Hello Greenfield –
I hope this message finds you well and healthy. There has been a lot of change and challenge in the last few months. Connecting as a community feels more important than ever before.
I work in emergency management, and we do a lot of research about first responders, who play a critical and formal role in responding when emergencies strike in our communities. But have you ever heard the term “immediate responder” or “community responder”? These are people, ordinary people, who are thrust into a disaster simply because… they were there. They have no formal training, no special skills. They don’t wear capes or come with sirens. These are your neighbours who may have no greater connection to you except basic geography but hopefully, maybe, they will share a deep, personal connection to the area and the neighbourhood.
The research shows that overwhelmingly, these immediate responders step up to the challenge when confronted with a disaster. Despite fear and confusion, ordinary people really can do extraordinary things. In disasters all over the world, neighbours and communities are the first to respond to immediate needs of those around them. They come up with creative, grassroots solutions to pressing challenges. They create neighbourhood hubs in Calgary to help clean water out of basements, and they rally around foodbanks in Fort McMurray to support struggling families. And it works.
The challenge for us now, is finding this connection in the socially distant world where our disaster is measured in months not hours. When confronted with someone in immediate distress, it’s instinctive to offer a hug or a coffee. To provide a meal and a moment. It’s scary and exhausting to respond to an emergency, but then… it’s over. What we need now takes slow, measured actions over many, many days. Perseverance. Tenacity. Taking the time to find your neighbour’s phone number so you can check in. Not once, but every day. Offering not one run to the grocery store, but once a week, every week. Not a novelty night with friends online but a routine of comfort and regularity.
We’re in this for the long haul Greenfield – and we absolutely have got this. We may have closed the physical hall, but that doesn’t mean that our community stopped being engaged. If you need something, please reach out to the community league. If you have something to offer, reach out to your neighbours. If you take one thing from this message, please keep reaching out.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you soon.