We're all in this together.
|Image by ADAM ZYGLIS, THE BUFFALO NEWS, NY|
I, like many of you, have been shocked at how quickly changes due to COVID-19 have rippled through our communities in the last few weeks. Literally overnight we have seen closures of stores, entertainment, transit, conferences, workplaces, schools, and just about every non-essential function.
I know that I always feel better in times of need or crisis when I feel like I am able to do something (anything) to help others. Often that involves physical volunteering as my funds are limited, which is obviously off the table right now for most organizations (and for me personally).
That said, there ARE many ways that organizations are creatively finding ways to pitch in to help each other out and uplift the community. I've seen links flying around ad hoc and wanted to consolidate what I can find for anyone seeking a one-stop-shop of ways to give back and kick into gear. See below for what I have and keep checking back here - I will continuously amend this list as more organizations announce initiatives.
And as a reminder - make sure to express your gratitude when you are able to those who are on the front lines of risk of exposure to and fighting the infection rate of the virus. It expands far beyond just healthcare, and there are crucial groups of workers (such as janitors, grocery and gas store clerks, etc.) who deserve our care, attention, respect and gratitude. This article provides a good illustration of some of these workers and the risks they currently face.
To start off, this is a one stop shop collecting resources by zip code across the entire U.S. It's an amazing spot to resource help of many kinds - check it out: https://findhelp.org/
This is also a good resource for questions about the stimulus that passed the U.S. Senate yesterday - it's a handy FAQ from the New York Times.
HealthcareI am *obviously* not a medical professional - so don't listen to me (or any other blogger / internet personality / etc.) about medical habits. Instead, seek these resources:
- Rep. Katie Porter got the head of the CDC to commit to providing free testing for all Americans regardless of insurance - click here to learn the exact details.
- By the way, the CDC is THE place to go for detail on how to treat, prevent and test for COVID-19. Click here to access their website.
- The State of Minnesota has also provided an overview of ways to slow the spread of the virus.
- If the constant media barrage is giving you runaway anxiety, you're not alone. Try using some of Self's mental health tips to protect yourself, or consider booking an online therapist at TalkSpace to talk through things.
- In a creative solution to the jobs issue, some Minnesota-based distilleries are pivoting from producing liquor to producing hand sanitizer. Click here to learn more.
- Don't forget to move your body to keep yourself fit, healthy and improve your mood. This can definitely be tough with gyms closed and limited mobility (especially for small apartment dwellers like myself). Several local fitness chains are offering virtual workouts. Click here to learn more and get your sweat on in your living room.
Education / ChildcareWhile schools are trying to set up remote learning, many parents still need to fill time with enriching activities while systems are down or overloaded. Here's a roundup of some proactive ideas:
- Click here for a growing list of excellent educational ideas for kids of all ages.
- Scholastic offers an easily navigable learn at home site, probably best for kids middle school age and younger.
- A lot of other kid-centric learning institutions are offering virtual tours, including zoos, museums, science centers, etc. Check the list out here.
- If you have older kids, consider having them work through at least part of the New York Times' brilliant exploration of black history and the legacy of slavery in America, The 1619 Project. Click here to see the full curriculum they have developed, and who knows - maybe you will want to take some lessons yourself!
- Indigenous educators are hosting online lessons for kids age K-8; click here to learn more.
- JSTOR just released their entire online archive for free access.
- I've seen creative posts on Instagram from parents constructing homemade obstacle courses to entertain toddler to kindergarten age kids - the only limit is your imagination!
- Google is doing 360 degree tours of U.S. National Parks - click here for more.
- The Governor of Minnesota released a list of essential workers who can receive free childcare. It's pretty comprehensive and includes grocery workers, utility workers, etc. - click here to check it out.
- I just learned of the Faerie Tale Theatre, which offers wildly vintage performances of classic fairy tales directed by Hollywood legends like Francis Ford Coppola, Emile Ardolino and Tim Burton and featuring huge stars like Jeff Goldblum, Liza Minelli, Matthew Broderick, Vanessa Redgrave, Susan Sarandon, Bernadette Peters, and numerous other legends (who knew?!) on YouTube. Great one for kiddos that is *not* Disney related, if that's your thing.
