It’s easy to get caught up in our personal lives and forget that we have an obligation to be responsible members of our communities. For some of us, expressing this responsibility is so interwoven into our personal lives that it is simply a natural extension of who we are. Others may need to take a moment to consider how to be more responsible for the communities in which we live. For those of us who live in large cities, we can start with our neighborhoods. Anything we do on a small level will automatically ripple out into the larger system.
Communities thrive on the talents of their members, so one approach to community responsibility is to consider what you have to offer and find ways to bring that into your community. If you have a special gift when it comes to bringing people together, you might agree to throw a party or event once a year that includes the whole community. Even a small open house in an apartment building can accomplish a lot in terms of making people feel more connected and comfortable with each other. If you have a talent for organic gardening, you might offer to help people in your neighborhood plan their own organic gardens. You might be the go to person for neighbors who need someone to water their plants or care for their pets when they’re away. You might take an abandoned space in your community and galvanize others to help you transform it into a community garden or a playground for children. In an area where there are many homeless people, starting a soup kitchen or organizing a holiday meal makes a big difference not only to those in need but to those who want to help.
All holiday parades, picnics, and ceremonies started somewhere, with someone who wanted to give back to the community in which they lived. It’s not too late to propose and execute a new tradition in your own community, whether it’s a block party or an annual picnic. Your particular vision, gifts, and strengths are part of what makes your community unique, so as you recognize them in yourself, feel free to offer them to those who live in your vicinity. Whether your offerings are visionary or practical, they are the very essence of community.