What Makes Us Hopeful for 2020

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Feeling drained these days is easy. Despite a robust economy, we subliminally know there are bigger challenges that need solving and that we need to find the true American spirit again to focus our energy on positive outcomes. To this end, we asked our Last Call contributors to give us their personal takes on optimism.

By Marc Frey

All year I was looking for a ray of light, something that would lift my heart and spirit. And just when I least expected, it unfolded in front of my eyes. It was a full moon night, the occasion “An Evening of the Arts,” the yearly fundraiser for the Island School Council for the Arts. When Olivia Waters took the stage and started speaking, I was mesmerized. She told us about her participation in the “Memory Project” that enlists American high school students to draw portraits of refugee children based on a photo and a few lines of description. It made me realize that a single person can shine a light of hope: Ben Shumaker, the founder of the project, has delivered more than 160,000 portraits to children in 49 countries. The videos showing the kids living in refugee camps receiving the portraits is heartwarming and it connects students around the world in a very tangible way. You can read more about Olivia’s award-winning portrait in the January issue of Monthly.

LET’S FIND THE TRUE AMERICAN SPIRIT AGAIN THAT ALLOWS US TO FOCUS ON POSITIVE OUTCOMES

By Carol Weir

One thing that gives me hope is the decisive result of last month’s bond referendum to raise $344 million for projects to improve school safety and facilities and address growing enrollment. As a former teacher and parent of two students in public schools, this is close to my heart. It’s also the first time Beaufort County voters approved a school district referendum since 2008 and is reason for optimism on several fronts. First, voters are willing to trust our elected and appointed school board officials again with the new leadership in place. Second, we are feeling positive about our economic future. The financial crisis of 2008 finally feels like a long time ago and we’re not afraid to pay a little bit more in taxes to help schools, teachers and students. Finally, because every precinct south of the Broad River approved the referendum, we can finally put to rest the accusation that our neighbors in Sun City Hilton Head don’t care about kids. They do. The referendum showed that we’re all in this together.

By Marco Frey

Though I grew up in the Lowcountry, I moved to New York City five years ago, as enthusiastic as I was naive to pursue a calling for music. As the years went by and I struggled to make it in this town, my passion for the city dwindled and I could see myself becoming that jaded, world-weary stereotype you see reading tabloid newspapers on the subway, wearing slacks that seemed to be greyed by years of pollution. But hard work, support from friends and family, and a few crucial good omens have always renewed my outlook. Most recently, I was asked to grace the stage with Wyclef Jean during AdWeek. Whenever I remind myself to look up during my commute, I see the crazy tapestry of humanity. I see homeless men chatting with tourists, I see regular New Yorkers helping mothers carry carriages down the subway steps, I see children eagerly digesting books. Just today, an elderly busker entered the train car, singing “A Change is Gonna Come.” If he can muster the strength to sing us a song of perseverance, while clutching a walker, it’s easier to believe there is hope for humanity.