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5 Ways People Are Using Their Creativity to Get Through Tough Times

If there’s one good thing to come out of this pandemic, it’s a boost in creativity. 

Man wrapping tulips

Whether through photography, dance, or costumes, people across the country are finding simple yet creative channels of staying connected and sharing messages of hope and solidarity with their loved ones.

These five uplifting stories demonstrate how exploring creative outlets are helping people feel less lonely and isolated during the pandemic.

Virginia Woman Uplifts Neighbors with Daily Porch Costumes
Erin Kemble, from Clifton, Virginia, is providing daily cheer to her neighborhood by using clothes and props to dress up as different famous characters and posing on her front porch.  Her first costume kicked off early March, when she stepped onto her porch in a pig costume and a sign that read, “This little piggy stayed home.”

The 46-year-old mom of three, whose job in catering has been paused due to quarantine, came up with the idea to keep herself busy by entertaining her family and neighbors. 

“I’m not on the front lines,” Kemble told Good Morning America, “but if I can be a fool and make people laugh that’s great.”

Designer’s Flower Installations Bring Joy to NYC Streets
Floral and Event Designer, Lewis Miller, is using his talent to uplift New York City healthcare and essential workers by creating floral installations that pop out of trash cans and phone booths on random Manhattan streets. Miller came up with the idea of creating displays of blooming flowers several years ago, but amid the pandemic, he began placing the arrangements near hospitals to honor and uplift healthcare workers putting their lives on the line during the pandemic.

“With the city being so desolate and people being stuck inside, and it being a cold, dismal spring, we needed hope,” he told CNN. “Doing it for the health care workers was a no-brainer because they’re the ones that are out there doing the deed while the rest of us are sequestered inside.”

Miller and his team, Lewis Miller Designs donated $60,000, from his Flower Flash Boxes to the Greater New York Hospital Association.

Photo Project Helps Ease Patient Loneliness During Pandemic
Los Angeles-based artist and Occidental College professor, Mary Beth Heffernan, is humanizing Covid-19 care with the PPE Portrait Project, an idea she came up with while in Iberia during the Ebola outbreak, helping isolated patients feel more connected to their providers.

The project prints stickers of health care workers’ faces. These can be placed on protective suits, or over the healthcare worker’s heart, so patients can see what they look like. The goal is to form a stronger sense of connection and making healthcare work feel less dehumanized.

“The art is not the portrait itself, but is what it acts as a catalyst for, which is a change in relations between the health care worker and the patient, she told KQED of the strong impact PPE Portrait Project has on provider and patient relationships and overall health. 

Heffernan teamed up with Stanford research scientist Cati Brown-Johnson in April to bring forth the project at a Stanford coronavirus test site and has since expanded to provide portrait stickers to at least 10 other U.S. locations.

Photographers Highlight the Power of Community Through Family Portraits
As people continue to follow stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, photographers across the country are coming together to provide joy to families in quarantine by participating in The Front Steps Project. The idea is to capture families posing on their front steps, porches or even behind a window, while photographers take professional photographs, at a safe distance. 

Originated in Needham, Massachusetts, in March by photographers Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins, the project aims to help those who are most vulnerable and “highlight the faces of our community during a time when we might not see them in passing at the grocery store, coffee shop, on the train or at the gym.”

“I hope people look back at their family photo and remember this exact time in their life,” Soulia told PEOPLE. “It may not have always been easy or joyful to be at home with their family, but it is their history and I hope they look at their family picture and smile, knowing they were together.”

Families who take part are asked to make a charitable donation to coronavirus relief funds in exchange for their portraits. Soulia said the “coffee moment idea”—which has now spanned across the country with the support of hundreds of photographers—has raised over $1,500,000 for local organizations and non-profits, including pantries, hospitals and animal shelters.

6-Year-Old Has Adorable Socially Distanced Dance-Off with 81-Year-Old Grandfather
Kira Neely, 6, hasn’t been in school or seen her grandpa, Marvin Neely, whom she has a close relationship with, since early March. Although the two live across the street from each other in Nashville, Tennessee, they haven’t been able to spend quality, in-person time together. That’s when Kira came up with the idea of having socially-distanced dance-offs with her grandpa in the middle of their street.

“She was very much up for the challenge and had her game face on and my dad of course immediately embraced it,” Kira’s mom, Sherrie Neely, told Good Morning America.

In a video posted to Neely’s Facebook, the pair is seen dancing off to “ABC” by The Jackson Five. Kira kicks the dance off with some fancy footwork before Marvin joins in on the fun and the two continue dancing together. The heartwarming post has since been shared over 50,000 times.

In addition to their fun dance competitions, the inseparable pair continue to spend quality time together by kicking a ball back and forth, drawing creative pictures, and just sitting outside and sharing a conversation from a distance.

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