1. Read the newspaper. Informed citizens make better community members. (FYI: an in-county subscription to the print edition will save you almost 25 percent off the single copy price and you get the online edition for free.)
2. Attend public meetings and participate in community events. Hold your elected (and appointed) leaders accountable for wise governance and oversight of your tax dollars. Voting is just the beginning of a citizen’s responsibility.
3. Be kind to your neighbors. Be kind to people in customer service jobs. Be kind to people who don’t look like you, or who look just plain weird. Be kind to people who are older than you, younger than you, vote differently than you or believe differently than you. OK, let’s simplify, just be a kind, considerate human being in all your interactions, both in person AND online.
4. Pick up trash, even if it’s not yours. If you see trash in the street, at the park, on the sidewalk, or in the mountains, pick it up and throw it away in a proper trash receptacle. Only toddlers refuse to pick things up because they aren’t the ones who dropped it.
5. Don’t let your dogs run loose. It’s not safe for your dogs, for other people’s pets, or for random pedestrians. If you can’t be a responsible dog owner and keep your dog contained, do the right thing and find the critter a better home. Oh, and pick up after your pets, too.
6. Stay home when you’re sick and wash your hands regularly. Haphazardly spreading your germs is inconsiderate and potentially deadly to the elderly, the very young and people with compromised immune systems. Who wants that on their conscience?
7. Stop driving like a selfish jerk. There were 600 traffic fatalities in Colorado in 2018. The chief of the State Patrol attributed them to selfish driving, e.g., driving carelessly, driving under the influence or driving while distracted. Wear your seatbelt, obey the speed limit, don’t drink and drive, and stop checking your phone when you’re behind the wheel.
8. Practice self-care. Get counseling or therapy if you need it (in the words of my dear uncle, everyone needs therapy). Eat right. Exercise. Go get a massage. And, on the same note, look out for each other. If you see someone struggling, offer to lend a hand. The healthier we are as individuals—physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.—the stronger our communities are as a whole.
9. Support local businesses. Are you going to pay a couple bucks more? Maybe. But you’re going to save gas, mileage on your car and your time. What’s that two hours in the car worth to you? At least check and see if a local business has the item or service you need before you decide to shop out of town or online. It’s part of being a good neighbor and a participating member of the community. And local businesses? Local advertising will reach the people most likely to ring the bell on your shop door and support another local business—the newspaper—at the same time.
10. Practice random acts of kindness throughout the year. Put it in your planner, or on your calendar, to do something nice for someone “just because” at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It can be as simple as helping someone carry their packages out of the Post Office, shoveling someone’s sidewalk or leaving a note wishing someone a good day on their windshield.
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org