We can all think of things we’d like to have changed.
How many New Year’s resolutions to change something – lose weight, exercise more, be nicer to the mother-in-law – have you heard people express? How long do they last? Change is not easy, even on this personal level when you are the one supposedly calling the shots.
We might want something to change, but when it’s us that needs to change, that’s not so popular.
What about when it’s something in the community where lots of people might be affected? Who will take the lead, and get things going? What is the role of volunteer community groups in leading change?
We are lucky to have a new independent newspaper in our area – EastSider News so now community groups seeking to make lives better for everyone have a chance to tell others what they are doing. EastSider News itself came about by a very small group deciding that they would help to bring about change by publishing this newspaper. They put their hands up to lead the change.
There are a many community groups, but not all are trying to change things. In fact many mainly want to make it easier, more fun, or have more engagement with like-minded people when they do whatever the group is set up to do. That might be playing cards, soccer, being wonderfully creative with wood or a thousand other things. Many of these have excellent social side-benefits and are to be highly recommended.
Some groups want changes that will benefit everyone. They recognise everyone in the community as a being a member of their group.
As an example, no matter your views on climate change and its causes, groups who seek to change policies of governments at all levels to mitigate and counter the effects of climate change are not acting out of self-interest. The change they seek will benefit everyone. Some might oppose this view because their own self-interest is being threatened, not because they think the wider community interest is being threatened. Some will perceive the change being sought to be a political one and they oppose it because it conflicts with their own political views.
WATAG (www.watag.org) seeks to share the benefits of safe and convenient walking and cycling activities for leisure and local commuting for all. Members are strong advocates for infrastructure improvements which will be to everyone’s benefit, not just their own.
By joining a local environment group such as Lighter Footprints (lighterfootprints.org) , or an Active Transport advocacy group like WATAG, being a maintenance volunteer in your local park, or helping meals-on-wheels, you can be a contributor to change for everyone’s benefit. You can help lead the change.
Recent changes to the Local Government Act here in Victoria require local Councils to implement a Community Engagement policy by 1st March 2021. It is regarded as very important for people in the community to be able to have a genuine say in how their community is evolving around them. And not just to have a say, but to have influence on decisions, and help make those decisions – to be a contributor to change.
So… getting involved with your Council can have a big effect. It can lead to change.
Look out for any opportunities your Council gives to provide input. If you see something that you think could be done better, let your Council or other authority know. The app called Snap Send Solve is a great way to do this.
You too can bring about changes for everyone’s benefit.