If I Teach My Children One Thing (or 150)

Today as I was trying to get through FOUR sets of doors with my two small boys and three heavy bags of groceries, two twenty something men who were going through the same door basically just ignored us, went through the doors in front of us, and then held the door open for us as an obvious afterthought.

I could not stop thinking about it and realized If I teach my children nothing else, I hope they learn that if they see someone who needs help, they offer to help.

Better yet, don’t wait until you see it, but actively look for opportunities to help others- isn’t that essentially why we’re here?

It also made me think of a list I read on Better Together last year called “150 Ways To Build Social Capital.”

I prefer calling it community (instead of social capital) and here is an excerpt from the list:

77. Return a lost wallet or appointment book
78. Use public transportation and start talking with those you regularly see
79. Ask neighbors for help and reciprocate
80. Go to a local folk or crafts festival
81. Call an old friend
82. Sign up for a class and meet your classmates
83. Accept or extend an invitation
84. Talk to your kids or parents about their day
85. Say hello to strangers
86. Log off and go to the park
87. Ask a new person to join a group for a dinner or an evening
88. Host a pot luck meal or participate in them
89. Volunteer to drive someone
90. Say hello when you spot an acquaintance in a store
91. Host a movie night
92. Exercise together or take walks with friends or family
93. Assist with or create your town or neighborhood’s newsletter
94. Organize a neighborhood pick-up – with lawn games afterwards
95. Collect oral histories from older town residents
96. Join a book club discussion or get the group to discuss local issues
97. Volunteer to deliver Meals-on-Wheels in your neighborhood
98. Start a children’s story hour at your local library
99. Be real. Be humble. Acknowledge others’ self-worth
100. Tell friends and family about social capital and why it matters
101. Greet people
102. Cut back on television
103. Join in to help carry something heavy
104. Plan a reunion of family, friends, or those with whom you had a special connection
105. Take in the programs at your local library
106. Read the local news faithfully
107. Buy a grill and invite others over for a meal
108. Fix it even if you didn’t break it
109. Pick it up even if you didn’t drop it
110. Attend a public meeting
111. Go with friends or colleagues to a ball game (and root, root, root for the home team!)
112. Help scrape ice off a neighbor’s car, put chains on the tires or shovel it out
113. Hire young people for odd jobs
114. Start a tradition
115. Share your snow blower
116. Help jump-start someone’s car
117. Join a project that includes people from all walks of life
118. Sit on your stoop
119. Be nice when you drive
120. Make gifts of time
121. Buy a big hot tub
122. Volunteer at your local neighborhood school
123. Offer to help out at your local recycling center
124. Send a “thank you” letter to the Editor about a person or event that helped build community
126. When inspired, write personal notes to friends and neighbors
127. Attend gallery openings
128. Organize a town-wide yard sale
129. Invite friends or colleagues to help with a home renovation or home building project
131. Build a neighborhood playground
132. Become a story-reader or baby-rocker at a local childcare center or neighborhood pre-school
134. Help kids on your street construct a lemonade stand


135. Open the door for someone who has his or her hands full
I love this list. Seems like it should be common sense or second nature, but that is not the reality in out fast paced technology obsessed lifestyle. So I like to be reminded of all of the little ways I can make a difference

2 thoughts on “If I Teach My Children One Thing (or 150)”

  1. I love this list, too. Thank you for posting it and for pointing me to it. Man. It’s so effective to read all of these together…they gather momentum and give me this feeling that reminds me of childhood – more connection, peace. In the Facebook/Twitter world so much seems to be about self-promotion – that constant need for attention/validation – look at me! Everybody is his or her own little celebrity. (Of course I remind myself of my grandmother saying she couldn’t believe the neighbor boys didn’t come over to help her take her trash out to the curb, or whatnot.)

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