Powerful things can happen when people come together. That’s the idea behind Neighborhood Connections’ Neighbor Up Network, a group of Greater Clevelanders who come together to share power, bridge boundaries and make an impact in their communities.
As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and grassroots groups across Northeast Ohio are helping their neighbors. Giving produce and personal protective equipment (PPE) to those in need, creating safe spaces for self-care and wellness, helping seniors access the internet and computers – these are just a few of the ways that Greater Cleveland groups are serving their communities during the pandemic.
This pandemic has been difficult for everyone – especially those doing essential work and helping others. So, where can the “helpers” turn for support? Fighting COVID-19 in Your Community is a special, virtual Neighbor Up Network celebration for grassroots community groups working on COVID-related projects. On Feb. 4 and 5, Neighbor Up hosted two sessions for residents and groups to meet one another, share successes and challenges, build love and power, problem solve, and act collectively to make change.
Neighbor Up uses a simple yet powerful set of practices to build relationships, spark ideas and make connections:
- Everyone starts by sharing something new and good or stating their intention.
- The Business of the Network creates space for people to break into smaller groups centered around topics of interest. Self-care, collaborations, organizing, and support were among the topics proposed in the Feb. 5 COVID-19 event.
- The Virtual Marketplace provides an opportunity for people to make offers, requests, or declarations that others can respond to.
It all ends with something called “Bumping and Sparking,” a time where people can follow up or connect with one another informally to decide on next steps or exchange contact information.
Through these practices, people were able to source information, fill needs and make connections between different COVID relief efforts. For example, one person asked for items to include in “coping packages” for local youth, and a handful of other people in the meeting quickly offered donations. Another person was looking for sites where they could give out produce to residents, and they were able to connect others who were interested in helping or offering distribution space. There’s no telling how far the ripple effects of these connections can go!
In times like these, we need to look out for one another, and Neighbor Up: Fighting COVID-19 in Your Community made space for that. Learn more about how you can get involved with the Neighbor Up Network here and make plans to attend the next event on March 18. At this gathering, you’ll:
- Meet like-minded people providing mutual support in their community;
- Discover ways you can support others;
- Get connected to resources your community may need;
- Develop partnerships and/or collectives to address issues together; and
- Have some fun!
Are you working to fight COVID in the Greater Cleveland community? Here are a few resources you may want to check out:
- Ioby Recipes for Change is a collection of guides and information from leaders in community organizing, advocacy, planning and other fields to help you make positive change. Ioby Cleveland also offers crowdfunding support to turn your ideas into action. Learn more here.
- Cleveland Pandemic Response is a volunteer-run mutual aid organization mobilizing pandemic-related donations and resources in the community. Learn more here.
- The Neighbor Up COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants program provides funding to neighborhood civic groups as well as small nonprofit and faith-based organizations in Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga County for efforts related to COVID-19. Grants range from $500-5,000. Learn more here.
- The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund is also accepting grant applications from organizations serving Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga counties. Grants range in size from $5,000 to $100,000. Learn more here.