When you spend your money, realize that every dollar you spend is a vote—perhaps the only vote we have, given the last election. We're being told by Washington, D.C., that it's our duty to jump-start the economy by going out and spending money we don't have, while the government hands billions back to billionaires who aren't spending what they already have. So spend the money, but spend it with businesses you'd want to work for, ones that act as if you and their employees matter. Frequent small, local businesses, and let them know they matter to you.
Let the people you appreciate know that they are appreciated. Don't assume the cool, dedicated people out there know how cool and dedicated they are or that others are doing your job of telling them. We're all supposed to be doing the best we can, and we can all use some outside ratification sometimes. Here's a sample letter to guide you: "Dear Mr. Washburn, I can't tell you how much your columns have lifted my heart during these dark times, so I'll let this $20 bill and the enclosed Polaroid do the talking for me. Thanks, Your Name Here."
Let businesses and our representatives know what matters to you. Your voice matters, even if it's just to demand that your local market carry eggnog year-round.
Read! I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm of the opinion that books are good. One I'm reading now is Democracy at Risk by OC resident Jeff Gates. He outlines in the clearest ways I've yet seen how inequitable and undemocratic our nation has become, and he offers pro-business solutions to the still-widening gap of wealth and influence. I haven't read past the depressing part yet (Hurry, give me pills!) but I suspect I'm going to have to interview this guy.
Volunteer! No matter what a miserable Milk Dud you may be, there is always someone worse off. If you don't feel a sense of community around here, it may be because you're not helping to build one. Unless you're the person who's reading this while screwing your eyes out at Club Rubber, don't try telling me you've got something better to do.