As February draws to a close, most of our new years resolutions have stalled and it's clear that 'being the best version of yourself' isn't a big enough motivation. So how about changing the world? Surely that's something worth getting off the sofa for? Today Community Channel launches their Do Something Brilliant campaign that urges us to abandon our sofas and do something special in the community. And if you've ever wondered what it would be like to be Dusty Springfield's sofa (and who hasn't) their video gives an insight into that lonely world.
The campaign site offers endless suggestions of brilliant things in your area but to get things started here are a few of my ideas.
1) Join the GoodGym
"Do Good, Get Fit" is the motto at GoodGym where local groups meet for evening runs which feature deliveries to isolated people and checking in on the elderly. In our time poor society, running on a treadmill seems like a waste of people power so instead why not put that energy into your community? You have to commit to one run a week and knowing your visit is the highlight of Barbara's week is surely a more powerful incentive to get your trainers on than covering your walls in thinspiration photos.
GoodGym currently only exists in three cities so if you're not in lucky London, Liverpool or Bristol then why not set one up in your area? If we've learned anything from those rich bitcoins nerds, it's that the first ones to the party get the most out of it.
2) Organise a Street Party
Getting your neighbours together and having fun on your own doorstep is much easier than you might expect. The country went mad for street parties for the Queen's Jubilee but it doesn't all have to be bunting and royalist overtones, more low-key affairs can arguably be more inclusive and there's plenty of advice online about how to get started. I can testify that my mum's involvement in our street party has doubled the number of smiles she gets on the way to Tesco, and who wouldn't benefit from more friendly nods of acknowledgement in their life? There are probably people on your street who really need this increased connectivity and helping them should be enough, but from a selfish perspective when your laptop charger breaks or you need someone to watch the dog, it's helpful if you're friends aren't all 30 minutes away. Bristolians you can skip this step, having clocked up 150 street parties last year I'm not sure how your traffic ever moves.
3) Get Guerilla Gardening
Gardening is a worthwhile endeavour for all it offers your physical and mental well-being, but maintaining a strip of land attached to your house is only really useful on those three weeks of sunshine. So extend your reach and join the Guerilla Gardeners as they reclaim and cultivate neglected land in their area. In urban spaces a little bit of love can go a long way, a small patch of daffodils en route to the station could cheer up hundreds of autopilot commuters and make your area somewhere people feel proud to live. Like any worthy cause about to break into the mainstream there's a TEDx talk to sell the mission to you.
The legality around some sites is a slightly grey shade of green, so to play it safe there's always more formal workdays in National Trust and local wildlife spaces.
4) Create Craftivism
Some sofas really are just very comfortable and some days it is very wet outside, so in a last minute get out clause, I've added an option to give something back without leaving your sofa on its lonesome. Craftivism is a form of slow activism through craft where you create unobtrusive art which brightens up your area while encouraging people to take positive social actions.
These are just four suggestions, but for hundreds of ideas in your local area sign up on the Do Something Brilliant website and be a part of the push for a nicer world. Because these little things really can have a huge impact. A regular visitor popping in or making a new friend at a street party can help reengage our isolated neighbours. It can create the sort of community spirit that governments simply can't legislate into existence.
And even more amazing is the indirect effects through the accumulation of small positive actions. Passing that urban garden or craftivism project might cheer someone up on their morning commute and that positive start to the day can have a ten-fold effect if they pay it forward. It's so much easier to be kind when you're in a good mood so your 'little brilliant act' could start a chain of thoughtful deeds and compassionate words, which has the potential to make a nicer Britain.
But even saying that takes a bit of the fun out of it. Don't do it because you should. Don't do it because it will give you something to say in the Monday morning lift when the girl from HR asks what you did with your weekend. Do it because it's fun and gives you a world outside of your everyday routine. Do #somethingbrilliant because it'll give you fantastic experiences with a tinge of worthy, the best filter not even instagram can offer.