My fifth grade teacher once said to me “Go on about your business, and be a good citizen.” Those words have stuck with me (for almost three decades now)… and you know, she’s onto something- being a good citizen. I now equate being a good citizen with being an involved citizen. The famous American anthropologist Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Involved citizenship, or voluntary community involvement, brings together like-minded people, all of whom likely have ideas about how to improve the environment around them. It’s a great example of several minds beings better than one, with a collaborative effort and unique contributions from all. There are a variety of groups involved with sustainability and/or environmental issues. To find projects that interest you, contact your local municipality or county; look on the Internet, your local library, local papers; or set up a project of your own. One can be an involved citizen/volunteer on a local, regional, global, or even virtual (contribute your efforts over the internet) level. No matter what sustainability or environmental issues you’re passionate about, you’re sure to find a group to get involved with that needs your help and expertise, whatever that may be.
Volunteering has many benefits, and among those is happiness. Research shows that volunteering your time leads to increased happiness and greater life satisfaction. Civic engagement also means being part of something greater than your self. So for me the question isn’t why get involved, but why not? I have gone from observer to participant (I recently served on a local bicycle task force). I told my wife the other day that I could not imagine not being involved with something else now that I know how fun, meaningful, rewarding, and effective involved citizenship can be!
So let’s volunteer our time, get involved with local, regional, or global sustainability and environmental efforts… and practice civic environmentalism!