Every year brings its share of surprises and challenges for the road ahead. And sure, a practicalist would claim that the midnight bells on Dec. 31st mean nothing more than the flipping of a calendar page. But if we all adopted that attitude, life would lose a lot of its glimmer.
I prefer to think of each New Year as a fresh start, a time to reflect on the previous 12 months and to slip gently into the next with a positive attitude and hopeful optimism. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being a dreamer (and not just by the clerks at the lottery counter), but stepping into the unknown with a frown doesn’t do much good for anyone either.
Looking back on 2011 (and, boy, did it fly by quickly) Monday’s focus was definitely on people. I like a good face with a story that isn’t always clear at first glance. Some of our faces suffered from social or criminal injustice, others from political dissent or poverty. And what amazed me most was how the spotlight of Monday’s cover could make such a difference in so many lives. Unfair corporate decisions were reversed, police investigations were reopened, and people who didn’t have a voice suddenly felt empowered. Readers, touched by stories of real people, came forward to help — and their/your generosity was/is genuine and remarkable.
But it wasn’t always heavy because Victoria has such a vibrant creative spark that also deserves its share in the spotlight. We introduced you to two incredible world premieres (Daniel MacIvor’s Inside at Phoenix Theatre, and Pacific Opera Victoria’s Mary’s Wedding), went behind the scenes with the queen of burlesque costuming, introduced you to world class mixed-martial arts fighters, and had fun hunting ghosts at the Maritime Museum, eating locally-grown food and even square dancing in a spooky graveyard.
And when it came to festivals, we pulled out all the stops to get you up to speed on the film festival, International Busker Festival, Folk West, Jazz Fest, Fringe, Rifflandia and more. Phew! No wonder we’re tired.
Our contests, awards and competitions were also a big hit. I still hide the M every week on the cover, and both our first Flash Fiction and 11th Photo Contest attracted an amazing number of entries. For 2012, we’ll be bringing back both of those contests, and also adding a few surprises. The first surprise will be announced early in January, but I can tell you that it will involve your camera, your best friend and a bit of fun.
And speaking of cameras, the freelance photographers who contributed to all of our covers this year did an outstanding job. I post all the covers on one wall of my office and I’m having a difficult time choosing the one that I like best. Hiring local talent to feature local people is definitely one of the pleasures of the job. The highlight of the year, however, was meeting so many wonderful readers. I’m always out and about at various events, so I look forward to meeting even more of you in the New Year. Slàinte mhòr agad! M