Act Locally

by Peter Saint-Andre


Because my last post about the supposed death of democracy was rather theoretical, I figured I'd follow it up with something more practical.

Few of us actually live - or even want to live - in the kind of small town that enacts true self-government. Does that mean we're consigned to political impotence?

Not necessarily. There are always opportunities for local involvement if one is interested in seeking them out. As I mentioned in the comment thread at my last post, here are some of the activities I've taken on over the years:

Naturally, the activities that appeal to you or that align with your skills might be quite different, but they're out there.

Some might ask: why bother? I see several reasons:

  1. As the late positive psychologist Chris Peterson never tired of saying, "Other people matter." According to the Pew Research Center, only 26% of Americans know most of their neighbors, and 23% of people under 30 don't know any of their neighbors. That's sad.
  2. Personally, I enjoy helping people, being connected, and fostering stronger ties with the folks around me. If you think that's not worth your time, I respectfully suggest that you reconsider.
  3. More prudentially, if there's ever serious trouble in your neighborhood (where I live that might be a wildfire), you'll be happy that you know your neighbors and understand how to work with them. An emergency is not the time to figure this out!

I can't claim that I've always been so civic-minded. Indeed, earlier in life I was far more ideological and also quite self-absorbed (those two might go hand in hand). Somewhere along the line I realized that it's better to be involved than to be isolated. Many people seem to think that online "connections" are enough, but in my experience real life is much more fulfilling...

(Cross-posted at


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