Our family calendar has only been open to May for a few days, and already the sprawling weeks ahead of us are filling up with plans, trips, and activities.
With its long days and lovely weather, summer invites us to escape the walls of our homes and get out and about in our communities. I find that in order to really squeeze every ounce of potential from the summer months, I have to intentionally plan a little bit because those long, leisurely days float past in the blink of an eye.
What if, amongst the swimming lessons, weeks at camp, and family getaways this summer, we made time to intentionally connect with our communities?
Your time investment could be a little or a lot, but I assure you that the return on time invested will be greatly rewarded with meaningful memories.
Building Community Connections
1. Plan a block party.
Whether you live in a suburban neighborhood or an urban high-rise, summer is a great time to catch up with neighbors you’ve known for years and meet the new ones you haven’t yet met. As long as there is music, games, and food, it’s sure to be a much-appreciated event!
2. Form a guerilla gardening group.
Scout out locations that are in desperate need of floral intervention and transform the landscape of community eyesores. Sweet Juniper’s Bomb Detroit! will inspire you to action.
3. Bake for a cause.
Photo by redeye
In the past year, the food banks in our community have served more families than ever before. Organizations that provide relief for the underfed of our nation are always in need of support. Visit Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale for ways to plan a bake sale in your community to help.
4. Introduce the young to the young-at-heart.
Facilities that provide care for the aging always welcome visitors. Ask an activities director at a local care facility for ways that children and young people could interact with the residents of that facility. Music, craft time, performances — whatever you choose, it’ll be a blessing to all involved.
5. Organize a family book club.
Grown-ups rarely have a hard time finding a book club with which to meet, but wouldn’t it be fun to read a book as a family and then share thoughts and reactions with other families? Your material could be as thought-provoking as Kevin and Hannah Selwen’s The Power of Half or as light-hearted as Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. Ask your local public librarians for ideas on how to organize and spread the word.
6. Step outside of your spiritual box.
Choose several days throughout the summer to attend services at a church of a different denomination than yours. Introduce yourself to the clergy, and listen for ways other churches are meeting the needs of your community. As a family, discuss the differences and similarities you found between the churches you visited and your home church.
7. Form a 5K team.
Photo by Josiah Mackenzie
5K events are a popular way to raise money for foundations and charities and are generally plentiful in the summer months. Invite other families to train for and participate with yours in a local event. (Cool Running and Runner’s World are great resources for finding events.) 5K events nearly always welcome walkers as well as runners, so children as young as preschoolers could be a part of the training team!
8. Be part of the solution to a community problem.
If your children are old enough, talk with them about what they see as a problem or issue in your community which doesn’t seem to receive much attention. Investigate the road blocks on the path to a solution, and if possible, begin the process of solving the problem.
9. Organize a community stuff swap.
Create a face-to-face version of Freecycle! Invite the community to find new homes for the stuff they no longer need.
10. Host an outdoor movie night.
Community connections don’t have to be serious work — we don’t always have to be serving a higher cause. Sometimes the best way to connect is to just have fun with those around us. Allow Eren of Vintage Chica to inspire you with How To: Outdoor Movie Night.
Sure, there are plenty of days left to enjoy springtime! But it’s also good to make time for that which is important to us. If meaningful connections are part of your summer plans, perhaps your family will be inspired to start dreaming big for the days ahead.
In what ways has your family purposed to connect with your community lately? Do you foresee community involvement being a part of your summer plans?