At this time last year, I was reflecting on suggestions I shared with a Lynchburg audience on how they might enjoy a day or two in Richmond. The river, the museums, the restaurants – so much to choose.
This year, we see our region's amazing features through the fractured lens of a pandemic. When a friend recently referred to "the dumpster fire that is 2020," I could appreciate the sentiment.
But amid the utter disorientation of this challenging year, I also began thinking about the resolve in our community. The sense of commitment. In the streets, we've seen it in the greater reckoning about Richmond's past – and its prospects for the future. And it struck me that our region might never be better prepared to endure.
Yes, the pandemic casts a menacing shadow, and it's painful to think about how our renowned food scene, cultural institutions and even our great outdoors have been undermined this year. These qualities are at the heart of the significant acclaim Richmond has earned in the past decade or more.
I hope, though, that the strength we've built in this century will be the foundation that allows us to recover – hopefully in 2021, and hopefully with a healthy confidence in every sense of the term. The Richmond of the 1990s wouldn't spring back the way today's region can – and will.
It's fitting that the focal point of this edition, an annual guide to the region, is our compilation "The Best," a rundown of favorite local businesses and culture as voted on by RTD readers.
Of the countless disruptions of the pandemic, from navigating family care to figuring out what "work" looks like, one that really resonated was how a simple trip to the store or salon took on unexpected levels of patience and planning.
So we were thrilled that readers stepped up in droves to celebrate our local business community and more. In late spring and early summer, the RTD invited you to visit Richmond.com and identify your favorites in more than 100 categories. With more than 100,000 votes, you certainly chimed in – even if you haven't been able to enjoy them as in a typical year.
In recent months, as we have cautiously resumed more elements of pre-pandemic life, face masks and social distancing remind us of our new normal. I hope your routine finds space to support and celebrate the businesses, destinations, restaurants and more that have helped redefine Richmond.
Our region has earned a lot of "best" designations in recent years. Here's to even more in healthier times ahead.