There’s no time like the present to shower your neighborhood with a little extra love. You’ll teach your kids what it means to be a part of a real community and maybe even get to know a few new friends. From neighborhood scavenger hunts to Little Free Libraries, scroll down for low contact ideas that can make your hometown just a little bit (or a lot!) more awesome.
1. Create an Instagram page for your community. Start documenting what makes your 'hood special, ala Bill Cunningham, whether it's the trees, the architecture, the people, or maybe, all of the above. This is something you can do while on small walks around your hometown and is a great way to share the messages of hope and inspiration out there.
2. Make seed bombs. This is a simple project, and it doesn't require a green thumb. Use this easy tutorial from Practically Functional, and then toss your supply in the dirt along roads and freeways. We suggest you use native wildflower seeds to curb any invasive species.
3. Redesign a crosswalk. Cities all over the nation are setting up community crosswalk programs, which allow artists to add an extra flair to the pedestrian's right of way. Keep in mind, things might be slower to happen because of staff considerations, but you can get the inspiration and apply now.
4. Dedicate a bench. Arrange for extra seats to be added to an outdoor space in honor of a loved one or just a spot to stop and sit for a spell.
5. Shop local. When you buy from a local business, you keep dollars where they belong—in the community. In this time of small-business closures, this is more important than ever. Many cities have started Facebook groups that promote local businesses and restaurants, and innovative businesses and restaurants are offering delivery and curbside pickup. Businesses that are closed, like your favorite hair salon, can be supported by buying a gift certificate now to use later.
6. Volunteer or donate to a local food bank. Even if you aren't able to physically donate your time to a food bank, consider making a donation, as food insecurity is currently at an all-time high.
7. Plan to create a pocket park. Bringing more green space to urban landscapes takes time and planning, so now is a good time to start. The National Recreation and Park Association has a great guide on how to get one started.
10. Create a free little library. It'll be the best thing to happen to your neighborhood since Mr. Rogers. Check out our tips on how to create one here.
11. Support local schools. While there might not be spirit nights right now, your local schools might be running online fundraisers for students or teachers. Check your local school district website to find out more information.
12. Perk up your front porch. A statement door, a fun welcome mat, and flower pots are all easy ways to brighten up your home and your neighborhood.
13. Organize a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Whether it's animals, hearts, states or inspiring messages, organizing a community-wide search is a great way to get outside and to get to "know" your neighbors. You can share your list of finds with other families online and encourage everyone to see the beauty of their town...while still respecting social distancing.
14. Slow down. There are plenty of reasons why driving slower in a neighborhood makes sense—there have even been studies that prove it's a safer option for everyone involved.
15. Practice guerrilla gardening. Claim a plot of unused dirt for yourself and start planting. Click here for ideas, or to find other guerrilla gardeners nearby.
17. Join the local open space alliance. This is the group that will fight to create a walking trail/wildlife refuge instead of another subdivision.
18. Jumpstart the Kindness Rocks movement all over again. Little pieces of art scattered around town? It's the perfect way to spread joy without being in a group. Find out how to get started here.
19. Help out an older neighbor. Do you know someone who is self-isolating or under house quarantine due to COVID-19? Reach out to see if you can pick up their groceries, prescriptions or dinner one night. Check out a few other ways to be a good neighbor here.
20. Bike around town. Using your bike more often helps create the demand for more trails and lanes—and that means less car traffic.
21. Perk up your local park. See a broken swing or slide? Want to get new equipment added? Call your Parks & Rec department and share your thoughts. When things open back up, everything will be ready for kids to play, play, play.
22. Have a sidewalk chalk challenge. Sidewalk chalk is making a comeback, and it's always fun to spend time in the front yard, getting to know your community.
Feature photo: Shelley Massey