Last week, thousands of Chicagoans came together in mealtime conversations across the region to talk about our hometown and what we can do individually and collectively to make it even better and stronger. Conversations were filled with inspiration, challenges, innovation and encouragement.
So, now what?
Listed below are seven ways you can use your newly-acquired motivation to make a difference through civically-engaged action.
1. Take the survey. Yes, a shameless plug, but this year, the Trust has partnered with two national public opinion research firms and have made the On the Table survey available to those who participated, but also to those who would like to share their insights on the challenges and opportunities facing the Chicagoland region. The more Chicagoans that respond to the survey, the more the Trust will know about what communities care about and how best to meet the needs of residents.
2. Share your commitment to action. This can be done in a few ways. Use the hashtag #OnTheTable2018 on social media, leave a message at 866-737-6951, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a note at our office. We’re committed to sharing these stories in the coming year. You never know who you could inspire!
3. Connect with a nonprofit or civic organization. What issues do you care most about? Chances are there’s one (or more) organizations out there for you. I encourage you to do a bit of research and identify one or two that resonate with your interests, passions, concerns or even geographic location. There is always a need for committed or one-time volunteers and donations.
4. Attend a public meeting. Each day in our city, important topics are discussed—at your son or daughter’s school Board of Education meetings, Chicago City Council meetings, at your place of worship, block club gatherings or neighborhood association events… to name just a few. Public meeting schedules can be found by looking on an organization’s website, giving them a call or visiting their main office.
5. Start a project. Taking on a project of your own, no matter how big or small, gives you the opportunity to be creative, innovative and decisive. Maybe it is a backyard garden to help put fruits and vegetables on the table for your family and friends? Or, perhaps, it is a clothing drive, where you encourage friends to clean out their closets of clothes they don’t wear and give them to people that may need them more? Starting and finishing a project is fulfilling, and I can promise you that you will want to start more.
6. Vote! Voting for any sort of election, whether it be federal, state or even neighborhood focused, may be the most influential way to become civically engaged. By voting in an election, you are voicing your opinion on an issue that matters. If you are not registered to vote, you can do so here. And if you are, why not encourage and help someone else register to vote?
7. Apply for an Acting Up award. For the third year, the Trust is giving away cash awards to help On the Table participants bring their creative ideas to fruition. The Trust will be giving away more than $150,000 this year in the amounts of $1,500, $2,500 and $5,000—all in an effort to help encourage Chicagoans to work together and take action for the public good. All you have to do is create a video (two minutes or less) talking about your idea, how it would work and its potential impact. No fancy production skills needed! Entries are due the evening of May 25, 2018. Learn more about the Acting Up awards here.
Acting on just one of the seven ideas listed above will help you stay engaged with other members of the community and are also wonderful starting points for creating meaningful change throughout the Chicagoland region.