Ah yes, February, you’re shorter aren’t you?! Well that didn’t stop me and I have ten more things to be happy and positive about this month.
So let’s get cracking!
- LOCAL: After Geneva, Switzerland successfully introduced electric buses in 2018, it has been announced this month that the city of Basel is also planning on doing the same in order to phase out diesel. The city will have replaced all of its current buses with electric buses by 2027 which therefore means all of their 110 vehicles will be environmentally clean. The new buses will be manufactured in The Netherlands and “the CHF255 million ($255 million) order will be voted on by the local parliament next year.” (swissinfo.ch, February 7th 2019)
- ENTERTAINMENT/ARTS: Courtney Act made history this month as she became the first person to dance on a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ show as part of a same-sex pairing. Courtney Act, whose real name is Shane Janek, is also the first person to appear on the show in drag. In an interview she also said “halfway through I could come out as Shane and as a boy, dance with a male dance partner. I think that would be a shocking visual for the public.” (Digital Spy, 18th February 2019) I think this is such a wonderful reminder in our society right now, that gender doesn’t have to be so defining: you can really be who you want to be. However whilst making a great statement for the LGBTQ community, it also seems Courtney Act’s performance on DWTS Australia is going to be one to watch as she topped the leaderboard in Saturday night’s opening show. Click here to watch it.
- ENVIRONMENTAL: It has been announced this month that the bread-making company Hovis has launched a bread bag recycling scheme for which they have teamed up with the recycling firm TerraCycle. They will create bread bag recycling points in easily accessible spaces for the public to access across the country. They have also recently developed their packing which now clearly states that the bags are able to be recycled. (Environmental Journal, 21st February 2019) Just like the new contact lens recycling scheme from last month’s post, this is another step in the right direction. If every company that developed products took a similar step then we would definitely be in a much better place environmentally.
- GOOD NEWS: At the beginning of this month police officers in Washington arrived at a sports field to take on…children…with snowballs. After an unusually heavy snowfall it was a chance for the officers to let off a little steam. They used all the resources they had including riot shields which they crouched behind to fend off the incoming snowballs from some very well-prepared children. It’s definitely something to put a smile on your face this February. (6ABC News, 7th February 2019)
- HEALTH: It has been announced this month that a new change in the organ donation system has been passed in parliament. “Under the new system, which comes into effect next year, consent will be presumed unless people have opted out.” (BBC, 26th February 2019) Currently organ donation only operates in England on an opt-in basis. Scotland is now looking into an opt-out scheme, however in Wales this system has been in place since 2015 and according to the BBC, the consent rates for organ donation are at the highest they have ever been in the UK and it is predicted that the opt-out scheme in England “could save up to 700 lives a year by increasing the number of organs available.” (BBC,26th February 2019) This new law will be called ‘Max and Keira’s Law’ after the organs of nine-year-old Keira were donated to four people after she died in a car accident, one of which was Max, also nine at the time, who received her heart.
- CREATIVE ARTS: It was the Oscars on Sunday 24th February and several women and people of colour made history over the weekend. Lady Gaga won her Oscar for Best Original Song for her song ‘Shallow’ in ‘A Star is Born’. In doing so she became the first person to win an Oscar, BAFTA, Grammy and Golden Globe in a single year. (Harper’s Bazaar, 25th February 2019). In addition to this Ruth Carter ‘Best Costume Design’ for Black Panther and Hannah Beachler won for ‘Best Production Design’. Not only does this make me so happy to see two women win for production roles, giving young women and girls an inspirational figure from behind the camera to aspire to, but both Beachler and Carter become the first black people to win in their categories making their wins doubly inspirational. (BBC, 25th February 2019) In addition to this Regina King won the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award for her role in the film ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’ The wins of these three women marks the first time that more than one black women has won in a single year. (Vox.com, 24th February 2019) At the 2019 Oscars three out of the four acting categories were won by people of colour. Rami Malek won the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ making him the first Egyptian and first actor of Arabic descent to win the award. (The Guardian, 25th February 2019) In addition to this Mahershala Ali won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his role in ‘Green Book’ and became the first black man to win more than one Oscar in the same category (he won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his role in Moonlight in 2017.) (Vox.com, 24th February 2019) I could keep going for a while with quite a few more history makers from this year’s Oscars, but this section would take up a whole blog post. I encourage you to have a read online and watch all the speeches of those who made history this month for their incredible work in film, animated shorts, documentary shorts and much more. Whilst many people will still argue e have a long way to go before these the awards handed out are to equal amounts of both women and people of colour, I still think it is important to recognise the amazing achievements of all those mentioned and use it as a stepping stone moving forward.
