The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association exists to support the Brookland community through good times and bad. We may be in for a rough patch for a little while with the COVID-19 outbreak, but that is all the more reason to re-commit ourselves to service to our neighbors and community, especially those who are most vulnerable and in need. To that end, I want to share some important resources to keep you informed and give you the means to help others. In collaboration with other community partners including the Greater Brookland Intergenerational Village, we are also launching a new tool to help neighbors in Brookland and beyond connect with one another to provide mutual aid.
Before explaining this tool, I think we can boil this down to a simple request. Please take a moment to consider who you know in our community who is most in need right now. Think beyond your closest friends or those who are already plugged in to community events and activities. Perhaps it is an elderly person living alone, or someone with medical conditions whom you know does not have family nearby. Perhaps it is someone on your block you have only exchanged a friendly greeting with once or twice.
Those who are most susceptible to COVID-19 may be unable or unwilling to leave their homes. And those who do not already have a support network may be facing this challenging time alone or in isolation.
Please reach out to just a few of those people – by phone, by a note on the doorstep or a knock on the door, by email (if they have email). And reach out more than once; make it a habit. Make it clear that you are available to support that person, whether that is providing your company to stave off feelings of loneliness or isolation (by phone or at an appropriate distance), or to provide an item, food, service, or even just information to that person.
If we can reach our neighbors by this method, then the tool we have created may not even be necessary, because we have all simply taken the time to look out for one another.
The Brookland Mutual Aid Exchange: In the event that you, or someone you know, has a need that cannot be met by yourself, the Exchange is a simple method by which you can make a note of your need and others in the community can see that need and volunteer to fill it. This tool is in the form of an online Google spreadsheet that anyone can edit. Because it is online, it may be difficult or impossible for those who are most in need to use themselves. Therefore, my expectation is that this is a tool to be used by those who are “plugged in” in order to publicize a need or service that they cannot provide. Of course, if you are someone who is in need of a service or item, please feel free to put your own need down. This is open to the whole community – anyone can use it, not just BNCA members. (https://tinyurl.com/brooklandmutualaid)
We are doing this in partnership with some of our local ANCs and the Greater Brookland Intergenerational Village. We will monitor the spreadsheet to make sure it is being used appropriately.
Rules of Use
- No one should put their home address into the spreadsheet. Only share that information once you have made contact by phone.
- We ask that you do not make changes to the format of the spreadsheet or edit or modify any content other than your own.
- Volunteers should not enter the homes of those they are assisting, for everyone’s safety. Volunteers are not vetted.
- Volunteers should not be selling products or services.
- All parties should observe recommended protocols for social distancing to minimize the potential for transmission of the virus.
Finally, this is an experiment in community; we will learn by doing. Your tips are welcome, and if the tool does not function as intended, we will make necessary adjustments. Again, I view this as a mechanism of last resort, and urge everyone with the resources and good health to assist others to please do so directly.
Addendum: Two similar mechanisms for volunteering have just become available in our area. Potential volunteers may want to sign up through these sites as well:
– DC Ward 5 Community Care and Mutual Aid Signup
– Serve DC COVID-19 Volunteer/Donations Resource Form
In addition, the Red Cross has put out an urgent call for blood donations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a relatively simple way to provide a life-saving service to others.
Support for Brookland Businesses
Small businesses, especially boutique shops, gyms, restaurants, bars, and cafes, are already suffering from the effects of social distancing. Even before the Citywide order took effect yesterday limiting mass gatherings and sit-down restaurant and tavern operations, our own Primrose Wine Bar and other Brookland eateries were suffering reduced patronage.
There are some easy and incredibly effective ways you can continue to support your favorite Brookland businesses:
- Buy/order online for delivery or pickup. Many eateries are continuing to operate in this way.
- Buy gift cards or work with the business to place an advance order. This will keep a cash flow moving to the business.
- Call the business up and ask about ways to support or patronize them if you cannot find information online (many of our small businesses do not have websites).
There are a couple good resources for checking the status of local businesses:
Councilmember McDuffie’s staff have put together a great map showing the status of our local businesses. Please take a look to find out what’s open and how you can continue to safely patronize our businesses.
BrooklandBridge.com has posted a list of what many Brookland businesses are doing to stay open and provide their services while keeping customers safe. Have a look!
Safe, Hyper-Local and Sustainable Food Sources
- Farmers markets, such as the Monroe Street Market on Saturdays, are a vital part of the local food system that people rely on. At the moment (March 21, 2020), we are not aware of an order in DC to close these markets. We understand that they are classified as Grocery Stores but how the City chooses to regulate them could change at any time during the health emergency. The following links have additional information:
– Is Your Local Farmer’s Market Open This Weekend?
