From Lament to Action – Tangible Ways to Get Involved

It’s been a week since the internet lost it’s mind with the outcome of the presidential election. I’ll readily admit that I’m still shocked about the outcome the same way I am when I see ads on TV for the online dating website FarmersOnly.com.

I mean really, this is a thing?

And I certainly understood and felt the lament last week. Tears were shed in McLandia. But I’m also done with seeing the online lamentations.

Instead, it’s time to move from lament to action.

Seriously… if you aren’t actually go to do anything in your community. Shut up. 

But what can I do?

Anything. Something. Just not nothing. Tweeting, signing online petitions, passive-aggressively posting memes to Facebook… classic slactivism

Earn the right to be heard by doing something. Like physically doing something.

Embrace your civic responsibility. It’s not just for old people, you know?

“But what? Literally, I don’t know where to start.” OK, I get it. Here’s an incomplete list of things you can do in your local community starting immediately that will actually make a difference.

From Slactivism to Activism

Don’t try to do them all. But do pick 1-2.

  • Check on your neighbors. Do you even know their names? If their yard touches your yard, you need to know their names. Knock on their doors this week just to say hi.
  • Volunteer for a local service organization, just pick one. Kristen and Megan have been helping out at San Diego Refugee Tutoring one evening a week and loving it. (6 year-old Syrian refugees are definitely not scary) There are so many amazing volunteer opportunities out there. If you’re frustrated about national politics, pick something local to get involved with. Trust me, it’ll help.
  • Join a local activism group. Even if you don’t 100% agree with everything they stand for, you’ll learn a ton and discover things you can get involved with which you can be passionate about. They say “birds of a feather flock together.” That’s totally true with local activism as many groups are inter-related. I’d encourage you to start by checking out Showing Up for Racial Justice.
  • Show up to school board meetings. You don’t have to be on the board to know what’s going on. And the local school board impacts so many people’s lives. So many.
  • Attend town council meetings. 
  • Participate in community council meetings. (In San Diego, there’s “City Council” which is a big formal deal. Then every neighborhood has smaller, less formal community councils that address local issues.)
  • Go to zoning and city planning meetings that impact your area. I know, that sounds really, really boring because there’s going to be a lot of truly boring stuff about sign ordinances and parking variances. But if you want to get the pulse for what’s really going down… zoning boards are the front lines. 
  • Join Nextdoor and participate. I know, there’s a lot of lost pets. Push past that to get to know your neighbors.
  • Vote. For crying out loud. Vote. Unreal how many people didn’t vote in the national election. (Except you, San Diego… 80% turnout… dang! Amazing.) Seriously, vote at anything and everything you can. Big, small… show up and cast your ballot.
  • Become a mentor or tutor to an at-risk teenager. Here’s one thing I know for sure. If you call a local middle/high school and say, “I’d like to volunteer as a tutor, I’ll jump through whatever hoop you have for me, I’ll pay for a background check or whatever it takes…” approximately 0% of schools will hang up on you.

Consider this a starter list. I don’t know what the needs are in your community might be. But I do know your communities #1 need: You.

Church doesn’t fulfill 100% of your local civic responsibility. I think a lot of people, and a ton of people in my life, think that if they are really involved at church– or if they work at a church— that’s somehow all they need to do. Sure, there’s things you can do at/through church that meet some of this. But don’t confuse a relatively closed circle of like-minded people at a local church as everything you can and should be doing in the community.

I might even encourage you to consider becoming Good News in Your Neighborhood at the expense of being good news at your local church.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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