1) Local businesses and downtowns. Especially here in Newburyport, we have some great shops, restaurants, pubs, even bookstores (hooray!) and an independent movie theater. But, we must frequent them as often as possible, whenever possible, supporting them over buying things online. Every time we buy something online or at a nearby (or not-so-nearby) box store that we can instead buy downtown, aren’t we undermining the vitality and diversity of our own communities that we claim to care about keeping charming and interesting? We may save a few bucks short-term, but is it really worth it, when you consider shipping costs, service/returns (or lack thereof) and cultural vacuums and loss of local jobs that ensue? I know this a quaint, old-fashioned view of the world, but so be it.
2) Sunday nights in Newburyport (starts early at 6 p.m., you can be home in bed or by the fire by 9). Glenn’s and The Grog, some of the best live music and musicians in the world up close and personal, and dancing too! Wouldn’t this early start (6 or 7) be a great draw for Friday and Saturday nights as well? For us folks (and all the late afternoon tourists too!) who are in la-la land by 9:30? They could still have their late night starts at 9:30 p.m. as well!
3) Sunday mornings at Unity on the River in Amesbury, an ecumenical celebration. A year-round farmers market right here in Newburyport at The Tannery. It’s every other Sunday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the winter and every Sunday starting April 14. And so many other nonprofit groups who make our city and area so great, our physical spaces so beautiful and our social lives so rich.
4) Local newspapers — we’re quite fortunate to have The Daily News. They do a great job covering local stories and organizations. Love Dr. Jim Manganiello’s articles on Health & Well Being! Their editorials, columns and letters to the editor — while I don’t always agree with them — often get me thinking, wondering and responding. Particularly appreciated your Wednesday, March 6, editorial acknowledging the good work of Congress in passing the reauthorization of The Violence Against Women Act. That day also had a wonderfully inspiring story of an Andover boy who helped save his babysitter’s life.
5) Bill McKibben (350.org) helping us to save the planet. Barack Obama (whitehouse.gov) getting re-elected and helping us to make a better world and better country, restoring our country’s standing in the world, his intelligence, diplomacy and an evolved heart and mind.
6) Working men and women doing the jobs we can’t or won’t: i.e., doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, IT/computer wizards, construction workers and road crews, trash and recycling workers, EMT’s, waiters/waitresses, truck drivers — it is a wicked hard job, and they move and deliver virtually everything we consume, eat and need — teachers.
7) That we are all “pro-life,” aren’t we? That phrase ought not be sole possession of anti-choice (aren’t we all anti-abortion as well?) fanatics.
8) Our schools, libraries, police, fire and emergency responders. Municipal trash and recycling pick-ups, clean air, clean water, roads cleared after a snowstorm. FEMA and emergency relief after a natural disaster, paved roads without huge potholes the size of meteors, bridges to drive over — and tunnels to drive through — safely. Health departments to insure food safety in our restaurants. Common denominator in all this — government, local, state, federal. Come up with your own list. Teachers and parents — have your children do this as a social studies project. It can help our governments market themselves, and ALL the services they DO provide, more effectively. And sorry, folks, in this day and age there is no such thing as small government (we would all agree we need to continue to work for more efficiencies and elimination of waste), but if you want “small” government I would ask you a simple question or two: if your house is getting broken into/burning, how quickly would you like the police/fire to show up? How quickly do you wish the Department of Public Works to plow YOUR street after a storm?
9) Friendliness, an open heart and genuine kindness. “Niceness is a curse, kindness is a blessing.”
10) The courage, energy and discipline not to gossip. Remember, folks, it’s a small town, and karma comes around! “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Rama Valianti lives in Newburyport.