To say this year has been a difficult one would be the understatement of, well, the 21st Century.
Every day, we hear a story of a business struggling to survive, of a parent on the brink, of a family forced to make tough decisions in order to keep a roof over their heads... and now, of those without any roof at all, forced to battle the double threats of coronavirus and wildfire smoke without that most basic of human necessities.
- Miina McCown
- Artwork from the 2020 Best of Central Oregon issue.
If there ever was a time when people in this community could use some good news, it's now.
In our Best of Central Oregon awards, found inside this issue, we aim to deliver some of that good news.
Here's a little anecdote that has helped us see the impact our annual readers' poll can have on people.
A member of our team was making the rounds recently, alerting some of our Best of Central Oregon honorees of their wins. On more than occasion, the delivery of that news resulted in the person breaking out in tears. Tears of joy happen on occasion during most "Best Of" seasons—but not like this. Business owner after business owner told us that after the past six months of uncertainty and stress and sometimes, financial strain, getting this one piece of good news was enough to make them break down. Good news has been far too spread out these days.
That's the impact that you, readers, have on the people with whom you do business—and for whom you voted in this year's Best of Central Oregon readers' poll. It's an easy thing to do—filling out a basic survey and entering the names of the places you like—but for many of the people on the receiving end, this year it feels like arriving in that magical place, somewhere over the rainbow.
You've probably heard a few times recently how much a little kindness can count. Maybe someone has reminded you to share a smile with a grocery worker, or to pack a bit more patience as you wait in a long, socially distanced line with a mask on. In a time when so many parts of our lives are upended, these basic commitments to staying calm and spreading a little joy have uncountable impacts on the people around us.
Right now, our state is experiencing a series of wildfire events unlike any before. Voting for your "bests" is a simple act like many others we can all take to improve someone's outlook. There are many ways that we as neighbors can support one another. And there has never been a better time for a small act of kindness.
To borrow a lyric from "Over the Rainbow," the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of a song featured in "The Wizard of Oz":
"And I think to myself
Oh, what a wonderful world.