resolutions for a better future.


Another year. That went fast!

Last year I wrote resolutions. I resolved to (1) restart my blog, (2) pay off one of my loans, (3) run a marathon, and (4) go on a road trip. At a point in my life where nothing was certain and adulthood was imminent, I set resolutions to give myself direction – a map to keep my values on course in the face of massive uncertainty. I can proudly say I achieved all but one of my goals*.

Facing 2016, I consider possible new goals: Call my friends more often? Complete my marathon? Kick-start this blog again? Nothing inspiring has occurred to me. Unlike like last year, 2016 is mostly certain. I’m not worried about straying from my values, or feeling lost. I’ve got a fantastic job, steady income, and solid network of family and friends. This year I don’t need a map to stay true to myself.

I had nearly resolved to skip resolutions all together when I watched Mission Blue.

The documentary covers the life of legendary marine biologist Sylvia Earle – one of the most inspirational environmental activists in the history of time. She’s now 78 and she’s spent over a year of her life under the water, watching as human “progress” changes the oceans forever.

Watching these sorts of films always makes me feel so guilty.

At one point the interviewer asks Earle if she ever takes a day off, a break. Her response: “If you saw a child falling out of a 10-story window, and you have the ability to reach out and catch him… you don’t take a break. You’re there 24-7. You’re there with every ounce of what you’ve got. You want to save that child.”

Cue the guilt.

In September I started working for an environmental advocacy non-profit, the San Juan Citizens Alliance, as the Energy & Climate Organizer. My job is to organize the public in opposition to some of America’s dirtiest polluters that are right in our backyard. My day job alone can seem like plenty of activism, but I know it isn’t:

What I do at work doesn’t matter if I don’t practice what I preach.

This week I faced the uneasy fact that I inadvertently put sustainability on the shelf. The road trip, the move, adjusting, getting a new job, the holiday season – when life got crazy my values slipped away (as did writing this blog).

So my new year’s resolutions this year aren’t to better myself, but to better the future.

  1. Decrease waste in my own life.
  2. Support local businesses, people, and politicians that share my values and vision.
  3. Be a more active participant in creating a sustainable community.

I want to live up to the words of this wise, inspirational woman:

“If I could be born anywhere in time,” she says at the end of the film, “it would be now. It would be now because this is the time, as never before, that we know, we understand, what we didn’t know 50 years ago. If we wait another 50 years, opportunities we now have will be gone. This is the moment. Our decisions, our actions, will shape everything that follows.”

I can’t look at the terrifying facts of our possible future, know what I know, and not give every ounce of what I’ve got. Cheers to 2016!

* Except the marathon, which I’m signed up to fulfill on April 16, 2016, eek!


Is Instagram apathetic? #ActForNature


cowspiracy: a lesson in naivety.


  1. Judi Radel

    This is lovely, Em. Your words inspire me (and make me feel guilty too). I don’t make resolutions either but this year…maybe it wouldn’t hurt. Oh, by the way, I am signed up to do a half in June!

  2. Right on, Emily! From the other end of the age spectrum I can reassure you that you won’t be unhappy following through with your resolutions. Like so many things that are worthwhile, it won’t be easy. And don’t expect anything dramatic. The earth is going to be healed only by many of us taking many small steps and making many small sacrifices.

  3. Dorothy Bowie

    Well said, Emily. You prompted me to look over my resolutions: mostly behaviors that increase my wellness and relationships. Those aren’t bad, but you encouraged me to think bigger in my choices. In my job teaching, I have the perfect venue to plant the seeds of sustainability values in my students at a crucial young age. As our curriculum has tightened, I have let some of these practices go, however, they should be the foundation of each day’s learning. Thank you for getting me back on track! (And I hope to run a 5K sometime this summer!)

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