When we ring in the New Year each January 1st—whether we’re resting from festivities celebrated the night before, strutting along to the tunes of the Mummers’ string bands or sharing time with our loved ones—each of us is inclined to make resolutions.
After all, each New Year brings with it the promise of a fresh start. Whether it’s to get a better job, find true love, shed extra pounds or simply make our lives more meaningful, it’s a tradition in which we all partake.
And like many traditions, we participate out of habit. We do it because our parents and our parents’ parents all resolved at the beginning of each year to start anew.
It’s a tradition, like many in the Western culture that can be traced back to ancient Rome, when the first month of the calendar year was named after the mythical King Janus, the god of beginnings, in the year of 153 B.C.
Having two faces, Janus had the ability to look back on past events as well as to look forward toward the future. Besides being considered the god of beginnings, ancient Romans also revered him as the guardian of doors and entrances.
As a result, he became the ancient symbol for resolutions. Many Romans looked to him for forgiveness from their enemies. They also exchanged gifts with one another at the beginning of each year.
Now, as we look back on 2009 at the beginning of 2010, there’s no shortage of things to look back on. At a global level, there’s the impact of the economic recession, with fifteen million Americans still unemployed, as well as the ongoing military conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq—a fact that has a certain haunting resonation when taking into account the Christmas Day near-terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight by a twenty-three-year-old Nigerian with alleged ties to the Al-Qaida.
From a local level, the University City Review and the Weekly Press are taking the opportunity to share with readers some of the resolutions of the city’s political and civic leaders. Varying from personal resolutions made in either a lighthearted or earnest vein to those that are more professional in nature, we hope that our readers can share in their humor, as well as perhaps gain insight into their own.
With the city’s economy still recovering from the recession, political leaders like State Rep. Jim Roebuck would "Like to continue to work for economic recovery and educational opportunity for all members of the commonwealth."
City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell says that she "Only wants to always increase and improve all that we do to help people in need. We’re just praying in the new year that people will be blessed with jobs and better health given the state of the economy."
Architect, James Campbell and member of the South Street West Business Association hopes that the re-opening of the South Street Bridge next fall will help improve the corridor’s financial livelihood.
Spruce Hill Resident Mary Goldman would "like to wrap up the playground for the Wilson School in 2010. It has to be built by August. We’ve already raised $22,000, but need to bump it up."
Garden Court Association member Freda Egnal says that her wishes for the New Year "are peace in the world, jobs and the opportunity for a decent life for all people, and closer to home, quality education for children at Lea, West Philly High School and all Philadelphia, full funding for city services, a government that puts people’s needs first and a revitalized 48th & Spruce Street commercial area."
Jean Wolf, the Executive Director for the Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservations, hopes to "raise $500,000 from the public that appreciates and uses Woodlands Cemetery and the William Hamilton mansion. If the Trust can raise $500,000 before December 31, 2010, H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest has agreed to match this sum with $250,000 more. The total support of $750,000 will help complete restoration."
And the Corporate Manager at Universal Companies, Eve Lewis emphasizes that she would like to see more development between "the 1900 and 2100 blocks of South Street."
On a fun note, Marty Cabry, who handles zoning for Councilwoman Blackwell, and also attends a meeting nearly every evening, jokes that his resolution is to "not attend so many meetings."
Sometimes playwright, Bill Burrison, had three main resolutions on his plate. Said Burrison, "I’d like to try to conquer my technophobia to enjoy the cheap thrills of email, wage a smarter war against the Al Qaida of acid reflux by not eating snacks late at night, as well as do more back exercises and get back to writing the unGreat American Novel."
And Aaron Mendelssohn, UC Review Contributing Writer, would like "to floss my teeth every day."
As for the more personal resolutions, Glenn Bryan of Community Relations at Penn would like to "stop making excuses and go to the gym more often," adding that for him, going to the gym more often translates to "five or six days a week."
City Councilman-At-Large Jim Kenney wants to "get back into hot yoga… I have been missing in action for the last few months.
And Spruce Hill Resident Fran Byers "would like to stay in the shape she’s in now, to keep off the weight she has lost."
But whatever you decide to improve upon, George Chavanne, the man in charge of the UC Review’s and Weekly Press’ distribution, put it best when emphasizing the importance of "sharing all the small things in your life that are good" with other people.