The front door of the library in Montgomery County, Maryland, is now padlocked, victim of a budget shortfall. A Gainesville, Florida, hospital that serves the poor is closing. In cash-strapped California, state workers taking involuntary furloughs two days a month wonder how they’ll make ends meet. In Wake County, North Carolina, hundreds of seniors have added their names to receive Meals on Wheels–and hundreds more are on a waiting list. On the streets of San Francisco and New York, the number of panhandlers has visibly increased. Even animals are taking a hit: Arizona animal shelters report a 90 percent increase in the number of abandoned pets.

In big ways and small, the recession is changing life in America–and The Nation needs your help. We want you to be our eyes and ears about how the pain is being felt. We’re also seeking on-the-ground reports on how Americans are rising to the occasion–volunteering to help the hungry and homeless or organizing to fight foreclosures.

We’re cheered by efforts of groups like ACORN–the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now–which has set up Home Defender programs in cities across America, recruiting teams to peacefully resist efforts to evict families from their homes. We want to find out how others are mobilizing to help.

As newspapers and other local media cut back on reporting, we all need to work harder to understand what is happening in communities across America. And The Nation can provide a platform to increase awareness. How is your local government responding to budget shortfalls? How are local media covering the story–if at all? How are school programs, hospitals and public services affected? If there are foreclosures where you live, how does that affect the quality of neighborhood life?

We also want to explore the upside: how are people and institutions taking positive actions? And if there are events in your community–employment workshops, demonstrations, lectures or discussions that can shed light on the ongoing crisis, please post them in our free calendar listings. Here’s the link to submit your event.

Using the e-form below, tell us what’s happening in your community. Video reports also are welcome–just upload them to YouTube and send us the link. We’ll publish as many of your reports as we can on The and a selection of your letters in the print edition of the magazine.

Because the more we all know, the more effectively we can respond.

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