Whew! I am glad that's over. As years go, 2004 was not a good one. Beginning with a glimpse of Janet Jackson's right breast and ending with tsunamis devastating coastal communities along the Indian Ocean, last year was a tempest of strife and storm. Hurricanes in Florida, Humvees in Fallujah, and Seals in La Jolla stretched the bounds of human endurance. Politics frayed the limits of American civility. Let's face it folks, 2004 was only good for Desperate Housewives and the Boston Red Socks.
Living in Encinitas is a gift reserved for few Californians. Other than the clown, 2004 was blue skies and business as usual. Graced by the winds of chaos, the five distinct communities of Encinitas were spared a major calamity. Still, things could have been much better. Current economics are precarious. The federal government is putting the squeeze on state government. State government is putting the squeeze on municipal government. And everyone is feeling the pinch
For progressive members of the conservative left, 2004 held few victories. On state, federal and global scale, my concerns were not represented by elected representation. Ignored by the Bush Administration and most voters, environmental stewardship received little attention. Oil spills soiled December as battles raged in Baghdad. The dismantling of forestry regulations was also announced. Did I mention the tsunamis?
But as Raven would say, "that is so last year."
In keeping with the American ideal that equates new with better, symbolically 2005 should be one for the history books. Of course ongoing problems and injustices carry into the new year. The wars in Iraq, the Congo, and Sudan are but a few. But those are the problems of nations and nation building. Climate change is another "issue" that will dominate the news. In 2003 it was heat waves and wildfires, in 2004 hurricanes. It doesn't require the gift of Cassandra to portend climate change will manifest in unexpected ways in 2005.
There is little people of Encinitas, Ca. can do to insure a better 2005 for the rest of the world, yet there is plenty we can do for ourselves. The best way to bring about positive change is through contributions to community. Volunteer your time. Soccer moms and Little League dads will be the first to tell you how rewarding, and life affirming, working with children can be.Groups such as the Cottonwood Creek Conservancy, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, and the Cardiff Botanical Society are making profound contributions to environmental quality.They too provide volunteer opportunities.
Investing time, energy, and creativity in community, is the best way I know to improve property values and the standard of living. Adopting a local beach, planting native species, animal advocacy and wildlife rescue improves the quality of life for numerous generations. Civic participation through service groups like the Kiwanis, Friends of the Library, or the San Diequito Heritage Museum is yet another way to maintain cultural stability in a world of global chaos.
Maintaining our present quality of life, while adapting to economic and ecological pressures is the responsibility of all Encinitas residents. By embracing community through word and action, individuals begin to better understand where they live and the culture that surrounds them. It is also a great way to meet your neighbors.
It is also our responsibility to making sure the gift of community is not squandered worrying about things we are powerless to change, when the power to improve the lives of others is as easy as planting a tree, helping a child learn to read, or cleaning a beach after a winter storm. If we so desire, 2005 can be a year full of collective altruism and community pride.