- Children's Theatre Company is creating ongoing online programming to help entertain your kids! Click here for their Off Book notes, click here for a huge list of online resources they've gathered for parents, or follow their social media to access Mindfulness Mondays (stress-reducing exercises for emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and empathy developed through the Creative Play program and thought prompts and exercises that reflect awareness, equity, and social justice); and Write On! Wednesdays (asks parents to send their children’s original plays and stories to the Theatre. The following Wednesday, one script will be chosen to be performed by members of the Theatre’s resident Acting Company and Performing Apprentices and released via video on Facebook).
- This is a great roundup of apps you can use to learn a foreign language (great for kids or adults).
- The Escape Game is offering free virtual games that allow kids to explore places like the Smithsonian Museums online. It's a super cool interactive "field trip"!
Food AccessMany, many restaurants are offering to provide free meals to students who cannot eat for free at school (god bless them all!). This master list is being maintained with addresses and details of what kinds of meals are available.
- This is another list of businesses (food-focused or otherwise)
- Another one here
- Another here
- One more
- Minneapolis Schools developed a helpful map showing the sites where free food access is available.
For shoppers - pay attention to which foods have WIC marking on the price tags and when possible choose other options. WIC assisted shoppers are not allowed to choose other items when WIC items are sold out, so saving those groceries for those who have no choice will help those most in need.
Also some grocery stores are implementing limited hours for shoppers most at risk of the virus (compromised immune systems, the elderly, etc.) to shop first and have first access to most goods. Lunds & Byerlys is one such store - at-risk shoppers can come from 7 - 8 a.m., and the store opens to all shoppers after 8 a.m.
If you want something to do physically with your free time, Second Harvest Heartland needs volunteers to help pack individual food drop off boxes. They have a huge space that allows volunteers to follow COVID-19 protections (lots of soap available, 6+ foot distance between volunteers, etc.), so it's a safer option than others to volunteer. Click here to learn more.
And additionally, the hospitality industry is being devastated by this crisis - many are already unemployed, and restaurant and catering groups are quickly working to pivot towards nontraditional business revenues. Eater has a more global update on things you can personally do to help your favorite local venues weather this storm.
Local beer producers are beginning to offer pickup and delivery, so if you want libations to pick up your spirits (ahem) - click here to learn more and support small local businesses through an extremely tough time.
Additionally, CityPages developed a nice resource for restaurants and booze purveyors offering pickup and / or delivery, and WCCO News has created *the* definitive list (in interactive map form!) for restaurants offering pickup and delivery throughout the crisis.
NPR just did a great short piece on why you don't need to disinfect your groceries, also giving important tips for safely grocery shopping to limit your exposure.
Housing, Utilities and PayHelp fellow citizens know their rights regarding housing bills and utilities; many state and governments are mandating consumer ad citizen protections, and Minnesota is one of them. The following are resources for anyone being challenged on bills, housing, etc.:
- Most important: anyone affected by COVID-19 layoffs or work pauses can immediately apply for unemployment. More details here.
- The U.S. Department of Labor has instituted a program that allows for paid leave for people working at companies of under 500 people, whether or not your company previously offered it. More details here.
- Also key: Governor Walz announced today that evictions are to be halted until further notice. More details here.
- Related to that, click here for details on applying for emergency rent assistance in Minneapolis.
- This list details Xcel Energy's current policies of helping people pay their bills if they are unable due to loss of work.
- Comcast / Xfinity is providing free WiFi hubs, free and low cost WiFi for low income customers, and other policies to help ensure internet access for students and remote workers. Click here to see more detail. This article also details how internet access cannot be cut off for 60 days based on current policies.
- For anyone facing evictions, the Minnesota Judicial Branch website is constantly updating the status of the court system; also note that a bill was just introduced in the MN State Legislature to halt evictions while emergency virus measures are in place across the state.
- This is a list of the kind of supplies needed at the Elim Church homeless shelter - I imagine the needs are quite similar for other shelters and homelessness organizations as well.
- Right now is a difficult time for sexual assault survivors who may be forced to stay at home with an abuser. If you are in this position, call 1-800-656-4673 to reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline or visit hotline.rainn.org/online if you are unable to call.
- The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal made a handy resource guide for small businesses that is worth checking out if you work for or own one.
