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Neighborhood window art keep Minot-area spirits up

Neighborhood window art keep spirits up

Submitted Photo Katelyn, 2, holds hearts she made for long-term care and assisted-living residents in Rugby after her mother, Jessica Kongslie, discovered the #aworldofhearts project on Facebook.

Despite social distancing, area residents are finding creative ways to communicate their encouragement to friends and neighbors from behind their windows and doors.

Two different window art projects are gaining followers in the Minot area.

The Neighborhood Window Walk took shape after Kelly Heilman suggested on her Minot neighborhood Facebook page that people make rainbows to display in their windows. She had seen a similar project being promoted elsewhere on social media and thought it would be a good activity for children who couldn’t be in their classrooms or with friends due to coronavirus precautions. The children could walk their neighborhoods and connect with friends through their artwork.

Heilman was surprised at how the idea took off. Her family counted 130 rainbows in her neighborhood last weekend.

“Especially during this time, it was kind of a bright moment in our day.” Heilman said. “Hopefully, this will be a great experience for the kids and give them a few moments of positivity.”

Submitted Photo Signs with rainbows and rainbow colors fill a window at a Minot Taco Johns restaurant. Taco Johns has been participating in the local Neighborhood Window Walk project to encourage the community during this time of social distancing.

One neighbor, Shannon Routledge, shared her family’s rainbow display on her Facebook page, and her friend in Minneapolis responded with information about a project in her neighborhood in which different art is displayed over a period of weeks.

Routledge suggested the idea to Heilman, and they created a list of art activities through April 7. Another neighbor, Anna Skarphol, created a graphic that first posted on Facebook last Friday.

“It’s a fun activity to do as a family,” Routledge said. “You kind of have some solidarity that we are all in this together and try to make something happy out of it.”

Skarphol’s family counted 87 rainbows over the weekend.

“It just took off. It seems like everybody was wanting to do it and be a part of it,” she said. Skarphol said she also posted her graphic on Instagram, where friends from out of state saw it and now are spreading it within their communities.

Megan Grundstrom, vice president at Preferred Restaurant Group in Minot, saw Skarphol’s graphic being shared on school Facebook pages and thought the company’s Taco John’s and Slim Chickens restaurants should get involved.

“There’s so much negative news out there and this was a way for our employees to take a mental break from it all even if only for a handful of minutes and get creative. Our employees are having so much fun with it! It’s also a great way to engage kids in the community in looking for the joy across town! In our neighborhood, we have had fun walking around looking for art in windows,” Grundstrom wrote in an email. “I hope others catch on and we see more art around town! We need it these days.”

Houses and businesses were decorated with smiley faces on Monday. On Thursday, the theme switched to animals. Upcoming art activities are: March 29, encouraging words; April 1, sidewalk chalk jokes; April 4, sun or stars; and April 7, Easter eggs.

“I love that multiple neighborhoods, schools and businesses are participating,” Skarphol said. “It’s so uplifting and fun during this crazy time of isolation. Seeing them in the windows reminds us that we are all in this together and collectively we can make the world brighter.”

Mandy Gill of Bismarck started #aworldofhearts to get people to put hearts in their windows and walk their neighborhoods to look for their neighbors’ hearts. As of Tuesday, the Facebook group had more than 192,000 members.

Among them is Nicki Wikstrom of Minot, who heard about the group from a Facebook friend. She helped her 3-year-old daughter make some for their door Sunday.

“I hope the mailman likes our hearts,” her daughter told her.

Jessica Kongslie of Towner also learned about #aworldofhearts after a friend invited her to join the Facebook page.

“We’ve been spending some time in the mornings to send pictures or notes to those people who we aren’t able to see right now due to social distancing recommendations. When I saw the FB group, I knew it didn’t really pertain to us since we live in a rural location quite far from a road so no one sees our windows. I asked my kids if they would rather send our hearts to the nursing home and explained to them what ‘nursing home’ meant. They were eager to do it and they ‘hoped it made the grandpas and grandmas smile and be happy,'” Kongslie responded regarding her involvement.

The family hung a wooden heart on their garage door and a couple of hearts on their kitchen window but sent most of their hearts to Heart of America long term-care residents and Haaland Estates residents, both in Rugby.

Chelsey Monroe, administrative assistant at Haaland Estates, said residents in the basic care and assisted living facility have been making hearts to put up around the building. They also have enjoyed receiving artwork from community members because outside visits have been off limits due to the coronavirus.

“Any type of mail they have gotten like that or pictures or drawings, they just light up. They love it,” she said. “They love it on a regular basis, but since they haven’t even been able to visit with anybody, it just means so much to them.”

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