Liquor Store Turned into a Food Market

Young teenage entrepreneurs in the Austin neighborhood, Chicago, galvanized and turned a liquor store into a food market. With some help from their friends, these young entrepreneurs decided to convert their raw and powerful emotions into a social justice cause. They decided to create the Austin pop-up food market that would provide alternative healthy food options in a place that was otherwise a food desert. Their vision was actualized by the support of some professional athletes who provided the funding, and the By the Hand Club for Kids who brought in architects and branding experts for guidance.

Picture By the Hand Club for Kids

The outcomes included the availability of healthy foods within the Austin neighborhood, the transformation of a food desert into a healthy food zone, the restoration of a gutted building, and giving those in the community an opportunity to contribute, for example, the professional athletes.

Resources can be reusable, for example transforming a liquor store into a food market. The power and vision of the youth- the young entrepreneurs envisioned it and inspired/challenged the community to provide materials for actualizing it.

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.

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London Dad’s Counter Racist Acts with Love

A group of dads who belong to Dad Club London did a secret fundraiser to make Maurice Ellis and his family know they were welcomed into the community. This happened after Jeremy McCall, the head of the club, learned that Mr. Ellis, a newcomer in the community, had received racist acts. The group raised nearly $7,000 towards the tuition fee of Mr. Ellis wife-Carline-Leslie. Mr. McCall said it was the honor of the group to take the school’s stress off the shoulders of this couple.

Image by Megan Stacey/The London Free Press

The Black family felt welcomed and cared for in their new community. Also, the fundraiser took care of the tuition fee, hence taking off that stress.

The surprising kindness from the dads/community. The Ellis family was surprised when the dads visited and presented them with the $7,000 check.
There are enough love and care to counter hateful words and deeds.
Racial equity was increased by helping a member of a Black family complete school by providing the tuition fee.

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.

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Cooperation and Chocolate: The Story of One Colombian Community’s Quest for Peace

A community in Columbia builds a community-based economy in their quest for peace. After many years of war, a group disengages from the war, and decide to create a community of peace. The community promises to disengage completely from any aspects of the war, and in return, they asked to be left alone. It focuses on planting plants and selling its products. Interestingly, the community used a community-based economic model whereby each member took part in the planting, harvesting, selling, and budgeting for the funds from sales. In their quest for peace, the community created an egalitarian economic model.

Image by Yes! Magazine

The main outcomes were peace, prevention of life lost through war, and economic growth. The economic model was participatory in which the community was engaged in all the processes and the benefits. There were also unintended consequences such as the greening of the environment through the planting of more cocoa trees, and the learning of the skills of the economic project by new/younger members as they became engaged in the process.

It is possible the community learned the power of cooperation, as evidenced by the success of their cocoa business. it is possible there was a reduction in inequality due to using a community-based economic model as opposed to the capitalistic one. In this model, every member of the community is involved in the decision making. Also, the funds were used as the community saw fit, suggesting that the needs of all were considered. There is also the lesson of using the community resources-skills, expertise, and wisdom in problem-solving. Lastly, the project was inexpensive because the community was the key resource.

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.

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Nia Wa Ja Shu – Make the World New A Choral Cantata to Build Communities

In March 2020, days before the first lock-down in Germany, we had our final rehearsals for the world premiere of ‘Nia Wa Ja Shu – Make the World New’ together with more than 260 students and many teachers of a well-known liberal arts school in Germany (Camerloher Gymnasium Freising). The new dramatic choral work, composed by Peter Michael von der Nahmer (New York), has been inspired by ‚Fridays for Future‘-Movement and features ‚paper‘ as a former main carrier of information through the ages – starting from hand-writings to a disposable information carrier of today.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Germany, the world premiere with several performances with 750 visitors each had to be cancelled. Only one performance in front of a camera to record the video could take place. But, this situation has given rise to a project in which many young people have a voice for themselves and their future and the questions that come with it. The young musicians and singers felt understood. They are still able to convey their message over the internet and receive feedback from all over the world.

Even if COVID has forced us all to a different lifestyle and even if the focus of the news is limited to these topics, we should not forget that both art itself has and has always had a meaning, that it brings people together, that it can help to convey and address important issues and that there are still many things in this world that are important to think about.

Story shared by Peter Michael von der Nahmer, Germany.

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Enjoy Art and Nature – Creative Art Bicycle Tours

‘Umanand aufm Land’ (Rumble in the countryside) was the motto of several weekends around Bad Waldsee, a small town in Germany’s south-west. Public biking along a cultural trail has been accompanied by musicians, actors, acrobats, photographers and many more who showed their art along the way. More than 40 artists took part. A local cultural association as organizer, supported by the municipality, and funded by a state corona aid program offered an innovative way to experience creative art in nature.

Picture from dieBildschirmzeitung

The event caused an incredible enthusiasm for organized Creative Arts Bicycle Tours in the countryside with the participation of diverse artists. All kinds of groups enjoyed biking in nature combined with cultural events. The demand by the citizens has been overwhelming. Private sponsors offer their support and Creative Arts Bike Tours will be organized again next year. Local artists finally developed a platform for their work.

These events show that culture and art is an important part in our society. Art not only creates openness and generosity, but also community building in times of crises.

Story shared by Cornelia Gretz, Germany.

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University is community. Psychology for teaching: distance learning, interaction and reflexivity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the impossibility of contact and face to face interaction has highlighted the importance of spaces for sharing and relationship in distance teaching offering a cross-section of emotions, questions and choices. Our contribution will present a distance learning course organized during the pandemic in the vein of community psychology. During the semester of teaching exclusively online made in the lockdown, we prepared an online course offering continuous monitoring and giving to the students an opportunity of active participation and scientific engagement. It involved 437 students of the degree course in Psychological Sciences and Techniques (teaching community psychology).

