A Movement Moment: Narrative in the Time of Corona

We are here with you. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is struggling right now.

We are here with you. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is struggling right now.

Like many people across the country, at ReFrame, we are sorting through the many layers of worry and stress to prepare. We are shoring up our staff and networks to survive this crisis, and to lean into the opportunity COVID-19 is presenting. (We took our team through threat modeling as a part of our organization practice  and supported them to use the tool for personal planning. And leaned into some good old SWOT planning).

Many of us are worried about the worst: what if my family gets sick? What if my partner loses their job? How will my parents have income? Will my friend have somewhere to live? These worries extend beyond our homes to our neighbors, to our communities, to our states, and to our country.

These worries feel heavier, because we all understand that as a society, as governments, and  industries respond to the pandemic – these responses will shape norms and rules in society for the foreseeable future.

Common sense in society is up for grabs, and what is true about society can significantly shift.

The question is: How will we move in this moment to shape the post-pandemic world in ways that were unimaginable two months ago?

We can already see that this crisis has created a challenge for opponents of justice and democracy. We can see this most embodied by Trump and his MAGA movement when they faltered in their opportunity to reify Trump as the prophet of American protectionism. This crisis is also creating cracks in what seems like a powerful relationship between electeds and media.

These cracks in the opposition and the impacts of the crisis stretch across geography, race, gender, class, generation and political affiliation, we have a responsibility to move differently.

We have also seen the emergence of distributed mutual aid networks that are utilizing new technologies, existing strong networks (parents, faith, community, identity, etc) to take care of each other, driven by solidarity and not the market.

The fumbling of our opposition and the spontaneous rise in solidarity are heartening, and we are just in the beginning.

As in any crisis, that window of what is possible, of what people understand to be true could shift towards national protectionism and authoritarianism. But it doesn’t have to.

We believe we can shift it towards a common sense where the government becomes a vehicle for mutual aid, a different economy where the market doesn’t dictate social goods like healthcare, a society built on trust and solidarity (the narratives that undergird so many existing campaigns).

While we wrestle with the heaviness of this moment, the uncertainty, the fear, we have an opportunity to collectively write the story of what our world will become in the days, months, and years after the coronavirus pandemic. This will require us to move beyond the practical challenges we all face in our existing work.

This moment requires us to move differently and shift what we have been doing, not to match the challenge of today, but to build tomorrow.

We are talking with our partners, listening to our networks, and making plans for what this moment calls for and what we think is possible. We will be leveraging our relationships and lessons from some experiments in narrative to find the right next step. Over the next couple of days we will keep you in the loop of what we are seeing and what we are doing, and how we can work together in these times.

In solidarity,

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