Getting Involved

I know I’m not the only one feeling the anxiety around current events. Between the political climate (within the country and around the world) and the actual climate, I’ve felt just an overwhelming sense of unease at best and true fear at worst. With incredible environmental crises around the world and an already intense election underway, I felt pretty paralyzed from even knowing what to do. The problems seem so big and I feel so small.

Getting Involved

My personal way of dealing with things is to try to find the best organization to donate money to. I have the organizations that I make recurring donations to, but then when something pops up (like the bushfires in Australia most recently), I donate. I believe that by donating to reputable/ethical companies, my donation can get in the hands of experts who know exactly how to spend that money to make the biggest impact. Finding reputable charities can actually be a bit of a challenge (especially when a crisis pops up and all your social feeds are flooded with new “organizations”), but it’s so worth the extra leg work to ensure your donation isn’t going to waste.

Beyond donating though, sometimes I can still feel helpless… and sometimes I just feel completely furious.

I don’t want to be a keyboard warrior using hashtags to feel like I’m ~doing something~. I don’t want to be silent either. (Though I don’t necessarily mean on social media… I still want my platform to be a break from the news– I’m no journalist and you can get much more accurate information easily elsewhere. There are also just so many issues, it would be impossible, and irresponsible, for me to cover them all.)

After the 2016 election, I wrote this post because I was feeling much the same way that I do now. Since I wrote that, I moved twice so getting involved locally was pretty difficult. But it’s been heavily on my mind, especially now that the next election isn’t too far away. Now that I’m in a town (and state!) for the long haul, I knew it was time to get more involved. I hope no one shames me for this, but I honestly felt like I didn’t know where to start… so it was easier to not start. I was paralyzed. (Maybe you feel the same way?)

And then I read this opinion piece and I don’t know what it was about this one versus any of the other articles I read daily, but it resonated with me on a big level. Something clicked and I was like, “Yes. I want to PLAY football, not just watch it on TV.” 

Even just recognizing that, true, I’m not going to solve all of the world’s problems in my lifetime, relieved me of some of that paralyzing pressure. I sat down one night and wrote down a couple of the big issues that weigh especially heavily on me. I’m still figuring out exactly how I can maximize my effort locally, but I started inquiring about efforts in the town’s Facebook group and got connected with a few AMAZING people who pointed me in the right direction. (Cannot recommend this enough– I just put out a feeler and overnight had multiple emails with recommendations, links, and more information!) It was doubly motivating to find people who were already active and cared about the same things that I did… and I made progress to getting myself set up so I’m doing everything I can.

The one thing that I keep thinking back to is the one about sustainability (though I think it’s applicable to nearly everything): We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly; we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Again, I see this applying everywhere. It’s not a matter of doing all the things perfectly or even expecting to solve issues perfectly– it’s about everyone doing what they can.

So, what have I done and what have I committed to myself to doing in the future?

– Recurring donations to my preferred candidate for the 2020 election; volunteered to do door-to-door canvasing and phone banking.

– Applied for three boards in our town (sustainability, downtown development, & the library); committed to attending monthly local borough council meetings

– Recurring donations and product donations to a local food bank; applied to volunteer

– Researching local tutoring and mentoring programs

Would love to know what you’re doing in your own town? Or hear what you’re committing to doing starting now!!

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Ann Rogers

I applaud you wanting to make a difference. Please remember that from my experience those who do not hold office seem to do more for their community and country than those who do. The current situation across our country currently shows just how “out of whack” things really are. Term limits for those with seemingly endless jobs will never vote for term limits as they are the ones who would do so. It is up to us to make change and correct the current status that our government has come to. You might want to investigate when where and why social security was first enacted along with all the other recent laws that have been made. Who benefits from those laws?? Why is it that if you serve two terms in office you will receive a salary for life…. this is the case in my current state… and who voted for that … and is that unconstitutional…
Suggestions for less trash in the landfills is a big one. Buying local is another as it lessons damage to the infrastructure along with saving the companies huge amounts of money. Teaching everyone to NOT litter even in the ocean. If your sick STAY home. Physically get moving. Trying to eat right at very little cost. This lessons the cost of healthcare to everyone. Try your best to only purchase goods made in America. Small things can make such a huge impact if everyone does them.

