If you feel like you have been pummeled by outrageous events in 2017, we share your sentiment. This year has been nothing short of feeling like running a marathon with nails in the shoes. And it really didn’t matter what side of the fence one sits on in the political arena or which news network one watches or where one lives.  It was a chaotic year that started with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, followed by protests worldwide, bomb tests in North Korea, major natural disasters linked to climate change, a whole plethora of concerning policy changes on the national level, mass murders (bombs, shootings and vehicular terrorism), ongoing investigations and more. As America steps back from its leadership role on the world stage, others (China, France, Canada and even California) step forward to fill the void.

At the local level, we have been seen some pretty dramatic events, from record rainfall at the beginning of the year to devastation from the Thomas Fire. The legalization of recreation marijuana stayed at the forefront of common issues for all cities, with Ojai, Port Hueneme and Thousand Oaks being the frontrunners to move to actual storefronts and the rest of the county staying mum. Tensions rose with management and elected officials in Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Local nonprofits banded together help those affected by Trump’s campaign promises and policies to deport undocumented immigrants and ban others. After several protests and studies focusing on clean energy, the contentious Puente Power Project in Oxnard was put on hold indefinitely. City managers in Oxnard and Ventura announced their departures, while several longtime employees left the city of Ventura. In Thousand Oaks, a proposed book ban at the Conejo Valley Unified School District divided the local community. In Santa Paula, elected officials were under scrutiny for changing fire services from city to county, leaving the city with higher costs. We could go on and on, but one thing is for certain: Life has felt especially hectic in 2017.

As we head into the New Year, we believe it is critical to reflect on all of this tumult and see if there are some lessons to be learned. How can life be improved after all of this so that there is less uncertainty and more peace? What can we do to be better at caring about each other all the time rather than just when we are in crisis mode? When is it a good time to make some serious changes about how we connect with one another versus what we are doing now? If there was anything to be learned about the Thomas Fire, it’s that there are some really amazing people who just wanted to help and be a part of something bigger than their own little worlds. We hope that as a community reeling from division and unexpected loss 2018 will be the time we can finally heal from these wounds.