The sense that you belong to and are part of a community is comforting to feel. Unfortunately, attaining that sense of belonging is not always easy. If you’ve recently moved to a new city or experienced a major change, like the end of a long relationship or the transition from university to the working world, feeling that sense of belonging will take some effort. If Chicago is the place you call home at present, here are some tips that can help you feel you belong. Many of them can be applied to life in other parts of the country.
Learn a new skill
A growing obsession with work-life balance and the ability to market affordably online have contributed to an explosion of evening and weekend classes designed to introduce participants to a new art or skill. Learn how to code, paint, practice yoga, roll sushi, or scrapbook under the guidance of an experienced practitioner. While you’re at it, you just may meet one or two of your closest friends. Dabble and Vimbly both have a strong presence in Chicago, and are great places to look for adult education classes and interest groups. If you’ve mastered a skill or trade others are interested in learning, you can also use Dabble to advertise a class you’d like to teach.
Indulge in a hobby
If your quest to acquire a new skill goes well enough, you may find yourself naturally taking up a new hobby. If you have interests or passions that have long been neglected, look for ways to once again engage these passions. Some hobbies, like acting and team sports play, have outlets almost exclusively in group settings. Even those that don’t, like solving jigsaw puzzles and folding origami, have groups that meet up to discuss the hobby and bounce ideas around. Join a book club, community theater troupe, or other relevant community group to meet like-minded individuals and indulge in one or more of your passions. Meetup.com is a good place to look for groups meeting in Chicago.
Get to know your alderman
Each of Chicago’s 50 wards has an alderman who represents the district. Do you know who yours is? If civic engagement is something you care about, get to know your alderman. Similar to council people in most other U.S. cities, aldermen report to the mayor. If you’d like to see or effect change in your ward, your alderman is the first person you should contact to learn about the process.
Volunteer with community organizations
Another great way to meet people and find a community in Chicago is to volunteer. This can take the form of cleaning up streets and public green spaces, but certainly doesn’t have to. Just about every organization has volunteer opportunities of some sort. Check first with organizations that champion causes you care about and cooperatives to which you belong. You can also browse volunteer opportunities with more than 2,000 organizations in the Chicago area on VolunteerMatch.com.
If you live in one of AMLI’s Chicago apartment communities, you can volunteer with the AMLI FAMLI volunteer program. This is a great way to get to know other residents in your building. Knowing that you’re working to better society while you’re at it is just a great perk.
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