6 Ways You Can Make a Positive Change in Your Community

I am in love with where I live. It’s the perfect little, Stars Hollow-esque, small town with a few great bakeries, fantastic restaurants, and one incredible karaoke spot. One thing I’ve learned in my seven years here is that the people and their commitment to our community are what make living here great.

You don’t have to be a Senator or Congresswoman to create change in this country. In fact, by thinking locally, you’re able to take immediate and significant actions, big or small, that benefit you and the people around you. And the best part is that there is nothing stopping you from starting today!

So if, like me, you’re looking to positively impact your community but aren’t quite sure where to start, here are six ways you can contribute, along with some distinct examples to help you get started.

1. Be a Good Neighbor

🎶 Like a good neighbor, [your name] is there! 🎶 Sometimes the smallest thing, like saying hello to someone on the street, can have the biggest impact on a person’s day. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where no one knew each others’ names, and now I have neighbors who leave gift bags with cake on my doorstep. Take a guess which I prefer.

Getting to know the people around you will help you gain empathy for the community around you so that you can use your voice (foreshadowing!) to benefit all.

Here are some ideas for how to be a good neighbor:

  • Be the welcome wagon for new members of your community.
  • Offer to help homebound or vulnerable neighbors by picking up their groceries, shoveling their driveways, or bringing their trash cans up their driveways.
  • Use your skills to mentor other members of the community.
  • Throw a block party. (You know, once it’s safe to do so.)
  • Learn more about the history of your neighborhood.

2. Use Your Voice

You have opinions. Why don’t you use them for good? Now that you’ve gotten to know your neighbors, you can use your voice to help them out, either by supporting their businesses, amplifying their needs, or making sure they’re aware of important happenings.

As a more introverted person, standing up and sharing my thoughts at a town meeting feels outside of my comfort zone, but thanks to social media, I can make myself heard from the comfort of my own home, with no one’s glaring eyes on me.

Here are some ways that you can use your voice:

  • Write positive reviews of local businesses.
  • Share important information with an online community group.
  • Attend town meetings and offer your opinions. Show support for something good for your town or city or stand up in opposition to things you disagree with.
  • Vote. Not just every four years, but in every local election.

3. Give Your Time

It takes a lot of people to help a town or city run smoothly, and not just the ones who are employed to do so. Volunteering is a rewarding way to contribute and it can simultaneously provide you with valuable experience. Think about what skills you have (or want to build) that could be useful to others.

Perhaps during the pandemic you’ve found yourself with more free time because your previous hobbies involved crowded indoor spaces? There are endless opportunities to give your time, whether it’s something you do on your own or by partnering with an organization doing its part to improve your neighborhood.

Here are some ways you can give your time:

  • Clean up a park.
  • Volunteer at your library.
  • Walk dogs at the shelter.
  • Organize a coat or food drive.
  • Build a little free library/pantry.
  • Volunteer for the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA).
  • Be a Girl Scout troop leader.

4. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Maybe time isn’t something you have loads of these days. Are you in a position to uplift your town or city financially? I try to think of my dollars as little votes that I’m casting for things I support. If I want to have a say in what succeeds in my town, whether it’s a new BBQ joint or a cute park I enjoy walking through, a simple way to do that is to put my dollars behind it.

Because of the pandemic, most local businesses, restaurants, shops, and organizations could use some extra support. So, if you’re deciding between making a purchase from a big box online retailer or your neighbor, Sara, who has her own gift shop two blocks away, consider where your dollars will go further.

Here are some ways you can support your community financially:

  • Shop local.
  • Donate to local organizations.
  • Sponsor a local event.
  • Support a GoFundMe of a neighbor who could use extra support.
  • Adopt a bench, sponsor a sidewalk brick, etc.

5. Paint the town green

No matter where you sit on the scale of environmental consciousness, everyone wants to live in a neighborhood that is clean, green, vibrant, and smells good. (Sidenote, my town actually smells like funnel cake.) You might be green at home, but what can you do for your town or city?

There are actions you can take that are good for the planet, even better for your community and great for yourself. For example, in my town, we have a bike-share program where a volunteer group fixes up bikes and rents them out for $25 per year. A $25 bike is a bargain! Joining a food co-op supports local producers AND you get affordable, delicious, organic food. Planting a community garden adds a special green space to your neighborhood AND you get to meet people and enjoy time outdoors. It’s a win-win!

Here are some ways you can make your town more green:

  • Take public transportation, walk, bike, skateboard, rollerblade, unicycle, etc..
  • Set up local recycling stations.
  • Use reusable shopping bags.
  • Start a community composting program.
  • Plant or participate in a community garden.
  • Join a food co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
  • Plant a tree in your yard, if you have one.

6. Get involved in local government

It wouldn’t be a She Should Run blog post if we didn’t encourage you to consider a run for office! Women often think that they need to have a specific set of qualifications to participate in government, but we like to remind you that if you care, you’re qualified. By joining your local government, you can impact all of the areas mentioned above and serve on behalf of your neighbors on an even greater scale.

Even if running for office isn’t part of your short-term plan, there are a number of ways you can still get involved. If you’re reading this post, you obviously want the best for where you live. That means your city or town could greatly benefit from having you, your ideas, and your compassion at the decision-making table. So grab a chair and get started!

Here are some ways you can get involved in local government:

  • Join a board or commission.
  • Join your condo or homeowners association.
  • Attend city council meetings.
  • Volunteer for a local candidate’s campaign.
  • Run for City/Town Council.
  • Run for school board.

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