- CLIMATE CHANGE: All around the UK and around the world pupils have been marching the street and walked out of schools as part of a ‘Climate Strike’. They are doing so in order to try and raise awareness of climate change and to get the government to develop strategies to tackle “the biggest issue of our time.” (Unicef) According to the BBC more than 15,000 school children from across 60 towns took part and “since then, tens of thousands of children across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia have been inspired to hold their own demonstrations.” (BBC, 15th February 2019) Many people and publications have criticised this action, many believing the students are missing vital education hours and would have learnt more from their day at school. However I am with the activists on this one and surely if life life teaches us the greatest lessons of all, that these students are taking one of the most important assignments in a very long time.
- EDUCATION: Speaking of the Oscars earlier in this post, (I’m a little obsessed, I know) the award for ‘Best Documentary Short’ went to the film ‘Period. End of Sentence.’ which is “about period shaming in India’s rural villages” (Hollywood Reporter, 26th February 2019) I haven’t yet watched the documentary, but I do know already that this is a really important issue that needs to be shared and hopefully this will end the taboo of talking about menstruation. Also in the news this month, it was announced that “it will be compulsory to teach about periods at schools in England by 2020.” (BBC, 25th February 2019) It will discuss period health, educate students on ‘what is normal’ and inform them about health issues such as endometriosis. This is part of a new program in schools which aims to broaden ‘sex education’ further and additionally educate young people on relationships, consent and mental health. (BBC, 25th February 2019) Personally, I can’t quite believe this isn’t being done already, but just like all these posts I aim to keep a positive light and so I also recognise this is an important step forward in education.
- HEALTH: It was announced this month that junk food adverts are to be banned on London’s entire public transport network. Posters for food and drinks that are high in sugar and fat are beginning to be removed following a “public consultation in May, which received 1,500 responses – 82 per cent supporting the proposals to ban adverts for unhealthy products.” (Positive News, February 26th 2019) Now I do personally believe that when it comes to healthy eating a lot of the time it comes down to costs. Having been a student I know what it is like to be on a budget when it comes to weekly food shops and not always being able to afford the ‘healthier’ options so I cannot imagine what it is like for people on a lower income. “London has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe, with almost 40 per cent of the capital’s children aged 10 and 11 overweight or obese.” (Positive News, February 2019) However I do also think this new initiative is good idea. Being constantly surrounded by images of unhealthy food, is a bit like being bombarded with Christmas toy adverts in September; children are going to want what they see (and if what they see is also bright colours, big fancy fonts and a giant mouth-watering picture of a burger) then that certainly isn’t going to help. Let’s try this around the country and start advertising healthier options in the same way we do unhealthy foods and let’s see if this changes things.
- POSITIVE PROJECTS: A project I think you should know about this month is #56blackmen. Cephas Williams from London became frustrated by the portrayal of black men in the media so he began the #56blackmen campaign in which he shares photos of black men in black hoodies and tells the story as it really is; who these men actually are. The descriptions tell us these men are architects, members of parliament, entrepreneurs, teachers, family men, business men, but ultimately just men. For too long black men and the perception of a black man wearing a hoodie has symbolised gang culture and Williams aims to change that. (BBC, 20th February 2019) To learn more click here to visit the #56blackmen Instagram page.
Alongside the list here are a few of the things that are injecting some happiness and positivity in my life right now in case you need a little extra in your life too:
Something to watch: I just finished watching the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events‘ series on Netflix and really enjoying it. It’s adventurous, but light-hearted and brings back all the memories of reading the books as a child.
Something to listen to: If haven’t watched ‘Derry Girls‘ (either on Channel 4 or on Netflix) I suggested you get on it immediately. I am currently OBSESSED by it; it’s short episodes and absolutely hilarious. However it also has some really awesome music in the background and i have just discovered Channel 4 have created a ‘Derry Girls inspired playlist‘ and I LOVE IT. I have ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries playing every time I finish a run and I feel on top of the world listening to it.
Something to read: Right now I am currently reading ‘Wild‘ by Cheryl Strayed. It’s such an inspiring story, not only because of what Strayed manages to overcome in life, but that she she sets herself a goal and achieves it. I can imagine I would be even less prepared for the trek than she was so it’s also a particularly hilarious read!
Somewhere to go/do when you’re feeling a little low: This month I went on a proper bike ride for the first time in ages and it was wonderful. So if you have a bike, scooter or even just need to get out of the house for a bit, find somewhere suitable, feel the wind in your hair and soak up this February sunshine we seem to be having!
I hope this brand new happy and positive edition has inspired you, helped you or simply just put a smile on your face in some way.
**Credit for the header photo goes to Daiga Ellagby via Unsplash
**Please note: Every effort has been made to provide the right and appropriate links to all sites mentioned or used for this post and that any quote used from an additional sourced has been referenced appropriately with a clickable link provided. I will be happy to correct any link or reference that may be incorrect or faulty and add in or remove any references or links, should it be required or at the request of the source.