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Photo: Camilla Forte.
Nikkie Bauer sticks social distancing reminders for spectators onto the window of Chicago’s Reckless Records, where she performs her window play.

This story reminds me of being a kid. I had a passion for theater and many impractical ambitions. For instance, I was certain that if I put together a production of “Snow White and Rose Red” from the Brothers Grimm, my friends and I would be welcomed to perform it before a movie at the Lafayette Theatre. The grownups laughed.

In today’s article, frustrated theater people who persevered made surprising things happen.

Camilla Forte writes at American Theatre, “When the pandemic shut down live theatre in March of 2020, the ensemble members behind Chicago’s Stop Motion Plant were in the middle of producing a performance commissioned by Theatre Evolve. With the stages shut down and their play canceled, they found themselves having to pivot.

“As the world adapted to a new reality, the group began meeting virtually to discuss the possibility of producing and performing live theatre in a way that would keep both the performers and the audience safe. Eventually, inspired by Macy’s dioramas [and] Chicago performers who put on ‘porch concerts’ throughout the summer, the concept for Window Plays was born.

“Presented as a ‘walking tour with theatrical displays,’ and running Feb. 19-21, the performance was not a traditional narrative play, but rather a collection of six short individual vignettes performed within the storefronts of six separate businesses in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

In order to secure each storefront venue, members of Stop Motion Plant went door to door to explain the concept to shop owners.

“After receiving what they described as overwhelming support, the group landed on performing out of the Neo-Futurist Theater, Rattleback Records, Enjoy, Women and Children First, *Play, and Raygun.

“Each two- to five-minute play was acted out on a loop for an hour in its storefront window, allowing audience members to cycle between performances in a way that encouraged social distancing while making the experience accessible to a fairly large number of people. …

“Ensemble member Kevin Michael Wesson … drew on his puppetry background when determining the music and scale for his window play, Badvice. During his two-minute performance, Wesson asked audience members increasingly personal questions through the phone while pressing his hand against theirs through a pane of glass sanitized after every act. After the interaction concluded, he bestowed attendees with an envelope with three pieces of advice —two good and one bad — as a parting gift. …

“[Perry] Hunt placed a cardboard cutout of herself herself behind a screen and illuminated the cutout from behind. She then Facetimed her audience, convincing them the person they were speaking to on the phone was the person whose silhouette they could see in the window, only to reveal she was never actually there. …

“Although the performances were a revival of live theatre, the actors still had to grapple with the challenges of a virtual format throughout the six months it took them to put together the piece. …

“Despite the challenges this format presented, some ensemble members found the innovations born from working around these challenges refreshing. Hunt, for instance, found that working within a more limited format allowed her the freedom to think about theatre in more abstract ways, with this experience being something that will influence her work beyond the pandemic.

“ ‘I think it’s given me permission and space to think about more innovative ways that I can produce art,’ Hunt said. ‘This project has pushed me to be challenged and make challenging things.’ “

More at American Theatre, here.

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Photo: University of Canterbury.
Maoris teach that we’re all in the same canoe, an understanding that enough New Zealanders have absorbed to make Covid restrictions successful there.

I don’t know much about the Maoris of New Zealand (does the Disney movie Moana count?), but having seen how successful New Zealand and its prime minister have been in dealing with Covid, I’m not surprised to learn that the high level of cooperation among the populace relates to absorption of Maori values.

In an opinion piece at the Washington Post, Matthew Milner and Richard Ngata explain.

“Life in New Zealand is almost back to normal. While the United States has seen more than half a million deaths from covid-19 — with a death rate of more than 160 per 100,000 of population — New Zealand has lost only 26 people at a rate of 0.53 per 100,000.

“Two months ago, one of us, Richard, went to a New Year’s festival with more than 12,000 fellow revelers — something barely imaginable in the United States, where most concerts are online-only. Meanwhile, teachers, including Matthew’s parents, have been instructing in person since May [2020] without requiring masks or social distancing measures.

“Why has New Zealand fared so much better? Many people argue that these differences stem from New Zealand’s geographic advantages, and there is no doubt that being an island nation has helped. But … there is a deeper reason: Manaakitanga.

“While New Zealand hasn’t always been great at recognizing or celebrating our indigenous Māori culture, campaigning by Māori advocates has helped to ensure that Māori culture is now well-incorporated into society.

Manaakitanga is one of many customs of the Māori people that are now taught in New Zealand schools. It holds that others have importance equal to, and even greater than, one’s own.

“Manaakitanga is about understanding the power of the collective. It derives from the Māori term ‘mana,’ which is the spiritual life force and energy that every living thing possesses. When you honor the mana of others, your own mana will increase through the respect you have earned. When you acknowledge these connections, you understand that your freedom as an individual is only as strong as your place in the community.

“This community approach underpins many aspects of life in New Zealand. We provide health care to anyone who needs it. Our gun safety laws focus on keeping the community safe. And manaakitanga is one of four key values the Teachers Council for New Zealand wants teachers to focus on in the classroom.

“But never has the importance of manaakitanga to our society been more evident than at the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Last March, when New Zealand went into full lockdown, people were not permitted to see others outside their ‘bubble’ (such as a household); only one person from each bubble could leave at any given time, and not travel farther than five miles from the house.

“This strict lockdown lasted six long weeks, and while there was political pushback, the ‘team of 5 million,’ as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls New Zealanders, stayed home and stamped out the virus.

New Zealanders were willing to give up many of their individual freedoms and face personal hardship for the benefit of the community. …

“Still, people found ways to connect and support each other. The lesson of the coronavirus is that an individual approach is not sufficient and that it takes a team for us all to gain true freedom. The Māori proverb ‘He waka eke noa’ expresses these sentiments clearly: We are all in this canoe together. …

“While [the US president] was playing down the virus, Ardern was running daily broadcasts alongside the nation’s director-general of health to clearly communicate the latest updates and restrictions. The central message: ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe, Be Kind.’ ” More at the Washington Post, here.

If you want to dig deeper, check out research by Diane Ruwhiu and Graham Elkin at the Leadership journal on the “converging pathways of contemporary leadership,” here. The authors describe “two emerging domains in leadership – servant leadership and Indigenous Māori leadership. Both not only have strong resonance with each other,” they say, “but also reflect a common concern with individual and collective morality that draws us to the significance of human relationships.”

