2012's legacy: The Monitor's Top 11 US stories

From storms to politics, the year was a wild ride. What are the most meaningful US stories of 2012? Here's the Monitor's list, in roughly chronological order.

Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy heavily damaged the Queens borough of New York.

Superstorm Sandy, which came ashore in southern New Jersey Oct. 29, was the worst US weather disaster since hurricane Katrina in 2005. A wall of water 14 feet high flooded subways in New York, ravaged boardwalk areas in the region, and knocked out the electricity for millions of people. Tens of thousands of people started the winter sharing homes with relatives or friends.

The storm spurred discussions about ways to protect the area in the future, such as building dikelike structures outside New York Harbor and requiring homeowners to elevate their homes when they rebuild. New York City hired private companies to provide plumbers, carpenters, and electricians to help homeowners get back on their feet more quickly – a possible template for other cities hit by such disasters in the future.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut asked the US government in late November for $82 billion to help pay for the damage and for mitigation efforts to prevent future floods. Congress seems prepared to give them about 75 percent of that amount.

– Ron Scherer

Reporter's takeaway“In the Rockaways in New York, I came across Virginia Fernandez, who was using a broom to try to sweep the sand off what used to be grass in her front yard. It was an effort to restore order amid chaos – a scene repeated by many homeowners who cleaned windows and raked lawns even while their homes were barely habitable.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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