With our Changemakers book giveaway happening right now, I started wondering what I have done to make a positive change in my community. I usually feel that I really don't do anything, as my days are full of taking care of my kids and trying to grow food. I used to volunteer a lot. I used to work in public schools and help children. I used to feel like I was making a difference in my community. Now, I barely even eek out time to go to church, and haven't volunteered anywhere in 5 years since I was pregnant. I often feel guilty and depressed about that. I know in a few years thing will calm down enough that I can volunteer more, and even bring my kids to volunteer more, but for now, that's just not a possiblity.
So, I thought I would change my perspective to try to think of the little things I do to help those around me. If I can spot those, perhaps I won't feel so depressed, and will feel that I am doing something, and so I can probably do just a bit more!
Here's some of the little things I can think of:
Moderating here on permies. I love that I can help people connect with each other, learn from one another, and make our world a little better.
Going for walks in my neighborhood, and talking with my neighbors. My kids love to go for walks, and walks are a fantastic way to calm them down when they stop being able to play nicely together. We will often walk our neighborhood for 1-2 hours. We meet our neighbors, give duck eggs, help with their projects, and bring smiles on their faces when they see my cute kids smile. And, my kids get to learn from their neighbors. Helping my kids be better people, I think, is a good way to help my community
Helping people smile at the store. I always try to have my kids exude cuteness and crack a few jokes at the store, to help relieve tension and make someone's day brighter.
These are all of the things I can think of right now. Maybe I do more, but just can't see it because it seems like it's what I do, not something that benifits my community.
What are the little and big things YOU do to help your community?
I give people plants and help my friends where possible.Give advice on phytotherapy if people care to listen, i give herbs, salves and show people how easy it is made, and where its found saves money. I spread rare plants through seed spreading. Try to behave correctly and responsible and still remain fun. Hard work, but fulfilling as nothing else. I want to add i’ve recently talked one of my friends into stopping to help. Because that person is just nothing but a selfish parasitic drain. Better to help someone that would help others.
Nicole you’re very active on here, want to say thanks for contributing while so busy with young kids.
Creating edible biodiversity and embracing everlasting abundance.
I installed the nextdoor application and try to chime with ideas when local people post questions. My most recent is providing a link to consider ecogrid options instead of paving a driveway that has failed. This allows the rain to soak in instead of run off to storm sewer.
Hubby and I are fairly proactive when it comes to our community, although we are very private people when it comes to our home. I'm not going to toot our horn with all the things that we do, but we have helped plenty of people with their problems, given emotional support to people dealing with a crisis, provide our opinions when asked for them. We attend community meetings, festivals, and activities. We try to support small local businesses. What little food we buy, we buy locally from people within our community when possible.
Little things that mean a lot and make little changes on the personal level include...
...offering to pick up a neighbor's mail when I'm going to the post office (we don't get home delivery here)
...offering to pick up a couple items when I travel into town to Costco (2 hour drive away)
...making a "good morning" phone call or text message to a few seniors that I know who live alone, just to check on them
...making a point to compliment people or simply briefly chat when I meet while I'm waiting in line, at the post office, at the trash drop off station, etc.
...offering to take trash to the dump for people without cars (or really shouldn't be driving)
I've been known to plant flowers along the roadside and in public areas. I'm a stealth planter of my excess banana starts and papaya seedlings. It's fun to see people harvesting the "wild" fruits.
I pick up trash along our road, plus will stop to pull out an invasive weed if I spy one.
I don't have a lot of time for volunteer work, but I make a point to get involved one day a month. Sometimes it's volunteering at a spay/neuter clinic, other times it's joining a coastal cleanup group.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
I fix stuff.
Many people have homes that need work done.
I install toilets, faucets, outlets, light fixtures, for my church, family, friends,etc.
I plant things.
In my front yard.
Food, herbs,anything but grass.
All kinds of people talk to me.
They admire my hard work, and I tell them "this is my fun"
Kids are always curious.
Immigrants always get it.
I feed people.
At my church, or handing out at street corners.
Bread I bake is my favorite thing to share.
We don't give money to those holding signs, but we do share our food,often from pantries that we qualify for ourselves.
We eat the stuff that needs preparation we give away canned spaghetti, etc.
Sometimes I'm diving a dumpster for food and someone without my means comes up.
I'll take the produce, and give them the pastries.
They always warn me about the cops or shopkeepers.
We are in it together.
This is new to me.
I try to bear witness to suffering.
My nature is to want to fix things.
The listening doesn't necessarily fix things,and certainly not in a hurry.
I combine it with doing the other stuff.
But often it's not the sink backing up so much as it's not having anyone to call for help.
Answering the call, when it's more than a backed up sink,is what I'm trying to do now.