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Photo: ENO via CNN.
Australian soprano Alexandra Oomens singing for a English National Opera (ENO)
program that works on singing, breathing and well-being for recovering coronavirus patients.

Who has a story that could happen only in a pandemic? Today I have one silly one that involves me and one serious one that involves opera singers helping Covid patients.

Silly story first. Because I haven’t been going to stores since the pandemic started, I haven’t collected any five-dollar bills to give as tips to delivery people. So I write $5 checks to “cash.” Well. Twice now, a woman I have never met in a nearby town has rescued a muddied check I wrote from her driveway and mailed it back to me. We must have the same milkman, one who is careless with his tips. Meanwhile, I’m gaining a penpal!

Andrew Dickson writes at the New York Times, “On a recent afternoon, the singing coach Suzi Zumpe was running through a warm-up with a student. First, she straightened her spine and broadened her chest, and embarked on a series of breath exercises, expelling short, sharp bursts of air. Then she brought her voice into action, producing a resonant hum that started high in a near-squeal, before sinking low and cycling up again. Finally, she stuck her tongue out, as if in disgust: a workout for the facial muscles.

“The student, Wayne Cameron, repeated everything point by point. … Though the class was being conducted via Zoom, it resembled those Zumpe usually leads at the Royal Academy of Music, or Garsington Opera, where she trains young singers.

“But Cameron, 56, isn’t a singer; he manages warehouse logistics for an office supplies company. The session had been prescribed by doctors as part of his recovery plan after a pummeling experience with Covid-19 last March.

Called E.N.O. Breathe and developed by the English National Opera in collaboration with a London hospital, the six-week program offers patients customized vocal lessons: clinically proven recovery exercises, but reworked by professional singing tutors and delivered online.

“While few cultural organizations have escaped the fallout of the pandemic, opera companies been hit especially hard. … The English National Opera, one of Britain’s two leading companies, has been trying to redirect its energies. …

“In a video interview, Jenny Mollica, who runs the English National Opera’s outreach work, explained that the idea had developed last summer, when ‘long Covid’ cases started emerging: people who have recovered from the acute phase of the disease, but still suffer effects including chest pain, fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness.

” ‘Opera is rooted in breath,’ Mollica said. ‘That’s our expertise. I thought, “Maybe E.N.O. has something to offer.” ‘

“Tentatively, she contacted Dr. Sarah Elkin, a respiratory specialist at one of the country’s biggest public hospital networks, Imperial College N.H.S. Trust. It turned out that Elkin and her team had been racking their brains, too, about how to treat these patients long-term. …

“Twelve patients were initially recruited. After a one-on-one consultation with a vocal specialist to discuss their experience of Covid-19, they took part in weekly group sessions, conducted online. Zumpe started with basics such as posture and breath control before guiding participants through short bursts of humming and singing, trying them out in the class and encouraging them to practice at home.

“The aim was to encourage them to make the most of their lung capacity, which the illness had damaged, in some cases, but also to teach them to breathe calmly and handle anxiety — an issue for many people working through long Covid.

“When Cameron was asked if he wanted to join, he was bemused, he said: ‘I thought, “Am I going to be the next Pavarotti?” ‘

“But Covid-19 had left him feeling battered.. … ‘Everything I did, I was struggling for air,’ he said.

“He added that even a few simple breathing exercises had quickly made a huge difference. ‘The program really does help,’ he said. ‘Physically, mentally, in terms of anxiety.’ Almost as important, he added, was being able to share a virtual space and swap stories with other sufferers. ‘I felt connected,’ he said. …

“And how was Cameron’s singing now? He laughed. ‘I’m more in tune,’ he said. The program had helped him reach high notes when singing along in the car, he added. ‘Having learned the technique, you can manage much better,’ he said. …

“It wasn’t just patients and clinicians that had benefited, Mollica said: E.N.O. Breathe had also given musicians and producers at the company something to focus on during a bleak time. ‘Everyone’s found it really motivating,’ she said. ‘It’s fantastic to realize that this skill set we have is useful.’ ”

More at the New York Times, here.

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Photo: Cairo Scene.
Last fall, the Mersal Foundation, a health-care nonprofit in Egypt, received one large award from AstraZeneca for its work with lung cancer patients and another to aid those afflicted with the Coronavirus.

When I read a story like today’s, which is about a nonprofit that’s filling the gaps in a health-care system, I think of my favorite Allen Ginsberg poem:

“When Music was needed, Music sounded
“When a ceremony was needed, a teacher appeared
“When students were needed, telephones rang
“When cars were needed, wheels rolled in …”

It reminds that good people can make things happen.

Sudarsan Raghavan reported recently at the Washington Post, “The pleas for help were flooding in. By 2 p.m., Raba Mokhtar was picking up the 131st call of the day to the Mersal Foundation’s 24-hour hotline. Like the vast majority, it was related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the other end of the line, a woman was frantically describing the condition of a relative, a 67-year-old man who had tested positive for the virus. He had a 100-degree fever and could hardly breathe. They had first tried the Health Ministry’s hotline to look for a bed in a government hospital, with no luck. …

“In a country where government health resources can be either stretched or inadequate and where most people cannot afford hospitalization, a once little-known charity has become a lifeline for thousands of Egyptians. For the past year, and especially during the latest coronavirus wave, the Mersal Foundation has contracted and paid for beds in private hospitals or provided oxygen tanks to people in need.

“Mersal and its founder, Heba Rashed, have become so trusted that more than a quarter-million people now follow her social media accounts to learn the true impact of the pandemic in Egypt. …

“Egypt has reported about 165,000 infections and 9,100 deaths since the start of the outbreak. Medical experts and even government ministers have publicly said the real numbers are far higher.

“Doubts among the public deepened in January when a video went viral online claiming that coronavirus patients at a government hospital had died because of a lack of oxygen. The government denied the report, but a week later Sissi ordered a doubling of oxygen production to meet increased demand.

“Against this backdrop, the Mersal Foundation has emerged as a trusted oasis of care. And Rashed, 40, has become a coronavirus prognosticator for her legions of followers.  

‘It makes me feel very responsible for every word I utter,’ she said. ‘People get affected by everything I say.’

