Letter from the Editor: An Art Learned

Putting the power list into perspective.

Power is an elusive thing. And so is the definition. Over the years this magazine has tried to corral the concept with its annual 50 Most Powerful List, but I’m not sure that we have ever fully succeeded at it. Because as the world changes, so does the meaning of that word.

For instance: The power to comfort never really entered my mind until June 12, 2016.

As you read about the 50 Most Powerful in this issue, you’ll find that many of their accomplishments are related to what happened on that horrible morning at the Pulse nightclub south of downtown. And so, the economic advances by our city and county mayors, Buddy Dyer and Teresa Jacobs, were set aside as they strived to reassure a stunned community. Orlando Police Chief John Mina, not well known to many before the massacre, suddenly became a calming presence as he explained what had happened. City Commissioner Patty Sheehan stepped to the forefront in emotional support of the LGBT community. 

In the weeks and months that followed, leaders like Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins and City Attorney Mayanne Downs worked behind the scenes to ensure that survivors, as well as the families of the 49 people who were murdered, would be taken care of through a OneOrlando Fund that raised an amazing $33 million. And of course, there were the healers at Orlando Health who responded to the carnage of that morning. They demonstrated the power to heal—and save lives.

And yet, life goes on, and our power list also reflects that. Orlando continues to thrive with record tourism numbers, in continuing expansion at its state-of-the-art airport, and in the efforts of school leaders who strive to provide our children with a quality education in the face of threatened, incomprehensible budget cuts. And then there are the religious leaders who try to create a dialogue so that we better understand one another. And, of course, the talented and dedicated creators in this community who use the arts—dance, classical music, theater, uplifting choral performances and more—to bring us pure joy and feed the soul. 

In fact, we should remember that in the days after Pulse, the gathering place for the initial vigils, for those seeking a spirit of community and a place of honor for those who died, was the immaculate green lawn of downtown’s crown jewel: the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, just a few minutes north of the Pulse site. It became a shrine of remembrances large and small, from colorful flowers to tributes drawn in the sand, that demonstrated just how united a community could be in spirit.

And taught us that, perhaps, power is an art learned. 

BARRY GLENN
BARRY.GLENN@orlandomagazine.com

Categories: Column