Lockdown Spirit Lives On as Neighbour Groups Become Swap Shops

During the pandemic, community members in south London began communicating via WhatsApp. They were able to fulfill requests in the community at no cost to those in need. A year and a half later, rather than go back to traditional means of selling items through on-line garage sales, these south Londoners were still using the app to swap and share services at no cost.

This spirit of swapping was happening in other communities as well. The Freecycle Network, a platform where people share items for free, saw a 50% increase during the pandemic. People discovered they were finding connection through generosity and wanted it to continue.

Photo share from the Guardian.com

A retired school teacher learned she could use Freecycle to ask for items needed by asylum seekers. She received an overwhelming response and spread the generosity of the Freecycle community to other groups. They raised money and swapped things that may have otherwise ended up in landfills.

One of the lessons learned by this community was that making connections and helping one another for no personal gain is contagious. What started as a way to help during a global pandemic proved to be a sustainable way to funnel items in the hands of those who need them. In addition, they were able to work toward the broader goal of keeping usable items out of landfills.

For more information, click here.

Story shared by, Bradley Olson, PhD, USA

Middleton’s Village to Village: Making “Junkers” Run Again

Eliot Middleton donated his first vehicle in January of 2020. Since then, he has given away 90 more to people that need cars. Eliot worked on the cars during his off days and donated his first car to a mother of a disabled child who needed the car for regular hospital visits. According to Eliot, the woman decided to pay it forward. She got a job, bought a new car, and will donate the car given to her by Eliot back to him.

Photo retrieved from goodlivingguide.com

In November of 2020, a foundation was started called Middleton’s Village to Village. The foundation is run via the foundations’ Facebook page with support from friends and family.

A lesson that learned from Eliot’s story is that good deeds inspire more good deeds.

For more information, please click here.

Story shared by Tressa Greer, USA

21 Days of Peace: Pilot Program to Deter Crime

A grieving Minneapolis community is asking for information that will lead to the gunmen who killed two children and seriously injured another. KG Wilson’s 6-year-old granddaughter, Aniya Allen, was the last of the three children shot in the head and the first to die. KG Wilson is on his bullhorn and passing out flyers, looking for justice and closure for his family and the others impacted by gun violence in the community. Nine-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith took her last breath Thursday night. Ladavionne Garrett Jr. was shot 29 days ago and is still fighting to recover.

Photo retrieved from minnesota.cbslocal.com

21 Days of Peace” officially kicks off Friday night. Church and community members are combining efforts to patrol high-crime areas to be a presence, as well as to offer resources for those in need.

A community that has issues with poverty and oppression are able to mobilize for a common cause and able to gain support or organizations.

For more information, please click here.

Story shared by, MoDena Stinette, USA

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

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

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

Captain Tom’, 99, raises more than $31 million for UK carers

Captain Tom Moore, a 99-year-old British war veteran did what he could do to raise money for health care service. Using a walking frame, the world war two veteran walked 100 laps of his garden. His goal was to complete the laps before his 100th birthday.

He raised $31.3 million for the healthcare service. Old age is no barrier to responding to the needs of the community.

Picture retrieved from RFEA

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

Protest Sign Made by Third Grader Inspires the Nation When it Mysteriously Travels to Protests

In response to the death of George Floyd, the principal of Lake Country, Minneapolis, asked the students to join their feelings with those in the streets by making signs and sharing them with the school community. Mathias Brinda, a third-grader made a huge sign that said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” This sign was hunged on the school fence, but it went missing. It later showed up at two different sites- in front of a spray-painted image of Floyd and in the possession of three children.

Picture retrieved from Good News Network

The sign inspired the nation- at least the one who took the sign from the fence, the Black man who kneeled by it in front of Floyd’s image and the three children who held it up while raising their fists- and everyone else who read the story of the sign.

Wisdom and inspiration from the lips of children.

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

Staying Sober in Quarantine

The Phoenix uses health and fitness to help individuals overcome addiction. Using quarantine, in-person sessions were not possible because of social distancing guidelines. Mindful of the isolation that those recovering from addiction experience even without the quarantine, the Phonex creatively switched to online classes and virtual group meetings.

Those working on their recovery continued to receive classes and attend group meetings online.

Challenges are catalysts for innovation.

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 contact at msergon@my.nl.edu