Google-backed drones drop library books so kids in Virginia can do their summer reading

Kelly Passek, a librarian at Montgomery County School District in VA, came up with the idea of having drones deliver library books to encourage more kids to read from the safety of their homes. Passek could receive the book orders from the children, find the books from different libraries, package them, and deliver them to the Wing facility for the drones to deliver them.

Picture retrieved from washingtonpost.com

Wing library book delivery was/is available to nearly 600 students within Christiansburg, VA, which makes it possible for the students to get free reading materials.

This innovation kept alive the interest to read by making available the reading materials during the lockdown. It was also hoped that the innovation of drone-delivered books would instill the desire to read in more kids.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here or at msergon@my.nl.edu

Avivo opens Avivo Village the nation’s first indoor tiny home community for individuals experiencing homelessness

Avivo Village, an indoor community of 100 secure, private dwellings or “tiny houses” created to provide shelter to individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, opened in Minneapolis’ North Loop Neighborhood on March 8, 2021. Avivo Village was created as a COVID-era means to shelter individuals in a socially distant, dignified way. Residents will have access to Avivo’s unique combination of recovery services, mental health services, and career education and employment services.

In December, a preliminary opening of Avivo Village provided indoor housing for 16 initial residents — many of whom have since found housing while working with Avivo’s housing case managers. As of April 16, nearly 70 residents were housed in Avivo Village’s tiny home community.

Picture retrieved from Freethink

One major inequity in Minnesota’s homeless community is a disproportionate number of Native Americans experiencing homelessness compared to Minnesota’s population as a whole (11% in 2019 of surveyed homeless via hmismn.org compared to 1.4% of MN population via Census.gov in 2019). Avivo Village was created in partnership with the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the state of Minnesota – but also with a strong partnership between Avivo and the White Earth Nation and the Red Lake Nation, to ensure a welcoming community.

Story submitted by Aaron Shaffer, United States of America

More info here or at aaron.shaffer@avivomn.org

How the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink desinstitutionalization in Europe

Webinar with José Ornelas. April 29, 2021, 5pm (CET time).

About the webinar

Deinstitutionalization is a theory transformed into a social movement after the II World War, focused on the transition of all individuals who were in institutions to community contexts, contributing to diversity within the social realm. With the emergence of Civic and Human Rights Movements, deinstitutionalization became a priority including people with mental illness, people with disabilities, children, youth, and elders.

Nevertheless, evidence demonstrates that the majority of people were involved in a continuum of services of transinstitutionalization from large scale segregated wards to smaller segregated housing, employment and schooling programs in the community. From the self representation movement, and experiential leadership of consumers/ survivors, emerged a new wave of services and programs (e.g. independent housing, employment and education in regular markets and and schools) still not fully generalized in Europe. 

The pandemic contingency brought awareness on the extension and volume of  institutionalized people, particularly the more recent massive segregation of elders, while the psychiatric wards, and the large group homes for the disabled people, and for children & youth were mostly maintained. In these contexts countless COVID 19 surges emerged, providing a renovated awareness about the urgency of reclaiming deinstitutionalization as a Human Right. We are now prepared with tools for community research and practice to provide a direct response to deinstitutionalization and social integration through housing with the Housing First Model, with employment and education programs through ecological and collaborative integration in the social and community regular contexts.

About the presenter

Prof. Ornelas is a Clinical and Community Psychologist, specialized in community intervention and integration of people in extremely vulnerable situations. Completed his first doctoral degree in the Boston University (USA) – 1979-1984; and a second doctoral degree in the University of Oporto (1999). He completed his aggregation in the University of the Azores (2009). 

From 2016 to 2019 Ornelas was the principal investigator of the Horizon 2020 HOME_EU Reversing Homelessness in Europe, GA/726997, and is currently the coordinator of the EEAGRANTS Project (OC4-B11 | ISPA) PEER NETWORK: Gender Violence and Empowerment. He is the scientific adviser of a community-based program on the promotion of educational achievement in 5 Portuguese national counties, in parallel with teaching and research supervision of Master’s and Doctoral thesis on Psychology.

Click on this link if you would like to participate!

The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Chorlton Community Arts Festival‘ in Manchester/UK

A dialogic webinar with Carolyn Kagan, Monday April 12 7PM

The ‘New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions – NBCIS‘ – a global initiative to support creative community building in times of crises – is proud to present it´s first Dialogical Webinar on Monday, April 12, 7 pm CEST.
The idea of ’NBCIS Dialogical Webinars’ is to be inspired and learn from creative and surprising ideas and solutions for community building in times of crises. we learn directly from authors of stories about their background and ’the making of…’ 

In our first Dialogical Webinar we will focus on “The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Chorlton Community Arts Festival” in Manchester/UK. The Festival is a unique way how to build community adressing and being inspired by the wealth of creativity within a community. Carolyn Kagan, community psychologist and chair of the festival, and Peter Topping, director of the Arts Festival will present their story and will be open for dialogue.
Join us on Monday, April 12 at 7pm CEST by registering at https://www.eventbrite.de/e/the-rise-fall-and-rise-of-the-chorlton-community-arts-festival-tickets-148513691449.

The Rise, Fall and Rise of the Chorlton Community Arts Festival

A New ‘Temple’ for Community – Contemplating in Nature and among Modern Art (Stoa169)

You walk a lovely agricultural Bavarian landscape close by a small river. A bend on the trail opens a new sight, and there you see a hall of art in the middle of nature. On a part of an agricultural meadow near the village of Polling, on the banks of the river Ammer, in the middle of Pfaffenwinkel, an open columned hall is being built: the STOA169. More than 100 artists from all continents were selected to design one column each, which together, as an archive of today’s art, would carry the common roof of the STOA169.

Picture sent by Wolfgang Stark

STOA169 reminds not only on meditative buildings in Indian temples or on the buildings of the ancient Greek philosophy of ‘Stoicism’. It is a modern community building architecture in which people of all ages, background, colors can come together. The open hall and more than 100 columns individually designed by well-known artists represent the state of modern art from all continents. simultaneously it reflects our heritage as human beings, our past, present and future challenges as a planetary community.

Does an open hall for art as part of the nature (no walls, no fees, no rules) create community today? It invites individuals, families, young and old to come together and be inspired – connects people who have never met before. Many discover new perspectives by wandering between the columns: for some it is a place for peace like a temple, for others a ‘bonbonierre’ of surprises. Kids just love to run around, hide between or climb the columns. The majority of visitors leaves with shiny eyes and a smile on their face. That is how you create community.

Story shared by Wolfgang Stark, Germany

More info here at wolfgang.stark@stw.de

Fostering children playing freely outdoors – towards a post-pandemic vision

One of many consequences of the lockdown in UK is that children are not allowed to meet and play out with their friends at their defined but closed playgrounds. In some cities in UK this situation led to creative and ‚anarchic’ responses, where residents took control of their streets, transforming parking spaces and public roads into attractive playgrounds for children in the neighbourhood.

Picture by John Sturrock

Beyond those activities, the main issue addresses the impact of erosion of everyday freedoms of children in their play, restricted and controlled also in times of non-pandemic. “Is it right that we’re packing our kids into small spaces and letting cars all over our streets? The pandemic has allowed these conversations to be had, which otherwise might be seen to be too radical.”, the author is citing a parent governer and public health researcher in London.

For me these community activities are in the first line a remarkable example of empowerment in action. But rethinking what we take for granted seems even more important. A crucial first step is a shift in attitude as to the current model of ownership of public space.

Story shared by Monika Bobzien, Germany.

Read more about the story here or contact at monika.bobzien@arcormail.de

Greyton Transition Town, South Africa

Greyton Transition Town (GTT) is the first official transition group in Africa. It was initiated in 2012. A significant focus of their work is on environmental and humane education in local schools. Their activities include transformation a municipal dumpster into a green park and planting 500 trees and planting an outdoor classroom using Ecobrick; learning about permaculture and creating organic food gardens in all six local schools; setting among swap shops where parents and children bring clean and dry recycle wastes in exchange for vouchers; setting up a trial hummane educational program aimed at inspiring empathy in children, etc.

Picture retrieved from Transition Network

Greening of the environment by planting trees in a former dumpster, creative use of non-recyclable materials(making them into Ecobricks for an outdoor classroom), creative ways to encourage the collection of recyclable wastes by children and their parents(by exchanging them with vouchers), the use of organic wastes to plant and provide organic food in the local schools, among other outcomes.

Here is an example of using waste to green the environment, provide organic food, and even building materials. Here is also an example of creatively engaging students and parents in environmental preservation/community building by creating mutual benefits, e.g., the voucher card swaps.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA.

More info here

Rainwater Harvesting in São Paulo, Brazil

Residents of San Paulo, Brazil, experience a chronic water crisis. Because of this, residents of Brasilandia, who have no storage tanks, decided to build their own storage systems. Unfortunately, what was build did not filter the water and did not close tightly causing residents to be seriously ill by using the harvested water. Luckily, Isabela de Menezes of Transition Granja Viana proposed a safer solution. She organized worships that taught residents to make water systems that filtered and stored water directly from the roof. The first two workshops in 2014 were conducted by professor Urbano in Granja Viana and Brasilandia.

Residents learned to build water systems that filtered and stored water. Residents had enough water for household use and watering vegetables.

This is an example of a sustainable solution to a community problem. The solution, given as a skill, made it possible for replication- one neighbor teaching another neighbor.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA.

More info here

Chicago Couple Cancelled Their Wedding But Used $5,000 Catering Deposit To Feed People in need

Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis of Chicago had to cancel their big wedding because of COVID-19, but their cancellation uplifted the needy. This happened after the couple asked if the caterer could convert their wedding food into donated thanksgiving dinners for those in need. Consequently, 200 thanksgiving meals were served to Threshold clients, who are individuals with mental health and substance use challenges.

Thresholds’ clients had a thanksgiving meal. The CEO of Threshold said the donation was truly needed because their clients were not likely to have a thanksgiving meal in 2020 due to financial constraints brought upon by the pandemic. The donated food uplifted the clients’ spirits, warmed the givers’ hearts and enhanced the community spirit.

There are creative ways of giving, even and especially during challenging times.

Illustration: Elena Scotti/The Guardian

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here

Moving Company Helps Victims of Domestic Violence Leave Abusive Homes at no cost

College Hunks is a hauling company that in 2020 began free haulings services to people fleeing domestic abuse situations. Since the recent launch of this program, College Hunks has completed 100 moves for those fleeing unsafe conditions in both U.S. and Canada. The company saw this need as a priority because they said the lockdown mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic exposed individuals to increased abuse. The procedure of how to apply for this service is outlined on College & Hunks website.

There were 100 individuals moved from an abusive situation to safety and no cost to them. Humans have endless creative ideas for meeting their myriad challenges- new and old.

Picture retrieved from Good News Network

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here