It’s hard to overstate what a wild year this has been. 2020 is a year full of upheavals, plot twists, and reimagining. This isn’t life as we knew it. In fact, things will never fully return to the way they were before.
We’ve seen incredible displays of community care in 2020, both at micro and macro levels. There are more communal living arrangements. People are staying with family. Partnered folks are welcoming in their single friends.
There’s a renewed desire to spend intentionally. We’re shopping small and local. We’re seeking out brands whose values align with ours, and we’re calling brands higher. We’re donating money to help create the world that we want to live in.
It’s heartening to see these shifts taking place. We need community care just as much as we need self care, and we’re all learning how to practice community care well. There’s often residue of “the way things used to be” in our approach to community care, so these three questions will support you in practicing community care for the present moment.
Does this still work for you?
We make plans. We get in rhythms, and our environment is changing so quickly that we forget to check in. Use this question to set new expectations. Maybe someone was fine meeting in person during the summer when outdoor seating was accessible. In colder weather, they might prefer to return to virtual meetings.
You can also ask this question as a quick temperature check with friends before a planned hangout. Someone may have had a particularly hard day. Someone may be nursing a headache after hours spent staring at a screen.
Asking, “Does this still work for you?” gives the person on the other end of the question permission to do their own self reflection. It’s a gift.
How can I best support you?
We all have our preferred ways to care for others. Some of us are gift givers. Others love to problem solve. Here’s the thing: preferences may not align with what’s needed. This applies at all levels of community care.
Your first instinct may be to pour money into a cause, but maybe the organization really wants people who can volunteer their time.
In your mind, your friend needs a pep talk. If you asked, she might tell you that really she just wants to be heard.
Ask this question frequently. The answer will undoubtedly change. Sometimes the answer may be, “I don’t know.” That’s okay. Asking the question is an act of care that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Am I giving and receiving care?
Community care is an exchange. There’s no magic formula that computes how much care you should be giving and how much you should be receiving. The proportion will change based on your current season.
It’s also not a one-to-one ratio. You may primarily give in one community and do a lot of receiving in another.
The goal of this question is to help you understand where you’re at. Community care requires an ongoing commitment, and you need to make sure that you’re setting yourself up to be in it for the long haul.
2020 has given us a glimpse of what community care looks like in action. Let’s carry these learnings with us into whatever’s next.
If you want to imagine your own world beyond the pandemic, our Inner Workbook, The After, supports you in doing just that.
"Asking the question is an act of care that doesn’t go unnoticed."