Change starts small

Sunday, January 4, 2009 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 12:33 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Change is a broad topic. Sometimes change is frequent. I change my socks every day. I change my hair every few months. Sometimes change doesn’t happen often enough. I change the oil in my car … when I remember. Other times the change is promised to you. “I’ll change,” says the boyfriend you know never will. Or, “I’ll change the system,” says the presidential candidate.

In a world where all too often too much changes — jobs are lost, houses foreclosed and gay marriage is passed and then repealed — what do we really value in change anymore?

When President-elect Barack Obama decided to run for “Change,” I immediately thought, who doesn’t run on change? No candidate ever says, “Four more years exactly like the last four. Nothing different, people.”

We are a country of progress. We are a country that never stands still. How could he not want to change some things? When you think of change in the broad aspect, it does seem somewhat ridiculous.

I am worried Americans will expect this "change" from Obama within his first few weeks of office. The honeymoon period will end quickly. This mess we are in will take much longer to clean up and Americans have proven to be less than patient.

So I began to think of change on a more personal level. If Obama believes he can be a positive change for an entire country, surely I can change myself and my community enough to be part of that movement as well.

How can I expect change if I don’t plan to take steps to be part of a solution? Many people want health care reform, an end to the war, fewer jobs shipped overseas. I want all of those things as well, and I hope we get them.

But I will spend the next few months campaigning on more local issues. Money is needed for our local Humane Society, which is suffering greatly despite all the great work they do.

I want to make sure the Planning and Zoning Commission knows we don’t need another 1,300 residential units taking up nearly 300 acres of my Columbia city. Look around, there are empty houses everywhere. As a former student living in rental housing, I can tell you, invest in renovating the dilapidated places we have now. Beautify Columbia, don’t chop more of it down for houses that won’t fill up. I’m beginning to think this "visioning" council has lost its sight.

So what is change for me in 2009? Change in myself and in my community. It is only by starting small that we can effectively change the world.

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at


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