In these times, or perhaps moreso in difficult times, my thoughts turn to weaving together community. Last week, I cast around for a way to help build up our collective morale and landed on my gig to create the visitors newsletter for Bishop, California. I emailed the executive director suggesting I write a newsletter with GOOD STORIES of how Bishop’s small businesses and community are coming together.
For those who do not know, my degree is in Public Relations. My goal as a young twenty-something was to write in-depth feel good, corporate social responsibility stories and create events and programs as a social architect. In thirty years, I had yet to get an authority figure of a big entity to agree to a pure and selfless community effort message. I wanted to know if the executive director of Visit Bishop had the heart and courage to be a good neighbor in these times and prove Bishop’s identity as a destination of small town charm.
She was on board and called my ideas “spot on.” I felt so blessed to be given the opportunity to send a message of hope and suggestions for building community. Honestly, a bit of my broken heart over governing organizations’ ruthless treatment of consumers healed this week. I cried and like Phoenix tears they healed the wound. People do still care. We do got this!!
As I was searching for images to match my #inthistogether message, I found this picture on Instagram. It was perfect to stake a claim for the Stay Strong camp. We don’t know who took it – only that it’s near Bishop. I bow deeply to this unknown artist for creativity, spirituality and thoughtfulness. I love the bird, the heart, the star, found trash and the wild spirit of this artwork because I felt it underscored what it means to live here in the Eastern Sierra.
I crafted a letter to our visitors, many of whom want to run to the mountains to wait out this virus… We need to stay home to save lives. But physical distancing doesn’t have to mean personal distancing – there are still ways to lean in toward each other. Small mom and pop shops comprise the rainbow of commerce for this town. Any support for the small businesses that have been the cornerstone for your families vacation would go a long way. Let’s take care of each other I pleaded between every line, word and syllable.
I re-imagined the world I want to live in where communities take care of each other, we share, we keep each other safe, even if that means staying at home. A world where we keep our small towns and businesses growing strong, we help those in need and remember that we all live downstream.
And you know what? The people heard with nearly 300 clicks for gift cards over the weekend and 25 notes of gratitude and encouragement. Here’s the LINK for those who are interested in buying gift cards from Bishop.
And because I cannot simply ask others to lean in, we sought ways to help with our vacation guesthouse. When Mono County mandated we cancel all rentals through May to accommodate essential personnel, we agreed to host COVID first responders, despite the fear of welcoming in the exposed and the intense santizing between visits. At the same time, I felt tearful gratitude to be of service to those on the front lines. Isn’t this time a roller coaster?!
Then our neighbor, Stephen who is the same age as my son Skyler, asked if he could stay in our place through May on his days off work as a firefighter. Joey has known Stephen for 11 years. Five years ago Stephen lived with me and my son Kobe in Costa Mesa when Skyler was in Hawaii for college. Stephen and his girlfriend will move in tomorrow. Safe and sound and across the street from his elder parents whom he was living with but didn’t want to expose in case he became positive in the line of his work. This is a win win during a difficult time and how we keep the love rolling.
It’s going to take everyone helping to rise strong above a pandemic.