If there’s one thing we could all use right now it’s more kindness and camaraderie. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken us all—pushing us into places of fear and isolation. And, as with most crises, it has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable among us—straining our social systems at their weakest points.
It has also created an opportunity for us all to course-correct and focus on what’s most important, the health and well-being of our communities. So many people have been stepping up to take care of each other—selflessly providing food, supplies, shelter, entertainment, a helping hand, a kind message, a song, applause, and, above all else, compassion and kindness. And now, as we head into hopefully brighter days with increased vaccinations and reopenings, we all could still use some random acts of kindness.
This means that our annual Neighbor Day celebration, scheduled for Saturday, May 8, couldn’t come at a better time. Neighbor Day began in 1995, when Phinney Ridge activist Judith Wood suggested that the City of Seattle designate “a special day to celebrate the goodness in those around us and to reach out and strengthen our bonds to each other.” It has been going strong ever since. And though it may look a bit different this year, the intent is the same—to promote and encourage random and organized acts of kindness.
You have been performing these acts of kindness all over our city for over a year now and, by doing so, you are making every day Neighbor Day. As we continue to come together to heal and rebuild our communities, we are ensuring that we come out of this crisis a stronger, healthier, and more equitable city.
Following is a list of ideas that you can pull inspiration from for your acts of kindness. But, really, all you need to do for inspiration is look around—there are so many great examples all over Seattle and our region, every single day.
As you plan and perform your acts of kindness, we only ask for two things:
- Keep in mind the communities that have been most impacted by this pandemic—our elders, our healthcare and frontline workers, our Asian Pacific Islander community, our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, our immigrant/refugee communities, and our unhoused community.
- Share your stories to inspire others. Use #SeattleTogether on social media to tell us about an act of kindness you performed or witnessed.
Neighbor Day Ideas
- Drop flowers at a neighbor’s mailbox/walkway.
- Create chalk art or messages in front of a neighbor’s house.
- Buy and deliver groceries for a neighbor in need.
- Start a Neighborhood Joy Board or outdoor art gallery.
- Make a donation to a community fundraising effort.
- Like to perform? Host an impromptu performance for your neighbors from your balcony, window, porch, or lawn.
- Help neighbors who are homebound with yard work/weeding.
- Organize a neighborhood cleanup effort.
- Cook a meal or make a treat for your neighbors.
- Organize a building or neighborhood singalong.
- Take inspiration from the #SeattleTogether Public Art Comes to Your Front Yard campaign and create art signs for your neighborhood.
- Convert your Little Free Library to a Little Free Food Pantry.
- Use gift cards from local businesses to create your own #PayItForward campaign.
- Volunteer to help those in need.
- Organize a neighborhood letter writing campaign to a local senior center or nursing home.
- Are there graduating high school seniors in your neighborhood? Find a way to honor and celebrate them—messages of support, gifts, decorations.
- Organize with your neighbors to adopt a local storefront and hire an artist to do a temporary mural.
- Organize a call of support for one of your favorite local businesses—encourage community to buy gift cards or order takeout.
- Organize a food drive for your local food bank.
- Create a quarantine kit for a neighbor in need. This can include food, supplies, kids’ activities, crafts, anything to help.
Contributor Sam Read manages communications at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.