Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, but then find it hard to stick to them as time goes on. Perhaps, though, resolutions might be more easily kept if they are also kept local…with friends and neighbors for support, and physical destinations that make it easier, not harder, to attend gatherings, events and learning opportunities. So with that in mind, here are some common resolutions, with local support, that you might find useful…and maintainable:
Read More Books
With three local branch libraries – John C. Fremont, Wilshire and Memorial – our area residents have no shortage of available reading materials, as well as terrific librarians who love to help you find your next great read, not to mention cozy vintage buildings where it’s simply a lovely experience to browse and read. Also, all three libraries have lots of FREE events, every month, for kids, teens and adults…some that support reading, and some that are just fun or educational in other ways. And your LA Public Library card opens doors to lots of other benefits as well. Of course, Larchmont’s very own Chevalier’s Books can also provide great books, recommendations, and book-related events such as author talks to help keep you excited about reading throughout the year…and we even have a wonderful Little Free Library on Larchmont, where you can find (or donate) unexpected treasures. Finally, if your goal is to read more this year, the website GoodReads.com can help keep you going by setting reading challenge goals, tracking what you’re reading and want to read, and sharing your books and reviews with friends.
Get More Culture
Another common goal for many in the new year is to get out and expand your cultural horizons. Once again, our neighborhood makes this easy, with its close proximity to an unusually large number and variety of museums in Miracle Mile (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Petersen Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits), Exposition Park (the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, the California African American Museum), downtown (Museum of Contemporary Art, Japanese American National Museum, the Broad Museum)…and more (the Museum of Tolerance, the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Marciano Art Foundation, and the Korean Cultural Center, just to name a few). You can purchase a membership for access to both regular and special events, if you think it will encourage you to attend more often or get more involved…or just pay as you go. Also, most of the big museums have at least occasional (if not weekly) free attendance days…and on Sunday, January 28, there will be a huge city-wide free museum day, so you can sample more than 35 museums in one big binge. And, finally, for those who love art in particular, there are also lots of local private galleries where you can peruse single and multi-artist shows, attend opening and closing events with the artists, and more.
How many times have you thought that you really should help out somewhere in your community, but just didn’t know what opportunities were out there, where to go, or how to connect? Once again, our community offers a great resource to aid your search – Big Sunday, on Melrose Ave., is a non-profit that specializes in matching volunteers, resources and donations of goods and services with organizations that need them. You can check out Big Sunday’s Really Big Community Calendar of opportunities (for all ages, and even whole families), sign up to help with their next big event – the 6th Annual MLK Day Clothing Collection and Breakfast – or contact them for more ideas. Also, we have a huge number of local schools, both public and private, which can always use volunteers, fundraisers, and new members for PTAs and “Friends of…” support groups. If you live near a school, call them up and ask them to put you to work. Please note, though (and this goes for any community organization, but for schools in particular) – if they don’t call you back right away, don’t be discouraged…and please keep trying. Most of the schools we know are very busy, so a delayed response is nothing personal and may simply be an indication of how busy they are, how short-handed they are, and how much they really do need your help!
No doubt about it, exercise is more fun, and easier to sustain, if you have company. Thus the popularity of gyms, fitness studios of every flavor (general, personal training, yoga, spinning, martial arts, etc.) and other organized activities. Our neighborhood is home to businesses offering all of these, plus easy access to both the Anderson-Munger and Hollywood YMCAs, as well as free yoga classes in Robert Burns Park (Beverly and Van Ness), seven days a week at 10 a.m. (bring your own mat). Also, search Facebook and other online resources for local walking/hiking groups, or start one yourself using a service such as Meetup.com, where you can organize one-time events, schedule regular activities like weekly walks or bike rides, or create special-interest groups for people with similar interests and goals. So make plans today to exercise with friends, invite or meet some new friends…or get in step with larger groups and activities like the hugely popular Ciclavia, where you can join thousands of other Angelenos in riding, running or walking along occasional car-free routes throughout the city.
Finally, with so much focus in the last year on events in national politics, global issues such as the economy and environment, and major local topics such as development and homelessness, making your voice heard is becoming more and more important. But while the national stage can often seem distant and inaccessible, local politics can provide the perfect grass-roots entry point for newcomers who would like to get more involved. So if you’d like to learn more about the issues facing us, topics you’re particularly interested in, and how your city works, make this the year that you finally start attending meetings of your local neighborhood association (there are dozens of them in our area, covering big neighborhoods like Hancock Park, Windsor Square and Miracle Mile, somewhat smaller areas such as Larchmont, Brookside and Wilshire Park…and comparatively tiny enclaves such as Sycamore Square, La Brea-Hancock and Citrus Square, to name just a few). Or, one step up the civic ladder and representing larger groups of neighborhoods, your Neighborhood Council (Greater Wilshire, Mid-City West, Olympic Park, Wilshire Center-Koreatown, or Hollywood Studio District are the most likely to represent you, if you live in our mid-city area). Each of these groups have regular monthly board and committee meetings that are easy to keep track of and not far from your home. Or you can simply attend the increasingly frequent city meetings on topics such as zoning changes (sounds boring, but that’s what determines what’s going to be built in your neighborhood – and what kind of neighborhood yours will be or become in the next few years), transportation, safety, sustainability, emergency preparedness and more. All of these events are free and open to everyone who lives, works or owns property within the neighborhood boundaries. And when you connect with them you’ll not only learn more about your city and neighborhood, but you’ll meet and make friends with other concerned neighbors, and maybe even get the chance to develop your own leadership skills as a board member or committee chair or committee member.
It’s a New Year, so a great time to make a new start with any of these very do-able, and very local, resolutions!