The “places” that are important to us are currently in a state of re-definition. As we experience social distancing to address the Covid-19 pandemic, our work spaces and our personal spaces are now one and the same. My kitchen table – that place where pies are fashioned and family dinners are shared – is now a two-person office replete with dueling laptop computers. The separation of work and personal – that idea of work/life balance – has been upended as our working lives and personal lives have become more closely intertwined. In many ways, we have returned to that pre-industrial, agricultural past, when families toiled together within the home space towards the shared goal of family economic stability. Like the farming community that surrounds me, my waking hours are no longer regulated by the ringing of an alarm clock but rather by the rays of sunlight that come through my window in the morning.
It is important for people to develop a sense of place. We situate ourselves within the natural and social worlds and we form our identities through the intersections that we find there. “Place” informs us. It shapes our culture and our sense of being. We belong to places and we fashion our identities through the places that we inhabit.
As we struggle to reshape the everyday, our places are shown into sharper focus. When we return to what is “normalcy” – and that moment will come- we need to keep our heightened awareness of ourselves in situ. What have we noticed about our places and what about our places sustained us? For me, I will want to retain the calm that comes through a road without traffic, the ability to hop up from where I am sitting to take a hike through the nearby nature preserve, and the connections I feel to my family and neighbors who are similarly impacted by our social distancing. We need to remember this moment so that when we return to our places of work, we bring our place-based sensibilities with us.
Are you affected by the loss of income from the shut-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? The following is a list of some resources that may help you in this troubling time. Thank you to those non-profit leaders who have compiled much of this information that I am sharing with you.
Other Resources for support and Information from and for the Non-profit Sector:
Resources for Artists who are affected:
Especially for Indigenous Artists:
Resources compiled by the New York Foundation for the Arts. This is a comprehensive list that is nationwide and also segments support by discipline:
Resources specific to New York City
A number of Organizations and Agencies are compiling information on how the COVID-19 Pandemic is affecting individuals and non-profits. Let them know how you are affected:
Resources specific to Folk Arts/Folklorists: compiled by the American Folklore Society at www.afsnet.org/page/COVID-19:
Vermont Folklife Center’s Virtual Story Circles: Includes more information on virtual story circles and a reservation form to participate in Virtual Story Circles (if you are from or in Vermont), and as well as a guide on how to host your own virtual story circles:
Virginia Folklife Program’s TRAIN: Teachers of Remote Arts Instruction Network: Online resources for teaching traditional arts online developed by the Virginia Folklife Program:
Learning Locally: Creative Responses Across the Nation in a Time of COVID-19: Local Learning is aggregating resources (folk arts organizations and materials) that “make local learning visible and preserving a wide-ranging array of folk artistry,” presented in a regional map:
Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ Shelter Together: A live video series that will feature performances by traditional artists from California every Wednesday and Friday at noon:
Vermont Folklife Center’s Listening in Place Project: Listening in Place is a new initiative that will result in the creation of a crowd-sourced sound archive to document the daily experiences during the pandemic and a series of online Virtual Story Circles for Vermonters:
American Folklife Center’s Field Surveys (1977–1998): a story map exploring the AFC’s online collections of materials from the large-scale field surveys that AFC facilitated between 1977 and 1998:
As we are confronting the coronavirus crisis, City Lore, in New York City, is putting out a call to collect creative responses to the crisis in song, poetry, video and other forms. New Yorkers are famous for coming together in community after September 11th. There were many creative responses to this sorrowful and challenging time including singing together and communal memorials on the street. Today we can’t get together and hold hands to sing — but we can be creative in other ways.
City Lore’s dedicated staff has the skills to document the myriad ways that people and communities express their identities, humanity and connection with each other. After September 11th , City Lore documented the memorials that appeared on New York City’s streets. This culminated in an exhibit at the New York Historical Society, Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning. More recently, City Lore collected and documented signs from the Climate and Women’s marches nationwide. (An exhibit that features signs from the Women’s marches is just now being postponed!)
So to help us collectively and safely to find comfort, humor, and joy during this crisis, City Lore is putting out a call for poems, stories, songs, and videos that convey the experiences , encouragements, meditations, and innovations of this challenging time. Please send your materials to [email protected]
with the subject line “Touching Hearts, Not Hands”
. We all respond in our own way, we all do what we can, and this is the way a folklore center can respond. The human spirit is irrepressible.