2020 is upon us. If you are like me, the year has arrived with an unsettling feeling. The world is, literally, on fire and geopolitics are undergoing seismic shifts. We live in uncertain times and many people have chosen, out of psychological self-preservation, to unplug and withdraw. The impulse is understandable, but is it correct?

I say no. Giving up isn’t an option because local actions have the ability to improve the world we live in on a daily basis. There is a myriad of local examples where collective actions by towns and local partners have made a positive difference in environmental quality. Just look at the change in the discussion about wastewater and the progress now emerging in many towns. Consider the increased awareness of water quality spurred by APCC’s State of the Waters: Cape Cod report. Every town on Cape Cod is participating in the Commonwealth’s Municipal Vulnerability Program to help mitigate the effects of climate change. The recent ban on offshore catch of herring provides hope for restoration of this important part of the food chain. All of these examples of success share one common element – the efforts of caring and committed local stakeholders who forced good things to happen.

While none of us has the ability to make things different at the national and international levels, or at least it feels that way, we can each make things better in our town. So, if you are feeling helpless, think about asserting control in 2020 and stay engaged because you can make a difference at the local level. Go to town meeting, work for candidates who prioritize the environment, vote in your local elections, and make your voice heard in the way that works best for you. If you don’t even try, the bad guys win for sure.