Nine Bright Spots from a Dark Year

If we wade through the celebrity deaths and ignore Donald Trump’s yuge ego for once, 2016 doesn’t look that bad.

By Kristian Porter, Northern Kentucky University

2016 has been one giant trash heap.

It’s like 2015 left a massive bag of flaming dog shit on our front porches and ran away before we could catch him. Between the election of a glorified reality-TV star reverting so much of the progress we’ve made as a country, and so many of our childhood heroes meeting their untimely deaths (May the force be with you, Carrie Fisher), this year just seems to get worse and worse by the day.

As it finally comes to an end though, I think it’s important that we try to focus on the good things that 2016 brought us. There are some, I promise, as hard as it is to believe.

Here’s a list of positive things that came out of the dumpster fire to help you feel a little bit better.

1. Pokemon Go

Without a doubt, this game was the highlight of my summer. Though it has slowly faded into oblivion, “Pokemon Go” was incredible in its prime.

Nothing else could have possibly lured (I’m punny) so many groups of millennials into the great outdoors except the possibility of capturing adorable pocket monsters.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via YouTube

I was alive in a time where a stranger came up to my boyfriend and I in a park to tell us there was a Bulbasaur nearby, and that is almost enough to make 2016 feel okay.

2. No More Captive Breeding

Sea World has been criticized by animal rights groups and humane societies for years because of its treatment and training of its animals.

Many people feel that the large sea mammals are too big to be kept in such a small habitat, and that forcing them to perform is cruel and inhumane. Sea World received a particularly strong amount of criticism for its treatment of killer whales.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via NPR

After negotiations with the California Coastal Commission over expansions of the Orca habitat at the San Diego theme park, Sea World agreed to stop its captive breeding of the orcas, not just in its San Diego location, but its Orlando and San Antonio locations as well.

This is fantastic news for the future of killer whales, a future that will eventually not include Sea World. Good job, 2016.

3. The Dakota Access Pipeline Halted Construction

The DAPL was one of the most controversial issues of the year. Protestors flocked to North Dakota to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the construction of a pipeline that would cut through sacred ground and had the potential to threaten the water supply.

The protests turned violent as police in riot gear fired tear gas on the crowd and demonstrators lit barricades on fire.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via The Inquisitr

An end seemed nowhere in sight, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the required permits for construction in order to further investigate alternatives to put together an environmental-impact statement.

4. Finding Dory

I did my waiting, thirteen years of it, in agony for this elusive sequel.

I filed into the theater surrounded by six-year-olds who had no idea what I’d been through, no clue of the struggle I faced going my entire adolescence yearning for more Ellen DeGeneres voice acting in my life.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via YouTube

I laughed, I cried and I enjoyed all 1 hour and 45 minutes of this beautiful animated feature.

5. The Harry Potter-Verse Expanded 

2016 was the year for the revival of my childhood.

Harry Potter made a big comeback with the premiere of “The Cursed Child” stage production and accompanying script (which wasn’t exactly the highlight of my year, but still) and the start of the new spin-off series of movies, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via The Wall Street Journal

While some may have argued (me, whoops) that these new additions to the universe were unnecessary, I can’t deny my excitement in seeing the shelves lined with Harry Potter merchandise once again. A new generation is being welcomed into the Potter Fandom, and that will always be something that I celebrate.

6. Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

Why Andrew Jackson was ever on our currency to begin with is an enigma to me, seeing as the man was a braggadocios (yeah, it’s a word, apparently. Thank 2016 for that one too) racist, but our country seems to have an affinity for those.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via New York Times

In a beautiful twist of fate, it was decided that Jackson would be replaced, not by another old, white man, but by an incredible black woman who helped lead slaves to freedom. I can’t wait to hold those beautiful bills in my hand.

7. Leonardo DiCaprio Won an Oscar!

Can you believe that, in our lifetime, the unparalleled genius that is Leonardo DiCaprio finally gained his heavily sought after Oscar Award, and the meme was finally put to rest? At least 2016 managed to give credit where it was due.

8. Lin-Manuel Blessed Us

This year was undeniably the year of “Hamilton.” Winning an inconceivable 11 Tony Awards, “Hamilton” pushed its way into mainstream culture in a way that a musical hasn’t done in a long time.

Not only did Lin-Manuel bless us with a hip-hop musical about our founding fathers, but he also has his hand in the music for “Moana,” another brilliant Disney film from this year. The man seriously can’t be stopped.

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via Business 2 Community

The “Hamilton” mixtape dropped not too long ago, and brought with it the comeback of Ashanti and Ja Rule, something else I need to personally think Miranda for.

9. Honorable Mention: The Chicago Cubs Won the World Series

As a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan, on principle, I refused to celebrate this victory. I rooted for the Indians right to the very end, hoping that the universe would will me an Ohio victory, but alas, the Lovable Losers took home the W.

While I’m completely biased, I recognize that this moment meant a lot to a whole lot of people. For the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and hope was restored to millions of baseball fans. Plus, that game was one of the most entertaining World Series I’ve seen in a long time—extra innings, a rain delay, a nail-biting finish—what more could you ask for?

A List of Actual Good Things That Happened in 2016

Image via CBS News

So good job Cubbies, even if my 1908 jokes are now null and void. But also, go Cavs for bringing at least one Ohio victory home.