When you’ve just moved into a new community, getting involved with your neighbors and neighborhood can be a great beginning to a happy life. Our communities can be pillars of support when we need them or friendly faces we’re happy to see each day. Through volunteering, joining clubs and groups, taking part in community sports activities and hosting events, you can bond with those who live around you and create a wonderful home for yourself – and others.
Here are 5 ways to get more involved in your community:
- Join a community garden
Join a community garden in your neighborhood, and if you don’t have one, start one. Growing organic produce on a shared plot is a great way to connect with people near you. It also helps everyone involved develop a deeper understanding of the importance of keeping the air, water and ground clean and safe in a community.
While you till, water, plant and harvest, try to get to know the members of your community. Tell stories of where you came from and ask others about their backgrounds. If you have kids, get them involved with a beginner’s food scrap garden and encourage neighbors to bring their children participate too.
- Start conversations
Learn more about the people who live near you by starting conversations within your community. This is easily done through book clubs or groups that come together to make jewelry, create art, cook and learn new languages. Ask your immediate neighbors if they know about any clubs or meetups you can join. If there aren’t any, start one yourself.
If you have a community center or other public space available, use it to form friendships while you learn something new. Sometimes taking turns meeting in members’ homes, either weekly or monthly, is a good way to break the ice with small talk or enjoy truly enriching conversation. Think about planning a series of special gatherings or ongoing drop-in events.
- Become a community volunteer
Volunteer in a local clinic, hospital, nature center, library or community center. Volunteerism is a superb way to meet people and contribute skills and talents to those who might need them. Not only will you probably experience a sense of accomplishment after sharing the gifts you have to offer, your neighbors will likely notice your contributions and consider you a valuable member of the community.
How can you help those who share your small part of the world? Perhaps tutoring, offering legal aid, mentoring, teaching a language, organizing a food bank or visiting the elderly in your community resonates with you. Children can often be persuaded to join the community volunteer force by teaching older adults all the ways of the Internet.
- Get active in after-school programs
Families can get to know neighbors by becoming active in after-school programs. Even if you don’t have kids, meet new people in your neighborhood by volunteering your time to these activities.
Children often enjoy becoming members in Girl or Boy Scout-type groups, YMCA memberships, parks and recreation classes or mommy and me groups. Often, parents of kids in these programs go on to become friends for life. If you don’t have little ones, it’s still possible to coach, teach a craft, be a dance instructor and get involved in your community in other ways.
- Attend or host charity events
Many big cities and small towns have carnivals, holiday gift boutiques, formal dinners and similar charitable events to bring the community closer together. Attend these events and enjoy being a part of shared experiences. You’ll likely meet people who have many of the same interests as you do, which is a good way to form friendships.
The good thing about getting involved in your new community is that if there aren’t gardens, clubs, organized activities, volunteer opportunities or other programs in place for you to meet people, you can always be to facilitator of these types of gatherings. Your new neighbors will probably be glad you took the initiative to provide ways to connect.