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Reasons to be Optimistic in 2017


Reasons to be Optimistic in 2017

By Jim Corbett

Optimistic! Are you kidding me? 

This is the biggest and best awakening that I have seen in my lifetime. The election of Donald Trump as POTUS was, I admit, a huge shock to my system and made me shut out news reports for the next week. But as the dust settled, I realized that this was a great gift to all of us, because it finally reawakened a movement that has been dormant since the late 60s and early 70s. In that era, the young came together to oppose and stop a war, to enact civil rights legislation, to speak up for women, the environment and liberty and justice for all. In the years since, all of these causes have been slowly eroded away, while we as a population went on with our lives in a stupor of apathy thinking that these causes were safe. We all fell asleep at the switch.

I believe we are awake now, and ready, willing and able to come to the defense of the causes that “Make America Great” already. We began this quest in the 60s as young idealistic “Hippies” that believed there was a better way of living, and indeed we were able at achieve many of those goals in that era. But naturally, we got busy raising families and doing our own thing, and we forgot that the strength of these ideas was in the strength of numbers that joined together. Now all the Hippies have awakened and it is time to rejoin the movement. Be Here Now!

There is often grousing about “The 1%” and how ‘they’ have all the money and all the influence in the country. While it is true, that wealth buys access, it is also true that 1% of a population united behind a cause will move the needle significantly in the direction of that cause. The important part of this equation is 1% ‘joined together”. If we all attempt to individually shake our fist at the government, Donald Trump, haters and bigots, we have no chance of changing anything. If we come together to co-create the world we want, nothing can stop us from achieving our goals. After the results of the election there are more than 50% who have been awakened by this monumental election. We are awake, we are alert and we are ready to build the world we want; a world that is kind and compassionate, considerate of all races, creeds and sexual flavors, committed to environmental protection and equal justice for all. The job is not done. Let’s get back to work.

When we unite as a group with a common goal we call on the Divine impulse within each of us, and when we are united in that higher frequency, we are unstoppable. I am more optimistic than I have been in years, because we are now awake and ready to join together to create the world of our choosing. I look forward to BEING with you in Peacetown.

How to Survive 2017 (and 2018, 2019 and 2020)

By Bob Engel

Many of us experienced a wrenching of expectations and a dislocation of hopes on the evening of Tuesday November 8th. A man who we considered manifestly unfit to be president was elected. It was totally without irony that colleagues in the mental health profession referred to post-election trauma syndrome.

My emotions in the months following the election have run from despair to indignation, leavened with gallows humor. So how to avoid outrage burnout? Where do we find optimism? I am afraid that ire and indignation, like fossil fuels, will burn themselves out and leave pollution in their wake. Satire will distract, but not improve us.

So optimism will have to be made, not found. Many have wisely advised that we keep taking actions, small and large. Take them close to home with friends, family, and community as well as nationally and patriotically. In the last two months I’ve searched for actions with better chances of affecting change – how to contact Congress members, which organizations carefully vet their interventions, etc. - something beyond feel-good petitions and venting. I’m sometimes dissatisfied with my actions, sometimes my good intentions have chased a viral media meme – but incrementally these efforts are what may restore the country to political sanity, while protecting our personal sanity, and at the same time creating optimism, a renewable resource.


Optimism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

By John Hadley

You have two choices: look through cloudy glasses or wipe them off and see the beauty.  The world will not stop spinning in 2017, nor 2018, just as it did not in 2011 nor during the great Y2K scare.  

Redwood trees surround us.  Water flows, peacefully along the Russian River, and arrives at our Pacific Ocean to a life of seals, salmon, surfers, and sharks.  Today’s gloomy rain and cold provides the life for the apples, grapes, peaches, and flowers we crave so much.  Tomorrow’s sun brightens and reflects the new growth on the fir trees and encourages the daffodils to move forward in their quest to bloom from now until March.  Meanwhile, ladybugs burrow in the Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia) waiting for warmth to reproduce and protect the garden and spread beauty.  

