Taking a cue from Cliffi’s earlier blog about hunkering down, I’m talking about the thing that is uppermost in everyone’s mind: the very strange and terrible times that are upon us now, as cities and states try to figure out a way forward with little and often shitty guidance from the federal government. This is what it looks like to have a federal government stripped for parts. No oversight, no point of coordination, no help. And in this country, where inequality is high and thousands of people are now out of work and in danger of losing their homes, we are entering an almost unprecedented era and when/if this eases up, we are going to be a very different place and a very different people.
I know you’re all aware of this. And I know we’re all trying to do what we can to keep ourselves safe and our loved ones safe and we’re trying to be responsible with regard to our communities (I hope you are, anyway).
I also know that bunches of you are still going to work and you’re working hard under new procedures to help prevent spreading this virus. Thank you, all of you who are out there doing the hard work, no matter what field. We may not tell you as much as we should, but THANK YOU.
In these divided times, people forget or don’t realize that we are all tied together through networks and systems, both natural and built, and what happens in one part has effects throughout others. We are all in this together, no matter our beliefs or views or opinions. Times like these demonstrate that pulling together works better than pushing apart, so here are some things I suggest (in no particular order) to help us find some grounding in very turbulent times.
Also, here is a video of Kotaro the Otter just because.
Now let’s do this.
1. Check on your neighbors. If you’re fortunate enough to be homebound and you have a steady job that allows you to work from home and you’ve got resources, check in on your neighbors/others who may need some help. If someone can’t get to the grocery store, maybe you can make a trip for that person or maybe you have extra of whatever they might need. Make sure to exchange phone numbers with neighbors so you can all stay in touch. And if you have NextDoor in your neighborhood, use it to stay in touch and to offer resources to others in the area. Like a trade kind of system.
2. Make a list of community information phone numbers and websites/social media pages. Put that list on the fridge or bulletin board or somewhere everybody in your household can find it. Also, bookmark the websites on your devices. Email the list to your neighbors and others in your networks who live in the same area. Do the same with info about public health offices, your doctors, and what your community guidelines are should you get sick. Having this info ready to go saves time, especially if an emergency comes up.
3. If you have college students in your life, check in with them and find out what they might need. There are students whose parents have lost their jobs and may lose their homes. That’s something that isn’t being talked about, is the terrible straits that many college students are facing. Maybe you can help find resources for them.
4. Our furry friends. If you become sick during this era of social distancing but your pets require veterinary care, call your vet or the emergency veterinary clinic and explain the situation and they may be able to accommodate you by coming to the car to get your pet or perhaps do a telemedicine situation. It might not be a bad idea to call your vet now, when you’re not sick, to find out what protocols they’ve implemented.
5. Check in with people in your networks who deal with mental illness. This is a very stressful time for people who don’t have to deal with that, too, so imagine the kind of stress that people who are managing mental illness are dealing with. From people in my circles, those who deal with mental illness or anxiety or any number of things like that, their daily routines are very important to help them stay grounded. So check in and see if you can help become part of their daily routine through a phone call at the same time(s) every day or Facetime or whatever app you use for face-to-face chat.
6. If you can, help someone pay their phone bill. (Like a college student.) Phones are really lifelines, now, and there are many people out there who are out of work or have lost jobs and need their phones. Maybe see if you can get them on your plan for a while or help find them cheaper plans.
7. Support your local restaurants/bars. If you can. Buy gift certificates from the establishment, which helps keep money coming in. Some in the industry are banding together as best they can and helping out. Find out how.
8. Food banks. Find out what they’re doing in your community and what kind of resources they can offer (put that on your resource list) and how to access. And find out what they might need, if you’re in a position to help out.
9. Are the kids all right? Check in with your kids. And the neighbor’s kids. Any kids you know in your networks. If you’re all homebound together and have the luxury to work/do school from home and you’ve got resources and jobs that are still paying, make it a point to set up a daily family check-in. Choose a time and a place and make it a device-free session. A 20-minute check-in. Or, better yet, do a check-in over a meal. Make sure you keep this device free because it’s important to reconnect with each other without the barrier of a device. Check in with your tweens and teens in the same way. Involve everybody in routines and tasks and chores. Make sure everybody knows how to cook and clean. Even the basics helps. Wash your hands (a lot), disinfect surfaces (a lot), clean bathrooms, kitchens, and shared areas. Family time was never so productive! You could even do a daily family clean-up!
10. Be creative. These are unprecedented times. We all have to step up and figure out ways to do things that we might never have had to think about before. Brainstorm with your neighbors (over your devices or the back fence or through your windows or with megaphones on your porches — whatever works. And come up with community activities that you can do online. Hold meetings via Skype or some other platform to figure out ways to help each other and those hit hardest. Bring your kids into the process. Everybody helps, and that also helps build community.
Bonus thing to do: stay informed by reputable sources and call your lawmakers to tell them exactly what’s going on. If you’re homebound, call more than once a day. Especially if they’re assclowns.
The point is, we’re all in this together. Let’s do what we can.