There are thousands of community builders in this Valley. Anyone wandering, even briefly, through the paper, film or electronic archives of this newspaper will encounter them.
To pluck 50 from those ranks was an unscientific exercise in opinion, recollection, discussion and impression -- not the only 50 or the top 50 or the best known 50, but 50 good people whose names wandered, strode, fell, drove, rose, meandered or otherwise traversed newspaper pages in 2012.
You will find the 2012 Nifty 50 on the opposite page, after reading this explanation and invitation.
The inaugural 50 come from our collective memory, from polling editors and reporters and asking the newspaper people to recall or ask their sources to name folks who stepped up in the past year to build the communities we cover in ways that reflected well on the character of this place and advanced the common good.
In theory, the result would be a conceptual Venn diagram of at least 50 named names that could plot a course through the archives for individuals who made this a better place in 2012.
Why do this? Several reasons. First, it is good to summarize, recognize and appreciate with one more cheer the people who did many or all of us a favor in 2012, accidentally or on purpose with their fervor, dedication and passion. Second, their achievements might inspire, ignite and focus others on what one person can accomplish, with a little help from some friends. Third, there is a lot of evidence that real progress has come down to this.
By now, it seems clear that leadership is more grass roots than anyone ever intended for this democracy. Recent years have chronicled the paralysis of partisan politics and the sclerosis of institutional inertia in the face of necessary and sometimes urgent need for action.
In a changing universe, there isn't much future in a status quo of unbending failure and redundant frustration. Let's get on with it, the best we can, where we can -- together.
Here are 50 people who managed, one way or another, to do that for our communities in 2012. Some raised money. Some raised consciousness. Some raised energy levels. They were not alone.
Next year is right around the corner. With your help, this is a first step. Start naming names for 2013, and we will start collecting.