To begin with, the headline should read: “Are you a good resident?” To put it in the words of Wikipedia, “Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation.”
We’re going to say citizen anyway, but keep in mind that you are not truly a citizen of Walker County or LaFayette or Rossville or Chickamauga or Lookout Mountain. You’re a resident that we’re calling a citizen. But resident is just as important as citizen.
At any rate, here’s a good-citizen bucket list, some things every good citizen should try at least once. Why not write them down or print them up and get to checking them off? If you have children or grandchildren, this would make a great civics project.
Visit your city or county website and search around on it. You’ll learn all manner of things.
Vote. Don’t be one of thousands who pass. There’s early voting, absentee voting, 12 hours on final election day.
Attend a city council or county commissioner meeting. Meet your elected officials (somebody elected them).
Write a letter or email to an elected official about anything at all — your concerns or hopes, a bit of praise or a well-founded complaint.
Visit your animal shelter. Pet a lonely dog or cat or adopt one.
Visit your public library. Get a library card. Check out a book or a movie or some music.
Visit your police and fire departments. Ask for a tour or some advice.
Find out which departments have Facebook pages and follow them.
Find out what recreation options your municipality offers and try something (disc golf, anyone?).
Walk on a city or county trail and pick up a piece of litter.
Watch government meetings online when you can’t attend (you can wear your PJs).
And how about some preventive habits?
Don’t throw trash on the ground of your city or county.
Get your pets spayed or neutered. Stop animal homelessness.
Drive safely – within the speed limits, without distraction, the way you want other people to.
Treat your fellow citizens with respect. Help create the kind of city or county you want to live in.