Make a difference in your neighborhood

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

It seems that everywhere I go, a continuing topic of conversation is what a mess our government, culture, neighborhood is currently in.

There are many factors, and many layers of blame, neglect and inertia.

One reality is that most of us are just too busy, some of just don’t know, and some of us just don’t care.

It is not possible to care about every issue or to be adequately informed on every topic that rises before us.

The current paralysis of our major political parties – if not our entire political system – might  be demoralizing – and well beyond our reach. Our neighbors – and our neighborhoods – are not far away – and are not beyond our reach.

Whichever your favorite area of criticism might be, the good news (or bad news, if you just like to complain) is that it doesn’t need to be this way. And if it does seem to need to be this way, it does not need to stay this way.

Neighborhoods and nations (and individuals) can change. Sometimes it just takes a crisis (or two) to get us to put down our talking points and cable-news stereotypes and get to work toward our common – and lasting – good.

Here's a map of Tacoma's neighborhood councils. For details,  look here -
Here’s a map of Tacoma’s neighborhood councils. For details, look here –

You could describe it as difficult – and in some ways it is, but you will probably never have work that is more rewarding – and work you could be more proud of.

Whether it is crosswalks, potholes or something much larger, you can make a difference, or take another step toward learning how to make your community more like how you envision it.   (1*)

It might not feel like it sometimes, but our political system is inherently designed for engagement and active participation of informed and passionate citizens.

Some cities – or nations – seem to need to reach – or come close to a crisis point to act – but they don’t need to wait. Whether you think our nation, or your neighborhood is in crisis right now or not, you can always join with others and move things a little closer to where you want them.

Two cities far from Tacoma (Cali, Colombia, and Bologna, Italy) have pulled themselves from the edge of chaos and catastrophe by soliciting and facilitating the energy, commitment and vision of the people that matter the most – local citizens who have an enduring stake in the look and feel and livability of their community.

You can see their story here –

We don’t need to be on the edge of disaster to step out and join some organization or work together with our  neighbors to make a lasting difference or even just clean up that pesky area.

We have had several articles in previous issues on how you can start.  (2*)

You could start with a visit to your local neighborhood council or apply for a grant from a local or even national – organization or you could just get out there and start working. I am sure someone else cares about it as much as you do. They just might join you.

Here are twelve stories of communities around the country where unofficial, volunteers have made a difference in their communities –

Who knows? You might have similar challenges, visions or interests.


(1*)     If, for example, chronic, continual and public homelessness in Tacoma is an issue you would like to address, you could start with this city-wide map of homeless related reports –

(2*)    For our previous articles, you could start here –