I welcomed 2021 with a sense of optimism and hope absent these last four years. While embracing the good feeling, I do so newly aware of how tenuous many of my assumptions about the bounds of civil society actually are. Rather than be discouraged, I’ve found renewed energy and enthusiasm with which to approach a year in which APCC has the opportunity to make a real and lasting impact on freshwater pond protection, the implementation of town wastewater management programs, charting a course toward a better climate future for Cape Cod, finding opportunities to address our affordable housing needs in a manner consistent with and supportive of environmental quality, plus a wide range of other issues.

My optimism for the year ahead is based on my major takeaway from the year just past; that collective, individual actions matter. Things changed because people took a stand and voted. The basic institutions that are fundamental to the structure of our society withstood assault because enough people stood in their defense. It’s better to focus on the response to the threat than to get all worked up that there was a threat. Response gets you someplace while reaction alone simply wastes energy and distracts from response.

It is easy to get caught up in the federal conflagration and lose focus on the good works being done right here on the Cape, each one of which would not have happened without a small number of people making them happen. A few examples include initiation of the construction of a wastewater treatment facility in Orleans after decades of trying, the preservation of Sipson Island In Orleans, the advancement of wastewater programs and related financing mechanisms in Dennis, Yarmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Sandwich, and Wellfleet, the monitoring and protection of freshwater ponds across the Cape, adoption of climate emergency articles at multiple town meetings and a host of other important accomplishments all happened because a few people made them happen town by town throughout the Cape. That is how it works, that is how it has always worked and how it will work in the future.

With the new year upon us, and a light at the end of the tunnel with the promise offered by vaccines that again proved the power of science, let us each renew our commitment to individual action and engagement and collectively begin to build the new future we all want for Cape Cod.