The 2020 pandemic brought global trade to a standstill. The effect on local communities has been nothing short of devastating. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and many businesses have had to close down as well.
However, COVID-19 has also brought about a re-localization of supply chains and a revitalization of local businesses. In many cities, people are finally getting to know their neighbors and the everyday folks that make their neighborhoods what they are. In other words, the pandemic has had the side effect of helping many of us rediscover our communities.
As awful as the pandemic is, this may be an opportunity for something better once it is finally over. Here are some ways you can become a better member of your community in these times and beyond
1.) Give Protective Accessories
Have you considered giving out face masks and arm sleeves to your friends and neighbors? They’re sure to appreciate the practicality, safety, and discreteness of fabric face masks and hand protectors. The latter, in particular, can be used to cover one’s hands when using communal objects like ATM keypads and public handrails — handy for when a person doesn’t want to touch potentially contaminated surfaces. However, it’s worth remembering that these products do more than just keep the user from getting sick — they help protect everyone in the community as well. Face masks, for example, have been proven to prevent a huge portion of a person’s respiratory droplets from spreading in the vicinity, which is why they are recommended for use during epidemics.
The more people in your neighborhood with face masks and hand protectors, the better-protected everyone is, overall. Make sure to buy such products for the folks in your community the next time you buy some for yourself.
2.) Buy Local
We always hear people telling us to “think local” — but what does this really mean for communities?
Choosing to buy locally has the effect of keeping money in the local community. After all, if you could choose a place for your money to go, chances are you’d like it to stay within your neighborhood. If everyone’s money stays in the community, then the neighborhood has a better chance of weathering the aftermath of the coronavirus.
Buying local also helps expand our choices. Major online portals and big box stores may advertise a wide selection of items. But in reality, these “choices” are all decided by a small group of interests — which raises the question as to whether or not they do represent more choices at all. By supporting smaller businesses in your neighborhood, you can ensure that you get something tailored to the tastes and needs of your community.
Lastly, buying local helps us to know our neighbors better. When you buy from people you know, you remove some of the abstractions that sometimes serve to hide the ugly truths about what we buy. We get to see the direct impact of our purchasing decisions as well, which can be a beautiful thing.
3.) Choose Local Volunteering Opportunities
Even though a good portion of the population is choosing to stay at home, volunteerism has exploded in the wake of the pandemic. If you’re interested in doing volunteer work, chances are you won’t need to go far to find opportunities.
If possible, choose volunteer work that helps out your local community. Not only will it limit the amount of traveling you have to do, but it will also let you see the direct impact of your actions on the people in your neighborhood. And even if you do choose to volunteer elsewhere in the future, starting local may help you contextualize your actions and allow you empathize more with the people you’re trying to help out.
4.) Check on People Who Live Alone
If there are people in your neighborhood who live alone, be sure to check on them once in a while, especially if they are elderly or disabled. You can leave messages at their doorstep or talk to them through a window. While you can’t necessarily visit them if they choose to be in quarantine, you can volunteer to help them with their groceries and other essentials if needed. Don’t feel so bad if you’re rejected either — this isn’t about you.
If there’s one good thing that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it’s made a lot of us think about the places we live in. Our communities are the building blocks out of which greater things are made of. Hopefully, we’ll all come out of this with a better appreciation of our neighborhood and the things that make it special.