Ok, I'm a desperate optimist but I'm feeling good (cue Nina Simone: "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life…").
The launch video by US Democrat Elizabeth Warren prompted pinpricks of emotional tears to my eyes. I've been following her on social media for a while, searching for sense and hope in American politics. Her four-minute video is worth watching. Warren announces she is exploring a run for the presidency in 2020.
Maybe this madness of Trump is a blip. Maybe it will push through real change in response to the excesses of capitalism and selfishness. Maybe he's been a necessary mirror to reflect just how bad things have got (reality check: he's still polling in the high 30s in popularity).
Closer to home, I'm feeling good about real change happening in the drug harm prevention space, and I believe it's thanks in part to charismatic young politician, Green MP Chloe Swarbrick. She has picked up the mantle of drug reform and it's rubbing off.
Police Minister Stuart Nash has spoken about the need to have independent testing of drugs at music festivals to pick up the rubbish that comes through – testing has shown traces of pesticides and other dangerous off casts.
Yes, people take risks when they take drugs but not knowing what they're taking is not meant to be part of the deal. A focus on reducing harm will make a difference to New Zealand families – even coroners are calling for change. Remember we may have lost 50 lives to illegal synthetics in 2018 – this is outrageously high.
And we are suffering in our own backyard. Kai Iwi, Mowhanau and Ototoka streams continue to languish at the bottom of swimmability measures in this region.
On the environmental front, I'm gratified but not surprised to see a new poll showing the top issue of concern to New Zealanders is water quality. Kiwis are not stupid – we understand how fundamental fresh water is to our lives and our planet's health. Compromising on water quality is humankind's short term thinking at its worst.
And we are suffering in our own backyard. Kai Iwi, Mowhanau and Ototoka streams continue to languish at the bottom of swimmability measures in this region. I hope that in 2019 my Horizons colleagues agree to put more funding into action and partnership with landowners to turn these results around.
It won't happen quickly – it doesn't work like that. But we need to start prioritising our beautiful places. However, for your summer plans, the ocean at these places is still almost always safe to swim at from an enterococci point of view (the salt water version of E.coli).
For me, the most critical issue we're facing remains climate change. I couldn't feel more relieved that we have a Green Minister for Climate Change – James Shaw. His connections with the business community means we are getting real traction as he understands the drivers in the corporate world. But we need more. This is a true tipping point issue.
It's time to get serious about the systems-level changes needed. It means fundamental rethinks about how we approach complex issues as diverse as health, housing and agriculture – this is not just about transport emissions.
2019 is the year for this Government to show its mettle. Build on the good steps made in 2018 with not releasing further offshore blocks for oil and gas exploration – it needs to stay in the ground. And I'm looking forward to the Waverley windfarm as a clean energy solution, with the bonus of regional jobs in a place that needs them.
My heart remains in my hands in relation to the seabed mining appeal. This decision will be significant, not just for our coast but for the country. If it goes ahead, they won't stop with Patea – iron sands all around New Zealand will be vulnerable.
But as I started, I remain hopeful for this new year. As New Zealand band Fat Freddy's Drop says in their song Hope, "To the river wide and strong, it won't take long, we can all go together, if we just hold on. A new generation, and a brand new age…"
2019 is our year for hope.
Nicola Patrick is a councillor at Horizons Regional Council, works for Te Kaahui o Rauru and leads a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mum of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member.