A month ago today, we were gearing up for our 2020 season. We were using the tag line “Make 2020 Your Year.” Our program was one of the best that we have ever put together, featuring extraordinary new and returning presenters. Our registration numbers were showing that we were going to welcome more guests than ever before; we were engaged in a campus planning process that would produce a vision for the next twenty years on Cortes; we were excited to open our beautiful brand new greenhouse (deep gratitude to all the donors who made that possible with a special thank you to Sage Natural Wellness for their foundational support for the greenhouse); and we were happy to be offering a cohort of seasonal staff health benefits for the first time in the history of the organization. We had so much momentum coming into this season and we were so excited to make 2020 your year.
The health and social consequences of this crisis are heartbreaking. Our hearts go out to anyone whose health has been affected by COVID-19, and to all who are on the front lines working hard to care for the sick. We are also very concerned about the effects of social isolation on people, relationships, and communities. Here at Hollyhock we have laid off 85% of our staff and are deeply aware of the emotional and economic consequences. We have postponed our opening day until June 7th and are uncertain about the rest of 2020. This is not the year we thought it would be.
In times of crisis, there is a tendency in all of us to turn towards ourselves (personal and organizational), to try to protect what is ours, to hunker down and to wait for the storm to pass. Yesterday morning in a free online series we are offering called Sheltering in Community, Hollyhock presenter Robert Beatty called this impulse the “I, Me, Mine” worldview. He regarded it as the impulse that has helped hominids survive millions of years.
In opposition to the “I, Me, Mine” worldview, Robert reminded us that there is a worldview that holds that we are something bigger than ourselves and our own immediate needs. This worldview recognizes the interdependence of all things and calls us to respond with intention, rather than react in fear, and to show up with our values front and centre. In this time of widespread suffering, we are striving to show up in our values. Where there is pessimism and despair, we choose optimism; where there is hoarding and scarcity, we choose generosity; where there is social isolation and disconnection, we choose community.
Despite the challenges, at Hollyhock, we are doing our best to show up, knowing that the work we do will be even more important during and after this pandemic. We are offering free webinars to help people centre and connect; we are actively participating in Cortes Island community calls and working with other island organizations to promote health and safety for the community; we are keeping our garden growing so that we can contribute to island food production; and we are considering innovative ways that we can turn relevant programming to online offerings so that people can still access these important teachings.
We know that the only way through this health, financial, and spiritual crisis is together.
When it is safe to do so, people will gather in person once again, with an even greater need for community and connection. We aim to be ready so that at that time Hollyhock will be there to support this necessary connection to ourselves, each other, and the natural world. We believe that this will be more important than ever before.
Thank you for being a part of our community and for supporting us and each other in this vital work.
PS – There is so much uncertainty in the world right now. My wise friend Karen Mahon Carrington told me that the “practice of uncertainty” is the lesson of this time. If you support the work we are doing in this uncertain time and are able to lend a hand with a gesture of support, please consider making a contribution. Thank you so much for your consideration.
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Editor: Loretta Laurin