Leaving 2016 Behind

Community Organizing

Puerto Aventuras   Spending time recently with my family, I was surprised at how unanimous they were in their relief that 2016 was almost over. Ok, the election was a kick in the butt, though as Trump has advised, we need to “get over it,” so we can be in fighting trim for 2017, though I’m not sure that was what the President-elect was advising, but was 2016 really all that bad?

The economy improved and joblessness was down to levels we haven’t seen in years. Housing prices have recovered in most markets to pre-meltdown levels. We didn’t end any wars, but we didn’t get in any new ones either, so that’s something, isn’t it? We didn’t close Guantanamo, but it was largely depopulated. Mysteriously the Bundy’s got off, but Obama still protected millions of acres of in the West, the Pacific, and along the Atlantic and Arctic coasts. We didn’t reverse climate change, but enough private and public sources are moving in the right direction that even the deniers may not be able to reverse the field. We didn’t secure affordable health care, but more people benefited in 2016 than ever before, making it harder to destroy. We didn’t solve the immigration conundrum, but even Trump may not be able to deport the Dreamers.

What am I saying? 2016 was mas y menos, more and less, a glass half-empty, but often half-full, two steps forward, but only one step backwards. I get it. This isn’t an argument, just an observation. Some surveys are saying that the level of optimism by many is at record highs over 98%, so maybe it’s not that 2016 was so horrid, as the expectations for 2017, are so much better. You figure.

So much of how we feel is personal. My family was healthy and well throughout the year. No one made big money, but all were fully employed. My mother made another birthday without major health setbacks. The fish weren’t jumping in Montana this summer, but neither did any hurricanes hit New Orleans, so I’ll call that a draw.

And, face it, how we feel about our work also determines how we see the year. The work was hard, but despite its ups and downs, I end the year thinking that we moved the ball down the field farther than when we started, and I call that a win. We may have scaled back in Argentina and Ecuador, but we doubled down in Honduras and hung on in Peru. We had big victories in the United Kingdom, even if we still can’t seem to rub two quid together. We opened well in Paris, and France moved forward. Work in the Netherlands was important and invigorating and opportunities in Germany were tantalizing. I was stymied by visa problems in India, but our meeting of organizers in Cameroon was a breakthrough for our work in Africa. Canada continued to be the rock on which we stand, but we nudged forward with strong initiatives for mental health consumers in Alaska, for rural electric cooperative members in the South, and, hopefully soon, for victims of predatory contract-for-deed scams in cities around the USA. We finally secured the ACORN Farm with only the title remaining to come to hand. The New Orleans radio station cleared its last obstacles to go on the air in 2017, KABF made progress, and we brought a station in Greenville, Mississippi under our wing. Here’s the key: more doors opened, than closed for us in 2016, and that’s an important measure of progress.

Hey, nothing is perfect, but all of that adds up to good pieces to polish and push to the new year in 2017. I’m sitting on the balcony in a small Mexican port town in Quintana Roo a couple of miles from the water with a light breeze, mi companera is lying behind me with a smile on her face, and I’m drinking an excellent cup of coffee and chicory from our own Fair Grinds Coffeehouse. I may be ‘splaining, but I’m not complaining.

Here’s to a great new year in 2017!