This is what my dictionary and my old English teacher tell me is my ante-penultimate column.

The Place to Be comes to a crashing crescendo on New Year's Eve 2000 at midnight. It will have been a year of celebration and achievement. So it's a time when we can look back on what people have achieved for the future, on the images that typify the way people rose to the challenge of making Brighton and Hove the place to be.

No one who was there at the breakfast in the Grand where the 100 faces, one person born in each of the years in the 20th Century, could ever forget the sight of William Corrie, 100 years old on June 22nd, cradling in his arms Harry May, born on the 23rd September 99 years later.

A whole living century sat in the room that day, from people who had seen Queen Victoria's funeral to kids discovering the Teletubbies for the first time.

This week I went to the Trades & Labour Club Pensioners Christmas party and members there, people from the generation who built the NHS and the nationalised railways, talked about how living in Brighton and Hove for them meant living in a town that had diversity at the core of its identity. They revelled in it. The 100 faces symbolised that Brighton and Hove is place to be different. And all of us are.

Then there was a series of local economy suppers. The Oak Hotel gave us nosh and the space in which more than 100 businesses, freelancers and skilled people from the universities debated how to strengthen the economy, produce growth and better, more secure and higher paid jobs.

What was memorable was that the idea of the place to be, the idea that we were all in the room for the good of the town, brought down barriers between people. Out of their political, and business boxes they argued freely.

And fiercely. That process will now widen to take in the community groups and many more businesses and the council. So next year a town summit in February will produce some clear achievable targets for the local economy.

It will be one of the most lasting benefits from the place to be.

There were so many community events during the year that it is hard to pick out particular ones.

The Jimmy Saville look alike, Eddie the chairman of the Whitehawk Festival, standing with the microphone compering the judo on a windy, bright summer morning stands out.

The Whitehawk Festival is up and running again after several years of not happening. Together with the New Deal and other projects in East Brighton there are signs that the community spirit, so evident in times of tragedy like the murder of Jay Kensett, is now also there to celebrate.

Gloria Adiba and the volunteers at The Poets Corner and West Hove Community Association have started a Talk Shop for advice and help. Again it's a sign of an area reviving.

The Street Festival this year involved locals of every faith and lifestyle. And, as the food stalls proved, it turns out that the greatest unifying factor in the world is in fact the vegetarian somosa!

Everybody can eat them and everybody does. Scoffing one from a Sudanese Coptic stall in a street in West Hove seemed to symbolise the different ways people are creating new identities for local neighbourhoods that include everyone.

It certainly reminded me that we can safely ignore the point-scoring attempts of some people to divide parts of the town off from others, particularly Hove from Brighton. The villages and neighbourhoods across the whole 250,000 of us from Portslade to Kemp Town and Brunswick to Preston Park are all so different.

What the year has been about is not dividing us one against another but recognising everybody's strengths and uniting us in making our town an even better place to be.

The year gave us images: of businesses like Victoria Real making the Big Brother internet site which got over 30 million hits; of kids reading their millenium diaries at tea at the Grand Hotel; of fdm the It solutions company in Preston Road again winning a place in the Sunday Times fastest growing companies in Britain list: of 50,000 people on the streets of the town on New Year's Eve: of the traders, police, council and voluntary homeless charities launching a scheme to encourage people to give money to help people off the streets; of the fans making the place to be Albion Exhibition at the Hove museum, its most visited exhibition ever.

There are so many more snapshots. But whether we get city status or not, the campaign has given us something to unite the town. And that was totally worth it.