Editor's Desk - January 2009
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Be the Change

Despite the sagging economy that still looms large in our thinking, this month is a time of new starts. There are always feelings that one can start over as a new year kicks off—with resolutions adopted and (hopefully) kept, with a whole new 365 days ahead to do things differently—and I see no reason why 2009 should be any different.

In fact, this year, there are other new starts that only reinforce this climate of change and flux. After all, a new president—hopefully with some new ideas for approaching the various problems the country faces—will be sworn in this month. The economy may have taken its toll on various industries and businesses—but new ones will rise to the occasion, adopting the innovation needed to move forward into the future.

While some people, businesses, organizations, governmental figures and so on may grow fearful and cry for a retreat, those who will make all the difference know that now is the time to get creative and seize new opportunities.

Which approach are you adopting?

This month, we feature a story on planning and developing a dog park, as so many communities have been doing across the country. It got me thinking about Guinness, my own dog—and his second chance. Let me tell you a story.

Guinness was a rescue. That is, we adopted him from an organization that snatched him from the jaws of death. He had been found injured and wandering around in the woods in northern Indiana. He was put in a shelter, and was due to be euthanized, when Chicago Canine Rescue brought him to the city.

When we decided to get a dog, we knew an adoption was the right route. (After all, according to the Humane Society, at least 6 to 8 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year, and only 3 to 4 million are adopted.) We contacted the organization, which, after some questions about our lifestyle and family (Yard? Kids? Etc.), determined that Guinness (and a few other pups) might be the right fit for us. We met him, he met us, and it was love at first sight. Guinness now had a new opportunity to make an impact on his family.

It was tough at first. He was afraid of other dogs, but it didn't make him cower; it made him aggressive. He frightened people sharing the trail with us—and me, too—with his barking and growling. I didn't want to doom him to a life indoors so—no, we didn't go back to the shelter. We signed up for obedience training.

I still remember the first day of lessons. There we were in a big warehouse-type building, in a class with 12 or so dogs, with an agility class taking place at the same time in the big room—altogether, there might have been 20 or 30 dogs in the building. And for 30 minutes straight, Guinness barked. And barked. And barked.

Over the next two months, the instructors helped me learn to command him, and helped him learn to control his fear and eventually, actually enjoy himself. On the last day, my heart swelled with pride as I told Guinness to sit and stay, walked across the floor to stand about the length of a basketball court away and called him to me.

We came home with a blue ribbon: "Most Improved Dog."

What's the point?

No one is so rigid that they cannot change. No one is so set in their ways and attitudes that they are doomed to a gloomy and fearful outlook.

Yes, the situation is bad. And from everything we're being told, we're not going to see any drastic improvements any time soon, whatever measures the federal government takes to address the problem.

But that doesn't mean you have to allow yourself to be knocked back on your heels and sit in fear waiting for things to change. You can let your vision fade, leave your goals sitting on a shelf and wait for an opportunity or for the conditions to change.

Or, as Mahatma Gandhi advised, you can "be the change you want to see in the world."

So no matter what they told you the outlook was yesterday, no matter what they tell you the outlook is today, and no matter what they say about the outlook tomorrow, don't forget that ultimately, we all get to decide for ourselves. After all, as the evidence continues to reinforce, an economic crisis is a crisis of confidence.

So no matter what your attitude was in 2008, take on 2009 like you own it. After all, you really do.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director


In the feature story, "Rest Stops: Adding Versatile, Durable, Beautiful Restrooms" in the November 2008 issue, we mistakenly identified the restroom structures at the Vail Ski Resorts in Colorado as precast concrete structures. These durable structures, provided by Biological Mediation Systems Inc., feature a precast concrete foundation, and are then customized with additional materials.


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