Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Five Simple Ways to Improve Your Corner of the World

Think globally, act locally. We all know the slogan, but it's often hard to do the things that make our corner of the world better. Here in America we live in a land of high expectations for productivity, we work more than our European counterparts, and we hardly ever take vacations. So many times, we're struggling to make sure we have clean laundry, dinner on the table and enough money for rent that the idea of doing something good for our communities has to fall by the wayside.

I firmly believe that like those blog posts telling you the five simple things you can do to increase productivity, there are a few simple things you can do to give back to your community.

  1. Donate blood - I give at Children's Hospital Boston, and it takes less than an hour, every two months. You can check at local hospitals for blood donor centers, or find an American Red Cross location near you. Blood is a precious resource that you can give to those in need.
  2. Donate clothing and furniture - In Cambridge, MA, is a great organization called Heading Home that works to help people avoid homelessness. They can always use donations of used goods to help furnish their apartments, and clothes for the needy. Other places to donate are Goodwill or Planet Aid.
  3. Fight Litter - I hate litter, and I often will pick it up off the street, anywhere, if I can spot a trash can from where I find the litter. It's a stupidly simple task, but it keeps our streets clean, which helps dispel the broken windows effect in a neighborhood.
  4. Say hello to your neighbors - How many of your neighbors do you know? I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone, which meant that when something went wrong, we all knew to pitch in and help. It's harder in an age of cell phones to actually stop and say hello and introduce yourself, but that's honestly what keeps a community together. 
  5. Find a mentoring program - I participate in two mentoring programs: one at my alma mater Simmons, where I mentor a student in the MBA program, and one with the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, where I write letters back and forth with a middle schooler. These take about two hours a months to do, but they help me connect with my community.

There you are, five things, big and small that you can do to improve your corner of the world. I'm sure that you can think of others--what are some simple things that you do to improve your corner of the world?