The 3-plus years that I’ve been in Edmonds has been a fun and eye-opening experience. One that has challenged me to find ways to integrate myself in my new home, learn and adapt to a new culture (Pacific Northwest vs. Bay Area) as well as how to be a participant in my community…not just an observer. From the trial and error of finding volunteer opportunities that were the best fit for me personally and professionally to choosing when to be vocal about political issues that effort our city, Edmonds feels like home.
Over the past year or so, I’ve had several neighbors reach out to me via social media or at community events asking my advice on how they could do this themselves. Some of these neighbors are long-time Edmonds residents while some are transplants from other parts of Washington State and beyond. There is no one (and perfect) answer, which is a good thing. This speaks to the diverse pathways one can go down to find what fits them best. There are several individualized places you can go and look for ways to serve and connect, but how awesome would it be to have a centralized place online where one could look up civic, community and professional volunteer/networking opportunities that serves Edmonds? Just a(n ambitious) thought.
With the upcoming elections happening in Edmonds (Port Commission, City Council, School Board), I find myself receiving even more emails and inquiries around this topic…but with a bit of a twist. Women who have reached out to me are feeling more emboldened to seek office, but unsure as where to start. The other twist have been around people of color (POC) who feel they wouldn’t be taken seriously in going after leadership roles where they are in the minority. I’ve experienced both sides of this coin and humbly offer the following advice:
- Don’t let fear (your own or judgement from others who intimidate) dictate going down this journey. “Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda” is far worse than actually trying.
- Find the starting point that you feel most comfortable with.
- There are several appointment-based Boards and Commissions you can apply for via the City of Edmonds.
- There are also several services-based clubs in Edmonds that are always looking for members and volunteers to help staff community wide events. You can do a quick search on some via MyEdmondsNews .
- I believe Edmonds is a more diverse community than we see on the surface, and I encourage those communities to be more visible, knowing it can be uncomfortable for some. In the end, it’s a great benefit to all of us.
- Getting your foot in the door isn’t always easy. Don’t be afraid to cannonball and make yourself know, but also be prepared for both praise and scrutiny. Your life becomes a little less private once you decide you want to step up and serve.
- Finally, there are groups both locally and statewide willing to help you find your voice. There are a number of neighborhood groups in Edmonds that are facilitating change (and can be found on Facebook). Organizations like Emerge Washington and NWPC help train women to run for office. While these are partisan-based, there are other non-partisan-based orgs that serve this purpose as well.
I encourage all of my fellow Edmonds residents to find their way to be part of the community. Even if you work several cities away, there are opportunities (occasional to regular) that fits all of us.