The bumpy roads of Sonoma County encourage you to slow down and check out that cool barn or some hidden car from the 1930’s or to wave at the old couple walking down the street.  At the same time, the disconnect with lack of cell service, while frustrating, forces you to see what’s in front of you and, God forbid, to get lost and discover something new.  

So, you want some optimism?  Make it happen for yourself.  House getting you down?  Paint it.  Both you and your house will be happy.  You might even meet a super cool paintologist (that will be a term shortly) and become lifelong friends.  If that doesn’t work, get out and volunteer or teach someone something if they’re struggling.  Or just hug yourself.  

The world, our world, your world, is what you make it.  Listen to the news enough and you’ll be depressed and think everything is going to hell in a hand basket.  Even if it is, there is hope.  For one, consider that there may be no hell.  And for another, consider that given the historical descriptions of hell that usually entail a massive amount of fire, the hand basket would must likely burn up before getting there thus relieving the contents inside from getting to hell.  

Need a reason to be positive?  How about you woke up?  How about that you can see?  How about anything?  By no means am I the epitome of positivity all the time, no one is, but I’m sure not going to let a few things spoil my upcoming year.  

As I approach fifty, an age once deemed inaccessible and old, … (Wow fifty, that’s old. Whatever, I feel younger, may or may not look it, but I’m comfortable.)  Anyway, the approach to fifty, doesn’t really mean much unless you consider that I’ve had enough days here to realize that if the sun doesn’t shine tomorrow, it will the next day or the day after.  And if the sun doesn’t shine?  Tough shit, we need the rain.  It’ll shine, that is the sun’s goal.  

I’ll be tan, smiling, and fifty in eleven months. ENJOY!

What can you do in this New Year to make a Difference?

  By Peter Andrews

 Sonoma County residents are the epitome of thoughtful deliberation, and yet the weight of our positions has not recently carried the day nationwide. We all feel the need to do something to make a difference on this fragile planet. Here’s my view based on nearly two decades of retirement, I’ve found a niche in the local Civil Grand Jury system.

“All politics is local” is where I began, when I retired fifteen years ago. I ran for elected office, a lowly Park & Recreation Board member, in back-water Monte Rio. I won, and re-ran and won a second term. I worked fervently, not just for local community, but for the local library system, along with many committees and grass-roots organizations trying to address homelessness, poverty, addiction, and mental health issues. All of these are valid ways to make a difference and give back to your local community.

I found an additional and stronger voice these past few years, working within the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury (CGJ) system. It is an anonymous and silent voice, which is fine: I’m not building a resume. I’m also not paid for more than incurred travel expenses, and my voice is no louder, nor quieter than any of the other eighteen members of the annually seated, collegial body. The collaborative nature of this century-old body dictates a uniform voice, just like a criminal court-room jury: not individuals, but “the Jury finds …”.

The CGJ system exists in all 58 counties of California. It is State-mandated by law, and has been in place for over a hundred years.  The concept goes back even further to English and Colonial laws. The concept is, “Who watches the politicians?” Our CGJ role in Sonoma County is to inquire and investigate all aspects of county government: both elected and appointed officials, and their staffs and organizations, to confirm that they are performing efficiently, as well as providing their directed functions to the citizens of Sonoma County. And yes, this gets down to the, “Are they picking up garbage on the designated days, and disposing of it in the contractually agreed manner, for the stipulated price?”

For the citizen who wants to give back some of their life-acquired expertise in computers, the law, accounting, social justice, or whatever, the CGJ is an opportunity to have a significant impact on county government. Again, no fame or fortune; altruism is the name of this game.

My experience with advocacy groups has been inconsistent; there are usually too few great leadership people. Often, there is a small cadre doing the bulk of the work. I’m in my second one-year term and each nineteen-member jury has been composed of enthusiastic, capable leaders. I’ve never failed, in saying aloud, “I need help with project X”, to find two or three hands raised saying, “When?”

A series of Q and A presentations are available this winter at the Sonoma County Library.