2020 in the Rearview Mirror

Jill Sanford

Jill Sanford

Communications Manager

I know I am not the only one glad to leave 2020 in the dust. At Sierra Business Council we talk a lot about turning challenges into opportunities, about implementing actionable steps that don’t just temporarily solve one-off problems but offer alternative ways of doing business, interacting with the environment, and existing in the Sierra to mitigate what causes those problems in the first place. As an organization, we’re proactive rather than reactive, and our goal is to build a region that is as well.

No one saw 2020 coming, though. Over the course of the last year, everyone has been asked to react to the unexpected, the unimaginable. I started my position on March 18th, just a few days after Sierra Business Council’s president instructed all employees to work from home to slow the spread of the virus. I was forwarded Steve’s email, told to come by the office for a few quick hours of onboarding and paperwork, and sent home to start working. 

Almost a year later, we’re still mostly remote. I feel like I’ve spent a few short months in this role and at the same time, decades. Simple things like gathering in the break room, getting coffee with coworkers, or workplace potlucks are a thing of the past. People around me talk about returning to normal, and honestly, I can’t quite picture what that will feel like. 

Looking back at 2020 with the new year laid out before us feels a lot like driving along with my eyes on the road. Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the view in my rearview mirror. It’s distracting, and wish I could see it better and spend time analyzing it, understanding it. Maybe even pull over and snap a photo of it. But I need to keep looking ahead, my momentum moving forward as I anticipate oncoming traffic and bends in the road and shift my eyes to what’s next.

The coronavirus pandemic irrevocably changed life in the Sierra, changed life everywhere, and there’s no denying that. But here in Truckee and in most of California, approximately one-third of our healthcare workers have access to the first if not both injections of the vaccine. My 96-year old grandma in Placerville received her first dose this month, and I am counting down the days until I can see her in person again. Hopefully, it will be a matter of months before the rest of our essential workers will receive their doses. Hopefully, business as usual will resume, and boom.

A new administration will take office in less than a week. The California legislative session is underway and SBC is optimistic about advancing our policy priorities. Our partners in climate action are building local capacity, launching community surveys in Nevada County and conducting greenhouse gas inventories in the Tahoe Basin. SBC’s forest resilience and management solutions are gaining traction, becoming even bigger priorities statewide. We are having collaborative and cross-sector conversations about sustainable recreation and the impact of COVID on tourism in the region. We’re distributing grants and loans to get the region’s businesses through winter. We’re looking at the Sierra’s region-wide vulnerabilities so that we can forecast long-term hurdles and proactive solutions.

As we focus on what we can do, on the work that’s ahead of us in the new year, let’s acknowledge that distracting and heartwrenching view we still hold in our rearview mirror. Let’s even point out that we’re not yet through a similar landscape to what we see behind us. But let’s also keep our eyes on what’s coming up down the road.

Read More Recent Blogs

Living Our Values – Green Business Certification

Core to Sierra Business Council’s mission is our commitment to being a triple bottom line organization so it’s only natural that we would lead an effort to help small businesses adopt these principles. A triple bottom line business considers more than just economic results or profit. They also value their impact on society and the environment. We often refer to these businesses as “sustainable” or “green” and research shows that they typically deliver superior customer service, score higher in job satisfaction, and perform better financially.

Exploring Energy Use in California

Many have used the past year to take a step back and assess where their interests lie. For me, that has meant discovering my interest in data analysis and data science.

Call to Action: Why We Need Immediate Government Funding for the 2021 Fire Season

As you know, California witnessed its worst wildfire season on record in 2020. Over 4 million acres burned, costing us more than 10,000 homes and buildings and at least 33 lives (not to mention the long-term negative health impacts of the dense smoke experienced across the state). Wildfire is a natural part of California’s landscape, but today’s wildfires are out of balance due to a century of fire suppression and misguided forest management. As climate change accelerates the risk of extreme wildfire, 2020 could be the start of our new normal. In 2021, we have an opportunity to keep that from happening. If we take action now, we can help protect our communities and restore the health of our forests.

More by this author

Thank You For Your Support This Giving Tuesday!

Please join us in building a stronger Sierra by helping us reach our goal of $20,000. The money we raise today and through the end of the year will go directly to building economic, environmental, and social resilience in communities throughout the Sierra.

IMG 1465 1

The Resilience Fund gains momentum in Tahoe

SBC is excited to share that the Resilience Fund-Sierra continues to gain traction in the Tahoe region, having now funded 19 businesses and counting. Founded to save Sierra businesses forced to close down during the pandemic earlier this spring, the Resilience Fund has provided its first wave of clients with loans, coaching, and other valuable services.