Years ago, I stopped by the downtown store Something for your Dust to Christmas shop for my brother. We love maps. I discovered a beautiful old map labeling the houses in Manomet, our childhood stomping grounds. I found the perfect gift.

After buying the lovely, framed map, I studied every inch of it. While studying the map, I discovered a small square on the edge of Fresh Pond (where we learned to swim) labeled “Good Fellows Club.”

Good Fellows? What the hell is that? I had trouble finding “Good Fellows”, but I found the International Order of the Odd Fellow. It’s a nonprofit fraternal order with a mission to help the less fortunate. With five former Presidents and 16,000 lodges all over the world, I wondered if they were the forgotten square on an old map.

Furthering my research into the Odd Fellows, I learned about other groups: Freemasons, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Eagles and many more. Some I’ve heard of, some obscure, yet they all have missions, lodges, and, sadly, dwindling memberships. Civic groups have declined. We, as a human race, are more connected than ever and yet we are, overwhelmingly, lonely. I wasn’t immune to this. I wondered if my life was just work and home.

I needed something more than work and home.

I’m truly lucky to have my life:

  • My career in education is so important to me. I love learning with my students. From class, to clubs, to sports, I try to be involved as much as I can. I consider my fellow teachers less as colleagues and more as friends.
  • I also have a toddler. A toddler with an amazing heart, daredevil attitude, and constant motor. The same can be said about my loyal and scruffy dog.
  • My beautiful wife is loving and hardworking.
  • My family, both mine and my wife’s, is open, warm, and compassionate.
  • I have a strong group of friends; we talk daily.
  • I even have a dedicated hobby. I run six days a week (twice a day: once on my own and once with my dog).

By most metrics, I should feel fulfilled. I have: a loving family, an important job, an active friend group, and a hobby. Why did I feel this need for more?

I needed a “third place.” A place beyond work and home.

There was a lack of connection to Plymouth. Despite growing up here, studying here (I was a history major), working here, putting down roots here, it felt like a town I just happened to live in, not my community. So, I got to work.

I learned there’s plenty to do. I opened to new ideas. I challenged old beliefs I thought defined me. I embraced the awkwardness and shook hands with strangers, went to events alone, and met people who aren’t like me.

(Side note: my wife is rolling her eyes. She calls me Mr. Extrovert. None of the above was difficult for me. I’ll laugh at my expense during an awkward social situation; others may dread it forever. I don’t have a magic solution for introverts who hate social interactions. Please believe me, try one new thing and meet one new person. It’s worth it.)

I got involved.

Plymouth Center Steering Committee – Living near Nelson Park, every morning, I walk my dog on the beach. The sun rises over Long Beach and the beach becomes a golden orange. Routinely, I am amazed that I live here … then I see the litter that floated in with the tide and nip bottles next to a trash can. I try my best to pick it up, but it seems like I’m fighting the tide.

When I walk downtown, my mind wanders through various issues: litter, traffic, parking, lack of affordable housing. Finding the Town Center Steering Committee was a great way for me to address issues in my neighborhood. For two hours, once a month, we meet at Town Hall, discuss problems, and work with neighbors to create solutions.

Every Plymouth resident lives in a steering committee neighborhood. There are dozens of boards and committees; many of which have vacancies and need good neighbors to volunteer their time. Please research these committees and see how you can take part in the development of your neighborhood.

There is a quote that I say to myself every time I see an issue in town: “Somebody should do something about that. Oh wait, I’m somebody.”

Plymouth Antiquarian Society – (full disclosure, my wife works for P.A.S.) Plymouth’s a part of America’s identity. Americans know of our hometown. But our history goes beyond Pilgrims and Pawtuxet, which is why the Plymouth Antiquarian Society is so beneficial to our local identity. Tourists come to Plymouth to mock the rock, but if they walked three minutes up North Street to the Spooner House, they would find a long and unique history of Plymouth, unknown to the average American. A well-preserved time capsule of a forgotten period. The front door is a TARDIS and transports visitors to a different time and place. Same could be said about another P.A.S. historic home: the Hedge House. With its long front yard and unmatched sweeping views of Plymouth Harbor, it’s truly a sight. Touring the inside is just as lovely, with its remarkable attention to detail.

The P.A.S hosts events from May to December: tours, beer gardens, yard sales, historic workshops, children’s programs, Edgar Allen Poe readings, and production of “A Christmas Carol.”

First Parish Church – Located at Burial Hill, every Plymouth resident knows this church by sight, but few know it by mission. First Parish Church is the oldest congregation in the country, dating back to 1607. It’s the Pilgrims church. Located in the same spot since the 1600s.

While the geographic location remains the same, the church has gone through radical changes. Founded on Puritan beliefs, today the First Parish Church is anything but. They aim to be a pillar in our community by doing everything from food and diaper drives to advocating voter turnout to documentary screenings.

Trivia at Los Jefes – (full disclosure, my brother is the host). Yes, it’s nice to spend time with my brother. It’s also nice to put my historical knowledge to the test while enjoying my favorite fries.

On the first and third Wednesdays of the month, I plan an hour break from reality as I laugh and joke with friends and family at this local watering hole. Los Jefes is very welcoming. I’m, essentially, a teetotaler. It never bugs them when I get a Coke and fries. They’re happy to have people in for trivia. They’re accepting of my mile-a-minute son, who runs around the backroom as we answer questions from Plymouth history to the Office.

Sustainable PlymouthPlymouth has miles of shoreline and hiking trails. I’m beyond lucky to wake up every morning and watch the sunrise over the ocean. It is an indescribable sight. Yet, every morning, I pick up trash. Our town depends on a clean ocean, and we continue to make the ocean worse. Joining Sustainable Plymouth allows me to channel my frustrations with litter into action.

I’m not naive to think that a couple SP meetings will stop all pollution, it’s nice not being alone in my fight against it.

SP’s dedication to fight pollution reminds me of an RFK quote: “Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” We discuss ways to promote, educate, and clean Plymouth. We all have the ability and responsibility to keep our town clean. We each need to do our “small portion of events”.

Next time you’re bored you have two options: stay home and doom-scroll or get out and join something.

Below an incomplete list of groups or organizations around town. I haven’t covered every imaginable hobby, group, or belief. If you’re struggling to find any group, go on Google maps, look over different venues and read their websites. There’s a lot out there for you, you need to take the first step.

Ax throwing league

Old Colony Club

Marathon Sports run club

League of Women Voters

Whale and Dolphin Conservation

DIY art groups

Plymouth Library

Wildlands Trust

Harrison Quinn

Harrison Quinn is a civics teacher at Plymouth Community Intermediate School.

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