Muncie Neighborhood Associations Get Creative During COVID-19 Pandemic

Stuffed animals appear in the window of the home of Debbie Lyon. Photo by: Mike RhodesStuffed animals appear in the window of the home of Debbie Lyon. Photo by: Mike Rhodes

By: Heather Williams & Megan Orbin, Muncie Action Plan—

Muncie, IN—Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb enacted a “stay at home” order on March 25th, 2020 and that presented neighborhood associations with difficult questions. While most monthly meetings for March had already been cancelled or postponed due to social distancing concerns, how can associations help their residents if physical meetings cannot happen? What is the best way to keep spirits high without gathering?

Facebook and NextDoor have become information hubs and leading digital communication tools for neighborhood residents to connect, share ideas, and reach out for help. The Minnetrista neighborhood used their Facebook to share helpful tips for coping with COVID-19 and have created an email chain to spread resident stories of hope. Gilbert has joined forces with Muncie Technology and Engineering Network to share daily activities via Facebook to keep children engaged and entertained.

One of the most important activities Neighborhood Associations have begun doing is setting up and supporting food pantries. Whitely Community Council has taken action against food insecurity, sharing updated information on where food is available and organizing their own food distribution at churches within the neighborhood. Muncie Southside Neighborhood Association is supporting a weekly drive-up food giveaway at the Heritage Apostolic Tabernacle Church on South Walnut St..

In order to stay socially connected during this time of physical distancing, neighborhoods with large populations of families with children, such as Halteman Village, Country Village/Creekwood, Kenmore, Anthony-Northside, and Mayfield, have organized “bear hunts” by asking residents to put stuffed animals in their windows for children to search for. Halteman has grown their hunt to include fairy houses set out by the street for walkers to enjoy discovering. Other activities include “Chalk the Walks” in the Gilbert and Carlton Heights neighborhoods and South Central’s traveling “Party Possum” sign, which is a fun way to let residents know that they are “seen.” South Central also utilized funding set aside for food for their monthly neighborhood meetings to purchase pizzas for a Friday afternoon drop off and residents connected via Facebook to share dinner “together”.

Muncie’s residents are resilient – they will find creative ways to connect while remaining physically apart. Our creativity speaks to our shared bond. We are all in this together and together we will continue to build community and improve our neighborhoods.

We commend your efforts, big and small.