A couple of days ago, Frugal Queen blogged about action that she'd taken in her local community, getting a group of people together to challenge her local council.
In addition to everything else I do, I sit on my local town council and my local district council, and nothing makes me happier than working with local residents to help with something that they are concerned about, listening to their concerns, and helping to get things done.
My area was without any kind of community facilities for many years, and along with many others, I kept up pressure on the council to do something about it, and we now have a well-used community centre.
I also pushed for the establishment of a farmers' market in the district - many years later, this continues to thrive.
More recently, a group of local residents approached me and some of my council colleagues to help with objecting to a planning application - we took their case to the planning committee,not only was the application refused, but the refusal was upheld by the planning inspectorate at appeal. The same developer put in a very similar application a couple of months later - the same group of people got back together, made our objections known, and the application was quickly withdrawn - people power at its best.
This isn't to blow my own trumpet - I didn't achieve any of this on my own - I had help and support from a lot of people. I want to encourage people to get involved in the decision making in their area. The council does something you don't agree with? You have the right to challenge them.
Go along to your local parish council meetings - believe me, the councillors will be happy to see some public interest in their meetings.
Councillors can often be painted as out of touch, unaccountable and uninterested in what people want. I can assure you that we're not all like that - I have always kept in mind that I am elected by the people, to serve them.
I was first elected in 2003, and was re-elected in 2007 & 2011, so I must be doing something right!!