Dearest Readers,

A Happy New Year to you all. I hope that you look back fondly on 2008, and have big happy plans for 2009. I do. You and I may have similar happy plans, in fact. I plan to feel happy about my federal government. This column has always been written in the shadow of a Bush, where no hope would bother to grow, but today my hope is a tender new sprout. How I anticipate January 20.

I have so many fantasies — fantasies about feeling happy to read the news, about a cheerier Daily Grist, about honest and contented government employees. Those are just basic daydreams. It gets really crazy when I start fantasizing about a Sensible U.S. Climate Policy, and the idea that Rahm Emanuel might call to say the White House needs a low-key environmental advice columnist is probably plain old delusion (I can’t really see me at a D.C. power lunch). I don’t care. I’m happy to keep my day job, so long as Bush and Cheney lose theirs.

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Compost the past and grow a greener future.

Last week we touched on the Top 10 Things You Can Do. One Thing is to be politically active, by writing letters, communicating with elected officials, organizing others to support or oppose policies, voting, etc. During the Bush years, progressive activism was similar to spitting in the wind. Obama’s administration should be sympathetic, but his appointments thus far have made it clear that our activism is still needed. Maybe it’s more accurate to say our activism might finally have a practical effect. I am obliged to give some kind of advice, and there it is: Don’t forget to keep up the pressure.

In other exciting news, I’ve been full of talk about contests for the past couple of New Years, and full of hot air. No contests to show for all my bluster. But I do have a good one in mind for around Valentine’s Day, so hold tight — and meanwhile, take a moment to show us your hopes for 2009.

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Best wishes to you all; thank you for your letters, humor, affection, and criticism in 2008, and much love from yours truly.