How do we continue community organizing while simultaneously practicing “social distancing?”
In the battle against Covid-19, many of us find ourselves self-quarantined and working remotely. But there’s still work to be done, and if you’re more of a boots-on-the-ground organizer, you might be at a loss for how to move forward. So we’ve organized some tools to help you keep organizing in your community. These tools can help you:
- know your rights as activists during the pandemic
- stay in touch with fellow-organizers, whether groups or individuals
- keep your communications secure
- facilitate webinars
- coordinate tasks remotely
- sharpen your online communication skills
- improve your safety when you do go out
We have you covered for all these and more. Below we offer an assortment of resources to help community organizers remain engaged throughout the coronavirus pandemic, even from home. Communities and the environment don’t disappear during a crisis. If anything, the welfare of both becomes even more important for helping us overcome threats to our health and safety.
We also know the global restrictions can be all very hard on mental and emotional health. Please enjoy our curated selection of coronavirus-themed art, for your entertainment and distraction.
Let’s stay active. The future demands it.
Online and Remote Organizing Tools
Below is a list of digital resources that can help you with protecting your rights, conferencing, engagement, and collaboration from the comfort of your home, and the civil discomfort of your convictions:
Know Your Rights – A crisis is often used by those in power as a cover to expand their authority and tighten control over the rest of us. For people of color, migrants, low income, LGBTQ+ and other groups, such crises are often used to further marginalize them. Know your rights – check out these resources from the National Lawyers Guild and the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
Engagement + Outreach – Social media is a great way to stay connected to your team and supporters. Host an interactive meeting or post an encouraging update with Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. Take questions in real-time or create a shareable message that can be viewed anytime by followers.
E-Blasts – Send electronic mass messages featuring important bullet points, stories, resources, and updates. There is a wealth of e-mail platforms available to support your organizing efforts, including: MailChimp, Constant Contact, GetResponse, and more.
Brainstorming – Electronic Bulletin Boards, like Reddit and other forums, are online communication systems where humans can share, request, or discuss information with a large group of people.
Neighborhood Networking – Check out Nextdoor. E-meet your neighbors and connect to come together for truly local organizing!
Create a Podcast – Podcasts are tools for sharing knowledge, experience, and perspective. Learn how to start one here!
Collaboration – Brainstorming ideas and editing can be tedious when working remotely. Consider using Google Drive to create documents, spreadsheets, surveys, and presentations that can be shared, stored, and live-edited between collaborators.
Make Graphics and Designs – Get creative with Canva! The website offers a flexible platform for creating graphics and designs. Upload your own photos or choose from their many templates and design suggestions. You can also share designs between accounts and allow for collaborative editing.
Mutual Aid Networks – Whether it’s organizing a potluck (not recommended during the pandemic), or a safe food distribution network (which could really help during a pandemic), Google Forms offers a free, easy-to-use tool to on-board people in your community. For example, here is some language that could be used for a theoretical sign-up form:
We are building a network of people who can [FILL IN THE BLANK].
This form has three pages, and will ask you:
1) Contact information
2) What help do you need?
3) What help can you give?
If you have a need, we will match you up with someone who has that resource or skill.
If you have a resource or skill, we will match you up with someone who has that need.
Simple as that.
This is also connected to a Facebook group: [LINK TO FACEBOOK GROUP]
If you have any questions contact [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION].
Use this as a template to get started with your own Google Form.
Keep Yourself Organized – Trello is a free and easy online corkboard. You use it to organize “cards” into lists, which can be tasks, notes, projects, shared files, or anything else that helps your team work together. You can assign tasks, upload files, and manage whatever project you’re working on.
Meetings and TeleConferencing – When you can’t meet face-to-face, schedule a video or conference call with your team. Here are some accessible and user-friendly options to explore:
- Free Conference Call allows users to create a unique number and code just for them. Share it so your team can easily join the call together.
- Zoom offers simultaneous video and call-in settings. Premium accounts can host webinars too.
- Google Hangout/Meeting can be accessed using your Gmail calendar. Select the conferencing option to create a video/call-in line to share automatically with event attendees.
Secure Communication – These are four trustworthy organizations who have resources for digital security best practices:
- Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense
- Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Digital Security Program
As well, Mozilla did a review of security for video call apps. Check it out here.
Virtual Education – Webinars are a great way to present your ideas to others. While some of the platforms can be very expensive, we suggest exploring Zoom, Livestorm, or GetResponse as you get started, as all of these have free or low-cost plans for users.
Coronavirus Resources and Tips
Let’s stay educated about the situation and care for our physical and mental wellbeing, and that of our loved ones and community.
COVID-19 Education Resources:
- Follow the WHO’s Daily Situation Reports
- Take care of your kids
- Contribute your equipment or expertise (www.projectopenair.org/)
- Learn from a professional virologist
Resources for Mental and Emotional Health:
- Use WhatsApp to stay in touch with families and friends all over the world (free to use with a cellphone and working wifi).
- Practice forms of relaxation like meditation, prayer, deep breathing, and sleep. This article details some apps that can help.
- If you can get outside while maintaining self-quarantine and social distancing, enjoy fresh air and sunshine, which both boost your immune function.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness published this guide for support during Covid-19 for those who are experiencing anxiety, loneliness, or other struggling during the pandemic.
- Enjoy some humor. Laughter decreases stress and supports the immune system. We have included several links among the suggestions below for your enjoyment.
staying safe – Mask-Making:
Coronavirus-Themed Arts and Entertainment
Visualize the spread of sickness within a population, modified for different quarantine practices (article with graphic simulations): www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/
Wash your hands like this classical music lover (video): www.instagram.com/p/B9FFVnigLEE/
Shake your head over the accuracy of this government announcement parody (video – adult language): www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hks6Nq7g6P4
Learn the new best way to greet friends and coworkers (video): twitter.com/V_actually/status/1233785527788285953?
Practice the hand-washing dance (Spanish-language video): www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlvID2tk8N8
Sing along with the Vietnamese Health Department (Vietnamese-language video): www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtulL3oArQw