Rant: Adieu, 2012. You were one treacherous year for our country.

By most measures, 2012 hasn’t been a strong year. Of the top 15 stories in the past 12 months (as measured by public interest in following them), only one, the London Summer Olympics, was positive. We recently concluded a presidential election that was an embarassment of insidious misinformation, willful ignorance, and virulent acrimony. We addressed issues like the economy, the Trayvon Martin incident, and global warming—as reflected in events such as Hurricane Sandy and the severe rash of storms in the Midwest—not with thoughtful debate or reflection, but with even more ideological entrenchment and childish name-calling. And we witnessed two of the most horrific mass shootings our country has ever seen, only deciding that something needed to change after the second one.

We need to get better. We need to be creative. We need to open our minds to possibilities that we haven’t yet considered. And, more than anything, we need to be kinder to one another. Our future depends on it, and it starts now.

Rave: Plant a Tree with the Denver Digs Trees project.

One small way to improve our surroundings in 2013 is to make one of America’s greenest cities even greener. Denver Digs Trees, in cooperation with the city, is offering free trees to merchants and residents in 23 neighborhoods around town. You apply online, and twice per year—in spring and fall—the Park People, who sponsor the initiative, plant your tree(s) in your yard or in the “tree lawn” between your sidewalk and curb. Whether it’s to beautify your view or to provide welcome shade from the mile-high sun, Denver Digs Trees is a project that truly finds some common ground.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.