What is a community? Communities are groups of people sharing common characteristics or interests. The commonality could be living in a specific place — the City of Ames community — or membership in a group — the academic community. A community can be defined as those having a common interest or goal — the highway safety community — and can even be a group of associated nations sharing common interests or heritage. Membership in a community implies participation, cooperation, and mutual respect. Given the availability of communications afforded by modern society, most of us belong to multiple communities and help build each of them. In the general sense, however, our community is considered to be the place where we live and work.
Why is community building a goal of Green Seniors? The vitality of our communities is central to our quality of life. Now that we understand that our impact upon the land, sea, and atmosphere matters for our continued survival, communities are increasingly at the forefront of bringing about positive change. Change doesn’t really occur until it happens locally. A plan, a goal, or even a law is nothing until there is implementation locally. Local acceptance is vital to regional and even global impact
Notice that many kinds of community are in some stage of taking action on global warming. To mention some highlights: Some religious communities are concerned about creation care and the impact of climate change on the poor and are altering their activities accordingly. Some parts of the business community are becoming aware of energy usage by office buildings and of making greater use of “webinars” and other non-travel means of communication. City governments are helping one another develop green buildings and fuel efficient vehicle fleets. Retired people are volunteering to help weatherize the homes of low-income residents. In the USA, state governors are forming alliances with other states in the region to better implement emissions reductions. No matter who you are or what you are capable of doing, there is a community needing your help to meet environmental challenges.
How can you get started? The first place to look is your current community (or communities). Are you a member of a civic group, church, club, sport, or other special interest group? Are you a regular at the neighborhood potluck (where everyone brings a food item to share) or the weekly coffee meeting of fellow retirees? Are you a part of the academic community as a student, teacher, or school administrator/governor? Each type of community group has special ways to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions and other environmental improvements. You don’t need to have the answers to begin discussing the problems and what your community might do to help. In bringing these issues to the forefront, you take the first critical step in building communities…as they need to become.
Don’t worry if you are the first one to bring the matter up. You will find that others are thinking the same thing and are relieved to openly express their concerns and ideas. Once you start talking to people in your various communities about climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or about other forms of pollution, you will start learning from them just how many initiatives are already operating, and which ones you most want to join. You’ll find courageous and creative people who have stepped out in front with new solutions and need your support. You will also find that there are plenty of gaps. You could be the perfect individual to call attention to an unnoticed detail and start plugging that hole in the dike.
Here at Green Seniors we are frequently asked, “Do you know of any groups active in my area?” or “I want to do more about this — how should I get started?” Many of our readers feel isolated, whether by aspects of health and advancing age, by no longer participating in the workforce, or by similar situations. Many of the networks and organizations listed in the right-hand column of the Green Seniors blog have “people on the ground” and ways of finding out who is in your geographic area. Not all networks are designed to bring you face-to-face with others, but they can still provide you with valuable information and support. Explore the sites to determine which ones may be helpful to you. We are always keen to add more that you may discover.
Don’t expect to find many purely senior groups out there, but please do report back to us any that you find so that we can contact them and publicize their work on Green Seniors. Meanwhile, do not hesitate to get acquainted with local all-age groups. You are likely to find many seniors active in them already.
One of the most amazing things happening today is the way “green” seniors are teaming up with young people such as student environmental activists to get results locally. It isn’t anything deliberate – it’s more a matter of, when the call for help with environmental activism goes out, young people and seniors show up in the greatest numbers. Think about that for a moment and it makes sense.
Why wait? Becoming active in environmental community building is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Place comments to this post about your experiences good or bad, successful or not, or send an email to Green Granny: Joyce@greengranny.org.