Feeling like the Hopeless Pit of Despair is Engulfing You Whole? Get Involved In Your Community!

By Ashleigh Crocker 

I don’t know how you’re feeling, but this last week, and if we’re being honest, the last six months, or year, or since November 2016, things have felt especially grim. Between a debate that left me feeling hopeless, Supreme Court decisions on immunity and Chevron with far-reaching consequences, and Project 2025 looming, I’ve been looking for a Plan B for this country. But if you don’t want to uproot your whole life, leave your friends and family, learn a new language, find a job in a new country, and find the financial resources to make all that happen, we still have options. 

One thing that has helped me find a like-minded community and a bunch of new friends is getting involved in local stuff in my community. I live in a small, pretty red county, and I’ve been shocked by how many people I’ve found who share my values. I just had to look for them! So here are a few ways for you to do the same thing and maybe help you climb out of the pit of despair. And if not, at least some people to commiserate with and fight back. 

  1. Attend a local government meeting. 

Local government is where the decisions that most impact your life are made, but paradoxically, people pay the least amount of attention to what happens there. And in a time when newspapers are shuttering and laying people off left and right, finding out what happens at these meetings is harder than ever. When I started going to local meetings, I discovered that not only were they doing a lot of things that would have a huge impact on the community, but I met a lot of like-minded people who shared my opinion on those things. Plus, when you start speaking out at local government meetings and holding City Councilors, Board of Supervisors, and School Board members accountable, it actually has an impact because so few people actually do. 

  1. Volunteer for local organizations. 

Volunteering for local organizations is a great way to make a big impact on your community! Plus, you can really tailor it to your interests. Do you have kids in public schools? Join your parent-teacher organization! Care about making sure everyone has something to eat? Volunteer at a food bank or Meals on Wheels? Is affordable housing more your jam? Habitat for Humanity is a great cause. Visit VolunteerMatch to find volunteer opportunities that align with your interests. 

  1. Call your representatives, canvass, make phone calls, and help register voters. 

Despite the pit of despair feeling, all is not lost. If we all come together, we can not only win the presidential election but also expand majorities in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and even local boards. Get involved directly with a campaign in your community or volunteer with one of our incredible partner organizations like New Virginia Majority, or Planned Parenthood. Get out there, knock some doors, talk to your neighbors, and convey the importance of voting in not only the presidential election, but local elections too. 

I’m not going to lie. Everything feels kind of terrible right now. But we are not alone. There are people who share our values and are fighting to make our communities a better place all around us. We just have to get off the couch, stop watching the news, and get into the community. I hope you will join me!

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