I’m never quite sure what to do with myself on the last day of a year. The holidays always serve as a strange and sudden reminder of the fact that an entire year has almost passed. It’s a fun moment to remember what you were doing this time last year, to think about who you were, what you wanted, and what has happened.
But this year feels a little different. No matter who or where you are in the world, 2011 was not business as usual. 2011 saw Arab Spring, the rise of Hacktivism, the battle for Unions, #Occupy movements all over the world, the rise and fall of major players on the world stage - many of us haven’t seen anything quite like it in our life times.
Whether you believe 2012 will bring the end of the world, the beginning of collective enlightenment, or that it’s simply another year of riding on a rock that’s circling the sun, one thing is for sure - nothing cataclysmic needs to happen in 2012 to make it a course altering year. All one needs to do is look behind us to know that this upcoming year is probably going to profoundly shape our lives.
And so, what do you do with all of that? I kind of feel like I should be bracing myself. But for what, exactly? How do you prepare for what hasn’t even happened yet?
I think, whatever happens on the world’s stage this next year, there’s only really two things I have control over. Myself and my community. And while I can’t know what’s around the bend for any of us, I can do my best to help make myself and my community as agile, connected, and resilient as possible. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Getting Yourself Prepared
This is a great time to look at finances, and to decide how you want (and don’t want) to spend your money. Both saving and keeping your money local will ensure that you and your community are insulated from the volatility playing out in the global economy. Whether you move your money to a credit union, commit to donating to local places of common good like the Public Library, or simply try to share, repair, exchange, or barter more to save money and get in the habit of connecting more with the people around you, there are many ways you can start to teach yourself more resilient practices while helping to support your community.
Getting Your Community Prepared
It’s easy to look around and feel like you can’t change things. But we often forget that we shape what happens in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities every day. It’s much easier to shape legislation, support organizations that are making important change, or share sustainable practices with people you come in contact with every day. What’s the best way you can help build community? You could start with something as small as introducing yourself to the people on your block,. You could get involved with an initiative, or organize a neighborhood Free Market, decide to start getting involved with your local government, or Become a Urban Change Agent, Shareable Style. There are plenty of ways you can get involved locally to help prepare your community by making it more Shareable.
Striving to be the Change you Wish to see - Step by Step
Maybe reading sharable has made you want to give up your car, recycle your old gadgets, or start a nanny share. Maybe you’re curious about where the stuff you’re consuming comes from or how to dive into the world of Collaborative Consumption. Or maybe you just want to take better care of yourself. I think it’d be great to pick one thing you’d like to change, and do it! Make the goal easy and achievable so that you’ll be inspired to make more change in the future.
For me, I’m not happy with my clothing consumption practices. I love fashion, and while I’m pretty good about purchasing second hand clothing - I’d say right now I’m at about 70% used clothing, 30% retail, I’d like to go ahead and nick off another 15% this year, with the goal of eventually getting to 100%. And instead of passively feeling guilty about the conditions that garment workers are forced to live and work in, I want to get more educated on how I can help advocate for better trade agreements/work conditions/industry standards.
No matter how “big” or “small” of a step you decide to take, it will help you make a significant change in your own life immediately, and contribute to the larger progression of personal betterment I think is playing out all around us.
So, as I savor the last few moments of this crazy year, I’m struck with a wave of awe, excitement, and hope. No matter what the new year brings, I am confident that if we all take small steps to empower and improve ourselves and our communities, 2012 will be bright.
Happy New Year.