Ten people I was grateful for in 2019

Sometimes it felt like the gloomiest year in the history of years. But sometimes, 2019 made me smile, shiver with joy and do a little dance. Here are ten people who tended to bring about that happy reaction.

1. Marta Dziurosz

Always, always, always. Does good things; shares generously; teaches me courage; takes me to some highly dope shindigs. Follow her on Twitter at once.

2. Joanne Chory

She is a plant biologist who tries to mess with the plants' genomes brilliantly enough to help plants help us solve the climate crisis. Described herself as a "character witness for plants" - and people listened. Every Hufflepuff's dream-come-true scientist.

3. Sanna Marin

A country decides to fight fake news and social media political shitstorm, and its citizens elect a 34-year-old social democrat. She's now the world's youngest Prime Minister, and one of my very few reasons to still have faith in politics.

4. Olga Tokarczuk

We knew her back when! I remember feeling so, so happy for her - and for all the good I felt the Nobel Prize would do. Her decisions since, and her novels ever since I remember, did not disappoint.

5. Samin Nosrat

"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" was, in truth, a late-2018 reveleation for me. The Netflix episodes showed me a person in love with food, in love with cultures that produce the food and with the people she shares the food with. Since then, every evening spent in the kitchen consists of playing loud rock music and thinking "What would Samin do?"

6. Anne Bonny (as played by Clara Paget in "Black Sails")

Sometimes, dear reader, it's a grim Monday inside and outside one's head, and all one really wants from life is to climb the rigging and order the bow chaser gun crews to fire at will. I'm not going to spoil the whole "Black Sails" series for you here, but it's worth sticking with for Anne Bonny alone.

7. Olga Malinkiewicz

Dr Malinkiewicz may soon become the person responsible for a small green industrial revolution. She was the one who developed and perfected a perovskite solar cell - cheap and reliable enough to be produced at low temperatures with high efficiency. (What is it about Olgas?)

8. Katelyn Ohashi

Her straight-10 floor gymnastics routine reminds me that bodies can be sources of joy. And her story of how she got to that perfect, joyous moment - that's a sobering reminder for me to treat bodies (all bodies) with grace and respect.

9. Carole Cadwalladr

Men in power in the UK and elsewhere are worried about powerful women. Carole's work - in newspapers, books, at her TED Talk, everywhere else - is a systematic, resilient, persistent un-picking of the gigantic clusterfuck which seems to benefit some social media moguls and politicians at the cost of democratic processes. She does the kind of work I'd want more people to do, except they're too busy screaming and getting sad-drunk.

10. Kimbra

A Good Night Out, that - her powerful voice, two backing musicians, and lots of positive vibes around.


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