Why Community Matters in Danbury: Find Out How Rachel Peet is Staying Connected and Inspired

Why Community Matters

Local creativity is overflowing in communities as moms, dads, small business owners, nonprofit leaders and volunteers are finding new ways to communicate in this new world of social isolation. Their coping strategies and ingenuity are beyond inspiring! 

We are proud to introduce you to these innovators in “Why CommunityMatters”, a series made possible by LIFEWTR.

Meet Rachel Peet, student at Western CT State University class of 2020,  Photojournalism Contract Major

With the new norm of practicing social distancing, how are you finding creative ways to connect with family and friends?

I'm always itching to dive into new and creative projects and/or ways to connect with family and friends... I would have to say that fun Zoom and Facebook video calls with friends and their pets (including all sorts of silly face effects) have been the "usual" way of connecting lately. However, my close friends and I had a “virtual” celebratory brunch for Earth Day, and my brother, sister, and I are currently looking forward to getting together on Zoom for a virtual Jackbox game night. 

I started the "Defining Danbury" project on Instagram as a positive space for residents to express themselves. Residents take fun selfies (with hats to represent the "Hat City") while sharing their positive stories and ideas about Danbury. The project concept has long been in process and was originally going to be “in person”. With the way we have connected as a community recently, this positive space can enable us to grow even more connected and provide a place where we can be our creative selves while defining Danbury. (Check out the project @definingdanbury on Instagram... it's a multilingual project too!)

Can you tell us if you or any of your colleagues are doing creative things at home to find joy and inspiration?

My friends, family, colleagues, SO MANY PEOPLE, and I are switching things up and getting innovative at home to find newfound joy and inspiration. I have quite a few friends in the art-field who are further exploring their mediums, such as playing around with double exposure photography; creating cyanotype photo prints from home; designing a new tattoo and mural designs; writing daily "Quarantine Diaries;" drawing doodle series. I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by so many imaginative and artistic friends! My boyfriend, a teacher, has started recording daily morning announcements for the students with one of his co-workers. They begin each day with things like fun facts and birthday celebrations on a recorded Zoom call between the two of them. Lastly, my boyfriend and I have gotten pretty creative together by cooking up what we call "Purritos" ("Pancake-Burritos"... yeah, they sound gross at first, but if you switch up the recipe, trust me, they're HEAVENLY), and finally trying out one of Bob Ross' painting tutorials with watercolor paints. There's really a ton of creativity you can discover within the bounds of your own living space. 

Do you know of any local businesses or nonprofits innovating to serve communities during this difficult time? How?

From what I've seen on social media, so many local businesses, especially restaurants are serving the community with full hearts to ensure that everyone can get through this together. I could honestly make a never-ending list... I truly love how small businesses, like Rumor's coffeehouse, are helping to promote other local small businesses! We are really only stronger together. One Connecticut nonprofit is serving the community in all sorts of innovative ways which I am a part of is "IRIS, Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services." They are located in New Haven and support the refugee and immigration populations here in CT. One way that I and many other student mentors have been able to support the community through IRIS is by setting up video calls with refugee students that could use any kind of schoolwork support at this time, as resources and time from teachers can be tricky. It's extremely nice that we can all still stay connected and continue learning from one another, even when in-person, youth group sessions are canceled for the time being. 

Community matters - now more than ever. We are thankful to LIFEWTR for helping us to connect and stay strong.

The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HamletHub or LIFEWTR. 

Submitted by Danbury, CT

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