With Christmas a few weeks away I started to think about a New Year’s resolution for 2018. Health goals are nearly everyone’s list so what about challenging citizens to get more involved in their community? What about asking other Raleighite’s who have spaces online and are online influencers in our community to share what inspired them and the impact they’ve seen it have in Raleigh? Here’s my story below, reach out to me with a link to your own story and (as long as it’s appropriate and on topic) I’ll link to it here. All I ask is you link back to my post as well. Participating in Raleigh Community Service can really make a big positive impact in your community!
Posts from other blogs:
- @GreggStebben who’s one of the leading voices in the Raleigh movement for short-term rentals and ADU’s shares what got him involved. It’s not just about AirBnB for him! Check out his post on YIMBY Raleigh.
I was born and grew up in Raleigh. I hadn’t lived anywhere else in my entire life that wasn’t within a short drive of my hometown. After moving to Austin, TX in 2012, and living there for a little over four years, I was pretty excited to move back home. When I pulled into my new (to me) apartment’s parking lot May 2016 I realized that while my hometown still felt familiar, I didn’t feel as connected as I wanted to. I had a few old friends still in town, but I needed more. I had read about so many exciting and new career opportunities, developments, businesses, parks, and changes coming to Raleigh, but I wanted to get connected with these movers and shakers that had created all of it. I’m horrible at networking so on December 2016 I decided I was going to make my resolution to meet new people. I had no idea that goal would take me as far as it did in 2017.
First, I started plugging myself into all the social media groups I could find specifically around Raleigh. My first stop is was Reddit, and the r/Raleigh subreddit paid off huge. A post there mentioned this free program through the City of Raleigh called Raleigh Neighborhood College (RNC). I signed up expecting it to be something I might learn a few things here and there, but not anything earth-shattering. I was completely wrong.
RNC has got to be the best-kept secret in all of Raleigh. Imagine a free program that gives you a free dinner, sends you on interesting field trips all over your city, lets you network with tons of people who work for Raleigh and it’s government, and lets you make a new group of great friends. The only cost to you is just two hours of your time once a week for 12 weeks. It was literally life-changing for me. I learned about nearly every department in the city, who ran them, what they did, the challenges they face, the accomplishments, and how my tax money supports it. Heck, I even got to learn about how the budget was made. It was a blast! You get to see behind the scenes stuff like the firefighter training facility (yes real fire is involved), the RPD SWAT team, ride the historic merry go round and tour some of Raleigh’s parks on an old trolly, see how our waste and recycling is handled, and so much more. Every week is a different aspect of the city.
The RNC class wrapped up early June, right at the beginning of Raleigh’s municipal government election season for the 2017 City Council. Through contacts at the RNC class, I started to attend my local Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), meet candidates for office, and even volunteer with their campaigns. I got to meet local influencers in the city, learn how City Council was run, and how I could make an impact on Raleigh.
My wife and I also purchased a home in a historic neighborhood in Raleigh this year, and we started attending local neighborhood association meetings. I met amazing people that lived in my neighborhood and also started to learn about the city organization that manages the protective overlay district that preserves my neighborhood, the Raleigh Historic District Commission (RHDC). A local neighborhood resident who’s on the RHDC commission got me involved with volunteering with a committee on RHDC. I met even more people and learned even more about Raleigh, specifically its remaining existing historic structures and sites.
As the city election wrapped up in November I got another surprise. RHDC recommended city council to appoint me to be one of the 12 commissioners on RHDC. I attended the City Council session where I was unanimously voted in. It was a huge honor for me and left me even more eager to give back to my community.
It was later that month I rebuilt my blog, Raleighite.com. This blog has had many forms over the years, but this is the first time it’s actually been about Raleigh (strange I know). You might think this site will be purely focused on City Council politics, but I promise that’ll only be one part. I want to share the lessons I learned this year with others. How to get involved in your community. How to find ways to volunteer your time, give back, and get a feeling of well being from doing so. How to engage with your local government, what they can do for you, and what can you do for it. There’s so much to learn that you’ll never stop learning new things.
2017 isn’t over yet, and 2018 will offer just as many opportunities as this past year to get involved with your community! Take the challenge to attend a CAC meeting, or sign up with Raleigh Neighborhood College, or attend a committee/commission meeting, or a City Council meeting. There’s no shortage of places for you to find something you’re passionate about in Raleigh, and the only cost is your time. If you’re already involved in your community, please consider writing a post about what inspired you and the results like I did here. I’ll link back to it if you leave the link in the comments below or on social media!