The Way We Live Now #1

The Great Sequestration continues, as the world makes drastic changes to survive the coronavirus.

Sonoma County issued its shelter in place order on March 17, and they recently extended it through May 3. The “peak” of COVID-19 cases is now expected to hit in mid-May, which means that pushing out that peak (to have time to focus on readiness) has already bought us a few weeks.

In the first few days, I realized that “shelter in place” for me was a lot like, oh, say, a Tuesday. We are not gregarious people. On my own, I’ve been known to spend an entire day, or maybe two, going no further than the yard.

And in the first week, the local parks were open and you could walk. Back then we were still petting dogs if the owners permitted it, so you could have some social interaction. After the first weekend, when people thronged the parks and did not observe social distancing, that ended and the parks were cordoned off. I still walk, but it’s not as pleasant and I don’t see many people.

Humans are inventive creatures though and we’ve found various ways to interact. Some of these have come off the internet or the news, and some are things I’ve done myself. Some I’ve heard about from friends.

Phone and Facebook:  Of course, phone contacts and checking in on Facebook reassure me that people I love are well.

Songs of Comfort: On Instagram and Twitter, #SongsofComfort offers various videos of music, ranging from professional musicians to families and kids singing for us. You can also find it on the PBS Newshour site. Yo Yo Ma took this up when he saw some musicians performing on those platforms to offer something to people who are isolated and scared.

Live-Tweeting: I lovehate Twitter. I’m not even going to put the diagonal slash in anymore. What I love about it is how quickly you can check in with someone and offer encouragement, support or a resource. And some people are using Twitter as they always did, live-tweeting series finales of TV shows or watching movies together though far apart.

Vid-conference drinks parties: This I saw on Twitter (see?). A group of writers that met once a week for beers in their local watering home used video-conferencing to check in. Each person sat in their house with their beer and they all got caught up.

I did a variation of this with the Benicia Crew – a get-together, no beers.

Drive-by Parties: We had one of these in the neighborhood last week. A teenager was having a birthday, but couldn’t have an event, of course, so people drove by and honked and waved while he stood on the porch. The parents decorated the front window. Noisy, and no cake, but still… nice.

Social-Distance Barbecue: Karen and Brian live on a cul de sac and they are very close to their neighbors. They are no strangers to hardship. Three years ago the entire housing tract burned to the foundations. All the neighbors rebuilt, and they are back in their homes. In normal times, they had impromptu and panned get-togethers. Before the rules tightened, they had a “social-distancing barbeque.” Each neighbor wheeled their grill out into the front yard, they each cooked something for themselves, and they stood on the sidewalk, well apart from each other, and caught up.

Ringing the Bell:  Another friend told me a man in her neighborhood has a bell in his yard. (No, I don’t know why.) At 6 pm every night, he rings the bell. Everyone comes out and shouts greetings to each other for a few minutes.

Bears in the Window? People are putting plushy animals in their front windows so that children out for a walk have something new to look at.

Online Write Ins: Cat Rambo is using her Patreon and her Discord to host online write-ins. Yes, it’s video of people keyboarding or writing; but it imparts that sense of community that may be missing. There are many ways to do this; if you’re already using Zoom, it’s a natural. (I’m doing a version of this with Brandy but we check in by phone first, write, and check back in by phone.)

Pot-banging/Applause:  In a neighborhood in Madrid where a lot of medical workers lived, neighbors leaned out their windows at 8PM on Thursdays and applauded. It was for the healthcare workers. In the USA, there’s a movement to do this at 7:00 pm on Fridays. Our neighborhood in not dense, and I’m not sure it would work physically, but I plan to do it on Twitter with the applause emoji. (Some areas suggested banging pots instead of just applauding.)

This would work in our neighborhood is someone recorded it and posted it, but that someone wouldn’t be me.

What are you doing to keep in touch? How are you maintaining contact with your social groups? Please share.

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2 Responses to The Way We Live Now #1

  1. Terry Connelly says:

    You give us hope when it is needed. Your ideas for connecting are excellent.

  2. Margaret Speaker Yuan says:

    People are howling like coyotes at 8. It’s to show support for health care and other essential workers. The older child was here picking up packages when it happened the other night and he said he thought it was a bit demented.

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