In today’s communication overload, people are increasingly finding ways to make their voices heard. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by generating community action. While a single voice can sometimes go unheard, the roar of a community cannot be ignored.
Whether you’re a concerned citizen or a business owner ready to take a stand, there are various ways to get your community involved for change. The following blueprint will provide everything you need to get moving in the right direction.
Identify an area of community improvement
The first step in bringing about change is recognizing that there’s a problem. There are undoubtedly significant institutional dilemmas out there. Don’t think your concern isn’t important simply because it’s not on the same level as other issues. Generating community action is essential for everything ranging from adding a stop sign at a busy intersection to fighting against police brutality.
To grow action from within your community, though, you need the support of that community. Reach out to your neighbors and local leaders, and gauge their level of support for your cause. You’ll need to get these people on your side before moving forward. Even if you only find a small group, this could still be enough to get the ball rolling on change.
Do your research
Once you identify a problem that requires community action, start figuring out ways to get your movement off the ground. The process typically begins with neighbors and citizens coming together to brainstorm solutions. Take the time to research how other communities dealt with similar problems, and discuss whether comparable actions might work in your area.
Consider taking the following steps during any brainstorming session:
- Offer a comfortable meeting space: Take the time to ensure everyone is comfortable during your meeting. Have all tools and resources available, and even take the time to get refreshments to keep everyone engaged.
- Define the problem: Start the brainstorming session by directly stating the problem and laying out specific criteria needed in the solution. Ask everyone to write down their ideas to be shared during the meeting.
- Guide the discussion: Allow everyone to share their ideas. Once finished, guide a discussion where each participant can comment on other ideas and further develop them. Discourage critical language — only positive thoughts!
Before taking this huge step in community action, though, ask yourself if the movement already exists. Make sure your research looks at other measures that have been taken or existing groups that focus on the problem. Knowledge of previous actions will help you better come up with a plan, and if an action group already exists, you can always join it!
The most tedious aspect of building community action may be the most critical: evidence gathering. Even if you have the support of your neighbors, you’re going to need evidence that shows the extent of the problem. Otherwise, it will likely be challenging to convince government officials and others to take concrete steps towards solutions.
Evidence can take many forms. It could be as simple as presenting police reports that show a high number of accidents at a particular intersection (e.g., if you want a new stop sign). If you’re trying to prove that police enforcement in your area has a racial bias, though, you may need to delve deeper into public records.
Create a petition
The support you’ve garnered and evidence you’ve gathered to support community action is what you need to make a petition drive successful. Start by creating a petition and setting a realistic goal for signatures. You should expect a petition for getting a speed bump on your street, for instance, to amass far fewer signatures than a county-wide call for police reform.
Ensure your petition highlights your case’s key points and is evident in the change you want to achieve. Then utilize social media along with grassroots methods and the relationships you’ve built to spread the word. A social media tool can help you plan your content to create a coordinated strategy that hits all social channels regularly.
Make sureto contact the local media to see if they will cover your petition. This could result in one of the most significant “bumps” you see in signatures. It’s advisable to have at least some momentum going before contacting the media.
Contact city officials
Whether your petition is fledgling or has managed to go viral, contacting individuals on your city council can go a long way. They’ve likely seen similar movements play out, and this means they’ve witnessed all the hurdles you could experience along the way. This is important because a successful petition isn’t necessarily successful if it doesn’t result in action.
Of course, it’s ideal that you focus on contacting officials who agree with your community action. If you’re trying to make the local police department hold a rogue cop accountable, for instance, contacting the “All Lives Matter” councilman might not be your best recourse for action. When you reach out to a supportive official, though, they can help you plan for what’s to come.
Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle to significant community action is often the person who starts it. It can be disheartening when your movement isn’t picking up steam like you had anticipated, and many people respond to this by simply giving up. This is why you need to recognize that all instances of successful social activism take time.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that progress doesn’t happen overnight. This means you need to be in for the long haul. Where would civil rights be if Martin Luther King, Jr. or John Lewis simply gave up after their first arrests? If you want significant change to occur through community action, you’ve got to be willing to stick around for that change.
Rest assured that once your efforts are realized, not a moment will have been in vain!
Build community action now!
Far too many people believe that effecting change is something outside of their reach. When you see movements on the nightly news, though, it’s important to remember that these typically start with one person or event. Not all community action needs to result in national media coverage, but if you take the right steps, the change you cause could still be monumental for someone.
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