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

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.

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

Interviewing Neighbors During COVID Brought Her Light “When Things Seemed So Dark.”

Just like everywhere else, COVID-19 came to the small town of Leverett, Massachusetts. And when the town went into lockdown, Jinny Savolainen wanted to do something meaningful. Quarantine was especially isolating for her. In 2019, Jinny lost her daughter. And when the pandemic hit, she lost her job. So, she sent an email to the town listserv asking if anyone wanted to record remote StoryCorps interviews about their life during COVID. StoryCorps is an organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs. These Leverett stories were then broadcast on NationalPubicRadio.

Portia Weiskel, a beloved town fixture for more than 50 years spoke with Jinny about a quirky quarantine tradition of a weekly howl at the Leverett Pond that started in lockdown and can be heard throughout the town. Mary Hankinson, a nurse at a long-term care facility, realized when the pandemic first hit how hard it was to access personal protective equipment. She coordinated a group of almost a dozen women who volunteered to make masks. They were hung on a rack outside the post office, where anyone could pick one up for free. Hundreds of these masks were made.

Image from Storycorps

Jinny states “I believe our grandchildren [and] great-grandchildren will want to know how we fared during this pandemic,” “I think they will be in awe of the way Leverett has come together, in the kindest, most humble of ways.” What started with one email ended in a collection of over a dozen interviews.Taken together, these conversations paint a picture of small town life and community during an unprecedented time. As Jinny put it, “Just when things seemed so dark, I found some light in the words of the people all around me.”

Story shared by Tom Wolff, from Massachusetts, USA.

More info here or at tom@tomwolff.com

Village response to supporting elderly or vulnerable people

Our village’s ladies social group (on Whats app) discussed soon after lockdown, what could we do for local residents. It was agreed that we could together, do some practical tasks such as shopping, dog walking or phone calls to help combat isolation. One person volunteered to advertise their home phone number, a “flyer” was produced that offered all kinds of practical and emotional help to residents and to ring the main volunteer’s number, who would then arrange others to undertake support tasks. The leaflet was distributed to every household in the village by a number of volunteers.

Illustration by Nextdoor

Leaflet given out to every household. A number of people requested help with shopping for essential items and were allocated a volunteer.

It was quick and easy to do. Sharing tasks meant no one person was trying to do everything. People felt support was there (even if they didn’t need it).
It linked to Nextdoor ap which was used throughout UK.

Story shared by Cath Howard, United Kingdom.

For more info please contact at cath.papcastle@gmail.com