'Tis the season for reflection. As another year comes to an end, though — especially a year like 2010 which saw so many devastating environmental disasters — perhaps it's more heartening to look forward than backward.
In my posts over the past six months here at MNN, I've tried to strike a balance between coverage of positive, inspiring stories of change and discussion of the seemingly overwhelming problems facing our society and environment. Increasingly, though, I've found it easier to rant about these ills than find the silver lining. So in the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I'd like to make 2011 a year dedicated to solutions and empowerment, not merely harping on problems already well publicized.
What follows is a brief list of the things I'd like to personally focus on during the coming year. They are simple, straightforward, specific and achievable; things nearly all of us can accomplish should we choose to. Though our problems are complex, interconnected and truly global in scale, every solution begins with an individual. As many a wise and bearded man has surely said, we can only hope to change the things beyond us once we have mastered what is inside.
Thus, my 2011 New Year's resolutions:
Bike more/drive less. Living in a city makes this very doable, especially with amazing advocacy groups like Bike Pittsburgh continuing to improve biking infrastructure throughout Pittsburgh. Unfortunately I have a long commute to work several times a week, but increasingly I can telecommute (i.e. work from home) and thus reduce my overall time behind the wheel. Biking whenever possible — to get groceries, to visit friends, to run errands — not only reduces my footprint, but makes me significantly happier than driving a car.
Support an alternative food system. The industrial food system consumes an incredible amount of energy and resources and is arguably sickening both humans and the earth. Alternatives are beginning to grow and spread, reforming the way food is grown, distributed and consumed. I plan to join my local food co-op, begin my own garden or volunteer at a local community garden, and improve my cooking skills.
Educate myself. Being more aware of the issues we face as a society and a planet is necessary to working toward solutions. A true education goes beyond reading and taking classes though, and includes challenging yourself to move beyond your comfort zone and consider the interests of others. I am applying to graduate school, just to be safe.
Get involved. Find something you truly care about and get involved! It doesn't have to change the world, as long as it engages you and focuses your energy on something positive. I plan to re-dedicate myself to aikido training at a local dojo and volunteer for at least one organization whose mission I support.
Share. Share your thoughts, share your passions, share your food, share your stuff! Opening yourself to others is perhaps the best way to feel connected, which is ultimately the best solution to all problems. Online communities like CouchSurfing and FreeCycle let you share your house and material belongings, but nothing beats sharing your life with those around you. I hope to continue sharing myself through avenues like this blog in the coming year.
Happy New Year, friends!