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The Rainbow Connection Project: Building Community While Social Distancing

 

Building community in a COVID-19 world is tough. But Brooklynites are nothing if not creative, industrious and hard-wired for making connections.

“1. There’s a great deal of research showing that taking action in times of stress is a very effective remedy for reducing that stress. And, 2. connections with others are a mainstay of health and well-being. When parents and children take action and share that action with others, it brings together both benefits.” — Ellen Galinsky, Chief Science Officer, Bezos Family Foundation
For example, when NYC Mayor De Blasio initiated a “shelter in place” order, most New Yorkers sharply limited activities. With all cultural attractions shuttered for now, parents sent home from work and the subways reserved only for essential workers, families stayed indoors excepts for walks around their own neighborhoods.

And that’s when the rainbows began to appear: on doors, in windows, above laundromats and bodegas around Brooklyn. Taking inspiration from the children of Spain who placed art in their windows during this pandemic, kids and parents in Brooklyn pulled out the art supplies.

Want to go chasing rainbows? Anna Grotzky, a Brooklynite with a data mindset, has created a map to the rainbows. Now you, wherever you are in the world, can add your rainbows, too.

Here’s the deal in 3 easy steps!

  1. Draw, paint or make a rainbow sculpture that can by taped to or hung from your door or window. You can even use washable paint to paint rainbows directly onto glass.
  2. If you’d like, add your location for the wee rainbow chasers! Here’s the Rainbow Connection map. And anyone can add their address to the map using this spreadsheet. It’ll make your neighborhood rainbow chasing easy!
  3. To involve others in your neighborhood and community, post news about the project on community bulletin boards, in your email lists, in your church or temple bulletin, outside your favorite but now-closed restaurants, on your Free Little Libraries, and more.

Why do projects like these community-builders matter? Ellen Galinsky, chief science officer at the Bezos Family Foundation, explains: “There are two reasons, really. 1. There’s a great deal of research showing that taking action in times of stress is a very effective remedy for reducing that stress. And 2. connections with others are a mainstay of health and well-being. When parents and children take action and share that action with others, it brings together both benefits.”

Grotzky concurs: “This is a beautiful way of staying connected. Brooklyn neighborhoods are tight-knit communities with active parenting circles and lots of local community bulletin boards.  And I love that adults without children are participating, too. As of March 22, we’ve mapped 850 rainbows and there have been 32,000 views of the maps. We’re also seeing lots of participation from other cities across the country!”

Linda Shockley is a New York-based writer, and communications specialist for the Bezos Family Foundation.

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