Mon. April 22, 2019: Make The World a Better Place — Community #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 22, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

This week, we talk about making the world a better place by building community and participating in your community.

What, exactly, does “building community” mean?

Different things to different people. To some, it means reaching out to those who don’t like to participate, and to encourage them so to do. That’s great for extroverts, but as an introvert who is forced into extroversion far too often and gets resentful, I build it in different ways. Ways that don’t force me to pretend to be something I’m not.

I consider what I’m interested in, and where my skills might be an asset. Then, I see which organizations could use those skills. I do my research, I attend open houses or events to see if we’d be a good fit. If what I do matches what they need, we discuss ways for me to volunteer.

One of my biggest mistakes when I moved here was downplaying some of my skills and doing tasks with which I was uncomfortable under the adage of “being a good sport.” Around here, too many people are hostile to people with New York skills, citing, “This isn’t New York.” No, it’s not. The only place that’s New York is actually New York. But some of the skills that are successful there can be successful anywhere, and dismissing skills because they worked in New York is a stupid reason not to use them.

Having learned the hard way, I’m done with that.

I’ve also learned to put my foot down when the organization demands something I don’t do, with the claim, “well that’s what we need” — ESPECIALLY when I told them, early on, what tasks I was uncomfortable with and would not do. Too many organizations just want bodies to deploy and aren’t honest about the work that needs doing. It’s one thing if there’s a crunch time to say, “We could really use an extra pair of hands for this.” Hey, no problem, glad to help. It’s quite another to send multiple emails every week demanding I do things I said I wouldn’t do.

It means I’ll leave the organization. Especially as a volunteer, I am not going to spend my rare time off, unpaid, doing things that make me miserable. It makes MY world a worse place, and it doesn’t help further the organization’s mission.

In volunteering, honesty on both sides and firm boundaries are vital for the volunteer-organization relationship to work. The more specific and honest the initial conversation, the better the overall relationship, and the better everyone works for the betterment of all.

Another way to make the world a better place in your community is to look around and see what needs to be done. Does an elderly neighbor need help with yard work or grocery shopping or someone to help walk the dog? Is a neighbor sick and could use a few meals they can just heat up? Is a fundraiser looking for someone to staff a table or write invitations or do something you enjoy doing?

The local library is an information center. They often have a community board, and their website carries information on programs, talks, community events.

If you have an area of expertise, ask your local library if they’d like you to give a talk on it. Partner with them. Attend other events they host. Funding is cut if people don’t attend. When I worked for a library, those who couldn’t be bothered to attend the free programs were always the ones who moaned that there weren’t enough programs offered. If you want events to exist, you have to make the effort to attend them when they do, or they will cease. If there’s no reciprocity, they stop.

Attend local theatre productions and art openings and wine tastings, if you’re interested in any of that. These programs have no reason to exist if people don’t attend. We’re all tired after a long day at work, but if you make an effort once or twice a week, it improves your community.

The Chamber of Commerce is another organization that makes the community a better place. Attend an open house. Get to know other businesses. See if it makes sense to become a member. As a freelancer, in most places I’ve lived, the Chamber of Commerce is one of the best resources for networking, community building, business building, and laughter around.

When you go to these events, smile. Introduce yourself. Talk to people. Make the effort, even if you’re shy. Look around for the person who is quiet and doesn’t know anyone else, either, and say hello. Be the inclusion you want. Don’t wait for other people to do it.

Create what you’re looking for, instead of expecting others to do it. When you create what you want and need and love, you attract those seeking the same. That’s how you find your tribe.

2 Comments

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  2. Great delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up thee amazing work.


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