OMG! I can’t believe I just said that.


Great Carly!
My family needs to do more but we’re also doing monthly recurring donations to causes we care about & volunteering at a food bank each month (signed up immediately after the 2016 election).
At home, really trying to consume less & recycle all we can but it’s a place we need to improve.
And always? VOTE. No election too small.

Brittany Higdon

I’ve found that, with the polarizing environment that we find ourselves in, that it’s more important than ever to realize that people on both sides want the same thing-what’s best for our country. I hate that you don’t feel like you can express your political beliefs here (even though reading between the lines, it’s pretty obvious) without fearing the loss of followers. Differences are what make our country great, and the balances of the two parties are needed. We need to all realize that the “other” is not always so unlike us. We all want the same thing.


If you haven’t read Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness, I highly recommend it, it’s a great book overall but also covers the “us vs. them” mentality.

Brittany Higdon

Thanks for the reminder.. It is a good book and one worth re-reading. Not engaging in political bantering with my fellow commenters, but know I wish you ladies all the best!

Laura G.

Long-time follower of Carly, first time poster. I have never felt so obliged to respond to a comment before, but this comment seriously rubbed me the wrong way, for a few reasons:

A. Who are you to “read between the lines” and place your conclusions on Carly’s own narrative? Whether she wants to, feels like she “can,” or feels the need to get into the weeds of her political ideology on her business’s public page is probably* (*definitely) none of your business- and definitely not your place to assign “pity” to Carly’s business model… but I was more outraged by the main point you tried to make, that

B. “We all want the same thing.” That is, frankly, objectively untrue. If everyone wanted policy that serves to protect the environment against climate change and global warming, we would elect politicians who only do so— but that is not the case. If everyone wanted families to not be broken apart and for individuals suffering from injustice, crime, poverty, and natural disasters to have a chance to create a better life for their children and grandchildren and have a shot at the American dream, just as probably 99% of our ancestors did, we’d have policies that reflect those ideals. Looking at our current administration, those policies are not in place– in fact, the opposite are.

I truly cannot stand the trivialization of serious, at times life-threatening issues that minorities, immigrants, and others face, by someone stating that “we all want the same things.”

Jess Z

Laura – you articulated that so well. I’ve been trying to find these very words for some of those closest to me for years now, so thank you for that.


First time commenting on a blog probably EVER.

This comment absolutely proved the original commenters point. Feel proud. There is no ability to find common ground in this current environment when people like you are so sanctimonious and ‘holier than thou’ even on a innocent ‘trying to be partisan’ BLOG comment, let alone off the internet and in the real world. Ugh. You really swayed people, I bet.

Shannon M.

Love this post, Carly! I too have moved around a bit in the last few years and have been looking for ways to get involved locally. Love the idea of applying to sit on local boards – I just may look into doing this myself!


Thank you for this post – I also read the political hobbyist article in the Atlantic and it resonated with me deeply. I think it’s so easy to interact with politics as a bystander if you’re comfortable in your position in society, and I’ve been doing more to confront my privilege in this and work to get involved with organizing around local issues. I think it’s great that you’re encouraging your readers to move past the donation model–I truly believe organizing around your issues of interest starts at home, on a local level, around community interests, and it’s fantastic that you’ve applied to three boards in your town and are volunteering!

Lindsay McCarthy

I personally don’t have the extra income to donate recurring to a charity or many. What I do have is.. time. I spend Wednesday nights at my local food pantry (and also run their social media). It feels wonderful to make an impact at a local level.


THANK YOU for this post. In a world that seems like fewer people care about their world and who leads their country, this was refreshing to read this morning. Thank you for all the ideas, as well!


Thank you for using your platform to talk about this! This topic has been weighing heavily on me lately as well. Sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling like I’m just one person, so how could I possibly influence change. Then I remember the quote (which you also shared!) that states “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly; we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. I think this also applies to volunteering and donating… a lot of small acts can ultimately add up to big changes.

