“The Five O’Clock Wave” is rippling through communities around Silicon Valley. Come 5 p.m. daily or weekends, residents put on a mask, grab a drink of choice and wander out into their driveways or onto the street to wave at and greet their neighbors from a safe social distance.
In communities such as Las Palmas neighborhood of 50 homes in Sunnyvale, they’ve been waving since March and still haven’t run out of conversation. On the rare rainy day, they come out with umbrellas rather than miss the chance to check in with neighbors.
They hang out in small groups, standing, strolling or sitting in well-spaced lawn chairs. They share about how they’re doing, the kids, home schooling, daily news. They look for ways to help out one another.
People leave out oranges. They bring meals to a less mobile neighbor living alone. They walk each other’s dogs.
Kay Narva and her next door neighbor, a retired seamstress, made washable, cotton masks for anyone interested.
“We’re not going anywhere, but we can connect with neighbors,” said Narva. “It gives me so much peace to know that I live surrounded by people that are very caring and connected. I have appreciation for my neighbors.”
“Everybody wants to chime in with something. It’s amazing,” said Alice Freund, who launched the Five O’Clock Wave after reading about it online on Nextdoor. “People get inspired by one another and it grows, generosity grows.”
Creativity also grows. Freund, a portrait artist, sets up her easel in her driveway and draws pastel chalk “Portraits in the Time of COVID-19” of one neighbor at a time.
“I’m continually inspired by how I see people relating to one another in a supportive way,” said Freund, who first organized her neighbors about 30 years ago for block parties and later for participation in SNAP (Sunnyvale Neighbors Actively Prepare for emergencies).
“The Five O’Clock Wave is a chance to ensure that everyone is safe. A chance for people to feel connected,” said Freund. “We’re aware of our neighbors, and we care.”