As the world at every level comes together in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to reach out to you as a member of our Dogwood community. In times like these, our networks become our strength and our resilience, our constant reminders that we are not alone. We appreciate your being a part of this community — one that cares deeply about the health of the planet and its people.
Above all we must keep each other safe while we continue to do the important work of protecting forests and standing with communities across the South.
This crisis has reminded us why forests are so important and why we must remain diligent in protecting them. Getting out in forests and nature can be one of the best forms of social distancing. Forests help calm our spirits, help relieve anxiety and stress. Forests are our safety net against a changing climate, providing protection from storm surge and flooding, and clean and safe drinking water.
The pandemic crisis has illuminated why building greater economic equity across society is so vital. It has reinforced that protecting forests across the rural South helps build stronger, more resilient local economies in rural areas that have for too long been at the center of forest destruction, pollution, and economic distress.
Dogwood has always been an adaptive, creative organization. We will lean into this strength to find new ways of engaging with you and supporting those on the frontlines of forest destruction and pollution — some of the very communities who are also most at risk from this pandemic’s health and economic crisis.
As well as being a health crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic is a social and economic justice issue.
At Dogwood Alliance we are committed to making sure that forest protection remains a climate crisis priority. We are also committed to doing our part to keep our community members safe, healthy, and thriving.
First, we’re prioritizing the health of our staff, board, interns, volunteers, members, frontline communities, and partners.
Here are some steps we are taking:
- All staff members are now working from home for the foreseeable future, focusing on online engagement and digital organizing
- We are suspending all planned events until the end of April
- We are sharing information with community partners and allies
While we may not be able to meet up in person, we will continue to build a strong community online. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for regular updates on Southern forest protection and news from communities around the region. We welcome your ideas and thoughts about ways we can stay connected and powerful in these times.
When it comes to our campaigns, we’ll be re-envisioning a lot of our tactics, shifting to entirely online spaces. We’re still working through what the details will look like, but here are some things that we have been considering:
- A shift from gathering in person at marches, rallies, and actions to gathering in online spaces. Look for more opportunities to join virtual gatherings
- Online knowledge sharing sessions and hangouts about forests, communities, climate, and environmental justice with our staff, board, and special guests
- Exploring whether it’s possible to hold virtual lobbying meetings where you can meet with your representatives (when they’re not dealing with important public health considerations, of course)
- Ways to take meaningful action online to ensure that while the world is (rightly) focused on slowing the spread of Coronavirus, corporations aren’t using this moment to drag their feet on climate action, push for massive government bailouts, or back away from their environmental commitments
This crisis is affecting all of us in different ways. While many of us are feeling fear and confusion, this crisis shows how deeply we depend on one another to act for a greater common good. The ability to come together, solve problems, and support one another, as Dogwood Alliance has witnessed so many communities do over the past decades, is now something to truly believe in.
The global, rapid, and far-reaching response we are witnessing to the current crisis is a hopeful sign that with strong leadership at every level and the right information from experts, we can also pull together in unprecedented ways to address the climate emergency.
Our forests play a vital role on many levels, and your ongoing engagement in the Dogwood community is as important now as it has ever been.
Below are some resources for dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that speak to issues of physical and mental health and how to stay engaged as well:
- Resources for COVID-19 – A list of crowdsourced links covering a variety of COVID-19 preparedness materials, including information, tips for handwashing and social distancing, tips for how to help yourself and others, prioritize your mental and physical health, and how to organize in this environment.
- A detailed explainer that shows how early “social distancing” intervention is the very best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overloading our health care systems.
- Toolkit: Plan Now to Adapt to Coronavirus Safety – A list of ideas and resources created by David Solnit to help adapt our movement’s actions and mobilizations.
- Finding Steady Ground – A resource to remind us about behaviors to keep us grounded during turbulent times.
As we spend more time at home, let’s make sure that social distancing doesn’t result in social isolation but rather greater social engagement for the positive change we know needs to happen to protect our planet and its people. We look forward to spending time together virtually, advocating for healthy forests and a climate-safe future, and activating our online power while keeping our communities healthy and safe.