Communities Making Shelter In Place Bear-able

Communities Making Shelter In Place Bear-able

This past weekend, my neighborhood run turned into a bear hunt and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

In the April issue of the Rockridge News, contributor Theresa Nelson wrote an article about this “Bear Hunt for Kids” as a way to help make local walks more interesting during shelter in place. Well, if the bear hunts are for kids then call me a kid because I love it.

Photo Credit: Johanna Flashman

The bear hunt isn’t just a Rockridge thing either. It’s not even just a national thing. It’s all over the world. Personally, I think it’s a superb way to embrace community of all sizes during this time when we have to be physically apart.

The idea behind the bear hunt comes from Michael Rosen’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, but the actual movement includes all different stuffies. Some houses are going all-out and really getting creative with how to hide different stuffed animals. Others are quietly putting a little bear in the window. All are festive and all are welcome. For this case especially, sometimes the small hidden ones are the most fun to spot.

Photo Credit: Johanna Flashman

Even though right now isn’t exactly a “festive” time, the bears bring some cheer and comfort during this time of fear and stress. It reminds us that we are all still here and connected to one another. Plus, they’re fun to put up.

When I first learned about the movement, it felt very urgent to go through the house finding as many bears as possible so we could put them in windows. It’s like suddenly looking forward to the weekly family Zoom get together. The bears aren’t just a way to hear from your community, they’re a way to speak up and feel visible. It’s challenging to feel like you’re doing anything to help when all you have to do is stay home. It may be small, but putting a bear in the window feels more like community engagement than just staying home — even if the simple act of staying home is the biggest thing you can do to help your community.

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