If I had to think of a way to sum up 2020, for me it would be the writings of Eça de Queiroz. You may not be aware of Portugal’s great realist novelist of the late 19th century, but for me I started and ended the year thinking about Eça.
He was the master of social criticism, painting the weaknesses and failures of society with a vivid brush. I began all this thinking of his 1880 dark comedy, O Mandarim, back in March. In this allegory of a greedy society, Eça explores the balance between wealth and the value of a human life. It is a story that seemed so relevant in an unprecedented time like this.
But, I end the year finding hope in Eça’s words, and think of his epic novel Os Maias. This is the tale of a family struggling in a world in flux, and facing a need to do things differently. As the tragedies pile up around the protagonist Carlos de Maia, and all hope seems to be extracted, one wonders how life can ever return to normal again. The book ends with Carlos looking back at his life in the company of an old friend. As they walk home, they realize that they just missed the last Lisbon street car and they start running after it. And after all the loss and surprises, they shout "We can still catch it, we can still catch it...!"
But rather than wax poetic, I wanted to break the year down to the key numbers and headlines for 2020 here at Louis Karno:
1,300+ hours – that’s how much pro-bono work we did to support non-profits from 5 Rivers to the NH Preservation Alliance to Covering NH.
10 New clients and projects – including Twin Rivers Food Pantry, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Visit Alentejo, Harbor Care, and ACT.
12 workshops, speaking gigs done by me.
17 press conferences and Zoom events, too.
And we did some great work too – launching a new website for Harbor Care, creating a travel blog for VisitAlentejo, fighting for accessible and comprehensive health care for Protect Our Care, and helping our clients navigate the swift waters of a public health and economic crisis.
We moved too! With the COVID crisis, and working apart and remotely, I moved my office up the street to 47 Warren.
We also launched our website, chugging out weekly blogs. After all, we need to set a good example!
The Greater Concord Chamber gave me the W. Grant McIntosh Volunteer of the Year – which was not only a surprise, but also a great honor!
And, as always, I am very grateful for the partnership of Means of Production and Jackson Jackson Wagner.
So, I say
We can go on, together, and find our way home – with hope. And on that, I hope I just added a book to read over the winter break.
The happiest of holidays to you and yours, and a bright New Year!