How Would You Describe Your Civic Life?

Civic life can vary drastically from person to person, and from town to town. Are you active in your local community?

In our lives, there is some level of civic engagement.Even if you live out in the country, there are some services that are provided by the nearby town that benefit you.

The exact amount varies from person to person. While one person might have children in the public school system, another may check out books from the local library. You might serve on a town committee of some sort, or just organize a block party for your neighbors.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’

There are some civic services that benefit everyone, like local roads we all drive on, or trash and recycling collection that is done on a weekly basis. What other services do you take advantage of?

Some people are simply good members of the town they inhabit. That might mean shopping a locally-owned stores rather than national chains or online outlets. Or it might mean picking up trash at a local park, or helping out a neighbor in some way.

There is also actual engagement in local politics. This runs the gamut from voting in town elections, to serving on select committees or attending forums to discuss issues that impact your neighborhood or city.

There are many ways of being a member in the town or city where you live. Which ones are meaningful or important to you? How would you describe your civic life?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What role should the government play in our lives? Why do you live where you live? Urban, suburban, or rural?

1 thought on “How Would You Describe Your Civic Life?”

  1. Yes, there are many public resources and services someone may have extended to them (e.g., public schools and roads, food inspectors for eating establishments, and regulations regarding new homes being built). These things come from the government.

    For me, civic life is what you do to preserve or reduce those public resources, services, or regulations. How are you engaged civically or not to meet your goals as a citizen of a town, city, state, national, or global level?

    I do the usual things to engage in civic matters. I stay current on local, state, federal, and global events and politics. And I talk with others about current events. I vote.

    I also engage civically in some not-as-common activities. I contribute to (and sometimes volunteer for) candidates who share my values and will work on systemic changes to make my community, state, or this country a better place. I also volunteer for a community council dedicated to financial empowerment issues.

    Because of my job — I am an advocate for tenants’ rights — I frequently talk with politicians and their staff members about what they will do to advance tenant protections. And I ask them if there are other things I can do to increase my effectiveness in this arena.

    Because I care deeply about ending homelessness and making housing affordable and available to those with the lowest incomes, I talk with those same politicians about advancing these social and economic justice issues. And I write about and share my opinions on how we could ameliorate these unnecessary social ills.

    As I know how politics works and how few people participate in it, I teach others how to lobby and form positive relationships with their elected officials. (If only people realized how much power they have — especially when they join forces with community members and groups who feel the same way!)

    As the question’s context makes clear, I can do other, more personal, things that one might classify as living a civic life. I recycle. I compost (and thus help build topsoil). I garden. In fact, part of my motivation for gardening — and growing heirloom vegetables — is to try to convince others to do so. Taking part in local food production is an incredibly civic act.

    I’ve barely described or scratched the surface of what I do to stay civically engaged. But what I do is only part of the picture for me. I put equal weight on when I can convince others that they have untapped power that could use to make this world a better, more compassionate place. If you have questions about how you might advance justice issues you care about, reply to this comment. If our values align, I’d love to help you out.

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