Three years ago today, we launched The Ann Arbor Chronicle with a lot of hope but no certainty of success – we didn’t know if others would embrace our passion for intense coverage of local government and civic affairs. We’re grateful that you did – and on July 29, we hosted an open house to thank the people who’ve helped us get this far, and to honor a few of the people who make this community special.
The lead photo in this column was taken at that event, and like the other photos below, it was shot by my former Ann Arbor News colleague, Lynn Monson. Many of you will recognize Jeremy Lopatin in this image – he and his wife Aubrey are owners of Arbor Teas. They’ve been Chronicle supporters from Day One, but that’s not why we chose this photograph.
The image shows a quiet, gentle moment between a father and his child, amid the cacophony of a crowded room. It’s an intimate detail that likely passed unnoticed by most people around them. But if you were paying attention and witnessed it, it was one of the most special moments of the evening.
Details are important to The Chronicle. We pay attention to them – some might say to a fault. But we see value in the interplay of fine lines that define our community. We’ve strived to bring a finer-grain of detail to the workings of our local government, to record the context in which decisions are made that involve taxpayer dollars. For whatever role you’ve played in helping us do that – as an advertiser, subscriber, commenter, contributor or Chronicle reader and evangelist – we thank you. It’s been an interesting three years.
When we launched The Chronicle on Sept. 2, 2008, we thought we knew this community pretty well. But over the past three years we’ve encountered even more people whose generosity of spirit and commitment to the Ann Arbor area have amazed us.
So as we started thinking of how to celebrate our first three years in business, it seemed obvious that in addition to thanking people who’ve helped us get this far, it was a fitting time to honor some of the people who represent the qualities we admire and respect. And that’s the genesis of the Bezonki Awards, which we gave out at the July 29 open house, held at the Workantile Exchange on Main Street.
We asked local artist Alvey Jones, creator of the Bezonki cartoons published each month in The Chronicle, to make a physical artifact that reflected the uniqueness of this community. And each of the six Bezonki Awards is gleefully unique, at the same time futuristic and grounded in the past – some of the parts were salvaged from equipment at the former Ann Arbor News.
The people who received the 2011 Bezonkis are also unique. Yet for everyone who received an award that evening, there are dozens of others who make similar contributions, shaping this community in special ways. We are thankful for all of you, and thankful that the past three years have allowed us to get to know you in ways we didn’t anticipate.
These awards are a bit unusual in another way. In some sense, they’re just on loan. We’re asking that each winner of the Bezonki be a steward of the award for a year. They will then pass on the physical award to next year’s winner. We hope that in this way the awards will create connections between people in the community year after year – people who might not otherwise have crossed paths.
So who received the inaugural Bezonkis? They are people you likely already know for their work in the community: Claire and Paul Tinkerhess, Jason Brooks and Matt Yankee, Vivienne Armentrout, the teachers and students at Summers-Knoll School, Yousef Rabhi, and Trevor Staples. You’ll read more about them below.
And now, on to the Bezonkis!