Editorial: Six local resolutions to help our communities thrive

The positive force behind making New Year’s resolutions is it focuses our attention — however briefly — on the things we need to improve. It’s goal-setting to make things in our lives better.
That could mean eating healthier foods, less sugar and more veggies, and, of course, exercising more. Or it could mean to get to bed earlier, get a full eight hours of sleep, read more and watch less (far less) television. Or it could mean spending more time with friends and family, volunteering for a community cause, or being more active in your church, school or social club.
The downside of making resolutions is well known: We often fall short, give-up mid-way, or never really get started.
But not to try is a premise foreign to most of us. Most of us want to do good, to live in thriving towns with excellent schools; we want to be successful and we want to see our larger communities thrive in ways that make us glad we are a part of them.
Here, then, are six resolutions we can each make to help our communities thrive in the New Year, while leaving your personal resolutions up to you.
• First, know your neighbors: If you don’t, make it a point in the next four weeks to introduce yourselves. It’s not hard. Make a batch of cookies, gingerbread or whatever, put a handful on a small plate with a ribbon and just drop by to say hello. If you don’t know them, there is no need to stay long, no need to go inside. Tell them you simply wanted to introduce yourself and if ever they need anything you could do for them, don’t hesitate to ask. (This applies to the neighbor two doors down as well.) If you make this the one resolution you do all year, you’ll be glad you did.
• Understand the new healthcare model: As Vermont, and Addison County’s Porter Medical Center in particular, transition to capitated payment model — rather than fee-for-service — it becomes more imperative that we each take greater responsibility for our personal health. If we each take that responsibility seriously, it’s money in the bank that we can use to create even stronger local systems to address the toughest problems we face. The Addison Independentwill do stories on this new system and environment, so stayed tuned.
• Shop locally: We know Amazon makes it incredibly easy to spend your money elsewhere, but understand that each time you buy goods out of town, you’re taking money away from the local stores that need your patronage if they are to stay in business. It’s your choice.
• Get involved: Nothing can be more important to the vitality of any community than the personal involvement of its citizens. Get on a town committee, run for office, volunteer at one or two events each year. Tailor your commitment to the time you have. If you don’t have a lot of time, keep it simple but do something. Sitting on the sidelines and benefitting from the contributions of others in your community is not sustainable for communities that hope to thrive.
• Schools, changing workforce and your kids: Here’s a plea to be receptive to new ideas as Vermont searches for ways to deliver a quality, but affordable, education to a declining student population that is also facing significant disruption in the workforce. Automation will increasingly replace manual labor in the next generation; higher education or specific skills for the trades will be in higher demand. Are we ready? It starts at home, but schools and taxpayers must be receptive to approaches that address this changing landscape.
• Politics: Resolve to be open to all sides, while being wide-eyed enough to understand the shortcomings of our own bias. That means liberals need to understand their political shortcomings just as supporters of the current Republican Congress and Trump need to understand theirs. And in this environment of political propaganda — in which social media is easily used by those in power to deceive, distract and misinform — it means to resolve to read multiple sources, liberal and conservative, and to take it upon yourself to be fully informed.
Embrace any or all of these, and our communities will be that much stronger. Happy New Year to all.
Angelo Lynn

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