As summer comes to an end, I hope that you have all had the chance to find safe and creative ways to spend time with loved ones. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are grateful for all of the outdoor spaces, both urban and rural, where we can come together and keep families, communities, and neighborhoods connected. Whether that is outdoor spaces to eat and drink, or parks where we can walk, picnic, and people-watch.
This weekend we brought books and snacks to the park and spent the day chatting, reading, and we even did a bit of yoga. Over last several months, we have convened in new and unexpected ways, from bringing a music speaker to a large park in the city and starting a spontaneous socially distanced dance party, we’ve attended farmers markets in new cities, found a Vietnamese night market centering queer and trans vendors, and we have just strolled the avenues, walking and greeting others, through our masked encounters, making eye contact with others we do not know.
Our daughter lived in Argentina for some time and always remarked at how large groups of young adults, families, and people of all ages would gather and spend the day at the park. I also think of nights in Sorrento, Italy, and how the neighborhood folk would come out at dusk and stroll—neighbors greeting neighbors, young people looking for love, families out for a snack or
some gelato. In the US especially, even before COVID, we have been so hyper-individualized and sequestered from each other. Now the pandemic has asked us to reconnect in outdoor public spaces, to find that eye contact with strangers, and to experience the joy of “being out and about” amongst our neighbors. As we find ways to be safe and together at the same time, many of the new ways to have fun include participation in public outdoor spaces.
For those of us in urban areas both large and small, enjoying the privilege of buying a snack, a meal, and knowing we have a safe home to return to, be generous and open-hearted to those who live on the streets—and let them know they are seen. I’ll share something my family did, which was to make up gift bags to give to unhoused community members. We keep these in our
car and pass them out as needed. You can get creative and make your own!
24-quart ziplock baggies. In each we put:
1 bottle of water
Pair of socks
Package of hand wipes
2 Granola bars
2 Fruit breakfast bars
1 fruit leather