La Belle Helene
ColumnsEditor's Notes

To One Year and Those We Met Along the Way

Oh, what a year it’s been!

Our new Best in the Nest issue hits racks on December 4, and it reminds how the first week in December has become so significant in my life.

Just about a year ago, Dec. 5, 2018, was one of the most rewarding days of my life, as it was the print date of our very first issue of Queen City Nerve. The previous day, on the other hand, was perhaps the most stressful day of my life — professionally, anyway — as our team sat around a table in Advent Coworking and annoyed everyone else in the common area, dealing with problem after problem, all of which threatened our likelihood of meeting the print deadline we had publicly set only a month before.

To this day, I’m not sure how we did it, yet I could never imagine us failing, and that’s still how I feel about the paper today. At times I wonder what the fuck publisher Justin LaFrancois and I were thinking when we set out to start a new alternative publication in 2018 of all years, but I also can’t imagine not starting a new alternative publication in 2018.

Justin LaFrancois (left) and Ryan Pitkin in their office in March. (Photo by Jayme Johnson)

This is what I was born to do, after all, and I don’t mean that to sound hyperbolic.

What else am I going to do, anyway? Go cover Donald Trump with every other journalist in the country? I’m all about the local news. I always have been. (Besides, next year he’ll come to me and I’ll get to cover him however I damn well please. But I digress.) 

So here I sit one year later, preparing to send out the inaugural Best in the Nest paper, a year-in-review that wraps up everything that happened in our first 26 bi-weekly issues and then some. I can’t help but feel a sense of déjà-vu come over me. More than any issue since that first one, I feel that ths issue has been the most stressful to put together and the one I look forward to releasing the most.

I’m not in this game to give myself pats on the back, and I’ve written many times about how grateful I am for Justin and the rest of the team that’s made it possible to put these papers out every other week, so I’d rather make this issue all about the subjects — the hundreds of people featured within the pages of this special issue.

To be able to shine a light on local talent — people doing work at a grassroots level to make their community a better place, whether it be through art, activism or any number of mediums — means everything to me. It’s why I do what I do. 

I sometimes can’t get over the fact that I get to spend my time sitting down with inspiring folks every week and learning their stories so I can share those stories with our readership. Why would I want to do anything else?

Which brings me to an important point I’d like to make before releasing our picks for Best in the Nest: I don’t want to be a gatekeeper. I don’t consider our Best in the Nest list an end-all, be-all of Charlotte’s best anything — which I know sounds stupid considering it’s literally called Best in the Nest and almost every category lists a Best Something or other. But what I mean is that everything is subjective, and every one of the categories in this issue — from what tastes the best to who is doing the most important work — could be answered differently based on who you ask and what their life experiences are.

So I view this as a comprehensive list of locals that my team of contributors and I believe deserve a spotlight for whatever reason. You may disagree. I would never pretend to act as if I know best about how to “rank” a group of people for making something as subjective as art or music, for example, let alone for their community work, in which everyone plays an important role in their own right.

What I will firmly stand behind, however, is that everyone on our lists belong on those lists. Do other people also belong on those lists? Yes. I could certainly put together another 72 pages full of people in Charlotte who deserve recognition for the amazing things they’re doing. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do so, but hey, that’s what the new year is for.

So here’s to another year of alternative print journalism. Keep reaching out with your ideas about what and who needs a nod, and I’ll continue scoping them out as best I can.

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