How to make a difference

Young women laughing arm-in-arm

Human beings don’t live in economies. We live in families, neighbourhoods and communities. (Photo: Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash)

Worrying about the planet can feel overwhelming.

Yet the more we repress information — oceans full of whale-killing plastic, toxic consumer products, dying bees, extreme weather, etc. — the worse it feels. Ignoring or holding back these feelings leads to despair, burnout, blaming, alienation and a sense of powerlessness.

Some people walk around feeling bad about their contribution to the problem, isolate themselves as protection and then judge everyone else, assuming others don’t care.

What’s needed is a focus on people and relationships. We all know difficult things are happening in our world (some pay attention more than others) because we all live here together. Most people are doing their best and actually value the same things.

The solution: Empower people to connect and build community!

Human beings don’t live in economies. We live in families, neighbourhoods and communities. (You probably already know that a few, simple, selfless acts — like picking up litter or organizing a block party — could make your street a better place to live.)

The benefits of building community relationships:

  • Social support — sharing concerns, fears and dreams
  • A sense of belonging
  • Accountability and validation
  • It’s fun!

There’s no “one path.” Everyone doesn’t have to do exactly the same thing. It’s actually better if you add your own personal flare to the actions and changes needed in the world.

Can you be a leader in your community?

It takes courage to make change and guide others toward change. But when you lead — share your knowledge, experience and presence — you’re making the choice not to shrink from responsibility. This gives you the power to inspire. And it’s addictive.

Ten ways to build community

How you can lead


Stop and listen

Instead of arguing or persuading


Surround yourself with others who care


Recognize that everyone has a unique role to play

Build on those strengths


Give others space to experience and share what they’re feeling


Don’t judge

People like you are already taking initiative to make a difference in their local communities — where real change happens. Meeting your neighbours and producing results at the block level creates meaning, belonging and builds social capital. And it gives you all a network of support when times get tough.

Building community encourages people to be part of something much bigger than themselves.