TOWNS AND CITIES represent more than just a collection of buildings, infrastructures, and public spaces. Aromas, sounds, colors, and light infuse cities and towns to give each one a unique atmosphere that affects how we feel within—and about—that place. And in turn every community is built on an underlying framework of interdependent relationships. The nature of those relationships—cooperative versus competitive, friendly versus adversarial, nurturing versus punitive—has a significant impact on the quality of individual lives and community life.

At its best, community is built on mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationships between all of its members: residents, businesses, nonprofits, institutions, and government. When overlapping goals lead to collaboration and cooperation among those groups, economic and social resiliency and strength become more deeply embedded into the fabric of community. And when several groups support a project that meets overlapping goals—such as installing bike paths to encourage exercise, reduce automobile emissions, and foster local shopping—that project has a greater chance of success.

Communities benefit greatly from civic programs, public awareness campaigns, events, and activities that encourage members to see themselves as key participants in building long-term economic, social, and environmental health. Programs and events that are upbeat, engaging, and positive send irresistible invitations to everyone in the community to get involved.

If you care about quality of life in your community, take some ownership. It’s your hometown. Get into it!

Here are some ideas on why and how to support your hometown.