I opt to always see the silver lining of even the worst situations. The US is poised for one of the largest healthcare devastation in recent history. Our government and public health system is vastly underprepared and under supported. But we see local governments and businesses stepping forward to support their communities in ways that are practical and life-saving.
Atlas has been helping people to see their communities and care ecosystems since 2015. Until the coronavirus brought things to a halt, we had been conducting in-person workshops across Michigan with a diverse set of organizations to help participants visualize how people received and gave care in their daily lives. The impact we’ve had so far has been felt by people working in the service industries and CEOs and youth. People have come away from the workshops with a deeper appreciation for their community and the care they receive – or the care they see others receive – from members of their family. But now, we have suspended those workshops, and are working with organization leaders to design next steps.
The We All Care Initiative is premised on the idea that care is a fundamental human activity and though each of our situations is unique, and though our belief systems or political positions may be different, we are all bonded by and depend upon the care in our lives.
An opportunity to prepare for a different future
While we are all home, either alone or with families, we have an opportunity to look around and think about the people nearest to us (physically and emotionally). Now that we’ve slowed or stopped our social engagements, we can think about everything we spend our time doing, all the places we go – just how busy our lives are. What does this enforced pause bring up?
For some, this pause is nothing short of terrifying. Many of my friends either cook or wait tables for restaurants that have been closed. Many write for productions that are no longer in production. Event planners have no events to plan. House cleaners are being asked to stay away. Offices and schools are closed, leaving parents to juggle ongoing work demands with homeschooling. Those of us with younger kids hold them on our laps during Zoom calls and hope their tiny fingers don’t close our meeting window or erase our notes or alter our presentations. And there are so many more scenarios, all unique and to varying degrees, hard.
So in short, I don’t take this question of reflection lightly. Yet I feel we would be squandering an opportunity if we didn’t take the time to reflect upon all the people, things, and activities we are all so busy with. During this temporary way of altered living, let’s consider how we want to move forward. Let’s ask how and where we care, what we spend our time on, how we move through the world. Let’s imagine – playfully and seriously – where we might place newly recognized value and how we can better care with intention for ourselves, our relationships, and our world.
As you sit at home, try drawing the Atlas CareMap. Have your family members draw one. Share your stories and compare. Listen to and hopefully enjoy each other’s stories.
We’ll be moving our Mapping Ourselves workshops and material to an online platform soon. Being mindful of the impact our in-person workshops have in terms of human-to-human connection, deep listening and story sharing, we’re actively exploring ways to replicate these experiences for you.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for activities to do and want to explore ideas for what and how to observe things in your life, we highly recommend the book, Observe, Collect, Draw, by Giorgia Lupi (our friend and collaborator) and Stefanie Posavec.