A New Kind of Resolution

An notebook open to a mostly blank page. “New Year Resolutions” is written on top.
An notebook open to a mostly blank page. “New Year Resolutions” is written on top.
Photo by iStockphoto.com/Creative-Family

I have to confess, I’m a big one for New Year’s resolutions. I have one for personal fitness (a half marathon over the Bay Bridge!), time in the outdoors, the hope that the Little League team I manage will do well in the playoffs this year … and a lot of work stuff, including a certain election in November. As a father, husband, and leader of the Sierra Club, resolutions help bring me back to goals I might lose track of in the busyness of the year.

And what a year this will be! With a continent on fire, the universe couldn’t be sending a clearer signal that now is the time to recommit to the fight for a future on a habitable planet. But where does one start? And how do we make sure this year’s resolutions don’t get lost in the noise of our busy lives?

The Harvard Medical School’s newsletter says we should begin by dreaming big. “Audacious goals are compelling,” it argues. In a climate emergency, we have to do more than just swap plastic straws for metal. We need to multiply our impact by working together to change our transportation, energy, building, and agricultural sectors, so sustainability and justice are available to all — not just those who can afford organic kale.

At the same time, we fail when we try to achieve enormous, amorphous goals by ourselves. That’s why I suggest you focus on the place you call home, and the community of people already working to make it better. You’ll get the structure and support you need to make a real difference.

Get plugged in to a Sierra Club chapter near you. You’re not alone. In every state, and in most cities in the US, there’s a group of fun, thoughtful, and engaged people who are actively working to bring about a better world. In their town and state, they are the Sierra Club, and use the full power of our brand and shared resources to advocate in their backyard.

In all likelihood, they’re fighting for the things you care most about — like a safe climate and clean air and water — in the place where you’re uniquely positioned to make an impact. You’ll be building community with others who care as deeply about the environment, and the place you call home, as you do. And you’ll be fighting the despair that can sometimes come with the constant churn of bad news.

Another powerful thing you can do on the local level? Get educated about candidates for local office. These are the people who have the power to build new bike and bus lanes — or expand highways. These are the people who can electrify buildings and set new energy efficiency standards — or allow a major source of greenhouse gasses to go unchecked. They can protect wildlife — or allow wetlands to be paved over for parking lots.

In 2020, Sierra Club chapters will be getting involved in local races to ensure environmental champions lead us into the next decade. By texting, writing letters, making phone calls, and canvassing with your chapter, you can have a big impact on these races, which are often decided by a few thousand — or even just a few dozen — votes.

Make your New Year’s resolution count. Find your local chapter today.

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