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

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.

Street art keeps spirits up and connects during lockdown

One resident bought some chalk for his children to use and started writing messages when it was a birthday or an anniversary; these messages of congratulations and solidarity can be seen from our second story windows.

Children from the area started adding portraits so that it looks like they are all holding hands, something that they cannot not do during lockdown. The idea was first started by children but soon it became a focus of the street, with every resident (including pets) being included in this collective portrait.

Picture by News and Star

The street art was a welcome distraction during these unsettling times, which resulted in increased well-being and community identity on our street.

Creative means of connecting people can emerge when we are separated. Initiatives for children can have spill over effects to grown ups!

Shared by Suzanne Wilson, from the United Kingdom.

More info here or at swilson21@uclan.uk

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

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