BELONGING

How To Increase Your Return on Involvement: The Neighbor’s Guide

By

Erika Riley

– VOL. 11

At Venn, ROI means something different. It means Return on Involvement. It’s got macro implications for our team and also business partners. But, for our Neighbors, it’s got more personal and local implications. It’s all about what you get from being involved in your community. This could be a sense of gratitude, increased self-worth, or new friendships. Want to increase your own local ROI? We have a few tips.

Volunteer

You may know that volunteering is one of the best ways to get involved in your community, but did you know that studies have shown volunteering can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation? To look for volunteer opportunities in your community, check out listings at your library, both in-person and online.

You can also check online at idealist.org for volunteer opportunities in your area, some of which may be ongoing. Some organizations may also post on Facebook or other social media platforms, so it’s worth checking there, too. You can also check with your house of worship, local food bank, or homeless shelter.

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Small local businesses make for great neighborhood hangouts. City Barrel Brewery is the de facto club house for neighbors in Midtown, KC.

Check out your local businesses

The pandemic has proven that supporting small businesses is more important than ever before. From finding your go-to restaurant to your new favorite boutique, supporting a small business can help you feel personally involved in your community.

But supporting small businesses can go beyond that. If you have a hobby or interest, check to see what programming your local businesses might offer. For example, your local craft store might host knitting nights, or your local comic book shop might have a board game league. And you might even be able to pick up a new hobby while you’re at it, like rock climbing at a local gym or learning martial arts from a local dojo or teacher.

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In Kansas City, neighbors rallied together for a community bike and brew tour last summer.

Organize a block party or community event

Sometimes the most effective way to get involved is to create your own involvement. If you don’t have a way to get to know your neighbors online, consider hosting a block party or barbecue. Some neighborhoods have traditions like annual chili cook-offs or field days in nearby parks. If your neighborhood doesn’t have one, start one! You can use neighborhood apps to post information, but don’t forget the power of a simple flier, either. 

Or, start a club! Adults can have clubs, too, not just kids! Local Facebook and Reddit groups can help you find like-minded people who are probably searching for new friends, too. 

How to get more out of your involvement

Have the right idea, but still feel like something’s lacking? It’s not uncommon to feel out of sorts in a new community or a new activity. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re getting involved in your community:

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Participation in neighborhood life doesn’t have to be formal or full of effort. A simple shared smile is a powerful act of community.

Keep an open mind

Not every volunteer opportunity, fitness class, or neighborhood get-together will change your life, or introduce you to your best friends. But you never know what will! Keep an open mind when getting involved, and you’ll be surprised what may happen. 

Maintain a low-pressure atmosphere

Although you’re trying to increase your ROI, getting together just for the sake of getting together can cause a lot of pressure on both yourself and your guests. This isn’t like networking — you’re not aiming to get the most business cards or LinkedIn connections as possible. Be inviting and warm, and chances are the people around you will mirror your energy. 

Always look for new opportunities

The perfect involvement opportunity for you might not exist yet, but it could in the future. Keep an eye out on local online groups, fliers in windows, and upcoming events. The more in-tune you are to your community, the more involved you can be! Sometimes following local bloggers online or city-focused foodies on Instagram can lead you to your next adventure. Plus, seeing bits and pieces of your community on your timeline can help you feel connected with the place you call home.