November 7, 2018. Yesterday, I had a chance to participate in one form of civic duty. My votes were cast and counted — the culmination of months of mailings, email blasts, robocalls and headlines — a discouraging onslaught of messaging and marketing strategies.
Fortunately, I have also had a chance to participate in more hopeful civic engagement — participate by contributing in community visioning opportunities. One reason it feels hopeful to participate in these ways is because clear visions lead to clear plans lead to clearly defined actions. Below is a list of efforts that recognize this same pathway to positive change, and I invite folks to exercise more of their civic muscles by participating.
The City of Columbia is currently collecting information that could inform a ten year master plan. You can learn more about these efforts and how to share your own vision here: https://www.columbiacompass.org/ You can also go directly to their interactive (and fun) survey tool here: https://columbiacompass.metroquest.com/
Folks from Columbia City also collaborated with AARP to host a visioning and feedback event for AARP’s livable communities initiative. Here: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/ . It shouldn’t be surprising that a community vision that is good for an aging population happens to be good for all of us. This vision is broad and comprehensive and is definitely worth looking through. They have also created a nice tool to help communities watch their progress toward this vision. Check out your neighborhood and how it compares to other neighborhoods throughout the US: Livability Index . Here is what my neighborhood looks like: 29205 Area Code
On the State Wide level, Sustainable Midlands (along with AARP, Palmetto Cycling Coalition and many others) is a supporter of the Livable Communities Alliance. Please visit the website and read about some of the policies and actions that partnering organizations are proposing for safer, healthier, more equitable (cheaper) forms of transportation.
Central Carolina Community Foundation also convened folks in an effort to share concerns, as well as, ideas about how to improve our community. We look forward to their report describing what they learned from those conversations. Stay updated here: On The Table
If voting is exercise for the civic muscle, it feels a bit like a tedious but necessary fitness program, whereas participating in visioning activities feels more like a hike with friends through the park.