1. To be together, to be alone
Take care. Take care of each other.
Feed on what you do. Eat well. To keep fit. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Don’t eat or exercise with this hasty feeling that something is more important. Feed your body as well as your mind.
Take the time to reflect. Build reflective practice into your work. Don’t buy into the ever-increasing rush that means bad decisions are made. Allow time for deceleration.
2. Pay for quality journalism, not troll
How do you approach world issues and events? Do you enjoy public interest journalism? Or is your news limited?
Be prepared to pay for expertly and rigorously presented information. Don’t fall into the false balance where the opposing view is baseless, partisan, or just an anonymous troll with a handful of followers.
Ask yourself what interests are served by each news article you come across.
If you’re a journalist and you’re on the other end of the quality pact, consider your public responsibility. If someone tries to fool your critical questioning with nonsense about a bubble: stop, slow down and demand a response.
And don’t feel like you have to be the only one demanding the essentials from elected officials. Gather fellow journalists and debate the need to make changes to your code of ethics to make it fit for purpose in the new decade and beyond. Learn to ask questions again.
What makes a publication a journal? How does concentrated media ownership or advertiser obligations affect what is presented as news? Which information services only serve their own commercial interests? Is it still relevant? How does this affect our lives and our future? What can you do about it?
Meanwhile, our world is burning.
3. Politically Activate
It will mean different things to different people, but at its core 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 organizations who are debating these values and making these decisions. Be heard.
Join a community organization. Unionize. Join a political party or, at the very least, find out how it works. Get to know their system, their rules, their limits, and where and how you can contribute. Decide how much or how much you can commit. Because disengagement is no longer an option.
4. Invest in art
See work. Buy work.
Ask the artists how they work.
Discover what it’s like to make a lifelong commitment to creating works that question, criticize and disturb. Understand the concentration, the profession, the dedication, the rigor, the care. Invest your time and focus, and if you can, invest your money.
Remember what matters. Feel the impact of a work on your body. Feel how it reorganizes your thinking and reconnects you to so much and with such immediacy.
Spend time with work that touches you.
5. Get ready to take action
What are you going to change in your life? What changes have already been made for you?
What will this new year and this new decade mean to you?
How is your voice heard? What do you resign yourself to?
What have you overlooked? What is in your power to change?
Eat well. To keep fit. Be ready.
This excerpt is an edited version of an article originally published as “Five Strategies for Thriving in the New Decade‘ in Place, Practice, Policy. Esther’s new book is available on Metropolis in Melbourneafter his two panels at Brisbane Writers Festivalor online at Spurbuch (including ebook versions).