Volunteer opportunities are great ways to get your face out there and be an integral part of your community. However, not just any old volunteer opportunity will do. You need to find a volunteer opportunity that you are passionate about. You may also want to find one that gives a hand up instead of a hand out and you’re helping others develop valuable skills that will improve the market economy of the future.
When I first joined the LP and said I was considering running for officer, the MN LP Chairman at the time said that I should volunteer with the Lions or the Rotary Club or something like that. The MS LP has done things like Adopt a Highway. While you definitely want to be an integral part of the community, these are rather boring ways to do it and may not highlight your skills and interests.
While the Lions and the Rotary Club likely do a lot of good things, they seem like elite social clubs. Not that they are elite social clubs, but that has been the impression I get. To be honest, I just do not know enough about them. Adopt a Highway can get your name on a sign, but people will be more likely to notice trash than a clean highway. If you want to research some of these clubs and organizations and see if you are passionate about their mission, do it. If environmentalism is important to you and you cannot stand seeing trash by the side of the road, do the Adopt a Highway. But whatever you do find something you are passionate about.
I am passionate about coding. I focus on beginning levels of coding as I am more interested in coding education. There are a lot of parallels between learning code and learning liberty. They both require a bit of imagination. Living in our society, it’s difficult to imagine a world with more liberty. It is also difficult to imagine writing a computer program if you never wrote one before. Helping people learn coding can help ignite these imagination muscles in the brain. They are both personal journeys. To really understand liberty, you have to take the time to think it through and consider the principles and their implications. In order to really understand programming, you have to work with it and tinker with it.
Given our current economy, it is difficult for people to picture free markets working. This is exasperated further by the improper use of the word by Republicans who use it as a buzzword for sound bites. It has lost its meaning and has been distorted by crony corporatism. Thus it becomes difficult to argue for free markets. We need to start where people are and help them see how the government helped create the situation and how freedom can help them out of it.
People also need job skills. We need to get people working. One of the fields that is growing is programming. If we can help people see that they can learn valuable job skills like programming and that nothing is out of their reach, they will be more apt to listen to us go on and on about free markets.
Libertarians do have the computing skills needed to be at the forefront of programming education. By the very nature of the main growth mechanism to promote liberty, the Internet, libertarians are by default computer literate to some extent. With the advent of numerous coding platforms to help beginners learn the basics of programming, having a limited knowledge of computing still enables you to not only learn coding but help others learn. Yes, development suites like Android Studio are an intimidating amalgamation of different coding languages. However, environments like Scratch can teach you the basic processes of coding and collaboration. Then it is just a matter of ratcheting up to the next level. That is the main point of the training program here, developing collaborative coding skills starting from Scratch and getting people to the point where they can move on to more difficult coding such as Android apps with confidence.
Whether you want to join Coders for Liberty, learn coding, and help others learn coding, or want to pursue other interests, find volunteer opportunities where you are helping others learn skills. Teach a man to fish type things. Find something you can be passionate about doing. You need to put your heart in it to reach hearts and minds.