How we’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Coming to grips with the devastating impacts of the pandemic has been hard for all of us. With the situation changing every day, none of us know what this will mean for our health, our loved ones, our jobs, our schooling, and our savings — let alone the nation, the economy at large, our democracy, and our planet. 

Some of us have been hit hard already. SD350 members and their families have lost jobs. Some have gotten sick with COVID-19 or have loved ones who have it or have even passed away due to the virus. Some of us have underlying conditions that make it dangerous to leave home. Some of us are suddenly juggling homeschooling and working from home. 

Most of us have never lived through a time like this. We are all struggling with the emotions, the stress, and the anxiety of this situation. In some ways, as climate activists, we’re more mentally equipped to deal with a worldwide crisis than many of our fellow Americans. 

The pandemic is laying bare the sorry state our nation has been in. The classism, racism, and corporatism that led to the largest wealth inequalities in our lifetimes are now putting our most vulnerable people at risk. It’s no coincidence that the people who are able to shelter at home and work from home have more money and health care than those who are risking their lives working for minimum wage in grocery stores and other service industries.

SanDiego350’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has primarily been in three areas: 

1. Bringing our events online. Prior to the virus, we had already held quite a few of our regular meetings remotely to maximize participation while minimizing our carbon footprint. Transitioning the earth day “Virtual Climate Uprising” was challenging – working remotely with a coalition of more than a dozen organizations, figuring out production for live streaming on multiple platforms, doing only online promotion. In other ways, it’s been easier. We’ve had youth participating in our programs from across the country. People have been more available and it’s easier to participate if you don’t need to leave home. We’re working on making our events as accessible, interactive, and engaging as possible. 

2. Checking in on our members. We’ve made hundreds of phone calls through our volunteer structures to check in our volunteer leaders, team members, and active volunteers and donors. Many volunteers have stepped up to offer help to our members who need help shopping or coping. It’s wonderful to see the care and compassion our members have for each other. Everyone has appreciated the concern and camaraderie and the space to take care of themselves and their loved ones – and it’s brought us closer and made us more resilient. 

3. Reevaluating our priorities. We’ve met with our board to discuss organizational level priorities, and we’ve been holding meetings with our different volunteer teams to check in and see how the pandemic has affected their plans, what challenges have come up, and what new opportunities exist. Some projects we’ve put so much into just won’t go anywhere in this new world. The state legislature has been closed down. Schools are not meeting regularly. But new projects have emerged that are relevant and crucial, for example, organizing a virtual Youth 4 Climate Summer Camp, supporting telecommuting, and advocating to make sure we move forward with a just recovery – instead of going back to the old “normal” when the economy reopens.

About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.

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