2008 Top Projects reflect North Bay’s diversity, innovationEditor’s note: This editorial was adapted from remarks made by Editor-in-Chief Brad Bollinger at Thursday’s reception to honor the BUSINESS JOURNAL’S 2008 Top Projects in construction across the North Bay.

Like our natural surroundings, our buildings are just as much a part of our environment and quality of life. So thank you for joining us here tonight to recognize 13 incredible additions in 2008 to the “built environment” of the North Bay.

I just want to touch on two things briefly before we begin. How we got here and why we should be here.

First, how we got here.

It started last August in a widely publicized call for nominations from the commercial real estate, construction, architecture and other communities that contribute to North Bay building projects. The nomination criterion was simple: The building had to be ready for occupancy in 2008.

We received nearly 80 responses to the call for nominations from which the 13 winners were selected in late October by the BUSINESS JOURNAL editorial staff. The winners were from a broad range, from education to affordable apartments to green construction to downtown condominiums to a well-known Napa winery that rose from the ashes of a devastating fire.

The caliber of the nominations was so high that, for the first time in three years, we felt the need to mention five other notable projects, which I will do later on.

And now for the second thing I wanted to touch on: why we should be here.

You know, we’ve developed a tradition in our household that sometime in every Christmas season we re-watch the classic Capra movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We did just that a week ago Friday night.

I was struck particularly this year by two things. First, there was that chaotic scene in George Bailey’s savings and loan where frightened depositors ran in to withdraw their accounts, a classic bank run.

Jimmy Stewart pleads with the mob to understand that a lending institution is really a web of interdependence, neighbor connected to neighbor, one making a deposit, another borrowing to buy the family home.

Of course, finance is all more complicated today – which is partly why we are in such a mess. But the scene is a reminder that we are all connected, especially those of you in this room that build, finance, design, lease and sell buildings.

You work together and tonight you celebrate together.

The second thing that struck me again is what everyone knows “It’s a Wonderful Life” is all about: that in times of stress – and we’re certainly in one of those now – we tend to become focused on the negative, the moment. All the good things around us or in our past are pushed aside.

Well, this evening is about not forgetting all those good things.

To see a full report on the 13 winners, see the special Top Projects insert in today’s BUSINESS JOURNAL.