Get Active as a Community Leader With These Empowering Tips
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Getting involved in your community has many benefits, from allowing you to make connections with your neighbors to giving you a platform to help others and make a real difference. If you’re a small business owner, taking action in your community can also help boost your profile and network with potential customers and other entrepreneurs. Whether you want to create a plan for a neighborhood safety watch or get active in the movement for social justice, there are several things you can do to make your presence known within your area. Think about your skill set and interests, as well as what your community’s needs are; for instance, neighborhoods with many families might benefit from a safe playground or a crime watch.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Research your options
When making a difference in your community, it’s important to understand what your options are as well as what the legal ramifications might be. For instance, starting a community garden is a great idea for a neighborhood, but you’ll need to obtain permission and permits from the city to do so. One way to make some tasks easier is to create a nonprofit organization that will allow you to apply for grants and public funding; read up on the steps involved, which typically include creating bylaws that detail how the corporation is governed, how voting will work, how often you’ll hold board meetings, and how you’ll manage conflicts of interest.
Make sure it’s a cause that’s close to your heart
Whether you’re starting a nonprofit or laying out plans to start a voter registration campaign, it’s crucial to ensure that the ways in which you get involved in your community are things you believe in. Getting active within your neighborhood requires a lot of time and effort, and if you’re spending your energy and free time doing something that you’re not passionate about, you’ll likely get burnt out pretty quickly. Think carefully about what your community’s needs are and whether you can truly afford to get involved in a way that will make a difference.
Create safe spaces
In many communities, one of the most important needs is safe spaces for children. You might consider building a playground, starting an after-school program, gathering safety resources for babysitters, or putting together a safety team made up of members who can watch for suspicious activity, keep an eye out for hazards, or update the community on potential traffic issues (such as a large festival that blocks off Main Street, or a car accident that shuts down a particular roadway). You can utilize a community app for these kinds of communications or start a social media page where members can post, share information, and stay connected.
Start a cleanup initiative
Once you can ensure that your neighborhood is safe, you might consider starting a cleanup initiative that everyone can join. This is a great way to build friendships, find support, and create a sense of community while doing something worthwhile. You might ask everyone to pitch in a small amount of money to cover the cost of things like trash bags or to donate tools; then, build a plan for making repairs, cleaning up common areas, and maintaining outdoor spaces. For large jobs, it can be helpful to designate someone to communicate with the city to ensure they’re taken care of.
Getting active within your community is a worthwhile endeavor, so think about which direction you’d like to go in and whether forming a nonprofit would help you reach your goals. With a good plan and a little help, you can improve your community in a number of ways.
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