COVID-19 hit home last week when more cases showed up in the Northwest and, of course, specifically Portland and environs. And it’s a brand-new thing for me and for us – it’s not just the same old cold and flu season coming to town this time.
I’ve (again like many) lived in times of war and terrorism and 9/11, I was at the epicenter of the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, I once found myself stranded abroad with no money or passport, hundreds of miles from a consulate. We all have our stories. And with every emergency, really with everything new we encounter, we find new challenges, anticipated and not.
Corona Virus is big. And it’s “in our face”, up close and personal, directly affecting us and all of those around us – degrees may vary but no one will remain unaffected. Whether one catches the virus or knows someone who has. Or someone’s job ends or is drastically changed. Or you’re left in a home without certain staples because they can’t be found on store shelves. Everyone is affected.
But there’s a really big difference in how we address this challenge, individually and as a community. We can’t fall back on each other in the same way as we might in other emergencies. Instead of getting together to support each other, stopping by to visit someone who needs help, throwing a diversion dinner party, or just doing your thing by continuing to show up to work every day, we are required to do the opposite. We can’t show up. Not physically anyhow.
This isolation makes things more difficult because it’s not our natural reaction to a crisis. I know that during the days following the Loma Prieta quake, there were impromptu street-, neighborhood- and beach-parties. Barbecues. We’d play games. We did a lot (more than the norm) of things together – our usual pastimes and lives were limited by power outages and business closures – so we found new things to do. And being together and having fun – making the best of a bad situation – kept distress and depression away for periods of time. We helped each other and helped ourselves.
Now we’re all going to have to ‘show up’ in new and different ways. Fortunately for us (in the U.S. in 2020), we have so many ways to do this. Far more so than just 30 years ago during my Earthquake, when getting through to loved ones in other parts of the country was not an immediate given. Phone lines were jammed up and there weren’t many other viable ways to communicate quickly back then.
I hope that we all do show up for each other. In my small town of Molalla, I have already seen many instances of businesses using their particular abilities to help others out – both other citizens and other businesses – impromptu delivery services and virtual stores, video services to convey messages safely and quickly, positive messages going out to both the immediate community and the bigger world.
Some are immediately hit harder than others. Restaurants are an obvious example. And much retail, much brick-and-mortar retail, still relies on warm bodies coming through the door. And I have seen some very fast adaptation in this new week-old world, with business models already being altered in a matter of days.
Let’s take advantage of our modern abilities to adapt and to help and support our friends, neighbors, and businesses from afar… something we wouldn’t have had the ability to do 20 years ago. Communicate with each other, share news, ask for help, and offer help and resources.
While we are dealing with Corona, we can use our virtual communities (large and small) to ultimately bring our physical communities closer together. This will pass. When it does let’s aim to have manipulated the negative into a much greater positive. For the common good – for us to be stronger and more vitally connected.
My name is Robert Thompson, owner of the Robert E Thompson Real Estate Group. I hang my business hat with Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere. My office is in Portland but I live in south Clackamas County in the small city of Molalla. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or need help with a real estate matter.