Friday, February 17, 2017

Ideas for Rebuilding Communities

If your community is anything like mine, the party mindset has taken over all young people. Or illegal drugs. It's sad that after only graduating 6 years ago {not even, actually, but pretty close},  I have several classmates who have died, a handful who are in prison or jail, many who have gotten their kids taken away, and lots who are still stuck in the days of getting high day in and day out with out a worry in the world. I'm certainly no perfect angel... I used to smoke occasionally and have been to a few house parties. One thing I have prided myself in, though, is that I never let it take over my life. It blows my mind that people could even do that, but maybe I'm just different from everyone else. Or maybe my mindset is. I really truly don't know. Now I am sober as ever and would never look back. No thank you! Red velvet cake and the smell of bread baking in the oven gives me a better high than any substance in this world ever could. Well, maybe, but I'm not willing to try it. I'm perfectly content.

So where do we go from here, what shall we do? I've definitely put some thought into this. Having the right mindset is the absolute first priority.  That right mindset involves simply the desire to want better not just for yourself, but for the people around you. Look at how people act and look when you are at your grocery store. The true happiness of people has practically vanished. Everyone ignores each other. This is not a sign of a healthy community, it's a sign of a dying one.

It will take a lot of hard work and determination to get people wanting to be involved in anything community. It will involve planned ideas and activities, and even your free time and possibly a bit of money, which is unfortunately something that some communities do not have a lot of. I want to list all of the ideas I have and share with you my thoughts on them. I would be so delighted to hear what other people think, or if they could come up with ideas. Online brownie points to anyone who has a great story to tell on what they are doing for their communities! So here goes;

Teach your skills

You would be surprised at how many people wish they could learn to do something, but don't know where to go. It's a lot easier to find teachers in the city than it is in a small town or suburb. If you feel you are pretty good at doing something, why not get a group together and help them? You can reach out to people in your local newspapers, business cards or flyers in gas stations, Facebook classified or buy/sell groups.

Set up a basic foundation for what you want to do. Lesson planning and a schedule will have to be involved. It may help to gather people who are interested first, make your own Facebook or email group, and find out when everyone is available to be in class. Decide whether or not you want compensated for your time. If you don't feel comfortable asking people for money, consider asking people to bring their own materials (help them determine what materials or tools they will need), and letting them know that you accept donations. There are usually kind souls willing to give what they can.

So, what can you teach? Here are some ideas;
  • Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitching, looming, quilting, and weaving. Men and women alike like the thought of being able to make their own blankets, hats, gloves, you name it. There's a sense of self-sufficiency to it.
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Taking care of farm animals or pets such as cats and dogs (grooming, training, riding, etc. etc.)
  • Wood-working, building things
  • Fixing cars. Teach people how to change their own tires and oil! This is a valuable skill that soooo many countless people do not know how to do (unfortunately including myself, but I have plans to learn this summer).
  • Playing instruments.
  • Starting a garden, homesteading, house cleaning!
  • Babysitting services
  • Sign or minority languages
Community Field Trips

This one might sound weird, but hear me out. Every April, a big group of people in my area go trout fishing up north, and we ALWAYS have a great time! Oh, the stories we tell, the laughter we share... and we get food for our labor in addition! Consider similar getaways! Here are some things to think about regarding this;
  • Think about renting a bus with responsible drivers. Everyone going should help pitch in with the budgets.
  • Same with a place to stay. Help each other out in finding somewhere comfortable, such as cabins, rental houses, hotel/motels, etc.
  • Make it annual or every other year or something. Always give a date 2-3 months (or even more) in advance, and remind people every 2 weeks so that they have plenty of time to make arrangements. Start a Facebook group, forum, or email group for easy contact and so that everyone can be involved.
  • Find out what everyone is interested in. Amusement parks? National parks?  Hunting and fishing? Hiking? There a lot of things you could try, just ask people where they want to go. It doesn't even have to be the same place every year. Helping each other with the costs, or transportation, or some other service can make people's vacation dreams come true when they think they can't do it on their own!
  • Make sure everyone accepts personal responsibility, and don't be afraid to look out for loyalty and trustworthiness involving anyone joining, and expect it of yourself as well.
  • Consider bringing along someone who is first-aid and CPR certified.  Always be prepared for accidents. Safety is a big concern. Maybe make it a requirement that people involved in this type of activity are health insured and do not drink excessively or do drugs.
Markets, Fairs, & Festivals

With permission from your town, of course, consider setting up group markets or fairs where people can sell things, entertain, make food for people, promote their businesses, or just have a good time.
  • Make it annual.
  • You will want set dates, times, places, and rules so that everyone can know when, where, and how to get involved
  • Have animals? Show them off
  • Grow food? Sell it
  • Like to bake? Bake some goods and sell them
  • Make your own furniture, clothing, decorations, etc.? Sell those too
  • Get kids involved and set up lemonade stands, talent shows, mini classes teaching crafts
  • If anyone in your community is involved in music, set up a mini concert for them and have them perform!
  • Know the laws and regulations on all levels, including; city, township, county, state, district, and federal levels. It sounds like a lot, but you don't need to be worrying about getting in trouble when you are trying to provide fun for your community. Make sure to let everyone know what those laws and regulations are; you can make pamphlets and require everyone to have one/read them and sign a waiver before getting involved. See if you can somehow notarize it to keep your community safe.
  • Think of the costs with this one. Accept donations and see if anyone can help with the planning and/or funds. Make sure everyone who is doing a service for you is compensated, and set your goals for that as well. If you are renting a place to hold this, make sure that those costs are the first ones covered.
  • Look at how other places do these types of events. I'm talking things you might look over; a dress code (look at countries or small communities that have their own traditional dress! I am so inspired by that. Maybe your community can come up with their own design and work towards everyone having one), a theme (like colors, holidays, figurines), and a name for the event.
Why do I think strong communities will help fix problems such as drugs, loneliness, hatred, and depression? Well for one, having a community to belong to can give people not only something to do, but a sense of identity. I think something modern people strive for is a shared sense of belonging with the people around them. We want to trust those we live nearby. We want something that makes us happy to be home. Many people turn to degenerative behavior because they do not have this. Communities can work towards strengthening their citizens, getting drugs off the streets, and finding help for those who need it. Crime can also go down drastically. I would love to see this type of thing in inner cities.

Small town economies can be boosted in community oriented environments as well! This could be one way we bring back the American dream (or the dream of your respective country), and squashing power from the corporations taking away our sense of pride and stability. I am a strong believer that corporations kill communities and small towns, because it puts a lot of people out of business. Imagine everyone investing in each other instead of in corporate owner's million dollar mansions while their employees scrape for food and rent money.

We could also work towards repairing homes and public buildings, parks, schools, and libraries this way. It will have a karmatic effect; once trust is established, working towards rebuilding your hometown is practically inevitable.

People who work in retail based jobs will be happier if they truly feel a part of the community they serve, especially those who work for corporations. This sense of belonging will make the job less dreadful and establish a sense of pride.

I wasn't sure whether to address this, but consider giving everyone a chance in your area. Don't be so quick to exclude people. This sense of belonging will only happen if you are willing to give your all to everyone! You may even find that this is exactly what your towns, cities, states, and countries needed all along! You already share the same home, why not work to share the same culture that you can all be proud of?

I think these are such great ideas and can really help a community establish an identity. Groups like these don't have to be big, they just need to have locals involved and happy. What else could really matter?

If you have anything to add, please don't be afraid to share! I will definitely be sharing my experiences on my blog, so subscribe to me if you are interested in seeing my plans turn into actions ;)

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