When December rolls around, I anticipate the annual recaps and articles. The holiday season arrives and I find it
comforting to take a breath, get a little nostalgic and explore the time capsules renowned writers and photojournalists have so kindly cataloged for us.
We get Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
The top ten movies, music and television. Best and worst can be fun to read.
Lists of the most impactful events — the moments that moved all of us.
We see portfolios of striking photographs from around the globe that reveal, in great detail the best and worst of another year in the books.
If nothing else, for me, it always feels like December brings a chance to look back with fresh eyes and gain an inspiring new perspective for the year ahead.
But 2020 has dampened that tradition for me — and I doubt I’m alone.
Mustering the energy to click on this year’s retrospectives comes with an odd mix of emotions — a blend of survivor’s guilt, of the anguish I feel knowing that some of my loved ones haven’t made it to the fourth quarter of the pandemic and of the sympathy I have for those in the same or worse position.
At the end of the day, I’ll read them — and I’ll look at the photographs — as I always do. Because bearing witness is the bare minimum we can do for one another. But as I’ve thought about what the bare minimum is, I’ve also been giving a great deal of thought about the other end of the spectrum. About what we can offer an abundance of.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that, as the President and CEO of USGBC, one of the most important things I can offer is the extraordinary gratitude I feel for my own health and for the health, resilience and achievements of my colleagues, friends and members of this community.
In other words, I can create USGBC’s own eventful list, its own highlights, and its own time capsule for the people in our international green building community — for the people who, despite the unprecedented obstacles we’ve encountered this year, have persisted and have dedicated their lives and their time to creating a better standard of living for all.
In May, we explored the importance of a greener good. We honored leaders in Europe who have created an alternative way of leading — who, instead of opting for the traditional decision-making centered around the concept of a greater good, have focused on a future rooted in a greener good. What each of our European recipients have in common is that they envision a world in which human life isn’t compromised, but instead championed as the focus of why we build in the first place. It was truly an honor to be able to recognize them and to share the best practices of those already prioritizing the four pillars of USGBC’s second generation — sustainability, health and wellness, resilience and equity.