Every year, as we put out our Best of Central Oregon issue, we are reminded once again of the energy and enthusiasm that this community invests in itself. From the new business owners who have taken the leap and opened their version of the American dream, the tried-and-trues who continue to improve, and the many nonprofits that renew their commitment to their causes year after year, it's a marvel to hear their stories. The tales of persistence and creativity in this challenging time remind us of what it means to see a community at its best.
- The Source Weekly's Best of Central Oregon cover, featuring a phoenix theme.
This is a time when a new variant of the coronavirus is sending hospitals into chaos, wildfires are choking our skies with smoke and political divisions seem more pronounced than ever. It is tough sometimes to recognize the best of ourselves in these times.
On the long list of people doing their best are those serving in elected positions right now. They deserve recognition for performing duties beyond the normal job description. They are in the unique position of having to serve in a time when there's increased scrutiny on their every decision. Elected officials are increasingly finding they have to put their own best interests second in order to do the jobs they signed up to do. We see this in the current firestorms surrounding school boards all across Central Oregon (and the United States), but it's present for nearly every other elected official, as well.
To aid in bringing out the best in our politicians, acknowledging that we have differences of opinion in how we live our lives is a start. We are not a monolithic community but a place of varied ideas and interests. We are at our best when we recognize the importance of these differences and maintain a level of decorum, even as we debate complex issues.
Public officials, health care workers, nonprofits serving the houseless community and many others are experiencing levels of fatigue and despair they've never experienced before. When our local school board has to take a mental-health breather in the middle of what was once a humdrum school board meeting, it is time to recognize that we might not be at our best.
This is not the first time America has been in crisis, and it's not going to be the last time. But we'd like to believe that by focusing on outcomes that serve us all—by setting our eyes on the prize of a "beloved community," as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated for—we can leave this period of "behaving badly, and loudly," behind.
As we put this Best of Central Oregon issue out into the world, and this week, begin to celebrate each of the winners' accomplishments and standing in the community, this is our hope: For us to be able to see our issues clearly, and to confront them together, without all the blame and shame and vitriol that defines the current moment. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we can become a better, selfless, more community-minded version of ourselves.