Welcome to Illinois Initiative! Illinois Initiative is a superhero-themed community service group. We have an emphasis on social justice and climate justice, but we’re open to any form of community involvement that helps people in our area. We like volunteering with other groups, talking about new ways to help the community, and working together to make a difference.
Our goal is to help those in the most need to the highest ethical standard and to the maximum effect. This includes ensuring that basic human needs are met as well as responding to deeper environmental and social justice concerns with projects that foster individual and community empowerment. We currently serve Southern Illinois.
Some of the work that we do is solo work. Each member or friend of Illinois Initiative works on their own volunteer projects throughout the year. Periodically, we work together on an event or campaign that we organized ourselves or heard about through our members.
Whether we’re working solo or working together, we’re always looking for ways to help the community. If you have ideas for ways that we can help others in Southern Illinois, please let us know, regardless of whether or not you’re interested in becoming an Illinois Initiative member.
Why a Superhero-Themed Group?
One thing that sets Illinois Initiative apart from other community groups is our superhero theme. Superhero personas are welcome at our events, but certainly not required.
Why do we have a superhero theme?
Superheroes are fun. Developing and adopting a superhero person can be a fun and creative way to approach community involvement. There’s a whole movement of Real-Life Superheros (RLSH) who adopt superhero personas and go out into their communities to help in a variety of ways. Some of the most common RLSH activities include providing food and other supplies to people in need, organizing clean-up events, doing fundraisers or volunteering for charitable organizations, and conducting neighborhood watches. Really, though, it can be any volunteer activity that the RLSH believes will help others.
Members and friends of the Illinois Initiative understand that we don’t have superpowers. We also understand that our superhero names and costumes don’t make us “heroes” in the traditional sense. We’re just a group of people who are enthusiastic about helping others and occasionally incorporate some creative costuming and performance into our efforts to help.
The superhero personas are one way that we focus on taking the initiative and doing proactive work to help others. Our community, region, nation, and world are full of serious and often daunting problems. Some people who try to respond to these problems find themselves getting caught in cycles of burnout and despair. Our superhero narrative keeps us focused on finding concrete actions that we can take to make a difference rather than letting the problems themselves define our narrative. There are many problems, but there are also many people who are here to help. We strive to be some of those helpers.
Some of the problems that we address with our volunteer efforts are very serious. We give food to people who might otherwise go hungry. We promote and volunteer for community groups that help people in need of food, shelter, and other essential services. We advocate for social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice.
Our approach to these problems is generally fun and creative, but we take the actual community service work itself very seriously. Sometimes, this means setting aside the personas and costumes if we think they’ll be a distraction from the work that needs to be done. Other times, it means playing up the superhero angle if we think that the presence of costumed superheroes will draw attention to some great community program or major community concern. Either way, our emphasis is always on the work, not ourselves.
The Initiative Collective
There are other branches of the Initiative Collective across the United States and in the United Kingdom. Each branch has its own emphasis and organizes its own activities. All branches engage in some form of community service and stay in contact with one another for mutual support and inspiration. Occasionally, branch leaders organize an Initiative-wide event, with each local branch deciding the details of their participation.
For more information about the Initiative Collective, including a current list of branches, visit the Initiative Collective website.