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From the Publisher: Hope Scrolling

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Published December 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 29, 2021 at 2:18 p.m.


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Every night, between 8 and 9 p.m., I receive a flood of emails. They're notifications of recurring Super Reader donations to Seven Days. Depending on the day of the month, between 30 and 130 receipts pour into my inbox, all at once, causing whatever device I'm on to seize up for a few seconds.

Reading through these messages is the opposite of "doom scrolling." The daily ritual fills me with hope and gratitude. I recognize the names of fellow journalists, friends, elected officials, letter writers, neighbors, sources, advertisers and artists who responded to our calls for help during the pandemic and are providing ongoing, reliable financial support. In addition, and just as moving, are scores of people I don't know: readers who are pitching in because they rely on Seven Days and want it to press on.

Prior to the pandemic, the only measure of our readers' loyalty was the number of papers that got picked up each week. Now we've got real proof. I can't say these are the last emails I see at the end of the day — I'm a night owl and almost always work late — but they are undoubtedly the most uplifting.

Readers' appreciation has sustained and motivated all of us at Seven Days to keep going through everything the past two years have thrown at us. The news team has delivered breaking local news coverage of the pandemic and in-depth explorations of its impacts on hospitals, schools, nursing homes, single mothers and the unhoused.

And they've covered so much more, as you can see from the collection of "Backstories" in this week's double issue. Derek Brouwer started the year waiting in a parking lot to question a busload of Vermonters returning from the riot at the U.S. Capitol. He wrapped it up with an exposé of landlord Rick Bove and his real estate rental empire. In the months between, Brouwer's colleagues dug into Burlington's police problems, measured noise pollution from the F-35 fighter jets, and documented Vermonters' warring perspectives on hunting and trapping.

The culture team, which includes two full-time food writers, carefully and creatively monitored performing arts centers, restaurants, museums, farmers and artists. Elizabeth M. Seyler, Dan Bolles and Melissa Pasanen are leading our lifestyle coverage now. That includes memorializing some of the remarkable Vermonters we've lost, as in this week's "Life Stories" package, expertly managed by Bolles. He's the curatorial force behind all of our theme issues and numerous other projects, such as April's "Bracing for Impact," in which Vermont cartoonists, poets and writers shared their humor and insight about a thing we coined post-pandemic "reentry anxiety." If only!

Readers have contributed to our content, too. Our cover story about Vermont's extraordinary wait times to see medical specialists relied on dozens of responses to our plea for personal experiences. A few months later, we asked about mail delivery; your answers revealed that postal service is wildly uneven in Vermont and prompted another timely report.

Through it all, Seven Days has sought to minimize the pandemic's isolation with a healthy mix of accurate local news and artful writing about everything else that's happening in our community. We've gradually reintroduced event listings in the calendar, music and art sections. We hope they're here to stay, but who knows what effect the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus will have in 2022.

Actually, you may have a better idea than I do: Seven Days takes the week off between Christmas and New Year's, so we produce this end-of-the-year paper in advance. As I'm writing this, nine days before you're reading it, I'm nervously wondering, Are we expecting a rainstorm or a tornado? No one seems to know. One surety: Postholiday, our talented and diligent team of reporters will find out.

We're all in this together. I just got a boatload of emails that make it official. Many thanks.

Paula Routly