>> Grace Lore

What a week…. Has it only been a week?

Thankfully, my family is healthy and well, but like the rest of our neighbours, we are social distancing all the way. No friends for visits, no trips to the park, Monday night community dinners or Friday night chicken fingers for the kids and Fat Tug for me at the Inn? Definitely not.

Yet, I have never been more grateful to live in this neighbourhood and in this community with my Fernwood neighbours.

Social distancing – yes. But also social organizing. Staying apart – yes. But also coming together.

Here are a few things we’ve done to make sure that we are in this together (but not ‘together-together’).

We made a Google document with our address and phone number and what we have to offer and share to those who might need it. Then we shared it with some neighbours and told them to share it with others who might need or be able to offer support. The many Facebook groups for this are great, but a text from or to someone you know can be really important, especially when the bombardment of social media and news becomes too much.

Only know one neighbour? Maybe they know one more and so on – you know, exponential growth, but the good kind.

This coming together also helps us stay apart. Going to the grocery store? Send a few notes to see if anyone needs anything. Maybe you can help the whole neighbourhood by helping one or two neighbours to say home a few days longer.  And then, of course, add some chocolate or cookies or other pandemic treat to their order.

We’ve also been trying to take the opportunity to listen and learn more. Some of this is simple, I heard my neighbour say she couldn’t find bread flour. I saw some the next time I was out for supplies and left it outside her door. Some of it is less simple and a little harder on the heart – as it turns out, some of my neighbours could have used our support before it took the form of a pandemic. I’m listening now – my ears, eyes, and heart open around Fernwood.

My kids are watching me, I know they are. They’re watching for my worry, they’re watching how we react, and how we step up. And they’re missing their friends

One way we’ve tried to practice kindness and maintain connection at the same time is to drop off toys and books at the doorsteps of our friends. Have a book you’ve read 1000s times? A puzzle you’ve done? A game you’re not playing anymore?  Give your hands a wash and your toys a clean, get some fresh air, and do a drop off.  Toys are for the kids and the two-minutes of peace are for the parents.

We also bought some chalk – get out there, colour the sidewalk! Leave a message for a neighbour, write a joke, make some art.

There are a hundred ways for us to connect, we’re video calling, were sending pictures and funny memes, but we’re also yelling across the street to say hi, and love you, and thank you for the ice cream you dropped off, and what do you need.

Already connecting and supporting your neighbours? Awesome, let’s hold that momentum. And let’s take it right on through this to the other side. Not feeling connected? As Health Minister Adrian Dix said late last week, it’s not too late to start.

Fernwood – you’re the best. Keep it up. We’re in this together.