How to Become Civically Engaged
Being civically engaged means that you are an active participant in your local community. There are countless ways to find a role that fits your interests and your lifestyle. Consider some of the following suggestions for becoming involved.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
The best place to start building community bonds is on your own doorstep. If you aren’t already acquainted with your neighbors, try introducing yourself with a small offering like flowers or desserts. Provide your contact information to them in case of emergency and contemplate what other resources you may be willing to share. Getting that cup of sugar from next door when you’re in a pinch can be surprisingly refreshing, and maybe one day you’ll be able to return a pet that ran loose!
While it’s possible that not everyone in your vicinity will want to become your friend, it is worth reaching out to them anyway. Having relationships with your neighbors can foster a sense of familiarity, safety, and comfort.
Stay Informed on Local Politics
True civic engagement starts with educating yourself on local political developments. Knowing who your representatives are gives you the chance to reach out to them about your concerns. Having an awareness of any proposed legislature allows you to ponder the implications of such changes for you and your community. Try reading your local newspaper to get a sense of what’s going on in your area.
If you find yourself frustrated with the staunch ideological divisions present in today’s dominant political sphere, look into nonpartisan organizations like No Labels. They strive to bring people together across party lines in order to make lasting positive impacts.
Be an Active Voter
Voicing your opinions in local elections is a foundational aspect of civic participation. Attending town halls or informational sessions about any upcoming candidates and ballot measures is a great way to engage in the voting process.
Check the status of your voter registration with your county clerk to make sure your address is correct. Become aware of your polling place or mail-in ballot options, and write down the dates of any upcoming elections. Then, think about signing up to help others register to vote! It’s an easy, temporary, and impactful way to get involved.
Join the School Board
Perhaps you are blessed with school-aged children and have started to form opinions about the way their school district is managed. Well, joining the school board provides an excellent opportunity to make those opinions known! You can get to know other local adults and propose helpful improvements to the school administration. Parent-teacher associations, which don’t require any campaigning on your part, are another avenue for this kind of involvement.
Getting elected to the school board is a perfect way to test the waters if you’ve ever thought about running for local offices such as city council or mayor. The pressure isn’t as high, but the format is essentially the same.
Start a Neighborhood Association
Are you and your friends hoping to plan annual block parties, creek cleanups, or educational events? Do you think of yourself as that super fun parent who just wants to bring everyone together over delicious food? Consider starting a neighborhood association! With the organizing power of a small group, you can accomplish quite a lot.
Word-of-mouth, social media, and print advertisements can assist you in the formation of a brand new association. Try meeting at your local library or coffee shop or hosting the group in your home for a communal potluck.
Neighborhood associations serve as a wonderful platform for casually discussing political matters and other civic concerns. You can come together to support the senior citizens in your area, start a composting service, brainstorm small business proposals, and so much more. Don’t be afraid to dream big!
Volunteer with Nonprofit Organizations
No matter where you live, there is probably a nearby organization doing work that you find important. Chances are, they could use your help! Reflect on the unique skill sets you possess and how they might fit into the mission of a local nonprofit that inspires you. Depending on your schedule, you may decide to serve at a one-time event or on multiple occasions every week!
Volunteering is a straightforward way to meet new people and make a noticeable difference in your community. Some opportunities are friendly for the entire family––bring your children with you will show them what it looks like to be civically engaged at any age. This kind of role modeling can have a profound effect on the health of society for generations to come.
Many would argue that civic engagement is an indispensable part of a well-rounded life. Expressing yourself and your vision as a citizen of this planet is nothing short of empowering. Whether you decide to rally around election season, start your own coalition, or simply show up to monthly local events with snacks and enthusiasm, you are bound to find civic engagement deeply rewarding.