Few people would try to argue that 2017 was a great year. Sure, babies were born, puppies rescued, and we got a second season of Stranger Things. But overall, 2017 was pretty much a pile of awfulness. There was Hurricane Harvey, the devastation of Puerto Rico, wildfires across the country, mass shootings (and more mass shootings), police shootings, and terrorist attacks. And we haven’t even gotten to the political world yet, with shrinking national monuments, reversing LGBTQ rights, travel bans, and the end of net neutrality.
So, yes, 2017 was a dumpster fire on top of a septic tank in a world of trash. Mostly. There were also some moments over the past year that give us all a bit of hope, serving as a glimmer of light at the end of an overwhelming tunnel of darkness.
Here are some of the most hopeful moments of 2017:
Women took to the streets in protest
In response to the election of Donald Trump, millions of women, and their allies, marched in Washington, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities across the world in January for the largest single-day protest in U.S. history the day after Trump’s inauguration. The global movement helped create an environment where women could speak openly about their experiences.
The #MeToo movement took hold
A movement started by Tarana Burke nearly 10 years ago and reinvigorated with a tweet from Alyssa Milano, the “Me Too” phenomenon took hold around the world. It gave women a platform to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment, raise their voices, and know they are not alone. Best of all, the world believed them.
Open secrets are spilling out—making the workplace safer
Inspired in part by the #MeToo movement, men and women spoke out about harassment in Hollywood and beyond, telling reporters their stories to share them with the world. In response, men who have abused, assaulted, harassed, and bullied those around them are being exposed, making the workplace—and the world—a better place.
Rep. Maxine Waters reclaimed her time
When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin interrupted Rep. Waters’s allotted speaking time in a House committee meeting, Waters calmly repeated the phrase “reclaiming my time,” showing that she would say what she had to say.
Danica Roem brought class back to politics.
Roem, who is openly transgender, beat Bob Marshall, a Republican incumbent who infamously billed himself as the commonwealth’s “chief homophobe,” for his seat in the Virginia statehouse. When a reporter asked Roem about her opponent, she gave an inspiring and graceful response: “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture
The indie film about a gay black man confronting his identity won the Best Picture award, aka the highest honor in Hollywood. The underdog film bested La La Land, which was thought to be the front-runner. Sure, the greatest flub in Oscar history caused the wrong name to be called (which is so 2017), but Moonlight still took home the top prize in the end, and that’s what matters.
More women than ever are running for office
Angered by Trump’s election, and inspired by the Women’s March in Washington, hundreds of women have signed up to run for office. Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, which works to elect female candidates, told the New York Times that since the election, more than 22,000 women have contacted her group for information on running.
There was a total solar eclipse
The paths of the sun and the moon intersected, and those in the “path of totality” were able to see a total solar eclipse—the likes of which was last seen in 1918 and won’t be seen again in North America until April 8, 2024. It was a brief reminder that there is still some wonder in the universe, and that we can still enjoy it collectively.
Saudi Arabia let women drive
For the first time in the kingdom’s history, Saudi Arabia announced that it would lift its ban on female drivers, the only such ban in the world.
Peggy Whitson set a space record
On April 24, astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record for the most cumulative time spent in space by an American. The first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) spent a total of 665 days in space before returning to Earth. A few months later, Lego introduced women of NASA toys.
Nevertheless, she persisted
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain why Senator Elizabeth Warren was cut short in her attempt to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King during Jeff Sessions’s confirmation hearing for Attorney General. “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” he said. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” While McConnell was trying to be cutting, activists seized his words and turned them into a rallying cry.
Chance the Rapper won three Grammy Awards
A 23-year-old from Chicago with no record label and a streaming-only album won three Grammy awards, proving that talent and hard work can still get you somewhere in this world.
Roy Moore lost
What is arguably the reddest state in the union opted to elect Democrat Doug Jones over the Donald Trump-endorsed Roy Moore, an alleged pedophile. Sure, the race was close, but still Alabamans (particularly black women voters) came through and delivered Jones, a stunning upset.
Wonder Woman broke a glass ceiling
The blockbuster had a whopping $100.5 million debut—the best ever for a movie directed by a woman—proving that kickass female representation on the big screen can translate to big bucks for the studios. Plus, it is the best-reviewed DC Universe film yet.
Tiffany Haddish hosted Saturday Night Live
Haddish was the first black female standup comic to host the show in its over 40-year history. She nailed it, of course.
“The Silence Breakers” beat Donald Trump
Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover featured five women—Ashley Judd; Taylor Swift; former Uber engineer Susan Fowler; lobbyist Adama Iwu; and Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker and Mexican immigrant who requested her name be changed to protect her family—and one very important elbow. The anonymous arm belongs to a Texas hospital worker who contributed her story, but needed to remain anonymous. Her arm represents “all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities.”
People came together in the wake of tragedies
In many ways, 2017 feels like a cavalcade of catastrophes between natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires as well as man-made ones, like mass killings and bombings. In the wake of these tragedies, preventable and otherwise, humanity’s inherent goodness came through. People banded together to help ease the suffering or kickstart the rebuilding of their fellow humans, whether it was a mattress king turning his stores into shelters or a hacker helping the Coast Guard find hurricane survivors, or people rushing to donate to GoFundMe, the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. Whenever people needed help, people were there.