Welcoming a new year with cautious optimism

So long, 2020! We knew ye too well, with too much detail, and with too much pain. The 83 Degrees team, like our readers in Florida, across the U.S. and Canada, and around the globe, suffered through some difficult times this year, including unexpected deaths in our families and among our friends, juggling work from home while zooming and helping our kids with online classes, the loss of jobs and income, an inability to see and hug beloved elders, unprecedented political divisiveness, and struggles to help others with even more difficult challenges.

We know that many of you are experiencing similar circumstances, causing upheaval at home, at work, and in the news. We get it. We are living it. We want you to know that you are in good company. We, like you, believe this is temporary and we’ll get through it with a new appreciation for each other, for medical science and healthcare workers, for teachers, for parents, for builders, for makers, for doers, for talent, for diversity, for innovation, for the environment, and for the value of clear communications, honesty, integrity, and accurate information.

As we look forward to 2021, let's focus our attention on the many positives that are happening now and that will continue through the pandemic and well into the future.

Among our many blessings?

The births of nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, and grandchildren. The survival of parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who tell stories about adversity that encourage resiliency. The adoption of puppies and kittens and all kinds of pets who warm our laps and hearts, and boost our spirits. The innovations in not only medicine and communications, but in technology, entrepreneurship, and design in our homes and workplaces. 

While we honor old friendships, long-time connections, and the history of our community, we celebrate the new -- new recipes, new cocktails, new gardens, new friendships, new chances to share, and new opportunities to thrive. This year has brought a re-setting of our priorities and a re-ranking of our purchases. And, for some of us, it has meant renovations to our homes or a move to a new apartment. We're getting to know our neighbors better and forming new relationships. We're listening and learning more about the needs of marginalized groups, neighborhoods, and communities. We're seeing gaps in services and inequities being addressed in ways that no one would have considered pre-pandemic. We're learning to adapt and to push for solutions to our problems that move us forward in increments worth noting, even when progress is not always immediate or completely satisfying.

Among the results?

We, like you, are ready for and probably more open to change than ever before. If we as a city, a region, a state, a country, a continent, a world, but most importantly as a global body of people with so much more in common than not, can adapt to what COVID has wrought, surely we can take on almost anything thrown our way and move forward together with more reasons for faith, hope, love, peace, and trust in the good among humankind.

While we all must remain resolute in doing our best to stay healthy and strong, we also must remain constant in our belief in a better future and a better world ahead. Yes, for now, we must stay at home whenever possible, wear our masks, wash our hands often, keep our distance, and avoid crowds. Please do the same for yourself and for your family, but, most importantly, do it for the most vulnerable among us. The life you save may shape your own journey or even alter the path of the world.

2021 promises the start of a new year and a new chance to gain perspective, insights, and knowledge while practicing empathy, understanding, and generosity. It promises to encourage innovation, nurture creativity, develop solutions, and at least begin to fix what is broken. We pledge to move forward with cautious optimism, champion worthy causes, forgive when possible, forget when necessary, and do what we can to help each other reflect our better selves. We hope you will do the same. 

In the meantime, we’re back from a quiet and relatively uneventful holiday break with fresh stories featuring the arts, placemaking, community building, thought leadership, entrepreneurs, ideas, investments, and inspiration. We will continue through storytelling to help you make connections, engage in collaborations, and make our community a better place by calling attention to what's working and what's next. 

Do keep in touch. Pitch us story ideas. Share your hopes, dreams, and successes -- and those of others. 

Wishing you and yours the very best possible.

From the team at 83 Degrees Media and Issue Media Group.
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Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is a community leader and award-winning journalist with more than four decades of experience reporting and writing about the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She serves on the boards of the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications Advisory Council, The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council, Sing Out and Read, and StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. She also is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Media. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Tampa Tiger Bay Club, USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP), Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Awesome Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Diane and her husband, Sandy Rief, live in Tampa.