Jessica Keller photo: A sign posted on a house fence in upper Queen Anne advises people to not give up in what could be considered a very discouraging and disheartening 2020, during which the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus and social unrest in the country dominated the headlines and impacted nearly everyone.
Jessica Keller photo: A sign posted on a house fence in upper Queen Anne advises people to not give up in what could be considered a very discouraging and disheartening 2020, during which the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus and social unrest in the country dominated the headlines and impacted nearly everyone.
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In a year where a deadly pandemic, social unrest and economic recession dominated the headlines and affected everyone’s lives in some way, 2020 has proven to be a challenging and exhausting year for many.

At the same time, not everything about 2020 has been bad, with examples of positivity and progress peeking through all the gloom.

Longtime Queen Anne resident and neighborhood activist Paula Mueller said one of the positive things that has come out of 2020 is a renewed interest and awareness in community.

Mueller said, when Gov. Jay Inslee enacted shelter-in-place restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, many people formed new relationships with their community as they started spending more time there.

“I think that because people are at home more, they’re also more aware of what’s going on in their community, and it’s created sort of a renewed interest in getting to know your neighborhood a bit and being more informed of what’s going on in the community and being more involved in what’s going on in the community,” she said.

That extra time and awareness has prompted many to participate in their community in new ways, including donating their time and resources to helping others or fix problems in a neighborhood.

“In the work I’ve been doing, I’ve noticed people are very willing to help or to get engaged in a community activity or something that helps to make the community a better place, and they appreciate being asked to get involved,” Mueller said. “I think people really want to find ways to help and sometimes just to say, ‘Gosh I’m involved in this particular activity,’ or they say, ‘Gosh, I’d be willing to help in this, as well.’ ”

As the year progressed, and more emphasis was placed on racial and social inequity following the shooting death of George Floyd at police hands, people became engaged in their communities in other ways.

Magnolia resident Trina Pickens said George Floyd’s death and the events that followed in cities across the country, including Seattle, were difficult for her to take in as the mother to Black children.

“It’s been unsettling,” she said. “It’s been a difficult year for me processing that.”

At the same time, Pickens said she was encouraged by shows of support for Black lives in her neighborhood, including signs posted in yards and windows and a peaceful march through local streets in June.

The past year has also forced people, businesses and organizations to adapt in new ways, especially how they interact with others and communicate from a distance.

Technology companies, such as Zoom, changed the way many people interacted with each other and conducted business, through video-conferencing platforms. Teachers were among the professionals most affected by that technology. As school buildings closed to students, school districts resumed classes through remote learning, and relied on platforms such as Zoom for class time and professional meetings.

Teachers also had to get creative in how they adjusted their lessons, as well.

Pickens, who is a physical education teacher at Catharine Blaine K-8, said 2020 forced her to reconsider how she did her job in ways she never imagined.

“This forced me to just grab the technology and to learn the technology, so to me it’s been invigorating,” Pickens said.

Remote learning was a game changer for educators, Pickens said,  but especially for niche teachers like herself.

“The evolution of technology and potential for using it as a tool and having to use it in a remote environment, I learned a ton,” she said. “I’ve learned to be creative. I’ve learned to adapt and I’ve pushed myself. I’ve pushed myself a ton.”

Pickens said, not only did she have to constantly come up with lessons and activities that were worthwhile to students, she had to tailor them so they could be performed separately and in spaces much smaller than the gymnasium in which they would normally take place and without the equipment they would normally use.

“So, it’s different, and it does take a lot of time to think and overthink what’s going to fly with your students.