Love Where You Live by Getting More Political

Today’s post is the eighth in a series of ten posts over the next few weeks, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts at the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

If some small part of me might have once been reluctant about the wonkiness of a nine-week civics class, it had been overshadowed by the recognition that the Citizens Institute was exactly what you would do if you cared about your city.

Melody Warnick

As author Melody Warnick went through a nine-week Citizens Institute in her hometown, she came to two realizations:

  1. Good towns just don’t happen. They are planned into existence.
  2. Making decisions that keep all kinds of residents satisfied is incredibly difficult.

In her research she found support for this line of thought from various sources. “I think town employees are the unsung heroes,” says Rick Morse, an associate professor of public administration and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies citizens academies. “They’re always in the background working, and people don’t realize that all in their life is convenient and good because of what these other people do. For citizens, it’s kind of this aha moment: ‘Oh wow, these are good people, and they’re doing good things.'”

According to Warnick, the majority of Americans are crap at civic engagement, the process by which we citizen participate in the running of our town in an effort to make things better – happier – where we live. Very few of us get involved in local politics.

When you live in a town where people are not like you, politically or otherwise, you can feel isolated and alienated. The antidote, and the way to experience more place attachment where you live, is twofold.

First, learn to appreciate other residents for who they are and what they do for you – like Warnick did at the Citizens Institute.

Second, work with other to make good things happen in your town despite your differences.

Here are a few of the author’s ideas for Getting More Political:

  • Follow your mayor and city councilors on social media.
  • Join a local citizen’s academy (they go by many names).
  • Read a local news source online or in print to keep up with what’s happening in your town.
  • Download and use civic apps for your town.
  • Attend a city council meeting.

I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.

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Love Where You Live by Eating Local

Today’s post is the seventh in a series of ten posts over the next few weeks, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts at the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong.

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

Good food makes cities wealthier and more compelling, but there’s another reason why what we eat makes us love where we live. Food has an inimitable sensory power to connect us to a place.

Melody Warnick

And a starting point for eating local, according to author Warnick, is you local farmers’ market:

  1. The kinds of small, slow transactions that farmers’ markets represent the slow, “French-village” way to shop, filling your arms with the food you will eat for dinner tonight.
  2. Buying your groceries at the farmers’ market returns more money to the town you live in.
  3. The farmers’ market is decidedly social. Some studies show that at community farmers’ markets, people had ten times as many conversations than they did in supermarkets.

If not buying local, what about growing your own food? Studies that people who garden or farm have higher levels of neighborhood attachment; the act of literally putting down plant roots extends metaphorical ones as well.

Then there’s the path of becoming a “regular” at a local restaurant. My regular Tuesday or Wednesday lunch takes place at Big Bite’Z Grill in Cornelius, NC – here’s the story.

In Warnick’s story of choosing a restaurant to eat local, the most telling comment is this:

Perhaps, I thought, being recognized didn’t matter as much as doing the recognizing. So what if I ordered the same chicken cashew sandwich five times in a row and an employee didn’t congratulate me on my steadfastness? I could still enjoy feeling like it was my sandwich, the same way I could still feel this was my restaurant, even if no one who worked there cared.

Here are a few of the author’s ideas for Eating Local:

  • Find a place in your hometown to become a regular.
  • Shop regularly at your farmers’ market.
  • Plant a garden, big or small.
  • Follow local restaurants on social media, and support them there.

All over this country are would-be “third places” – not just coffee shops and diners but potlucks, church dinners, and chili cookoffs – that can make us feel like we belong where we live.

Make them your own.


I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.