– Information from FreshFarm, which operates several markets in the area, including the Monroe St Market
– Markets are taking precautions to reduce the risk of transmission. The following information was shared by Maryland Central Farm Markets, and is line with the guidance we understand DC markets to be following:
We are asking that our vendors and our patrons do the following:
- If you are in an especially vulnerable population (underlying health conditions, immune-suppressed, or pregnant), please respect the recommendations of the public health authorities and consider staying home
- If you are sick or not feeling well, stay home! Ask a neighbor or friend to shop for you.
- Please consider only having 1 member of the family come to the market to do the shopping and please just shop and leave as quickly as possible AND PLEASE LEAVE YOUR DOGS AT HOME!
- Consider shopping for a neighbor especially those that cannot leave their homes.
- Refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or other physical contact with other; bring gloves if you have them. Even winter gloves work which can be washed in hot water when you get home.
- Be mindful of keeping a distance from people while you are in line
- Wash your hands often and well with soap and water – for at least 20 seconds and be sure to clean fingernails and cuticles, between fingers, and wrists
- Avoid touching your face
- When soap and water is not immediately available, use the hand sanitizer stations AT THE MARKET INFO TENT or your own alcohol-based sanitizers
- If you touch a product, please buy it!
- If you bring your own bag, please put your items into the bag yourself
- Please use a credit card, Apple Pay or Venmo to pay instead of using cash
- To assist our patrons we have listed, for each market, those vendors who will be offering pre-ordering services. (click on the links below for each market)
- If you are uncomfortable entering the market and have pre-ordered items, we will have staff at each market to run the bagged items to your car. We will locate the INFO TENTS so that you can drive up to it. Please have a written list of the vendor(s) to hand to the staff member, who will go get your groceries and bring them to the car. This is our first time offering this service so please be patient with us!
- Please remember we are all in this together. Please treat our vendors and each others with kindness”
- Three Part Harmony Farm Community Supported Agriculture: Just outside Brookland, on 4th St. NE, is a small but revolutionary farm. In these uncertain times, we need to support our local farmers so they can support us. Three Part Harmony Farm is going on 9 years, growing nutritious veggies without the use of synthetic chemicals or GMO seeds. Consider joining the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for fresh fruit and veggies throughout the growing season, with convenient pick-up very nearby. The CSA model is a great way for people to get fresh food with minimal contact. Skip the crowded supermarket, walk to pick up your share, and meet the handful of people who actually touch your food (with gloves on!). Gail Taylor, who can only be described as the force of nature behind Three Part Harmony, has just posted detailed information on the existing precautions they already take and heightened measures they are taking to provide clean, safe food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Good news! They are still selling shares for the 2020 CSA season.
- Arcadia Mobile Market: Based in Brookland, with a local farm in Alexandria and mobile market in Edgewood, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture is another awesome local fresh food source. The mobile market in Edgewood provides fresh, local, sustainable foods in an under-served community in DC. Visit their website for information on their next mobile market and how to order.
Additional COVID-19 Information and Resources
It is important to make sure you are getting information from trustworthy and reliable sources during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Information is changing quickly. Here are a few resources that are current as of March 17, 2020:
- Unemployment Insurance: If you are facing unemployment due to the coronavirus, you may qualify for unemployment insurance. Visit https://www.dcnetworks.org/vosnet/Default.aspx to get more information and apply.
- DC Public Schools: Now closed through April 24. Visit DCPS.dc.gov for more information.
- Map of Local Businesses’ Status: Councilmember McDuffie’s staff have put together a great map showing the status of our local businesses. Please take a look to find out what’s open and how you can continue to safely patronize our businesses
- Small business grants: click to enlarge the image at right
- Coronavirus.dc.gov: The primary resource for information from the DC City Government. Check out the Resources page for lots of great information on accessing health care, food, support for small businesses, etc.
- The DC Council passed emergency legislation to deal with the crisis. Here is a local news story with information on what is in the legislation
We at BNCA will continue to look for ways we can support the Brookland community through this crisis. If you have information or tips, please send them our way. We have cancelled our March meeting. If guidance for social distancing continues in effect through April, we will likely attempt to do our April monthly meeting via a teleconference service. Please stay tuned for more on that.
On behalf of the BNCA board, we wish safety and wellness to all of our BNCA members and the larger Brookland community.
Dan Schramm, President
Kathy Jacquart, Vice President
Terence Hardy, Treasurer
Elise Scott, Communications Director
Rene McCray, Membership Coordinator
Helen LaCroix, Recording Secretary
Fred Jackson, At-large Member