“Growing up in Jordan and the Egyptian desert town of Fayoum, Rashed never intended to start a charity. In college, she studied Spanish and Arabic and later earned a master’s degree in linguistics and several diplomas in other fields. She later worked as a linguist and as a project manager. In her spare time, she volunteered at a local charity.

“Soon, Rashed said, she realized she had ‘no passion’ for her job and found her charitable work more fulfilling. She also noticed there were few nonprofit groups in Egypt specializing in health issues. So with two friends, she launched Mersal five years ago. ‘It was truly hard at the start,’ Rashed recalled. ‘We had no connections.’

“Eventually, they found a sympathetic donor. He gave roughly $1,300, and they set up the charity in Rashed’s apartment. Slowly they grew, soliciting donations mostly on social media. They began to get noticed by some larger donors.

“Today, the foundation has four offices in Cairo and one in the northern city of Alexandria, with roughly 200 employees, according to Rashed. …

“ ‘The second wave is much more vicious than the first one, in terms of the intensity of the infection,’ Rashed said. ‘The number of infections is bigger than the last wave. The symptoms are much more.’

“She was infected. So were more than half of her 100 employees in the office, forcing mass isolations. ‘It made it very hard to do our work,’ Rashed said matter-of-factly. …

“The case of the 67-year-old man who had been struggling to breathe was typical. His oxygen levels were extremely low, though he was using a tank. … Mokhtar, the employee who took the call, asked the man’s relative to send a complete medical report, X-rays of his lungs and any bloodwork. Mokhtar gave her the WhatsApp number.

“ ‘We will show them to the medical department, and we will get you a bed when one becomes available,’ Mokhtar said. ‘Peace be with you.’

“Finding a bed usually takes a few hours but can stretch into a day or two, employees said. … The foundation has contracted with more than 30 private hospitals. In some cases, patients who need help getting care can pay some or all costs. Mostly, though, the charity pays as much as $1,300 per day for hospital beds in intensive care units, money obtained in large part through online appeals for donations.”

More at the Washington Post, here. Grateful stories may be found at the Mersal Foundation Facebook page, here,

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Photos: James Austin V.
Alaska is delivering vaccines by sled, boat, plane, and snowmobile. Flashback to the Iditarod origins — when diphtheria antitoxin was rushed to Nome by dog sled.

It’s so interesting to me which states are doing well with vaccine distribution and why! West Virginia was ahead of the pack because it used local pharmacies but also had a central sign-up site. Now Alaska seems to have taken the lead, and its techniques are completely different.

Cathy Free writes at the Washington Post, “Alaska, the state with the largest land mass in the nation, is leading the country in a critical coronavirus measure: per capita vaccinations.

“About 13 percent of the people who live in Alaska have already gotten a shot. … But the challenge for Alaska has been how to get vaccines to people across difficult, frigid terrain — often in remote slivers of the state.

“ ‘Boats, ferries, planes, snowmobiles — Alaskans will find a way to get it there,’ said the state’s chief medical officer, Anne Zink, 43.

“Alaskans are being vaccinated on fishing boats, inside 10-seater planes and on frozen landing strips. Doctors and nurses are taking white-knuckle trips to towns and villages across the state to ensure residents are protected from the coronavirus.

“Contributing to Alaska’s quick speed in getting the vaccine to its residents is a federal partnership that allows the state, which has more than 200 indigenous tribes, to receive additional vaccines to distribute through the Indian Health Service.

“Other reasons include the state’s small population of 732,000, as well as a high number of veterans, Zink said. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that high-risk veterans receive priority for the vaccine.

“But one big reason is the state is practiced in delivering precious cargo by transport not often used in the Lower 48. Sometimes that even means adventures by sled. One all-female medical crew of four in December used a sled pulled by a snowmobile to deliver vaccine to the village of Shungnak in the state’s remote Northwest Arctic Borough.

‘It’s just an easier way to get around when you don’t have a lot of roads,’ said Kelli Shroyer, public communications director for the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, Alaska, where the crew started their journey. …

“Zink was so impressed by the sled crew’s delivery in December that she posted about it on her Facebook page. ‘I love the pictures of vaccination distribution in Alaska,’ she wrote. ‘Recipients expressed how grateful they were that even though they are so remote, they are getting this vaccine. They are not forgotten. …

‘One chief told me how his grandmother took his mother out to the wilderness for a year so that she would be safe. When they returned, they learned that most of their village had died.’ …

“Thousands of Alaskans are playing a role in getting people vaccinated, Zink said.

“Curt Jackson used to employ his water taxi, the Orca, to shuttle tourists from the small city of Homer to villages across Kachemak Bay that aren’t accessible by roads. In late December, Jackson received a request to take three nurses across the bay to Seldovia, a town with about 450 residents, including members of the Seldovia Village Tribe. Planes couldn’t fly that morning because of weather, and the water was rough.

“When the women climbed aboard his 32-foot aluminum landing craft and took seats in the windy darkness, Jackson said, he noticed that the woman in the middle, Candace Kreger, was clutching a bright blue cooler. That was when he realized that the women were traveling with the precious doses. …

“For Ellen Hodges, a doctor from Bethel, Alaska, the coronavirus vaccination effort is the most rewarding project in which she has been involved, she said. Hodges, 46, has flown to several villages in a six-seater plane to vaccinate medical workers and elders, who meet her on the runway.

“ ‘We land in the isolated tundra, and they’ll be lined up waiting,’ she said. ‘Some places have up to 30 people, and some have only one.’ “

More at the Washington Post, here.

An all-female medical crew from Alaska’s Maniilaq Health Center took a sled to deliver vaccine to the isolated village of Shungnak in December.

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Photos: Doug MacCash
A house on LePage St. in New Orleans was converted to a stationary ‘float’ by the Krewe of Red Beans ‘Hire a Mardi Gras Artist’ program.

So many things have been cancelled this year! But the people of New Orleans are not taking the cancellation of their beloved Mardi Gras lying down. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Doug MacCash writes at NOLA.com, “Carnival season 2021 may lack the usual parades, marching bands and big bags of beads, but never-say-die New Orleanians have taken their holiday back by inventing a whole new way of celebrating. …

“Socially distanced float houses have become a thing. A really big thing. … Lavishly, lovingly, laughingly decorated houses are becoming as ubiquitous as potholes. …

“Tiffany Tandecki, a marketing and development exec, said the thing she would have missed most about Mardi Gras parades is the satire. So she transplanted some Carnival-style comedy to her 5975 Canal Blvd. home for the pleasure of passing commuters. Tandecki used the characters from her TV binge-watching fave ‘Schitt$ Creek’ to lampoon the crumbling streets of her Lakeview neighborhood and COVID-19-era frustrations in general.

“In Tandecki’s view, the sweet-tart sitcom, in which a family of millionaires finds themselves adapting to small-town life, is a perfect metaphor. There’s millionaire Moira Rose shaking up an afternoon martini to take the edge off the stress of home schooling. There’s disdainful son David passing judgment on the inconvenient virus with raised eyebrows. There’s ditzy daughter Alexis stating the obvious: ‘I miss my life.’ And there’s bewildered hubby Johnny, standing beside a burglarized Lakeview car with a smashed-out window.

Tiffany Tandecki conceived her ‘Schitt$ Streets: Welcome to Lakeview’ float house on Canal Blvd to bring some satire to Carnival 2021. 

“The painted plywood cutouts of the ‘Schitt$ Creek’ characters standing in Tandecki’s front yard look exactly like the sort of thing you might see on a passing Carnival float, because they were made by professional float maker Lindsay DeBlieux, who Tandecki hired to bring her vision to life. …

“For DeBlieux, like most Mardi Gras float artists, the cancellation of this year’s parades was a catastrophe. Her employer, Mardi Gras Decorators LLC, tried to keep the staff employed as long as possible, she said, but in December, she was laid off. Thank goodness that by that time, the float house fad was fast taking root.

“Almost immediately, DeBlieux said, she was commissioned by three homeowners who planned to participate in the Krewe of House Floats, a citywide stationary house parade. … Then she was enlisted into the Krewe of Red Beans ‘Hire a Mardi Gras Artist’ campaign that is producing some of the city’s most elaborate float houses.

“Of course, DeBlieux welcomes the income at a time when many of her fellow citizens are unemployed. But the float house phenom is important in another way, too. Despite the popularity of parades, the talents of float artists can go unnoticed in the joyful chaos. Carnival 2021 has helped slow down the parade, so to speak, and let the creativity shine. …

“Megan Boudreaux, an insurance claims adjuster and member of the Leijorettes Carnival dance troupe, has made a historic impact on Mardi Gras. She’s right up there with the first person who put a plastic baby in a king cake, or tossed the first doubloon. … Boudreaux’s contribution began humbly. She just didn’t want to sit out Carnival 2021. So she planned to decorate her front porch and maybe toss trinkets to passersby on Mardi Gras morning. …

“Boudreaux didn’t invent Carnival house decoration, of course. But she made it into a movement. In no time, her Krewe of House Floats Facebook page attracted thousands of do-it-yourselfers aching for a way to safely celebrate, plus homeowners eager to employ professional artists. Before Boudreaux’s widening eyes, KOHF subkrewes sprouted up in 39 neighborhoods across the city. …

“On Feb. 1, the KOHF plans to launch an online map that will allow Carnival fans to tour decorated houses in social-distanced safety. Boudreaux said it was startling to realize that roughly 3,000 participants have added their addresses to the site. Some of them live far, far from the parade routes. …

“Artist Devin DeWulf, the captain of the Krewe of Red Beans, a marching group known for its dizzyingly complicated costumes decorated with dried legumes, has become a COVID-era hero. His organization raised more than $1 million to support restaurants by supplying meals and snacks to front-line hospital employees. To help provide float sculptors and painters with work, the krewe founded the Hire A Mardi Gras Artist project. …

“The project was conceived by Caroline Thomas, a float designer with Royal Artists. … Each house cost $15,000, paid for by donations and a lottery. DeWulf said the project has employed 45 artists and is on track to produce 21 projects.”

More here.

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From trying to maintain holiday traditions like Christmas-tree cutting to getting kids to wear masks and maintain social distance in school, it was a year to remember (or forget).

Normally, this is a week when people take stock of their year, maybe make New Year’s Resolutions. But how to summarize 2020? What to resolve for 2021 other than to stay alive and donate more to people in need?

Kara Baskin at the Boston Globe, having taken on writing a pandemic newsletter for parents, decided to ask them what they have learned from this strange time.

“This year has been piercingly difficult for most of us in ways ranging from soul-shatteringly epic to mundanely depleting,” she writes. … “As parents, we’ve cared for kids in close quarters — and our own parents, often from afar. We’ve tried to work while serving as supplemental tutors, counselors, and IT gurus. We have sworn at Google Classroom. We have cursed Zoom. We have vowed to never, ever take teachers for granted again. … The daily rhythms of life faded and morphed. Our circles often became smaller; our waistlines sometimes got bigger.

“But there were glimmers of happiness, too: more time for stuff that really mattered. Perspective. Gratitude. Reframed expectations. Hope? …

“I’ve learned that true colors come to light in the darkness. I’ve watched as my community and friends have stood up for causes they believed in, donated to businesses they felt compelled to support, and rallied around the sick and hurting. I’ve also realized that some connections fray without sustenance. … Most of all, I hope this year has allowed us to be vulnerable. … To realize that there is no shame: in being hungry, in being sick, in feeling inadequate or lost. …

“How about you? What has this year taught?

“ ‘That I don’t give myself enough credit after surviving COVID-19 for almost three months with three children as a single mom.’– April Golden-Shea

“ ‘I’ve learned that I need to be able to ebb and flow with how my kids are feeling. That might mean cutting them some slack one day and keeping them on task on another day. My parenting style has never been one-size-fits-all with my kids, but this pandemic has only crystallized how important it is for me to see them as individuals.’ – Eric Berman

‘That volunteering has saved me in every conceivable way.’ – Julie Lucey

“ ‘I have learned that I crumble without external structures.’ – Susan Anderson Garcia

“ ‘I appreciate that I’m not constantly comparing myself to others (and feeling like I come up short), because there’s not the constant level of activity or achievements which are usually happening. I hope I can continue this practice of not comparing, as it gives me more peace.’ – Roslyn Fitzgerald

“ ‘I will never take seeing a full, smiling face for granted again. The eyes can show a lot of emotion, but so much is hidden behind masks.’ – Alysia Tardelli Rourke

“ ‘My lesson learned (or emphasized?) from this year is that you can’t compartmentalize yourself. Being a parent and being a worker are intertwined. … In a former pre-COVID life, I would feel embarrassed (as though I were failing at work) when I had to leave early to pick up a sick kid or take a phone call from my child’s teacher. Now, it’s clearer to me that expecting work and family to stay separate is not only unrealistic but unhealthy.’ – Mallory Rohrig

“ ‘One lesson that is often internally known is that our kids come before ourselves. However, this year I feel like we’ve really had to live up to that. I’ve had to put my own college grades and aspirations aside in order to help my kindergartener through her homework and starting school during the strangest time of our lives.’ – Karlie McDaniel Le

“ ‘I’ve learned the importance of neighborhood and how it almost seemed irrelevant until a crisis. Our son’s second birthday was a Facebook Live production. And instead of having a handful of people over, we had 100!’ … – Michele Aron.”

So many awesome comments: hard to choose! Read others at the Globe, here.

Photo: Cherry Lane School
Suzanne says if she’s learned one thing this year it’s that “school is essential.”

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Photo: Pointnshoot, Flickr, CC by 2.0
What is the exact reason that recreational hockey seems to have a higher risk for coronavirus than some other sports?
Living on Earth says the jury is still out.

Do you listen to the radio show Living on Earth? This environmental news program is nationally syndicated and has a free newsletter you can sign up for here. I have learned so much from it over the years.

Today I’m writing about a story that caught my attention because I have a grandson, 10, and a granddaughter, 7, who are forces to be reckoned with in the sport of ice hockey. And one of them had a quarantine episode after a teammate test positive for coronavirus. I would not want to see these two lose their favorite sport for a year when so many other things have been lost, but I guess I want to know how infection is being carried in ice hockey and what can be done.

Living on Earth reports that “outbreaks have occurred in connection with recreational and youth hockey, and researchers are rushing to pin down the role of air temperature and humidity in creating optimal conditions for contagion. For some advice about getting through winter safely, host Steve Curwood caught up with pediatrician Aaron Bernstein, the interim director of Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment. …

“CURWOOD: There is much that science still has to learn about Covid-19, such as why indoor recreational ice hockey has been associated with outbreaks in several states, not just in the north but also in Florida, where about a dozen people got Covid 19 after a game at a hockey rink in Tampa Bay. … Welcome back to Living on Earth, Ari! …

“Walk us through in basic terms, what about the virus might make it more dangerous for these cold weather sports? …

“BERNSTEIN: The best clues we have right now is that transmission may not be happening as much on the ice, but may be happening off the ice in locker rooms or on the bench when people may take off protective gear or sit too close with each other. We don’t really know. … But we mostly see in in other indoor settings transmission happening when you’ve got people sticking around each other for long periods of time. …

“We do know a couple of things. I mean, what’s clear is that sunlight is really good at inactivating the virus. So, you know, ice skating rinks are not in a lot of sunlight. … Here in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s a lot less ultraviolet radiation hitting us from the sun.

“CURWOOD: So as we move into winter, of course, historically, the influenza virus seems to do much better in the winter. …

“BERNSTEIN: I do think we need to pay close attention to places where we’re asking people to congregate, and being careful about the appropriate precautions. … We’re breaking records in transmission as we speak and there’s a great risk that this virus can spread through the winter. The idea has been floated that herd immunity will protect [us] is reckless and dangerous. …

“[Safety is] the same dull stuff that folks have been talking about for a long time. It’s wearing a mask, it’s washing your hands, it’s keeping physical distance. And those measures can have a dramatic effect upon the spread of disease. … A lot of people, including folks like Tony Fauci and other public health leaders have strongly advised people to not gather in person, because the risks are growing so great, because the reality is that we have more cases today in the country than almost any other time. …

“Part of our action here is not just for ourselves, it’s for the people who live in [our] communities. [For the regular flu, ] there’s a vaccine. … If you take the current coronavirus season, and you add to it even a mild flu season, there are no hospital beds for people to go into. … There are a lot of people who don’t want to get vaccinated for the flu because they think it’s not that bad, or they think the flu vaccine doesn’t work. And neither of those things are true. …

“I should be getting vaccinated against the flu to protect people who are older than me, my family members who may have cancer. … Think about it. If you have a family member who’s pregnant, they often need to go to a hospital. Do you really want them to go to a hospital in which the hospital is overwhelmed with preventable influenza infections? [These] things tie together pretty quickly.”

I have to thank this show for delivering my sermon to readers. Get your shot for the seasonal flu! More at Living on Earth, here.

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Photo: Kate Marling
“Classical Sculpture Mask,” by Kate Marling (2020). But can she breathe?

I’ve really enjoyed how artists have addressed the pandemic situation, whether designing socially distant ballets and theater or specifically coronavirus-related paintings, constructions, and photos.

Today we learn from Hyperallergic that the lowly face mask has been a particular inspiration. Hakim Bishara reports on a Denver exhibition of artistic face coverings.

“Face masks in all forms and colors have become an essential part of our lives. … A new exhibition at the Vicki Myhren Gallery at the University of Denver comes to remind the nonbelievers and the COVID-fatigued among us that face masks are not only crucial to our health but that they can also be delightful means of self-expression.

MASK … celebrates the centuries-long use of masks as ritual and ornamental objects throughout human history with new works by a group of 41 artists. The dozens of masks are positioned on mannequin heads throughout the gallery space. While some of the face coverings on display are not functional, they are a creative reminder of the times, and the creativity that can emerge from isolation. …

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen in Denver, the gallery says that it hopes that the exhibition will ‘call attention to the [significance] of masking as an issue of public health and a demonstration of civic responsibility.’ …

“As part of the exhibition, the gallery has joined forces with RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver to fabricate free, functional masks that will be distributed to members of the community.

“Ranging in style from the classical to the otherworldly, the masks on view offer inventive notions of what face-coverings can look like. Serge Attukwei Clottey’s science fiction-esque mask appears to be constructed from plastic pipes and found industrial materials. Elizabeth Morisette’s avian mask is a beak made out of zippers. Kate Marling designed a mask that invokes a classical sculpture as if freezing half of her face in stone. Trey Duvall’s ‘COVID19 (Mask for the Art World)’ covers the mouth area with a brick fastened over surgical hand gloves, perhaps hinting at the silencing of certain voices. By contrast, Tobias Fike attached a sizeable megaphone to a mask titled ‘Mouthpiece.’

“A virtual panel discussion with some of the featured artists will be held on November 5.”

A selection of the works, including images of some of the artists modeling their masks, may be viewed at Hyperallergic, here.

Looking for an unusual mask for yourself? Check out the variety at Etsy, here, where you can also get beautiful masks by a family member of mine, good for preventing foggy glasses.

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Photo: Anthony Fomin
Is it time to revisit the idea of letting tenants buy their buildings?

In Massachusetts, the Covid-related eviction moratorium will expire October 17 with no plan to help tenants who have lost their jobs and can’t pay rent. The C.D.C. moratorium is in effect, but with many stipulations. Landlords need relief, too, but there has to be a better way than eviction court, where it will all end up. It’s especially worrisome given some new research showing many tenants lose in court because they haven’t received notice of their court date and therefore don’t go.

Clyde Haberman at the New York Times revisits the possibilities of a tenant-to-ownership program.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic rang down the curtain on much of the U.S. economy, times could be tough for the roughly 110 million Americans living in rental housing. … Nearly four million eviction petitions were filed each year. On any given night as many as 200,000 people were without a home.

“In the pandemic, losing shelter is an ever-present threat on a far bigger scale, by some estimates potentially affecting upward of 30 million cash-strapped tenants. A calamity of that magnitude has been averted, for now, under a moratorium on evictions imposed through 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But equitable and compassionate solutions to America’s chronic housing problems will clearly remain an elusive goal long after the coronavirus is conquered.

“One method with promise is explored in this video from Retro Report. … The underlying premise is a familiar one: giving people a genuine stake in their apartments and houses by turning renters into owners. The video focuses on two situations separated by half a century: in San Francisco, where the idea was not able to get off the ground, and in Minneapolis, where it has taken flight, albeit with an uncertain future.

“The San Francisco story dates to the late 1960s on Kearny Street, in a neighborhood known as Manilatown because of its many immigrants from the Philippines. There, the three-story International Hotel was home to 150 people, principally Filipino laborers who rented rooms for about $50 a month, about $380 in today’s dollars. In 1968 the hotel’s owners handed tenants eviction notices. …

“After nine years of turmoil and with the courts’ blessing, the owners evicted the hotel residents in 1977. … But the outcome could have been different. A year before the evictions, San Francisco’s mayor, George R. Moscone, suggested a new approach, proposing that the owners sell the hotel to the residents, who were to get the necessary money through a government loan. ..

“The mayor’s idea never really got rolling. … But the concept behind the Moscone plan had resilience, and in 1980 it became embodied in legislation passed in the District of Columbia: the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, or Topa. It gave tenants or allied developers the right to be first in line to buy any building about to be sold by its landlord. Once tenants made clear they were interested, the landlord had to give them time to make an offer and raise the funds.

“Studies show that several thousand units of affordable housing in D.C. were preserved this way, for less than it would have cost to build new housing. …

“One place that has made the idea a reality is a low-rise complex in Minneapolis that houses 40 families. As recounted by Retro Report, the landlord sought to push out the tenants so that he could sell the buildings. But while lawyers duked it out, the residents took action, forming a collective to buy the complex, aided by city officials and an activist group called United Renters for Justice. The sale, for $7.1 million, was completed in May. A nonprofit group put up the money as a loan, and will manage the property for three years while the residents pay back the debt.

“Tenant leaders like Chloe Jackson expressed confidence in their ability to keep up the payments. Still, success is not assured, especially when millions across the country are out of work. If people who lose their jobs can’t cover the rent, why would they be in a better position to repay a loan?

“Some landlords have their own concerns. They are hardly real-estate giants. On the contrary, they are so-called ‘mom and pop’ owners with maybe a building or two. But they account for nearly half of all rental units in the United States. …

“What will happen once the C.D.C.’s eviction moratorium ends is anyone’s guess. Even before the pandemic, millions of Americans were crushed by their rent burden. … That is one reason Ms. Jackson embraces her new status, inherent risks notwithstanding. Yes, the loan must be repaid, she said. ‘But we are thinking as owners, our mind-set is as owners, and we’re ready to do it.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: ICA
The Institute of Contemporary Art’s Watershed building is in East Boston, one of the communities hit hardest by Covid-19. In April, the ICA decided the most important thing it could do would be to provide food to neighbors in need. (Art projects for families get included in the bundles.)

Some artists seem more alert to human needs than the rest of us. That’s something my mother noted after my father had a debilitating stroke in his 40s. The painter friend and the poet friend seemed to more moved by what happened, more empathetic, than many others.

Certainly, in the current pandemic, we’ve seen people in the arts stepping up to offer all kinds of help. Here’s an example.

Grace Griffin reported for the Boston Globe in April, “With its galleries closed to the public, the Institute of Contemporary Art is using its Watershed outpost to feed families in need. … The nonprofit enlisted its catering company, The Catered Affair, to help with a donation drive.

“The ICA also recruited new donors to fund the project. The monthlong drive — launched in partnership with East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, East Boston Social Centers, Maverick Landing Community Services, Eastie Farm, Orient Heights Housing Development, and Crossroads Family Center — distributes family-size boxes filled with fresh produce and dairy products. …

“ ‘We know this is just a drop in the bucket of need,’ said ICA director Jill Medvedow. ‘We are pleased to help in this small way.’ ” More.

Then in late May, Andrea Shea followed up with a story at WBUR radio.

“Now the museum, its catering company and partnering community organizations in East Boston are extending their food distribution program through Sept. 3.

“ ‘What we learned in April … how hard hit East Boston residents are by COVID,’ ICA director Jill Medvedow said Friday.

The struggle to feed families is ongoing, and Medvedow said it highlights life-threatening disparities the largely immigrant East Boston community faces.

“ ‘Not having the nutrition that contributes to one’s health, to one’s ability to take care of your family, to that sense of dignity that everyone deserves,’ Medvedow said. …

” ‘I see this heroism around me,’ Medvedow said, ‘and I feel very lucky to help facilitate this. That’s my role.’

“About four years ago, when Medvedow and her staff embarked on transforming the 15,000 square-foot condemned building into satellite space for the ICA, they were dedicated to building relationships with the people who live there. ‘I never thought then that this would be the way in which we would demonstrate that the arts and the ICA would be a resource in this Boston community,’ she said, ‘But it is.’

