5.04.2017

10 Ways to Create Positive Change in Your Community


If you read my post Why I Participate in American Politics (and You Should Too), then you know that I try to be a civically engaged citizen. I don't think politics are either good or bad. I believe they're a necessary means to an end where all Americans' fundamental rights are protected and are enjoying a high quality of life.

Ever since the election, I've become involved with two local groups who seek to create positive change in my community. One is a group of progressive women in my town who meet twice monthly. Once, to brainstorm ways to influence national, state and local policy, support candidates, and give back to our community. The second monthly meeting is more of a social gathering and an opportunity to network and form relationships with like-minded individuals in our town. The group is about 200 members strong, with meeting attendance around 50-60 people. The group ranges in age, but is largely compromised of middle-aged women.

The second group I'm involved in is a smaller group of about 15 of my own friends. We meet monthly, alternating locations at each other's houses. We keep each other abreast of pressing political issues and share information for contacting our representatives, we pool our money and donate to a mutually agreed upon cause, and we brainstorm ways to give back. So far, members of our group have participated in the Women's March on Washington, visited an open house at the Cincinnati Islamic Center, and started the process of opening a Diaper Bank in our community. In a small amount of time, our group has a had a truly significant impact. And I know these types of meetings are happening all across the country.

I realize that not everyone has access to these types of groups, but wants to make a difference. So with these experiences in mind, I wanted to share 10 things you can do to create positive change in your community, state, and country:



1. Call your representatives. Believe me, know one hates using the phone more than me. But it does make a difference. Our elected officials need to know how their constituents feel and know that their actions are being followed. If you have phone anxiety, like I do, download the 5 Calls app. I use this app for making all my calls- it gives you a list of the most pressing issues for you to choose from, provides a script, and allows you to call your representatives right from the app. It's completely dummy-proof and has made calling my Congressman and Senators soooo easy to do!

2. Attend local meetings. Want to give back and get involved in your community, but not sure where to start? If you don't know the going-ons or issues facing your area, city council, board of education, and/or county commissioner meetings are a great place to start.

3. Support local candidates. If you're ready to see positive change in the leadership of your community, find out how you can support new candidates who are running for office. A friend of mine is a local City Council Member and she recruited me into a volunteer position as Campaign Treasurer for another woman running for City Council this election. It's been such a valuable learning experience for someone like me who is interested in politics, but has no desire to be in the spotlight.

4. Volunteer. I live in a small, rural community with not a ton of resources. The nonprofits in my area are always looking for resources and volunteers. There are always food pantries, homeless shelters, libraries and clinics who are in need of help. Find one that fits with your passions and ask how you can contribute!

5. Start a nonprofit. Do you notice a gap in your community that needs to be met? Start by talking to local service providers to see if there is a real need and you're not duplicating someone else's efforts. If after assessing the needs of the community, you find there's no one serving the population you want to serve- why not do it yourself?! My friends and I are in the planning stages of starting a local diaper bank!

6. Find a faith community. You don't have to be a Christian or person of faith to gain something from fellowship and learning from other concerned members of your community. I, myself, am somewhere between Christian and agnostic, but I found a local Quaker meeting that reflects my beliefs and desire to better my community and the world.

7. Donate your gently used goods. As the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." You might be surprised how something you no longer have a use for could be incredibly valuable to someone else. My local homeless shelter recently took donations of pillows and laundry baskets for their women's shelter, as well as gently used bicycles so that their residents can bike to work! I make about one donation per month of clothing and household items since my boys outgrow their clothing so frequently!

8. Donate your pantry. If your family is in a position to do so, you can make a commitment to donate your excess/leftover shelf-stable goods at the end of each month. Take inventory of the foods that you didn't use and donate them to a local food pantry or shelter.

9. Support local business. Did you know that when you buy from a small business or farmers' market in your community, you are keeping twice as much money invested in your local economy than if you buy from a chain store? It may take a few more trips, but buying local can have a huge economic impact for your community!

10. Write your reps. Not comfortable on the phone, but want to send a message? Totally understandable! Get some postcards and the office addresses of your Congressional representatives. When there's an issue that you want to address, send them a short note to let them know your opinion and that you're holding them accountable. I love these personalized postcards from Paperless Post. They have an entire collection of postcards specifically for writing your representatives, as well as invitations, birthday cards, and Christmas cards!

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What are you doing to create positive change in your community?

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