In a time unlike no other, we suddenly found ourselves staying home. Our worlds got smaller but our hearts grew bigger. Neighbours began engaging with and helping each other -many for the first time ever. A short daily walk around the block became a highlight to break up the monotony of the day. And yes, those dogs got walked … and walked.
But wouldn’t it be nice to retain that sparkle in your neighbourhood, as well as those relationships?
Some creative residents made tweaks to the front of their homes so that passersby had something fun to look at as they stroll the streets. Others put bears in the window for Easter. The Community spirit has been remarkable as we have all helped each other.
Here are some ideas to help you brighten up your own neighbourhood all year round.
From classic hopscotch to giant rainbows, the footpaths have become so much more colourful lately. Chalk is cheap and can be purchased from most supermarkets, department stores and craft suppliers.
You could do a mural on the street or cover your footpath with drawings of plants and animals. Give a box of fresh chalk to your children and let them run wild! It’s only chalk, it won’t last forever.
If you don’t feel like you have much artistic flair, you can always write BIG messages of love on the path outside your house. Give people something to read that makes them smile.
The best part about chalk art is that no clean up is required. It just takes a good fall of rain to wash the footpath clean again.
Sydney light festival Vivid was cancelled this year, but that didn’t stop hundreds of Australians from creating their own mini Vivid with Christmas lights. “DIY Vivid Australia” <https://www.facebook.com/events/2752690261619461/> is a movement to encourage people all over the country to add some sparkle to their community from the end of May, through to the beginning of June.
“We want to see people put out their party lights, decorate and create light installations with things found around their home,” says coordinator James Brechney. The idea is that over the two weeks, around the country people will ‘shine some light in these dark times’.
You may have already seen some teddy bears peeking out of windows in your area. Facebook group ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Australia’ <https://www.facebook.com/groups/659529201540181> has over 20,000 members and around the world people got involved in this cuddly magic.
Placed in the front windows, gardens and fences of houses and businesses, these stuffed toys were ‘hidden’ for children to find. A great way to socially-distance from afar. It also provided a great excuse for parents and children to get some exercise and fresh air with their parents. This tradition could become something we hold onto and why not?
This idea is more of a long-term plan, but a special one nonetheless. Use the flower beds and pot plants at the front of your home to grow edible plants for the neighbourhood to share. Chillies grow easily with lots of sunlight. Rosemary and lavender can make a lovely aromatic hedge and cherry tomatoes will grow like a weed if they get the right conditions.
In fact, now is the perfect time to create an edible garden that can be shared with your neighbours in the cooler months ahead.
Paint your bin
Putting out the wheelie bin each week became an event worth celebrating. Facebook group “Bin Isolation Outing” encouraged people to dress up and relish the chance to leave the house. Some people took it a step further, turning their humble bins into a work of art.
It can still be a family activity, with a mishmash of handprints and splashes of colour or it can be a carefully planned piece of art. Get creative and brighten up your rubbish bin.
Messages of gratitude
Over the summer it was our firefighters and right now it’s out healthcare workers, delivery drivers and essential workers. There are always people in our community that deserve our gratitude.
In times like these we saw people pulling out paper and textas and drawing big ‘thank you’ posters to stick on their front door or fence. We don’t need a pandemic to let people know that we’re thinking of them and that we are grateful for their help. It’s a wholesome activity to do with little ones, but still heartwarming to do solo. The aim of this is to brighten up your neighbourhood with colourful signs of gratitude, but this activity will also make you glow inside.