One of the not-so-small gifts of living in a representative democracy is that you can’t accomplish things alone. Whether you’re trying to get a stop sign put up on a dangerous corner or to change U.S. policy on greenhouse gas emissions, you have to reach out to others. Learning the skills of active citizenship makes this a stronger, more resilient country.

So I want to make a case for building and using those skills by tackling the issues right in front of us. True, there are battles aplenty on the big issues, and they do matter. But so does improving the quality of life where we live.