Be together, be alone.
Look after yourself. Look after one another.
Be nourished by what you do. Eat well. Stay fit. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Don’t eat or exercise with that rushed feeling like something’s more important. Nourish your body as well as your mind.
Take time to reflect. Establish a reflective practice as part of your work. Don’t buy into the ever-increasing rush that means decisions are made poorly. Make 2020 the year of deceleration.
Pay for quality journalism. Don’t pay for trolling.
How do you engage with the world’s issues and events? Do you value journalism that’s in the public interest? Or is your news limited?
Be prepared to pay for news that’s presented expertly and with rigour. Don’t fall for false balance where the opposing view is uncredentialed, partisan, or just some anonymous troll with a handful of followers.
Ask yourself whose interests are served by every news item that you encounter.
If you’re a journalist and at the other end of the paying-for-quality compact, consider your public responsibility. If someone tries to fob off your critical questioning with some nonsense about a bubble: stop, decelerate, and demand an answer. And don’t feel you need to be alone in demanding the basics from elected public servants. Bring other journalists together and debate whether any amendments to your code of practice might be needed to make it fit for purpose for the new decade and beyond. Learn to ask questions anew. What makes a publication a newspaper? How does concentrated media ownership or advertiser obligations affect what’s presented as news? Which news services are only serving their own commercial interests? Is that still news? How does that affect our lives and our future? What can you do about that?
Meanwhile, our world is burning.
This will mean different things to different people but at its heart is the understanding that the civic realm – that complex set of public places where values are debated and decisions made – belongs to all of us.
Connect with the people and the organisations who debate those values and make those decisions. Be heard.
Join a community organisation. Join a union. Join a political party – or at the very least, find out how they work. Get to know their system, their rules, their limitations, and where and how you can contribute. Decide how much or how little you can engage. Because disengagement is no longer an option.
Invest in art.
See work. Buy work.
Ask artists how they work.
Learn what it’s like to make a lifelong commitment to creating work that questions, critiques, unsettles. Understand the focus, the craft, the dedication, the rigour, the care. Invest your time and your focus, and if you can, invest your money.
Remind yourself of what matters. Feel the impact of a work on your body. Feel the way it rearranges your thinking and reconnects you to so very much and with such immediacy.
Start the new year by spending good time with work that moves you.
Get ready to take action.
What are you going to change in your life? What are the changes that have already been made for you? What will this new year and this new decade mean for you? How is your voice heard? What are you resigned to? What have you neglected? What’s within your power to change?
Eat well. Stay fit. Get ready.
IMAGE: Collingwood arts precinct under construction. Photograph by Esther Anatolitis.