This weekend marks the 18th Annual NewtonServes Day which is a great way to get citizens into the community. However Newton has been blessed with many ongoing functions that are only possible due to a citywide sense of volunteerism. I would count members of the city council and area councils, remunerated or not it takes a lot of uncompensated effort. Include the poll workers who spent upwards of 16 hours for a full day of election effort. Village Days, Festivals and Craft Fairs contribute to the vibrancy of the City. Even the road races that pop up when we are trying to cross from one part of the city to another. Plus various community groups devoted to an array of causes.
Just this weekend, Newton Community Pride has the Festival of the Arts and NewtonServes, Newton Recycling will host its bi-annual Swap Day at Rumford, Newton Tree Conservancy will be planting a few dozen trees around the city, with most of the effort coming from volunteers. You will find me at all of these sometime this weekend.
I am a serial volunteer and have enjoyed many events from both sides over the years I have lived in Newton but I am seeing fewer and fewer new faces which is concern. I worked with a large group of folks forming many city connections and friendships but as we have all aged, some of us have dropped off without new blood to take our places. I don’t know if this is due to the diminishing rolodex of the individual organizers not finding interested newcomers, or perhaps the age of the internet when we don’t know how to talk with the next generation, or if the expectations of residents have changed where we no longer offer sweat equity in lieu of paid services (and entertainment).
Why am I concerned? I think this a metric of general civic engagement. This seemingly diminishing group is the same pool that will fill open seats on boards and commissions, spur candidates to enter our uncontested races and may even entice their neighbors to show up on municipal election days.