Act Locally Waco New Year’s Resolution ideas for 2019

By Ashley Bean Thornton

I’m a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions.  I come up with one or two every year and probably every other year or so, I stick with one.  Sometimes they are quite dramatic. One year I decided to make walking my default form of transportation; that was life-changing.  Most years they are small and concrete, e.g. floss every night.  Some years they are personal – spend one hour a week on cleaning the house. (Don’t judge!)  Some years they have more of a community focus – pick up a bag of trash once a week. 

My resolutions aren’t earth shattering, but they help me remember that even a little effort applied consistently toward a goal can make a difference, and having a goal makes it more likely I will make the effort.  The smallest thing I actually do has more impact than the biggest dream with no action behind it.   

Here’s a handful of ideas for resolutions with an “Act Locally Waco” twist. Maybe one of these will spark your imagination and inspire you to make a resolution or two of your own.    Whether it inspires action, or a yawn and a nap, I hope you have a terrific 2019!  Happy New Year! – ABT

Read one article from the newspaper every day (or once a week, or whatever…) – We are lucky to have devoted and talented journalists at the Waco Trib who keep us up to date and informed about local issues.  At least once a week, and often many times more than that, I am impressed with well-written coverage of issues I care about or a thought provoking editorial (whether I agree with it or not).  The first step to getting involved is getting informed.

Walk in your neighborhood once a week. – I have heard it said that air conditioning and TV killed neighborhoods. Since those two things were invented, people stay locked up in their homes when we used to sit on the front porch and visit with each other.  I’m not willing to give up air conditioning and TV, but I’ll confess I don’t know my neighbors very well…and that is bad.  Every speck of research I have ever read on this subject says that when neighbors are strangers, the community suffers.  Crime increases, people are not as happy, we have less empathy and care for one another.  I am a little bit too much of an introvert to be the one who organizes block parties and neighborhood socials, but I have found that by walking in the neighborhood regularly, I strike up casual conversations and have at least a waving acquaintance with more of my neighbors and that is – literally – a step in the right direction.

Pick up one bag of trash a week.  – One year I combined my neighborhood walks with picking up a bag of trash a week. I’ll admit it was a little depressing to see how quickly I could fill up a bag of trash in my own neighborhood, but I loved the feeling of concrete accomplishment as I dropped the full bag into my gray bin with a satisfying “thunk.”  This is a great resolution for a family to do together. I even know some folks who combine litter picking with jogging.  If your neighborhood is not trashy enough, “adopt” a local park or another spot in town where you have noticed litter collecting.   Check out the Group W Bench Litter Patrol or Keep Waco Beautiful for opportunities to participate in community clean-ups.

Find a regular volunteer gig. – A couple of places in town that do terrific work and ALWAYS need volunteers are Meals & Wheels (Contact Rachel Salazar at rachel@mowwaco.org ) and Caritas (Contact Andrew Bryngelson at abryngelson@caritas-waco.org).   The United Way is also working on setting up a long-needed volunteer portal (https://unitedwaywaco.galaxydigital.com/ ) to make it easier for all of us to find a place to plug in.

Give consistently, even if it’s just a little.  –  The other day I heard someone say dismissively, “Well, some people think they can just write a check, when really what they should do is get out and get involved.”  I am a big proponent of getting out and getting involved, but I also want to emphasize that giving is a BIG deal.  Our local non-profits depend on giving from individuals.  Money they get from grants or the government often comes with many, many strings attached. That is all fine and good, but our local non-profits need money to pay the light bill and fix the washing machine when it breaks.  Most grants don’t pay for those kind of every day operational expenses.  We may not all have millions or thousands to give, but if a whole bunch of us would get in the habit of giving ten or twenty bucks a month to support our local organizations, it would make a huge difference in our community.  Click here for a list of local non-profits who have appeared in The WHOLE Enchilada in the last year, with handy links to their donation pages.  Pick one and sign up to give a little each month.   By this time next year, your small gifts each month can add up to a nice sum.  You might even pay the electricity bill for one month!

Do something regularly and intentionally to support Waco ISD. – I could write a whole column about how our school district is the heart of our community, and how our kids are our most important natural resource, and how we will not be able to maintain our current Magnolia- fueled “sugar rush” of economic development unless we educate our work force etc. etc. and all those things are incredibly important.  But, I will confess that the main reason I try to keep connected to Waco ISD is because it’s fun. Even though there are some serious challenges — maybe because there are serious challenges — it makes me proud and happy to be a part of it.  “Support” can range anywhere from volunteering regularly in the lunchtime reading club program being organized by local churches (Contact kenneth.mcadam@antiochwaco.com to volunteer), to making the effort to attend the annual (AMAZING!) high school musicals or other fine arts events, to talking to your employer about becoming an adopt-a-school partner.

Do something downtown once a month/Be a local tourist once a month/shop local. – People are coming from all over the world to visit Waco and sometimes those of us who live here are the ones who don’t take advantage of all our town has to offer.   The Waco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau maintains a terrific events calendar and their app is easy to use and even offers coupons! (There’s no rule that says people from Waco can’t use the coupons!) The DowntownWacoTX website and Facebook page are always full of great information about enjoying downtown and The First Friday Facebook page is another good downtown resource. Follow Cultivate 7Twelve to keep up with art happenings downtown. The Towny app can help you identify local businesses and they also offer deals and coupons.  Make it a goal to shop local as much as possible, to regularly attend First Friday, or to enjoy one Waco “attraction” a month. Why should the visitors be having all the fun? 

This Act Locally Waco blog post is by Ashley Bean Thornton, she has lived in Waco almost 20 years now. Far longer than she ever lived anywhere else. She likes to walk. If you see her out walking, honk and wave and say, “Hi!”

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

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