First things first: We are postponing all VEJ programs until at least May. I'm sad to write this because we were just a couple of days from sharing our 2020 calendar with you. It is a very good one! But, we love you and we love our neighbors. So this is the right thing to do for the good of all.
As things get clearer in the days and weeks ahead, I will let you know what programs are happening and when.
Some things need to go on as planned, but without groups. For example: We still need to get the neighborhood garden ready. In fact, that work started a week ago. We also have some urgent repairs we need to make at Hope House. Those will go on as well, but without volunteers for now.
We were planning a spring "Hope House & Gardens Wish List" campaign to raise donations of funds, materials, and skilled labor for the neighborhood garden and gathering place. We will need to find those things somehow, but for now it is important to keep our eye on the greater needs of the community (and that includes the people who are always so kind to donate).
The more I think about it, this may be just the "sabbatical" we all need. This afternoon, I took some time to think about how my family is going to make the most of this time to refresh and reset. What can this pandemic teach us about the way we live when times are "normal"? Could it be that we could come out of this calmer, kinder, and wiser?
A few months ago, I shared that VEJ's theme for all of 2020 is "We're All In This Together." All year long, plan to weave that thread through all that we do.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking many things away from us; but it is giving us some things, too. The most important may be the chance to truly be "All In This Together."
I've been struggling to find a way for VEJ to respond to the crisis. As a very small organization, we are set up for environmental education. We're good at getting groups of no more than 24 people together to learn. We're not so good at running big relief programs like feeding kids who won't be getting their meals from school.
However, we have some resources. The most powerful resource we have is you and the 2,000+ other people who are part of the "VEJ community" through media like this.
So, over the next two or three days, I'm asking our neighbors and partners to let me know of anything the VEJ community can do to meet the needs of people are likely to suffer most because of the pandemic. As I find out about those opportunities, I will pass them on to you. In times like these, the mission and resources of every organization should turn to the community's most urgent needs.
You are in our prayers. Please remember your neighbors, strangers, and even your enemies in your own prayers.
We're all in this together.
Grace and peace,
BT Irwin, primus inter pares
Voices for Earth Justice