"Recognize" people, actually see them. With a "hello", or compliment or question, or just a nod or even a prod. Relate to them in a way that's true inside you - works better than "just words". Try to find what you can ask of them, ask them for. Usually that's got the most lift to it. Or just shoot the breeze - good practice and good for you, too.
That's my #1 thumb-rule. Seems to work ok, but sometimes I gotta pass - just can't find a "fit" for somebody right that moment.
Lead by example. I always try to do the right thing, whether it is picking up garbage, cleaning up messes in public area's, saying "hi" to pretty much everyone I see.
Recycle everything possible. Helping neighbors. I am nearing retirement and planning on working full time when I do. That will be helping people with whatever they need. Some for free, some for trade.
Currently looking for a small piece of property to "start over" on. Build small and be self sufficient and possible. Building and maintenance background so pretty handy there.
oh, I think I started to ramble.... lol
I truly love reading all these replies to this interesting thread -- thank you for starting it, Nicole!
I was actually heading into the forum this evening to ask what people think "counts" as making change in a community. Personally I think that all the things you've all talked about here count ... the helping neighbours, the raising food, the working online with these forums ... it's all ways of building connection and community, whether close by or further away.
Nothing by itself is ever enough, right? At least that's how I sometimes feel! But these gestures of real neighbourliness help to build the kind of community where people will see value in making larger changes, if they -- we! -- decide that's what is needed.
In Japan I hear that there's a community newsletter for every block, and it circulates by hand, even in big apartment buidings they have it. That way you have to check on your neighbors in person once a week at least, and then if there are elderly neighbors they get to have someone speaking with them each week.
In my neighborhood we host a neighborhood brunch. We've handed out at least 100 invitations on paper by hand, and we have it consistently. It has made a smaller difference than I'd like but it's something. I mention the book _Superbia: 31 strategies for creating sustainable neighborhoods_ when there seems to be interest.
A community in California somewhere "babysits" their local elected official, requiring them to come to a weekly study group at a different person's house each week, so they keep in touch with their constituents. They can fundraise if they need to influence the election and the politician knows it--each person giving $1. Normally the person with $1 doesn't get the ear of the politician, because hte politician has to spend half of their time fundraising for hte next election. And their loneliest night is the night after htey win office. With the "babysitting" (my word for it) they have continued support and contact and the ability ot stay true to their real job. I wish I could remember the name of the community that does this, my housemate knows and if I can get the info I'll post it here.
Community Building 2.0: ask me about drL, the rotational-mob-grazing format for human interactions.
I think "Consistently" is very important. It gives people something to rely on. It creates a psychological (social?) connection that doesn't depend on the latest outrage or over-hyped product (our president?). It allows squabbles over really important stuff, like who gets the comfortable chair... <g> That's all to the good as long as people maintain the basic respect and courtesies. It's how we get to know each other and it works pretty well, long as the situation is not grandiosely overwrought.
Sorry to hear you feel it's not very effective. (Almost?) everything depends on a very small nucleus of participants. I don't think you're going to see a different dynamic in this world. But that doesn't mean the nucleus has to be static, either the members or their efforts. Seeking survival and success, to my mind, is fine w/in a larger context. So nothing wrong w/promoting the group in ways you deem appropriate and looking carefully at the situation to see if there is more to be done.
> babysitting a politician...
Oh Man, I LIKE that!. I think that's exactly what's missing from American politics that I've witnessed in my life. The (bad) idea seems to be "we've won, the guy's IN, and now we just sit back and collect the benefits". So wrong. Your "babysitting" is the first actual, direct, head on, implementation of a different viewpoint (that I've heard of). I'm going to remember that one for the To-Do list.
I consider the community things that we do to be part of what makes a satisfying life in our rural area. We helped to launch the local food co-op presence here. My partner is an artist, and she helps other artists in their professional development. I’ve always been involved in community initiatives, particularly those relating (hands-on or politically) to the environment. I’ve sat on a number of boards of directors for formalized community projects.
We have a circle of land-owning friends who look after each other’s homesteads if someone will be off their place for a while. Potluck get-togethers are common here, and we’ve also organized and participated in day-long work parties (a.k.a. “barn raisings”) among neighbors. Whenever possible, we offer our help to friends in the community who have a crisis, or who just need an extra back and pair of hands to accomplish something. We lend tools & equipment that we own to trusted friends & neighbors.
It goes without saying that we pass on know-how about raising food, building things, choosing & maintaining equipment, and so on to anyone who asks.
We try as much as is reasonable to support local businesses in preference to ones further away... or to online-order, parcel-delivery ones.
Although neither of us is a real-estate agent, my partner and I facilitate locating available properties for good, responsible people with ‘eco values’ who want to move into our area.
Re-reading what I've written, I have no idea if what I'm talking about is the "positive change" the OP asks about or simply healthy community functioning & stability. ???
My online educational sites: