Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that a sexist, racist and generally horrid man has been elected president of the United States of America. This is bad. Very bad. I had to take quite a few deep breaths Wednesday morning and I don’t even live in the US. Everyone and anyone has voiced their opinion on it, so there’s no need for me to elaborate on how bad it is. My challenge to you is to take your disbelief / rage / disappointment / sadness / despair and DO something constructive with it. Join a party. Organise an event. Call your mum. Cook for someone. Sign up for a charity run. Walk out for equal pay. Plant a tree. Build a movement. Start the thing you’ve been thinking of. Lay the first brick. Take the first step.
If you want ideas of how to make the world a better place despite dodgy political leadership (if that last word is even appropriate), have a look of one of the following three resources. Make your community stronger when many politicians -and in some regards the media- want to break it down, pitting everyone against everyone else. Read on for inspiration on being a nicer neighbour and improving your local environment, and if nothing else, for reassurance that not all hope is lost.
I recently finished and LOVED (this is probably not the last time you’ll hear about it) Happy City by Charles Montgomery. It will freak you out when you realise how many people die under the wheels of other people’s cars (Chapter 4: How We Got Here), motivate you when you read how we can “walk ourselves into a state of well-being” (p188 of the paperback version) and make you think when Montgomery demonstrates that the city is the scene of an “endless tug-of-war between fear and trust, between status aspirations and the cooperative impulse, between the urge to retreat and the need to engage with other people” (p322). Spoiler: his ending remarks offer a bit of hope that we can create our happiness locally, even in an age of political turmoil. Indeed, “we build the happy city by living it” (p328).
If you’re more of a visual person, or if you want more pragmatic ideas, I recommend scrolling through 101 small ways you can improve your city. If nothing else, it will reassure you that it’s not all doom and gloom; there are urban activists out there trying to build a better world.
In the same vein, a few birthdays ago, I was given the Kindle version of a Project for Public Spaces book on how to be a better neighbour and build resilience and solidarity in your local community. It is a testament to the fact that you don’t need to be an “expert” or hold a position of power to make a difference in your neighbourhood.
Whatever you do, don’t spend your evening/day/life scrolling down your news feeds, becoming a little dark cloud by contagion, or attempt to numb your brain on Pinterest (guilty). Get up, do something, feel a bit better.