THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--By most accounts, 2016 was one helluva year. We were sideswiped by a billionaire Twitter addict who swings back and forth on withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and building the infamous Wall while attempting to fill his Cabinet spots with an assortment of Goldman Sachs and oil company execs. We’ve lost more than our fair share of entertainers and luminaries. Closer to home, we’ve struggled with a drought and brushfires. We’ve faced the pop-up of large scale development and gentrification.
As we turn the page to the New Year, we tend to reflect on the past months while anticipating the next twelve months. We resolve to log in more time at the gym or on the yoga mat, to drink more water and less wine, to spend less time on Facebook and more time actively engaged in our communities.
I am grateful for the activists I’ve met through writing this column who inspire us to face challenges by creating change. I’ve sat in living rooms with neighbors who brought their concerns about neighborhood integrity, increased traffic, and overdevelopment to councilmembers and planning commissions.
Calabasas residents petitioned for a successful ballot measure against a proposed hotel that would have compromised a cherished hillside, against all odds. Also in Calabasas, parents work tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer to honor the memory of their son. This fall, I attended a dinner honoring dozens of environmental activists who are committed to preserving the Santa Monica Mountains.
I joined hundreds of community members gathered in a West Hills McDonald’s parking lot to march in support of a Valley teen who was randomly attacked while his father works to organize efforts against bullying.
What will 2017 bring? Certainly not every outcome is within our control. However, what I’ve learned from the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and to interview is that we can affect change. We can make a difference, especially if we work together. That’s what grassroots activism is all about. Choose your passion. What infuriates or disappoints you? We’re fortunate we have the right to express ourselves and to assemble. Not every attempt may be successful but like the group that attempted to gather signatures to unseat Councilmember Krekorian, if you don’t succeed, try again.
I’m excited for 2017 to unfold, to check in with the activists I know and to follow those I haven’t yet met. If you have a mission or are part of a group working to make a difference, please contact me here. Together, we can make a difference, one step at a time.
- Two Organizations to Get You Started:
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)