The soul of a city shows itself in dark times.

Like the rest of America, Portland has had a rough year, from the winter snowstorms that pummeled the city to the shocking stabbings on the MAX.

But, as this edition of our annual Best of Portland issue shows, there's a lot to celebrate.

When our mayor tried to revoke permits for an alt-right protest this June in the wake of the MAX stabbings, it was perhaps an understandable reaction. But to people who care about the Constitution, it was also dead wrong, and our local ACLU office immediately stood up to stop it.

Trump protests in Portland ended up showing a lot of what's good about this city—from the local historian who offered free Blazer-themed spliffs so everybody would chill, to raging grannies who've been at it since the '60s, to the local dive bar that sells cards with envelopes pre-addressed to the president.

Every year, Willamette Week's Best of Portland issue celebrates the unique people, places, quirks and moments of heartening compassion that make our city what it is, or that point to what Portland could be. This year, more than ever, it's important to stop and take note.

Sure, we take a moment to appreciate the city's raunchiest Twitter account, our most famous tree climber and our favorite high-fashion dog and cannabis-medicated hounds. But we also admire a renegade American Legion post that dared turn itself into a homeless shelter during frigid weather and a woman who tattoos nipples back onto the breasts of cancer survivors.

We also explore the wondrous parts of the city that are often hidden in plain sight, from the North Portland bridge few Portlanders have ever crossed
to a near-unknown English garden refuge as big as our city's famed Japanese Garden, or Oregon's last surviving magic shop, run by a guy who toured with Sammy Hagar.

But sometimes, surviving dark times just takes a really good apple fritter, a Hong Kong bubble waffle stacked with ice cream or a trip to a kick-ass waterfall and swimming hole that a hero from Vancouver just drained his savings to buy from a timber company so you could enjoy it.

Sometimes, freedom ain't free.