10 New Year Resolutions for citizens in 2014

1. Get informed. Get off Facebook and get into a City Council or County Supervisor meeting at least once a month.

Anything other than cute pictures of kittens on Facebook. Skim the headlines of the opinion section in three newspapers or online twice a week. If you can’t go to a Council or Commission meeting, make time to watch City Council on TV instead of a reality show and you’ll be better informed.

2. Contact your City, County or party or candidate of your choice for volunteer opportunities to serve on committees, commissions, or campaigns.

Every City needs volunteers. Find a way you can pitch in. There are always positions that need filled, alternates to be appointed. Don’t even wait for an opening. You can even pick a commission and go to its publically noticed meetings and next time there is a vacancy you can hit the ground running.

3. Learn to articulate your perspective on local issues.

Too many people aspire to be national pundits on issues they really know nothing about or have any control over. We often end up simply parroting what we hear from people we already agree with like Rush, Maddow, or that idiot Hannity. Learn how to articulate your politics in issues that matter in your own backyard. Hint: these issues usually revolve around personal pronouns. Start with ours, yours, and mine.

4. Join a group or attend party functions.

There a scores of meetings every month in Contra Costa County you can attend. The Democratic Party is very active with Central Committee meetings, with local groups in Lamorinda and the Diablo Valley. Republicans and the East Bay Tea Party also hold frequent meetings, as does CocoTax, the County Taxpayers watchdog group.

5. Talk to your friends about voting, taxes, healthcare, and war.

These discussions don’t have to be arguments, but fact finding missions to see what people think. You might actually learn something from talking to your neighbor, kids, co-workers, or golfing buddies.

6. Help a candidate run for office this coming 2014 election season.

Walk precincts, hammer the phone banks, attend the campaign functions and pump signs in the air. You will have fun and meet other great, dedicated people.

7. Pick a cause and find a local way to help.

Hunger, shelter, seniors, homeless, taxes, war, health, education, environment, safety, budgets, non-profits, children, anon. There are local groups centered on each of these issues in your community. They are hoping you connect with them to help.

8. Learn to write about your ideas and beliefs and post them here in 400+ word articles.

Let’s be honest. Not everyone can string five sentences together and still make sense. But you can learn to do it. And, with limited space in the daily and weekly local print media making it difficult to get into print, Halfway To Concord offers a clean, well-lighted place to get a fair hearing for your ideas.

9. Learn the other side’s argument and talk to them and not past them.

Get past ideology. There’s a deep seated almost religious faith behind the worldview expressed in political and economic ideas. Try to learn what makes people tick. Discover what they care about (they do) the most. Find the common areas where you can agree. Pray for your enemies.

10. Register to vote and vote on Election Day

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  1. Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette says

    Good to come home and read comments from the best & brightest. I just spent 2 weeks in sunny Trabuco Canyon, in Orange County. Lots of nice trails within walking distance from our house. Near a Water District road, I could look down into a stream, through the dense brush. I found a lovely area under a Sycamore tree, that looked like it needed to be pruned. Since I met a friendly water company supervisor up the street, I asked him if I could prune the area. I did exactly what should be done with government. .. I got rid of the dead wood.. A mess , became Paradise, just by removing the dead wood..
    Then I come home to Lafayette & pick up my mail. I walked right by new housing that was as ugly as ugly gets.. What’ worse, Lafayette has plans to get uglier. The City leaders want to put a soccer field on a prominent plateau.. With zero nearby parking.. Duh! Will the voters of Lafayette ever wise up? A miracle could happen.. .

  2. Edi Birsan says

    Excellent suggestions (minus the one or two snarky remarks)…
    I am always looking for people who want to be active in the community.

    I strongly urge people to stand up and be heard. If you dread public speaking, then talk one on one or go to some of the open meetings that relate either directly to your issues on a local level or can channel you in that direction.

    If you are held back by a fear of public speaking, look up Toastmasters as there are clubs all over Concord who can help.

    If you are in Concord and want to talk to a City Council person, I am always out there and not to cut my fellow Council persons short, I have not had a complaint that any of them would not schedule a meeting with you. So get active… [email protected]

  3. Wendy Lack says

    BGR – Here’s another one for your list:

    Encourage local government officials to adopt open data policies, such as those suggested by the Sunlight Foundation at:


    My favorite: “Setting the Default to Open” via proactive disclosure practices. Use of this single rule of thumb would greatly improve transparency of our cities, schools and other local government agencies.

    Transparency is essential for good government.