Neighbours can benefit from working together to thrive in difficult times
By helping each other, sharing our resources, and producing our own food, we can get through any crisis.
A letter to neighbours
Distribute this letter to your neighbours to start the conversations and organising necessary to build community support and self-sufficiency.
The text of the letter is below.
Information on how to get started with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, compost, keeping chickens, building strong community relationships, planning and organising, preparing for blackouts, and making the most of what we have.
Protecting our neighbourhood from intrusive policing and surveillance.
Adapt this letter to suit the needs, situation and demographics in your own neighbourhood.
In these unprecedented times, many of us in the neighbourhood are separated from our social networks, our families and our work community. We are finding that sharing support and practical help with our neighbours is becoming more important, and even essential to get us through these difficult circumstances.
Please reach out to neighbours if you are in need of assistance, or need someone to talk to, and check in on neighbours you don’t see often, to see how they are going.
As food shortages worsen, food prices rise, and many of us are struggling financially, it is becoming apparent that producing the majority of our food in our own neighbourhood may become crucial for us to get through this crisis.
We will need to work together with neighbours to make food gardens in our yards, verges and parks. This is sure to be a big lifestyle change for those of us accustomed to buying food, but as recent weeks have shown, we can adapt to change when the need arises. If you aren’t a skilled grower, work together with neighbours who are.
Working together means taking on a shared responsibility and ownership for the land in our neighbourhood. Don’t wait for permission from landlords or council, who may not be supportive. Preparing the soil and planting seeds needs to happen as soon as possible. We need to provide enough food not just for ourselves, but for those who aren’t able to grow their own, and others who are in need.
We have no way of knowing what the near future will bring, but by being prepared for likely scenarios we can have the best chance of getting through any additional crises. Some projections are for the economic crisis to get far worse, and continue for many years. Some level of lockdown or travel restriction is likely to be in place for several months. There is the possibility of extended power outages, and banking and telecommunications disruptions. We may need to get by without money altogether. These outcomes may not happen, but the benefits of being prepared far outweigh the costs.
Government benefits may not be available indefinitely, and we are already seeing many government services being shut down. We need to be able to support each other and provide for all the needs of our neighbourhood, rather than relying on outside assistance that may not last. This scenario is already unfolding in many parts of the world, and we need to be ready for when it happens here.
To get through this together requires trust, so please help build a sense of mutual trust in our neighbourhood. If you see someone who appears not to be complying with public health guidelines, be compassionate and ask how you can help them, rather than making assumptions and reporting them. Reporting undermines our community, and doesn’t help anyone. As we can no longer trust the government and economy to provide for us, we need to trust each other.
Be sure to take care of the elderly, the disabled, and struggling parents who have lost their regular visitors and support services. Learn from local elders, and migrants and indigenous people, many of whom still have the skills and culture of community self-sufficiency and co-operation. Offer your skills and talents, loan tools, share what you have, and make the most of the resources we have here in our neighbourhood.
Please share this letter with friends and family to distribute in their own neighbourhoods. A template is available at neighbourhoodtogether.wordpress.com that can be adapted. The site also has links to information to help you get started. The original letter was written by a person concerned about the impacts that the economic crisis is having on people around the world, and the lack of support coming from many governments and relief agencies. It does not come from any organisation.
As we move into a new and unpredictable future, we’ll all need to step outside our comfort zones, be prepared to adopt new ways of living, and let go of beliefs and expectations that are no longer serve us. Yes, this is a difficult and challenging time. But it is also a time to explore new possibilities, make new friends, and find a new sense of belonging and the true meaning of neighbourhood.
Include details in your letter of any existing local networks, projects, and neighbourhood support groups.
Adding a handwritten note for each neighbour can help build personal connections.