We all complain sometimes. After all, when we look around, it seems like there’s plenty to complain about. Whether it’s locally or nationally, there’s plenty of disgruntlement to go around.
Sometimes we just need to vent our feelings and move on with life. Other times, though, the disgruntlement leads to action. While it can be difficult to feel like we can effect meaningful change at the national level, it’s easier to have an impact locally.
Locally is where I like to direct my efforts. It’s possible to speak face-to-face with policymakers, like our city council or school board members. I’ve even sat down with a state legislator a time or two. Not only that but when you’re engaged at the local level, you talk to fellow travelers and have the chance to meet your neighbors.
There are numerous opportunities to influence our local community and be involved in creating positive change. The city has several committees where citizens study issues and make recommendations. I served as chair of one of the citizen review committees Mayor Casper put in place a few years ago. It was a great experience that allowed me to meet other concerned citizens and gain insight into some of the workings of city government.
More recently, I’ve been serving on the District 91 facilities planning committee. Again, this has been an interesting endeavor as I study the state of our schools, our enrollment and speak with other community members who — like me — are interested in figuring out a way forward for our children.
You don’t have to be on the steering committee to have a voice, though. Throughout this process, there have been community meetings designed to encourage citizens to see the data and look at various proposals. Another such community meeting is coming up on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Skyline High School cafeteria. You have another chance to provide input on the facilities’ plan and share your concerns.
Many of us on the steering committee have taken what we’ve learned from community meetings and incorporated them into our work. Some of us have even changed our minds about processes and other matters through our interactions at these community meetings.
While the adoption of a proposal and a way forward is up to the school board, being on the steering committee has been a great experience. Not only do I feel like part of the process, but I’ve also been able to interact with people from various walks of life — and with a wide variety of viewpoints.
Being engaged, whether you join a service club like Rotary or Civitans, volunteer at the Community Food Basket, or help out at the humane society or engage in many other activities available, is one of the best ways to create meaningful progress. Getting involved with political parties and non-partisan organizations can also be a good way to use collective citizen voices to bring awareness and push for change.
We can all make a difference. Find a cause, organization or meeting and commit two hours. You might be surprised at what we can do together.