As another lockdown was announced in New Zealand, I thought back to the community connection and fun that teddy bear hunt brought in the original Covid-19 lockdown in March. Such a simple idea, and a way to safely connect as we all went on our daily walk or bike ride around the neighbourhood. It was particularly fun for younger children who were able to carry out a “bear hunt” and count the teddy bears on the surrounding streets. I wondered what we might do this time at Level 3. And then I saw a post about a Spoonville on my sister’s Facebook page – one that had been set up at their primary school in Melbourne during the second lockdown.
What is a Spoonville? Simply, it is a community art and connection project where a collection of wooden spoons decorated as people are poked into the ground in a public place. A village of spoony people, hence Spoonville. The first Spoonville was started in Winnersh, England during the lockdown as a fun and safe way to cheer up the community. A friend spotted it on Facebook and decided to start her own one in the Isle of Mull, recognising the advantage that spoon people “don’t need to physically distance”, and from there it has gone global. But would it work in Sandringham? I decided to find out!
On Saturday I found a couple of spare wooden spoons and got out the glue gun and got decorating. Then on Sunday 16 August, I started “Sandringham Spoonville” under one of the gingko trees in Sandringham Reserve with my two spoons and a poster. I could hardly wait to see it grow. On Monday, I purchased some wooden spoons at the supermarket and put them near the Spoonville so everyone who wanted could participate by taking a spoon home to decorate. By the Thursday 19th August we had our first new villagers. And now, 10 days later we are up to 30 spoons!
Engagement on social media with this project has been great, but the real proof in the pudding is the number of spoon villagers that have joined Sandringham Spoonville. Parents have commented how their children loved decorating their spoon and look forward to going to check each day how the Sandringham Spoonville has grown. We hope it continues to grow and bring a little bit of pleasure, creativity, and fun to our life in lockdown.
You can find out more about Spoonville at https://spoonvilleinternational.com/ and follow the growth of the movement on Facebook. Sandringham Spoonville is the first spoonville in New Zealand, but we hope it isn’t the last!
Here at SPiCE we truly believe that our community has the answer. The answer for what we want to see more of. The answer for how we want Sandringham village to look and feel. The answer to good neighbours, community connections, and celebrating diversity. The answer to what will make Sandringham an even more amazing place to live work and play.
We also believe the strengths we need to build all this can be found within our community. And we have made it our mission to advocate and promote this! Including taking over the local community notice board (which was empty due to Covid-19 and its impacts) to promote it with this great quote from Margaret Wheatley and the Berkana Institute.
Reflections from the pause
We noticed the strengthening of neighbourhood connections, and connections to our local place during the lockdown. Families cycling down Sandringham Roads normally busy with traffic. Being able to hear birds singing. Neighbours supporting each other, and people stepping up to be street coordinators. Wouldn't it be great if we could continue some of these things in our new normal? What needs to change so we can?
Let us know what you would like to see. Let us know if you have a community project and we can support you to achieve it. We are here to support you - the community. Because you have the answers.
One of the benefits of lockdown has been connecting digitally with some pretty amazing humans from NZ and all over the globe. And they are all free! Here are some of our favourites:
1. Aotearoa Town Hall
Two young councillors from Wellington have facilitated these great facebook live sessions on a Monday night from 7 pm. I've joined a couple of sessions on economics featuring Kate Raworth amongst others (UK academic, "Doughnut Economics"). Tonight's one (Monday 12 May) is on health with Siouxsie Wiles (Microbiologist and science communicator extraordinaire) and Julie Ann Genter (associate Minister for Health) on the panel. Previous week's recordings available on the FB page if you want to catch up. Or maybe see you there tonight?
2. Inspiring Communities
Inspiring Communities, a leading source of community-led development information in NZ, has led a couple of webinars expertly facilitated by Denise Bijoux. The first one looked at Insights into Community Innovation & Getting Through COVID-19 and featured guests from the world-leading Tamarack Institute in Canada. The second one focussed on NZ experts looking at Response to Recovery. They have generously made the recordings and accompanying resources available on their website:
The Inspiring Communities FB page posts regularly with some great content so follow them if you are interested in this area.
3. Jeder Institute
The Jeder Institute from Australia has been hosting free zoom catch-ups at 10 am and 10 pm NZ time every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Teach Tuesdays they share ABCD (asset-based community development) tools and models and on Think Thursdays they have inspiring community speakers from all over the world. Catch-up on previous talks on their you tube channel, or just dial in with zoom if you are free - all welcome. All the talks are very energising, positive and interactive - there seems to be a world wide desire to create a new and better normal out of Covid. Find all the details here:
What cool webinars have you discovered during lockdown? We'd love to know!