Personally, I’m happy to say goodbye and good riddance to 2012. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant year for me. I battled writer’s block. The summer was unbearably hot, so any savings I might have seen on my electric bill when the village got us a cheaper rate were spent on increased air-conditioner usage. Though Obamacare went into effect, I still struggled to find affordable medical, dental and mental health care. There was a shooting in my neighborhood and far too many gun-related tragedies across the nation. And I lost my kitty, Sid.

Sad, stressed and sweaty as 2012 may have been for me, there were bright spots. Last month, we started an open mic night at the Beacon. Listening to others tell stories and perform music and comedy has helped reignite my own creativity. If your New Year’s resolution involves sharing your art, join us on Jan. 3 and 17 at 9 p.m.

My new artistic outlet of 2012 was knitting, so I was thrilled when Knit Nirvana opened on Madison Street. Now I can pick up knitting supplies locally and, hopefully, 2013 will bring more time and money so I can take a class or drop in to one of their free open knit nights.

Another creative thing I was proud to be a part of was the Chamber of Commerce’s Casket Race. My husband did most of the hard work: helping to design and build the Centuries & Sleuths casket. All I had to do was dress up like the Forest Park flapper ghost and ride in it, but the event was the highlight of 2012 for me. Once again, Forest Park showcased its unique spirit when residents lined Beloit Avenue to see caskets made of ice or designed to look like the inside of a bar or raced down the street by bearded tooth fairies.

Though the recession may have made my wallet a little flatter than I would have liked, I made sure to spend what I could locally, especially over the summer at the Forest Park Farmers Market. There were a lot of great vendors, but my personal favorite was Purple Leaf Minifarm. Jessica Rinks grows her produce right behind Altenheim, and there was nothing like grilling up her delicious eggplant and squash and knowing my meal was as local as it gets.

Speaking of grills, my husband and I were delighted when we learned that the newly-opened Piggyback Tavern had vegetarian options for us. While I do a lot of shopping in Forest Park, as a vegan I do more eating in Oak Park and Chicago because I’ve found more variety there. However, with Piggyback and Amelia’s joining the ranks of veg-friendly Blue Max, Saigon Pho, and Bua Hana, that has started to change. I was also really looking forward to Scratch Kitchen because Patrick O’Brien mentioned veggie sandwiches and theme nights. Too bad the Forest Park Village Council made Scratch’s opening so difficult.

This unfortunately brings us to a lowlight of 2012. I like to see the best in people, especially in Forest Park where residents and business owners cooperate and collaborate so well. It has become frighteningly apparent to me that our village commissioners do not share this spirit, though, when the liquor for license for Scratch Kitchen was zapped in a parliamentary technicality. Our village council should not be the place for grudges and power plays.

I hope in 2013 that our commissioners will resolve to remind themselves that they were elected by the people of Forest Park to act in our best interest, not their own.

It’s a new year. The world didn’t end. It’s time for all of us to work to make it a better place.

Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally...