Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a grassroots coalition, and we're all about people. All of our work depends on volunteer time and energy, and in this moment our community is finding new ways to support each other. Hear from volunteer leaders from across the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition about how they're staying connected and continuing safe streets advocacy in a time of pandemic.BRIE GYNCILD, Central Seattle Greenways: What are you doing to stay connected to people? I'm spending hours on the phone daily with close friends and family, waving at neighbors as we pass each other at safe distances, and spending a lot of time on Twitter. I'm also enthusiastically attending Zoom meetings and more traditional conference calls. What are you doing to support your community? The primary thing I'm doing to support my community is staying at home, preventing any role I might play in spreading the virus. I'm also sharing reliable information with those who aren't getting it through other means, and I'm coaching someone in my Buy Nothing group as she starts her first garden. :) What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? Central Seattle Greenways is moving forward with the Bailey Gatzert Safe Routes to School effort in ways that we can — finalizing materials, including an online survey; communicating with groups through newsletters and email; working with the UW Professor, Rachel Berney, that we've been collaborating with to find a way for her class to work with us differently than we originally envisioned. What are you doing to support your own self care? I'm trying to get to bed on time and get good sleep. I'm eating nutritious and satisfying foods. I'm learning all that I can about the virus itself as research develops, about which policies are effective, and about how to keep each other safe *and* sane. I'm also listening to music, gardening, and finding opportunities to laugh regularly.
PHYLLIS PORTER, Rainier Valley Greenways & Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Board:What are you doing to stay connected to people? I stay connected to people by reaching out to see how they are doing during these times. Reaching out to ones I haven’t heard from in a while due to being busy. I co-started a Zoom Group. Invitations are extended to paternal cousins. We catch up from where we left off. Our first and second meetings were with cousins from Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, and Illinois. We also discuss how COVID-19 is affecting our lives and each local community. At the end of our discussion we pray for our parents, any sickness among family members, and for the global family. The family created a social media page with Messenger to relay weekly messages of a concern or a happy event — an aunt's death, and a new baby cousin's birth was relayed this week. What are you doing to support your community? I involved community in a real life coronavirus scenario (mine - I was sick, but tested negative, thankfully) keeping them informed on what we can do as individuals and a community to stay healthy and safe. I posted a video of myself for those who didn’t know of anyone who had the virus or had tested for it. I wanted to show that this pandemic is real and is touching people in our own community. A big concern people have share with me is about the wait time for getting results — how you deal with that, waiting in anticipation, and how to cope with the worrying. I answered by saying, "Try not to focus on the what if, but the what is — Now." Mental stability is very important at this time and there is no need to think the worst, panic, or have unnecessary emotions about what hasn't been proven yet. I told them I took this as any other illness — treat your symptoms, get rest, drink fluids and when feeling better exercise. I posted another video with the negative results and thanked everyone for their concern and their part in helping me recover. I ended the message with an encouraging note about the benefits of a riding a bicycle, taking good care of yourself, and telling someone "thank you" What are you doing to keep this safe streets / SNG work going? I read info posted on SNG and my local coalition to stay informed. I reply if I have something to add. What are you doing to support your own self care? First, I take heed and follow all precautions and measures set forth. It's flu and pneumonia season and being a person with a history of pneumonia, I take care of myself. Rest treat medical symptoms as or if they develop. I eat healthy and continue to exercise. I dance to music and recently started riding my bike inside on a trainer for exercise. Starting tomorrow evening, I am riding in our first Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) Ride and Exercise series. I am also a one of the ride leaders. I will be receiving some pointer from a European triathlete and triathlon coach during this Zoom ride series.
MICHAEL HERSCHENSOHN, Queen Anne Greenways:What are you doing to support your community? I am making grape jelly from grapes frozen last summer that I’ll share with neighbors. Also emailing friends; going for walks with my granddaughters while keeping distances. On these walks we’ve been meeting lots of neighborhood friends which makes us feel connected to them, and they to us. This is the only time I’ve ever agreed with Mark Ostrow about the narrowness of the sidewalks along the Willcox Wall, but the whole boulevard should be car free. Left that one out of Gordon’s map. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? Frankly, very little. I regret that; however, I see very little room for it except for managing the start-up of the Play Street project and the money we’ve raised from the city. Taking part in Coalition meeting totally uplifting. While every single one of us expressed cheer in the face of fear, we’re really all locked up in our little boxes. What are you doing to support your own self care? Daily bike rides while the sun shines. Writing one article a week on the history of Queen Anne for the Queen Anne Historical Society’s website. I am exploring ways to acquire goods without going to stores. (Looks like it means sending family members under the age of 50).
KATHLEEN BARRY JOHNSON, NE Seattle Greenways:What are you doing to stay connected to people? I'm getting really good at Zoom and teams, so I can see people's faces. I'm calling someone in my family at least once a day. What are you doing to support your community? My husband and I sent notes to all our neighbors to make sure we all have each other's contact info and can reach out if there is a need. I'm working with a friend on the block to organize some socially distant street games like badminton and horse shoes. Also, I'm working with a group to organize "Sing Your Heart Out Seattle" a sing along time on Sundays (starting 3/29) at 2 p.m. More details to come. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? We had a meeting last week. Missed the coalition meeting but will be connecting on other meetings online. What are you doing to support your own self care? Biking - as often as I can, walking the dogs, watching our baby chicks grow.
ANDREW KOVED, Queen Anne Greenways:What are you doing to stay connected to people? Social media, phone calls, video chats, and I plan on sending postcards and letters too. There is a great opportunity to disconnect from the noise of the 24/7 news, and tune into the smaller aspects of life, friendship, community, and self. We've gotten so carried away in the past few years with always being connected, this will be a great change to supply each other with more meaningful and worthwhile connections. What are you doing to support your community? Being available, being present, and being engaged. Too often I am physically somewhere but mentally distant, or a don't pick up a phone call when I know I should; there is so much of our daily lives that reduces the quality of our community. That folks will be more sedentary, and we can finally engage at length without worry of other obligations or distractions, is an opportunity to build community. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? People are realizing the value of the street and their surrounding 15 minute neighborhood now that their travel is limited. I want to help bring these joys, and the many flaws, into relief. What are you doing to support your own self care? Choice of what to focus on is fundamental to our life -- we at Greenways know this to be true with our focus on safe streets despite a world fixated on cars. I'm making sure that I focus on the many joyous, fascinating, engaging, enjoyable parts of life. The lens of pandemic can be crippling, but there are so many other ways to take in the whole world.
PEACHES THOMAS, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets:What are you doing to stay connected to people? Making a conscious effort to check in with my loved ones as often as I can. I have done this by creating group message threads. We all share information with each other and fun stuff too. I am also homeschooling our 11 year old Triplets. What are you doing to support your community? By donating, staying informed, and passing along relevant resources to others. People are working tirelessly to help others during this time and I want to pay it forward as often as possible. Something as simple as reaching out and offering kind words or acts of appreciation can help keep people uplifted. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? I'm actively seeking advocacy development and training webinar opportunities, reading up on current cyclist and pedestrian policies, and strategizing creative ways to stay engaged with our members at DVSS during this time of social distancing. What are you doing to support your own self care? Going for a daily walk has helped a lot. Meditation/affirmations, limiting my time on social media and binge watching my favorite shows and movies.
KATHY DUNN, West Seattle Bike Connections:What are you doing to stay connected to people? Calling family members around the country more often to check in. What are you doing to support your community? Donating to local charities. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going? Reached out to our group to solicit possible alternative safe activities for Bike Everywhere Day/Month and to get ideas on how the current situation could affect our activities and priorities.Planning for a video conference version of our monthly 1st Tuesday meeting. What are you doing to support your own self care?
- Walking the dog, biking to shopping and errands, switching from in person to online piano lessons with my teacher.
- Picking up the occasional growler of beer at a local brewery to drown my sorrows.
- Making sure I don't bring home any germs to my husband and daughter.
- Watching the free Metropolitan Opera broadcast reruns online. Tonight starting at 7:30 Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" will be available for 24 hours. Great music, lots of comedy and a happy ending, just what I need right now. https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/.
- Going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier to go out when the crowds are smaller. By afternoon, the Alki promenade is swarming with people.
Photo Credit: Alex Garland
DON BRUBECK, West Seattle Bike Connections:What are you doing to stay connected to people? Talking to my kids, far-flung siblings, and a few friends on phone and WhatsApp. I'm also participating in the conversations on our WSBC Google Group. Taking care of and playing with the toddler in our household. What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?
- Participating in conversations in this groups and in our WSBC Google Group, and promoting WSBC sharing of bike ride routes for people to do solo.
- Submitting Your Voice Your Choice ideas and promoting participation.
- Participating in a Duwamish Tribe steering committee for trails project feasibility study, meeting via conference calls.
- Limiting news media and social media to about two hours a day. with none for at least an hour before bedtime. Listening to more music instead.
- Taking a walk or going for a bike ride every day.
- Practicing social distancing and good hygiene to the extent possible when living with a toddler and two working healthcare workers.