Getting involved in your community, and with your fellow community members, is an excellent way to not only get your voice heard about the things that matter to you, but also to feel a bit of ownership and pride over where you live. In the last 60 to 70 years, since the birth and rapid growth of suburban neighborhoods, people have become less connected to where they live, and who they live with. Oftentimes, we don't work where we live, so we get up every morning and leave, come home around dinner time, eat and settle in for the night. There is little time for socializing, and even less time for citizen involvement. But we need to learn to make the time.
There are several ways to get out and be an active and engaged citizen. You can volunteer. Soup kitchens, schools, and local nonprofits (among many other groups), are always looking for volunteers. If you have children that attend local schools, you can join the PTA (parent teacher association), or a number of other groups that help out with field trips, food preparation, and general tasks. Volunteering is a great way to feel good about helping those in need, while keeping yourself involved in the going-on's within your community.
You could also take a more involved approach by running for city government. If you want to make a change to things happening within your community, on a policy level, then running for city council can help get your voice heard. This takes more of a time commitment than volunteering, but can be more effective. Before you decide to join the next election, however, do a little studying up on who is currently running the city, what their stance is on important policies, and when the next election is. Attend open city council meetings and hear what is being discussed. Being knowledgeable about what your community is doing is an important piece in deciding whether or not you feel the need or desire to get involved in the political forum.
Perhaps the easiest way to get involved within your community is get to know your neighbors. Have a block party. Bring a new neighbor (or even an old one) a plate of homemade goodies. Invite your neighbors for dinner. Start a neighborhood watch group. Or a neighborhood book club. Meeting your neighbors will help you feel more connected to your community, which means you will feel more responsible for it. That sense of responsibility is what will bring you a sense of ownership over where you live, which comes with it a desire to take care of it, and the people that live within it.