Living Intentionally: 5 Ways to Build Your Community
Inspired by their individual experiences at the Impact Hub, three of our summer interns, set out for a week of intentionality. The guidelines were simple: Make 5 behavioral changes that would result in positive social or environmental impact.
This is the 3rd and final installment of our series - last up is Alyssa Snyder, a Utahn going to college in Massachusetts.
Hey Hubsters! I was excited to be challenged with a week of living intentionally, as I always want to make a difference with my daily actions, but I’m never quite sure how to get started. This was the perfect chance for me to take a look at my weekly routine and see how I could shake it up in order to make a positive change in my community.
1. Have Deliberate Conversations
My family is made up of people who have different perspectives about various topics, and a lot of the time I find myself avoiding conversations or staying to “safe” subjects. This week I tried to be more intentional about talking with family members about issues that are important to me such as immigration, abortion rights, and climate change. I didn’t have as many conversations as I would have liked to, but I did have more than I normally would which is a start! As a white woman I have the privilege to avoid talking about the tough stuff; I could go multiple years without talking to my family about family separation at the border or how our world is quickly warming from climate change. I challenge you to strike up a conversation that you normally wouldn’t sometime this week!
2. Reduce Waste
I realized that my roommates and I use a LOT of paper towels. To wipe off the counters, to use as napkins during dinner, to wrap our sandwiches in to put them in tupperware to take to work. And WHY? We have sponges/towels to clean things, you really don’t need napkins for a meal at home because you can easily wash your hands, and it isn’t necessary to wrap sandwiches in a paper towel. (I’m not sure why we even ever did this!) So when the paper towels ran out, I simply didn’t buy any more. And guess what? This week we haven’t had the need for them! Why is it important to reduce paper towel usage? Each year 13 billion pounds (6,500,000 TONS) of paper towels are used in the U.S. alone. It would take 51,000 trees per day to replace the number of paper towels that are tossed each day. See where you can reduce your waste this week.
3. Speak Up
With so many things happening on the daily in our world, it can be hard to keep up with all of it. This week I decided to choose one topic and call my senators. I also encouraged a few of my family and friends to call. Calling your senators is actually easier than it sounds! Yes, even for those of us that grew up hating talking on the phone. The site 5 Calls is a great resource, whether you are a seasoned pro at contacting your representatives or you are just getting started. You can enter in your zip code and what issue you are interested in, and it will give you the phone number of your senator/representative, a short introduction to the issue, and a script you can use as a reference. Here is a list of all senators’ numbers, give one a call!
4. Buy Local/Diverse
New to Seattle, I have loved learning about all of the local business that support worthwhile causes! Like Morgan, buying local and from diverse groups was an important part of my week. My mom came to visit from Utah and wanted seafood, so I used Intentionalist.com to search up the nearest restaurant. I took her to New Star Seafood Restaurant which is a woman, family, and minority owned business specializing in Chinese seafood cuisine. We also stopped by Cupcake Royale, a woman and LGBTQ owned cupcake bakery and coffee shop (Seattle’s first!). The founder, Jody Hall, is “committed to fostering a sustainable local community, so she serves up her cupcakes, coffee, and ice cream with a side of advocacy in support of LGBTQ equality!” Intentionalist made it easy to put my money where my mouth is (while putting yummy food in my mouth!) and support causes and people that I believe in. Check out Intentionalist to see where you might grab your next lunch or after-work treat.
5. Build Community
I often find myself caught up in the daily whirl of life, and forget to take a second to connect to the people around me. Melissa Harris-Perry challenges the capitalist notion of “self-care” and writes about collective care (or #SquadCare as she puts it!) and how we have to take care of one another in order to make any kind of change in the world. We can’t form empowered communities if we don’t take the time to foster mutually supportive relationships. This week I reached out to friends and family not just to say hi like I normally would, but to ask them how they really are and to be honest with them about what is going on in my life. I was more forthright and vulnerable than I normally am, and this prompted them to be more open as well. Turns out that many people in my life are also going through a tough time, and we don’t normally talk about it! After having these conversations, I felt a lot better, and I also felt closer to my loved ones. I challenge you to reach out to someone this week and when asked “How have you been?” tell the truth, whatever that may be.
To make a positive difference in our community, it is apparent we have to continue these activities for more than just a week. This was a good exercise to really focus on how I can make a daily impact and change my behaviors. I found that many changes were easy to make, and the reason I hadn’t made them before was merely habit and convenience. I intend to keep these up and add a few more every couple of weeks!
Do you have more ideas on how to make a daily positive impact on the world? Let us know! Also, keep your eyes out around the Hub for new reminder cards about small everyday ways we as Hub Members can make our time here more intentional.
Keep up with Alyssa by adding her on LinkedIn!