Community in the Time of COVID19
In the midst of a pandemic, we are facing cancellations of worship services and public gatherings. Pre-pandemic, we were already plagued with isolation and division from one another.
What are ways we can cope?
One-on-ones: Could we still meet with each other? If we keep the recommended precautions in mind, wipe down surfaces, and are creative in ways of avoiding shaking hands/hugs, can’t we do this? The foundation of our organizing in Genesis and in our national affiliate, the Gamaliel Network, is doing one-on-one meetings with each other. These are intentional, face-to-face meetings where we build relationship and understand the other human so that we can create the Beloved Community. This is a “gathering” that we can preserve, possibly through meeting on a park bench or a walk in the park. Maybe an unexpected consequence of the cancellation of events is that there will be space and time to motivate us for one-on-ones.
Inclusion of those who are isolated: I just had a check-in call with Bob Planthold, one of the Genesis At-Large Caucus members and an award winning disability advocate. Bob lives with a disability that creates challenges around mobility. He mentioned that this “new reality” is not new for him; because of his health, he leaves his home just 3 times a week. He is also in the at-risk group for COVID-19 (over 60 and has a compromised immune system) and relies 100% on public transit. “Are we going to become social lepers?” he remarked to me. Later he noted that already SF Airport has reduced the #s of staff who push people in wheelchairs. “Our President has threatened to stop air flights into/ from California. A retreat from even current isolations is occurring!” What is the way we can radically include and address the needs of our elders/people with disabilities?
Use of technology: I’m writing this on a laptop, that has a camera, and using WIFI. How can we comprehensively include people who do not access platforms like Zoom and other modes of technology? This gap in access existed pre-COVID-19. Could we find ways to train up our people with patience, creativity and grace so that loneliness and division don’t fester?
One thing that we should recognize is that our adapting (physically, spiritually, financially) to the current stress and challenges is very connected to privilege. Three questions:
1. Would you like more information about the At-Large Caucus (a group of individuals who are not part of Genesis member organizations and are committed to the work)?
2. Are you available to help elders/people with disabilities who need errands or social connection? (Bob is available for an online game or chat once in awhile and lives next to Mission Delores.)
3. Would you like to participate in a “Zoom as a Practice to Connect”--a training we are providing (via Zoom--the irony!)?