Relevance, resolutions in the new year

By Reade Brower | Jan 09, 2014

"The true test of a civilization is, not the census, nor he size of the cities, nor the crops – no, but the kind of man the country turns out." — Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, poet (1803-1882)

Resolutions and doughnuts

Being the best you can be is always one of my resolutions when a new year begins. I have a long list of what I want to do in 2014 to make it meaningful; perhaps even profound.

My experience tells me that it must be based on purpose; only with purpose will anyone’s true potential be brought out and only with more purpose will we find the success we’re looking for.

I’ve also found that when my resolutions are generalized, they get minimized, so I am inclined, at least for this year, to come up with some finite ones.

6,209 days ago I had perhaps my best and most long-lasting resolutions. In an effort to lose weight and get healthy, I decided to take three action steps. I stopped smoking completely, quit drinking and stopped eating doughnuts. I lasted the entire year on all three of these and decided that once I got down to my goal weight I could add something back. After a year and half, as summer approached, I chose to add back alcohol, with doughnuts coming next, but only when I reached my “stretch goal” — 6,209 days later, the “stretch goal” weight never reached. I continue to look out my window wistfully at the Dunkin Donuts next door, knowing that someday, perhaps, I will get to order a chocolate honey dew, instead of the muffin that has had to be my replacement to go with my tea.

My kids favorite one was the year I resolved to not eat off other people’s plates. I did a pretty good job on that resolution although I am not sure I made it the entire year.

So this year I do pledge to go after a few of my dreams. They are personal and only I need to know what they are. However, I do need to create three discipline action steps and be accountable for those. For 2014, I will spend at least four hours a week throwing things away, both at my office and at my home. For the month of January, I will write down all the food I eat and make conscious decisions every meal, every snack, and every drink I take. I will read more books and stop all time-wasters before bed for a month — instead replacing it with reading or crossword puzzles.

For me, it is the accountability piece that helps the discipline; having concrete action steps will create the pathway to finding and fulfilling the purpose that 2014 has in store for me.

Relevance 2014

This will become a central business theme for us in 2014. As an organization, Courier Publications and VillageSoup must not only strive to be the best they can be, but also to figure out what they need to be to stay relevant and give our readers what they need and what they want.

Finding that will be the focus of our first quarter, planning and implementing will take us through the year. Judgment will come with the numbers; in 2013, we lost a few print customers, but gained many more than we lost on the Internet news side. Measuring subscriptions online and on newsstands, coupled with online subscriptions, we gained almost 10 percent in 2013 so we are on the right track.

We understand the basics must be delivered; local news, arts/entertainment, features and sports will continue to dominate the pages of Courier Publications and VillageSoup. But what else makes a paper and Internet site relevant in this new age of publishing?

I have been jotting down notes for several weeks and trying to figure out what makes a newspaper relevant in the age of digital. Perhaps we will form a focus group; in the meantime let me know your thoughts. Growing is as important to our community as it is to us because the more we grow, the more we can put back into our community newspaper and online news source with more reporters on the street.

Happy New Year and belonging

How do we make our community the place we want to call home? I ask myself what can I do to become the change I want to see.

Margaret Mead wrote, “One of the oldest human needs is having someone wonder where you are and be concerned when you don’t come home at night." It is that sense of belonging that most of us long for and it is what I want to devote my time to in 2014. How do we create that sense of belonging in our society and how do we give purpose to those who don’t fit in?

There are lots of square pegs that don’t fit in the round circles; most of us know in our hearts they add to our community and to our lives. We are uplifted when we hear stories or see the human condition at its best and when we see the best in people.

With that said, then why is there still an epidemic of bullying going on in our schools? Why can’t our politicians work together to make our country stronger instead of dividing us and pointing fingers at the other side? When will we see the light, and move away from the darkness, using common sense and decency as our core values? These core values are the characteristics that we all want to think of as “in vogue” but yet don’t set the tone of our society as it is today.

There are plenty of heroes walking amongst us, whose deeds are lauded but are somehow overshadowed by greed and a general lack of compassion to those that can’t find their way.

When researching the homeless problems in Midcoast Maine I found that with every solution came an entire new set of problems, whether by regulations or for reasons of safety. They were enough to scare good-hearted people away from dealing with it.

There are many reasons that people don’t want to get involved, or think things can’t be changed, or that effort is useless; for that, we must overcome. But, if we can remember that everyone deserves the chance to create a productive life, and that we need to be the change we want to see, perhaps small deeds of kindness can ignite 2014.

Join me in working to make things better, one person at a time.


Turn the Page. Peace out; Reade

Reade Brower can be reached at:

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