Community involvement and Why it’s so important!!!

by James Gooden

As it is written: “Feed a man and he will eat for only one day; teach him how to fish and he will eat for a life time.” Sometimes I think of this familiar expression when I am considering the importance of Neighborhood Associations…

Why is it important to have a Neighborhood Association? In today’s times our communities face many social struggles. In response to these struggles — we have to learn to water our own grass. Every community has a duty to show development and to improve the quality of existence. The only way that can occur is to become a part of city government. Neighborhood Associations are a way to participate in city government. The Neighborhood Association gives you a voice in the development of your living space, better known as your community.

Neighborhood Associations are organized for a reason — to show unity among the residents of the community, and to make sure the needs of the community are addressed. Imagine you have identified a need in your community… there are a series of steps that you can take to insure that you are heard and that your specific need is addressed by the city government. The Neighborhood Association can make this happen, but you have to participate.

For example, it’s kind of like when you send someone to the store and say “Bring me something back.” When that individual arrives back you may find yourself saying, “That’s not what I wanted.” That same principal applies with community development. The only difference is – if you don’t participate in community development, you just might not get anything back at all. As individuals in the community we know better than anyone what our specific needs and wants are for the areas in which we live. Who represents you better than anyone? YOURSELF! If your thoughts and concerns for your community are not expressed, then how can you expect someone to know what your needs are? They won’t! Consider also that the thoughts and wishes that you have for your community may be shared by others.

Here’s another familiar expression: “Everyone wants to go to the party but, no one wants to dance!” Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to let someone know that you are willing to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. When you look around and see all the other parts of the city developing and growing by leaps and bounds, and your community is stuck and being held down, then it’s time to take action and do something about it. Stop watching progress and development pass you by; it’s time to water our own grass! The key to having a beautiful lawn and making sure that the grass is green and grows properly, is the fertilizer we use. In this case, your active role in the growth and development of your community is the fertilizer that’s needed. Don’t sit around and wait for something to happen, get involved and make it happen! Remember: if you pay taxes, you don’t work for the city government; the city government works for you. Make a pledge not only to the community but, to yourself: get involved and have an active voice in the things that happen in the community in which you and your family live.

In closing, I would like to say, unless it is organized, a neighborhood is incapable of looking after its interests and dealing with basic American political and economic institutions. By banding together, residents can overcome these handicaps. No neighborhood can match the lobbying budget of a major company, but a neighborhood organization can have influence by making a positive use of the many residents within its community. By organizing, neighborhoods can transform the perceptions of the people who own resources from seeing a neighborhood as a liability to seeing it as an asset.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.  That’s why it is very important to… what?

WATER YOUR OWN GRASS!!!


James GoodenThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by James Gooden. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, James spent the past 20 plus years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has returned home to Waco to care for his elderly mother. While in Oklahoma, he was the Director of Field Services for Advanced Home Health Care Services.   James attended Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, and is a graduate of University Center of Tulsa. During his stay in Tulsa, James worked with several volunteer organizations including The Tulsa Boys Home, Light House for the Blind, and reading to preschool kids during story time. At the present time he spends his time working with the community and looks forward to his next adventure in life. James, attributes his love for volunteering to his parents: his father, the late James W. Gooden, and his mother, Ethel Gooden, who is still fighting for community causes. James is a graduate of The Leadership Plenty Institute, class of 2014-2015. He is Co-chair for the Education/Presentation task group of Citizens for Responsible Lending and is involved in a host of other community interests.

he Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

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