2015 certainly has been an eventful year for all of us, hardly anyone has been ignored by the events big and small, negative and positive.
We have seen the senseless killings of too many innocent people across the globe, became witnesses and bystanders to too many human tragedies, heard too much fear-mongering speech by people of questionable moral – and had at times to go through unnecessary lengths to even hear about half of them.
However, what we have also seen are great acts of kindness and humanity in the most adverse of circumstances, from Muslims preventing the deaths of Christians in a recent terrorist attack in Kenya to the generosity of the Greek coast towards arriving refugees and so many untold stories of bravery and general greatness big and small.
Similarly, the world can be grateful for having been in the presence of many public figures we lost in 2015: from Russian reformer Boris Nemtsov to Carl Djerassi, father of female contraception, from neurologist Oliver Sachs to elder statesmen like Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew and Germany’s Helmut Schmidt to name but a few.
Especially in the latter months of the year we have seen some signals towards a brighter future: the world coming together for the Paris Climate Accord lets us dream of a more responsible use of resources in the future and the successful landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on December 22nd makes us imagine our future as a space-faring race.
GPPW in 2015
For us here at GPPW, the year 2015 was without any hint of a doubt a positive one: we were able to increase our reach from 1,500 pageviews in February to an average of over 4,000 per month in the last quarter. This was a development that none of us could have predicted – and one that led to our 50,000th pageview in mid-December. Pretty damn awesome, we think!
Adding to that, Tom Lee joined us as our intrepid Social Media Manager and Editor,. Elisabeth Leja similarly helped processing the increasing numbers of incoming articles, while Lauren Cassell made our forays into podcasting and producing interviews so much more elegant.
Speaking of those forays – we started two podcasts in 2015: the GPPW Podcast for slightly more formal and polished conversations and GPPW live for more off-the-cuff comments on recent goings-on. So far we have had conversations on topics such as modern slavery, Putin’s Russia, and Healthcare in the United States, as well as followed the course of far-right demonstrations and the responding counter-demonstrations in the German state of Thuringia.
Lastly, on November 19th we organised a panel discussion on the topic “A Crisis in Everyday life –Erfurt and Thuringia in the European Refugee Crisis” at our alma mater, the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt, Germany. We had great discussions with both our panellists Rüdiger Bender and Dragan Slijvic and the audience.
Our Wishes for 2016
For 2016 the main thing we would be happy to see, aside from the continuous growth of GPPW of course, would be a resurgence of reflection and trust in the broader public.
In 2015 the world saw many political forces that usually find themselves on the fringes of the political spectrum being swept into mainstream political discourse. And, while we most definitely welcome political diversity and free speech, we do have a problem with those forces that work against open societies and tolerance towards strangers being given a stage for the sheer value of entertainment to the detriment of all. No more of that, please.
With members living in both Europe and North America, we here at GPPW are looking forward to a small break, to gatherings with friends and family in the next few days, and we hope you will join us in working towards the ideal of not denying the feelings of safety and welcome we are so looking forward to right now to anyone anywhere, regardless of their race, colour, creed or gender identity.
As we go on our short break over the holidays, we have already lined up a number of very interesting articles and podcast episodes for you to enjoy in the new year. We are also looking forward to our first local meet-up in the UK, taking place in London in early February. We will send out more detailed information early next year for those who would be interested in coming along.
Last but not least, we would like to highlight the work of our friends from Reading on Wheels, a great local initiative in Misamis Oriental, the Philippines, that brings inspiration, joy and books to street children in an urban environment. Having worked with them before, we couldn’t praise or recommend their work more highly. You can read more about their work here, here and follow them on Facebook.
So here is to a bright and illustrious 2016/Year of the Monkey! Until then, be well, have Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a great 2016. See you on the other side – we’ll be back on the 11th of January.
The GPPW team