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Video: Four things anyone can do to build community this summer

Common Ground hosted a meeting for difference-makers on Monday, May 8, 2023

LANSING, Ill. (May 12, 2023) – In the Community Room at the Lansing Public Library, 30 people gathered to talk about ways to build community this summer. Many of the participants were members of the Common Ground program, and other guests joined the conversation as well.

The Lansing Journal captured the discussion on video, and an outline is provided below.

Option 1: Join Common Ground

The Common Ground project is designed to give people who are different from each other a monthly opportunity to ask questions and have safe, real conversations. At the town hall meeting, members of the program shared what they’ve learned from their partners and ways their understanding of community has grown. People who sign up for Common Ground receive monthly emails that include a list of questions partners can discuss at their meetings.

How does Common Ground build community? It helps people understand each other and, in some cases, build lasting friendships.

Option 2: Attend events at Fox Pointe

Fox Pointe is Lansing’s outdoor entertainment arena, and meeting participants talked about the community pride they feel that our village has such a venue. Fox Pointe hosts free concerts on Wednesday evenings, paid events on summer weekends, and Autumn Fest on a weekend in September.

How does Fox Pointe build community? It gives people a safe place and a fun atmosphere to interact with fellow residents and guests. It showcases a variety of music styles, sometimes introducing people to new favorites. It draws people from out of town who spend money in our community.

Option 3: Attend Village Board meetings (and other public meetings)

At Village Board meetings, elected officials and paid staff provide information about new businesses that are coming to town, new hires in the police and fire departments, road repairs, liquor licenses, utilities increases, equipment purchases, and more. Lansing schools, parks, and library also hold board meetings at least monthly and make decisions about spending tax dollars to benefit our community. The public is welcome to attend these meetings, not only to listen, but also to address the board and ask questions. The Lansing Journal publishes agendas for all these public meetings, so residents can know ahead of time what topics are being discussed.

How does participating in public meetings build community? People who attend meetings have a better sense of the factors that affect decisions about spending and planning. Being present at meetings can serve as a reminder to elected officials about the people their decisions affect. And by attending meetings regularly, residents can build relationships with the people who are responsible for infrastructure-type decisions that affect daily life.

Option 4: Organize a block party

For many people, community is defined by the neighborhoods where they live. And people who are intentional about interacting with their neighbors tend to have a deeper sense of community pride. One way to get to know your neighbors is to organize a block party. The Village of Lansing requires neighbors to sign a petition indicating their agreement to have a block party:

How does a block party build community? Even planning the party is a way to build new relationships as neighbors meet to choose a date, create flyers, and decide on food and games. The block party itself allows neighbors to formally introduce themselves to each other. Long after the party, those connections are reinforced as neighbors continue to wave and greet each other throughout the seasons.

People at the May 8 meeting were encouraged to take at least one of these four action steps this summer. The four options represent a range of commitment and time investment, but they are all ways any resident can build community this summer.

Next meeting: August 7

The next town hall-style meeting of people who are looking for ways to build community has already been scheduled. The public is welcome to attend on Monday, August 7, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at the Lansing Public Library, 2750 Indiana Avenue.

build community
The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. For those who enter through the lower level doors, the Community Room is the first room on the left. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Have a video topic you’d like Josh and Melanie to discuss? They are open to suggestions. Email your ideas to [email protected], and they will both receive them.

Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.