Over the last couple of weeks, elected officials across the D.C. region have mandated various stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus outbreak. For many of us nonessential workers, these orders have meant business, as usual, is now being carried out from our homes.
As a self-motivating homebody, it wasn’t too hard to get up and running: I have a sturdy chair situated next to a fairly large window, a laptop, headphones and a playlist stacked with nostalgic music from Tina Turner to ABBA (yes, ABBA). It’s all gone smoothly from a practical standpoint.
The one thing that hasn’t gone so smoothly in the transition is keeping up those connections to my community — from colleagues to friends and family. At The Melanin Collective — an organization created to support the professional growth and development of women of color through webinars, workshops and curated social media talks — where I’m a cofounder and Doris Quintanilla is our unapologetic executive director, for instance, we used to hold a lot of in-person workshops and gatherings, only to pare back in the name of social distancing. Good, from a public health perspective. Not so good, from a community one.
Community means a lot to us and I’m sure it does to you, whether you’re an employee or employer, community organizer, or family member with siblings or parents in different states. Many of you are probably familiar with Ubuntu, the operating system — but did you also know it is, originally, a word from South Africa that means humanity? We’re all linked together through other people and now, more than ever, is the time to embody that meaning.
In these past couple of weeks, we’ve tried out a whole range of new ideas and activities to bring our #TheMCSquad closer, despite being physically apart. Here’s to ubuntu, or our universal connection:
1. Craft an email or Slack campaign to host a self-care bingo challenge with your community or colleagues.
Let’s face it: The news out there hasn’t been uplifting for awhile and that continuous stream of bad news can really take its toll. We’ve used bingo as a fun way to get people thinking about ways to care for themselves during these times. (And make sure to offer a little prize for completion, too.) If you don’t feel like reinventing the wheel, feel free to download ours.
2. Hold monthly Slack “office hours” where your community can ask questions on a topic on the month.
Does your community have questions on mental health? Managing finances during a health pandemic? Invite members of your community, or experts outside of your community, to answer pressing questions about a range of topics. Better yet, ask your community to unpack what they want to talk about the most.
3. Send weekly email care packages to highlight company initiatives or share resources.
It might not beat a physical care package, but it’s nevertheless a nice touch to tell your community you’re thinking about them. As of late, I’ve really enjoyed receiving email from a bunch of companies and brands containing resources, articles, and activities that I can check out in my free time.
4. Use email to interview and feature members of your community.
We’re hosting weekly #MujeronaMondays where we “make our homegirls your homegirls.” You would never know it if you don’t ask, but having people in your community share what they are up to or projects they are most proud of is an amazingly simple way of bringing people together. Why not use the digital space to shine the spotlight on your members, colleagues or friends?
5. Leverage your tools to create an online donation drive.
There’s nothing quite like building community to support other communities. Slack and email are excellent tools to spread awareness about your campaign and help people take action. You can create your own giving circles, using these tools to set reminders about goals, hold polls about causes to support, or update your community at large about how you’re doing — and how people can get involved.
As we all hunker down, thinking about those who don’t have that luxury, building community connection has never been so important. It’s easy to feel like we’re all on our own during this pandemic and the more we can do to bring people together, the better. Planning to try some of these ideas? Or have ideas that are totally different from those on the list? Let us know on Twitter, tagging us at @themcsquad_dc.
Knowledge is power!
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