Believe it or not, you can make a difference in your community. Even as a regular, non-activist citizen, there are things you can do. Both online and off, you can make an impact and make your city or town a better place to be for everyone.
Here are 5 things that I’m doing to actively make my community a better place.
Support local businesses
If you live in a rather developed suburban or urban area, you probably have a ton of options for local businesses that aren’t huge national chains. Support them whenever you can. Friends coming into town? Hit up your local brew pub. Need to grab a few snacks for that smoke session you’re planning? Go to the bodega instead of 7/11.
You’ll never be able to fulfil all of your needs with local businesses, but replacing some of those trips will help put food on your neighbors’ tables and that is worth something.
Don’t participate in a dog pile local facebook page post
Local Facebook groups are so helpful. You can learn about new businesses; chat with your neighbors about what’s happening; get notified about events.
It’s also an awful hellhole where the local trolls love to come out and play. Sometimes it’s fun and harmless. Like in my hometown’s group, there was this long running troll about coyotes in town. It would provide occasional comedy on otherwise boring posts. But a lot of the time it can turn into needless dogpiling on people who made an otherwise minor faux pas.
Like asking an obviously already answered (or easily answerer) question. Or complaining about something innocuous. May you never make an innocent, if annoying, post in your local facebook group. And if you do, you better have a tough skin.
Or, you could do what I do and just… keep scrolling. Let people ask their annoying questions and keep the negative dogpiling to yourself.
Confront racists, sexists, lgbtqia-phobes, etc.
With that being said, both on and offline, you should absolutely confront the racists in your community. Whether they’re marching with a tiki torch, or they’re making subtly ignorant comments, it’s important for us as white people to call it out and let those people know, “we don’t do that in our community.” No one should get the benefit of the doubt. Racism is pervasive in our communities, we should all be determined to speak out in its presence.
Take a deep breath and remind them that we don’t do that here. We don’t speak like that here. We don’t think like that here. We don’t act like that here. They’ll get the message to at minimum take their garbage thoughts somewhere else.
Donate locally and directly
I like being charitable, but I also get annoyed at the red tape, and inflated salaries that inherently come with large organizations. Rather than making regular annual contributions to organizations like the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, I search for opportunities to donate to gofundme campaigns, and donors choose campaigns, and even directly to individuals I find through various groups. It’s not tax deductible, but that’s not why I do it.
I take the same philosophy with donating my gently used clothing and household items. Opting to donate to local thrift stores that provide direct help to the community (and aren’t anti-lgbtqia, like The Salvation Army).
Do something nice for your neighbors
Watch for opportunities to help. Maybe you see your elderly neighbor trying to get something out of their car, offer to walk it to their door. Maybe there is a family that’s had a recent trying time and could use a homemade meal. Drop one off in a styrofoam cooler. Ding dong dinner, bitch. Did the trash truck come today? Drag your neighbors bins back to their spot before they come home. Little acts of kindness that will have a ripple effect. “Really nice pranks” as I like to call them.
Let me know in the comments who you’re going to “prank” first.