In mid-March, our world ground to a halt. Businesses closed; masses of people got laid off; we were all told to go home and stay there as much as possible. No one really knew what was going to happen. It was a scary moment. And frankly, it’s still plenty scary. The economy is reeling. The healthcare system is in shambles. While some of us can Netflix and chill this pandemic away, many others are facing daily health risks, lost income, failing businesses.
And yet, as the weather warms and the flowers bloom, I’ve noticed something else happening. People are finding ways to break the isolation through art, music, community-building. All of it comes with a new twist – concerts streamed on Instagram, author talks on Zoom, yoga classes via Facebook Live, skit comedies on YouTube – but it touches something eternal: our need to be social and build community.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to sugarcoat this complete mess of a situation. But if you are cooped up by yourself and ready to pull out all your hair, take a deep breath and check out the ways our community is finding new connections that even Covid-19 can’t crush.
Densho is set to launch an intriguing digital genealogy series on April 30. Noted Japanese American genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki will talk about the importance of family histories, and Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda will talk about the organization’s family history program. The seminar will be held from 10am via Zoom. Subsequent seminars are scheduled for every two or three weeks. If you’ve ever thought about filling in those blank spaces on your family tree, this class is for you.
Unique Cultural Experiences
Under the leadership of poet and Experiences Market Manager Shin Yu Pai, Atlas Obscura has conducted some of the most innovative tours of our city. They’ve held events at Kobo @ Higo, walking tours through the ID, tours of Kubota Garden, and much more. But how does an organization that specializes in unique experiences deal with a stay-at-home order? Shin Yu and company have shifted their tours online and found that their clients are tuning in from all over. “Shifting to online experiences has allowed Atlas Obscura to reach a much larger, international audience,” Shin Yu writes in an email. “Previously, our in-person experiences were very city-specific, but now no matter where someone is, they can travel with us virtually. It’s been gratifying to quickly develop a new portfolio of programming that allows us to support writers, artists, and community members who have been impacted by Covid-19, in particular authors with new books who’ve had their book tours cancelled.”
So now, Seattleites can choose from the whole range of experiences Atlas Obscura offers. Search for #WonderfromHome on social media or go to https://www.atlasobscura.com/. Some of the tours are as inexpensive as $5.
Yoga in Your Living Room
Yoga studios across the country have turned to classes via Zoom, Facebook Live, or other video platforms. My wife, Yuko Enomoto, is one such teacher. She has transformed our bedroom into a yoga studio, and I have to be careful not to walk in on a class in progress. Yuko says she and her fellow teachers at the Yoga Studio in Magnolia were not relishing the idea of teaching online. “I must admit a big part of us dreaded going online because we were so used to in-person practice. Online classes just sounded so impersonal,” she told me. “But then we began drawing students from outside of Seattle – like California, Oregon, Utah – and realized we could reach a bigger audience now with our online classes.”
So roll out the mat and find a studio. Some studios are offering free classes for those of us who’ve lost our jobs or income.
Music for a Cause
The Rubin family of Bellevue has released a song called “Give a Little Love” and is working with the Seattle Foundation to help raise money for the neediest in our community. Produced by Gen Rubin and sung by the whole family, the song is sweet and hopeful. You can find it on YouTube and Instagram, but the best way to hear it is to go to https://bit.ly/givehopeatry, donate whatever you can. And write LOVELOVELOVE in the comments field. After you donate, you’ll be taken to a page to download the mp3 file and some original artwork.
Finally, as I write this, my daughter Kimi and her boyfriend are fervently filming a short movie to enter in the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project. Filmmakers get their prompts on Friday at 7pm and must upload their finished 5-minute film by Sunday at 7pm. The Seattle 48 Hour Film Project runs annual contests with local filmmakers, but since the stay-at-home order came down, they’ve held three 48-hour film contests on three different weekends, helping to keep our budding actors and directors from going stir crazy. The first contest in late March had 56 entries! To check out who wins and find the stay-at-home films, go to facebook.com/Seattle48HourFilmProject.
I hope these suggestions help you stay sane and healthy from the safety of your home until we can all meet again in person.