2016 is over to everyone’s relief. For most it’s been “annus horribilis” which needs little or no translation. The amount of upset and turmoil from 18 months of presidential electioneering, raw social and other media, and an overflow of celebrity deaths is ready to be relieved by the onset of a new year.
While there is also enough trepidation and fear about what to expect in 2017, I’m going to buck the trend and opt for optimism, so here goes! Here is a list of five un-resolutions — things to hope for instead.
- More activism – whether you are planning to march on DC, Trenton or Philadelphia on January 21, the undercurrent is that complacency is no longer an option. It’s time to get familiar with your elected officials and support your favorite nonprofits. That’s plural—from the arts to the environment, you can still date that check 12/31/16 and make sure the nonprofit sector gets the infrastructure boost it deserves to operate with impunity and continue to make a difference in your community. If you need help in learning who your legislators are, a good starting point is ArtPride NJ’s Arts Action Center where you can contact elected officials about pertinent arts issues and legislation.
- More philanthropy – Did you like that segue? Activism = philanthropy. If you can’t be there in person to affect change, you can put your money where your mouth is. There’s enough yapping on social media to equate to a considerable increase in philanthropy if each whining post was accompanied by a donation to that unnamed nonprofit organization mentioned in point No. 1.
- More kindness – A social trait we can all benefit from on a daily basis. Consider paying it forward from an extra tip to the hardworking waiter, to a return smile for the cashier at the supermarket. Fear and trepidation take their toll on facial muscles and smiles are catchy and suggest the love we harbor that is often submerged by life’s daily routine.
- More listening – This translates into “just shut up and listen.” All that remorse and misgiving needs to vent, but sometimes it’s wise (and welcome) to exercise self-restraint and just listen to our co-worker, our spouse, our neighbor and yes, that person who thinks differently from you. This could also translate into “unplugging,” for a bit and removing oneself from the never-ending onslaught of angst that social media perpetuates. Fight the algorithms, fill up your coffee cup, place it close to your mouth and just listen for a bit.
- More art — did you really think I would miss this one? The political climate is certain to provide fodder for what artists do best—reflect society at its worst and best. It’s already apparent (I even had my personal stab at it and feel more on the horizon). This translates into more creativity which has the most positive implication for 2017. We are inherently creative as humans whether we acknowledge it or deny it out of modesty. It’s time to imprison the inner critic and unleash creative energy that will generate art that inventively documents this critical moment in time.
What are your thoughts? What do we need more (or less) of in 2017? How can we shift gears from a year that resonated with disdain and despair into a year of action, enterprise and beneficence?
I have faith in our collective will as humans to turn the tide, so here are best wishes for a creative, charitable and compassionate New Year!
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.
Photo at top: Creative Commons / tsuacctnt