Change the world! Get involved! Let your voice be heard! Whether it is from elected officials, teachers, coworkers, family, and friends, you have probably heard some variation of these calls to action in your life. Chances are you agree with these statements. However, you may say to yourself: “There just is not enough time and energy to go around to make that big of an impact. As a member of the API community (and many other communities) it is hard to commit to giving back to the community or civically engaging on top of life’s responsibilities.” But, even the smallest steps can make the biggest impact. Here are four simple steps to be more civically engaged in your community. Make them count!
- Explore—Take a stroll around the neighborhood. Visit local shops and say hello. Take a look at posters or brochures about upcoming activities. Social media is a great way to see what is happening throughout your network. But don’t forget to appreciate what’s going on just a few blocks from your home, work, or school.
- Attend—Schedule time to attend one local event each month. Reach out to a friend or two about an upcoming event that interested you (maybe something you saw exploring the neighborhood). Carve out some time in your evenings or weekend to hear an interesting speaker or maybe some other forum that you would not normally attend. Interact with others that share similar passions or engage with others that have different perspectives.
- Connect—Reconnect with an old friend and/or introduce yourself to a stranger. A quick coffee meeting or even a quick walk is a great way to catch up or learn about someone new. Hearing about new developments in their lives or their opinions on fascinating topics may motivate you to seek out other opportunities. You are not alone in wanting to share thoughts and ideas about issues that affect your communities. Take the jump to contact others and keep at it even if schedules do not easily work out.
- Write—Write down your thoughts on a given issue. Was there something you heard on your commute to work or at dinner that got you thinking? Jot down some of your initial feelings. And DON’T post it on social media immediately. Give yourself some time, maybe research the issue or share your views with someone close to you. Have some dialogue about it. Writing is a great way to process—but as fast-paced as life is—writing should be a patient journey and one of many tactics to mold your perspective. Eventually, you may want to write a Letter-to-the-Editor or blog or seek out other publication platforms.
There are definitely more than four ways to be more civically engaged. Voting and volunteering are common calls to action that people associate with civic engagement. But you would be surprised with how much you can do by simply taking a look around, showing up, and communicating with others. Fostering a more active and civically engaged API community does not happen overnight. It starts with one small step. Take the leap!
Derrick De Vera is an APACEVotes Boardmember/Vice-President.