Community in a Pandemic

By the NICA Board, February 2021

How has community or lack of community affected your ability to weather these times? We’d love to hear from you.

At our last NICA Board meeting, board members took turns describing how being in community has
helped us cope with the many difficulties imposed by pandemic conditions. Here is a summary
of the commonly-shared ideas:

In community there’s surface level support–for example, sharing resources allows each of us to
have greater economic security, more time to meet our other needs because of shared meals,
shopping, etc. But there’s a deeper feeling of security that comes from being held in a web of
others. And with it comes a deeper sense of resilience. If things go bad we will sort it out.
There’s so many things that could happen with the pandemic, not to mention all the social and
political unrest. It’s a privilege to feel really held in a secure web.
Even before the pandemic hit, many people were struggling financially. Living in community
has mitigated these struggles, mostly by taking advantage of economies of scale. The more
people can share in the costs of goods and services, the less expensive they are for each person.
For example, a group can share in the cost of a much higher quality cooking knife than each
individual could afford alone. Financial impacts can lead to ecological impacts as well; you
make a bigger impact when you’re a bigger group doing it. And with more “eyes on the house”,
we have kept better track of maintenance needs, which we have more time to address because
we’re traveling elsewhere so much less. The same goes for necessary chores like cooking,
housecleaning, and even laundry.
But even more important has been “being here” for one another, sharing stories and
commiserating over difficulties. The knowledge that I have 5 other people in my household that I
can turn to and ask to talk. If I need someone to hold my hand when I go to the doctor I have
that. I’ve not felt lonely at all during this whole pandemic, which is something that’s badly
affecting way too many people. In addition to feeling supported, community members have
improved their attitudes toward their household responsibilities.
The little celebrations are significant too…Someone makes beautiful art, someone makes a
delicious meal, bread, croissants, and there are people to share it with.
At the same time, it’s important that we each have our own individual space where we can go to
do our thing. Each of the members of my household has an individual focus, and we mutually
support one another in that.