Posted on February 17, 2015 at 6:00 am
Recently on the SCLD blog, our deputy director Patrick Roewe wrote about the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, describing how SCLD has begun reaching out to various groups and individuals within our service area to find out about their aspirations for their communities and about the challenges they face as they reach toward their aspirations.
In pursuing those discussions, one thing we’ve already begun to discover is that many Spokane County residents would love to know more about local events and opportunities to connect with others within their communities, but they feel as though they don’t quite know anymore where to find that information.
And it’s definitely true that over the last decade or so, we’ve seen a rapid shift in how events are announced and promoted, away from traditional methods like notice boards and flyers, toward online means like email and social media. So it’s understandable that a lot of people feel left out of the loop.
Of course, there’s a wealth of information online about local happenings if you know where to look, but obviously, that’s the catch: If you don’t know where to begin, the sheer amount of information can be difficult to sort through. So here’s my quick guide to sort through the mess.
If you’re looking for local arts and culture events, The Inlander is probably the best source in the Inland Northwest, and their online event search is useful no matter where you live in Spokane County. You can filter the events list for a particular general location and area of interest. You can also sign in with Facebook or create a free Inlander account in order to save events or receive event reminders by text or email.
The Spokesman-Review’s Spokane 7 website also allows you to see events by geography and area of interest. The two sites contain pretty much the same content, so if you want to keep up with what’s going on in Spokane County, you’re probably best off choosing the one you find most intuitive and sticking with it.
If you’re feeling old school, though, you can always read the event listings in the print version of The Inlander, which you can usually find in your local SCLD library. And while you’re there, check out your library’s bulletin board for other events in your community.
It’s common knowledge these days that you can find information online to support almost any interest, no matter how obscure, but it’s not quite as universally understood just how easily you can find people—real-life, flesh-and-blood people—who share your interests.
MeetUp is one of the more useful tools for coordinating in-person group meetings and events among those who share a common interest. By creating a free account or logging in with Facebook, and you can join groups and RSVP for group meetings. Group organizers do have to pay the website a monthly fee, and a few groups may charge dues to help organizers offset the cost, but the vast majority are free to join.
You can also create a profile of your interests on MeetUp and get alerts whenever a new group is created that might interest you. Currently, there are active groups in the greater Spokane area for entrepreneurs, cinephiles, writers, knitters, roleplaying gamers, urban homesteaders, website developers, anime fans, bronies, and a whole lot more.
Want to start your own group but need a place to meet? All of our libraries have meeting rooms that can be reserved by the public. See our meeting rooms page for more details.
If your interests run more altruistic, it’s easier than ever to connect with community organizations and volunteer your time.
Spokane County United Way’s Volunteer Spokane website has a substantial list of volunteer opportunities across the county. By my rough count, the website lists a couple hundred different opportunities to help out, ranging from mentoring job seekers to playing with shelter dogs to growing veggies. Most of the volunteer opportunities are in the city of Spokane, but you can also use the “Search Needs By” drop down menu on the Needs page to search by zip code and find volunteer opportunities closer to home.
And, of course, if you’d like to help out at any of the District Libraries, visit our Volunteer webpage. You may also be interested in joining the Friends of the Spokane County Library District, who always welcome volunteers as well.
If you just want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors instead, there’s certainly plenty of it around here: The Washington Trails Association’s website has the most comprehensive database available of Washington hiking trails, including information on more than fifty hikes in the Spokane area. And if you don’t have anyone to go with, the Inland Northwest Hikers group on MeetUp.com has frequent group outings.
Other resources include the Park and Conservation Area Locator on the Spokane County website, which will link you to information about the area’s conservation areas complete with links to directions and site maps. And the Spokane Regional Transportation Council’s map page has maps and directions for several recreational bike rides around Spokane, Cheney, Medical Lake, and elsewhere in Spokane County.
Finally, if you’d rather browse something in print, SCLD has in its collection Day Hiking Eastern Washington, Best Hikes Near Spokane, 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest, the Sierra Club’s Spokane trail guides, and a number of other resources for exploring the local outdoors.