I hope you’re safe and healthy and away from risk; I hope you’ve got somebody to be with in this. I hope you’re settling in. Getting comfortable, if you can. It becomes clear this isn’t going to be over quick. Everything has been happening so fast, but there’s going to be time to think, to process. For some of us, anyway.
I’m as safe as one can be, where I am: as of yesterday Michigan is third in the US for confirmed cases, and Oakland County is second in the state, ever so slightly beating out Detroit. But I’m isolated, in my own house, with a lot of homebrewed beer and homemade preserves in the basement, a sourdough starter in the fridge, woods, meadows and marshes in walking distance. The garden will be popping soon. I’m home schooling my kid, there’s only one of him, it’s not too bad. I always worked from home.
As for my mental health? I find I want to hear how everyone’s doing all the time. I start to feel like a broken record, asking, but at this same moment in which I’ve never felt less confident in the human capacity to communicate, meaningfully and accurately, I’m also suddenly deeply invested in the everyday boringness of my neighbors, my sisters and my kid’s best friend’s mom trying to figure out how to teach their kids. I want constant reaffirmation that everyone is as okay as they can be under these extraordinary circumstances.
I know a lot of people aren’t.
Environmental justice is a public health issue. This pandemic is exacerbated by climate change, just like extreme weather events, refugee crises and xenophobia. And the people worst hit by it are the people without a safety net: the poor, marginalized, colonized, refugees, people who were already dependent on health care, people who’ve been drinking and breathing pollution all their lives, people without the option to self-isolate, people who’ve been given every reason to distrust the voice of authority. To have spent all this time learning to recognize these effects, preparing to watch them get slowly worse, only to suddenly see that change accelerate exponentially and in real time, is devastating, and has only intensified the feeling that I need to do more–the same feeling that made me start Reckoning in the first place.
So I appealed to Reckoning contributors and staff—some of the people I trust and root for most in the world—to let me know how they’re doing, and to think together about where this is going. This is the result: Creativity and Coronavirus, a series of short essays and poetry on living, thinking for and creating about the future in this time of crisis.
We might end up doing more, but for now, this is it. New words every Monday, as they’re written, until we run out, starting today. Subscribe here, it’s free. As always, Reckoning is a publicly funded non-profit; your support is deeply appreciated though not required. We’re always open to submissions, actively seeking all kinds of writing from marginalized voices. Please submit.