Activism can take so many forms – you don’t need to take to the streets or shout from the rooftops. Being a public health advocate can be as simple as washing your hands, staying home and getting a flu injection – they are the actions I have taken this week along with millions of others around the world. Joined up actions that create a movement of well-being and saving lives is exactly what activism is all about. My personal favourite action this week has been neighbours popping bears in their windows and bringing to life We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a 1989 children’s picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
I have been reflecting on entrepreneurship as activism this week when some of my closest entrepreneurial spirits have been working over time to invent, pivot and create what is needed in these times to keep women’s businesses afloat, build community, strengthen bonds and embed the legacy we want when we come out the otherside. We don’t want business as usual, or stimulus packages to support industries that have used futures. We want this time to be a gift to our planet. We want to honour those who have died and will die over the next month by being better, bolder, braver. We want our national heroes to be the doctors, nurses, immunologists, medical researchers, cleaners, cooks, teachers, emergency service workers, medics, supermarket staff, drivers and carers.
Going back to business as usual will not cut it. We can’t go back we must go forward, and in this time get in place what we need to be ready to come out the other side with at least the beginnings of the foundations of what we want to see. Imagine if, we gave everyone a universal basic income? Imagine if, we had revolving credit in the hands of communities, think credit unions at the local level or superannuation funds investing in local infrastructure instead of creating off shore shareholder value. What about community co-ops of childcare workers supporting families in their neighbourhood? And power generation owned and used where the sun shines and the wind blows? Many of these systems improvements have started and are incubating – but now is the time for capital to invest in these initiatives to help us all take a step closer to a community led and community owned future. I know there will be times when national and regional leadership will always be needed as this pandemic illustrates, but imagine the strength of a more community connected when this happens again.
Like so many I tune in to Jacinda Ardern each day as I can’t bear to hear the bumbling and incomprehensible communications from my national leaders. I figure New Zealand is just a few days ahead of us in Australia and her clear, consistent and compassionate words help me to know what to do and also I feel like I get a masterclass every day in how to communicate in a time of fear of anxiety and how to deploy the ordinary in these extraordinary times. I loved seeing her set up her home office, show video of factories making masks, taking questions from children, sitting on her couch in her ”putting her toddler to bed” clothes – these are all comforting and contrasting to complicated and convoluted messages that don’t make sense from some of the other leaders they pop up on my screen. I am deeply encouraged by all the acts of neighbours working together and creating new pathways, although I feel quite isolated in the physical community I have moved into, I am deeply connected in time and space to family and friends all over the planet, it is not quite the same.
I am feeling a bit tired and a little teary most days, despite working from home for most of my working life it hasn’t involved so much screen time and I am not in the car travelling to and from appointments and airports. This has given me an insight into what I love about being in a car – seeing the coast line, listening to books and organising my day around when I am still and when I am in transit. I had the great idea to spend a day in the car and drive to different beaches and take a meeting at each beach and this really lifted my productivity and my spirits. I got to see the beauty I was missing, and the landscape that holds me, feel the warmth of the sun through the windows and the liberation of travel. No one was harmed I stayed inside the car and I began to imagine car parks as co-working spaces!
Jacinda’s advice, to have a bubble to be in during this time of your loved ones, is truly clever at so many levels. It will contain the viral spread to smaller groups, it keeps mental health and well-being in tact, it shares the load of alone-ness and gives definition and promise of a time beyond these days when we come out of our bubbles. It is inspired. I am grateful to be have been invited into a bubble that includes other generations. If you have a teddy bear pop it in your window this might be the most profound act you can do in these times for the well-being and health of our planet, while our scientists go on a hunt for the vaccine.