Brett Warren (left) and Stephanie Liu (right) sit at Dolores Park. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

This year more than most, residents sounded  desperately anxious to leave the last 12 months behind and begin anew. 

“2020 has been such a rotten year, that 2021 has to be better,” said Doug Mehl, who echoed the sentiment of many. 

Apart from a general agreement on 2020, resolutions for 2021 ranged from the go-to resolutions of health or fitness to the aspirational of shopping online less. 

John Hamilton, who plays basketball at the Mission Playground a few times a week or “as often as the legs will allow,” said 2021 will be all about focusing on his health. Hamilton was one of five people who had resolutions focused on their physical health. 

Jonathan Jones always sets multiple resolutions. This year, after he read a Men’s Health magazine article, he wrote several physical fitness-related resolutions into a notebook. His other resolutions were to be more present with his kids, start each day with optimism and mediation, and to be “patient about the pandemic and everyone’s recovery.” 

Jonathan Jones poses with the Men’s Health magazine that inspired some of his new year resolutions, along with the notebook where he wrote his resolutions down. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

Alexander Gagnon, a French-Canadian man who lives near the Mission Playground and regularly plays tennis, said his goal for 2021 is the same it has been for the past three years — to be more environmentally conscious. 

Gagnon already considers himself to be environmentally responsible and tries to bike rather than drive whenever he can, but wants to focus more on minimizing his waste and repairing rather than replacing his belongings. 

Susanna Morgan said her resolution was to do less online shopping after becoming so accustomed to it during the pandemic. 

“I just feel like I don’t need to do it, I don’t need to spend the money. If I need to spend the money, I’ll go to local businesses. Jeff Bezos certainly doesn’t need any more of my money,” Morgan said. 

Some residents said they weren’t setting resolutions, for various reasons. Micaela Negreann said she doesn’t limit her goals to the start of a new year. 

“I’m always trying to set new intentions and goals for myself, no matter what time of year,” Negreann said. 

Currently, she’s working on “thinking about myself in a more positive light and just trying to find joy in the little things every day.” 

Stephanie Liu joked that her resolution was specifically not to set any resolutions while sitting on a bench at Dolores Park. 

“After this crazy year, not to have any rigid expectations for myself — because who knows what can happen,” Liu said. 

She added that when she’s set resolutions for herself in the past, they tend to be vague, “like, try to learn more, volunteer more,” but those goals typically only end in disappointment. 

Conversely, 10th-grader Mario Luna, a young man who already has a lot on his plate, set resolutions to give himself even more responsibility. 

For the past five months, Luna has been volunteering at the Mission Food Hub five days a week, either before or after class, and often on his lunch break. 

His resolutions are to do better in school after a somewhat rough semester of online classes, and help more at home — maybe by getting a job. 

“I’ve always liked to work,” Luna said in Spanish. “I’m not the type to be out in the streets often. I’d rather be working.” 

Heidi Balle, who was in line to get groceries at the Food Hub, said that her resolution is to get a job, but she’s not hopeful. She’s been out of work since March and has applied for jobs, but hasn’t heard back from any yet. 

Jorge Gonzalez, who was also in line, said that his ultimate goal for the new year was to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. 

After being without work for more than half of a year, Gonzalez returned to work at the University of San Francisco two months ago. He used to work 40 to 45 hours a week at a cafe on campus, now he does 20 to 25 doing gardening for the school. 

He’s making enough to stay afloat, but “the few savings we had, we finished,” Gonzalez said. His plan for 2021 is to earn back those savings, and also help his family in Mexico recover from their economic struggles. He hopes the new Covid-19 vaccines will help speed up that process.

Ultimately, many residents Mission Local spoke with seemed to regard 2021 as a turning point from the pandemic-fueled misery of 2020. 

“I’m confident that next year, we’ll see change for the better,” Gonzalez said. 

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

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  1. My resolution might be to live joyously, no matter what. Whether the world improves or not I’m tired of being disappointed. So I’m giving up of expectation of what happens to the world. Instead I’ll focus on making each day joyful.