stepped up to fight the virus. In many ways, this was the most uniting month of the year. People committed to staying home and social distancing, retired health care workers stepped back into their previous roles, and the world rallied around putting an end to the disease. March was a beautiful reminder that we can come together to make a difference.
— In the UK, 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors signed up within 48 hours of the National Health Service’s call for help from retired medical professionals. (The London Economic)
— The City of Detroit restored water service to homes with unpaid bills so people could wash their hands. (The Seattle Times)
— Utah prepared to keep providing meals to students who rely on getting them at school. (The Salt Lake Tribune)
— China sent a team of medical experts and gear to help Italy fight COVID-19. (The South China Morning Post)
— Soccer fans in Italy donated their ticket refunds to hospitals in need. (Bild)
— Liquor and perfume companies began making hand sanitizer in their factories. (CNN)
— A landlord in Maine paused rent for his tenants because of the COVID-19 outbreak, anticipating economic hardship. (Newsweek)
— Grocery stores introduced special shopping hours for elderly people. (NBC)
— New Orleans Pelicans player Zion Williamson pledged to cover the salary of New Orleans arena workers for 30
— In a show of unity, people in Italy leaned out their windows to sing together during the lockdown. (The Independent)
— Animal shelters cleared out as people chose to adopt and foster pets during stay-at-home orders. (NBC)
— The City of Toronto acquired hotels and rental buildings to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus outbreak. (CityNews Toronto)
Good News from April 2020:
Tiger King Animals Are Now Living in Sanctuaries
The last episode of Netflix’s Tiger King came out on April 12. For some reason, everyone watched this bizarre show about big cat breeding and the eccentric culture surrounding it.
One piece of good news you should know is that 39 tigers (plus three black bears) from Joe Exotic’s zoo are living in a Colorado animal sanctuary, the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
"We try and give them large open spaces, plenty of places to run, decide what they do throughout the day, if they want to lay in the sun, play in the water, scratch on a log," Becca Miceli, chief science and animal welfare officer at the sanctuary, told ABC.
She said many of Joe’s tigers had health problems and still have ongoing physical problems and mental trauma. She said she hopes the series will raise awareness of the exploitation of exotic animals and inspire people to protect big cats.
"Those are all living beings to us, and we want to see them flourish,” Miceli said.
Also in April, Joe Exotic was convicted for several wildlife violations. He’s currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for those charges, in addition to charges related to an alleged attempt to hire hitmen to kill Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue.
Good News from May 2020:
Lockdown Showed Us That Nature Can Heal
At this point in the pandemic, lockdowns in many countries had been in effect in some capacity for at least a month. While many of us began to fear that this would last forever, the environment began to thrive. While at first we were skeptical whether it would make any lasting impact, we can think of these effects as experiments in ways we can create changes that last. We can see how these actions, when done by the masses, can actually make a difference.
Firstly, carbon emissions and air pollution went down. According to reporting from the Guardian in May, lockdowns caused a 17 percent drop in global carbon emissions. It makes sense: People stayed home and businesses were closed, so everyone was using less energy.
Air pollution in large cities also dropped dramatically between March and May of this year. According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, levels of nitrogen dioxide — a key ingredient in smog — declined by an average of 27 percent in 12 major global cities 10 days after lockdowns were initiated, compared to the same period during 2017–2019.
Additionally, some wildlife began returning to places it hadn’t been seen in some time. With beaches free of tourists, rare giant turtles called leatherbacks returned to beaches in places like Florida and Thailand. They were seen in numbers not seen in decades.
Good News from June 2020:
People Took A Stand for Racial Justice
The month after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, protests of police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability erupted in more than 2,000 U.S. cities and 60 countries. Violence against Black people and protests against it aren’t new, but in June the movement gained new steam and caught fire. It was clear that there was new energy and enthusiasm in these protests not seen before.
People used their voice to demand justice for Floyd and for racial justice generally — many speaking out for the first time. It made a difference.
According to the New York Times, net support (respondents who support the movement minus those who do not support it) for the Black Lives Matter movement increased in the two weeks after Floyd’s death by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years. (Sadly, others intensified in their opposition to BLM because of rioting and looting, which were largely unrelated to activist activity).
This global movement also brought about some policy changes — all of the following happened in less than a month following Floyd’s death:
Minneapolis lawmakers vowed to disband the city's police department. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City pledged to move funding from the city's police department toward youth and social services. Washington, DC, and states including California, Nevada, and Texas, banned chokeholds. These are just a few examples, but there are more.
To be clear: It shouldn’t take a tragedy to create change, and there are more systemic issues to tackle, but we celebrate that more people engaged this year because it moved the needle, even if just a little.
Good News from July 2020:
Sports Returned, with a Sign of Gender Equality Progress
By this point in 2020, sports started returning. MLB had their Opening Day on July 23, the NBA and WNBA both resumed in late July, and golf and soccer were already underway in many places.
Notably, Alyssa Nakken made MLB history in July as the first woman to coach on the field during a major league game. She coached first base for the San Francisco Giants during an exhibition game against the Oakland A’s.
The Giants announced her hiring as an assistant coach in January. CNN reports that she joined the organization in 2014 as an intern in the baseball operations department, where she worked on a variety of special projects related to the amateur draft, international operations, and
Nakken’s coaching on the field became big news in the baseball world. We think it’s big news everywhere because it shows progress for gender equality, and it’s even better because the response was overwhelmingly positive. Women have value to offer in every industry, and it’s about time we see that value in action.
