United States of America

Making Sure Kids Get Fed during School Closures

Making Sure Kids Get Fed during School Closures

Food service professionals and other community members are stepping forward to ensure no child goes hungry. Millions of kids across the US rely on school meals for essential nutrition. Communities are getting creative; some schools are delivering meals or hosting meal drive-throughs for families. Learn more about these efforts in this article from Voices for Healthy Kids

Image retrieved from Voices for Healthy Kids

Story from the USA.

Read more here or at the Community Tool box.

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Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Kansans Turn To Each Other For Help During Coronavirus Outbreak

Kansans Turn To Each Other For Help During Coronavirus Outbreak

In Kansas, there were several examples of Mutual Aid Networks and about restaurants providing free meals for those in need.

“After one crowded lunch service, Heriford said, she could no longer justify the risk to her staff or customers. The restaurant closed March 14, though she and a small number of staff haven’t stopped working. The Ladybird is offering free bagged lunches for anyone who needs them. Heriford buys the food from her usual distributor, prepares it and leaves it on carts in front of the restaurant.”

Picture by Nomin Ujiyediin, Kansas News Service

Story from the USA.

Read more here or at the Community Tool box

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
The Digital Book Garden

The Digital Book Garden

Public libraries are storehouses of books and educational materials, but also often community gathering places– usually a good thing. But in times of pandemic, those same libraries are places that need to be avoided. So how can libraries serve their public while their buildings are physically closed? Here’s one of many examples: The Norwood Public Library, in a suburb near Boston, established a “digital book garden.” Library visitors find signs outside the building with the name of a book and a QR code (a two-dimensional barcode). By pointing your smartphone at the code, you can download an eBook or audiobook.

The Norwood Public Library

This and other electronic innovations have proven popular. The Norwood library reports a doubling of its digital resources since the physical library was closed. And other area libraries have reported a doubling of electronic library card sign-ups in recent months.

When faced with adversity, libraries, as well as other institutions and organizations, must find new ways to serve the general public, regardless of economic status or other conditions. And especially in times of pandemic, when more people are confined to home and fewer stores are open, the dual desires to escape from daily life and to learn new things are both stronger than ever. We may therefore expect more such creative initiatives, largely focusing on electronic resources, in the future.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Laughter in a Time of Crisis

Laughter in a Time of Crisis

The city of Juneau, in the U.S. state of Alaska, normally has a hiking hotline for those seeking volunteer-led walks in the area. But when the pandemic struck, hiking programs were suspended. The hotline might have been suspended too, but local officials had a very different idea. They decided what was needed in this challenging time were some light-hearted moments, and a chance to laugh. So they turned their hiking phone number into a laugh line. Anyone who called heard a pre-recorded joke, usually with a bad pun. Example: “What kind of music is scary for balloons?” “Pop music!”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

According to reports, the new laugh hotline was an immediate success — so much so that the line became overloaded. And suggestions for jokes have been received from across North America.

This example shows that it’s possible to turn a difficult situation into something positive and beneficial It does take creativity, and the ability and willingness to go beyond usual boundaries. It was surprising that the laugh line attracted so many people. But in a stressful time, laughter is a good coping tool, which helps people stay connected. And people need to laugh. In the words of a local parks and recreation employee, “After all, laughter is the best medicine.”

To hear a joke on the hotline, call (907) 586-0428. To submit a joke for hotline consideration, contact Parks.rec@juneau.org.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Do-It-Yourself Lowell

Do-It-Yourself Lowell

Several years ago, a young couple moved to the mid-sized city of Lowell, Massachusetts. They became attracted to the city’s diversity and spirit, and soon wanted to give something back to their new community. But without money or special expertise, what could they do?

Lowell (Mass, USA), City of Lights Parade

After some thought, they hit upon the concept of “Do-It-Yourself Lowell.” Its goals were to generate ideas for community events and projects and work together on them. By so doing, they could also create lasting civic improvements, enhance civic engagement skills, and build diversity.

The concept itself was very simple. Any resident could submit a community idea, and other residents would vote for the best. The winning ideas would receive funding leads and guidance, technical assistance, and publicity for community volunteers to transform the idea into reality.

Do-It-Yourself Lowell soon caught on; it has received hundreds of community-building suggestions, many of which can be found on its website, and some of which have been put into practice. Some examples: a mobile bike repair truck, a traditional medicine festival, a children’s tea party, a Quarantine Café (following the coronavirus outbreak).

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, USA.

To learn more, contact at www.diylowell.org

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
6 Feet at 6PM

6 Feet at 6PM

During the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, my own community near Boston, like a great many others, strongly encouraged residents to stay inside their homes. Not surprisingly, community members wanted to find ways to have visible contact with others, even if they couldn’t meet directly with them in person.

Aerial view of Arlington by Juhan Sonin

Some planners in town proposed an idea they called “6 Feet at 6PM.” Neighbors on a street were encouraged to come outside their homes at 6:00 every evening, to wave, greet each other, and talk while maintaining a distance of six feet or more. This would be a safe and healthy way to maintain social contact under new and challenging circumstances.

According to local reports, many streets in town adopted this idea, some of them quite enthusiastically. Residents clearly seemed to have a strong desire for personal social contact.

While it’s too early at this writing to know whether it will persist, the “6 Feet at 6PM” initiative is a good example of a creative response to a crisis situation. It satisfies a basic human need, it’s easy to do, it costs nothing, and it’s very adaptable to other community settings, perhaps including the reader’s own.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz.

To learn more contact Kelly Lynema, Arlington (Massachusetts) Department of Planning and Community Development, at klynema@town.arlington.ma.us.

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Leverett Connects: A community wide list serve becomes the hub for all things related to coronavirus  in a small US town

Leverett Connects: A community wide list serve becomes the hub for all things related to coronavirus in a small US town

Leverett Pond, Picture by Oran Kauffman

Leverett is a small rural town in Western Mass of 1700 people. Our local community building group, the Leverett Alliance, listening to community voices decided to launch a town wide list.serve. Until then the town had no way to connect, exchange info, etc.

In September we started to publicize by posting flyers, sitting at the dump and the Post Office. Within a few months we had 250 members. We then sent a postcard to every household showing how easy it was to sign up for free, and the number climbed. People used the list serve to ask for help offer help, etc.

Then corona virus hit the country and since then the number of folks engaged has grown (now over 425) and the exchanges are very moving. Making masks for each other, shopping for each other, going to the dump for each other, food delivery options, finding out when to shop at the stores, etc.

It has created a true sense of community and has addressed very concrete needs. Some have even started an “coyote howl” across the pond in the center of town to mimic some of the activity in Italy and elsewhere.

As one user observed: “Hi, everyone, I just picked up an absolutely delightful rainbow-striped mask from the Post Office Thank you, seamstresses and seamsters! Thanks, too, to the enlightened techies who set up Leverett Connects. Who could have known that it would become so crucial to so many of us? It is wonderful to live in this town.” (Annie Jones)

We have heard that list serves like this are working in urban neighborhoods as well.

Story shared by Tom Wolff, from Massachusetts, USA.

To learn more: tom@tomwolff.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions