Socially Distanced Movements Going On in Your Neighborhood

Take a walk in your neighborhood and you might go on a Bear Hunt, admire public artwork, spot lots of hearts or observe the Front Steps Project.
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Bears spotted along a road. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

As the world struggles to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken over our lives, many of us have found simple respite in staying home, taking walks, going for drives or even hanging out on the front steps outside. Maintaining social distance (staying six to ten feet away from anyone else, wearing a face mask or other covering etc.) is key to preventing the further spread of the virus, but if precautions are taken, a walk in your neighborhood is a lovely way to safely spend some time out of the house. As a result of this increase in “walk culture,” many people around the world have found little ways to bring a bit of beauty or levity to those passing by, and you can too!

Bear Hunts

This delightful movement started in response to children being cooped up all day. To provide some entertainment, people are placing stuffed teddy bears in their windows so that children (or adults!) out on walks can participate in a “bear hunt” to find bears hiding in windows. The trend started in New Zealand, but has spread globally, and Rhode Island has not been left out of the party — bears have been spotted in Bristol, Pawtucket, Warwick, Pascoag and many more cities! This is a great thing to organize with members of your community or neighborhood while staying safely distanced from each other. You can see where bears are hidden or post pictures of ones you’ve found or placed yourself on multiple Facebook groups including this one, specific to Rhode Island:

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Bears in a storefront window in downtown Warren.


The Avenue Concept #MakeYourArtPublic Campaign

Looking for ways to bring beauty to the mundane, the Avenue Concept, Rhode Island’s beloved public arts organization, is stepping up in this age of isolation. Along with the public street art tours announced a few weeks ago, the Avenue Concept is reaching out to us regular people to display beauty outside of our own homes. They are asking people to put their own, homemade artwork up in their windows to “enliven and engage passerby and to demonstrate to our community that even in a time of anxiety and worry, we can all still be makers, inventors and artists.” They don’t care if you are a professional artist, someone who likes to doodle in their spare time or someone who hasn’t made something that could conceivably be called art since kindergarten. The Avenue Concept wants to see art that you are making, no matter what it is. They encourage you to post photos of your art on social media with the hashtag #makeyourartpublic and to tag them (@TheAvenueConcept on Facebook, @avenuepvd on Instagram and Twitter) so they can continue to share it with others. 

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The #MakeYourArtPublic campaign by the Avenue Concept asks people to post their artwork in windows for everyone to see. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

#MakeYourArtPublic with the Avenue Concept. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

Heart Projects

You’ve heard it before: doctors, nurses, medical workers, grocery and drugstore workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we are all incredibly grateful for their sacrifice and strength. To honor them, people have started hanging hearts in their windows, on doors and along roadways to show support. To participate, simply sit down with the things you have in your house, whether that be paint, crayons, construction paper or leftover holiday decorations, and make hearts in honor of those on the frontlines. Hang a heart on your front door or in your windows and spread the word! Not only will you get to make something beautiful, but you will also get to show your gratitude for those risking their health and safety for the rest of us.


A blue wreath heart to show support for frontline workers. Photo by Ingrid Lavoie.


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Red hearts line a road in Bristol. Photo by Jamie Coelho.


Front Steps Project

Lastly, local photographers in (and beyond!) Rhode Island are participating in what has been dubbed the “Front Steps Project,” amongst other names. Photographers across our little state are venturing out (with the proper protective gear and distance) to photograph people sitting on their front steps or peeking out of windows from a safe distance away. This project not only provides work for stuck-at-home photographers, it also raises money for charitable causes and gives you a chance to get some professional photos taken. Some local examples you can reach out to to join the project are, and Devine Reith created her own version of the Front Steps Project to help other local businesses as well. “For the package, I included the session, editing, and one image for the families as long as they purchased a gift certificate to a small business of their choice,” Reith says. “I gave them an option to purchase more images for a discounted price to support my business.”

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Mary Larsen and family participate in the Front Steps Project. Photo by Devine Reith Photography.


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