Good News from August 2020:
New Zealand Gave Us Hope For COVID-19
In August, New Zealand announced they had gone 100 days without a new COVID-19 infection. For a country with nearly 5 million residents, this is a remarkable feat. At the same time, the country reported it had just 23 active cases, all in isolation. The country has fared far better than others, with just over 1,200 recorded cases as of August and 22 deaths.
The country has been praised for its handling of the virus and as of August had eased most of its lockdown restrictions. To thank are the country’s early lockdown restrictions, tough border restrictions, effective health messaging, and test-and-trace programs, BBC reports. What we find most compelling is the empathetic leadership style of the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. She framed combating the pandemic as the work of a unified “team of 5 million” — which resulted in high public confidence and adherence to pandemic-control measures.
What we can learn from New Zealand is that it’s possible to control the spread of coronavirus. With quick, science-based assessments, early, decisive government action, and dedicated cooperation from the public, we can fight this thing.
Of note: The country did see new cases after August, but by implementing these effective measures again, they have seen about 700 additional cases and three additional deaths since August.
Good News from September 2020:
California Made it Easier for Inmate Firefighters to go Pro After Release
In September, California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that makes it easier for formerly incarcerated volunteer firefighters to go pro. The new law will streamline the process to expunge their felony records, which clears the path to pursue careers as firefighters.
For decades, inmate firefighters have battled wildfires across the state, working alongside professional firefighters in the heat and smoke for little to no pay. Yet after being released from prison, these men and women who put their lives on the line to save lives and property often find it impossible to put their skills to use professionally because of their records.
Many activists argue that the state’s reliance on incarcerated labor is unfair — prisoners receive about $1 per hour while working active fires, compared to the average firefighter salary in California starting at $40,000 per year, according to CareerExplorer.
The new law makes it easier to earn an emergency medical technician certification, the first step in becoming a professional firefighter in most places. With their felony record eliminated, these heroes could be considered for employment like any other applicant. (Some former inmates convicted of violent offenses, including arson, kidnapping, and rape would be barred from having their records expunged.)
“After seeing all these young men and women stand side by side with our other fire crews and knowing that they had no hope of entering that profession, I knew that it was wrong and that we needed to do something about it,” Assemblymember Eloise Reyes, the bill’s author, told NBC.
Good News from October 2020:
Thousands of Nigerians Protested Against SARS
You may have seen the hashtag #EndSARS going around social media back in October. No, no one was talking about the disease. They were talking about the notoriously violent and corrupt Nigerian police unit, SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).
Since the beginning of October, tens of thousands of young Nigerians have protested a long history of brutality and corruption in the agency, which has largely gone unchecked by the Nigerian government. Despite promises from the government to disband it at the demand of its citizens, it has yet to do so.
A video showing the unprovoked shooting and killing of a man by uniformed SARS officers was a catalyst for the movement's largest protests yet — and they're happening throughout
On October 12, the Nigerian president responded to the protests by announcing that he would disband SARS as a first step in “extensive police reform.” But many from his staff said officers would simply be relocated to other units. Peaceful protests continued, but on October 20, police shot into crowds of unarmed protestors. At least a dozen people were killed that evening.
This is still unfolding, but the good news is that this has turned into a global movement, which can put pressure on the government to swiftly take action. Protests have spread to cities around the world and have attracted mainstream media attention. Nigerians continue to demand total disengagement of the unit and wide-ranging police reform. Demonstrators have pledged to continue until demands are met.
Good News from November 2020:
Americans Voted in Record Numbers in This Year’s Election
More than 159 million Americans voted in this year’s presidential election — a record high in a presidential election and the highest voter turnout rate among eligible citizens since 1900. More than 100 million of these votes were cast during the early voting period.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, almost 240 million people were eligible to vote in 2020, making this election’s turnout rate about 66 percent, which is the highest voter turnout rate since 1900.
The number of ballots cast in 2020 by mail or in person before Election Day more than doubled that of earling voting in 2016. This year saw about 23 million additional votes than in 2016, too: About 136 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared to about 159 million this year.
The additional turnout can partly be attributed to the expansion of absentee voting this year because of the pandemic-related safety concerns. Many states expanded mail-in and in-person early voting. Texas led early voting with at least 9.6 million votes cast before Election Day, according to NBC News.
Higher turnout rates show that the American public is more willing to engage with the country’s democratic process. And when more people participate, our government can better reflect the people it serves. That’s a win for all.
Good News from December 2020:
To a Better Future...
This issue was printed on November 20th, 2020, and sadly technology hasn’t yet made it so we can predict the future. But here’s what the Good Good Good team is manifesting for the month that will round out the roller coaster that was 2020:
In December, we see record spending on small businesses, helping support them through the end of the year. People won’t buy everything on Amazon but instead will choose to shop local (safely, through online shopping, pick-up, or in-store while following guidance).
We see people signing up to volunteer — not just during the holidays, but at regular intervals so nonprofits can depend
We see people taking the pandemic seriously. As the scientific and medical communities work tirelessly to learn more about the virus, the public will do their part to take care of one another by wearing masks, washing their hands, socially distancing, minimizing time outside their homes, and being kind to essential workers.
We see people making sustainable choices. People will opt to drive instead of fly, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. People will minimize waste when wrapping gifts — or better yet, won’t wrap their gifts at all and will choose gifts with little to no packaging to throw away.
This is the world as it could be. It’s what we hope for — and it’s a world that we can make a reality through our choices. It starts with you.