As we ring out 2015, it’s tempting to add a “good riddance.” San Bernardino, police shootings, epic drought, global warming, firenadoes – this year has had more than its fair share of bad news.
But New Year’s Eve is an upbeat night, and really, can a champagne glass ever be half-empty?
We rest our case. As the countdown begins, here’s some of what we’ll be raising our glasses to:
The Paris climate conference. Say what you will – too little, too late, too toothless – it’s not every year that 196 nations set out to save the world. The goals set will be less important in managing climate change than the day-to-day determination to keep them. But as this week’s floods, storms and tornadoes show, global has never been more local. Here’s to keeping the pressure on.
The scientists. From water on Mars to the Falcon 9 vertical landing, from sobering models of sea-level rise to advances in our understanding of brain injury and Ebola, science was in ascendance this year. We are better and smarter for it. And wiser: The decision to pause the gene-editing revolution to address the ethics of tweaking DNA lines was the right move.
Same-sex marriage. Here’s to love and commitment, and to the families and societies they strengthen. And to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, swing vote and author of the stirring 5-4 decision that granted “equal dignity in the eyes of the law” to so many couples, at last.
Sacramento’s train heroes. Since they thwarted a terrorist massacre on a Paris-bound train during an August vacation, one survived a freak stabbing, one went on “Dancing with the Stars” and all three have had to adjust to instant celebrity. But the bravery of Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler remains one of the year’s proudest local-boys-make-good moments. Tchin-tchin and santé.
From epic drought to San Bernardino, 2015 had more than its share of bad news. But the champagne glass isn’t entirely half-empty.
California, the exception. Let the rest of the country devolve into gridlock. As ever, in 2015, Golden State actions spoke louder than words. While the Republican-dominated Congress sneered at women’s issues, California passed the toughest pay-equity law in the nation. While climate-change deniers plotted to undermine the talks in Paris, California set aggressive new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Measles outbreak? California cut through the anti-vax noise and dumped its permissive “personal belief” exemption.
Immigrant bashing? California made a statutory point of inclusion. The Department of Motor Vehicles lines for the state’s new immigrant driver’s licenses were among the most poignant images of the year.
The champions. The Golden State Warriors made all Californians proud with their NBA championship, the team’s first in 40 years. Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert, who lives in Southern California and runs his stable out of Santa Anita, had a Triple Crown winner in American Pharoah. And Stanford’s Katie Ledecky owned the world championships in swimming, netting five gold medals and setting three world records. Cheers.
Sacramento. The Kings’ new Golden 1 Center is taking shape by the week now. Its iconic Jeff Koons sculpture, a civic and cultural milestone, has been approved. The microbreweries and farm-to-fork restaurants have never been better – Track 7, Bike Dog, New Helvetia, Mulvaney’s, South, Ella’s, Empress Tavern, Cielito Lindo, just to name a handful.
This was a comeback year for the capital of California. There’s even a governor again in the Old Governor’s Mansion. Hey, Gov. “Downtown” Jerry Brown, here’s to lookin’ up your old address!
Oh, and, dear readers: Here’s to you.