March 5, 2020
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How to be a community activist in your own home

With social distancing practices in place across the globe, you may have to spend more time at home. Here's a way you can use your lawn for good.

Turn your lawn into a community garden. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Amid concerns over the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, you are probably spending more time at home. Social distancing has become our new reality.

Below, we have an idea for a community project you can start on your own lawn that can also help your neighborhood become more sustainable.

Speaking of ideas, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us: Is your community doing anything unique to help keep residents informed and protected while public health leaders manage the coronavirus outbreak? Email us and we will share some of the best answers: margaret@therenewalproject.com.

The Challenge: Personal time is precious, and there’s rarely any left over to dedicate to giving back.

The Solution: Turn a personal passion into a mission for good.

Urban gardener Tim Rinne transformed his own home into a neighborhood project. After 20 years of maintaining a conventional lawn on his corner lot in Lincoln, Nebraska, Rinne dug it all up and planted an “edible landscape.” One by one, his neighbors followed suit, and now the Hawley Hamlet neighborhood garden is a model for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint while providing fresh, high-quality produce for their families and neighbors.

How do you inspire your neighbors to join in? “The best thing you can possibly do to promote the idea of gardening in your block is to show what can be done on your own property,” Rinne says. “Modeling edible landscaping in your yard will give your neighbors something to ponder—and an opportunity to ask questions. And, trust me, people will have them, because very few of us nowadays have any experience whatsoever at food-growing.”

Your new garden has an added bonus: “It turns out that there’s nothing like food to start building community,” Rinne says. “Unlike when you’re pushing around a noisy lawn mower and are pretty much unapproachable, being down on your knees planting, watering, and weeding is a magnet for conversation.”

What’s your passion project? Share with us how it’s making a difference in your community: margaret@therenewalproject.com. Your story could be featured in a future Renewal 365.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.