Bright Spots and Pandemic Silver Linings

The pandemic is still in full swing. Shasta County’s COVID numbers are up, along with other communities and states. People are not only sick and dying, but also out of work and running out of food. A good number of young people — and not so young people — have had to move in with relatives because they’ve lost their homes. Children have had to change the way they do their schooling. Teachers and administrators have also been affected.

So much bad news!

But humans are resourceful, and it’s amazing what we can do when we are faced with a challenge. I have heard of restaurants sharing outdoor space with other restaurants. Some metropolitan areas have closed off streets to allow restaurants to create outdoor eating. Museums such as the DeYoung in San Francisco created on-line events to keep artists and art supporters engaged. Schools, businesses, and families have learned to use Zoom and FaceTime.

I happen to personally know many stories of success, or at least coping, during this difficult time, and I think it’s important to focus on the positive. So step away from the news and get a load of some really creative people who have managed to not only cope with the pandemic, but also create something lasting for their communities.

Drive-ins are back!

I’d like to start with my sister, Carol Marshall, who is a publicist in North Hollywood. She and her business partner Randi Emerman started Film Fest 919 in 2018. They brought international films and filmmakers to the 919 area code (the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle of North Carolina). As it states on their Facebook page, Carol and Randi work to showcase juried and audience award-winning feature films from festivals all around the world. Film-lovers are able to experience films that may be contenders for award considerations.

After two years of successfully showing films, introducing independent and international filmmakers, having discussion panels and red carpet events, enter 2020. Their indoor theaters were limited on capacity, and like many events, they had to decide whether or not to continue.

Solution: an outdoor theater! They got together with the Northwood Ravin Developers and the local Chamber of Commerce and built a drive-in. Not only did the film festival continue, but the drive-in will operate as a commercial theater showing first run films.

Carol said, “It was like all the stars aligned. We knew we didn’t want to go virtual, so when this opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it. The perfect solution…giving film-lovers a new and exciting theatrical experience, the chance to get out of their homes and be able to see some amazing films as the filmmakers intended: on the big screen … and all done safely. I have such fond memories of going to the drive-in. I’m excited this is part of our ‘new normal.”

Redding Fashion Alliance Annual Gala

A local event that had to draw from its creative resources is the Redding Fashion Alliance Annual Gala. This fashion show is the Alliance’s main fundraising event, using the money and the occasion to showcase local designers. Faced with postponing or cancelling the event, the board came up with the idea to do a virtual show. Using the new Riverfront Playhouse in downtown Redding, they spaced the designers and models, one small group at a time, filmed, them thanks to Faires Wheel Films, and through the magic of editing, spliced all the groups together into one show. This year’s show can be seen on YouTube and Facebook.

“We really wanted to keep the Fashion Show Gala downtown, but had outgrown the Atrium for seating capacity,” said Jan Kearns, executive director of RFA. “When we decided to go to a virtual show, we realized that it would give us the perfect opportunity to showcase the new home of Riverfront Playhouse.”

“Through the amazing organization of our board member Tara Faires, we were able to keep everyone safely distanced in the theater’s ample backstage areas. By being open to new ideas we were able to really expand our audience and create a very professional show.”

The “COVID 15”? Not necessarily

Weight gain has been a problem for many, a result of dealing with the stress of the pandemic, eating comfort foods and drinking too much alcohol. But some of us, myself included, have taken the time to hone our diets and exercise regimen.

My son Phil Stone is one of those. He was laid off of his job at the Census Bureau, and the only computer repair jobs were done remotely, so he suddenly had a lot of time on his hands. He had started an exercise and intermittent fasting program last year. Phil not only took the time to hone his food program, spending time making nutritious meals, he also invested in a stationary bicycle to add to his walking program when the air got so bad after all the summer fires. To date, he’s lost about 50 pounds. He not only improved his physical health, he has kept his mental health in check, too.

The up side to staying home

Many of my relatives are now working from home. At first, it was difficult setting up computer systems, and finding a place in the home to work comfortably, especially if the rest of the family was also working or studying from home. But now that they have gotten used to it, some of them have found they prefer it. My sister-in-law is a good example of that. She has found she doesn’t miss her three hour commute in the Bay Area, and feels like she is more productive, better rested, and in better health.

My husband John has finally gotten in the groove, working in his PJd, although I do have to remind him to shower, brush his teeth, and change his clothes.

I am in no way trying to downplay the severity of dealing with the pandemic, but I have faith that we will survive and maybe even find a silver lining.

How about you? Have you found some pandemic silver linings?

Barbara Stone

Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or bstonedesigns@sbcglobal.net.

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