You, like me, may be discouraged by national partisan politics. Today, I offer an outlet for your angst: the encouragement, regardless of your political leanings, to get involved in our community. At a time when many national decisions feel out of our control, we can reinstate civility and steer meaningful decisions on a local level and in our neighborhood.
We can take our cue from local school programs that are advancing anti-bullying measures and teaching positive conflict resolution tactics. Look to the Laird Park sandbox renovations as an example of making our voices heard and getting community leaders to respond. Or give a nod to the local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops who are working alongside community leaders to clean up Miller Park and our Red Butte Creek.
In a May 2018 Atlantic article, “The Reinvention of America” author James Fallows made this observation, “America is remaking itself except at the national level.” He goes on to highlight communities across the United States who are leading remarkable grassroot efforts in advancing the arts, improving schools and urban centers, and protecting the environment. He issued this challenge:
“[Take] responsibility for the invention and sustenance of the community in which you’d like to live…Any step in that direction—as modest as voting or attending PTA meetings, as dramatic as running for office or leading a group to deal with local problems—is a step that encourages civic creation…” James Fallows
Three Ways You Can Make a Difference in our Community Now
Utah’s general elections are coming up on November 6th. Big changes are on the ballot this year for public education, roads, medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, political redistricting and key local and national senate and house races. Local newspapers like the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune and non-partisan groups like the Utah League of Women Voters offer opinion and perspective on these issues.
A local hot political topic to be aware of is rezoning for use of accessory dwelling. There is concern that our Yalecrest neighborhood will have continued spillover from student housing as the Salt Lake housing market tightens and the University grows. Our neighborhood is at risk for becoming more like the Avenues where strong-arm landlords eschew parking restrictions, property maintenance and allow disorderly tenants. While there is no issue on the ballot specifically regarding this issue, ensure your local representative is interested in protecting our neighborhood and limiting accessory dwellings.
#2 Participate in Your Local Community Council
Our neighborhood is lucky enough to have two local councils advancing the community and preserving the character of our neighborhood.
The Yalecrest Community Council is registered with the City and coordinates with local representatives on civic matters, oversees community outreach and neighborhood events. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month at 6:15 pm at the Pingree School. As acting president of the Yalecrest Community Council, I wholeheartedly invite you to participate in setting the course for our neighborhood’s future.
K.E.E.P Yalecrest (Keep Educating and Encouraging Preservation of Yalecrest) is a local organization advocating for the preservation and protection of Yalecrest as a historic neighborhood. They offer walking tours and historic information on many of our neighborhood’s public and private landmarks.
#3 Join a Community Organization
A good place to start is wherever your interests lie. If you have children, involve yourself in your school’s PTA or school community council. Find the nearest Boy Scout troop at beascout.scouting.org or Girl Scout troop at joingirlscouts.org. Many schools will also have community giving programs, like Clayton’s Family to Family Refugee Program and East High’s Student and Family Support.
Another option is to search for community nonprofits near where you live. Greatnonprofits.org can search nearby non profit organizations by zip code. The Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah fosters lifelong service opportunities and civic engagement for students and citizens alike.
If your interests take a more political bent, Utah’s political process begins every two years in neighborhood caucuses throughout the state. You can find information on this process and how to contact your local party on the Utah Precinct Caucus information page.
What local organizations are you a part of and would recommend to the Yalecrest community?