2023 is going to be a challenging year.
We're going to be facing a deepening climate crisis and ongoing economic challenges. Even the weather is gloomy and rainy.
I was out walking yesterday, bemoaning the fact that I was getting wet, and I looked up to see a rainbow - faint, but beautiful.
And I think that's what I'm going to try to do this year - look for something positive. Psychologists tell us that doom mongering is not motivating, but that aiming for small, positive gains is the way that each of us will make effective changes.
So let's start right now.
It's wet outside, which gives us 5 minutes to spend pointing Herts County Council in the right direction on speed limits by responding to their consultation on lower speed limits in St. Albans and Welwyn Garden City.
It's easy to respond with a box for comments and then a few tick box questions.
The WHO recommends that where ever space is shared by vehicles and vulnerable road users - like pedestrians or people on bicycles - the speed limit should be 20mph, so you may want to tick the box generally welcoming the schemes.
In the comments box you might want to:
ask why your road isn't included, or welcome a lower speed limit on your road if it is
point out that a wide area 20mph zone, rather than the odd road here and there, is easier for drivers to comply with
suggest that a single, wide area zone would be much cheaper to implement
Whatever you say, please take a few moments to respond to show Herts CC that we care about making roads safer and helping people walk and cycle
The weather is cold again, and once more people around the country are shivering in badly insulated homes which guzzle unaffordable fossil fuels. It's a climate wrecking, health wrecking, economy wrecking situation - but one for which we have the answers, which are the United for Warm Homes campaign asks
Urgent financial help for those most in need. Yes, some help is being given but there are still too many people falling through the net and left cold and struggling
A nationwide home insulation programme. Insulation is the cheapest way to reduce energy bills and fuel consumption. Whilst the Government has pledged £1bn for its ECO+ scheme, Friends of the Earth reckon we'll need at least £8bn
Permanent fixes to our failed energy system. Our energy system currently prioritises massive fossil fuel company profits over meeting people’s basic needs. Everyone deserves a warm home, and there’s no good reason we can’t all have one. By powering our homes with cheap and clean renewables and guaranteeing everyone the energy they need to live comfortably, we can ensure no one is left in the cold.
If United for Warm Homes succeeds, it will hugely reduce our country's dependence on climate wrecking fossil fuels and ensure that no one is left in fuel poverty. It will be a huge win for people and the planet.
So what can I do?
If we are to persuade politicians that these 3 asks are popular vote winners, we need to show that they are supported by voters throughout the community.
Which is why we need to get out and ask local groups to show their support.
We appreciate that it can be uncomfortable or difficult approaching people and persuading them to give their support, which is why, at our meeting on Monday, we'll be doing some training and sharing tips to make the process easier, so we can kick this campaign off effectively
We're meeting at The Friends Meeting House, 7 Upper Lattimore Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 3UD on Monday 23rd January at 7pm. Everyone is welcome.
We'll make sure we're all comfortable with the details of the campaign and how it will work, then find out how we can more easily persuade local groups to show their support.
Will you join us in taking these first, crucial steps for this exciting campaign?
And finally... Get active on social media
If you've not joined the St. Albans Friends of the Earth Facebook Group yet, then there's no time like the present.
And get on Twitter to find us at @stalbansfoe
If you're really keen, then get some top tips to be really effective on social media here.