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.
Hop in the car.
Take highway I-77 north and drive as far as you can go, and you’ll eventually get to Cleveland, Ohio.
As you arrive, you’ll see the usual suspects –– mammoth billboards of LeBron James, signs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and even the wafting aroma of your grilled cheese stop for the evening, Melt.
But if you slow down for a bit, and look a little closer, you might see something else:
The Art Palace on Wheels. Cleveland Bike Library. Purple Oasis Community Kitchen. Thea Bowman Center Intergenerational Garden.
Yep, outside the fanfare of this Midwest city’s major claims to fame are its more intimate creations: community projects, or resident-led initiatives seeking to better neighborhoods, one idea at a time.
Prod a little further, and you’ll discover that these changemaking community members enact their projects with the help of one organization that believes neighbors have the powerful ideas to forge safer, greener, more livable and more fun spaces:
In Our Backyards, or ioby for short.
Across the country, ioby works to bring grassroots change to life by community resourcing.
They could even be the key to making that project idea you’re kicking around in your head a reality.
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.
Lately I haven’t felt particularly creative.
Every time I sit down to write something, it’s like trying to eat soup with a fork. Why even try?
Like any normal, well-adjusted human, I immediately start looking for who or what to blame –– commence the finger pointing.
Is it my sleep schedule? My work-life balance? My dog? (I wish I had a dog!)
It’s perplexing, in large part because I love what I write about.
As the career books would say, I’m passionate about helping people help the world. So, why in the HELL is it so hard sometimes to come up with the right words sometimes?
I want answers!
Spoiler alert: might be my own damn fault. And yours, too.
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.