Editorial: Making resolutions work
If we consider human nature, making New Year’s resolutions a singular endeavor is akin to pulling your fortune out of a cookie: it might just happen, but the odds are against it. But involve your friends and neighbors in the effort, and the success rate jumps dramatically.Taking that as a cue, let’s set a few resolutions for the New Year as collective communities and mark our progress as the year evolves. In Middlebury, let’s resolve to: • Revive our efforts to beautify the downtown. We have wonderful opportunities and new energy wrapped up in three significant construction projects: – The Cross Street Bridge construction opens the way for a dramatically improved landscape along the southwest shore of the Otter Creek between Tully and Marie’s Restaurant and Mister Ups Restaurant. Curbing to set the roadway apart from the shoreline should be part of the goal, and park benches for seating along a grassy strip of land would be ideal. The work will follow completion of the bridge, meaning all planning and any fundraising needs to get underway this year.– The Otter Creek Riverfront project below the falls has started in earnest, thanks to winning a $240,000 grant earlier this year. While crews have cleaned up the area in years past, growing vegetation has been quick to reclaim any temporary improvements. This coming year, however, significant landscaping will be done, and measures will be taken to maintain those improvements. Continual clean up of the larger area will require committed volunteers. – Two years (or so) down the road, the railroad underpasses will be torn down and rebuilt. The designing process is underway, but more public input is needed. This is a huge undertaking that has the potential to remake this area of the downtown. With imagination, the renovation could be remarkable. But realizing that potential won’t happen without community involvement. We need to explore the possibilities, analyze the costs and figure out ways to leverage the most funding for the best ideas. This project alone needs a committee to be sure the town maximizes every opportunity.• Industrial growth: We’ve seen our blue-collar jobs decline significantly in the past decade. Let’s get serious about partnering with the College and others and start selling Middlebury (and Addison County) as the place to grow a business or industry. We have many bright minds in the area: let’s help those in the economic development community by volunteering that collective genius and contacts.Throughout the county, let’s resolve to: • Pursue local food and alternative-energy initiatives. Local groups have already done much to bring both issues into the public consciousness. This year, as communities, we could set goals to achieve. Let imaginations reign: establish competitions, make it a game, have fun — do good deeds. Let’s play off Rep. Chris Bray’s Farm to Plate legislation and help push needed infrastructure to enable Addison County to be the first to reach that legislation’s goal: feeding 20 percent of the population with local foods by the year 2020. Not only will we be healthier, we’ll create more farm-related jobs and keep more of our food dollars circulating at home.• Dedicate more adult time to helping local students excel at school. With school budgets under stress, let’s assure local school boards and school officials that while expenses may need to be cut, programs can still exist with a little creativity.• Dedicate ourselves to a half hour (or more) a day of exercise — even in the winter. No, you don’t have to jog, or lift weights or do set-ups. Just call a neighbor, friend or family member and go for a daily walk. When you shop, park your car in the farthest space away from the store and enjoy the exercise. Shovel your walk with gusto (but check with your doctor first if you’re at risk). Buy a bike this summer and see the county. And if you don’t like to exercise outdoors in inclement weather, join a gym for companionship and fitness — it’s a great combination.• Turn off the TV and, presuming you’ve already read the newspaper, read a book.• Establish neighborhood potlucks once a week or monthly — whatever works. It’s great for the soul, and tastes good, too.• Look outside each day and be thankful for the beauty all around us. We live in a beautiful and wonderful state. Let’s resolve to appreciate its charms each and every day. Best wishes to all in this New Year and throughout this coming decade!