Community during COVID-19
June 12, 2020 4:05 AM   Subscribe

The pandemic has made my social world suddenly smaller, a thing I think is probably true for many of us. My household has found ways to keep one on one connections alive through video chats and postcards and whatnot. As I look to summer and fall, with neighborhood festivals canceled and school still up in the air, I’m wondering what can be done for maintaining the sort of weak-tie connections that make a community feel like home.

It occurs to me that MeFites may have an awful lot of experience in organizing community at a distance! Tell me about your voluntary organizations, neighborhoods, congregations, and parent/teacher associations. What have you done to stay connected to groups of people you wouldn’t normally just call up and chat with? Have you plowed effort into beautifying your Facebook page, or collated a list of member Twitter handles? Have you built a Minecraft replica of your neighborhood watering hole? Have you organized some peer-to-peer activity like MeFi’s card club? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
posted by eirias to Human Relations (4 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A few of my church groups have a weekly zoom - separate from services. We just check in with each other, it's really pleasant and informal.

I'm thinking about setting up a zoom session to chat while doing minor tasks or crafts, like folding laundry. A few times I did a happy hour zoom with random FB friends and that was fun.

I have friends lists on FB for various sections of my life - church, work, activism, etc. So I can make a post to all of my church friends and say something like "church ppl - what's happening this week?"
posted by bunderful at 5:03 AM on June 12, 2020

I realized at one point I was using twitter for this, but it got exhausting, so I'm not sure I would recommend that.

I don't know if you can find anything similar but I am part of a neighborhood political organization which has had regular zooms and stuff, which has been great.

I have also organized some virtual game nights, which has been more of a strong-tie affirmation experience for me, but a weak-tie one for my guests, who don't necessarily all know each other super well. I get more of the weak-tie connections in group zooms that have been organized by other people, mostly trivia nights, which have been a lot of fun. So if it's feasible I'd recommend organizing your own events to foster that sense of weak-tie community among your friends and acquaintances, and trying to wrangle invitations to others' events to experience it for yourself.
posted by ferret branca at 6:47 AM on June 12, 2020

I set up a WhatsApp group for our street (just 30 properties, with about 75% participation).

Through that we've got to know each other better (although I did need to have a quiet word with the woman who saw it as an extra outlet for her MLM business). We've learned more about Ramadan, Eid, Pesach, Easter from our neighbours' posts, and although at first sight we seem like a 'British' community, we are really quite cosmopolitan, with many different nationalities, representing the UK, China, Australia, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Lithuania, Ukraine, Barbados, Jamaica, Sierra Leone... We learned that one of our neighbours was training for the Olympics, found out the names of all our pets (with pictures, so we can now greet the dogs and cats by name!), that 20% of the neighbours are vegan (which has meant a lot of recipe swaps), that one is a film actor with many movies to his credit...

One of the big concerns we had was shopping, because the supermarkets had stopped taking new registrations for online customers and many of those who had accounts couldn't get delivery slots, as we weren't priority customers. So neighbours who did manage to get delivery slots would let people know, so they could add a few things to their orders. I have two neighbours I regularly do this with, and I share my veg box deliveries with them too.

I live by myself, but having closer contact with the neighbours in this way has made me feel less alone. I've always had a lot of interaction with friends online (as many of my friends are in the USA or elsewhere), but connecting with my neighbours in this way has meant I've got to know them much better than just the usual wave and hello in the street that we used to have.
posted by essexjan at 7:40 AM on June 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

From a distance here in NYC:
- Local neighborhood FB pages, someone has set up a weekly zoom happy hour for anyone to join
- Folks hanging out much more on the front stoop (or porch), or just setting up chairs in front of their homes. Lots of distance chats there
posted by sandmanwv at 8:50 AM on June 12, 2020

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