Finding Community During COVID-19
Three months ago I wrote a blog post for Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation titled Feeling the “Community” in Community Service: My Experiences with AmeriCorps. Life has changed drastically in those three months, but that sense of community is still there.
I was nervous going into quarantine- the reason I love to serve, as I wrote in my previous blog post, is the sense of community. Without the in-person interactions of our Trails Challenges, Dementia Friendly Nature Walks, Discover Your Parks Walks, or Student Stewards Program, I was afraid there would be a disconnect between myself, the Parks Foundation, and the community. I’m thankful, though, that this has not been the case. The sense of community I’ve felt is still there, we just interact in a slightly different way.
The staff and AmeriCorps Members at the Parks Foundation have been working and serving from home since the middle of March to pivot our programming to virtual delivery and create accessible resources for the community to safely connect with our parks and open spaces. Our virtual hike videos bring Reno’s parks and open spaces to people of all ages, even those staying in their homes at this time. These videos will serve as great resources in the future, and could be used as historical documentation of our parks. Our Naturalist Educators have also been able to switch to virtual programming through distance learning packets and interactive educational videos, assisting families in their homeschooling efforts. Nothing beats getting out in nature, but when that’s not possible, our virtual programming is a great way to learn about the history, ecology, and fun facts relating to our parks.
I’ve been positively overwhelmed by the amount of people reaching out to the Parks Foundation with questions or comments about our parks, trails, and open spaces. It’s clear now, more than ever, how important our outdoor areas are to the community and how important it is to protect them.
Quarantine Hike on the Tom Cooke Trail, March 20, 2020 by Micah Beck
Many people, myself included, have found solace in getting outdoors in our parks. Going for my daily walks or bike rides, I’ve seen more and more people getting active outside. While I’m excitedly awaiting being able to offer programming in person again, I’m amazed at how many people have made shifts in their daily schedule to include more time outside, especially individually. People smile or wave as they walk past, neighbors have been chattier, and in general, people seem kinder. Amongst all of the difficult changes, it seems getting active and outdoors is pretty simple.
Fairy House at Virginia Lake Park: May 30, 2020 by Micah Beck
While I miss the other AmeriCorps Members and Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation staff, we’ve been taking time to stay connected through video calls, and our virtual programming has been able to reach hundreds of people. Someday soon we’ll all be reunited and able to hike together in-person, but until then, continue smiling and waving, saying hi to neighbors, and maintaining a strong sense of community, just at a distance.