Whether you’re staying put, or moving to a new neighborhood, community involvement is the key to a sustainable and healthy future. While there’s plenty of personal benefits, such as business connections and someone to call nearby in case of an emergency, it’s also great for the whole. By investing time, care, and money, (if you can afford to,) into your community, you have the unique opportunity to improve the lives of those around you. Humans are social creatures, and opening your heart to the improvement of your neighborhood has a ripple effect through your life and others. Here’s a few ways to get started on connecting to your community.
Having access to fresh produce is often a rarity in a cityscape environment. Not only for you, but for the entire community, running a garden is a fantastic way to check many fulfilling boxes. You’ll have access to delicious produce that’s in season, as well as access to your community in a way that benefits the environment. It does involve getting your hands dirty, but studies show that when it comes to health and wellness, community gardens are an all-round way to get started. You’ll learn a lot with this activity, meet a variety of people and get some fresh air.
Giving back to your community comes in many forms, but donations are probably the most tangible. Whether you’re donating clothing or funds, it is important to do proper research to ensure that your efforts are going to the best place. As far as Montana goes, here’s some great places to donate clothes. If you’re looking to donate some cash, Forward Montana is a non-profit org that accepts fiscal donations to help them advocate for underrepresented communities across the state. This effort involves arguably the least amount of actual involvement, if you’re running a busy lifestyle, but can still have a huge impact on the lives of many.
Volunteer work is the most diverse activity on the list, because the ways to participate are truly endless. Do you love animals? There’s plenty of animal shelters to get involved with, even for just a few hours a week! What about food drives? Plenty of those to get involved with as well. Since we’re based out of Montana, here’s a helpful link for volunteer work that’s happening in Montana. However, if you’re reading this somewhere else, you can enter any zipcode or area into this same site and find some work near you!
NEIGHBORHOOD CLEAN UP
This one might seem obvious, and you might even pick up a few pieces of trash on your morning walk anyway. However, joining a group that scours the neighborhood for garbage in order to properly dispose of it is a massive contribution to a healthy neighborhood. Not only are you cleaning up the space you live in, you’ll be making new friends in the area that are like-minded in their pursuit of community. You might need to purchase a few things for this one, such as gloves and a trash grabber, but the work will be fulfilling and a good workout! Facebook groups, Meet Up and other sites with similar premises are a great place to get connected to these groups.
For a more social approach, attending local events, art and music shows, etc. is a great place to get acquainted with the community. This way you can have a fun night out, meet some neighbors, and immerse yourself in the culture of your area. Facebook is a great spot to find local groups, venues and events that are happening near you. NextDoor is a great app and website that helps you connect with your neighbors, see what’s happening around the area, and more!
I love this category, personally, because it typically ensures higher quality products from more sustainable sources. You could go as far to consider shopping on a craft based website like Etsy to be local and sustainable, because then at least your dollars are supporting a small business. However, simply going out into your town when you need a present for someone, a trinket for your shelf, or anything else is a huge way to support your neighborhood. Farmers markets and craft fairs are a great way to get involved too, and put your money where your mouth is, as far as the community is concerned.
These were just a few entry level ways on how you can be more involved in your community. There’s plenty of other creative ways to get involved, and you’ll certainly find more ways once you’re integrated into the neighborhood gossip. Thank you for reading and happy community building!!