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Wednesday, May 20th

AP PHOTOS: How the virus changed my street -- for the better

By ELIZABETH DALZIEL Associated Press

Jo Banks drinks a shandy in her front garden decorated with bunting and a Union Jack during Victory in Europe Day celebrations in Berkhamsted, England, Friday, May 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

BERKHAMSTED, England (AP) - I've been living on my street for about 10 years, in a little market town outside London called Berkhamsted. In a very English way, I knew almost nothing about my neighbors. Everyone kept to their own business.

My street is 322 meters (352 yards) long and over a century old, with late Victorian brick fronts, all similar in architectural style. But inside each house is a unique story.

As the coronavirus lockdown tightened its grip and residents shut their front doors, a few neighbors created a Whatsapp group for the street. From there on, everything began to change.

People began introducing themselves to one another online, sharing news, asking if anyone needed extra groceries, or offering surplus toys and baked goods. The group grew to 98 members.

Kids who missed out on their birthday parties get a chorus of happy birthday songs up and down the block and balloons hanging from front windows. We've raised donations for women facing domestic abuse.

It took social distancing to bring us closer.

Kirsty, husband Dennis, Sophie, 8, and George, 6, enjoy a Carlton family favorite game of Twister in Berkhamsted, England, Friday, April 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

I'm originally from Mexico, with postings that have taken me from the Middle East to Asia and the Americas. When I arrived in Britain, I found myself in a little patch of England with its ancient buildings and Harry Potter woods that seemed no less exotic than anywhere else I'd been.

When the pandemic came along, I did what came naturally as a photographer. One by one, I've been capturing the people living around me.

Clare O'Connell, a Concert cellist and her husband Dom Shovelton, a composer, offer an impromptu concert from their front door as neighbors flocked to listen while observing social distancing on the street in Berkhamsted, London, Saturday, May, 2, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Clare O'Connell, a concert cellist at Number 51, offers impromptu concerts from her front garden. On Victory in Europe Day, May 8, Nyree O'Brien directed a community band that played the World War II-era hit "We'll meet again." The youngest member is 5.

Band members plan to play the Beatles' "Come Together" next.

"Because truly, that is what we all want to do," she said.

My town first appeared in written records in 970, and is included in the Domesday Book. It survived plagues that ravaged Britain in the 1300s and 1600s. Since my block was built, it has seen the Spanish Flu and two world wars. Long after we've gone, new residents will see things I cannot even imagine.

But for now, here's a record of my neighbors and the people I've grown to know, thanks to social distancing.

Nyree O'Brien, a music teacher and neighbor plays the flute as she directs a socially distant concert during Victory in Europe Day in Berkhamsted, England, Friday, May 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Nanette Street looks out her window as she remains home observing lockdown guidelines due to the coronavirus outbreak in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Unable to go out she has been baking and sewing scrub bags for frontline health workers at home. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Jude 5, and Zofia 4, play in their pajamas outside their door at home while their mom, Katharine, looks out from her door while on lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in Berkhamsted, England, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Katharine was furloughed and has taken advantage of the extra time her leave from work has given her. She contacted "Safer Places", a women's refuge from domestic violence and has organized donations to the organization from all the neighbors. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Cristopher Talbot-Ponsonby, a lifetime resident of Berkhamsted, England, looks out of his window during the coronavirus outbreak Thursday, April 2, 2020. Before he retired from working in the English Heritage office he photocopied some records that show the street where he lives appeared on the surveyors maps around 1908. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Chloe Kelly stands at her door dressed up and in a hard hat in Berkhamsted, England, Friday, April 3, 2020. Despite the lockdown Chloe and her sister Olivia enjoy dressing up even if they have no where to go. They are enjoying spending time at home with their parents Jenny and Rob. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Theresa and Bill Dallender enjoy an impromptu concert from their neighbor across the street, Clare O'Connell, a concert cello player and her husband Dom Shovelton, as they sit in their front garden enjoying a glass of wine in Berkhamsted, England, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Isaac Skelding stands outside his front door as the neighbor's cat looks inside his house in Berkhamsted, England, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Isaac who plays for Watford football club's under 7s, has gone from four training sessions and two matches a week to no football at all as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Ben Fox holds his youngest son Sam upside down as Joseph, 7, and Stella 9, peek from behind him, as his family stays at home due to the coronavirus outbreak in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, March 28, 2020. As the lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Ava Pendergast, 7, and Jessica Pendergast, 3, get their scooters ready for their daily mid-day exercise as the government lockdown guidelines allowed families one outing a day during the first 7 weeks of lockdown in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, April 4, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Bob and Sue Parsons look out from their window in Berkhamsted, England, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Bob and his wife Sue have lived there for 40 years. They have seen changes on the street but this is by far the strangest time they have lived through. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Ellie Davis looks out from her living room window surrounded by posters she made to thank the National Health Service in Berkhamsted, England, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Ellie who is in her last year at primary, is now homeschooling as all schools closed due to coronavirus pandemic. She hopes to get back to school before the end of the summer term to celebrate finishing primary school with her classmates. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Jessica Pendergast listens to concert cellist Clare O'Connell and her husband Dom Shovelton offer an impromptu concert from their front door in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, May 2, 2020. Neighbors flocked to listen while observing social distancing on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Louise and Will Jenkins look at Clementine curtsey as she prepares for her ballet lesson on Zoom in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, April 4, 2020. As school and clubs have stopped due to coronavirus many of the lessons for children have gone online. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Catherine and Lloyde embrace in Berkhamsted, England, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. The couple are happy to be reunited after a long month separation when Lloyde, who had been visiting Los Angeles for work, was caught up in the lockdown and unable to travel back home. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

The Bowden family, Helen, Richard William and Tom look out from their window during the lockdown as they observe social distancing due to coronavirus in Berkhamsted, England, Sunday, May 3, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Astrid 5, and Martha 3, enjoy a scoot along their home's alley and a little freedom during the Easter holidays in Berkhamsted, England, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Matt Leuw, their dad, recently recovered from the coronavirus and self isolated at home. Rachel, their mom, works as a program manager at the NHS Royal Free Hospital. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Amelie and her sister Camille watch from their front window as the lockdown enters it's third week along with their parents Victoria and Damian Kerr in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, April 4, 2020. Victoria and Damian are both working full-time from home, but are enjoying the chance the lockdown has given them to spend more time together as a family despite it's challenges. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Jenny and Rob Kelly sip wine next to their recycling bin as they enjoy an impromptu cello concert from their neighbor outside their home in Berkhamsted, England, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Meg Johnson-Jones, right, who is painting a mural to acknowledge workers in the National Health Service looks at Ivy shake her paw with her dad Mat Seymour, a fireman, at the back of their house in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, May 2, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Neighbors gather to play "We'll meet again" for a socially distant concert during Victory in Europe Day celebrations during the coronavirus outbreak in Berkhamsted, England, Friday, May 8, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on the street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Photographer Elizabeth Dalziel's family, Ben, 10, right, and Joe, 7, left, clap along with her husband Rob Hodge as people come out to cheer for the National Health Service and frontline workers in Berkhamsted, England, Thursday, April 16, 2020. As the coronavirus lockdown tightened and people shut their doors, neighbors began introducing themselves to one another online, building a community on our street. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

Bob works on his home during lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in Berkhamsted, England, Saturday, April 4, 2020. Bob Parsons and his wife Sue have lived there for 40 years. They have seen changes on the street but this is by far the strangest time they have lived through. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)