COVID-19, Wellbeing and Freedom: what’s next?

Covid-19 virusSitting at home, reading about coronavirus, you peruse social media, pick up your phone, reach out to friends and strategize on staying connected while distanced and being safe. This is the current situation in which many of us find ourselves.

Media is abuzz with questions, concerns and consolations. What businesses are open? Is City Hall open? What grocery stores are stocked? Who is selling local food? Who knows how to educate children from home? Where is the best place to get information about what is happening?

Whether sheltering in place or out conducting essential business, it is clear that we’re all wondering what’s next. For all of us, the most important thing is to prioritize the essentials and support one another in this time of heightened uncertainty. We are all in this together and it is up to us to create what’s next.

Fortunately, we already live in a vibrant and healthy community; we have an abundance of resources that we can pull together to thrive despite adversity.

Farmers, contractors, educators, health professionals, caretakers, artists, business owners, energy providers… we can work together to meet each other’s needs, mindful of one another’s capacity to be social. It’s time we start thinking of our community as an asset that can benefit us now and in the future. This means living locally and investing in our community. It means leveraging our strengths and forming trusted partnerships around what sustains us: food, water, shelter and energy.

While it can be costly to procure these things locally, our livelihoods depend on it. Going forward, we can save our community and local economy if we commit to buying local goods and services.

Painted hands forming a heart.Whenever possible, buy local food from Nevada and Placer county. Many stores sell baked goods, ferments, and wholesome local dishes. Alternatively, Nevada County Grown and Placer Grown have wonderful directories that list local farmers. Get in touch with ones that offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Also, consider converting your yard into a microbe rich permaculture garden ready to plant by summer or building a greenhouse to grow food in year-round. If gardening isn’t your thing, protect native species on your property, increasing local biodiversity and providing vital habitat for pollinators. Otherwise, engage in responsible forest stewardship to protect your private property and neighborhood from fire.

Equally as important, hire local contractors if you plan to build a new structure or renovate an old one. If you have space on your property and no intention to grow food or native species, think about building a natural accessory dwelling unit on your property to provide affordable housing for members of our community facing severe consequences of unemployment.

Together with buying local food and hiring local contractors, turn to local energy. If you own a home or commercial building, purchase solar and a backup energy system to generate local energy. At the very least, you’ll stop paying PG&E; ideally, you’ll make a return on your investment in less than 5 years. In the long run, solar not only increases the value of your property, it builds community resilience to things like pandemics and power outages.

To increase community resilience, install a generator following some practical considerations or add battery backup to an existing solar system. If you already have a generator, take care of it properly, so you can rely on it when you need to. Having power at all times, even when the grid is out, allows you to pump water, which is crucial for good health, sanitation and nutrition.

If installing solar or a backup system is not in your wheel house right now, develop a strategy to save energy. South Yuba Club serves as a great example of what’s possible. Then, should you want to install solar later, you’ll need fewer panels to meet your energy needs.

This is one of those times when no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. And beginning with the essentials is an obvious first step. Paying a little bit extra for locally produced goods and services or paying upfront for solar might seem like an immediate hurdle, but it’s worth it to jump. Yes, it adds up over time, but it adds up within our community. That is what we want. That is what it means to invest in community.

Rooftop solar installation.While, the links in this article pertain to Northern California specifically, this information is true no matter where your community is located. Whether you want to build community on your private property, in your neighborhood, in your town or city, it is crucial to leverage the strengths of those around you.

This time is a window of opportunity to generate abundance in the community, affording us our security, comfort, and happiness. Coming together to produce food, water, shelter and energy is a way to sustain our freedom. No matter what’s next, we must protect our wellbeing and our freedom. It is through embracing our interdependence that we can gain greater independence and flourish at this time.

Please, take care of yourself and others; be safe, happy and healthy!