The end of quarantine is drawing near.
Alleluia. The timing is perfect; the warmer months naturally draw us out of our homes and into our yards where we greet neighbors. But even if the weather didn’t agree, we’d still venture out of our homes after all this social distancing, like dazed survivors of a particularly, and peculiarly, prolonged winter.
If this lockdown has taught us one thing it’s that Zoom has been a lifesaver, but it’s still a sorry second to face-to-face – that’s real face-to-face connection. So, here are a few ways to make the most of our new-found freedom, collectively, with our neighbors and friends.
1. Build a communication pipeline
Create a neighborhood directory containing names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for each household in your neighborhood. Establish a Facebook page for your block. It comes in handy when you are looking to get rid of all those baby clothes you no longer need or are trying to find someone who wants to split a cord of firewood. It’s also a great way to keep neighbors in the know to celebrate life’s joys – graduations and birthdays – and offer comfort and a meal when life throws you a curveball – illness or death of a loved one.
To extend beyond your own street, consider Nextdoor.com, the neighborhood social network that, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, has increased in importance since coronavirus. Once the place to seek handyman recommendations or find a teen to mow your yard, the platform became a lifeline for parents looking for homeschooling inspiration and elderly neighbors needing assistance with grocery runs when it launched its “Help Map” tool for users to notify their availability to help others.
2. Take time to socialize
There’s so much in life to celebrate, especially now. So, let’s make up for the lost time. Fire up the grills for a neighborhood BBQ. One side of the street can bring sides; the other, desserts; and everyone brings their own beverages and meat. Progressive parties are a great way to get a sneak peek into your neighbors’ homes. Appetizers in one home, the main course in another, dessert in a third. Don’t want to mess with the main course? Do cocktails and appetizers at each stop. Celebrate the holidays with a cookie exchange. If you live near a business strip – think Benson, Dundee, the Blackstone District, or the Old Market – organize a pub crawl, hitting a different watering hole each hour.
3. Beautify common spaces
Gardening is a great community builder. Even the neighborhood grouch (every neighborhood has one) likes flowers. There are several ways you can connect with your neighbors and enhance your neighborhood at the same time. Beautify the entrance to your subdivision with summer annuals or create year-round interest with bushes or small pine trees to decorate with the seasons. Maybe your neighborhood has an island just begging for a little color. Is there a plot of land for a neighborhood garden in which to grow tomatoes, zucchini, and other summer staples? No common green space? You can always hang flower baskets from light posts or add planters to neighborhood entrances.
4. Celebrate summer with a neighborhood-wide play day
It’s a good kind of lockdown. Apply to the City for a permit to temporarily block traffic through your neighborhood with construction barricades. Then, watch the kids run wild on their bikes, scooters, and skates. Get a kickball tournament going, or organize some old-fashioned relay race fun. Have buckets of sidewalk chalk ready for the neighborhood artists, young and old alike, to strut their creative stuff. Gather at communal tables for a feast and an adult beverage (or two). Cap off the event with a no-holds-bar Silly String battle. Our money is on the neighbor who keeps a pristine yard (there’s ALWAYS one of those as well) but now has the license to cut loose (but not in his yard).
It’s been a long winter and a VERY unusual spring. So, let’s counteract all of that social distancing with a little socializing. Let THIS be our new normal.
To read the WSJ article, click here.