Picture retrieved from SHARE Libri

It was an opportunity of connectedness that scaffolded the isolated students. Exercises, video-web research and continuously interaction with the teacher maintain a shared connection. The use of photo, video and storytelling as didactic tools allowed an opportunity of reflectivity. In fact, the course has been a container of thoughts and emotions, an instrument of personal growth as well as cognitive. The attention to the active interaction of student lecturer, the creation of a strong teaching community and a methodology based on learning by doing, objectives of community psychology, have been experimented in distance teaching.

The experience of the course makes us aware that online support can enrich the learning path and shows us how its excellence develops only when the conditions of interaction and exchange between learners and teachers and students are central to the organization of objectives and educational paths. Online support has the potential to make it possible, or better to facilitate a teaching mode in which the student becomes a participant actor. The final book gave back the restitution of the whole experience.

Story shared by Caterina Arcidiacono, Italy.

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Lasagna Lady: cooking 1,200 pans for strangers in need

Soon after getting laid off during the pandemic, Michelle Brenner first turned to comfort food—using her grandmother’s special recipe, she made a huge pan of lasagna. Then, she offered to go grocery shopping for some friends and was dismayed that they had all added frozen lasagnas to their lists. Her culinary mind screamed, “This just won’t do at all!”

Picture from Good News Network

The Italian-American posted on Facebook, letting her friends and neighbors know that she could whip up some homemade goodness for them—all they had to do was ask, and come by to pick it up. She received her $1,200 government stimulus check, and used all of it to buy ingredients for her cooking. She has made over 1,200 pans of lasagna—no questions asked—for anybody who wants one. She then began dropping them off for essential workers at the local police and fire departments, the hospital, and even the prison.

In order to scale up her operation, she set up a fundraiser on Facebook to support her work. Before long, it had raised more than $22,000, mostly from strangers on Facebook from all corners of the world. She says this will enable her to continue cooking for several months. “The world as we know it is falling apart, but my two little hands are capable of making a difference,” Brenner told the Washington Post. “I can’t change the world, but I can make lasagna.” To support Brenner’s initiative, click here!

Story shared by Brandon Miller, USA.

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A hi-tech School Class under the Bridge

For months during the pandemic, the people of India woke up to news regarding the plight of migrant laborers. Stranded on their way home due to stringent lockdown restrictions and the lack of basic amenities brought us harrowing tales of human suffering. However, the news also spurred heroes into action. Under the bridge in the coastal state of Kerala, a heartening sight awaits those who are passing by in Kochi, India. Underneath the Bolgatty-Vallarpadam bridge, teachers can be found engrossed with students of all ages, deep in study.

Hitech class for migrant children
Picture retrieved from Mathrubhumi

Ten children of migrant laborers had been living under the bridge with their families. Now that temporary ‘home’ is doubling up as a classroom, thanks to the dedicated teachers of St. John Bosco’s UP School. Armed with laptops and drawing sets, three teachers—Shamiya Baby, Neema Thomas and Susan Mable—and the school headmistress Elizabeth Fernandez, came to the rescue. Since the beginning of June, when online classes officially began, these teachers have been downloading classes on their laptops and heading over to the bridge to teach the children. They also carry masks, biscuits and sweets for the young kids every day.

This touching story from India shows that commitment and creativity can turn a poor and low-tech environment into a hi-tech opportunity for the youngest in need.

Story shared by Joseph Ance Treesa, India.

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LifeSchoolHouse: barter-based folkschools in Canada

We have launched a network of barter-based folkschools to support grassroots community leaders in convening skills-sharing workshops as a means to reduce social isolation and loneliness. We have offered more than 1000 workshops in less than 3 years and our work has become even more important in our community with the rise of Covid and it’s associated social restrictions. Our volunteer-based organization has mobilized in-person and online workshops, emergency community food pantries, makers swaps and meal drives using the assets in the community to support a more resilient and interconnected world.


We asked 150 people what benefits they received from LifeSchoolHouse programming and they said “Enjoyment and happiness” – 90.2%, “Creativity and idea sharing” – 86.9%, “Sense of community / neighbourliness” – 88.5% , “Meeting new people” – 75.4%, and “Social connection and friendship” – 75.4%.

We started with less than $5 in hand and ran workshops for MONTHS using this barter-based approach of asking for what we need and offering what we have. For instance, when we needed mason jars to teach a preservation workshop to reduce food insecurity by teaching an essential skill, we received tangible inkind donations of 100’s of jars from folks around the community – enough to keep us going for months! Our community has embraced this inclusive approach and run with it to create spin off caremongering activities and events for the community and the work continues to grow everyday.

Story shared by Jennifer DeCoste, Canada

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The Write Time Pen Pal Project

A pen pal project between older adults in long-term care facilities and other older adults in churches was implemented in order to help them feel more connected, especially now with COVID-19. Older adults can have difficulties with feeling socially isolated. Two churches and two long-term care facilities in the Huntsville, Alabama area participated.

I do not completely know the outcome because the project was not fully implemented due to COVID-19. The older adults from the churches sent letters to those in the long-term care facilities, but they did not receive any letters back. I plan to continue this project.

One surprise was that no replies at all were received by the participants in the churches from the long-term care facility residents. I expected there to be at least a few responses back. A lesson learned is sometimes things take more time than it is thought it will take.

Story shared by Kelsey Walker, USA.

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