Monday, September 3, 2012

Step 9 - Get Out!

When we get out and learn about the place that we live, we will have more desire to protect it. Take a nightly walk. Spend a few hours downtown on a weekend. Visit the local farmer's market. Research if you have local land trust and visit their website for more information about trails and preservation areas. Any way that we experience the place we live improves our connection to it, and the people within the community. There's an organization in Nashville called Get Out. Be Active. (GOBA) and they highlight three ways to value your community - 1) Volunteer; 2) Get Healthy in Your Community; 3) Build Relationships Through Shared Interest. Each of these will get you out of your house, out into the street, into the woods, and engaged in the activities of your community.

If you're community has a soup kitchen or hunger prevention program, volunteer to help serve a meal once a week. Or if there's local organizations that do community service, get involved when you can by helping with fundraisers and projects. Volunteering to help the community will help you better understand what is going on around you, which will in turn make you more willing to fight for the betterment of the community and its residents. You can volunteer as little or as much as time allows you. It's also a good idea to get the children involved, to teach them that where they live, and who they live with, matters. This will help build in them a sense of connection to the community and make them feel like an engaged member. To find out about volunteer options in your community, visit Volunteer Match

Just getting out and walking, biking, or running in your community will connect you to the environment, which will in turn, increase in you a desire to protect it. Understanding the natural and built environments that surround us, through physical activity, can help when it comes time for local elections. Often times the ballot questions are regarding infrastructure improvements. Without know what type of natural and built environment exists around you and your community, it is difficult to vote with knowledge of which ballot questions will actually be of benefit. Your local Parks & Recreation department can help you find outdoor activities for you, and your family. Research local walking trails around the city, and in the woods, and explore your neighborhoods. Know where you live, and what you're fighting for.

Lastly, building relationships with community members through planned activities, like book groups, knitting circles, and other social organizations, will help you better understand the people you live with. Connecting with like minded people, who have the same desire to create a better community, can benefit you both mentally and socially. Our social lives are what keep us active and bring us together. 

Getting out and getting to know your community and the people you live with will help both your mental and physical health, as well as encourage in your a desire to keep it clean, healthy and thriving. 

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