When Nell was trying to come up with a small kindness for her neighbors during the pandemic, her mind went to an obvious place for someone from the U.K.: tea.
"The kettle is always on in Britain," says the London expat, who prefers to divulge her first name only, for privacy reasons and the "old-timey" charm. "It's both high art and basic survival for us. It's a panacea for anything."
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, and pay homage to her great-grandfather, an infantryman at the Battle of Dunkirk, Nell launched Pix PDX. It's a simple service: For customers who live in the Ladd's Addition area, Nell—suited up in a mod-style tea dress and blasting a historically appropriate song from the 1940s from a portable speaker—will bike up to your stoop on her classic Schwinn, draw a chalk heart on your driveway and leave a single rose, a handwritten note and a Smith tea bag on your doorstep.
If the recipient could use a friendly face, she can stay for a socially distanced conversation, or she can bike away like an antique benefactress in the night—your choice. For those over age 75, the service is free. For everyone else, Nell requests a small donation to cover the cost of the items.
The goal is to offer a small window of light in the day, particularly for those who have been kept in self-isolation and find it difficult to interact with others during quarantine.
"I think we've realized that a lot of the random interactions with strangers are some of the things that we miss as much as seeing the people that we're close to," Nell says. "Just having a chat with someone at Trader Joe's is a nice thing. These are things that we can't do anymore that easily. It's these little gestures that are the key to keeping going."