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Good News: Amanda Gorman Is the Youngest Inaugural Poet, President Biden Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement, + More

By Manna Zel (she/they)

New year, more good news. This month, America saw its youngest-ever inaugural poet, celebrated Capitol Officer Eugene Goodman, and environmentalists everywhere rejoiced at the United States’s reentry into the Paris Climate Agreement.

January 19: Amanda Gorman Will be Youngest Poet to Recite at a Presidential Inauguration (The Guardian)

At just 22 years old, Amanda Gorman is the sixth—and the youngest-ever—poet to read their work at a presidential inauguration. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Gorman studied sociology at Harvard, and in 2017, earned the honor of being the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate. 

On the subject of her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, Gorman told the Los Angeles Times, “America is messy. It’s still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it. And so, I crafted an inaugural poem that recognizes these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”

January 19: Biden Picks Rachel Levine for Health and Human Services Role (The New York Times)

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine has been selected to join the Department of Health and Human Services. Levine, who previously led the state of Pennsylvania’s COVID response, will assume the role of Assistant Secretary for Health. According to The New York Times, Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to receive Senate confirmation. 

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic—no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability—and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” said President Biden in a statement.

January 20: Biden Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline and Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement (The New York Times)

On his first night in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders that align with one of his highest priorities—the climate crisis. 

“We’re going to combat climate change in a way we have not before,” President Biden said, continuing, “They are just executive actions. They are important but we’re going to need legislation for a lot of the things we’re going to do.” Among Biden’s first orders of business were reentering the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstating environmental regulations rolled back by the previous administration, and blocking the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Click here to learn more about some of President Biden’s first moves in office.

January 20: Celebrated Capitol Officer Eugene Goodman Escorted Kamala Harris to the Inauguration (Harper’s Bazaar)

When the Capitol was stormed at the beginning of January, Officer Eugene Goodman had to think fast. Using himself as bait, Goodman led rioters away from the Senate chambers in which legislators were hiding—an act that very well could have saved lives that day. NPR recently reported that legislation has been introduced to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal, and in recognition of his heroic efforts, he was named the acting Deputy House Sergeant at Arms for Inauguration Day, even escorting Vice President Kamala Harris the day of.

January 23: Parkinson’s Meds are Hard to Grab, so TikTok Users Crowdsourced a Solution (The Verge)

When TikTok user Jimmy Choi made a video about his daily struggle dispensing his Parkinson’s medication from its container, it landed on the For You page of videographer Brian Alldridge. Immediately, Allridge got to sketching a bottle that could be 3D printed and remove any need for Choi to dig through the bottle for a tiny pill. But Allrdige didn’t have a 3D printer, so he made a TikTok asking if anyone could try to print his design. What resulted was an app-wide collaborative effort to make the bottle work: sanding down pieces, fine-tuning designs, making the bottle spillproof, and consulting with Choi, who found that, “the anxiety level goes away. The time it takes, and your risk of spilling these pills out on the floor in public, it’s almost zero.”