Why should anything be easy? At the end of 2019, my team and I began the process of assembling our end-of-the-year card. My blog post about the card mentioned that it was comparatively uneventful in marketing and general pop culture. Ultimately, we refined an impactful message that encapsulated the year.
2020 presented no such challenge. Why? ‘Cuz COVID.
The year began with Presidential campaigning and the death of Kobe Bryant. It quickly devolved into one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes. We endured with you through health, economic, business, and personal struggles. To call it a roller coaster may not do it justice. So few peaks and plenty of deep valleys. Everyone on our team, our clients, and our families experienced loss. Loved ones were lost due to a deadly pandemic. Businesses made difficult decisions to lay off valued staff or close their doors. Friends lost friendships. Children lost classrooms and play time. But there have been many moments of hope and help as we rallied together. Our society has pushed through pain and will come out stronger for it. The pandemic may instigate and define much of what happened, but it is the lessons we learn that matter most.
The creation of our 2020 card would be unlike anything else because it was a year unlike any other.
Many of you know that the Arkside card is not a holiday card. My simple rule is that it should represent the year. That’s why, on some occasions, it is delivered in January. Whatever the year brings, our card is intended to be a thought-provoking reflection on the events that shaped our world. This year provided too much to work with. Our brainstorming sessions were long and emotional.
The lessons of 2020 will never be mirrored more acutely than by our youngest generation. While we adults faced so much, it is our children that were most unfairly burdened. They shouldn’t be asked to rise up to such epic challenges. But they were. Parents lost jobs or health, friends couldn’t come over, school was locked away, and family became a virtual experience. Their lives were not stable.
The kids of 2020 showed us resilience. They sat at desks in their bedrooms, connected with friends online, made “thank you” signs for hospital nurses and restaurant servers, and hugged their parents during moments of grief. And they listened during conversations about racial justice, politics, and patriotism. No doubt it was painful, but they continue to shine and will have much to teach future generations.
So as the Arkside team discussed the good and bad of 2020, we came to realize that the future is bright. Far brighter than 2020 would lead us to believe.
This card would be our most ambitious and important. You deserve that. No expense was spared. No creativity was blocked. We set out to make something special.
How could we reflect the endurance of children and the challenges of our society?
We selected Riverside City College as the site of our photo shoot and they generously supported us with space and staff to help. To represent the children who have survived such struggle, we found Chloe: a young Black girl who is waking up every day wanting to be a good kid who can learn and have fun, no matter what challenges she is given. She has watched Black men and women die on the news. She has watched her teachers via video. She has wanted to play but couldn’t touch her friends. She was also a wonderful talent that was always positive during the shoot!
The scene seeks to depict many of the events she experienced including the death of Kobe Bryant, the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule, racial justice protests, and virtual learning. It also shows the iconic kid stuff of cute posters and doodles on a notepad that will keep her generation going. Maybe they keep older generations going as well.
There were other events of 2020 that were discussed but ultimately didn’t make the cut for the card: Jeffrey Epstein, the Tesla Cybertruck, murder hornets, George Floyd (separate from the protests and marches), massive wildfires, TikTok, “Karen”, Harry & Meghan, and BREXIT. Each was important but were left out of the final image for various reasons.
2020 is behind us but its obstacles are still in our path. Our optimism and pride are also there. We have seen how communities come together. We know people are supporting each other and helping where they can. We see hope in our children as they continue to learn. Each of these positive examples will serve as reminders of that which we are capable. Challenges will always rise before us, but because of the kindness of the human spirit, we look forward to seeing each challenge overcome.
So let us be inspired by Chloe and all children of 2020 who will learn lessons not seen in in a century. If they can do it, so can we. And we wish each of you a very prosperous and healthy 2021!