Not to sugarcoat it, but 2020 was a moldy sourdough starter engulfed in a forest fire. Still, some good came out of it. Staffers at 5280, along with helpful readers, waded through the sewage to compile a list of the best developments spawned by the year’s never-ending crises. After mining that gold, predicting the longevity of these rare blessings and deciding how impactful they’ve been to Colorado was even easier than wearing a mask in public.

Meaningful Changes:

  • A flurry of overdue appreciation for our essential workers: doctors, nurses, teachers, childcare workers, grocery store clerks, and more. Thanks, everyone!
  • Empty dog shelters because people are adopting! @smooochie1
  • Less movement = less pollution.  @curranmriley
  • Cities adopted pedestrian-friendly streets! Maybe they will stick around after the pandemic. @kboysen14

Here to Stay:

  • People are investing in their homes or apartments, creating a space they’re happy to spend (all that extra) time. @klimkkoleynik
  • Outdoor eating for restaurants that didn’t have it previously! @courtneybrillhart
  • We’ve felt a shift of focus to communities; building, supporting, shopping small.  @somebodypeopledenver

Simple Pleasures:

  • Getting to know my neighbors after spending more time in my own neighborhood. @mm_303_co
  • Reservation systems at the zoo and museums as well as limited day use at popular campgrounds. Fewer people made it harder to get access, but the experience was better once there. @babygiraffe81
  • Takeout cocktails for the win! @katimcleod

Fleeting Moments:

  • Denverites thirsting for a way to stay in shape when gyms closed (or, you know, to escape the house for a bit) got even more into cycling, making bikes one of the year’s hottest commodities.
  • When indoor movie theaters closed, Coloradans rediscovered the retro joy of the drive-in.
  • The Denver Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth time ever. Let’s hope it wasn’t just the midseason break (or nightclub closures).
  • Less traffic. @funkes_jean_shorts

This article was originally published in 5280 December 2020.
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil is a Denver-based journalist and 5280's former digital senior associate editor.