Valentine's Day is coming up and as we all know, it's a holiday that often remains in the clutches of romantic love. But what if there is more?
The Pew Research Center found that 4 in 10 American adults do not feel deeply connected to where they live. It's essential to recognize that we have relationships with places — where we live, work, and play — just like our other relationships at work, at home, and in the public sphere. When we cultivate that relationship with place, we become better equipped to handle the disappointments and challenges that also come with living in any place. The more we love a place, the more we invest in it, and therefore, the greater our affection becomes, creating a life-giving cycle of benefit to ourselves and the world around us.
This is why we believe Valentine's Day should be celebrated in community. We tested this concept back in 2015, inviting people to come share why they love where they live on a 10' by 10' mural. Not only did it create a giant valentine that people were proud to contribute to together, it was also an invitation to share in a love bigger than just one person, one partner, one relationship. Why have just one valentine when you could have 100? Why not broaden the celebration from relationships with people to our collective relationship with place?
In the years since then, we've continued to practice new ways of celebrating our relationship with where we live. Sometimes it may not even be a celebration, it's simply taking one step in reconnecting to our place as we can easily get disconnected from it. French philosopher Simone Weil says, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” She continues, “A human being has roots by virtue of their real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations of the future.”
This year we invite you to try a new way of celebrating love for people & places. Give yourself and others the gift of being rooted in something beyond just romantic love. We've got a few ideas to get you started. What would you add to the list?
11 Alternative Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day in Community
1. Write love notes aka reviews for your favorite businesses. Recognize the role that restaurants, shops, services, and places to gather play in your everyday life in overall enjoyment & well-being of a community.
2. Go on a date with your city! Pick up a local guidebook at the library or do some research online to find a place you haven't visited recently that others travel to your city to see.
3. Bring post-it notes to your workplace and invite coworkers to write what they appreciate about the work they do or the place you work. Find a central place to display the collection even if it's just in the lunchroom.
4. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. Connect with neighbors you know, and invite those you don't know to join you at your table. It's much easier to love your neighbor if you know your neighbor.
5. Visit a local park and spend 10 minutes observing the people and environment. Notice what you are grateful for there, and identify any ways you might be able to improve the area for the enjoyment of others.
6. Start a conversation with those you share a home with - partner, family, or roommate about what you enjoy about where you live right now. Maybe it has a unique feature or close proximity to your daily activities. Don't forget specifics such as architectural style, floor plan, views from windows, or textures and colors.
7. Give chocolates or flowers to someone who works to protect the beauty where you live, play, or work. Example: A janitor, landscaper, sanitation service worker, window washer, or house cleaner.
8. Get involved with a cause you care about that is working to address needs in the community. Use the Giving Tuesday website to get connected to a non-profit in your area. Offer time, money, connections, or simply to share about their work to inspire others and get the word out.
9. Research the history behind the name of your street, neighborhood, city, town, or state. Is it named after a person or maybe a concept or something entirely different? Share what you learn with a friend.
10. Look up a Black-owned business in honor of Black History Month in February and support them year around. Download the Blax Friday app or search for similar directories in your area to get connected.
11. Look up your zip code on Native Land Digital to learn more about the people and groups that have shaped the place you live. History helps us better understand where we are now, but it's also important to recognize how Indigneous people are present and active in today's current world.
- Send a bit of light to someone in your life! The Amazing Human Project has created a simple way to help people feel valued and connected with others.