Community work is filled with ups and downs, celebrations and challenges. If we’ve been involved in our neighborhood for several years, we may find our calendars full of meetings with leaders with ideas and people who want to get involved. We may be working hard on valuable projects and launching exciting new initiatives.
So what does it mean to step back in the New Year and dream big? Here are a few resolution ideas for community builders as we turn the page on the calendar.
#1 - Listen to what your neighbors are saying.
For most of us, this was how we got started in community work. We heard neighbors complain about an ongoing issue or we discovered ideas residents had to make their community stronger. We listened to neighbors and moved forward together.
Sometimes as we get engaged in these projects - even those led by community members - we have less space to simply listen. To hear what neighbors are talking about, rather than moving forward with our plans. Take time this new year to listen again. You may be surprised what you hear!
#2 - Walk places.
As our schedules fill up, it’s often easier to jump in a car (especially if you’re in Atlanta) than to walk or even take public transit. But these alternate forms of transportation connect us to our neighborhood in different ways.
For a fresh perspective, take a walk in your community. You may meet new neighbors that have moved in or discover some hidden gems along the way. Walking is a great way to stay present in the place where you live.
#3 - Engage someone new in your work.
Stop and think who else would make a great addition to your project. You might immediately think of an outside partner who could get very excited about a specific initiative. Or a local resident with potential to be a great leader may come to mind.
Whoever you’re thinking of, set aside the time to share with them the vision and scope of your work and invite them to be a part. Sometimes it feels more efficient to follow-through on things by ourselves or with our core team, but new participants can breathe fresh air into the project and help shoulder the workload.
#4 - Involve youth.
Many of us already do this. But if you’re not tapping into the youth resource in your neighborhood, it’s the perfect resolution for the New Year. Of course it’s great to have activities and educational opportunities for youth. But also brainstorm ways they can contribute to the positive activities happening in the neighborhood.
Youth are full of ideas, energy, and spunk. Consider ways to partner with youth workers to find ways they can join the community building efforts in your neighborhood.
#5 - Create space to hang out.
Feeling busy, rushed, or overwhelmed? If we spend too much time “building community” and not enough time “enjoying community,” we can forget why we started this work in the first place. Burnout can quickly follow.
Rework your schedule so that you have opportunities to spend time in your neighborhood without an agenda. Attend a local event. Or pass some time at a neighborhood meeting space. (For us, that’s likely Community Grounds.) See what happens when you are simply present and enjoy the refreshment relationships can bring!
We love building community! What are your ideas for strengthening your work this year? What are your resolutions for community builders?