Like so many small businesses and nonprofits, everything we do relies on social interaction. Meaningful conversations on how community design supports or hinders quality of life relies on in-person events such as Bike to School Day, pop-up community events, and face-to-face brainstorming meetings with residents, partners, and stakeholders.
So, what happens when valuable in-person interaction comes to a screeching halt? How do we engage with communities when we can’t physically meet them where they are: in their community, at their school, at their grocery store, or their local park?
These questions have been weighing heavy on our minds during this time of social distancing. We are engaging in conversations with partners across the state to brainstorm, collaborate, and share community engagement solutions that still feel effective and authentic.
For us here at WALKSacramento, we are continuing to work hard from our homes knowing that it is more important than ever to advocate for safe streets and neighborhood level access to goods and services, especially for our disinvested communities and those who are most at-risk. We are taking a step back from promoting large gathering events this spring such as Bike to School Day in order to prioritize public health, but that is not stopping us from moving forward with programs, policies and initiatives to improve our communities and overall health for the long-term. Here is a list of things we are exploring to support communities in the short-term while continuing to push for long-term livability goals:
- Sharing resources for families on how to stay active and healthy at home
- Making May is Bike Month virtual through social media campaigns, videos, and fun activities that encourage kids and families to enjoy walking and biking in their neighborhoods (while practicing safe social distancing!)
- Developing a webinar series to share best practices and resources for Safe Routes to School, Parks, and Healthy Retail
- Engaging with our partners through online meetings to ensure that the work moves forward
- Identifying best practices for community engagement during social distancing, adapting our own approaches, and compiling lessons and takeaways for the future
Taking time to reset, recharge, and rebalance…
In addition to continuing our day-to-day work, we are also inspired by everyone who is using this time to reset, recharge, and rebalance their minds and bodies by walking and biking. In addition to maintaining a physical routine, walking and biking outside can provide much-needed socialization, while still maintaining social distancing best practices, of course. Here are a few tips from our staff to help you stay active and healthy:
- Wave or say hello to those you pass by. A simple gesture can go a long way, especially as we maintain 6 ft distances.
- If you plan to go to your local park for some much-needed outdoor activity, please plan ahead. Bring soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and once you get home, don’t forget to wash your hands. If the park is busy, consider walking around your neighborhood instead.
- Find creative ways to communicate with your neighbors and support each other. Many children are using chalk to create sidewalk art, send positive messages, and inspire an impromptu games of hopscotch. Neighborhoods all over the country are coming up with fun scavenger hunts for families to participate in like this one here.
We hope that you will continue to stay with us, stay active, and know that our hearts go out to everyone in this time of uncertainty.
The WALKSacramento Team