This year I have a Christmas wish for Evansville. In its simplest form, my wish is unity. Evansville has a great, diverse group of people working hard to make this city greater and greater every day. Unfortunately, many people don't see that and don't participate in that greatness. Why? I believe it's a lack of awareness, understanding, and unification.

No one who loves this city wants to confront the looming ideology that other people think that Evansville sucks. Yes, you read that correctly. Some people think that Evansville sucks. It's the giant elephant in the room that everyone's aware of but none of the community leaders want to confront. The truth is that we must acknowledge this fact, and those feelings, and WHY those feelings occur in order to continue to build a better future for our city. Throwing a giant sheet over the elephant in the room and pretending it isn't there isn't doing anyone any good.

By concealing the fact that some people dislike Evansville, we're excluding them from the potential experiences that could change their mind about our town. If you never acknowledge the problems, you cannot come up with any viable solutions.

So now the issue is out in the open. How do we fix it?

For those who love our city and see the good things happening, take the opportunity to persuade a friend who's not so fond of Evansville to join you at a community event. Attempt to open their eyes to all of the amazing things happening around them that they're missing.

To those of you who are hell bent on the notion that Evansville is a terrible place, I ask that you expand your perception, allow for change, and drop the negativity. A lot of reality is an issue of perception. Look in your community for those people making a difference and lifting the community up. If you never attempt to look for the good in something, you'll always see the bad.

Unification of our community members is integral to the success of our city as a whole. On the other hand, don't think I'm advocating for conformity and discouraging expression or discourse. It's perfectly normal and an important part of the building process to disagree and express concerns. Remember though, that expressing concern is different than negativity. Expressing concern is constructive while just speaking negatively is not.

So why is this my Christmas wish for our city? I have an array of reasons, but the biggest one is that I know what our city, what our people are capable of. See, I used to hate Evansville. Imagine that, Sunny being a Grinch. It happens. It particularly happens when you're not a participant in the development of the community that you live in. At the time, I didn't realize that my contribution or lack thereof meant anything at all. I believed that others were responsible for 'fixing' the city and making it better. I was one of those people who had a warped perception of what the city was. That is, until I actually started participating.

Organizations like Project Reveal, Young & Established, and E is For Everyone shed light onto the magnificence of what Evansville truly has to offer and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Small business owners who are constantly participating in the community progressively drive it forward as well. Development and support of these organizations and businesses from community members like you and me exponentially increase the appeal of our city.

If we continue to participate and rally for inclusion initiatives like E is For Everyone where every individual in our city can feel as though they matter and make a difference, there's no end to what this city could achieve. Unification, inclusion, and open perception is all I'm asking for. It seems like a tall order, but it's already happening. It has been happening for a long while. I just ask that we keep the momentum going. I ask that if you haven't participated in the community, do so now because Evansville doesn't just have to be willing to truly experience it for all that it is first. The best part is that the city is only going to continue to expand. Don't you want to be a part of that expansion, a part of Evansville's legacy?

Christmas time is a time for giving, kindness, gratitude, hope, and togetherness and I know that we can do better together.

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