'A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.' Amelia Earhart
Over the last week, I have been heartened by the global response to Covid-19. Amidst the panic buying, fear and paranoia, something much more significant is happening -- a kindness pandemic is spreading faster than the coronavirus itself. People are adjusting to the challenges of isolation, of social distancing, of deep social and economic upheaval by coming together to help one another.
Last week, on my 53rd birthday, March 18th, I started this blog and asked people to send me their stories, videos, poems, images of love, solidarity and kindness. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response, by the change-making, hope and positivity that I believe is transforming the world as we know it.
For the last decade, I have been a passionate advocate and campaigner for building a caring, sharing economy, a system to live by where we care for people and planet and share available resources in any way that we can. Climate change and coronavirus have created a perfect storm, out of which this new, sustainable, caring, sharing economy can and will emerge. But it will take all of us to embrace change. Whether we are individuals who want to make a difference, businesses who want to survive or communities who need help (and many other things in between), we will need to work together in new ways to unleash our inner changemaker potential. Here’s a round up of 20 ways in which we have responded positively with love and kindness to our current crisis. This is Love in the Time of Corona…
With over a quarter of a million members, #TheKindnessPandemic Facebook Group is bringing together a community of people to help each other. It’s growing daily with offers of help, specific campaigns to feed the hungry and offer support and virtual connection to those particularly vulnerable.
2. Covid-19 Mutual Aid
There are now over 1,000 Covid-19 mutual aid groups, on social media platforms such as What’s App, connecting people in their immediate local area to support one another. In the street where I live in Brighton, I had a pre-existing street community group and now, it’s doubled in size, as people are coming forward to ask for help. From a couple with disabilities who are unable to collect food, to an elderly man who wants some phone / virtual ‘company’ to help him feel less alone, Covid-19 mutual aid groups are making a difference.
Becky Wass in Cornwall, UK designed a simple postcard to put through doors and let neighbours know there is help close at hand. #ViralKindness has indeed gone viral with the postcard being shared and printed countless times. I spent several days last week posting the card through letterboxes where I live, offering help and have been contacted by people in my immediate community who want to be connected during this challenging time.
4. Takeaway Community Kitchens
US celebrity chef José Andrés is trying to save jobs and feed those in need by turning his restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C. into takeaway community kitchens for people in need.
5. Stay at Home and Stay Fit
We might have to #stayhome, but one fitness trainer in Spain is on a mission to make sure we also stay fit. He’s been leading virtual fitness sessions from his roof in Seville. And Gonzalo Gbroto’s sessions have proven to be a hit.
6. Serenading for Solidarity
Many of us have been inspired by balcony singing during lockdown in Italy. Communities are finding ways to stay connected and lift spirits through song.
7. China Cares
In the last few weeks, China has donated coronavirus testing kits to Cambodia, shipped ventilators, masks and medics to Italy and France. They have also pledged to help the Philippines, Spain and other countries, and deployed medical experts to Iran and Iraq.
8. Social DisDancing and Club Quarantine
For some, the party never ends. The last week has seen the emergence of a new trend – ‘social disDancing’, virtual dance parties and I’m already a fan. @chessiekingg on Instagram seems to be the originator, she started a virtual 'disdancing' event daily at 7pm central US time.Then there’s the appropriately named #ClubQuarantine, with DJ D-Nice spinning the virtual livestream from his home for the virtual crowd to 'distdance' in their own homes. Celebrities from Oprah, Michelle Obama, Drake, America Ferrara, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Lenny Kravitz and Will Smith joined the party.
9. Laptops for Learning
On Sunday March 22nd, the Los Angeles Community College District and Foundation (LACCD) gave out 300 free laptops to students to continue their education at home during the statewide safer-at-home order. Students who did not have access to a computer at home were able to safely pick up the laptops enabling them to continue their education during lock down.
10. Invisible Hands to Help the Vulnerable
Two Yale students, Liam Elkind and Simone Policano set up Invisible Hands, an initiative to deliver groceries to the most vulnerable. Within 72 hours, they had recruited 1,300 volunteers to deliver food and medicines to older New Yorkers and others in need of support.
11. Elderly-only Supermarket Hours
In response to the unnecessary stockpiling of groceries in the UK and US, supermarkets have launched ‘elderly-only hours’ to ensure those most in need are able to get their supplies. This has also been extended to health and care workers providing frontline services in hospitals.
12. Creative Care Cards
A group of siblings have turned their downtime into care time by sending handmade cards to seniors who are quarantined in assisted living facilities amid the coronavirus crisis. Madilyn, 10, Olivia, 9, Cameron, 7 and Jack 4, have been busy drawing and writing kind wishes to people in nursing homes around Massachusetts.
People are finding a creative way to stay positive by digging out their Christmas lights. Whilst yuletide decorations in March might seem out of place, they’re bringing hope to some in dark times.
14. Caremongering in Canada
In Canada, the trend of ‘caremongering’ is taking hold as a community response to coronavirus. From Facebook groups set up to help the elderly, to support being provided to the disabled and random acts of kindness, the ‘caremongering’ movement is growing.
15. Clap of Gratitude
In Paris, French residents organized via social media to applaud healthcare workers from their balconies, thanking the doctors and nurses fighting the coronavirus outbreak. My friend Katia Chelli sent me this video.
16. Online Opera to Share
With many around the world having to stay indoors, finding new, virtual ways to be entertained is going to help us through these surreal times. For some cultural nourishment, free opera is now being streamed by The New York Metropolitan Opera
17. Broadway Online
Of course, it’s not only opera that will be shared online. For those who prefer the musical boards to solve the boredom, Broadway will be going broadband and helping to keep those spirits up.
18. Poetry for a Pandemic
Kitty O’Meara’s Pandemic poem was first sent to me last week by my 17-year-old daughter MaiaSince then, it’s been widely shared and spreading message of hope and positive impacts of the coronavirus.
Pandemic by Kitty O’Meara
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
19. Visual Kindness
Walking through the quiet streets in my hometown of Brighton as I take my one permitted exercise of the day, I notice signs, posters, images of kindness and support being offered. This one caught my eye in a nearby window.
20. Thank you Coronavirus
As the ‘Thank you Coronavirus’ video shows, despite all the difficulties, we have much to be grateful for. Love in the Time of Corona, there is plenty out there.
Share your stories of love, kindness and changemaking with me @benitamatofska on Twitter or Instagram