From the desk of Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller
As the warm sun shines and nature flourishes, summer presents a unique opportunity to engage in activities that foster community connectivity. With longer days and plenty of local outdoor options, this season encourages us to come together, fellowship, and strengthen our bonds as neighbors.
Whether you’re part of a close-knit neighborhood or looking to build connections in a new community, participating in summer activities can create a sense of belonging and a strong foundation of shared experiences.
Let’s dive into the many ways we can embrace summer and its potential for building community connectivity.
Outdoor Festivals and Events: Summer is synonymous with festivals and events that celebrate music, art, culture, and more. These gatherings provide an ideal platform for meeting people with similar interests and nurturing a sense of belonging. Be sure to check out events in Uptown Martinsville, at Piedmont Arts, the next Bassett Cruise-In on July 15, and don’t forget about Smith River Fest!
- Community Gardening: Summer is the perfect time to get your hands dirty and participate in community gardening projects. Community gardens bring people together through collaboration and opportunities to learn from experienced gardeners. Tending to plants, nurturing green spaces, and sharing gardening knowledge promote a sense of collective ownership and pride. You’ll find yourself exchanging tips, sharing surplus produce, and building relationships beyond the garden’s boundaries. (Want to create your own? Consider applying for a Project Hope grant!)
- Outdoor Sports and Recreation: From friendly soccer matches to group hikes, summer offers endless opportunities for outdoor sports and recreational activities that build camaraderie and community spirit. Engaging in shared physical challenges helps break down barriers, fosters teamwork, and strengthens personal connections. MHC offers plenty of places to be physically active — try floating down the Smith River, enjoying Philpott Dam, or walking and/or biking the Dick and Willie trail. Several community centers and the YMCA also offer places to connect and be active.
- Volunteer Initiatives: Summertime is an excellent opportunity to participate in volunteer initiatives that address community needs. Whether it’s organizing a river or trail cleanup, supporting local charities, or assisting at community events, volunteering contributes to the betterment of your surroundings and allows you to connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for making a positive impact. These shared experiences and collective efforts create a powerful sense of community, bonding people together through their shared commitment to a common cause. (Want to organize a volunteer initiative? Consider applying for a Project Hope grant!)
- Block Parties and Neighborhood Gatherings: Organizing block parties or neighborhood gatherings is a fantastic way to cultivate community connectivity. These informal events encourage neighbors to come together, share stories, and forge lasting relationships. Organizing a barbecue, a potluck dinner, or a street fair, create opportunities for meaningful interactions, strengthen trust among neighbors, and foster a sense of belonging. They can also serve as platforms to discuss community issues, exchange ideas, and collaborate on initiatives that benefit everyone. (Want to plan a neighborhood gathering? Consider applying for a Project Hope grant!)
Summer is a season of warmth, vibrancy, and togetherness, and it offers countless avenues to build community connectivity. By actively engaging in summer activities like the ones I mentioned above, we can forge meaningful connections, nurture a sense of belonging, and create a strong and tightly-knit community. So, let’s seize the opportunities summer presents, embrace the spirit of togetherness, and work towards building a connected and supportive community that thrives all year round.