- South Minneapolis: https://docs.google.com/…/1ZSLDZY4DD85gnGXTAeLtKCxofd…/edit…
- NE Minneapolis: https://docs.google.com/…/1vQjapmFHqD7YoopXZhZ9_th36q…/edit…
- West Side St Paul:
- Twin Cities Queer + Trans Mutual Aid:
- LGBTQ BIPOC Mutual Aid Fund:
- COVID 19 Mutual Aid Resources:
Entertainment / BusinessIf you're a long-time Compendium reader than you know how close the arts and entertainment industry of Minnesota is to my heart. They are being deeply impacted by the ongoing crisis. Below are some ways you can support them (as well as creative programs being released to help take your mind off things).
DonateIf you had tickets to a show that closed or was postponed, please don't ask for refunds if you can help it. Every dollar that can stay in the theatrical community will help keep doors open and lights on once they are cleared to do so, and liquid cash is one of the resources most scarce for these organizations even in the best of times.
Donate to the Personal Emergency Relief Fund for artists hosted by Springboard for the Arts. This is going to be a very, very important pot of money as dozens of theaters are indefinitely closed during the height of their regular season programming, affecting hundreds of artists around the state. If you have any cash, please toss a little their way.
Otto Bremer Trust just established a $50 million fund to help organizations weather the crisis. Click here for more information.
Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MnVOAD) has a full listing of organizations cleared to accept hands-on volunteers; check out their detailed information if you want to get out of the house to help the community.
Watch / Distract YourselfThis article is a nice reminder that it's ok to prioritize mental health and unplug from the constant barrage of news about the virus. Take a walk, do some meditation, read a book and call it a day. It's ok to slow down at this time. I will continue adding a roundup of creative initiatives from arts and entertainment organizations below as well:
Locally Hosted Options
- Ever creative #tctheater group Theatre Elision is hosting a live stream concert on March 24 - click here for the deets.
- Four Humors is hosting a remote April Fools Telethon to bring some much needed humor to our community - click here for more details about the April 4, 7 p.m. event.
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) has virtual collection tours available anytime and a bustling social media presence to enjoy.
- Due to COVID19, award-winning Minneapolis artists Z Puppets Rosenschnoz are turning their canceled live Through the Narrows events into an online, on-demand, audio experience available worldwide on March 21 for World Puppetry Day and running through May 1.
- Brave New Workshop is hosting weekly live comedy shows - follow them on Facebook to learn more.
- Park Square Theatre is hosting the The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society, which is performing live versions of old school style radio programs (a *perfect* quarantine activity); click here for more info about tickets and the show.
- Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is doing live happy hours every Monday and live music streaming every Thursday; click here for more info. Follow them on Facebook if you want more info on special events which they are continuously hosting.
- PBS is hosting some of the best Broadway performances of the past for free in their entirety. Click here to experience a treasure trove of theater if you're missing live performance.
- The Metropolitan Opera (from NYC) is streaming performances for free - click here.
- Many museums have closed their doors but are offering incredible virtual tours. Click here to access a roundup or here for another roundup of such locations.
- Google Chrome developed an extension to allow groups to watch Netflix together from remote sites. Click on this link and get your Netflix-and-chill-from-afar vibe on! This is an awesome affordable way to stay social while being physically distanced.
- Playwright Lauren Gunderson (one of my absolute faves) is hosting free play-writing classes on Facebook - click here for the next one on March 25.
- Some Broadway musicals and plays (over 300 options it seems!) are available to stream online for free - click here for more.
- Some public libraries are offering free downloads for those who need new reading material. New York Public Library alone has over 300,000 books available for free online download - click here.
- Many people are lamenting the closure of gyms and active lifestyles being brought to a halt. Don't let yourself be one of them! Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve mental health and there are TONS of great streaming resources for bodyweight workouts you can do even in a tiny apartment, often for free. Plenty of places are rounding up options - this set of lists at Well and Good is a good start.
- Entertainment Weekly rounded up the best live concerts you can watch (or re-watch!) electronically.
- This is a nice roundup of virtual learning websites to gain new skills at during #quarantine.
- This is a good roundup of free fitness apps which you can use to workout from home.
- If you're more of a retail therapy kind of person, consider this roundup of subscription sites for everything from plants to wine to hair removal.
- Mailchimp is sponsoring an online version of what would have been the SXSW Film Festival and it's a super cool place to check out avant garde and brand new filmmakers - don't miss it!