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Three steps to get more involved in your community this year

Bing Davis stands between two paintings. One depicts a Black man holding a microphone. The other shows a Black man playing the piano. The paintings are hung on a red and white striped wall.
Bing Davis Facebook
Artist, educator and community servant Willis 'Bing' Davis has spent his lifetime supporting the local arts community. He says giving back is second nature.

When Willis ‘Bing’ Davis retired from his teaching career in 1998, he didn’t stop working in his community.

Instead, he and his wife opened a center for the study of African American art and culture.

They held summer camps and brought in emerging local artists to teach interested kids.

In 2007, Willis started an ongoing project to recognize and honor the work of Black people in the Miami Valley region.

He calls it the Dayton Skyscrapers art project, and he hangs the works of art depicting high-achieving Black community members — Dayton’s metaphorical skyscrapers — in local schools, where he hopes they inspire young children.

For Davis, working on projects like these is second nature.

“What I try to do always is find ways that I can share my art and also encourage other people to involve themselves in making art, appreciating art and supporting the arts,” he said.

As the Ohio Newsroom explores resolutions this new year, Davis offers tips on how you can use your passions for good, too.

1. Find a cause you care about.

Davis knew he wanted to be an artist by the time he was in 5th grade and has spent a lifetime honing his craft.

He cares deeply about the local arts community, so he’s invested his time and talent to support it.

“We may not be able to change the other side of the world, but we can enhance where we're at."
Bing Davis

That’s the first step toward getting more involved in your community, Davis says. Find a cause you care about.

“I encourage people to find areas of interest within their community and give some of their time and talent to nurture and encourage [others],” he said.

2. ‘Drop your anchor where you are.’

These days, we hear a lot about national and even international struggles.

But Davis says the best way to make a difference is to focus on the needs in your local community.

"We often look at the big picture and the big problem,” he said. “But when we look around where we're at, we'll find that same big problem on a smaller scale, right in our community, right in our midst, right in our neighborhood where we can make an impact.”

Davis says that sort of local work can show others that change is possible.

“We may not be able to change the other side of the world, but we can enhance where we're at,” he said. “Just drop your anchor where you are.”

3. Take action, even if it’s small.

The best time to become an involved community member is right now.

“You don't have to have a big starting point, you don't have to wait until the spotlight is on you or the circus comes to town,” Davis said. “You just need to get involved.”

Your actions don’t have to be grand gestures. Give someone a compliment. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Volunteer at a local event.

Need more ideas? Browse the Point app, Volunteer Match, or United Way.

“I find — and I think most people do too — that there is satisfaction in even the smallest opportunity to serve or to help or to encourage someone,” Davis said. “Sometimes you don't have to say as much, but just do a little.”

Erin Gottsacker is a reporter for The Ohio Newsroom. She most recently reported for WXPR Public Radio in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.