2017 is over and, as of this writing, the world has not ended.
Given the many dire predictions made this time last year, as Donald Trump was preparing to enter the White House, that’s no mean achievement.
Life as we know it — the shared, American consciousness — definitely changed this past year, perhaps forever. Whether for good or ill depends on your perspective, though our reacting to the most divisive politician in some time by emphasizing politics even more in everyday life is probably a negative no matter where you sit. But it was a mixed bag.
In Georgia, I suspect we’ll remember 2017 in a way that goes something like this:
The year began with the local NFL team blowing the largest lead in Super Bowl history.
Then came another collapse: the I-85 bridge fire.
Airwaves and mailboxes were inundated with political ads as the most expensive and, by the end, most tiresome election in Georgia’s history was fought over a slice of Atlanta’s northern suburbs.
Then there was actual flooding (and other damage) all over the place as Hurricane Irma soaked us, hovering over every bit of the state at one point.
As if there hadn’t been enough breaches of homes, we learned Atlanta-based Equifax had botched the security of millions of Americans’ personal information.
The excitement of having not one but two Georgians in the president’s cabinet, the first representation there for our state in a quarter-century, was dampened by the sudden and ignominious departure of Tom Price over excessive chartering of private aircraft.
The lights went out for a good reason — a total solar eclipse — in August; and for a bad reason — a massive power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — in December.
A pair of new, expensive, taxpayer-funded sports stadiums opened, only for one of them to have an inoperable roof and the other to have a general manager banished from baseball for life because of dirty dealings as he signed talented foreign teenagers.
Oh, and all the while a burgeoning corruption scandal slowly unfolded at Atlanta’s City Hall. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, 2017.
But here’s the thing about reviewing an entire year and finding little reason for cheer in the time now past: There’s an equal opportunity to glance ahead to the year rushing toward us and find reason for optimism.
A new mayor in Atlanta has the chance — the obligation, really — to break with her predecessor and allow sunlight to work its disinfecting powers. (If she won’t clean things up, the still-new U.S. attorney will.)
As long as the airport can keep the electricity on, its gleaming makeover will continue apace. The same goes for Georgia’s biggest economic-development project: the deepening of the Savannah harbor.
That project could be supplanted in 2018 by the mother of all job-creation projects, Amazon’s second headquarters, for which Atlanta is believed to be a leading contender.
Rural Georgia, having finally gotten the attention of state lawmakers, stands to begin setting the foundation for a renaissance.
Oh, and where the Falcons failed, the Georgia Bulldogs entered 2018 with a chance to win a football championship of their own.
If 2017 left a bad taste in your mouth, well, life moves on. Another year, another chance to get it right. As long as we have that, we’ll be OK.
Kyle Wingfield writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reach him and read more at www.bit.ly/KyleWingfield.