Should the whiplash year that was 2021 be forgotten and never remembered? Good for me. But not until we remember the San Diegans who overcame tough times with the things they created, the risks they took, and the dreams they shared. Here are some of my favorite column topics from 2021 and the wisdom we can all embrace for the New Year.
Tell your truth
For La Mesa author Chris Baron, it was about channeling his memories of a shy, overweight child into “The Magical Imperfect,” a mid-level novel that turned its excluded protagonists into empathetic everyday heroes. For Kevin Vincent, a recent UC San Diego graduate, he used rope, tree trunks, childhood memories and the Black Lives Matter events of 2020 to create “Material Memory”, his beautiful and visceral exhibit. at the Oceanside Museum of Art.
Whether it is members of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association confronting their great strangers with the pieces presented in the group’s collection “Shaking the Tree 3: I Didn’t See That One Coming”, or the poet Lora Mathis providing new context for her soul – carrying poems in the updated version of her 2015 collection, “Widowed Women to Themselves,” the San Diego creators improved on 2021 by sharing the stories they needed to tell and that we had to hear.
Live your dream
Danielle Nicki didn’t give her writers hope until 2013, when she was a mom who worked in an insurance company. Eight years later, the former South Bay resident was one of eight emerging writers chosen for a career acceleration program sponsored by the New York-based Women’s Weekend Film Challenge. Almost 30 years after an epileptic seizure forced Richard Farrell to forget his dreams as a pilot, the Point Loma resident was celebrating the pocket release of “The Falling Woman,” his first thriller involving a plane crash and several epiphanies.
And in February, choreographer and arts administrator Anjanette Maraya-Ramey triumphed over a cancer diagnosis and the challenges of the COVID-19 order of staying home to open the multicultural and multigenerational performing arts center Maraya. in Chula Vista. “I have faced so many difficulties before,” said Maraya-Ramey. “I just thought, ‘I’ll find a way.'”
How to make sense of (another) crazy year? If you’re the creative type, you make art. Many.
In 2021, Sara Watkins, the co-founder of Nickel Creek in San Diego, violin player, soothed our collective nerves with “Under the Pepper Tree,” a collection inspired by the confining of hushed lullabies and lighted campfire classics. . Rancho Bernardo textile artist Gloria Hazel used her free time to develop her quilting skills and harness the therapeutic power of turning scraps into art. The stunning results were on display in “Expressive Liberations,” a San Diego People of Color Quilt Guild’s fabric art exhibit held in the fall of 2021 at the Visions Art Museum in Liberty Station.
And for Switchfoot singer and songwriter Jon Foreman, the stress of 2020 was the inspiration for 2021’s ‘Departures’, a solo album whose songs of uplifting resilience and hard-earned joy were both a reflection. chaos and a manual to survive it.
“For me, music has always been a part of this larger conversation where the most important parts of my life are challenged and maybe transformed,” Foreman said in February. “I hope this album continues the conversation that brought me here.” We are always listening.
When this old world starts to get you down, think of Sapphire, the half-blind and partially paralyzed loggerhead turtle. Sapphire’s life at Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista has improved significantly this year, thanks to the free special suit created for her by the humans of O’Neill Wetsuits in Santa Cruz. The suit helped solve the buoyancy issues that kept Sapphire from eating and sleeping, and she once again became the serene star of the Living Coast Shark & Ray experience.
If you’re wallowing in bad vibes, you can also think of Jess Baron, Founder and Executive Director of San Diego-based Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom. After a column in May, in which Baron shared the challenges and rewards of bringing music education to children during the pandemic, readers flooded her with offers of guitars, ukuleles and financial support.
If you need that extra boost, consider the story of Marianne Reiner, owner of Run for Cover bookstore.
When Reiner had to close his Ocean Beach oasis in July 2020, friends and loyal customers helped Reiner launch an Adopt-A-Reader program, which ended up delivering at least one new book per month to 25 students of sixth grade at Ira Harbison Elementary. School in the national city. In May 2021, Reiner and I discussed her post-COVID chapter and her dream of adding a second class to the curriculum. The response from readers has been so enthusiastic that she is now sending a monthly delivery of new books to 130 students at schools in Barrio Logan and City Heights.
As we all reflect on the clean slate of 2022 and how we might want to leave our mark, it helps to remember that there are many wonderful people who are doing wonderful things. And that we can always be one of them.
“These books change lives, and you are all a part of them,” Reiner wrote on Facebook after meeting with “Adopt-A-Reader” recipients at Horace Mann High School earlier this month.