Strengthening our sense of connection in the immediate locality

The street I live on has 36 private houses set back from the road. We don’t see one another come and go, people have lived on this street for twenty or so years and only know their immediate neighbours. When the likelihood of a lock down threatened I made fliers and invited people to join a street support group. It gave everyone the chance to introduce themselves and suddenly the street became a hive of community chat and mutual support.

95% of the residents have joined a WhatsApp group and others use land line contact. We have collected shopping for one another, enjoyed sharing film footage of a fox in a garden one night, worked out whose cats are visiting each others’ gardens and made fabric face masks for neighbours. We are organised a sponsored walk through just giving to raise funds for a local company to provide child friendly visors for NHS staff. On this walk we will all walk the route of the street simultaneously maintaining our social distance.

It is a shame that it has taken something like this to be a valid excuse to cold-call neighbours. Many of our residents are elderly and socially isolated and making contact with people nearby has been a real bonus. It has also been a great reassurance to their family who would normally visit to know they have a whole street ready and willing to connect and support.

Story shared by Jill Simpson, United Kingdom.

More info contact jillsimpson81@hotmail.com

Cultural Community Corona Response: Remember Your Old Drive-In Cinema

The ‘sixties’ brought something new from the US to Germany. Drive-In Cinemas became the ‘hot-spot’ for couples, lovers and families and they could stay in their car. In the late eighties most Drive-In Cinemas have been abandoned due to new media.

Picture by ErriTollsten

As a corona-response to strengthen communities and families in many cities Drive-In Cinemas re-open; some cities even start new forms of Drive-In Cinemas. For many people and families today Drive-In Cinemas is a break in the lock-down routine while maintaining social distancing. For local cinemas and cultural events which have been shut down during the crisis and are suffering from economic breakdown, the new form of Drive-In Cinemas offers the opportunity to keep their customers and to maintain some income during the crisis.

Traditional forms of events are creatively re-invented and re-designed by going back to the basic social (cultural) needs of people. Lesson: if you focus on the basic needs your business is built upon instead of money and economic growth, you might be able to re-invent your business for a sustainable future. Of course there are barriers and challenges:

  • Drive-In cinemas are car-focussed, hence less ecologically sustainable. New ideas?
  • How can we integrate single people without cars while maintaining physical distancing?
  • How do we develop a sense of community in a Drive-In cinema? Community-building instead of commercials?

Story shared by Wolfgang Stark, Germany.

More info: here and here

Caring and Fast Response in a Small Bavarian Community

PAEHL (Southern Bavaria, Germany) is a small community (2000 inhabitants) in a picturesque location south of Munich and close to the Alps.

Although it is well known for a rich community life (traditional music bands, soccer, clubs maintaining local traditions), the corona-lock-down came as a surprise. However, in a very short time after, the community came together to support the vulnerable groups.

Picture sent by Wolfgang Stark

The young people of the village formed a voluntary corona task force within two days after lock-down. The local mayor immediately started phone-calls to 200 (!) local inhabitants aged over 70, asking if they needed support on food supply or health services. Seniors have also been asked if they would like to receive regular phone-calls if they lived alone.

The local voluntary corona task force provided food supply and shopping services from day three after lock-down. Municipal administration is coordinating orders. The small local public library offered book deliveries on demand. Local administration sent out direct mailers to all households with information emergency phone numbers, health services during shut-down, where to buy local food or where to order hot meals delivered to households.

Based on a rich community life people are amazingly fast and creative to form community support systems. Collaboration of all sectors of everyday life (young and old, local shops and market gardens, libraries, community administration…) is key.

This story was shared by Wolfgang Stark, from Germany.

More info here or at wolfgang.stark@stw.de