Sustainable Missoula: Thoughts on social distancing, advocating and assisting

We’re in uncharted waters. Over the course of a week, our lives have changed dramatically. We at Climate Smart, like so many of you, are settling into new rhythms. The old puzzle table has become the office, conference calls are scheduled around a little one’s nap time, office banter is replaced by text messages, and we’re anxious and scared. 

We find ourselves taking a step back, trying to process what the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic means for our lives, our work, and our world. We’re sharing what we know, donating where we can.  

Though this public health crisis is the first thing on most of our minds right now, we feel even more urgently the need to act in ways that foster and deepen connections to neighbors, friends, our community, and world. Many are already pointing out the ways this crisis will forge the social resiliency necessary for us to come together in support of solutions that will protect those most vulnerable to the climate crisis. 

And so our action for social solidarity in a time like this can follow two tracks. On one hand, we respond to the immediate needs in our community, through mutual aid efforts and supporting organizations serving those hardest hit by the economic ripples of the COVID-19 crisis, such as the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center, United Way of Missoula’s COVID-19 response fund, the Poverello Center, and others. Can you donate blood, masks or extra TP?

And at the same time, we continue our work to build a future that is just and sustainable, finding new and creative ways to grow the climate movement and taking time to learn, grow, and chart a better path forward. We at Climate Smart Missoula remain deeply committed to this work and offer ways for you to join us. 

Sometimes the remedy for an anxious mind is action, and even in this time of great uncertainty, there are still things we can do. In addition to finally getting around to that house project, taking your kids for a hike, and staying connected virtually to friends and family, we all need outlets to learn and engage.

You can read the Governor’s Council for Climate Solutions Report and submit public comments urging state leaders to support efforts in 2020 and fund this work in the next legislative session. Perhaps this is the time when you really learn about cryptocurrency, how it uses so much energy, and why we need to ensure the interim zoning regulations stay in place. Maybe you participate in one of our Virtual Solar Happy Hours and think more about generating electricity from your rooftop.  

These are just a few places to start. For more ideas, we’ve developed a climate action BINGO card for you to enjoy while you’re maintaining your social distance and filling your days with new activities. When you complete the card, snap a picture, send it to us, and we’ll enter you in a raffle. Your prize?  Our Team will donate to the Missoula Food Bank in your honor!

You can follow along with the Climate Smart Team as we try new bingo squares – Caroline, for one, is really excited to learn new bird songs, Amy is finally going to write her Dear Tomorrow letter, and Abby is looking forward to getting her hands dirty in her garden with her toddler. 

It’s natural to feel untethered and anxious. The “social distancing” necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 is certainly one factor that makes this challenge unlike anything we’ve faced in the past. But maybe a different way to phrase it is “physical distancing for social solidarity.” Mindset matters. We are all in this together.

This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events

Normally we post a long list of upcoming community events. With Covid-19, many events are being postponed or cancelled. But some are moving online, and some may move forward with 6’ of distancing. Rest assured, groups are trying their best to redefine what it means to bring people together.

And yes, we’re all working to reimagine Earth Day. Collaboration and movement building will happen. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, the UM Conservation Calendar is updated daily!