Opinion

‘Hope for the best, and be kind to one another’ | Forecasts for 2010

By CARRIE LACHER

I’m going to cut to the chase here: 2010 looks bleak. Really, really bleak.

I’ve got my list of problems and worries and I’ll bet your list looks pretty much the same. That’s the bad news. The good news, I’ve got three simple rules to help guide us through.

Rule No. 1: Don’t panic! As we close out our town’s Centennial Year, one can’t help but feel we’re all gathering up a collective breath to brace for the storm. Honestly, I think the first quarter of 2010 is going to be hard. You don’t need me to tell you what you already know: this summer wasn’t nearly as good as we had all hoped to set us up fiscally for a frugal but secure winter. So here’s where you need to remember rule No. 1, because we will get through it. How? The way we always have — with grit, determination and a dash of pioneer spirit.

Rule No. 2: Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. The current Town Council, with the help of town employees, has worked hard over the last few months to do just that. We struggled and hacked our way to a stringent but balanced 2010 budget. But to get there, we tightened the town’s belt in ways that frankly feels pretty painful.

We just managed to sustain essential services while also earmarking enough funds to nurture those aspects of Friday Harbor that help make our town a real community ... for now.

So, here’s where we remember Rule No. 2, because the council is planning on taking a second look at the budget come mid-year and if things are better than we planned for, we’re hoping to add back some things that had to be snipped. Meanwhile, we’ll be facilitating our hope in a better and brighter future by thinking outside the box.

Great adversity can inspire great thinking. This year will be our year to plan proactively so that when good times do return, we are ready to ramp up quickly and productively.

Finally, but to me the most important one of all, Rule No. 3: Be kind to one another. In fact, I’m tempted to implement my mom’s favorite rule — if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I won’t go quite that far, but I guarantee you that if we can’t talk to one another with civility and mutual respect, we will fail as a community.

The grim reality of 2010 and beyond is calling us to respond with an exceptional level of decency and courtesy. In order to successfully address our challenges and still invest in our future in creative and imaginative ways, we have to be able to talk to one another openly.

So I’ll start: The process of local government must be made more transparent and inclusive. Your turn: The citizenry must accept more responsibility and step up and be counted. Our turn: We must remember that the heart of any town is the people. Our town isn’t just about whales and ferries. It’s about neighbor helping neighbor, children growing up and creating families of their own, small businesses serving the community and thriving, and a shared feeling of security and well-being.

We can do this ... together!

— Carrie Lacher is mayor of Friday Harbor.

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