Saturday, November 2, 2013

Do Something! Anything! (Because You Should)

I have fond memories of reading Shel Silverstein's books as a kid, so I've begun reading his poems to my preschool-aged son recently. Today, I came across a particularly good one in "A Light in the Attic":
Put Something In
Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

This was the motivation I needed to write a post about ways in which Laveen residents can get more involved. Contrary to some of the often inadvertently judgmental pleas that I've seen recently in our Laveen FB group to "show up to public meetings or forever remain silent" on community issues, I'm going out on a limb to suggest that there are plenty of valid but often ignored opportunities to contribute. And they don't necessarily involve attending "boring" meetings, although that certainly helps sometimes (and the troopers who do it sometimes need a break). So let's try and explore those options.

First, are you an artist (of visual media)? If so, you could have stopped at the first line of the above poem and moved on to the Laveen Art League (and you probably did). If performance art is more your style, how about coordinating with LAL or setting something up with the Laveen Stage (open mic night), Tempe Dance West, or someone else in the community? There are plenty of opportunities that are already somewhat structured, and I bet you could get creative and do something totally different: flash mob, random public art installation, or otherwise. The possibilities are endless, and society relies upon you creative types to push the boundaries of what we previously thought were the limits.

Are you a shopaholic, foodie, or otherwise love a good excuse to go out and patronize local businesses with fellow community members? Then check out the Laveen Farmers Market, Laveen Cash Mob, or similar. Are you the active type? If so, I recommend the "Laveen Isn't Lazy" Activities Group. Aspiring crime fighter or otherwise concerned about safety and neighborhood security? Try the Laveen Village Blockwatch and PNP (logical prerequisite: get involved with your neighborhood block watch too).

Eh, maybe you are the type that goes for boring meetings.... I know you're out there because I'm one of you. There are a variety of options and I've tried many of them myself. Remember my post in 2011 about my unfortunately successful run for the HOA board? Yeah, I'm still on my HOA board until at least next year, even though I don't live there any longer.... If I weren't on the board, I'm sure I'd still be involved in HOA matters because the HOA exists and it represents me whether I like it or not. That said, the HOA exists for owners and not necessarily for residents -- an important if sometimes frustrating distinction. Therefore, I like looking for other opportunities to get involved with neighbors, like starting a neighborhood association, block watch, or simply holding informal and unofficial neighborhood picnics/BBQs. When I lived in and served on my HOA, we merged these two worlds by attempting to forge community bonds in line with the HOA mission of maintaining and preserving our subdivision. That said, I'm not really much of an HOA guy.

If you are into HOAs (and I mean really into HOAs), then you can take it a step further by getting involved with LAHOA, which is the Laveen Association of HOAs. I jumped on-board when LAHOA first began because it spoke to the "New Laveen" subdivision-dweller in me and offered an opportunity to launch an economic development initiative that focused on attracting businesses to Laveen -- one of my passions that didn't have much of an outlet elsewhere. After a year or two, I realized that I didn't particularly care to remain involved with LAHOA and couldn't commit the time anyhow.

The same thing happened when I tried getting involved with the more "Old Laveen" group, the Laveen Community Council, which has done more than most other groups in Laveen to support the community. The LCC is a great organization, but more appropriate for those of you who are into planning fundraisers and coordinating with schools, churches, and such (speaking of which, there are plenty of opportunities in those places too). I wasn't really cut out for the LCC, but if you are then please get involved there.

What I finally found that appealed to me in my search were the planning and development focused groups. The LPC/LCRD is a volunteer group that meets monthly to discuss county/city development issues in Laveen and often contributes to the discussion at meetings of the Laveen Village Planning Committee (LVPC) and elsewhere. I enjoyed serving my time on the LVPC and elsewhere for the city, as it offered insight and a platform to speak on forthcoming developments in Laveen. If this is where you too enjoy participating in the community dialog, then I recommend getting involved there.

Or, you know, maybe none of those options seem particularly inviting or attractive to you. That's fine. It should be obvious here that I've found more reward over the years in my overlapping blogging/facebooking activity that complemented my other community involvement. You might consider these avenues valid/valuable or not, and you may or may not engage with me in these forums. That's fine. However, I tend to disagree if you knock it because at least it's something and, as has been noted previously, the dialog can be imported or exported from these various avenues of discussion as needed.

So I love a general appeal to "Put Something In". What's your something? If you haven't found it yet, then I say keep looking. Just try not to be negative about others' choices of how they choose to engage in the community dialog; we do not need that.


matryshkaz said...

Re: Laveen Community Council,does this still exist? In late Oct. shortly after we purchased a home in Laveen I ordered 2 items online from their community store. When I didn't receive them by late Nov. I emailed the LCC & asked when the items had been shipped. From the reply I received it appears the treasurer had received my PayPal payment but had not passed along instructions to mail the items. I was then informed that they would be retrieved from storage & sent along in a couple of days. Now it is close to late in Dec. with no sign of the items. I emailed the VP, the treasurer & the organization itself asking when they had been shipped. No replies at well, the community store no longer is on the website. And so, my question does this council still exist, was it ever bona fide? This experience has given me a poor image of Laveen.

Patrick said...

Oh no! Sorry to hear about your negative experience. As noted in my post, the LCC is a bona fide organization that is often desperately lacking in human resources. I'll alert whomever I can about your situation and hope they can get in touch with you to straighten this out ASAP. But I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that this was an oversight on someone's part and no harm was intended (my own ordering experience many years ago was similar, but then-president Claudine ended up hand delivering my merchandise to me, which was a nice touch).

Unknown said...

Hi Matryshkaz- the Laveen Community Council does still exist and I apologize for your missing order. My understanding is that the on-line store should have been taken down a while back because we are so low on supplies(I know that doesn't help your situation). We don't meet again until January but I will pass this on to the Executive Board. I would think that at the very worst, we could refund your money through PayPal.
Let me see what I can find out and I'll post the response on Patrick's blog if that's okay?
Fern Ward

Patrick said...

Hi matryshkaz, Fern and the other LCC board members are working on this as I type. Jenn Rouse has also suggested that I post her personal email address for follow-up, as some of the emails through the page have gone into spam folders. It is Please let us know when all is settled for you. And thanks, Fern, for getting involved so quickly.