In 2018, resolve to make Tucson just a little better.
There's plenty you can do, no matter what your thing is.
We have 18 community-building suggestions (you know, 18 ideas for 2018?), but we'd love to hear your ideas, too. How do you plan to show your love for Tucson this year?
1. Take a walk
Spend a Saturday figuring out what is within walking distance of your home (A library? A park? Your grocery store?) — and then commit to walk to those places when you have time. Not only will our air quality benefit, but you'll get to explore your neighborhood in a new way.
Or get to know downtown with the weekly Meet Me At Maynards on Monday evenings starting at Maynards Market and Kitchen, 400 N. Toole Ave. There's also Meet Me Wednesdays. That route starts at St. Philip's Plaza and continues on The Loop.
2. Put away shopping carts
Build some extra time into your next trip to Fry's Food Stores or Target and round up a few stray carts. You'll get some exercise and give back just a bit to your local market.
3. Leave a poem in the Poetry Mailbox
The Poetry Mailbox is in the Broadmoor-Broadway Village Neighborhood on the Treat Walkway. Started by poet Elizabeth Salper and several neighbors, the mailbox is regularly stocked with poems. If that's too far for you to venture, Salper's group the Urban Poetry Pollinators can help you bring poetry, maybe in mailbox form, to your own neighborhood. Bonus idea: Salper started by chalking poetry in her neighborhood — totally doable.
4. Write a letter to the editor
If you are an expert on a current issue affecting our community (or just a thoughtful, concerned citizen) and you want to share your thoughts, you can submit a Letter to the Editor or Guest Opinion to the Arizona Daily Star and tucson.com for consideration. Find those guidelines here and here.
5. Organize a streetcar sing-along
It's been done before. Mr. Nature, Crystal Stark, Christmas carolers and other musicians have serenaded streetcar riders. Sun Link is always looking for family-friendly ideas to make a streetcar ride a little more musical. To make this official, you need to contact Pat Richter, Sun Tran's marketing director at 206-8810.
6. Walk dogs
Volunteer with Pima Animal Care Center to walk dogs or cuddle cats. Exercise and human time keeps animals socialized and improves their chances at adoption. There's lots of ways you can help the the shelter. Fill out a volunteer application here.
7. Plant a tree
Order a shade tree online from Trees for Tucson — $20 for desert trees and $25 for non-native edible trees. If you live within a 30-mile radius of downtown, Trees for Tucson will deliver the five-gallon tree to you. Visit tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org/trees-for-tucson for more information or to shop trees.
8. Take pictures of our city
You probably already snap pictures with your phone everywhere you go. Why not be intentional about documenting Tucson's beauty from your own point of view? Kristin Tovar did this several years ago on Instagram, using the hashtag #WhyILoveWhereILive, and that social media account blossomed into a full-blown business and made her fall in love with Tucson.
9. Take hygiene supplies to the period pantry
The little pantry at 102 E. 31st St. provides free hygiene supplies to people in need. Cori Runyon started the pantry as a way to help women strapped for cash — especially at that time of the month. The pantry has food, water, tampons, pads and other necessities. Help keep it stocked!
10. Cash-mob a local restaurant
This Facebook group coordinates restaurants or shops to patronize on a specific day. It's an effort, organized by Kirsten Cummins, to keep dollars local. The next cash mob is currently planned at Mi Nidito Sunday, Jan. 21.
11. Install a Little Free Library in your front yard
Plant a box full of books in your neighborhood and stock it with your favorites. Tucson has more than 40 of these lovely libraries all over town. You can see a map of those and learn more about how to build and register your little library at littlefreelibrary.org.
12. Go to public meetings
13. Buy your produce at the farmers market
Challenge yourself to make a week's menu inspired by in-season, local produce. Here is a list of Tucson farmers markets for whichever side of town you call home.
14. Beat buffelgrass
Buffelgrass is an invasive species and the scourge of the saguaro. Buffelgrass beats out native wildlife for nutrients and water and makes our desert more flammable. Volunteer weeding sessions will be organized Jan. 27 through March 4 — it's Beat Back Buffelgrass Month! Visit desertmuseum.org/buffelgrass/ to find scheduled buffelgrass pulls and to sign up to volunteer.
15. Organize a block party
Get creative with this. You can do a morning coffee meet-and-greet or an epic community feast — like a mini Noche en Blanco, the massive pop-up dinner event that got cancelled last year. The point is meeting your neighbors and building community.
16. Garden with your community
Join a preexisting community garden or start your own — but be warned, starting your own takes a whole lot of work. The Community Gardens of Tucson has about 20 gardens with plots available located all around Tucson. You'll pay approximately $20 monthly to use the grounds, and that includes irrigation, water and tools. Contact the site coordinator for the garden you're interested in, and someone will get you set up. Or, if you want to plant the seeds of a new garden on your own, this story has some tips on how to get started from neighborhoods that did it.
17. Ride a bike
This is easier than ever with the introduction of Tugo Bike Share. Bikes are available for rent around the university and downtown areas for just $8 a day. An annual pass is $80. Ride and return it to any Tugo bike rack.
18. Take a mural tour
Or sponsor an arts education workshop for your neighborhood or workplace. Peruse the murals downtown or learn from a local artist — you'll support the Tucson Arts Brigade, and subsequently, the beautiful public art they share with our community. To learn more about how you can enrich your life via art — and how much a tour or workshop costs — visit tucsonartsbrigade.org/arts-education.