Learn to Love Where You Live by Creating Something New

Today’s post is the ninth in a series of ten posts, 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

The world, I realized, is full of people who say, “That would be fun.” What it needs is more people who say, “Let’s give it a whirl.”

Melody Warnick

In her “Love Where You Live” project, author Melody Warnick found that making cities prettier, more vibrant, or even cooler, can instill hope. According to one survey she found, living in a beautiful city is a more important predictor of personal happiness than objectively more consequential attributes like clean drinking water or safe streets.

In her research, Warnick found that created placemakers aren’t superheros. They’re usually average citizens – teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, designers, activists, moms, dads, friends, neighbors – who decide to take matters into their own hands. They have a sense of what their city could be, and they love their place enough to try to change it, even a little bit.

Warnick found that when creative placemaking projects work well, they pull people together in interactions that build trust and a sense of community. Singing, chatting, drawing, painting, and howling together at a really bad joke are free, but they offer an astound return on investment in terms of their place attachment dividend.

Here are a few of the author’s ideas for Creating Something:

  • Find out what events are happening in your neighborhood – concerts, dance shows, festivals – and show up to as many as you can afford, even if it’s not your thing.
  • Throw a few bucks in the case whenever you see a busker in your town. There presence makes your hometown an interesting place to be.
  • Gather friends for an adventure and make something silly and creative happen in your neighborhood.
  • If you have it in you, be a creative initiator and organize a placemaking project in your town.

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.

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.