“Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Civics. Sounds like a 1950s high school class sandwiched between shop and home ec, right? 

But at its simplest, civics is how we work together to create the world we wish to inhabit. It’s how individuals form a community, whether the size of a neighborhood, a city or a nation. 

Voting. Volunteering. Staying informed. Giving input. Helping out. Making your voice heard. Chipping in. It’s all part of a civically responsible life.

Civic engagement can have a profound impact on community health, well-being and safety. But according to a 2018 National Survey of Health Attitudes, only 19% of adults reported a strong emotional connection to their community, and only 11% felt a strong sense of membership in their community. 

“Research shows that if people improve their feelings of belonging, trust and security, they are likely to be healthier. When people feel a greater connection to their community, they are more inclined to take action to improve their own health and the health of others,” writes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Your civic involvement is also the precursor to your children’s civic activities. By getting involved, you can serve as a role model of engagement; transmitting values and linking future generations to vital community organizations. 

But living a civically engaged life can be daunting. Where do you start? Where can you make a difference? How do you find the causes and issues that matter most to you? When do you have the time?

That’s why New Bedford Light is launching its Civic Life calendar. We aim to build a curated clearinghouse for public meetings, information sessions, government events, non-profits, community groups and more, all here in the Whaling City. 

Maybe there’s a cleanup day in your neighborhood coming up. Or an informational meeting about an infrastructure project down the street. Maybe you want to check the agenda for the next City Council meeting, or find when the next school board sub-committee is meeting so you can address an issue that matters to your children. 

As anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Paint splash shaped like speech bubble.

Have an event to add?

If you have an event or meeting to add to our calendar, please fill out this form or email Brendan Kurie at brendan@newbedfordlight.org.

What follows are just a few of the events happening in New Bedford this week. For arts events, visit our arts and culture calendar. And learn how to get your event listed here. We want to hear from you.


4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9

Adulting 101: Marking Envelopes

Did you know the New Bedford Library holds Adulting 101 classes for adults age 18-26? This week learn the ins and outs of postage and mail usage at the Lawler branch on Rockdale Ave.


7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9

New Bedford City Council Meeting

The New Bedford City Council meets in its chambers. Read the agenda ahead of time to see if they will be discussing any topics that matter to you, including city employee COVID-19 mandates, new board appointments and the demolition of multiple buildings.


Thursday, Nov. 11

Honor Veterans Day

As a way to honor those who have served this great nation, participate in Veterans Day activities, whether it be a 22-mile ruck from New Bedford to Westport and back, bell-ringing at Fort Taber-Fort Rodman to mark Armistice Day or celebrating our veterans by attending the parade from Buttonwood Park to the downtown library.


4-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15

Vineyard Wind Virtual Info Session

Middelgrunden offshore windfarm.
Image via EWEA

As New Bedford-based Vineyard Wind moves forward with its offshore wind farms, learn about a project in Barnstable by attending their virtual presentation and question and answer session.

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