In addition to donating to causes that I’m passionate about, I am also committing myself to volunteering my time every month. So far, I have volunteered at Meals on Wheels and with SOLVE. I’ve brought family members and friends along as well! Once I dove into locating volunteer opportunities, I found the process getting easier and less overwhelming. Coming up I plan to get involved in the upcoming election by phone banking.

Please keep sharing all that you’re doing on here, it’s important work!


Hi Carly! Before I had my daughter I worked as a volunteer manager for Literacy Volunteers NJ. They provide free ESL and basic reading tutoring for adults. It’s such a fabulous organization and a way to connect with and serve people locally. Great training is provided for volunteers too! I’m probably not in the same political party as you are, but we can unite over our desire to see people grow and develop to reach their personal goals.


Great post! During the last election I made phone calls from home and it was humbling. There were many people who didn’t want to hear what had to be said and I just had to continue to do my best. Additionally, I made calls in Spanish, which is my second language and that was interesting. In the past, I’ve taught Religious Ed as well as coached the local swim team. I’ll be moving this year and looking to get into Religious Ed at my new church as well as other local opportunities. I’m a teacher and I like to think that I have a huge platform as an educator with literally our future in front of me daily so I don’t take that privilege for granted.


I hadn’t seen this piece and it definitely struck a cord with me too! I’m feeling very inspired by your blog AND instagram today. Bravo!


Dear Carly,

Like you, I have had a lifelong interest in politics and am uneasy. After realizing that I am unlikely to do anything political – big chicken here – I decided that I would try to make a real difference in one person’s life. So, I became a CASA – a Court Appointed Special Advocate – which is sort of like a mentor to a child in foster care. It hasn’t been easy but I am so glad to be doing something!

Thanks for the great blog!

Mari Vicky L.

Thank you for this post! As someone in the nonprofit world, and an international reader, I appreciate it so much!! Getting involved locally with a cause you’re passionate about makes a huge difference!


Love this! It’s so true that really local politics are what affect people first (not in all instances but). In the city I live in (which is the #7 largest in the US) our local voter turnout is usually hovering at 14% which is ridiculous (and of course there are many reasons why people can’t vote, and living in Texas the government tries to make it harder). Getting involved locally is the first step though in making a difference!!


Love this post so much, and I hope you continue to update us on how you’re doing with all of this.

Wendy Sue

You can always check out non-profit organizations on charity navigator to investigate how much of their donations go to the cause vs overhead. One note about giving to food banks- many prefer monetary donations or your time over products. The CT Food Bank can purchase food in bulk at a much cheaper rate and supply what clients need as opposed to random donated items. When making donations of good, it’s wise to confer with organizations to ensure what you are donating is actually what they need.


I’m so glad you’re using your platform for things like this. I feel like you’ve also done a good job at not alienating people based on their personal beliefs while encouraging even the most timid to pursue some sort of


I joined the PTSA! My oldest entered kindergarten in September and I couldn’t think of a better way to help. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know the administration, teachers and students. As a community, we raise money for the school, families and students and bring great programs to the kids. It was one small thing I could do that has taught my son the joy of volunteering (since he too serves on the pta).


This is so inspiring, Carly! I’ve been too nervous to go to city council meetings by myself (why!? What is wrong with me!) but this was just the push I needed. I’ve also signed up to phone bank for a US Senate candidate.


Tayler N Bray

One of the best ways to get involved would be to reach out to a local middle or high school and let them know you are interested in being a mentor. We struggle SO much to get people in the doors to mentor our kiddies. We also partner with local community colleges that come out to our schools and work with our kids who need it once every other week. Just a thought!

Margaret B

I hope you land on the library board! I just read your hobby post and you suggested that our sense of community connection is in decline. Here’s a book recommendation for you: Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg (2018). It is a wonderful celebration of the importance of the public library (and other public spaces) and how it is a unique social infrastructure that supports community, civic discourse, etc. Very relevant read.

Every library board needs a young progressive! Best to you.



Carly you are cool, for real, I look up to you.

Good luck with all the work you do and thank you for sharing.