The silver lining of 2020 is that it taught us so much. It taught us about society, about ourselves and how we take care of each other, that the human body is more delicate than we might think, but it's incredibly powerful if we work together.
We reached out to community members to hear their thoughts about this immensely challenging year. Below you'll find reflections on everything from the Black Lives Matter movement earlier in the year, to how one woman learned to process prickly pear fruit. You may find that these thoughtful ideas are just what you needed to get started on a better 2021.
"This year has taught me that fostering and supporting your local community is one of the most important things you can do. This can be by keeping in touch with your own immediate community (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, etc.), volunteering in your town, or shopping/sharing social media posts/reviewing local to make sure the shops and restaurants who’s owners live in your town stay around and are supported. I have learned that the actions that feel the smallest or don’t cost anything can make a big impact."
"This year has also made me much more attentive to my immediate community even though we haven’t been able to be together as much physically. I’ve been much better about trying to foster regular conversation and checking in with those around me (even just over the phone, through a letter, or virtually) and have seen others in the Tucson community doing the same. It makes me hopeful for 2021 to be a year where connection isn’t taken for granted and we can continue to build community in this wonderful place we call home."
- Lyndsey Edmonds, 27
"Mama - the good thing about Covid is that it has taught us how important our friends really are."
- Andrew, age 10 as told to Laura Zwickl
"No matter what your issue, it’s political. If you take the back seat, you settle for less than you're worth."
- David Johnson, 24, medical scribe
"That I’m extremely lucky."
- Brittney Olsen, 26, film and tv freelancer
"That many other people are not capable of entertaining themselves at home or alone."
- Heather Adams, 42, unemployed
"That it’s important for me to rest and have alone time. And that the most important thing for my kids is their mental health."
- Vanessa Richter, 44, sales
"I have learned that patience and compassion are two traits everyone should work on within themselves. I learned that difficult times can show the resiliency of humankind, but in some it can bring out an ugly bitterness that can infect those around them. I learned that, as Americans, we could all do a better job respecting and listening to others, especially those with opposing opinions."
"On a positive note, I learned that “new math” is actually really awesome and that teachers are pouring their hearts into their virtual classrooms, just like they would in their physical classrooms. I learned that writing a novel takes longer than a month but I am going to keep at it! I learned that outdoor adventures with my husband and son are really the only things I need for happiness. I am wishing everyone a healthy and fulfilling year in 2021!"
- Meghan Selich, 35, educator
"I learned how to wear a mask."
- Shannon Randall, 41, supervisor
"This year I have learned that our city is resilient, caring and strong, through everything from COVID to racial injustice throughout the US we have been able to come together to support each other. This year has been trying but together we were able to make a difference, together we put Tucson on the map, together we will continue to get through this and together we will come out stronger on the other side. As much as this year has been so very hard it has shown that true beauty exists in the people continuing to fight for the change that they want to see. So Cheers to 2021 as we continue to be the change that we want to see in the world."
- Keneshia Raymond , 35, Program Manager at Startup Tucson and Founder at Keneshiarenee.com
"This year brought a level of crazy that I had never dreamed of. But, it hasn't all been bad. I really learned that the human spirit is much larger than any pandemic. The longing to connect and celebrate during these dark times has led us to find innovative ways to be together - from Zoom happy hour to drive by birthday parties. And, although the thought of doing another Zoom thing makes me want to cry, I am also really thankful for this technology that allows us to connect so easily."
"I have also learned the importance of giving yourself grace. Just because you may have more time at home, doesn't mean you will have the energy, motivation or bandwidth to take up baking or learn how to play an instrument or keep the house spotless. And, that's ok. You might also realize that the middle of a pandemic isn't the time to start a diet or take up running. And, you know what? That's ok, too. Because a little dust or a few extra pounds isn't what's important in this life. It's the love, friendships and connections we share with those we care about that matter most, even if we have to make those connections virtually. Again."
- Angela Pittenger, 46, communication specialist
"This year has reinforced for me how much activism and anti-racist work matters. I think the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dion Johnson, and so many others taught us how vigilant we need to be regarding police accountability. It also revealed just how badly the criminal justice system is in need of reform."
"I also learned patience this year. Our nation has been so privileged for years and this year taught me to wait for things I wanted, to be more empathetic and patient at stores, and to treat others and myself with kindness and compassion when deadlines are not met."
"I also learned just how incredible and undervalued our essential workers are. From medical staff to grocery store workers, it’s never been clearer how much we rely on these people. Also, I learned just how resilient educators are. We all had to shift to an online format in just a few weeks when everything closed down. Our nation’s teachers have been working relentlessly to ensure our educational system is still up and running, providing some normalcy in these dark times."
- Sarah Wilhoit, 34, Ph.D. Candidate in English Literature, Writing Instructor
"I learned how to process prickly pear fruit efficiently for their juice and make jelly, syrup and brew mead from it. I learned how to authenticate amber (the fossilized tree sap). I learned how to clean cholla skeletons. I learned what a huge difference good socks make to your hiking experience. I learned Tucson has a wetlands. I learned how to take high quality photographs of food, bugs, and cactus flowers using just a cell phone. I learned how to make perfect scrambled eggs and vegan picatta sauce (separately of course, lol)."
- Amber Anderson, 38