As we emerge from behind our masks in the coming months and begin to live a more “normal” life, what will the new year look like? If you’re an optimist, you see a rebound coming that will boost the economy, reopen schools and bring customers back in the doors of local businesses. The fear and frustration that has fueled so much divisiveness in 2020 will give way to fence-mending in 2021.

If you’re more skeptical by nature, the new year will continue to be a struggle on many fronts.

For me, it’s a little of both and a recognition that our world will forever be altered by what we’ve experienced this past year.

Time will tell if the changes made out of necessity this past year bring us to a better place in the long run, both professionally and personally. I am hopeful they will.

For The Bulletin, if someone had said to me a year ago that we’d be doing some of the most important journalism of our time — from covering the local impact of a global pandemic, to catastrophic wildfires that burned over 1 million acres in Oregon, to civil unrest on the streets of Bend, all while working remotely for the most part — I would have thought it not possible. But it was and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

This change hasn’t weakened us, but rather has made us more flexible and resilient, with a sharpened focus on the reason we exist — to provide credible community journalism to our readers and an audience for our advertisers, regardless of how we get the job done.

This past year has also made us look hard at the sustainability of our business and make some tough decisions with staffing levels and legacy costs that would have been at our doorstep at some point, with or without a pandemic.

And for many businesses, ours included, it was a year of innovation and tenacity, finding a way around the roadblocks and moving forward. Not a path any of us would have chosen a year ago, but we’re coming through this more flexible, financially stable and able to innovate and grow. For that I am very thankful.

On a personal level, my hope for the new year is we try to better our civic relationships in a post-pandemic world. If you are passionate about your political (or other) beliefs, try building just one bridge to a family member or friend who holds an opposing viewpoint. You might not be successful, but you may find a way to be less exhausted by the outrage that consumes so much passion and energy, especially in social media channels.

A recent City Club forum featured two friends who held opposite views on the protection of hate speech under the First Amendment. Not an easy conversation to have, especially with an audience watching, but they did it. It’s worth checking out the conversation on YouTube. It’s called “How to Respectfully Agree to Disagree.” Our altered world can be a better place, with a little effort.

For The Bulletin, it’s been a privilege to mark the happenings and events of Central Oregon that will serve as a record of these historic times and to shine a light on those who rose above the difficulties and found a way to help.

Thank you to our readers, advertisers and community partners that made it possible for us to be here this past year.

We take the responsibility of providing accurate, relevant news for Central Oregon seriously, in this time of crisis and beyond. No doubt the new year will be filled with many challenges and triumphs and, because of your support, The Bulletin will be here to report on it all.

Heidi Wright is publisher of The Bulletin

and COO for EO Media Group.

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