“The food boxes also carry on the ICA’s mission to share art. Each one includes a creative project for families isolated at home. Medvedow said the museum is currently in talks with artists about commissioning new activities designed for both solace and stimulation. …

“Initially the effort’s funding was seeded with unsolicited anonymous donations. Now the ICA is funding the food distribution project and welcomes any additional support. …

“By the end of summer the ICA’s Watershed estimates it will provide more than 2,000 boxes of eggs, butter, fresh vegetables and fruit to East Boston families.” More.

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Photo: Peyton Manker via CNN
Illinois teen Peyton Manker made this gorgeous dress out of duct tape for a scholarship competition.

Oh, my goodness! Human ingenuity! Nothing against animals, but it’s hard to think of any animal — even the dolphin — dealing with misfortune by creating something that lifts the spirit like this. I think the product of this young lady’s resourcefulness belongs in a museum someday. After some future prom, that is.

Kiely Westhoff reported at CNN about the scholarship contest with the theme “Stuck at the Prom.”

“In January, 18-year-old Peyton Manker embarked on her journey to make a prom dress entirely out of duct tape for a contest to win a scholarship. After weeks of working on her submission, the Covid-19 outbreak not only canceled her prom but altered the course of her senior year.

“Manker was not deterred by the fact that she would not get to wear her dress to prom. Instead, she felt inspired to create a dress that ‘documents a part of history.’ Her coronavirus-themed dress features multiple images depicting life during the pandemic. …

‘It wasn’t just high schoolers, it wasn’t just America, it was the whole world being impacted by the pandemic so I wanted to show that,’ said Manker.

“She does so by showing an image of people running away from the giant coronavirus to signify the world trying to avoid catching the disease. Other designs pay tribute to frontline workers and people suffering from mental health issues as a result of the pandemic. …

“She completed the look with a creative array of accessories including a ‘flatten the curve’ face mask. … She believes that her anklet displaying the words, ‘This too shall pass,’ perfectly encapsulates her message. ..

“Manker also wants to encourage a spirit of positivity with her work. She believes that ‘we can have some positive things come out of this whole experience and my dress is an example of that.’ …

“Manker says this is her debut as a duct tape artist. Her previous experience is from making small duct tape wallets and flowers when she was much younger. Four months and 41 rolls of duct tape later, she managed to make something far more elaborate. …

“Manker’s mother posted the dress to Facebook, where the post has been shared over 254,000 times. Manker says it is ‘surreal’ that her work was able to make an impression on people all over the world who commented on the post.

“She says that winning the contest, run by duct tape-maker Duck Brand, would be rewarding because ‘it will mean that people saw all the positivity I was trying to show them.’ Duck Brand will be awarding $20,000 in cash scholarships to the winners in July.” See more views of the Manker’s gown are here. Other Duck Brand prom dresses are here.

Photo: Peyton Manker
This fetching little purse ensures you won’t forget Covid-19.

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Photo: Getty Images
Between August 21 and 26, in Karlskrona, Sweden, the Carl International Film Festival will have 30 boat-in screenings.

You already know that drive-in movies are back in style. (Remember this March post?) Today I have a Forbes article describing how the idea of using vehicles for social distancing has expanded in Europe.

Sarah Turner writes, “While many of Europe’s arts festivals have been cancelled this year, including Edinburgh, Bayreuth and Glastonbury, others have turned to 1950s America for inspiration with drive-in performances.

Nowhere more so than Germany, which is, appropriately enough, still the heartland of Europe’s car industry which got on board the trend early with festivals in Leipzig and Dusseldorf, partnering art films with innovative venues.

“The Kunstfest Weimar festival, founded in 1990, encompasses  music, theatre and dance to fine arts and film. One of the three strands to this year’s festival is coronavirus and its impact on both society and individuals. To reflect this, six specifically created productions will be staged at a new venue, the Alte Feuerwache drive-in cinema. …

“In the U.K., various drive-in concepts are also taking shape. In early July the unabashedly feel-good Nightflix festival is part music concert, part film screening with cover bands and classic movies. There are two venues, Colchester in Essex and Newark in Nottinghamshire; options include Abba tribute bands and screenings of Grease, Moulin Rouge and Joker. Around 350 cars will be able to attend each performance, with the modern festival essentials of sourdough pizza and halloumi fries also being on hand.

“The Henley Festival, usually a bastion of black ties and crowd-pleasing performances, is putting on an Alternate Festival between July 9-12 with car-based comedy, theatre and karaoke. After Henley the Car Park Festival will be going on the road, venues include Dudley, Manchester, Northampton and Newbury while film and comedy-based The Drive-In Club will take place at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Live Nation will be putting on drive-in concerts with — among others — Dizzee Rascal and Kaiser Chiefs and the cult musical Six, based on the wives of Henry VIII. …

“In Cornwall, Wavelength magazine will have clifftop drive-in cinema experience at Watergate Bay from late July through to the end of August 2020 alongside a host of on-site socially-distant options including street food, live music, tombola popcorn stands and craft beer bars.

“Held at Trebelsue Farm, with space for over 200 cars and vans, The Wavelength Drive-In Cinema Series will start on Friday 24th, the Cornish-set surf film Blue Juice and continues into late August.

“But it’s Scandinavia that is taking the most innovative approach to the notion of the drive-in festival. Between August 21 and 26, in the Swedish town of Karlskrona, the Carl International Film Festival will have 30 boat-in screenings. Taking place in the Salto Fish Harbour with two LED screens, up to 100 boats will be allowed in, drawing attendees from around 1,600 nearby islands, with food delivered to boats from harbourside restaurants.” More at Forbes, here.

Speaking of social distancing by boat or car, I recently suggested to a friend who can’t go farther than her yard or her car that in winter we should park our cars somewhere six feet apart, open a window, keep the heat running — and continue our weekly visits.

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Photo: Tanecni Aktuality
Dance master Curtis Foley left Canada for a gig in the Czech Republic. Then Covid-19 struck.

Lockdown in the pandemic has kept a lot of people from going home, sometimes stranding them in surprising places. Today’s story is about camping out for four months in the Czech Republic’s ornate national theater.

