To put your mind at ease before you read this: I thoroughly washed my hands and disinfected my keyboard with an antibacterial hand wipe before writing this column.
The wipe was from one of the last bottles remaining on the shelves of Clarkston Albertsons March 11, the day our last edition of Inland 360 went to press. One week later, our lives have changed in ways we never imagined. Thats reflected in the pages of this weeks issue.
This week, Inland 360 does not have a calendar, as nearly all public events in the region are cancelled or likely to be cancelled after a nationwide recommendation against gatherings of more than 10 people was issued this week. Our Compass Points column, which highlights things to do in the coming week, is gone, as are the reviews and capsules of movies showing in area theaters, as the majority of them have closed.
Its been a stunning and dizzying experience to watch it all unfold from inside the newsroom, and now our newsroom has shifted to the digital realm because, like many of you, we are working from our homes, some of us juggling reporting with kids in the background as schools close like cascading dominoes. Our coverage in the coming home-bound weeks will reflect our present reality.
Life can be intense. How we choose to respond to that intensity defines our character and shapes our families and communities. The true danger is not disease, it is fear and panic. Fear is contagious. When one person sees another loading up their grocery cart with enough toilet paper to last until Christmas 2039, leaving nothing for anyone else, it can disturb ones sense of reason. Fear is usually a choice, albeit one often made unconsciously. We can choose to horde or lash out in anger and confusion, or we can choose to take a little less so there is something left for others. We can choose to extend a helping hand to those in need. As well see in the coming weeks, that need comes in different forms.
While we may long for things to return to normal, when they do, it likely wont be the same as it was before. In this weeks edition, area arts organizers talk about the impact closures have on artists, musicians, actors and nonprofits that already run on shoestring budgets. Local restaurants, wineries and other small businesses that depend on foot traffic are on unstable ground (see how one group is working around this in this story). In the coming weeks, well offer ways to continue to support them so that when our social lives return, the things we love about where we live are still there.
None of us know what the coming months have in store for us. We can fear the unknown or we can seize the opportunity: to be better coming out of this than we were going in, to set aside our differences and come together, to slow down our hectic pace of life and enjoy the simple things -- sunsets, home-cooked meals, books and board games. As always, we welcome your thoughts, letters, photos and story ideas, which can be emailed to editor(at)inland360.com. See you next week. - Jennifer K. Bauer