I have a love-hate relationship with the phrase “self-improvement”.
While I skeptically scoff at the Dr. Phils and miracle weight loss products of daytime TV glory, my Amazon recommended books and library checkout titles tell a different story.
From How to Be Alive to The Happiness Project, Adulting, and yes, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’m on a quest to consistently improve myself, and the world around me.
Given my varied interests in mindfulness, minimalism, and Pomodoro tomato timers, I thought my repertoire of self-improvement tools and schools of thought proved fairly diverse.
But it turns out that at least one big name is missing from my list of influences.
It isn’t Oprah or Tony Robbins or even the Dalai Lama.
Nope –– it is Ben. Freakin’. Franklin.
Turns out, amidst his other notable historical achievements (and dalliances), Ben committed to bettering himself, and in so doing, improving his community, through a “mutual improvement club” he launched with some pals.
While his idea came to life in the 1700s, it’s been revived, revamped, and restarted for those of us here in the 21st century –– enter, Ben Franklin Circles.
With a little initiative and the desire to become a better person, you can follow in the footsteps of the historical heavyweight who made going to bed early cool again.
One of the best pieces of advice I recently got from a fellow community changemaker Andrew Wilsterman went like this:
“Start with what you have.”
In other words, we’re often fooled into believing that we need to buy all this stuff in order to realize our passions and make a true impact upon the world around us.
But it’s just not true –– in many cases, what we most need is not a grant, a bunch of fancy equipment, or a huge team. No, what we need is initiative and a little creativity.
And the internet helps.
We now have the ability to access tools and information that catapult us into making projects come to life, even if we don’t have rubberband banks in our pockets, a la T.I.
So, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite (and generally free!) tools to help you get your next community project launched and in motion. These resources have supported me in launching many a community project, as well as working on virtual teams and in startups.
What are you lacking in your next community project? Maybe you’ll find it right here.
We hear the axiom all the time:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
It’s a lofty goal, oft-seen on coffee mugs, and a misquote of Gandhi to boot.
Much less frequently do we hear about a bigger and more difficult challenge: creating the change we wish to see.
One such organization has decided not to shy away from this greater mission, but instead challenge those in its community to take up the cause.
Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, or YLAI, is a program of the U.S. State Department, and empowers its community to take the matter of creating a better world into their own hands.
Cameo Cheung, a program analyst with YLAI, took some time to give me the scoop about what YLAI is all about, and how their free resources can support community changemakers all throughout the Americas and beyond.
What are you doing on Saturday?
No worries if your calendar is blank that day –– you’ve got a plan now.
Every third Sunday in September, neighbors around the world come together for National Neighborhood Day, a grassroots event that “inspires, builds, and sustains the neighborhood relationships that provide the foundation for civic action and the building of stronger, more caring and effective communities.”
No matter where you live, or what you consider a neighborhood, you’re in the right place to participate.
Founder of National Neighborhood Day, Lorne Adrain, gave us the scoop on NND’s backstory and how to make it a reality in your neighborhood.
Ask most fresh-faced, rising college grads about their post-academic plans on any given day, and you’ll likely receive anything from a withering glare to a slap-outta-nowhere. Rhyme intended.
Yep, it’s no secret that college doesn’t always prepare young adults to get a job, or you know, what the hell they should do once that tassel swings to the other side of the hat. It can be pure mayhem, guesswork, or tragedy, depending on how good your career services department was.
Full disclosure? I came to my senior year of college with a cloud of anxiety that followed me around, like a grown-up, human Eeyore.
Anyhow. As I trudged through the ragin' party that is a year of thesis writing, I started examining my options. I didn’t know much, but I did know one thing for sure: I wanted to impact the world somehow. Directly. Not as much behind-the-screen time and more people time, please.
The answer landed in my lap(top), with something I never expected: a service year.
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.