December 31, 2012

North Country residents hope for a better 2013


---- —  PLATTSBURGH — Beyond resolutions, many North Country people look to 2013 with hopes that the new year will bring a better, safer, more peaceful community. When asked about their hopes for the world next year, local people pointed to family values, world strife, tolerance and the environment.

Starting with the basics, Rita Devan, 87, of Willsboro, would like to see a little bit more peace in the world. She and her son, Robert, of Owego, felt the best way to achieve this would be for everyone to spend more time with their families.

“I’d like to see everyone return to some of the family values from earlier times,” Rita Devan said.

After raising three children, Devan feels that building on the foundation she has put in place that trickles down to her grandchildren is her contribution to making this change. Every year at Christmas, she writes a letter to her family. This year she said she was “thankful for a loving family that enriches my life.”

“You don’t have to look far to find heroes,” Robert Devan said. “Your parents should be your first heroes.”

He feels that parenting by example and teaching simple things, such as respect and manners, go a long way. He is also a believer in the “parents are not your friends” philosophy. He raised his children this way and says now that they are grown up, he enjoys being “friends” with them and being a part of their lives.

Rita Devan is pleased that her family is all still close, despite living in different areas, and thinks that more people feeling this way will make the world a better place.

Jason Ormsby, of Plattsburgh, would also like to see a more peaceful 2013 — specifically, he would like to see an end to war in the Middle East.

“It would be nice to finally end the Israelian-Palestinian conflict,” Ormsby said. “I’m hoping the current administration could speed along the process.”

And how can he effect change in an area far across the world?

“I will continue to vote for congressmen and senators that will put forth legislation that will accomplish those goals,” Ormsby said. “I also like to create dialogue to discuss issues with people.”

He feels the more people discuss issues, the more educated people become on the issues that are important and they can create change.

His wish?

“Someday maybe the voice of the world will be too loud to drown out,” Ormsby said.

For T.J. Campbell, 30, of Plattsburgh, the world would be a better place if there was more acceptance and equality. He hopes for a world where there is no place anymore for people who do not accept people for who they are and harshly judge others.

“We need more open-mindedness,” Campbell said. “And don’t judge a book by its cover.”

He has started to effect positive change with his own actions first.

“In every encounter I have with someone, I make my judgements based on the substance of the encounter as opposed to their appearance,” Campbell said.

Bruce Morrow, 67, of Keeseville, would love to see the world address global warming. While he understands it’s a big issue and changing it is monumental, he stays aware of the issue when making his own choices.

“I try to travel less, but I live outside of town and come to town five times a week,” Morrow said. “I try to not come into town unless I have something I am committed to do.”

He also makes sure that when he is in town for other reasons, that he also uses the opportunity to get his shopping and other errands done.

Morrow also tries to effect change in the type of vehicle he drives.

“I have two requirements that I look for in a car,” Morrow said. “I need a car that is good on gas, and that it is good in snow. It would be nice to have a bigger vehicle, but I don’t need it right now.”

And then there is Tom Braga, 69, of Plattsburgh, who would love to see more Plattsburgh residents visit Montreal.

“I find it so strange that so few people (from Plattsburgh) really enjoy Montreal and what it offers,” Braga said.

In fact, he thinks that having access to the Montreal Gazette, an English newspaper based in Montreal, would help with awareness, but he is also willing to share his knowledge with anyone interested.

Braga, a lover of Montreal, taught French at SUNY Plattsburgh before retiring and would take his classes to Montreal to give tours of the city. To help more Plattsburgh residents appreciate the city, he said he would gladly give free tours to anyone interested. He calls his tour “Holies and Sweetmeats,” a walking tour of churches and bakeries. He likes to go to Montreal about once a month for two days to catch up on foreign films he cannot see in the United States and to enjoy the city he feels has a European flair.

“I enjoy introducing people to ‘my Montreal,’” Braga said. “It’s always a treat to visit Montreal.”