The Silver Lining of Pandemic Community Building

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The Silver Lining of Pandemic Community Building

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I have a busier schedule now than I did when I left the house for more than grocery runs and work. I spend a lot of my time on Zoom, as we all do, but doing things I was not doing before. In April, quickly after Friday the 13th, my #twitterstorian dreams came true when Dr. Joanne Freeman launched History Matters…. And So Does Coffee with the National Council for History Education. A couple of months later, The Gilder Lehrman Institute launched a weekly series talking with a historian about their book called Book Breaks. I could never attend conferences like the Southern Historical Association annual meeting, and now they were available to me virtually. The Western History Association annual meeting was online in October 2020 and was one of the best conferences and online meeting experiences that I think is possible given the circumstances. I have seen Joanne Freeman and Dr. Heather Cox Richardson speak together frequently over the last few months, and each experience is just as fun as the previous. I am on the board of the Arizona Technology in Education Association. The ability to host events and PD without needing to secure locations and catering has increased the number of events that we host by what feels like tenfold. I also started my Ph.D. in history at ASU, and with those added time blocks to my schedule expanded my little world with cohort and classmates.

The pandemic has forced us to come together in new ways. By trying to carry on, those components of our lives shifted to the internet and thus actually made them more accessible to our larger communities than they were before. It has prompted even more of the existing conversations about virtual conferencing from an economic and environmental perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I am eagerly awaiting my 2nd vaccine and the days when I can travel for conferencing, community, and research again, but I think I will frame my plans around a different question. I don’t believe that I will have to ask myself to choose what to attend and not attend. Instead, it will be what things do I want to engage with in person (and what things can I) and what things I will still attend, but from afar.

We are closing in on a year in this pandemic, and with the new year, I think it is essential to try and find some kind of silver lining – and it is that I think the communities that we have built over the last year and continue to build will be larger and stronger. Now I suppose I need to mull over the ramifications of overscheduling, burnout, and prioritization.

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This item was submitted on January 22, 2021 by Erica Price using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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