Incredible ingenuity inspires new ways to interact
It seems like a dizzying maze as modes of operation and protocols continuously change and as people in the faith and nonprofit communities become adept at live-streaming encounters and doing Zoom meetings, prayer gatherings, Bible studies, worship services, breakout groups, training sessions and even regional annual meetings.
In a pastoral letter April 30, Episcopal Bishop Gretchen Rehberg said she has been asked many times "when can we return to church," She emphasized, "We are the church! We are currently away from the our buildings and physically distant from one another, but we are being the church in remarkable ways" via streaming and recordings from living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and patios. She said it is the incarnational ministry of Jesus coming to us.
The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane cancelled its annual conference in-person and is now presenting the keynote speaker and workshops online.
The Lands Council, Habitat for Humanity Spokane, Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW), Second Harvest , the Spokane Symphony and others shifted to online fund raisers in April. Like with The Fig Tree benefits, the videos of speakers are available online for people to view and donate on their own time. Habitat had raised $82,500 of $200,000 by press time.
Someone proposed a May 5 "Giving Tuesday" as a way for nonprofits to gain the funds they need.
Meanwhile, friends share updates online.
Twa-le Abrahamson reports that Diné and Spokane tribes' legacies of inadequate health care, historical pollution and lack of clean water are worsened in the pandemic. "We were sacrificed then and continue to be sacrificed," as most states leave tribes out of assistance, she said. So the SHAWL Society has a fund raiser to help out.
Kiantha Duncan of the Spokane NAACP shared on Facebook about the need for hope: "This pandemic does not have to rob us of our dreams and futures, does not have permission to deplete us of our hope and humanity. It does have permission to unify us as a human race and ignite our collective creativity, offer opportunities to create the relationships, communities, businesses, organizations, corporations and world we desire." She hopes it will help dismantle systems that "have been broken far too long and no longer serve our local and global communities."
Terri Anderson, co-executive director of the Tenants Union of Washington in Spokane, has joined with the Spokane Alliance, Spokane Low-Income Housing Coalition and Greater Spokane Progress to protect tenants who have lost hourly employment and income. They called the state, county and city to establish a moratorium on evictions and to establish rental assistance. They propose allowing renters 12 months to pay back rent with no penalties or interest.
"The racial divide in home ownership, which is greater in Spokane than the state of Washington and nation means that people of color disproportionately rent their homes and live at greater risk of housing instability in the health crisis," she said.
Drew Meuer of Second Harvest said they are providing more food in more locations. Mobile Market buses, trucks and semi-trailers are distributing boxes of food with little contact by drive-thrus in vacant parking lots. Spokane Packaging donated 34,000 boxes to make that possible. In one week, they did 21 distributions to more than 4,000 families.
"I appreciate everything everyone is doing for everybody," said one woman who was picking up food. That sums it up.
The pandemic has a heavier toll on communities of color, poor, homeless and hungry people, so our call is to speak up against racism, to create more equity, to assure people stay housed and to feed people.
Many leaders remind us to take a deep breath, to bring in the oxygen we need to empower us to think and act.
In another act of ingenuity, local artists are doing that with a drive by art show. Check on Facebook for Spokanes-Art-on-the-Go-Art-Show, and take a breather.
It's hard to keep up with the incredible ingenuity we see. The Fig Tree could well have been twice as many pages. It's a challenge to keep the COVID-19 directory supplement online updated every few days.
We also rejoice that so many other media are seeing news in the kinds of stories we normally cover. We hope that will continue, because such stories help us breathe and act.
Mary Stamp - Editor
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May, 2020