When you learn who your local leaders are and what they stand for, you are taking an important step toward speaking up for your community. If you are wondering how to get involved in local government, know that there are practical ways you can make your community a better place to live.
1. Volunteer for a Campaign
While a mayor may be the first local government position that comes to mind, the truth is there are council members, commissioners, school boards, and others who are responsible for running a town or city—including the libraries, parks, and schools. Some of these positions are filled through elections.
To get involved, connect with a candidate who is passionate about the same issues that you value. They could share your views on any issue that is important to you, whether that's improving local schools or perhaps protecting data privacy. Start by visiting the United States House of Representatives web page, where you can find your local representative by zip code. From there, when you visit your individual representative's page, you will find opportunities to sign up for representative email lists and learn how to get involved with their work.
2. Attend City Council Meetings
When you attend council meetings, it gives you a lens into what is happening in your community. If you do not know who represents your ward (essentially, the electoral district you live in), a quick web search will give you their name. Attend a council meeting so you can hear your representative speak and see how they vote.
Typically, city council meetings are held once a month. To participate, do a web search including the name of the town or city where you live and the term "city council meetings" to find the date, time, and agenda of the next meeting. Anyone can attend, including teenagers and younger kids. In fact, the Girl Scouts have recommended it to members who want to take civic action.
3. Connect with Others Who Are Community Minded
One of the advantages of attending council meetings or campaign volunteer meetings is that they are great places to connect with others who are community minded. Then, you can learn about other opportunities, including volunteer work in public services. You could choose to volunteer at a veteran hospital as a companion for patients or serve as a driver transporting veterans to medical appointments, for instance. Or you could connect with a local YMCA to ask about promoting youth development, possibly through coaching a sport.
For example, I attended a community meeting at a local library led by one of my state representatives. More than sixty community members attended for the Q&A session. At the meeting, I was able to connect with neighbors who were also committed to volunteering and making positive changes. A group of us established a community garden at a local school, one that could be used by students during the academic year and nearby resident during the summer months.
Whether you choose to volunteer for a political campaign, attend city council meetings, or start clubs or groups based on community needs, there are so many approaches to how to get involved in local government.
Are you looking for more inspiration on how to improve your community? Check out the Natural Inspiration board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest.
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
When you get involved in local government and community groups, you will learn how your help can lead to positive change. Over time, you will see the results of your efforts, both for yourself and the whole community.