There was a part of me that didn’t want to go. Actually, there was a large part of me that didn’t want to go. Part of me wanted to finish up at the gym, go home and eat tacos (it was taco Tuesday, after all), and read a book curled up with a scented candle.
But I had promised my mom that I would go, and I was curious. So, I pulled up to the elementary school down the road from our neighborhood and parked my little Prius in the parking lot and made my way into a building with the lowest ceilings I’d seen since fifth grade.
The Warrenville Lakes Homeowners Association, it seemed, was made up of mostly middle aged to senior folks. This was the annual meeting of the neighborhood governing body for the small assortment of townhomes in which my mom and I live. I knew that we lived in a small little town with a lot of older folks, but I had no idea that I would likely be the only person there under the age of thirty. (Of course, I also don’t know anyone else under the age of thirty who would go to the annual homeowner’s association meeting on a weeknight.)
I was there because I wanted to understand how a homeowner’s association works, because eventually I might have a condo or townhome of my own. I also wanted to be invested in my community- no matter how tiny it is. Community and home are important because they nurture and provide for us, they shape and inform who we are. By understanding our community, in many ways we can start to understand ourselves.
I often fall into the trap of wanting to “save the world”, and by the world, I mean the whole world. However, in order to save the world, we may have to start with saving our own little corner of it. In my case, that means going to the homeowner’s association meeting and seeing what tree-care company we use and how our lawns are maintained. (I was pleasantly surprised, we work with a pretty well-known and reputable company!) I was also inspired by how invested the people that came to the association meeting are in their community and their home. Of course there were a few people who were clearly there to complain, but a lot of people really pay attention to what’s going on around them. As well they should. They’re paying to live here and they are invested in the success and value of their neighborhood.
I’m invested in the success of our planet- I know that’s a HUGE leap in scale, but it’s true. I live here, and my family lives here, and all of the people I love live here. My children and their children will live here. If I have to spend a little bit of time and trouble (and yes, money, by investing in sustainable action and sustainable business and energy), then so be it.
Start small. Go to your local town hall meeting. Hit up the neighborhood watch meeting in that’s your thing. Get involved in your local community garden club. Whatever interests you about where you are, get involved, no matter how small. It’s by starting small that we can make a difference. Right at home, however we define it.