A New Year is always a time of hope, a blank slate to start anew, a fresh clean blanket of fallen snow.
Well, maybe not this year.
So just where should we focus our energies, once we come back from the holidays refreshed anew?
Go Get the Gun Criminals-My wife teaches in the south county and her students ask her if she is afraid living so close to the city because of all of the gun violence they see on TV.
We live in Harborcreek.
But clearly the toll here goes beyond the senseless loss of human potential. The reputation of a lawless land, even if largely unfounded, wrecks an image decades in the making that Erie is a quiet and safe city.
Solve the Job Mystery-We have to at least begin to take steps to figure out what is the disconnect, that allows for a high jobless rate while at the same time employers are posting some 5,000 unfilled jobs. One of our other reputations is for having a skilled workforce, so why are so many having trouble finding jobs while others are having a hard time filling them?
Support Anti-Poverty Initiatives-Perhaps the greatest tear in the fabric of our society is the fact that 30 percent of people in the City of Erie live at or below the poverty line. It is clearly a factor in most of the other problems we are having, with the violence, the lack of a support system, education and on and on.
Initiatives like Erie Together that looks for long term solutions through education and child outreach seem to hit the right note; something about teaching people how to fish along with making fish available to eat.
Cutting into the poverty rate can address a host of other issues all at the same time.
Stay Positive-We have neighbors who left Erie for Iowa and who later moved to Missouri. Just this week they moved back, to the very same home they left in fact.
In all of their travels, Erie felt the most like home.
The issues facing us are serious, make no mistake.
But we must also remember that the people solving problems on the street with guns are a small group of the disengaged.
We must remember that even 8 percent unemployment means more than 90 percent of us are working, and yes, I'm aware of the working poor with no insurance.
Focusing on the half full part of our glass will make us happier and more able to present a better picture of our community to others too.
It is not time to throw up our hands, but rather to roll up our sleeves.
The power of optimism may be the greatest gift we can give ourselves in the New Year.