Day 23: Build community
Today’s action: Connecting with your neighbors and local community
Today’s action is to start strengthening your local community. How? Take a few minutes today to meet or chat with your neighbors. You can start with a simple hello on the street, or by bringing them some homemade cookies (or whatever else you like to bake!). If you can’t see any of them in person today, send a text or email or good old-fashioned letter to check in. If you can’t do any of these today, no sweat! Use today to make a plan for how you can start meeting and connecting more with your neighbors soon.
Why this action? In everything we’ve read on climate adaptation, one simple idea has jumped out: community building is a critical way to build resilience and to prepare us for climate-linked disasters. Research has already shown that strong community interactions support faster recovery from natural disasters. While strong community networks can also spring up after disasters occur, building these ties sooner helps lay the groundwork.
Beyond supporting resilience and adaptation, there are other good reasons to build your local community! Befriending your neighbors aligns well with other climate solutions (like sharing food to reduce waste, as we discussed yesterday). And connecting with others can also benefit you personally – social connections are linked to greater happiness and longer, healthier lives. Talk about win-win-win!
Looking for more? Read on for more info and actions related to community building, including climate resilience hubs, mutual aid projects, and "disaster parties."
Learn and reflect:
To learn more about how meeting your neighbors is a climate solution, read this Grist article, and check out its suggested additional resources, including this TedMed talk by Christine Nieves about her experience of communal recovery from Hurricane Maria.
Beyond meeting your neighbors organically, there are other ways of connecting with your local community. Consider getting involved with a local group or institution. Local neighborhood groups, faith-based communities, local schools, and public libraries can support social connections generally, and are well-placed to help communities with post-disaster recovery. In some places, there are proactive efforts to turn these local networks and institutions into climate resilience hubs. If you’re interested, you can apply to get support for starting one in your community.
Mutual aid is a way for people to come together to help meet each other’s basic survival needs. Mutual aid is a type of political participation; it is based on solidarity, not charity. Mutual aid projects multiplied in 2020 as a way for neighbors to help each other during COVID. To learn more, check out this explainer. If you’re in the US and want to find a project near you, this map lists projects around the country. If you’re interested but there’s not one near you, here are resources to help you start a new mutual aid effort.
Climate activist Mary DeMocker suggests hosting a “disaster party” for your neighbors, to discuss disaster preparations with them. Getting together with the households closest to you, you can jointly: (1) identify your neighborhood, (2) choose a leader, (3) identify neighborhood threats, (4) share contact info, and (5) designate a neighborhood gathering place. You can also use resources from the “Map My Neighborhood” program developed by Washington state, or sign up (on that same webpage) to receive a new neighborhood preparedness program, “Be 2 Weeks Ready!”, once available.