Latest posts by John English (see all)
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New Yorker’s love to brag about their city and it’s easy to see why but pride aside there’s little denying that it could be a little bit friendlier, cleaner and more accessible to everyone. With over 8.4 million people calling this city home it’s easy to get caught up in your own life and forget that all big changes start with small ones. Starting small is the best way to start and if we all do our part we can make a difference.
Here are 15 small but substantial ways you can help make New York a better place.
In Your Neighborhood
1. Pick up a piece of trash
Not littering is obvious but take it a step further and pick up a piece of litter while on your daily commute. If you really want to make a difference volunteer with organizations like Love Your Block and NYC Parks to do your bit in keeping the city beautiful.
2. Get to know your neighbors
Building a stronger sense of community doesn’t have to be a major effort. It can start with just greeting your fellow tenants or even organizing community events
3. Shop local
Yes, it may be more convenient to use the larger supermarkets but there are plenty of benefits to shopping local. Many of the cities small businesses have been forced to close by tougher competition, rising rent and a dwindling client base. By shopping local, you support local family businesses and help the community to flourish. Diversity is what we love about our city so let’s help to keep it that way.
4. Join your local community board
One of the most direct ways you can help effect change in your neighborhood is by joining the local community board. Just reach out to your City Council or Borough President. Board members usually serve for 1-2 years and typically reside in or have a business in the neighborhood.
5. Request a tree for your block
it’s well documented that an abundance of green space in a city has a positive impact on happiness and stress reduction. Why not request a tree for your block? You can do so through NYC Parks. Get the rest of the neighborhood involved and it could really make a difference.
In Your Community
6. Get involved with volunteering
If you’ve got some time to spare volunteer at an organization that always needs ongoing help. This could only mean a few hours each weekend at the nearest Salvation Army center, animal shelter or disability center. NYC Service is a great place to start in finding something that appeals to you.
7. Mentor a young New Yorker
Do you know someone who’s new to the city or who’s always lived here but in need of some guidance? You can help make a difference in a young person’s life by taking them into your confidence and encouraging them. This prepares the next generation and empowers the community as a whole.
8. Be a poll worker on election day
If you want to get more involved in the political process then consider volunteering at the local polls. The process for applying only takes a few minutes and the requirements are minimal.
9. Create community murals and make preserving them a priority
Public art helps to define a community and set it apart. If you know anyone with creative skills in your community organize a meeting to plan new murals or preserve the ones already there.
10. Screen an outdoor movie
Organizing an outdoor screening isn’t difficult and if it’s successful it may even become a regular thing. This article can show you how to do it.
On Your Commute
11. Smile at people
New Yorker’s have a bad (and undeserved) reputation for being friendly. Help to change that stereotype and smile at people. You don’t need to grin at everyone that passes you but just a friendly hello and smile at the cashier or person behind you in line can help brighten their day and yours.
12. Be kind to homeless
People become homeless for many reasons so try to leave any stereotypes or judgments at the door when you walk out. Help out in small ways by donating to local organizations or volunteer your time at a shelter.
13. Give someone directions
Help to change the stereotype of the rude New Yorker who’s always in a rush. Help out a tourist and make them feel more welcome here. Start with those you see reading a map on a side corner.
14. Give up your seat on the subway
Rush hour on the subway is rarely a pleasant affair but for those with mobility issues, like elderly or pregnant women, that frustration is magnified. Do the right thing and give up your seat to someone who’s more in need.
15. Watch out for your fellow New Yorker’s on the street
When you’re out on the city streets keep your fellow citizens in mind. This can mean not being a hassle by not watching where you’re going or helping someone who’s in need.