A ban or tax on plastic bags, a $600 million or so off-shore wind farm, a new Robert Crown Center, the possible closings of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, the North Branch Library, the Ecology Center and the Chandler-Newberger Center, plus summer concerts and festivals coming up and the delightful, family-engrossing youth soccer and baseball games.

In all this heady buzz, we should keep in mind what we want our community to be, how to preserve its diversity and what kind of services we want the City to provide.

As a community we are trying to unite on a few critical issues: How shall we spend our money next year? What do we want our City to be in 10 or 20 years? How do we come up with a proper balance among keeping a good quality of life for all residents, making it possible for those on fixed and lower incomes to stay in the community, and ensuring that our most vulnerable residents are cared for?

This is a tough, but important, balancing act.

The City is seeking your input on next year’s budget, and while we would not consider predicting what the outcome will be, we will take the minimal risk of saying that an honest process will produce the best results. In addition to the grim choices of increased taxes and fees or reduced services, there are lots of things to consider: Shop, dine and be entertained in Evanston. Walk or bike. Attend a Starlight Concert. Pick up trash in your local park or parkway. Volunteer: mentor a youth, help with community gardens, youth athletic leagues, soup kitchens or any other of our many not-for-profits.

Is this a fun place to live, or what?