The world has no shortage of problems to address, but you might feel overwhelmed when facing realities like climate change and war. However, every community has issues they need to tackle, giving you a way to exercise your agency and make a positive difference.
Sometimes, it’s clear how to help. For example, your faith community might rally around raising funds and materials to support a family displaced by a fire or natural disaster. Other times, you need to determine where to apply your energies best. Here are six ways to support your local community.
1. Start a Community Garden
If you’ve grocery shopped lately, you know that food prices continue to rise. The cost of bread alone increased nearly 13% during the pandemic. Many families who already lived paycheck to paycheck find themselves struggling to feed their families.
Getting involved in a community garden can help you replenish your supply of fresh fruits and veggies with leftovers to share with those in need. You’ll also benefit from the physical exercise and time spent in the fresh air and sunshine. Working out and spending time in nature both improve your overall health.
If you don’t have a community garden near you, consider starting one. A good place to begin is with help from an established civic organization like the Rotary Club. However, you can also use flyers to generate interest and approach local authorities independently once you have enough people.
2. Support Your Local Library
Your local library is an absolute treasure. These spaces are among the few public areas where you can go without the expectation of spending money, serving as a vital social hub and resource provider.
You can support your local library by becoming a member and donating materials. Borrowing materials alone shows the need for this resource and you can do so if you’re still isolated because of COVID-19 concerns. Many institutions now allow you to rent audiobooks and e-books online — you don’t have to leave your house.
3. Attend Council Meetings
If you want to make your opinion known on various local issues, attending local council meetings allows you to raise your voice. Your presence indicates community concern even if you don’t speak, letting civic leaders know that you hold them accountable for their decisions. Most elective representatives want to improve their re-election chances.
Many such meetings are now available online via Livestream, although you must register in advance. Your local city website is your first stop for information.
4. Find a Civic Organization You Care About
What civic organizations exist in your neighborhood? Many communities have resources like Big Brothers and Big Sisters and local Humane Societies. If you’re passionate about animals, you can improve your mental health and do good by volunteering to walk needy dogs.
Getting involved with civic organizations offers the perfect way to meet friends who share similar values. You also demonstrate your commitment to helping others near you, giving you a positive reputation if you’re a local business owner.
5. Get Involved in Your Child’s School
Those who work in education faced enormous challenges during the recent pandemic and many schools needed all the help they could get before COVID-19. Getting involved with your child’s education benefits your little learner and supports others in your community.
For example, attending school board meetings lets you voice your concerns about proposed policy changes that affect multiple children in your community. Are they considering a uniform rule? Now is your time to stand up and add your opinion on whether such dress codes decrease bullying or represent an undue economic burden to financially struggling parents.
6. Promote Eco-Friendly Initiatives
Climate change might be bigger than any one individual can solve, but it requires everyone’s cooperation to address this pressing issue. You can make a difference by choosing sustainable habits at home and pressing for eco-friendly initiatives in your local community.
For example, you can spearhead efforts to include more public recycling bins, particularly if you live in a tourist area. Few public gas stations have such facilities and everything from aluminum cans to plastic bottles ends up in landfills.
You can also look into the Adopt-a-Highway program to address litter. Here’s a beautiful way for you to give back as a local business owner while raising brand awareness. In exchange for picking up trash a specified number of times per year, your organization gets a sign indicating your support — everyone who drives that stretch will see it.
You can even bring issues to local awareness. For example, relatively few communities qualify as International Dark Sky locations, but light pollution contributes to firefly disappearances and blocks your views of the stars. However, it might be feasible to implement changes that win you this merit, especially if you live in a smaller town with a local business community invested in protecting the environment.
How to Support Your Local Community
Many of the world’s problems are too overwhelming to address alone. However, you can join forces with others in your community and affect positive change, reaping the benefits directly in daily life.
Consider the tips above for supporting your local community. When people unite toward a common goal, there’s no limit to the good you can accomplish.