Do your bit for the community
Could your local area be improved? We can all think of ways to live in a better world, but how many of us put the effort in to make the changes? Here are a few ways to make your stamp on your community.
1. Brighten up your community
Does your neighbourhood need brightening up? What could be done? Spend an afternoon walking around your neighbourhood and as you go around, make a list of all the things you don't like, and all the things you would like to see but which are not there. Here are some ideas:
- Remove graffiti;
- Paint a mural;
- Hang up banners in the streets;
- Install fairy lights and Christmas decorations;
- Encourage window boxes;
- Organise a best front garden competition;
- Plant trees and flowers;
- Tidy up the road signs, pedestrian barriers and other street furniture;
- Banish the motor car;
- Build sitting out areas;
- Encourage busking and street theatre.
Discuss your list with your friends and neighbours and see if they agree with you, and ask them what they would like. Then decide to do one thing that everyone would like to see happen and try to get as many people as possible to help you.
2. Organise a hunger banquet
Organise a hunger banquet to raise money for something worthwhile and at the same time get a better understanding of world hunger.
Each person you invite is randomly selected for one of the three groups:
- 15% of the people are the rich. They sit at a table and enjoy a three-course meal;
- 25% of the people are middle-income. They sit on chairs and eat rice and beans (delicious and nutritious!);
- The remaining 60% are the world's poor; they sit on the floor, and get only rice and water. They will be suffering the fate of the billions of poor people throughout the world who are undernourished and go to bed hungry each night.
Oxfam's Hunger Banquet website gives you a chance to learn about hunger from the point of view of those who experience it every day. Or you can play Food Force, a game developed by the World Food Programme to give people a better understanding of the issues of hunger and food aid.
3. Throw a public party
A party can be a wonderful way for everyone to get together or to celebrate an occasion, or just to celebrate being alive. So why not organise a great street party in your neighbourhood?
It could be stand-up do or everyone sitting down at a long table in the middle of the street. You can picnic on a piece of green space. You could take over a parking meter bay and have an anti-motor car party. You could ask everyone to bring along food and drink and organise live music, entertainment and games.
Public party ideas:
- For more information on organising a street party, download a free step-by-step guide;
- Be inspired by SpaceHijackers who organised a party on London Underground's Circle Line as the tube train went round and round the city;
- Reclaim the Beach organised a party on the Thames outside the Royal Festival Hall at low tide.
4. Be a good neighbour
Be a good neighbour in the global village. NABUUR is a Dutch foundation providing communities in developing countries (called 'villages') access to the resources they need to solve their problems through a network of virtual volunteers (called 'neighbours').
Kick off a game of football
This is how it works:
- A community needs help. After an assessment, the Village is given a page on www.NABUUR.com. A representative of the local community then describes an urgent problem or task that needs to be undertaken;
- People wanting to volunteer sign up on the website. You select a Village to help (these are listed by country and by type of activity) or you can browse the tasks that need undertaking until you find something you would like to do;
- Along with other neighbours, you now try to solve their problem. The best solutions are put forward to the Village, which then decides what they want to do. The solutions are implemented;
- Neighbours are kept in touch through photos and stories posted on NABUUR.com.
5. Organise a sports activity in your community
Sport is a great way to bring people together. From a simple game of five-aside football in the park with friends, to an organised weekly league, it's sociable and good exercise. Contact your local council to find out what's going on in your area, or get together with friends and neighbours to start a regular game in your area.
If you've got a great idea for a local sports activity, but no money to start it up, you could apply for an UnLtd Sports Relief Award. Unltd has teamed up with Comic Relief (which organises Sport Relief) to make cash awards to young people aged 11-21 to organise sports activities in their communities.
For more ideas on how to change the world, read Michael Norton's 365 Ways to Change the World, which has an idea and simple actions for each day of the year. And check out http://www.365act.com/
Article produced by the Choose Action Alliance.
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