The readers have spoken! We would like to congratulate the 128 winners of the first annual Chronogrammies Readers' Choice Awards. We had 20,000 people participate and over 92,000 votes were cast to determine the 2020 winners.
It is a bittersweet moment to celebrate. While New York State has been abuzz with reopening activity in the past couple weeks, we are emerging from a three-month economic holding pattern that has had devastating effects on the small, independent businesses that make up our vibrant economic ecosystem here in the Hudson Valley.
In our interview for the Chronogrammies winners spotlight, Juan Romero, co-owner of Duo Bistro, informed us that his bar/restaurant would not be reopening. While Duo is the only Chronogrammies winner that has permanently shuttered, many other businesses in the region share the restaurant's fate. Places like our local coffee shop and lunch deli weave themselves into the fabric of our lives, so news like this is heartbreaking for patrons. We chose to honor Duo—and by extension all the other closed businesses—in recognition of the important role it has had in the community for all of these years.
[Note from the editor: After press, Romero informed us that Duo Bistro may indeed reopen! Stay tuned for details.]
Chronogram did a readers' choice competition two decades ago. When we decided to bring it back last year, we envisioned it as a fun, interactive vehicle for giving voice to our readers and highlighting the robust family-owned businesses that define the Hudson Valley. We never imagined that a pandemic would sweep the globe in the middle of the Chronogrammies campaign. As a company, we had a sincere self-reckoning to decide whether or not it was appropriate to continue with the contest. Ultimately, we decided that it was not only appropriate but paramount to continue, in order to increase the visibility of local businesses at this challenging time. On May 15, with two weeks left in the final voting round, we announced the addition of 10 new Chronogrammies categories for COVID-19 community response, to allow people space to honor their local heroes.
But COVID-19 was not the only major, earth-shaking event of 2020. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans rocked our nation to its core, removing the blindfold of privilege so many of us were wearing and catalyzing a wave of protests.
As you skim through the list of this year's Chronogrammies awardees, you may notice that the majority of the winning businesses are white-owned. As a readers' choice contest, the results are either indicative of a lack of diversity in our readership or a failure on our part to spotlight BIPOC-owned businesses in the Hudson Valley—or both. In any case, we need to do better. (One initiative we've recently launched to aid BIPOC-owned enterprises is our Community Grant Program, which supports marketing programs for minority-owned small businesses.)
We want Chronogram to be a magazine that reflects the whole Hudson Valley and is read by the whole Hudson Valley. We must do better to amplify the marginalized voices in our community. We must do better to educate readers about BIPOC-owned businesses and to center Black and brown artists and creators. We must do better to cover issues that affect communities of color.
We congratulate this year's Chronogrammies winners, and we thank the 20,000 people that participated in nominations and voting this year. Here's to better wealth distribution and more diversity in the future.