You have something special here. Not perfect — but special. You have a rich community of people who believe in this place — people who know they’ve got it pretty good here, but in their own ways are trying to make it better for others.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case everywhere you go.
For many years, the Missourian has produced a special section called “Progress.” It covered the biggest changes Columbia had made, the challenges it needed to meet, the trends that shaped its future and the people who helped move the needle.
It’s that last piece I thought most important to focus on, and my colleagues agreed. And to make this new vision of “Progress” work, we needed to think bigger. Instead of a few editors in a conference room deciding what the most important story is or who the movers and shakers are, we wanted our community to tell us.
And so, with input from our Readers Board and some community members, we started working on the Progress Awards: a community-driven, merit-based program to bring attention to the people and organizations doing the work but not necessarily getting the credit.
Every new venture is fraught with unforeseen challenges, and this was no different, but we did take many steps to ensure the Progress Awards lived up to its name and to the trust that the Missourian works hard every day to maintain. We didn’t want this to be a popularity contest or a lineup of the usual suspects.
The nominees were sourced only from community members. To encourage nominations, members of our community outreach team contacted hundreds of people, we posted information online and in print, and we used social media to reach thousands more.
And the response was overwhelming.
When it came time to select the winners, every candidate was considered, and a small group of community members and editors made the final decisions. No one who advertises with the Missourian (even in this section) had any say over who we recognized.
The nominees and winners, who we featured in this special section, are a fair representation of who we are, and what we strive to be.
If you think someone’s missing from the group, don’t fret. Nominate them next year.