Thursday, 17 November 2011

Be Your Community’s Somebody

"Somebody" should do something about it.

This statement used to completely frustrate me. Who is this magical "somebody?" Who are "they" that we keep expecting will come in, do the hard work and solve the problem? Why don't people stop complaining, step up and do the work themselves?

Then I realized this statement is often a call for help. There are a lot of people out there who care, who want to preserve and protect history, who want to make their community better. But they usually do not have a clue what to do to achieve these goals. Because of this lack of knowledge, they are subjected to relying on some vague, hopeful "somebody."

So I thought I would jot down a couple of ideas of how you could get more involved. I'm sure you can think of many more.

Volunteer at a museum or historical site. Your time and dedication can make a world of difference for a lot of organizations. And, yes, everyone is incredibly busy but many organizations have programs where families can volunteer together. Or you can do something from home. Give what time you can.

Recognize that you are likely the keeper of some incredible history. Whether it's your family history or memorabilia or something you have that showcases the history of our community and province, chances are you are responsible for taking care of something that is part of our shared, irreplacable history. Take it upon yourself to ensure that it is well stored and well take care of. Speak to your local museum or archives and find out the best way to ensure its longevity. Document your family history. Identify your photographs. And, if the time comes when you can no longer care for these items, speak to a museum, archives, or other organization about whether or not the best long term place for your items is in such a institution. Museums and archives cannot and should not accept everything but whenever you're in doubt about whether it should go there, talk to them and find out. Once something is destroyed or thrown in the dump, it can never be replaced.

Join a historical society, museum, heritage group or related organization and add your voice. See what advocacy can be done. Write letters. Speak to your politicians. Sign pledges. Don't be a voice in the wilderness wondering what can and should be done -- help make a concerted effort to show that heritage issues have a loud, active, concerned voice represented by many people in our community. Rather than fighting each battle on our own, let's do it as a group and really make something happen.

Start a blog or other message board in your community and share information on social media about the heritage issues and share these issues with as many people as possible. All too often, there are a few people who know what's going on and a large group of people who would like to help but haven't been told or invited. The more we talk and share, the more that can be done. Offer real solutions. If you are good at sharing information, contact a local group and offer to help them with social media or publicity. Help get the message out.

If you're fortunate enough to have the money, donate to support your favourite causes and help the work get achieved.

There are already many, many incredible people in your communities and across the province working, volunteering and donating to keep our history safe. But we can always use more help. Let's all be the "somebody" who does something for our communities and province.

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