With all the confusion and contention spreading in our communities right alongside this new virus who has us all on our toes, The Wildwood Path has been listening, learning, and adapting with every passing week—all with the aim of evolving our offerings so that respect and relationship with nature and one another can grow and thrive in our communities right along with confusion and contention— we think we need that respect and relationship even more in the time of COVID19!
We feel committed to keeping our vulnerable beloveds as safe as possible, honoring our overburdened healthcare systems and workers, and respecting the power of this virus by taking whatever steps we can in order to mitigate the risks of transmission. Here are some of the things we’re doing when we gather—all are invited to participate to the best of their ability, knowing that folks have different limits and physical/psychological restrictions and not everyone will be able to do some of these things. We hope that it adds up to the safest environment possible for everyone!
We are so lucky that most of our teaching and learning happens outdoors, in the place where wind, air, sun, and space are all so willing to help disperse viral particles and prevent anyone from inhaling enough of them to contract the disease. For this upcoming year, we are inviting our program participants to be even MORE badass and to plan to spend all of our time outdoors. Usually we snuggle up in cozy nooks together in Wintertime, but this year it’s more likely that we’ll be out and about in the woods and fields, well bundled up and with generous fires to keep us warm and tarps to keep us dry. We don’t want to have to be alone all winter, so we’re excited to be together in the elements—a source of safety and community in these circumstances.
We’ve been noticing that physically distancing ourselves from other humans does NOT come naturally to this social great ape species! We naturally gravitate towards one another and want to be in proximity to our beloveds. However, we are ALSO noticing that the Wildwood Path has a perfect basis for navigating physical distancing agreements—our awareness practices. We are all learning how to pay attention to space, energy, and landscape as part of our naturalist training, and we can turn that awareness towards managing our space with one another as well. We ask participants to retain distance from one another unless you are in a negotiated ‘non distancing’ pod with other participants, 3 feet is the bare minimum with optimum distance being at least 6 feet. If you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, use your awareness to distance yourself even further. And we will dance with one another in a spiraling movement of distance and connection with the hopes of keeping one another safe!
Thankfully, simple cloth face masks help reduce the spread of viral particles by 25%-50% and can reduce them enough to prevent severe infection. We invite folks at our workshops to wear the most beautiful, fashionable, effective masks they can find or make—especially if they are in closer proximity to other folks or are speaking loudly or singing, even when outdoors. We realize that some folks are unable to wear masks for various reasons and for those who are able, we are so grateful for the extra effort you put in so that the risks are lowered for everyone!
We usually talk early on at our outdoor programs about something called “Expedition Behaviour”, or the idea that when out in the woods, your standards for safety and hygiene need to be impeccable in order to prevent illness spreading through camp or accidents that leave people hurt or even killed. In this context, our expedition behavior includes our own bodies, any shared items, and our camp as a whole. We invite all participants to contribute to our honoring, making, and using of hand sanitizers, herbal soaps, beautiful vats of hot water for washing hands, faces, and dishes, and the sacred practices of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces we touch. We want keep ourselves and our shared surfaces Squeaky Clean! We hope that by bringing this higher level of love and care to our community areas and items, we can keep one another safer as well as learn to tend our camp better.
Attention to our Health
We ALWAYS encourage each other to take care of ourselves and one another, but the stakes are even higher right now! We invite you to self-monitor for any early signs of sickness and to deeply attend to your physical wellbeing by resting at home if you are under the weather. We ask participants to take their temperatures, note their sniffle/snuffle levels, and maintain good practices of herbal and other supports for their bodies. If you miss any program time due to feeling a bit unwell, we will bless you and re-weave you in digitally and in other ways so that you can heal and learn simultaneously!
We are so thankful that testing is available for both the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID19 AND for the antibodies that the body produces after exposure to the virus. We realize that these tests have errors and are not “free passes” to frolic around licking people or ignoring hygiene, but we are glad to have this other layer of information and risk-reduction available to us. If you are coming from away to a program, we ask you to please get tested if at ALL POSSIBLE before leaving your area, and to isolate yourself from the time of your test until the time you arrive on site, so that we can be more confident that no one is bringing this virus into our small rural community. We will still observe all disinfection and distancing protocols, but are glad to have this one extra risk-management option.
As scientists, we are impressed and inspired by the rigor and efficiency through which vaccines are being developed and tested to help protect against this new coronavirus. Vaccine trials are going on in various parts of the country and the world and we celebrate anyone who is able and willing to participate in an early round of vaccination. Please let us know if you have been vaccinated so that we can keep track of our community’s immunity levels to the best of our ability, and we hope that over time more vaccination immunity and “organic” herd immunity from recovery will help us be able to live more closely with one another even as this virus lives among us.
In lieu of an organized system of contact tracing at a regional, state, or national level, we ask you to keep a CLOSE eye on your level of exposure to this virus. Please pay attention to whom you are in contact with, your “Covid Pod”, as we say—and if anyone has been exposed to the virus, be prudent and take extra precautions with your isolation protocols. Stay home, get tested, monitor yourself more closely, and communicate your new higher-risk level with us. We are happy with the way this need is provoking more communication, awareness, and agreement-making in our friend groups! Hopefully we can learn to connect with one another in organized and intelligent ways so that we don’t have to all isolate all the time. Tracing points of contact is an important step!
Adaptation and Evolution
Our current invitations, protections, and agreements are based on extensive reading of scientific papers, monitoring of new data from peer-reviewed sources, and our own life experiences with this virus in our families and communities. We commit to staying open-minded, continuing to learn, and always adapting and evolving our strategies to meet the needs of the current moment.
Thank you so much for joining us in this grand experiment of safety, connection, and learning in the time of COVID19! And please, let’s discuss it if you have new info and associated requests for the ways we manage this situation now and moving forward!
With gratitude for all the kind, generous folks who are helping make gatherings like ours possible without undue risk…
And to the wild creatures who are holding us closely as we feel far from one another…
And the Virus Herself, who is teaching us and honing us and testing our mettle as a species and a society as we learn how to respect a vast, powerful force beyond any one person’s ability to control or subdue.