Lauren's Blog

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Whew…fuck! Does anyone else feel like they’ve been completely put through the wringer this week? Between juggling two brand new listings, a kitchen remodel in my own home, and just LIFE stuff, I (like you) have been pummeled with anxiety-inducing articles, and “Breaking News!” alerts on the coronavirus…and we’ve only just begun. Fortunately we live in Portland, OR, a city/state that’s known for taking smart actions for public safety, and everyone’s coming together to mitigate the spread of the virus, from government to small businesses. And it’s the latter who will really feel the lasting financial impact of recommended “social distancing”.

Lots of people I love and trust are coming up with EXCELLENT ideas on how to support our industry folk, local artists, small businesses, you name it, while also supporting our friends, family, neighbors, and, yep, ourselves. I’m compiling (and crediting, where possible) their ideas, actions, and suggestions in the one place (here!), so that these ideas can continue to be shared and adopted, and together we can get through this by being community strong. That’s the Portland way, after all.

Coronavirus 101: Maintain social distance, wherever possible, and especially if you’re sick. Cough into your elbow, not the Indian buffet. Don’t hoard groceries and necessities, please. Wash your damn hands thoroughly, with soap and warm water, and when you’ve finished washing them (20+ seconds), wash them again. Got that? Okay, onto the rest…

Support Your Local Everybody

“That t-shirt from your fave local band, a mixed CD from a local rapper, or whatever merch people hock these days – BUY IT. If you’re gonna be working from home, you can now listen to what YOU want and not the easy listening station that Karen forces you to endure. From make-up to clothes, small gyms to shoes – our mom and pop shops need us. While you’re likely tempted to order a new item off Amazon, reach out to your local retailer and see if they can post some pics to Facebook or Instagram of what’s in stock. It’s just like shopping online, but you’re helping our community”. – Leslie Heindel

Artists – painters, potters, tattooists, musicians, photographers, etc – have been/will be hit super freaking hard by this, not least because so many of the upcoming Conventions and festivals that they sell their art at have been indefinitely postponed – and many of these events charge for a booth upfront (so artists are currently struggling to get their refunds, on booths AND accommodations). Here’s some ideas on how to support your local artists:

1. Buy their art. No shit, it’s that easy. Find their Etsy or website, and buy their prints, photos, anything.

2. Share their art. Encourage your buddies to share links, patreons, etc, to your fave local artists, encourage everyone to buy art. This is actually a positive to what’s going on right now, because we could all use more art in our lives, right? Make a post on Facebook or wherever you kids hang out and ask for artist recommendations (local is best, but nbd if not). It’ll be fun seeing which artists your friends and family are into, and you might just find a new fave. Keeping artists elevated and visible will help them pay their bills during this tough time.

3. Are you a freelance artist, or have artist friends in your circle? Lots of support resources are popping up, and here’s a good one to share with your people.

My Personal Tips:

1. If you’re ordering take out, order two dishes – one to eat now, and one to take home for later. This’ll cut in half your interactions at a restaurant, keeping everyone safer.

2. I started a group chat with my neighbors! If you know me, you know I live on a VERY social street, and love connecting with my neighbors over pretty much anything. Now, I’ve got neighbors offering places for me to prepare meals (since my kitchen is a hot mess), offers of extra dinners…and we’re basically just looking out for each other. This is especially important if you have neighbors who were already socially isolated pre-coronavirus – let’s look out for our elderly and differently abled neighbors, y’all. Your local Buy Nothing group is another awesome way to stay connected with people in your area – already, members are offering grocery deliveries and assistance to those in need.

3. SHARE YOUR BOUNTY. I already subscribe to regular toilet paper deliveries, so that was never a concern for me. If you have excess of items that are in demand? Share them!

4. Think about where you are privileged over others. Do you already work from home, and have a business/job that will largely be unaffected by the outbreak? Do you have a great support network already in place? Do you have a cushy financial situation that won’t be stressed under the circumstances? Examine where you’re better off than others, and act accordingly. I’m not suggesting you give away your entire savings, but try to recognize weaknesses in society and try to help those who will be hit the hardest. After all, it’s not their fault they’re in duress, and they were likely just scraping by before coronavirus was a thing.

Local Businesses Taking Control:

I’ve seen posts and newsletters and updates from so many of our local businesses, and it’s been really freaking inspiring to see how they’re innovating during the crisis. Here’s a couple of examples of ones that stood out for me:

P’s & Q’s Marketplace: This sweet and rustic Woodlawn deli/grocery store/restaurant put out a post stating that they’re amping up their (already diligent) cleaning/hygiene practices, and are now offering “curbside” delivery for take out meals – so you just order, roll up to the door, call/text them, and they’ll run your order out to you. It’s initiatives like this that will help keep everyone safer. Go see their post on Facebook for more info.

Pic + quote are thanks to Pistils.

Pistils: Yep, a boutique plant nursery gave me chills when their newsletter came out, and not the kinda chills that require a trip to the ER (can we joke about this yet, or too soon?). Here’s what they wrote: “In trying times like these, we’re turning to our plants for support, and finding comfort in their resilience and growth. Taking a moment to slow down and care for our plants – to prune and water, to repot and fertilize, to get the first veggie seeds in the ground – is a centering experience that helps us cope with anxiety. Studies show that plants help keep us calm and focused, reducing stress. In many ways, we believe that plant care is self care.” *brb, using actual tears to mist houseplants*

Hollywood Theater: This Portland institution came out hard and fast with assurances on cleanliness, limiting exposure, and, most importantly, providing sick leave and support to their employees.

Buy a meal, get a gift card, become a member. These are small ways you can support our local businesses.

Tips From My Network:

1. From one of those friend-of-a-friend posts: do you have a bulk amount of alcohol prep pads for cleaning phone screens, etc? These items can be critical for diabetics or those with injectable needs, so if you have plenty of those on hand, see if you can assist someone who really needs them!

2. Everywhere you look, local food pantries are offering “no questions asked” assistance, and volunteer support groups are gathering to help with pick-ups, deliveries, and assistance – here’s just one of them.

3. “If you cancel a babysitter/daycare/cleaning person/landscaper/massage/any kind of service reliant on hourly or per visit income and are financially able, pay them anyway.” – secretlytropical replying to my Insta post.

4. “Tip your barista/server/whoever else extra $$!” – ronronthemom replying to my Insta post.

5. Swell founder and personal buddy, Nate Frazier, has released Connecting the Dots PDX, which gathers small businesses online who are in need of short term assistance, and similarly, I LOST MY THEATRE GIGS is a collaborative website listing where those in the theater industry submit their lost gigs/potential lost income so that people can donate to help keep them afloat (the entertainment industry has been hit hard – you’ve likely already seen a slew of concerts and shows coming up cancelled, over and over…). Jump in and support talented folk who have already invested so much time and heart into projects that are now dead in the water.

Do you get the feeling yet that we’re gonna be okay? We’re gonna be okay. But we’re also in this for the long haul, so pace yourself. Assemble, and take action. Find a need, and fill it. We’re in this together.