Every year, like many of us, I make a list of vague resolutions that I have generally broken some time before the second week of January. These vague resolutions include things like ‘Get Fitter’, ‘Write More’ and ‘Have Work-Life Balance’. I write my resolutions and then promptly grab a fistful of stollen, crack on some YouTube compilations of people falling off of tables and rest my feet on my pile of unmarked books.
2016 has left a foul taste in the mouth, particularly for lily-livered communitarian left-leaners like me. The force of reality has, at times, felt like a very heavy person sitting on my chest. The apparent hopelessness of Labour politics, the world refugee crises and the electoral success of the right has got me down.
Whereas previously I might have consoled myself by moaning with fellow Guardian/New Statesman types, or written a few pithy blogs, I feel that this year is a year I need to do stuff. To get out there and actually act.
So for 2017 I am going to be more specific and more active. For lots of us, if we are going to combat the things we stand against and achieve stuff, 2017 should be a Year of Doing.
1. Find a new job. I am in my sixth year working in my first school. It is here that I trained and have learned so so much. I am deeply appreciative of the experiences that I have had but I now feel like I need a change. I have informed the school of this, and they understand my motivations. I am quite deeply connected into the local school community, through friendships, through having taught many kids from the same families, but also through community projects I am involved with and through school governance. I have many reasons to stay put, but many to move on also. I fear that I have begun to work on autopilot, and I am excited to be more experimental with my career and take some risks in 2017.
2. Do more community projects in Newham. Whilst my place of work may change, my commitment to the community in which the school is based will not. I live locally and intend to work locally, in order to continue to build up community projects, primarily through working with The Sheba Project, a women’s empowerment and community resilience charity of which I recently became a trustee. Ideas in the pipeline for 2017 include linking up female muslim undergraduates at local universities to work with local women in Newham on a range of projects, focused on building confidence in English and in professional skills. Another one that I am giddy about is a community photography project, chronicling the diverse and interesting life stories of people in Newham; again, I hope for this to be a project that will bring the local universities (Queen Mary and University of East London) into the local community, developing all who take part.
3. Develop my creative writing. I have enjoyed writing for as long as I remember. I have written poetry since I was about 11, I studied Literature up to A Level and I have always enjoyed reading fiction. I have got about two books full of poetry, and a bin full of ideas too cringe and riddled with adolescent angst for me to look at. I always eye-roll when I hear people talking about how ‘one day’ they will be successful as a writer, and how ‘when the time is right’, they will be discovered. Oddly enough, it was seeing my children fully embrace creative writing on our Poetry Retreat that has inspired me to get more involved in it; it seemed like they developed their sensitivity so deeply in just four days, and the poetry they wrote was often very powerful. I am not a bad writer now and I can chuck a good metaphor together, but an empty notepad and little free time are not going to be conducive. Sooooo, I am signing up to a course called Writing the City at Goldsmiths University. Sod it, I am going to book it literally right now so I am held to it. I love the vibe of cities, the way people manage to build togetherness and positivity in a largely grey environment that breeds privacy.
4. GIF hard. As I have previously mentioned on Twitter, I shall also be upping the number of GIFs I share, curate and produce. It is through this that I will fix society.