One way for you to make a positive impact on our world is to work with established organizations. You can volunteer and/or serve as a board member. Neighborhood groups need support. All need responsible leadership. Local, county, and state agencies constantly seek qualified, reasonable people for advisory boards to generate and review policy. To jump-start your thinking, here are some options from the thousands out there.
Living Cully is an example of an organization that allows you to literally live your values. It is an innovative collaboration formed in 2010 among Habitat for Humanity–Portland/Metro East, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Native American Youth and Family Center, and Verde. Together, they work to improve the quality of life for people of color and low-income people in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood, and to ensure that Cully will always be a place where people of color and low-income people can live and thrive. This work requires a dual emphasis on community-led neighborhood improvements and robust efforts to combat gentrification and displacement.
Boxes of Love might be the perfect family project. It’s a grassroots effort to provide babies and children going into foster care with a large box of new clothing, pajamas, shoes, and other comfort items to call their own…a Box of Love. Their mission is to let these amazing babies and children know that they are special, that they are valued, that they matter. Most importantly, that they are loved. The boxes help to provide the children with a small sense of comfort, control, security, and happiness during an incredibly scary and tumultuous time in their lives.
Repair PDX invites people in Portland, Oregon to occasionally and locally share their expertise—fixing bikes, lawn mowers, shoes, and small appliances; mending clothing; and sharpening knives. At festive Repair Cafés you can often get a bite to eat and a drink while meeting others from your community who are also interested in helping. You would be one of the experts on hand monthly to fix items and to teach others how to fix their own belongings. The first Repair Café was started in 2009 by Dutch journalist Martine Postma. Since then, she and others in the Netherlands have assisted groups around the world in hosting their own Repair Cafés.
Sunrise Movement is in it for the long haul. It’s an American youth-led political movement coordinated by Sunrise, a 501(c)(4) political action organization that advocates political action on climate change. Since the 2018 midterm elections, it has been focused on gaining consensus within the Democratic Party in support of the Green New Deal. Its goal is to build an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of new jobs in the process. From their website:
“We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us—if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy. We are not looking right or left. We look forward.”
The Soul Box project allows you to be in cahoots while staying at home. It is a national community art project calling for making hand-folded origami boxes to represent the number of people killed or injured by gunfire in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of these boxes will continue to be displayed together in massive art installations to reveal the staggering number of gunfire victims. The project raises awareness of the U.S. gunfire epidemic by counting and honoring victims, offering healing participation to those seeking solace, and providing dramatic visual support for all initiatives working for a safer, more civil society.
The Soul Box Project envisions a society where all people living in the United States are empowered to choose actions regarding responsible gun use, so we can live in safe communities, talk to resolve conflicts, have schools focus on learning, gather to worship in peace, and thrive in economies that foster trust and unity.
Better Block is your chance to be in cahoots with your buddies as you break one law at a time. The nonprofit Better Block educates, equips, and empowers communities to reshape and revitalize built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.
It all started in Dallas after Jason Roberts returned from a trip to Europe. There he saw squares with public fountains, markets, tree-lined streets, cafes, and conversation. He was motivated to transform an abandoned Dallas block with boarded-up buildings, multilane traffic, and no safe space for pedestrians or cyclists. The city’s bylaws prevented everything the space needed to be vibrant and healthy. In cahoots with some friends, he overnight transformed the space by clandestinely bringing in café seating, lighting, flowers, and plants. They painted new cycle paths on the street. Pop-up shops suddenly appeared. They printed up all the rules that they were breaking and put them on the windows. Then they invited the city leaders and council members to attend their party. The powers that be admitted that they didn’t know the rules had been on the books for so long. And then they changed them. Roberts describes Better Block as guerrilla, bottom-up placemaking—a combination of an urban planning exercise and a block party. It is now an international movement.
The Natural Leaders Network initiative is building a network of diverse young leaders working to increase equitable access to nature in their communities. They provide training, ongoing support, and peer-to-peer mentoring for this growing network. It is leading a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children—and natural places—can thrive by investing in leadership and communities through sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions, and driving policy change.
Braver Angels’ goal is restoring civic trust in the United States and discovering what it means to be American in our time. This nonprofit attempts to heal the wounds between the political left and right. To challenge institutions to be better and build community together. They do this by providing a place for Americans across the political spectrum to debate our nation’s most divisive issues in a constructive way. These meetings take place via Zoom conference calls, moderated by a trained debate chair. They provide the opportunity for a group of people to think together and listen carefully to one another. To be in cahoots. To allow themselves to be touched and perhaps changed by each other’s ideas. Their collective search for truth brings forth vigor, passion, and greater understanding. When done well, everyone becomes more aware of the validity in opposing views, and with tighter community relationships.
Living Room Conversations also focuses on revitalizing civil discourse through conversation. As our nation grapples with reimagining community safety and public health, In Cahoots offers an example of how structured conversation can illuminate our complexities, diverse perspectives, and experiences.