No, 2016 wasn’t a particularly good year in which to be a cockeyed optimist.
That’s usually who I am, a pragmatic Pollyanna who sees the glass as not only half full, but refillable. And, by the way, it’s a lovely glass even when it’s empty.
Yes, there was a lot of upsetting news in 2016, starting with the deaths of so very many notables, from Prince, Bowie and Fisher/Reynolds to Ali, Reagan, Safer, Weisel, Glenn, my friend Haggard and legions more.
There were tragedies from weather impacts and natural disasters, terrorism and wars, riots and clashes, killings of law enforcers and unarmed innocents. And, of course (sigh), the campaign and election.
In that final category, I’m reasonably certain no voter was 100 percent ecstatic about all the results, and some people still are hugely upset about a major outcome or two.
In many arenas, the political chasms are so sharply defined and evenly divided that race after race was decided by a handful of votes or a slim margin.
But still. No matter what your politics or beverage of choice, the glass still can be half full.
Believe it or not, good things did happen in 2016. Recently, mainstream media (aka “real news”) has covered the national and international ones enough so I don’t need to do that here.
What about the local scene?
Sure, Cambrians had their grumpy moments. Some of them bickered about higher utility rates from and water-resource plans for the Cambria Community Services District, and a couple of Cambria Community Healthcare District battles went locally viral. There were personality conflicts and prolonged political bickering about policies and actions. (I have absolutely no patience for whining, especially about the past.)
Several longtime businesses closed their doors (we’ll miss the Wampum Post and Moonstone Gallery, for instance!). We lost some wonderful people who had a huge effect on the town they loved; we’re still shedding tears for Jack Gibson, Bud Goff, Eleanor Kluck and the Adelsons, to name just a few.
But amid all the losses, pain, political kerfuffle and infectious crankiness in 2016, there were rainbow-bright happenings on the North Coast:
▪ Amid the smoke, embers and heartbreak of the Chimney Fire, creative and doggedly aggressive firefighting by Cal Fire and its helpers kept the fierce blaze away from Hearst Castle and the urbanized areas of San Simeon and Cambria.
▪ With the inspiration and determined support of filmmaker Sean Stromsoe, a former Cambrian, there’s now a skate park in an area where there wasn’t one before — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Stromsoe’s photos (www.makelifeskatelife.org) show how wonderful it was that this young man spent so much time and effort to help needy youngsters halfway around the world.
▪ Helping is an optimistic habit for North Coast residents, who offer everything from one-on-one assistance to large community fundraisers. Sons of American Legion Post No. 432, the Legion Auxiliary and other groups, nonprofits and individuals cook and plate up pasta or barbecue dinners, make enchiladas and tamales, and sponsor runs, rides and other events.
▪ Some wildlife species on the North Coast appear to be doing well, from recently released condors to deer, bobcats, foxes and various marine species.
▪ The Adult Coloring Club and Lego Club have been popular attractions at the Cambria Library, which is a North Coast treasure for all of us.
▪ Shamel Pool eventually did open for the summer swimming season, despite a lack of local lifeguards. And now there’s apparently another attempt brewing toward building a year-round pool in Cambria.
▪ At least one local burglar was nabbed. Of course, when you steal a $60,000 car and then drive it around town …
▪ Peggy Christiansen returned to Pinedorado for a successful new twist on the Follies playbook: Mystery dinner theater.
▪ And Terry Camp produced a classic example of making lemonade out of bitter lemons. After a wildlife hunter in Zimbabwe killed the beloved Cecil the Lion in 2015, Camp channeled his fury and disgust into a life-sized lion sculpture that was displayed during the monthlong 2016 Scarecrow Festival.
But back to the election. There was an upside to all that political rancor.
No matter what your political persuasion is, or how you feel about the outcome of a truly bizarre presidential campaign, you surely were able to find something to celebrate in the general and local elections in which both sides eventually won some prized seats.
My hope is that the passions engendered by the divisiveness of the 2016 races have helped people learn what their core issues really are.
If the results of those elections will keep people motivated to get involved, to do everything they can now and in the future to support whatever it is that’s most important to them, well, that would be truly optimistic news.