The environment we reside in can have profound effects on our wellbeing. Nature versus nurture is a long discussion but most would agree that nurture does play a big role in our outcomes. There are many ways we can improve a local community: making our cities easier to be active in, targeting a social problem and finding applicable solutions, or it can be simply helping to clean up the local parks. Here are some tips on how to improve your local community.
A thorough assessment is a great start to improve your local community. Brainstorm with a group of people who are all about positive change and philanthropy to list all the opportunities you have to better your local community. Once you have a list, look at the available resources, skills, networks and manpower you have. There are many ways to choose what to focus on but prioritizing the expected change you can realistically produce and the relative importance of the cause is a good way to start. For example, if poverty is the biggest issue in your local community (but you don’t have the networks to make a big difference), then perhaps choosing to improve your local community’s incentives to be more active is the way to go. Here are some examples to get your ideas flowing.
This is one of the best ideas we’ve seen lately to change a littering problem into (light) community engagement. “Vote With Your Butt” is an initiative by Hubbub, aiming to convince smokers to take that extra effort to throw their used cigarettes into a litter bin. By creating an elegant display and then asking a question that people get passionate about, potential litterers will place their cigarette butt into the answer slot they agree with. This has been going on in the UK for a little while now, with great success. We would love to start seeing these clever ideas popping up at our parks and recreation areas and facilities.
Want other ideas around green initiatives you can start at work or in your community? Here are 5 easy to start ideas you can share.
Active Living Research and Designed To Move released a report this year stating all of the benefits of an active city, as well as proven interventions and specific recommendations to make any city an active one. The Active Cities report acts as a blueprint for city leaders to transform their city into an active city. There are great case studies and sample metrics to show you how to do it.
The Surgeon General’s recent Step it Up campaign was also a great way to get America moving. Learn more about this initiative and how you and your community can get involved.
Many communities can use philanthropy in different ways. One great example comes out of Vancouver, where Save On Meats owner Mark Brand has been putting out food tokens to help reduce hunger in the local community. Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has a lot of issues with addiction and mental illness and many citizens have been looking for ways to feed their bellies, without worrying about their change being used to purchase illicit substances. Brand has created a food token program that you can give anyone, redeemable for a sandwich. This year, he has furthered his cause by adding clothing tokens, redeemable for a pound of clothing.
The greatest challenge of all may be to create a tight-knit community culture in a local community that is socially disconnected. There are many tips on doing this – remember that it will definitely be a long-term project – but it can be done. As parks and recreations organizations, however, we have an advantage in that we can utilize our amenities as a hub for community engagement. Check out this blog post to learn more about community building.