‘It’s Up to Us’: More Ways We Can Help Our Community

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Santa-Clara-County-Assessment-Carole-Leigh-Hutton-United-Way-Silicon-ValleyYesterday I shared the list from last fall’s Santa Clara County Assessment Project. It has excellent suggestions for how we can all improve our neighborhoods. Today’s list casts the net a little wider to the community.

I love the very first suggestion to “experience our rich cultural diversity”. That’s the reason I feature cultural festivals in my “Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor” column at the start of each month. The more we know about our neighbors and their backgrounds, the more appreciative of each other and closer-knit we become.

Another favorite of mine suggests attending a school board meeting or city council meeting. This I think everyone should do at least once, and maybe even once a year minimum. Not only is it a good education for you as a citizen, giving you a better understanding how your local government works, but it also serves to keep public officials in check. [Read more…]

Good Neighbors Vote

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Editor’s Note: This is a version of a post I did in October. California residents, if you still need information on voting, go to the Secretary of State website information page. 

I spend a lot of time at Good Neighbor Stories working to inspire people to be better neighbors, not just in the literal sense of proximity on our own blocks, but in the global sense of how our actions ripple out through our communities and the rest of the world. What we do—or don’t do—has very real impact, even if we don’t perceive it. And while I haven’t said it explicitly, I do imply in my writings that being a good neighbor equals being a good citizen.

In this age of  up to half or more of the eligible voters not exercising the right to vote, this may seem like a bold, or even naive, claim: good neighbors/citizens vote. It is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. And with that responsibility comes some preparation so that the vote you make is an informed one.

Here are several basic reminders of why it’s important to vote:

  • A democracy works best when everyone participates. We are electing people to represent us at all levels of government; those representatives will make very real decisions which will impact our everyday lives. If we don’t participate, at best we are taking the risk that those who do not represent our views or needs will be elected; at worst we are opening the door to those who want to manipulate or dominate the process to the benefit of the few.
  • Your right to vote was hard won. As a nation we’ve fought hard for a representative government and the right to vote; our troops throughout history have fought and died to protect that right. In addition, there are forefathers and foremothers who fought for women and minorities to be able to vote, a fact that should not be taken for granted.
  • Your vote does matter. My family would attest to me being a bit of a broken record whenever I hear someone say, “My vote [Read more…]

How to be a Good Neighbor at Election Time, Online and Off

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In my last post I looked at why being a good neighbor/citizen means exercising the right to vote. Today I list ways to be kind to others during the election season, when emotions may run high.

There’s that old admonishment to “never talk about religion or politics,” but during a highly contested election it can be difficult to sidestep the topic of politics altogether. Especially with how interconnected many of us are on social media, we now find our news feeds filled with well-meaning (or not) family and friends expressing themselves with frequent clicks.

Here’s my list of  ways to be a good and kind neighbor in the public space (in person and online) during the election. It’s not always easy; I admit it’s challenging for me to follow my own advice, and I’ve stumbled a number of times. Here’s to all of us elevating civility and focusing on the greater good at election time.

During an election a good neighbor:

How to be a Good Neighbor at Election Time; Why it’s Important to Vote

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Note: Today I give reasons why good neighbors vote. Join me next time for a list of ways to be a good and kind neighbor to our family, friends, and fellow citizens throughout the election season.

I spend a lot of time at Good Neighbor Stories working to inspire people to be better neighbors, not just in the literal sense of proximity on our own blocks, but in the global sense of how our actions ripple out through our communities and the rest of the world. What we do—or don’t do—has very real impact, even if we don’t perceive it. And while I haven’t said it explicitly, I do imply in my writings that being a good neighbor equals being a good citizen.

In this age of  up to half or more of the eligible voters not exercising the right to vote, this may seem like a bold, or even naive, claim: good neighbors/citizens vote. It is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. And with that responsibility comes some preparation so that the vote you make is an informed one.

If you have not registered to vote, or moved since you last voted, you have until Monday, Oct. 22, in California (postmarked or turned in at an official site) to register. You can register right now onlineOnce registered, take some time to do a little research before voting. In my next post, I’ll go into more detail on that aspect.

In the meantime, here are several basic reminders of why it’s important to vote: [Read more…]