2016. I don’t think I have ever read as much as I did this year. Articles, thoughts, worries, warnings, history, self-help, obituaries, tributes, and as much whimsy as I could throw in for balance. I’ve even kept a nice instructional article from the Star Tribune detailing how to make a 2016 dumpster fire ornament, which I will likely add to my tree this year. Art as therapy. I’ll take it. But what I find to be more important than soaking in words until my fingers get pruney is people — relating in real life, being with them in body, hearing their thoughts, showing up as a form of solidarity. A friend threw a potluck a few weekends ago, just to get people together to remind us that we have each other and that is such a good thing. We are a good thing.
There is such goodness in people. I tell you, if you ever want an upper, run a contest asking people to submit others for recognition with the stipulation that they have to give reasons why a person deserves an award. Honestly, I say this is my favorite issue of the year because I love giving people recognition; but, perhaps more than that, it’s because I get to learn why others think someone should be recognized. This year, the Lavender Community Awards recognize eight people and organizations. We talk about who they are and what they do and where they involve themselves and for whom. That’s what so much of this is about: who these people help and why. And what others see in the work they do.
From the submissions, I read about many other awards that some of these people have received as well as all of the different roles they play for different organizations. I learned about particular circumstances when they stepped in to help and stand up for others. Words like “tireless” came up multiple times as did “help,” “advocate,” “defense,” and “fight.” Some of the winners might be fairly new to the scene or have started newer programs or groups to address the continuing needs of this community, others have been fighting the fight for years and years. There are artists and organizers and leaders and lawyers and volunteers and friendly faces. What it all underscores is that there is so much that has been done in and for this community, and there is still so much more left to do. And what I wish for so many of the leaders and volunteers in this community is some sort of fuel of goodwill for their tirelessness. Because helping, advocating, defending, and fighting is hard work, as is pulling people together to form new alliances and support groups and work groups and audiences for the art that helps best express the challenges and triumphs of our days. I give a heartfelt thank you to both the recipients of the 2016 Lavender Community Awards as well as the people who nominated them. Good begets good.
Also of tremendous worth is the Arts Best of 2016 feature by John Townsend. John, through his Arts Spotlight and countless online reviews throughout the year, provides great fodder for understanding his choices and awards for the stars of our performing arts community in 2016. It is through the arts that we expand how we think and feel about our world, and I am ever so grateful to the people who give us these gifts…show after show, script after script, note after note, step after step.
I will take from 2016 the beauty of people, the hearts of the tireless, and the comfort we can find in each other. Have very happy holidays and I’ll see you in 2017.
With you and with love and thanks,