You're what makes Reno great

There are certain editorials readers can expect every year in the Reno News & Review. Every year, we’re going to do a “protect your home from wildfires” editorial. Every year, there’s a “school is back in, watch out for school zones” editorial. Every year, there’s a “why can’t special event organizers account for Reno residents when they close off downtown for “special” events every weekend of the summer?” editorial.

And every year, when we announce the winners in our Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada readers’ poll, we write an editorial talking about what being best means in our community.

Here’s the thing. We know our readers’ poll is seriously frivolous. It’s a popularity contest. It’s not a scientific poll or even an empirical statement. We know a concentrated campaign can win in some of the smaller categories. That’s the very reason we created a system that relies on massive participation to blunt the efforts of people who care more about getting a false honor than seeing someone who deserves honest recognition receiving it. And while that last statement might sound bitter, catching electronic cheaters is really part of the fun.

For the most part, our editorial staff has been around Reno for a long time. Most of us take pride in remembering what things were like back in the good old days before we even had a Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada—or a RN&R for that matter. We remember when Best Theater Troupe would have been a foregone conclusion because there was only one. Maybe there would have been a Best Green Store category, although competitors with the Blue Heron don’t really leap to mind, but there was nothing like Great Basin Community Food Co-op. Remember when the Nevada Museum of Art was housed in a house? Best Indian food? Right.

It would be hard to find someone who would argue with the fact that the area around Wingfield Park is an urban jewel. Back before that area of the town was redeveloped, almost all the adjacent buildings faced away from the Truckee River. There was no amphitheater, and swimming was illegal.

No, the good old days in Reno weren’t that great.

Reno has grown up a lot in the last 25 years. Competition, sophistication and quality have risen with the population. Our Biggest Little Cultural Desert has grown into something approaching cosmopolitan. It’s certainly a mid-sized Western city that has many things to be proud of.

But, not to be obvious, it’s the standouts, the Bests, that really make this city shine. There are restaurants in this city that are as good as anything you can get in San Francisco. We’re assembling a collection of public art that many cities larger than us can’t compete with. We have actors and clothiers and secondhand stores and bands that are as good as exist anywhere.

Two things become clear when we look at the results of this poll: It’s these Bests that make Reno one of the best places to live in the country, and it’s the things that make Reno great for Renoites that makes Reno a place tourists want to come.