Election day is almost here 🍂
As election day approaches, we’re inundated with the message that it’s extremely important to vote. And with good reason! It is extremely important to vote. We are very close to election day, but you can make sure your registration is complete here and check your polling place here.
Remember that even if you don’t love either candidate, your vote matters. If your vote didn’t count, officials in power with a lot to lose wouldn’t be gerrymandering or introducing new voter restrictions.
Civic engagement goes beyond election day. At Stardust, we wanted to explore how we can get involved by tackling the issues we care about on a local level, and by building communities worth caring about.
Businesses can offer products and services in keeping with their social and political beliefs. Some of our microgrant awardees are perfect examples. Shyleen Mpofu founded her organic foods store to address low employment levels and a lack of sustainable, healthy food options in
her hometown Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Another Stardust microgrant recipient, Adam Riva started his business Dragonfly Effect Naturals to bring organic supplements, health, and beauty products to the Catskills community.
Showing up with community support
Beyond entrepreneurship, simply showing up and utilizing community support is really important. Social media is a great way to bring awareness to issues in your own networks, and to make your stances clear, but in person displays are rarer and can have a meaningful impact too. When an issue in your community needs to be addressed, on-the-ground protests that show that you are part of an active and engaged community. While we can complain directly to institutions, or share petitions online, it’s important to band with other concerned constituents in person to get representatives and officials to prioritize our concerns.
New York City’s Chinatown offers a great example of engaged citizens establishing their stances in person. When Chinatown landlords tried to evict long-term residents from subsidized housing, people banded together to protest outside local businesses and outside court hearings on rezoning, knowing that should one tenant be displaced, the rest of the community would be vulnerable too.
Hundreds of New Yorkers from other boroughs also came to support, and the vulnerable tenants as of now are able to stay in their apartment without fear of displacement.
It's not just the negatives:
Enjoying your community
And before we get too weighed down by the problems of our communities, let's remember that engagement isn’t just about dealing with upsetting issues. We also need to get to know our neighbors and community on a congenial level, so that we can relate beyond discussions of strife.
are less socially engaged with their communities than ever before; participation in voluntary group activities like bowling leagues has dropped greatly in recent
Here are some ideas to get to know your community. Invite your friends, and if they each bring a friend, then you'll have gotten to know a little more of your community.
So can another example from NYC Chinatown - casual outdoor dancing. People in Chinatown just need a boombox and an outdoor space, to practice square dancing for exercise, companionship, and stress relief. If square dancing and handball aren’t for you, try hip-hop, swing dancing, chess games, or Scrabble! And let us know on our Facebook page if you have any other suggestions for neighborhood hangouts - I’m always looking for new ideas.
Until next month,
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