On Change

Unless you’ve been living in outer space or on a deserted island, 2009 is the year of change. Millions of Americans believe that change is personified in the form of President-elect Barack Obama, the soon-to-be 44th President of the United States of America.

Just after then-Senator Obama was elected, a co-worker of mine told me how excited she was because “Obama is going to change this country for the better.”

I pointed out that as Obama himself insisted, change does not come from the top – it begins at the bottom. Obama won because he inspired and motivated legions of volunteers to march across the country and work to get him elected. Obama is just a man – he cannot fundamentally change the fabric of the country without regular people like you and I taking time out of our busy lives to volunteer to mentor kids, organize adopt-a-blocks, join the Peace Corps or Army, and reduce our carbon footprint. You can choose to do practically anything, but you have to do something; change will not come unless we become an integral component of the change you seek.

National “change” should not be personified into one, however extraordinary, but ultimately mortal and flawed man. Rather, change begins with each one of us. And even though New Year’s Day is the most artificial of our holidays, many make New Year’s resolutions to change some aspect of their lives. Maybe you want to exercise more, spend money more wisely, be a better spouse, or since you’re here, maybe you want to be a greener person. Among other resolutions, your author has promised himself he’d stop taking the elevator up to my apartment. Not only will this help me exercise more, but I will be saving energy and reducing my carbon footprint. I am also going to bring my lunch to work at least three times per week and purchase greener gifts for friends and family. Virescent has committed herself to changing one aspect of her life each month to make it more sustainable.

Over the next few days I will be unveiling more actions that individual citizens of Alexandria (and indeed the world) can undertake to green our lives and our city in 2009 and be the change that we want to see in the world.

Do not feel overwhelmed by this list. Not everyone can do everything, but we all can and must do something. The more, the better. Although some of these actions are easy, others will be more difficult. I encourage you to challenge yourself, your family, friends, and neighbors to do what we can – and then see if you and they can do a little more.

We Americans are at our best when we struggle together, and sometimes among each other, toward formidable, but noble goals. Let’s endeavor to change together to make America great again –  and the model for the world –  one city block at a time.


  1. Trade your car for your feet or a bike on two short (less than 5 mile) trips each week.
  2. If you normally drive to work, take public transit twice a month.
  3. Do not idle your personal vehicle for more than ten seconds.
  4. Use the bike trails in NOVA and DC. (Source: Local Motion)
  5. Participate in the Safe Routes to School Program. Encourage your kids to walk kids to school with a friend or along designated routes. (Source: Local Motion
This entry was posted in air, Alexandria, climate change, energy, green buildings, implementation, Kids, solid waste, transportation, volunteer opportunity, water and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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