Happy New Year, and welcome to 2018!

This week represents a tabula rasa. A blank slate. No matter the events or outcomes of the prior year, each Jan. 1 affords all of us opportunity to start with a fresh page. It’s a built-in, annual mental marker that encourages us to both reflect and cast vision for the coming 365 days.

I’m a goal-setter.

My personality is primed to set objectives, figure out what it takes to succeed, and then go all-in.

I spent some time over the past week talking to friends and family about the ways we’d like to see our community grow. And, while we’re already a few days into the New Year, I’d like to propose the following 11 resolutions for the community of Bakersfield:

Pick up our trash. The amount of litter in our parks and along our roads and freeways is disgusting. Our roads are the first thing people see when driving to and through town. Keeping them clean is a simple but effective way to improve our image.

Open a charter school. Our public schools consistently perform poorly. We need to expand educational choice in Bakersfield by bringing a public charter school to the city.

Get in shape. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are rampant in our neighborhoods. Imagine if we came together and resolved to lose a million pounds? If it seems outlandish, consider this: Oklahoma City, a town with a similar population and background as Bakersfield, already did it. And, the impacts on public health and the city’s reputation have been tremendous. Let’s lace up our running shoes, watch our portions and get to work!

More live music. Our musical roots run deep. Let’s water them. I’m not talking about wanting to see more stadium tours in town; let’s come together to support new- and mid-level artists. The guys behind Passing Through Productions have done a great job of bringing up-and-comers to town. More, please. My vote is that we bring Jamestown Revival in ASAP.

Build a baseball stadium and attract a Triple-A team. Losing the Blaze was a tragedy. If Reno can support Triple-A baseball, there’s no reason we can’t. This town is full of baseball fans who regularly make the trek to Chavez Ravine. A new stadium would be an investment in our community and provide an additional opportunity for family entertainment. And, after we pay for a stadium, let’s consider a new performing arts center or concert hall. And then, maybe even a science center.

Find a way to keep water in the river year-round. The politics run deep and are more than muddy. But, it’s undeniable: a running Kern River lifts the spirits of every one of us who calls Bakersfield home.

Finish the Centennial Corridor and enact a long-term funding solution for our transportation infrastructure. Bakersfield has room to grow, and room to do so affordably. We can’t underestimate the importance of a modern freeway system in attracting new businesses and jobs to our region.

Improve the city's bike path. Install solar-powered LED lights to make it safer and increase usable hours. Add some emergency call stations. Trash cans. Water fountains. Maybe even restrooms. And, let’s build more routes that make it easier to access the bike path via … bikes. 

Read more books.

Beautify the 99 and landscape the Westside Parkway.

Post fewer rants on Facebook. Write more letters to the editor to The Bakersfield Californian.

I’ll admit it. Some of these are farfetched. But if we don’t cast a bold vision for the future of our community and start working to make that future a reality, we’ll never move past today’s status quo.

Time to get to work.

Contributing columnist Justin Salters writes weekly on politics, culture and civic engagement; the views expressed are his own. Reach him at Facebook.com/thatjustinsalters, Twitter @justinsalters or justin@justinsalters.com.

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