The world didn’t end in December. Good thing, too. There are a few people, like myself, who didn’t even know about the impending apocalypse until a few days before the event. Didn’t leave much time to party like it was 2012.

We’ve made it to 2013, but this isn’t a time to sit back and relax in the status quo. There is too much discord and unhappiness in the world. There are people who are disturbed, isolated, and lost.

Cat Neushul

It’s a time to make New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions often involve getting thinner, in better shape, or a promotion, but this is just outer change. In the past I would have said that inner change wasn’t imperative, but lately I’ve changed my mind. It seems like society, and the people in it, need to refocus on the things that are really important in life, and this can, and must, happen one person at a time.

Here are a few possible resolutions. You’ll recognize some of them as things we valued in childhood but kicked to the wayside as we became adults.

Do Something for Your Community

Students are required to do community service as part of their education, but many adults have lost touch with this important concept. There is a sense of community that comes from working with a group of people to plant trees, feed the homeless, or serve on a local government committee. All of a sudden you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s hard to feel isolated or alone when you know you are making a difference. What follows are a list of a few ways to volunteer in and around the Isla Vista community. There are many, many more.

Food Forward This organization is involved in fruitanthropy (which is defined as the picking, donating, or distributing of fruit for the purpose of philanthropy). There are local picking opportunities in Goleta.

Isla Vista Recreation and Park District’s Adopt-a-Block Program Volunteers donate time to make I.V. a better place by picking up litter.

UCSB’s Community Affairs Board Family Literacy Program Students are paired up with children in I.V. to provide weekly tutoring services.

Casa Esperanza Volunteers work at a homeless shelter and serve food in the community kitchen or support day programs.

Get Politically Involved

In the past, Americans, as a whole, were more actively involved in politics then they are today. Political apathy is becoming a real problem in America. Most people would be hard-pressed to name their local representatives.

After the tragic events in Newtown, I realized how little I knew about gun laws and regulations. I was astounded that automatic weapons could be kept in a suburban household without certain restrictions. After going to a vigil a day after the tragedy and listening to local representatives talk about the need for more stringent gun laws, I realized it was time for me to get more involved.

Just by taking a few minutes a day to learn about the issues being discussed by your city council, county supervisors, state representatives, or Congress, you will have taken a step toward becoming a better-informed citizen. Here are a few websites to get started.

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors — list of meeting dates and agendas.

City of Goleta — list of meetings and city council agendas.

City of Santa Barbara — information about local government.

Isla Vista Recreation and Park District — find out about local meetings and topics of interest.

Nurture Individual Talents

Find something that you do well, and groom that talent. Whether you are a musician, baker, carpenter, or car mechanic, do what you are good at. While this may seem like a self-serving resolution, it’s not. People can use their talents to help others by making food, fixing a car, or building a bookshelf for a low-income family. This resolution goes hand in hand with doing something for the community.

It’s 2013, and we have a chance to make this year a little different than the last. While it may seem like one person can’t make a difference, this isn’t true. Just think of all the horror one person can unleash. What we need to do this year is look inside ourselves to recognize that even a slight change in our attitude and habits can make our community a better place.


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