As the new year begins, it seems appropriate to take pause and reflect on the previous year.

To be honest, pondering 2020 is difficult to do without feeling a void or sense of loss. When we did this little exercise last January, none of us knew the challenges that lie ahead. I don’t have to list them – we’ve all shared varying degrees of these challenges. How are we to seek a silver lining during these difficult times?

Just as we are about to turn cynical, we often find things that nudge us toward optimism and seeing the good in people, toward hope and a fresh start.


My recent nudge or “aha!” moment came as I was paging through a compilation of all 12 issues of North Dakota Living from last year. If you have a free moment, find the compilation at, or pull out your 2020 magazines, and see it for yourself. Combing through the month-to-month features, photos, articles and columns, the collective story told through the magazine in 2020 was powerful. It highlighted massive undertakings, like the 2020 Census, captured people who make things “better,” illustrated the greatness of the North Dakota outdoors and our people, and provided examples of cooperative employees’ pride in serving co-op members and their communities.

I was humbled by the insightful perspectives of our youth and the stories that inspire, inform and recognize the good deeds of North Dakota people and the entrepreneurial spirit. I was reminded of valuable institutions, like our postal service, hospitals and schools, and the need to inform on technological advancements. I was inspired by the stories of those who grow things, build things and imagine things. I was reaffirmed of the value of supporting our neighbors and shopping local. I was reawakened to the opportunities for recreation, fun and decompressing in nature. I was impressed with stories of educators going the extra mile to provide the best possible experiences for students.

The magazine demonstrates appreciation for civic duty and service and honors our military, veterans and first responders. We are happy to share the great foods of North Dakota and recognize the contributions of our youth, elderly and all those in-between.

Through North Dakota Living, we also have a responsibility to inform, which was demonstrated last year in coverage of new and emergent COVID-19 information. There were countless examples shared through the pages of North Dakota Living of those who rose to meet challenges, providing leadership, volunteerism and fortitude in this pandemic.

Electric cooperatives take seriously the need to not only keep the lights on, but bring awareness to the issues of the day, and the duty we have to improve our communities, helping when and where we can. Being local, being cooperatives, means doing what we can to improve the quality of life for our members and our communities.

We are thankful for our member electric cooperatives who support this publication, and equally humbled and grateful for our members and readers. May we hold the hope of a new year all year long.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at