Jennifer Stahl writes at Dance Magazine, “When Canadian ballet master Curtis Foley arrived in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in early March, he planned to spend five weeks with the National Moravian-Silesian Ballet, serving as a part-time ballet master. The former Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Ballet Grandiva dancer had spent the previous four years as a ballet master at the Polish National Ballet, and had recently gone mostly freelance.

“But five days after he landed in the Czech Republic, COVID-19 sent that country into a state of emergency, with one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. Most of the foreign artists working with the company swiftly left before the borders closed. But Foley felt a sense of duty to stay. ‘I was supposed to be here to help these dancers for five weeks, and if I were to leave, coming back could be difficult since I don’t have Czech residency and I’m not an EU national,’ he says. So he remained, hunkering down alone inside an apartment on the third floor of the theater.

“With travel remaining complicated, his original five-week stay has ended up lasting for four months.

‘The joke I started with my friends is that I’m the phantom of the opera,’ says Foley. ‘There’s no one else here but me in this massive labyrinth.’

“Although a skeleton crew of administrative and janitorial staff have come in to work during the weekdays, Foley says that starting at 4 pm every Friday, he knows he’ll be on his own until Monday morning.

” ‘It was a novelty at first,’ he says. … ‘Now it just feels like home.’

“Being the only person in the building most of the time has raised logistical questions. ‘During the first few weeks, the company and I were having discussions like, Is it okay to turn off the heat to save money?’ (He said it was.)

“But there’s been more to do than wander the hallways. The dancers took just one week off after the lockdown, then Foley started teaching company class on Zoom. Soon, as the Czech Republic got the virus under control, five people at a time were allowed in the studio (including Foley and an accompanist). Throughout all of June, he’s been able to teach the entire company at once in person again. …

“It’s now been 16 weeks, and with the European Union opening its internal borders, Foley is finally returning to Warsaw, where his boyfriend lives. He admits that he’s a bit anxious to leave.

” ‘This has become my new normal,’ he says. ‘Being there for the dancers has given me the motivation to get through the pandemic, to get out of bed every day and think this isn’t weird.’

“He’s grateful for the intimate relationship he’s built with the dancers while going through this crisis. ‘It typically takes years to create this kind of relationship, but we got to do it really fast,’ he says. Soon enough, he’ll be back — though hopefully not haunting the theater at night all on his own again.” More here.

Did you ever stay overnight in an unlikely place? I did once. I was working for a newspaper chain and there was a blizzard that everyone knew was going to be bad. The other staff left early, but I had decided to bring my sleeping bag and stay over as I had to work in the morning and really dreaded the drive home and back again. It was a little weird, with machines making noises all night, but it was way better than driving.

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Photo: Gareth Henderson
Messages of hope fill a window at the Bernard General Store in Barnard, Vermont.

When you’re feeling down, it’s a sign of health to look for comfort, which actually can be found in many places. Some people find it in phone calls to distant friends. Others find it in reading, music, exercise, or nature; in donating to people worse off or in watching children playing and laughing.

Gareth Henderson writes for the Christian Science Monitor that in Small Town America, some people are finding comfort at the general store.

“As COVID-19 restrictions were tightening in mid-March,” Henderson writes, “Jillian Bradley and Joe Minerva made a big decision: They pledged to keep the doors of the Barnard General Store open, no matter what.

“Now the Barnard store has a grocery home-delivery system supported by volunteers, and they also offer curbside pickup. But it’s been a long haul for the store, in this remote Vermont town of about 900 people, located a half-hour from the nearest grocery establishment.

‘Most days we are working 10 to 12 hours a day, but we are happy to do it for our community,’ Ms. Bradley says. …

“Country stores across the U.S., from New England to the South and the Midwest, are the heartbeat of their communities, often standing in the same spot for generations, growing up with the town.

“Eight years ago, the Barnard store closed for about a year but came roaring back after a community trust with hundreds of local members raised the funds to save the business. It reopened in 2013, with Ms. Bradley and Mr. Minerva as the new owners. The community simply would not let the store fail. …

“These Vermont stores have become essential food hubs. With most country store buildings closed during Vermont’s state of emergency – which was extended beyond May 15 – online ordering and curbside pickup has become the trend. Such is the case a 40-minute drive south at the South Woodstock Country Store, which has been running its curbside operation since early April. Around noon each Friday, co-owner Simi Johnston, donning her mask, puts out brown paper bags with grocery orders, each labeled with the customer’s name for pickup.

“For Ms. Johnston, the main focus is continuing to serve the community while keeping everyone safe. The store closed to the public in late March, two days before the state required restaurants to shut down.

“The entire operation is sanitized, and the store tries not to touch deliveries for 24 hours. The first week of curbside, the store saw 20 orders – which is nothing like being fully open.

“ ‘It’s a huge hit, for sure, but we’re definitely hoping there’ll be a lot of understanding from everyone around that,’ Ms. Johnston says. …

“ ‘The reason we run the country store is because we care about our community,’ she says. ‘Without it, South Woodstock is very different. Closing the doors of the country store, for myself and my staff, was surprisingly emotional.’

“With Vermont’s unemployment rate soaring to more than 20% during the pandemic, many stores are also finding a way to give back, even while they themselves struggle. In Craftsbury, which sits an hour south of the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, businesses have joined forces to set up a pop-up food pantry. The Craftsbury General Store put out a call for donations, and they came in fast.

“ ‘There’s been a lot of generosity in that realm,’ says co-owner Kit Basom.

“At the store, the doors are closed to the public, but they’re doing business seven days a week, filling online and phone orders for curbside pickup. The store’s owners have added a third person to help with phones, and everyone is on deck to be a ‘personal shopper.’ …

“The Craftsbury store has also added a ‘virtual tour’ on its website, so customers can browse the shelves digitally. The staff regularly updates an online list of items people can order in bulk – think flour, rice, or pasta.

“ ‘We’re moving a lot more product from our grocery section than we ever did before,’ Ms. Basom says.

“For many here, these stores are a lifeline holding the fabric of the community together. There is growing concern about the warmer months, from May to October, when these small village stores usually make the majority of their annual income. Though it’s been on their minds, Ms. Bradley from the Barnard store says she is confident they will find a way to make it.

“ ‘It’s sink or swim time and there is no way we will let ourselves sink,’ she says.”

More at the Christian Science Monitor, here.

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