Humanity is going through the ringer right now. This topic is meant to share personal stories on how people have been affected by the situation we find ourselves in. No judgements, please feel free and at ease.
Thanks to the pandemic I was able to get a community garden going for my city. In the spring, as interest in gardening was ramping up, I broached the subject with a contact at the local community college. They wanted something positive to work on so they were interested. I talked to some other folks and a network quickly formed. Most people were working from home so sneaking away for a zoom call seemed easier than it would be in normal conditions. We got the garden approved this summer and started building and fundraising this fall. I think the pandemic in general got more people thinking about how local food was more important so it gave our garden project more lift, thrust and urgency than it would have at any other time. Volunteers were looking for a reason to get outside and work on a fence, etc.
I've personally experienced one heck of a year. But I took this year as a chance to take some risks. Some worked out great. Others, not so much. I've eliminated a lot of toxic people and welcomed new amazing friends. My kiddo has experienced that life doesn't always go by " your life plan" and you have to adapt. I'm grateful for all the lessons. Even the ones that have kicked my ass hard.
This year was the first time in my entire life that my family did not ridicule me for my gardening and self-sufficient tendencies.
The one who mocked me the worst, my dad, was canning tomatoes himself all summer, instead of grumbling about how my canning projects were a waste of time. He's talking about getting a generator "just in case". I even heard him bring up the idea of meat rabbits!
My brother and his wife are having a very hard time. She is the kind of person who goes a little insane if she's alone, or if the people around her are being too quiet. They both have jobs that allow them to work from home, but she frequently goes out for no reason, and even talking him into a road trip across the country. This in spite of the fact that they are both at high risk due to medical problems (she has MS, he has one working lung). I worry about them a lot, because they don't handle the unexpected well at the best of times!
A few members of my extended family have caught covid, but so far none of them have died from it. One family member managed to alienate the entire family and half his town because of it. He and his wife both tested positive, she with symptoms, and were supposed to be quarantined at home. But he decided it was ok to go get a hair cut, visit vulnerable friends and relatives, and generally act like nothing was wrong. His own brother threatened him with a shotgun when he tried to force his way into the brother's house "just to visit". (The brother, my grandfather, is still recovering from a bacterial infection that cost him half his foot. And my grandmother has diabetes and a heart condition. Covid would most likely kill both of them if they caught it.)
Uncle Fred still can't figure out why anybody would be mad at him. He's always been like that, but this time nobody's putting up with it anymore.
So far, only one person I knew personally has died from this virus. He was a former neighbor, who was still in touch with some other neighbors. I have a hard time feeling sorry for him, although I do feel sorry for his wife and kids. But, this was the guy the township board referred to as "the Agricultural Terrorist" for the stuff he pulled. He would hide steel fenceposts in nearby cornfields. He'd rip up my landscaping and redo it his way, then expect me to thank him for "helping". Crap like that. He made the area a better place by moving out. And yet, somehow, he managed to have enough friends left behind that the road that passes through my farm is being renamed as a memorial to him.
in the microcosm of my household, the pandemic has so far been more of a blessing than anything else. my wife got pregnant in january. my wife is a therapist and makes well more money than i was, so when the pandemic hit in march, i was able to leave my job for good. my wife worked from home with basically her full workload, we were able to nest and spend a lot more time together than we would have otherwise during her pregnancy, and i was able to support her in ways that i wouldn’t have under ‘normal’ circumstances. i got more done in the garden and grew many times more calories than in past years. the plan had always been that when it came to baby-time, i would be the main daytime caregiver so my wife the moneymaker could do that thing with the bacon, so this has primed the pump for that. my wife is planning on going back to work part time next month. the normalization of tele-health of all kinds helps there, too. don’t need to rent an office or work enough initially to pay for one, etc. we’re admittedly very lucky to have already been saving for maternity/paternity leave - and the lack of out-of-the-home activities (there was some hiking, etc, but in our area at least many of those kinds of areas were packed with people in the early days of quarantine) helped us stick to that plan and left more in our accounts than there might have been.
also the change in buying habits that came along with the pandemic has meant that etsy orders for the family’s art business have gone up a lot, almost making up for the lack of the craft fairs that used to be a big seasonal bump.
i do really feel for the many many folks who are struggling in this time but my hermit nature has been eating it up.
For me it was an eye opener on how little I knew about the 1918-1919 pandemic. I looked though my college History books and asked other History majors about where to find information. Very little was found until I read a bit in The Kansas Lifeline about Samuel Crumbine and the “Don’t Spit on the Sidewalk” brick. Here is the link https://krwa.net/portals/krwa/lifeline/2011/DontSpitOnTheSidewalk.pdf
This year has made me look closer at how and why I buy and do things in a city. Pre-pandemic I would go to different places to shop about three times a week and go to the "big city" to buy things I could not find at home. Now I shop only one day a week and I find myself happier for it. The pandemic has in a way refocused my life around my home and improving how I live. Back in July a bad storm affected my city. Many trees were taken out and I had to have repairs to my home. This has been an stressful time dealing with the aftermath. This has reinforce my view that Permaculture is the way to a better place and world. In 2021 I will work to make my home and lawn in to a Permaculture paradise.
You should never forget that every creature has its purpose in the cycle of nature and can also be very important to humans. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
My story is one of giving hope to a succesion of crisis.
I was in my forties, and depressed by the bland life I am living, with no purpose in live other than raising my kid. All these vids about permaculture were building some interest in something positive to do with live in my free time. Then I learned about a shared garden close to my apartment and thought about going there just when the pandemic hit. When lockdowns were over, and after some weeks of practicing meditation for the first time, I was able to meet my gardening neighbours and learn what they were doing and what challenges they were facing.
Surprisingly, their hardest challenge was something I thought I could help with. And now I am trying permaculture ways to deal with no access to fresh water.
These last months have left a feeling of personal fulfillment, but for my wife it was a completely different story. Now she's mad at me for not realising how mad she was about me in the first place, and threatening divorce if I don't return to the old indoor habits. Right now I am trying to balance the nurishment of the market garden with my wife's necessity for outdoor enjoyment and passing time together, not an easy task when she does not want to partake in the garden.
I felt bad because I had a great time. I was stuck at home for 3 months with a new baby during the spring so I got to accomplish so much and spend so much time outside with my beautiful babies. Yeah, generally it was awesome being home. Was totally ready for the kids to go to school though. Distance education isn't our thing.
2020 started out looking like a recipe for disaster, in hindsight we've had a pretty good year. Don't get me wrong, I miss going places, doing things , seeing people , hugging friends and making money. But it appears we've weathered this part of the storm pretty well.
In January I was was at trade show in Las Vegas and there was a lot of covid talk going around. I had decided there that it was going to be a tough year for glass sales. So I figured it might be smart to double down on the farm. In 2019 we started selling our excess produce and eggs at a farmers market and I already wanted to step it up in 2020. Now I had no excuse not to. So I filled the incubator with chicken eggs, ordered more ducks, placed a seed order and put up more fence.
Market season went really well. We ended up doing 2 markets. Sold out of eggs and produce most weeks. And the markets provides us with the little social time we needed so we could remain sane. There had been talk about doing an online farmers market for several years. This year they decided to make it happen. It's picked up pace through out the summer as people found out about it and has continued to do well after the outdoor market season come to an end.
My wife is an online teacher and I'm usually a glassblower with a studio at home. So we've been practicing isolating and social
distancing for over a decade and have managed to work out most of the kinks that can come along with it.
It wasn't the easiest year, there were plenty of struggles, but all in all its made us realize how fortunate we are.
when in doubt f@%k it, when not in doubt get in doubt ... in the meantime, plant your seeds.