We’ve been publishing our Best of NH list in some form or the other as long as I’ve worked for this magazine and, over that past decade and a half, the process has taught me a lot of little things and at least two big ones. The big things are: 1. People love to be appreciated and 2. People love to tell you what they think. The Best of NH is an outlet for both of these primal desires. We get to appreciate hundreds of people, some relatively unknown, for the great work they do, and we open the communication channels for literally thousands of individuals to tell us what they like and love about the state.
But in helping to put on the party for the Best of NH each year, I’ve learned another big thing or two. Each year we partner with a charity to help them raise awareness for their cause and raise some money from the event. As a result of these partnerships I’ve met some of the most dedicated and enterprising people in the state. For the most part, these individuals don’t have a chance to get picked for special honors for their work helping the poor, the abused and the misfortunate.
There aren’t a lot of parties and red carpets for those who do this kind of work. It tends to get done invisibly and without fanfare. And yet so many people would have no voice if it were not for groups like these.
In the six years since we began throwing the “state’s biggest indoor block party” at the Verizon Wireless Arena, we’ve been honored to ally our efforts with some outstanding non-profit organizations — first the March of Dimes, then Big Brothers Big Sisters of N.H. and this year the N.H. Food Bank. We’ve handed out a few awards along the way to other organizations we thought deserved a Best of NH certificate for some remarkable quality or achievement (Child & Family Services of NH a couple of years ago and Court Appointed Special Advocates of N.H. this year). We’ve also given a nod to a variety of arts organizations that sometimes have to struggle to make a payroll while bringing culture and enlightenment to their communities.
I mention all this not to take away the moment of glory from the fantastic restaurants, shops and artists who are honored in our Best of NH pages, but to put things in perspective. Medieval philosophers often spoke of something called the summum bonum — the greatest good. According to them, every work of charity or mercy or neighborliness done without selfish motives is better than the best. It’s a little piece of perfection.
As we give a round of applause to people, places and things that qualify as “the best,” it’s a great time to reflect on the quieter and less eye-catching work that takes place in the state to care for the lost and the least.
This article appears in the July 2007 issue of New Hampshire Magazine