As a pandemic stalks the land, a madman rants from the White House, a recession plunges many into economic precarity, killer cops continue to kill and, almost forgotten but worst of all, the planet continues to get dangerously warmer, there can be no doubt that we are in a season of darkness and doom. Some of my friends have grown sullen or exasperated, tired of protesting, wondering when it will all end. Many more are cut off socially, left staring at screens at home. And yet, continue we must. But it’s not all gloom. Here are a few reasons to be optimistic, and maybe even crack a smile.
1. The Kids are Alright
Perhaps those who should be the most downbeat right now are our high schoolers and college students who face an uncertain future that often looks like it will only become more uncertain. But it is among the young people in La Crosse that you’ll find energy, passion and ideas. Many are relentlessly protesting for a better world, whether by taking on police violence, campaigning for better wages for student workers, or taking action to combat climate change. If you need inspiration, this is where you’ll find it.
2. Pine Juice in the Park
Increased homelessness has been an awful byproduct of the economic recession brought on by COVID. In La Crosse, dozens are sleeping outside, including at Cameron Park. There have been overdoses, fights, arrests, all of which you’ve likely read about in local media. But there has also been solidarity, both among the unsheltered and from many in our community who’ve looked for ways to provide support. On a recent walk through Cameron Park, I struck up a conversation with one man currently living outside. We chatted about various things, and then he pulled a large bottle of gin out from his backpack, grinned, and offered me a swig of what he called “pine juice.” It was an act of kindness I couldn’t resist. I took a slug and looked up at the sunlight shining through the trees and we sat in the grass silently and, for a brief moment, all was calm and well. Yes, it’s illegal to drink in Cameron Park. But, sometimes you have to break the rules.
3. An Old White Guy
4. Public Lands
Dotted around La Crosse are priceless state parks, full of wildlife and owned by us for all to enjoy. Our public lands are a sacred asset we own collectively. They should be defended and expanded. They exist as an antidote to the modern grind, a place where the market has yet to fully penetrate. If you’re feeling downcast, there’s nothing quite like getting lost in the woods to restore a sense of life in your being. Pack a picnic and go.
5. Future Perfect
Always remember, another world is possible. We don’t have to live in a country where being diagnosed with a chronic illness means going bankrupt. We have a solution for that. It’s called Medicare for All. We don’t have to live in a country where many work 40 hours or more a week and still live in poverty. We don’t have to live in a country with crumbling infrastructure, millions out of work, and an environment under severe threat from climate change. We have a solution for that too. It’s called the Green New Deal. We also don’t have to live in a country where police kill unarmed people stopped for petty reasons, often fueled by racism, and get away with it. And we definitely don’t have to live in a country where we lock up more people than anywhere else on the planet. We can solve those problems too, if we work together, from the bottom up, to create a more just society. We have a world to win and, no matter the odds, the work always starts now.
6. Boogie + Family
By Eric Timmons. Email story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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