There are things to like and dislike about every town and city, nowhere is perfect. Even if one resident of a particular city believes that it’s a perfect place, his neighbor might well disagree. And just as we know what we like and don’t like about the places we live, we have ideas about how they could be better, too.
What’s surprising, however, is how little most people do in order to improve their communities and turn their city into the place they most want to live. It’s fair to say that some places face much larger challenges than others, though. Wishing that your city had more street lighting or a junior lacrosse team is quite different from wishing away gangs, poverty and unemployment. However, whatever the problem is, it won’t go away by itself, and it’s up to the citizens of a community to make it what it is, before anyone else.
Look at the potential benefits that changing things around in your life might bring. For example, if you happen to think that your city has a traffic problem, you could leave your car at home and get around on an electric scooter, instead. Sure, people might say they’re for kids, but they’re actually also great for adults. They create more space on the roads, you can dodge the traffic jams and you don’t have to find and pay for a parking space, either. Then there are the hidden benefits it brings. If more people drove scooters instead of cars, think how much cleaner the air would be. It would be great for kids, well into their adult lives as they avoid the negative effects of growing up in an area with high levels of air pollution. On top of that, everyone saves money on gasoline, insurance and tax that can be spent on other things in the local economy, with the likely consequence of creating jobs. As soon as the economy booms, investment arrives, your house price goes up and you live in the most desirable city in the country – all because you bought a scooter!
Getting involved in community matters is essential, too. Even if you feel you don’t have any particular skills to bring, it shows that you take your citizenship seriously and you’re willing to put in time and effort for the community. In time, you’ll find your niche, and meanwhile you serve as an example to others of what they should be doing. It’s when communities come together like this, share ideas and resources that they start to get things done. Groups like this can apply effective pressure on mayors and city halls, members of congress and even senators. They can have a radical effect on crime, too. By working together and liaising closely with the police, they can identify the seeds of trouble, such as groups of problematic youths, talk to their parents and teachers, and deal directly with the individuals in a constructive manner.
Criminals scouring the area from outside are deterred by communities which look out for one another. Neighborhood watch schemes have prevented countless home invasions over the years. Neighborhood associations have made it impossible for drug gangs to operate on their streets due to high levels of vigilance.
By being involved with community matters, you can get the projects rolling that you want to see underway. By talking with other members, you can pool your resources and avoid expensive subcontracts which may prevent certain projects from going forward. You can pull together for each other in times of crisis: raising money for sick community members’ medical treatment through fundraisers, for example. Or coordinating your manpower to put down flood defenses or evacuate the elderly before a hurricane or similar disaster hits.
The best thing is that you will set an example and a standard for the younger generation, who will grow up caring actively for their community. Your town won’t be a place where people live in isolation and fear any more.
As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said: “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”