In times of hardship and challenge humans show incredible adaptability, resilience and innovation.
While we are largely able to deal with the disruption and calamity caused by localized natural disasters or collapse of man-made systems, we have rarely had the dramatic challenge at a global level like we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The impact of physical distancing and social isolation for individuals, communities, enterprise, businesses, institutions and governments is intense. We see the diverse web of interconnectivity of all our systems, and our weaknesses and vulnerabilities are exposed.
As we move through the initial aspects of the public health emergency it is critical that we continue to maintain the effective tactics ordered by Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer, including physical distancing, frequent handwashing and only going out on essential business, that have helped British Columbia keep our transmission rates relatively low.
The pre-COVID-19 world is unlikely to return. With governments around the world looking toward a slow and measured lifting of restrictions two issues remain front and centre. First, we must not move too quickly so as to limit the consequences of future waves of infections. Second, we must take steps to ensure our communities remain whole.
Small business operators in our villages and towns, arts and culture organizations, agricultural operations and their advocates have been vocal about the extreme difficulties their sectors face in the post-COVID-19 world.
However, through the same entrepreneurial and creative spirit that inspire building, growing and nurturing healthy communities and ideas many are adjusting their approach and evolving with the ever-changing public health and safety requirements.
Local, regional and national initiatives like the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Woo Hoo Wednesday (#woohoowednesday) to boost the Google reviews of local businesses or National Takeout Day (#NationalTakeoutDay) to support restaurants offering food pick-up or delivery services, are first steps forward.
Artists, musicians and the creative community are also finding new ways to connect with people. Online events like the Great Canadian Kitchen Party and #ShowcaseBC are utilizing virtual platforms to create a sense of connectivity in a time of social isolation.
These are just a few of the ideas that have caught my attention. More local food is being grown, new services are being organized, upstart collectives have grown out of necessity to provide products and services.
Let’s rally together for our communities by supporting these local initiatives. The global marketplace has some incredible benefits, but we are seeing its weaknesses. As we recover from this public health and economic crisis, investing more in local will mean we have more sustainable and resilient communities networking with their neighbours to create regions that have a greater capacity to support each other so we have to rely less on global supply chains.
In the coming weeks and months those businesses and services that we have relied on to be there when we need them, will need you to be there for them. If at all possible, please choose local first.
Check out the local advocacy organizations such as the Chambers of Commerce website and social media accounts to get up-to-date listings of the businesses in your community that are open to serve you.
Thank you for doing your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our healthcare workers and system. Thank you for doing your part to support our local community.
Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands
This column was originally published in the Peninsula News Review on April 26, 2020.