Best Of 2017

One of the most moving theatrical events of the past year was also one of the year’s best exercises in journalism — and yet it was neither theater nor journalism. Or, rather, it was both. Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon of Your Real Stories specialize in doing in-depth interviews with interesting people and turning those interviews into monologues for professional actors in programs that aim to bridge “perceived differences of identity, experience and opinions.” This approach was used to illuminating effect in their four-part project, St. Pete Stories: A Community Conversation; in Decades of Day Work, bringing to life the voices of domestic laborers; and most recently in Out of the Shadows: The LGBTQ+ Homeless Youth Project. That program, which brought over 600 people to the Palladium this spring, highlighted the little-known but serious problem of homelessness among gay and transgender youth, both via the persona of the actors portraying them, and most touchingly, by bringing them to the stage themselves. Your Real Stories’ unique approach gave a huge boost to the homeless youth project, which is being run by Pinellas non-profit Family Resources. [Full disclosure: This writer’s husband, Larry Biddle, is working on the project.] Next month, from Oct. 2-7, YRS presents the third annual Story Days in Tampa Bay, a week-long storytelling festival. yourrealstories.org. —David Warner

People, Places, Politics: Movers. Shakers. Scandal-makers. Your picks and ours.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman with Kristy.

Movers. Shakers. Scandal-makers. Your picks and ours.

Best Beach Town
Creative Commons/Beyond My Ken


  • Runner Up: Pass-a-Grille
  • Runner Up: Anna Maria Island
Best Bizarro Local News Story
Kate Bradshaw


  • Runner Up: Bubba The Love Sponge ratings scandal
  • Runner Up: Hulk Hogan suing Gawker
BEST BODY FARM
Thinkstock

Body farms, or places where donated corpses rot naturally in the name of science, are simultaneously unsettling and ever-so-fascinating. Studying how bodies decompose in various climates and conditions can help police solve crimes, and train forensics scientists to estimate time of death with hands-on learning about how carrion insects crawl in our orifices and lay eggs that become maggots that eat us from the inside out; then those cute little maggots grow into flies who get busy with the important work of eating the newly dead. The circle of life. Five creepy acres in Pasco County, forensics.usf.edu. —Amy Beeman

BEST BOON TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY BECAUSE OF IRMA
Patrick Finnegan [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First of all, thank you — not only Duke Energy (we’ll go back to being pissed about the nuclear thing and our high bills soon enough, don’t get used to this wash of kindness) but to all the out-of-state power companies who sent linemen here in one of our hottest months (was that fun for you, Quebec power company?) to restore power to Tampa Bay in what, really, was a ridiculously short amount of time. Think about all the meals, hotel rooms and incidentals these men and women bought from our local businesses, who certainly could use the cash after losing at least three days of revenue. —Cathy Salustri

BEST BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE OF “NOT MY JOB” BUREAUCRACY
via Gulfport Public Works

The Saturday before Irma hit, the city told all non-essential staff to go home and take care of their homes and families and to return to work after the storm passed. Then the police received a call about someone setting out a big-ass pile of garbage — including a lot of glass — that would become airborne when the storm came through. Damon Weisz, one of the few staff who can run the city’s bulk pickup claw truck, volunteered to get the pile. He didn’t stop there, though — he made passes throughout the city and picked up as much debris as he could to protect residents and businesses from flying debris, not stopping until Sunday evening when the storm arrived. —Cathy Salustri

BEST CAUSE OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AMONG ARMCHAIR COPYEDITORS
Pixabay

Look, everybody lets a typo slip by every once in a while. CL is as guilty as the next news site. But online outlets like wtsp.com, abcactionnews.com, wfla.com and others are often so choked with misspellings, grammatical errors and mishaps of syntax that it inspires one to wonder whether the stories are being written by fledgling robots or enthusiastic but unsupervised children. I gotta read the feeds every day to cull stories for Sh*t Happened. Please, people — don’t make that part of my job more painful than it needs to be while alienating smart readers in the process. —Scott Harrell

Best Celebrity Charity Event
boneonline.com


  • Runner Up: Rays on the Runway (Children's Dream Fund)
  • Runner Up: All Children's Gala
Best CEO
nhl.com


  • Runner Up: Mike Harting (3 Daughters)
  • Runner Up: Tim Marks (Metropolitan Ministries)
Best City: Tampa, St. Pete, or Clearwater?
Flickr user Ryan Abel


  • Runner Up: Tampa
  • Runner Up: Clearwater