This past weekend, G.R.E.A.T.’s Steering Committee got together over a video call and talked about what this time means for us and for the group that we’re part of. We want to share some hopeful thoughts (and just a few fears) with you and we invite you to look out for your neighbors and think creatively with us. We’re in a time of transition and will make it through this.
The public response to coronavirus is in many ways equalizing the work we do. A lot of people, regardless of what they do are out of work, everyone knows someone who’s experiencing this. We recognize the failure of the economy to withstand crisis moments like these. In the absence of income, we can look toward alternatives to using money. How can we meet our needs without an exchange of money? Last Summer, G.R.E.A.T. started a time bank, which is both a tool and a community for giving and receiving skills, talents, and favors-- anything that can be measured with time. Time is the currency, not money.
For many of us (although not grocery store workers, health care workers, and others in the “essential” businesses) we have a new abundance of “downtime.” This can be an opportunity for restructuring our values, looking at the systems we operate in, questioning how we got here. What’s not working about our health system, our education system, and so forth. It can be an opportunity for reconnecting or making a new connection, or starting a small project to better set ourselves up for food/education/health security.
There’s a spirit in Germantown of wanting to pull together. What do people on your block need? Can we grow our culture of care? We encourage you to share stories of what you’re doing or what you see others doing to help care for one another-- post it to Facebook, send it to Germantown Info Hub, or G-Town Radio, call a friend, or tell your neighbor when you see them on the porch.
We encourage self-organizing, but also, if you want some support, please consider us a resource. Some suggested ways of offering care and preparing for the future:
Offer deliveries and errand-runs for your neighbors
Build garden beds, cold-frames
Organize a shopping system for your block. Take turns going grocery shopping for each other so there are less total trips to the store.
Some of what we're doing:
We talked a lot about food the other day… We will lean on members of our time bank to share info about what kind of whole foods do well in storage, and how to cook them.
We will share info about growing food and building gardens, as a means for a more sustainable food practice that can withstand moments like this.
To meet immediate food needs, we will help to connect people in the time bank to do simple things for one another like grocery runs. (please join if you need that, or if this interests you)
A few of us are interested in creating a mutual aid fund, where members of a community pitch in money that can be given out to others with a strong need for it. All details remain to be determined. Please get in touch if you’re interested in helping organize this. Here’s one example in Portland.
We’re hosting a Community connectors online video meeting on April 1st. It’s our monthly meeting but we’re opening it up given the increased need for community support right now, so that collectively we can identify some simple solutions to try.
For the sake of being real with you, we definitely have some fears too about the impacts of all this: What could this distance do to our relationships, our mental well-being? How would we handle Martial Law and a taking of our civil liberties? Do we need a form of communication that doesn’t rely on internet and cell towers? Are our Zoom calls being recorded? And.. that we may lose neighbors, relatives or friends to this illness.
We’re taking lots of walks, enjoying the sun when it’s out, and encourage you to do the same.
There are likely to be other crises like this in our lifetimes, so let’s use the experience to build more resiliency. Howard likes to say, “we’re out of time but we have all the time in the world.”
This message is from… Marie-Monique Marthol, Howard Bailey, Lindsay Stolkey, Laura Smith, and Cathy Brown, members of G.R.E.A.T.’s Steering Committee