Neha Shrivastava, our Community Manager at Life Republic in Pune, India, shares a variety of ways citizens can go about creating meaningful and lasting connections with their neighbours, helping to create a safe, connected, and fulfilling community.

As a young child, I hardly ever felt the need to watch TV or play video games, and my parents rarely worried about my safety out in the community – there was always a Dadi, Aunty, or Nani watching over the kids. The feeling of safety and happiness I gained as a result was strong. I felt safe, connected, and happy.

In recent days, we are all spending less time outside connecting with others, and more time inside looking at screens and it’s no secret that this can lead to feelings of anxiety or fear. For this reason, I’d like to share some simple and meaningful ways to create lasting connections and help overcome any negative feelings that may arise during this time.

1. Leverage the Planet App

The great thing about the Planet App is that it’s the ideal tool for figuring out which of your neighbours might like to collaborate with you in some way. For example, you could co-create solutions to increase community safety, establish linkages with local vendors, plan get-togethers, host performance clubs, or deliver a workshop on a skill you’ve mastered.

2. Form groups with similar interests

Create a community group so that all like-minded people can join and collaborate with each other. Sharing ideas and collaborating with others in your township can be a great way to feel a sense of connectedness and cooperation within the society. You might like to exchange books, recipes, or discuss specific topics. You could even create a Library of Things, where community members can loan out useful everyday items like ladders, hammers and power drills, to other residents.

3. Host meetings to touch-base

Meetings are an essential part of any collaborative relationship – and they are the glue holding any community group together. Create a schedule of regular meetings where members of your community have the opportunity to talk with each other, share ideas, brainstorm or even just to get to know one another! Supplementing these meetings with social media Q&A sessions can make discussions even more fruitful. You might consider taking meetings notes and sharing them through Planet App notifications.

4. Run workshops to upskill different age-groups, genders, and professionals

Organising a free course with a qualified instructor open to everyone who’s interested can be a great way to increase other people’s confidence in a particular domain. Invite anyone who may be interested, and be sure to speak to your attendees for feedback you can use to make future sessions even better. You might also like to ask those who expressed interest but didn’t attend what their reasons were perhaps there is a solution that can be found? For example, if some women in your community prefer a women-focused session and decided not to attend for that reason, gender-specific mini-courses could be arranged to meet this need.

5. Co-create and reclaim spaces

Are there any vacant lots, abandoned spaces, or areas that could be enhanced by and for the community? Create a community event to co-create and revitalise a public space alongside other residents. For example, if there is a green area with a large tree, perhaps it could benefit from having a swing installed? Small touches like this can transform underused spaces into areas that are cherished by everyone.

6. Community children’s activities

Inspiring children to explore different fields is an effective way to help them (and you!) understand where their interests lie. You could mentor them on subjects they are interested in, or perhaps find retired professionals, keen mothers or engaging fathers to run the activity. Events can be held on an ongoing basis, allowing children to get to know others and develop meaningful friendships close to home.

Neha Shrivastava
Community Manager, India