1. Justinian Hatfield: My former co-worker and benign twin (we look alike, and I’m probably the evil twin) started the year on a rough note — being diagnosed with MS and losing his grandmother. But his indomitable spirit persevered. He kept his chin up and finished the MS150 bike ride (plus 25 miles). One of my resolutions is to join him on the ride this summer.
2. The Iranian protestor who filmed this: Everyone in Iran who isn’t just lying down and accepting a stolen election deserves support and praise. To me, the bloggers and citizen journalists are among the bravest. The person who filmed this video showed us what other reporters were telling us about the brutal crackdown on the recent protests.
3. Cathy Keller: My friend (and Christine’s friend from a totally unrelated connection) Cathy launched an amazing blog about her struggles with infertility that is revealing, honest and personal. It is exactly what a blog should be — personal, valuable to a unique and distinct community, and providing a voice and information that cannot be offered in another forum.
4. Sen. Bernie Sanders: It’s hard to give props to any senator from either party this year, but Sanders tried to fight the good fight. He tried to represent a large portion of the population that had no voice in the absurd health care debate this year. He sponsored an amendment and tried to force the Senate to vote on universal health care. It didn’t happen, but he’s promises to keep up the fight.
5. Amy Hawes Butler: My sister-in-law-in-law (I think that’s how it works) finished a PhD and is now going to solve global warming. I can’t imagine finishing a PhD, so I’m more than impressed. She also writes a great blog and reached her goal of reading 50 books this year (outside of her research).
6. St. Bernard Project: Anyone who knows me doesn’t need me to explain this group again, but a wonderful couple created a non-profit organization that has become the most effective rebuilding effort in the New Orleans area. Raise a hurricane glass to the St. Bernard Project, and donate to the group if you can.
7. Shevan and Nareg Basmadjian: My sister’s two wonderful daughters are city girls who’ve learned to appreciate the wilderness and can live without their Wii for a week. The girls are also further proof “the damn kids today” deserve more respect.
8. Mother Jones: Mother Jones magazine is one of the last media outlets performing true investigative journalism. I’m pretty sure it helps that the magazine is a non-profit (intentionally), so didn’t cut staff and budgets during the good times to help further boost corporate revenues. Sure, it’s struggling along with everyone else (it needs $50,000 to fill a budget gap), but it’s still getting the job done.
9. Kelvin Shing: My former roommate and old friend Kelvin finally lived his dream of living in Alaska, and survived an Alaska winter and a weeklong road trip with only my lame company.
10. Both these guys: Jon Stewart hilariously continues to keep the real news media accountable. His crack research team exposes the lazy, self-contradictory and disingenuous cable news talking heads. And he has smarter, more interesting guests than most other shows, including writers and heroes, like this guy. William Kamkwamba built a windmill in his yard in Malawi because he saw a picture in a book. My favorite quote: “What animal is Google. … Where was this Google all this time.”