Our Photo of the Year and 2021 (S)hero(es) of Reno
The photo above with Bill Sims holding a sign in the background was taken during an anti-sweeps confrontation with police this summer. It’s our choice for our photo of the year. Even if the protests didn’t stop the sweeps, they changed the local narrative, and that’s always an important step in what can be an arduous battle for progress.
Sims, an advocate for the unhoused, is one of the heroes of Reno we showcased this year in our articles along with many others … those who create meaningful art, give without expecting anything in return, document sweeps, take time out of their lives to fight for a better future however steep that hill might be, grow healthy food for our communities, cook bountiful meals for those in need, map out resources, and engage in direct activism including mutual aid.
As indicated in our yearly zine (page 2 below) which we recently dropped off for free at different coffee shops, our 2021 Reno Hero of the Year, if we had to pick one, is Jessica Castro. “Unfortunately, most of the city doesn’t see the things that I see,” Castro told us when we watched her share food outside the Cares Campus, as part of one of her regular outreach and donation activities.
From standing up at protests to City Council meetings to working tirelessly on social media and in the trenches in creating awareness and direct community help, Castro wowed so many this year, including us, and inspired others with her willpower and endless compassion based on her own traumatic past.
JP Harvey, a working mom, who we highlighted this week, is one of the advocates who recently started a new group with Castro called Helping Hands Loving Hearts. Our podcast this week is with another new group of heroes of Reno called Family Soup Mutual Aid.
We’ve also worked to highlight those who keep Reno green, such as most recently Lyndsey Langsdale with Reno Food Systems. Read our article from this week to find out the scope of what Langsdale and her team are ingeniously doing to help others in the community, from workshops to mobile farmer’s markets outside low-income housing.
“We have a very special opportunity to be able to steward this land…and make it something that’s a benefit to the community and do it in a way that makes sense to use and matches our values as humans,” Langsdale said humbly.
To some, their plot of land, next to gated communities, sticks out as a backward looking anomaly. To us, their model is the only way forward if we are to regain collective health and save our planet.
Clenched fists in the air for 2022, the fight for a better world goes on, locally and globally. As we were reminded with this ghastly, never ending pandemic, we are all connected. It’s up to us to harness that collective power in a human and humane direction.