Giving back, at home and abroad

Giving back, at home and abroad

Bootsnall prompt: This week, we’re challenging you to make plans to give back. You don’t have to do it this week, or this month, but find a way to give back to the earth or to the local community (even your own) sometime this year – and tell us about what you plan to do. Share your best ideas for caring for the earth and her people, including things you already do when you travel or at home.

Last week, I wrote a little bit about volunteering with the Obama campaign. Right now, that’s the biggest thing I’m doing to give back to my community, both locally here in Pittsburgh, for my country, and for supporters around the world (I’ve met many). It’s a little thing really – some phone banking, some voter registration, and plenty of fun. Most of what I do right now is invite others to be involved, to participate in something larger than themselves, to give a little, too. I also spend a lot of time admiring the generosity of others: the campaign staff who have given their whole lives to this work for the next few months, the volunteers who balance work and school and still show up every week, the people who open their homes and businesses for us to use their space, and so many others who give little pieces of their life to the campaign.

When I give back, I do so with care. I choose what I believe in and then do it. When traveling, I have often travelled selfishly, giving little of myself other than my tourism dollars, thank yous, and maybe a few conversations with locals. When I travel, I do it because I love it. It’s for me.

But when I think about my next trips I often think about how I will give back. For my next trip, I intend to do some long-term WWOOFing. I want to learn more about organic farming while helping farmers every day. It’s a combination of selfish and giving. I want to travel. I want to learn about farming. But I also want to be helpful and do real work on the farms I will visit. And I plan to use all that I learn to give back in other ways when I get home.

Giving back is best when it’s genuine and about sharing – you give of yourself and allow yourself to learn, be changed, or be inspired in return.

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