At the beginning of the Spring 2020, we were in a heady, academic space—exploring ideas, theories, concepts around our annual theme, #MakingPlaceMatter, a theme centered on cultivating greater consciousness about the places and spaces created by community-engaged teaching and learning. Our programming and events examined how places and spaces are structured and defined in ways that can separate or unite communities, limit or enhance awareness, diminish or expand power differentials.
Then COVID-19 happened, and suddenly things got very real.
Who could have predicted that a virus would be teaching us profound lessons around separation and engagement, scrambling to answer the question ‘What does community mean now?’
Life in quarantine brought abrupt and life-changing lessons about space and place on a visceral level—painful lessons nobody wants or freely chooses. This new landscape is disorienting, continually shifts, and in its’ darker moments can feel like quicksand. Despite these challenges, our faculty, students, and community partners are finding their footing and learning how to stay socially distanced, yet meaningfully engaged -- in their homes, with their families, in nature, and most of importantly, with each other.
Here are a few silver linings that illustrate the creative ways our service-learning community are taking care of each other -- together yet apart: