I’m so glad you’re here. As many readers know, each issue is part of a cycle with four linked themes.

COVID-19 has made the 2021 cycle our most challenging yet. We’ve worked hard to produce four issues with themes that reflect the evolution of the pandemic: Resilience would get us through a dark, uncertain winter. Renewal would come with the first green of spring. Sunny summer days would help us Recharge.

And by fall, we’d be ready to Refocus.

By now, we imagined, we’d be on the upswing, heading out of the long, weird tunnel we’d all been in for so long. We’d have put the pandemic behind us and we’d be building the “new normal.”

In retrospect, this might have been rather optimistic.

The summer brought forest fires, drought, and record heat to the province. These may be more urgent—but are no less important—than the ongoing issues of homelessness, overdose, racism, suicide, unfair treatment of peaceful protesters, and land and water rights that continue to percolate throughout BC and beyond.

And, as I write this letter, our fourth pandemic wave is underway, and with it, a return to mask wearing and other restrictions.

Respite is, perhaps, a more apt title for this issue, because within its pages are stories that will engage, inspire, and entertain you. Put down the phone, slam your laptop shut, look away from the headlines, and take some time to immerse yourself in some inspiring, local content.

As always, we’re sharing stories about the exceptional people, places, events, and ideas that make our corner of Vancouver Island awesome. Each issue reminds us all to continue to be optimistic.

We really are on an upswing—we just have to keep working our way out of the tunnel, together.

And that is worth refocusing on.