New Year’s Resolutions

I suppose I’m an incurable optimist because, after all these years, I still have faith in our capacity to change–both how we live and the world we live in. So every New Year’s Day, I make resolutions. Maybe sharing them will help me keep them. Here’s what’s at the top of my list.

  • Get over the automatic rueful shake of the head when a homeless person asks for a handout. This is a habit I’ve gotten into from being asked for spare change (or sometimes bus fare) practically every time I take a walk. I need to focus on the need and carry extra money instead.
  • Get to know my D.C. Council representatives. I tell others they should develop personal relationships with their elected representatives. In fact, I’ve written guidelines for paying visits, talking points and the like. It’s time I practice what I preach.
  • Respond to more action alerts–and with personalized responses. I know that elected officials listen to constituents, especially when they hear from a bunch of them, and that they pay more attention when the messages aren’t all the same. I say this when I develop communications for grassroots campaigns. So again, it’s a question of practicing what I preach.
  • Learn more about the issues I care about. The more I write about the issues, the more I become aware of how complex and interconnected they are. I need to spend more time reading (and viewing) and more time going to meetings and briefings too.
  • Try to really understand the other side. I think I’ll understand the issues better and do a better job as an advocate if I try to appreciate where those with differing views are coming from instead of jumping so quickly to counter-arguments.

Oh yes, and I’m also going to eat more sensibly and get more exercise.

What about you? Do you have resolutions you’d like to share?

2 Responses to New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Thanks so much for this. It’s been a neglected intention of mine to become more engaged with my community, so your resolution to get to know your representatives was a nice encouragement. So I’ll start by resolving to get to know my neighbors, neighborhood council and city council members. Working for change is so much more comfortable when relationship and trust are already established. Maybe that’s it: change through better relationship is my resolution for 2009.

  2. kathrynbaer says:

    Thanks for sharing your resolutions, Noah, and for introducing me to your blog. Certainly, working for change is more comfortable when relationships of trust are already established. But, in my experience, one also achieves more. If an elected (or appointed) official already knows you, you’re more likely to gain a sympathetic hearing when you have a specific issue to discuss. This is especially true if you’ve been helpful–for example, by serving as an expert source of information, as you could. A lobbyist friend of mine says, “Don’t wait to make friends until you’re in the middle of a fight.” I think this applies, as you suggest, to community allies, as well as policymakers.

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