5 Ways to Connect with Your Community

by Tammy Strobel on February 26, 2010

I’ve been thinking about the importance of community and gratitude. The help and encouragement I’ve received while writing Simply Car-free has been incredible. Thank you for all your efforts, both large and small. I couldn’t have written this book without such a supportive community. Don’t forget the launch is scheduled for Monday March 1st, at 6AM PST.

With community in mind, I resurrected an article I wrote for The Small Living Journal. Enjoy peeps! And thank you for reading RowdyKittens.

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A number of studies have shown the declining number of people involved in their communities. Some speculate that this is correlated to a growing sense of isolation and unhappiness in the United States. Living a small lifestyle promotes community involvement and offers a variety of solutions to the land of dissatisfied American consumers. How can a small and/or minimalist lifestyle be a solution to this problem?

Consider the suggestions below to reconnect with your community.

1) Reshape your work-life.

A great way to find community is by reducing your working hours and volunteering with community groups representing issues you care about.

Its easy to see why many American’s feel isolated from their communities when they typically spend 8 hours a day alone in a cubicle, then drive home (alone) to a big house and partake in our favorite analgesic: watching TV. I don’t think any of these activities are inherently bad, but they don’t promote community involvement or a flexible lifestyle.

Your day job doesn’t have to be your only identity. You are more than your job, you are part of a community. So how can you become more active if you are still working 40 plus hours a week?

If you work in a cubicle forest, talk to your supervisor about working from home or reducing your work hours. A majority of office dwellers can complete their work remotely. People don’t need to be tied to their cubicle to produce stellar work and many corporations recognize the importance of community service. The internet has changed how organizations do business and view local and global communities.

Best Buy’s programs are an excellent example of reshaping work culture.

2) Rethink transportation.

Selling one or all of your cars is good for your wallet and community. One less car on the road means less smog and more friends. Selling a car will open up endless possibilities.

How can this be? Going car-free forces you to expand your network of friends and allies. For instance, instead of driving alone to the office you can carpool, take the shuttle or the bus. A few of my friends live in a suburb outside of Sacramento and either carpool or take the bus to work. Both of these amazing women are extremely happy with the money and time they have saved in addition to the strong friendship they have developed by commuting together.

3) Start exercising.

Exercising is a great way to create community and spend time with your spouse or friends. Instead of working out at your home gym, sell the equipment and join a fitness group or look into joining a gym, local running club, or some kind of interactive class.

If you can’t afford the time or money a gym membership or class require, incorporate exercise into your errands. Start running, walking, or biking with your spouse or friends to the grocery store, post office, etc. This is an inexpensive activity that improves relationships and builds community.

4) Rethink time.

Downscaling and disconnecting from consumerism is one way to free up your time and reduce debt. Rather than working lots of hours to pay for a big house and recreational shopping, you can use that extra time to volunteer or connect with friends and family members.

5) Live small and think big.

Living a small lifestyle is about more than cute homes or counting up possessions. It’s a movement connected to broader social problems, like consumerism, cycles of debt, global warming and poor community services. It’s about re-examining our lives and how our daily choices effect local and global communities.

1 Egyptian Mind February 28, 2010

Just one question, how can giving up one’s car saves time when going to work? I think that when we live in the suburbs and carpool or use the bus to work we are in no way saving time. One reason people living in the suburbs like to drive to work is actually to save time. I am not against a minimalist lifestyle, I am actually all for it. However to be practical, I think a car in a vast country like the US actually saves time. It’s different here from other places in the world where people can live without a car and have no problem going from one place to the other, things are just closer. The way our cities are designed here makes it a must sometimes to have a car in order to save time!

2 Tammy February 28, 2010

Hi Egyptian Mind – In both cities and the suburb’s, I found that riding my bike to the grocery store or work is faster than trying to get there by car.

Dealing with traffic congestion alone is a time waster. When I drove regularly to work (and lived in the suburbs) I spent over 2 hours a day in traffic. ): When I started using the train for commuting, it did run late. But that was okay with me, I was able to use that extra time to my advantage by writing, reading or completing on work projects. And my average commute time was still less than when I drove. Plus, I made a lot of great friends on the train and on my bike commutes.

Then I moved about a mile away from my job and rode my bike to work everyday. The commute took 10 minutes. A colleague of my drove and I always beat her into the office because she got stuck in traffic or had to find parking.

You are right, every area is different and each city has it’s own unique transportation challenge.

For me, I’d much rather ride my bike or walk, enjoy the fresh air and stay fit.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

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