In a dark time when some people are feeling depressed and socially isolated, Hamilton’s 17Strong community-building effort is starting to turn a spotlight on some of the sunnier things happening in the city.
With the coronavirus crisis keeping many people inside their homes much more than usual, and distancing them from friends, the city is calling for people to share the positive things they are doing and seeing around them.
The effort is using the Twitter hashtag #SunnySideHamilton, and is telling people No act of positivity is too small to highlight.
“This started because of everything going on right now,” said Brooke Wells of Hamilton’s Department of Neighborhoods. “There’s so much uncertainty going on and it’s easy to become upset about what’s going on in the world right now.”
“So we thought 17Strong can play a really vital role in spreading what’s positive, and the positive things that are going on right now in Hamilton” she said.
One highlighted piece of positivity: In the Washington neighborhood — the area on the city’s West Side that is the northeastern-most of the neighborhoods — people have started turning on their porch lights from 8-9 p.m.
Peggy Bange, who lives in the Washington neighborhood and also works for the neighborhoods department, said the porch-light idea was posted around the time physician distancing began.
“It’s almost contagious,” Bange said. “People are putting them on. The streets are well-lit. There’s so many people out and about now, especially in the Washington neighborhood. It makes it a real friendly, safe kind of space right now.”
The idea behind turning the lights on is “just to make people aware, we’re in tough times right now, and we care about our neighbors, and if there’s anything we can do,” she said. “It’s just kind of a welcoming way to be right now.”
Bange, an engagement specialist for the neighborhoods, works with the city’s Lindenwald, Highland Park and Downtown area, as well as Washington, where she lives.
She has lived in the Washington neighborhood 20 years, and she walks it daily, “so I know quite a few of the neighbors,” she said.
She loves her suburban-feeling neighborhood’s residents and its friendly feel, with lots of dogs and bike-riding children.
“It’s got the older generation, it’s got young families that are moving back in,” she said.
Some other recent bright spots in the city have been an effort led by city resident Jeff Gambrell to put together hygiene packets for the homeless to help them stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.
The city asks if you have a Hamilton sunshine story to share, email a phto and a 1-2-sentence description to Wells at If you have a story you'd like to share, email a photo along with a 1-2 sentence description to firstname.lastname@example.org.