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Voice of San Diego put on more events than ever this year.

A handful of our members joined us each month for coffee and a chat. Others gathered at spots around town to listen in on one-on-one conversations with influential people. A few hundred of you humored my experiment to occupy the Horton Plaza parking structure for one of our “Meeting of the Minds” arts and culture nights.

We believe events are journalism. In a live setting, we can dig up news, flesh out happenings, hear straight from newsmakers and bring new levels of understanding and discussion to our community. And we always make time to meet and chat with one another, to cross-pollinate the niches and neighborhoods that make San Diego great — but that we can get too easily stuck in.

Here’s a few highlights from the scrapbook of VOSD’s events from this year. We hope to see you at more next year. (By the way, we offer discounted or free admission to our members, so if you’re not one already, consider joining our merry band of newshound event-goers.)

One Voice at a Time with Donna Frye: June 20

Eric “Bird” Huffman had us over to his colorful shop, Bird’s Surf Shed, for our first installment of our One Voice at a Time conversation series. It was the perfect location to talk with former City Councilwoman Donna Frye in front of a packed house about her career as a San Diego City Council member, her bid for mayor and her thoughts on this year’s race.

I loved what George J. Janczyn remarked after the event:

“I liked tonite’s #onevoicesd with Donna Frye because it brought so many strangers together who were friends,” he said.

Election Nights: June and November

We launched in June and re-upped in November a new VOSD tradition: an Election Night party for the rest of us. As Scott Lewis pointed out:

All of the candidates and parties usually have their own events around Golden Hall, with food and drinks and sometimes a speech or two. Sure, you can crash these things but we decided regular people needed a place to go, even if they weren’t tied to a campaign or a particular issue.

We took over the office floor at Co-Merge downtown, with food, drink and interviews with people who could discuss state and national issues alongside our local ones. Lewis added his favorite part as he reminded people to join us:

Co-Merge has a great roof. Go up there and cry your eyes out or debate the future with a new friend.

Meeting of the Minds: February, August and November

Our popular arts and culture nights featured six stimulating presentations in unusual spots: A converted dairy warehouse loft, a mall parking structure and a museum after-hours.

The August event brought a few hundred San Diegans up to the “7 Lemon” level of the Westfield Horton Plaza parking garage as the sun set over downtown.

“What struck me was the diversity of contributions that artists are making locally and globally and the casually sophisticated atmosphere of the event,” wrote reader Jim Neri.

Politifest: Sept. 29

We started with a members-only breakfast to fuel up for a day filled with fun, politics, learning and even a penguin. Our second-annual Politifest attracted hundreds of civic-minded San Diegans to Point Loma. The centerpiece: a debate between mayoral hopefuls Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio:

On the self-awareness (or lack thereof) front, Filner referred to himself in the third person: “When Bob Filner is elected, it’s going to be neighborhoods not special interests.” And DeMaio, who can be an acidic campaigner, called out his opponent for “attacking others and trying to divide.”

One Voice at a Time with David Alvarez: Sept. 6

For our third “One Voice” event we headed to Ryan Bros. Coffee in Barrio Logan. We heard a candid account of what it was like for Alvarez to navigate his first year on the council — including being “frozen out” of the Mayor’s Office from time to time.

Member Coffees

Our Member Coffees happen monthly, a conversation between members and Scott Lewis and other VOSD staff about timely, important topics in San Diego.

It’s a chance for us to learn what our neighbors really care about. At our last Member Coffee of the year at Con Pane in Liberty Station, a conversation got started about homelessness in San Diego. I started an in-depth project about that topic just a few weeks later and have heard from many of our readers who’ve shared their questions and ideas for exploration with me.

Next: One Voice at a Time with Matt Yglesias: Jan. 3

I hope you’ll join us on Jan. 3 at Luce Loft for our next conversation with Slate economics writer and author Matt Yglesias. You can find more details here.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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