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Inspired by our friends at the Whidbey Institute, in gratitude for them taking the lead.
March 13, 2020 UPDATE
To our friends of the OrcaSong Institute,
We have made the difficult decision to postpone all in-person programming in light of emerging data about the spread of novel coronavirus. This decision is aligned with what we’re learning about the projected course of this virus and our responsibility to protect public health: through social distancing, including the cancellation or postponement of public gatherings. This decision is because of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our program participants, staff, and communities as well as the health of those in our regional communities and beyond.
While we are committed to growing the capacity of people and communities to engage with the challenges of our time, we recognize the importance of how we collectively respond in the coming days and months. We work to balance the immediate need for community and support with the longer term need to stay safe and active for the challenges of the future. This is a moment that invites adaptive leadership, collective care, and wise action from each of us. We’re grateful to have you with us.
We are postponing all in-person OrcaSong Institute events and are working with our program leaders, program participants, staff, and catering team to be as supportive as possible of one another during this extraordinary period.
We are planning for future programs with care for all and in alignment with best practices for public health. We will use this pause to do rigorous research, sense emergent conditions, develop protective procedures, discern our community’s needs and wants, integrate recommendations from San Juan County department of public health into our practices, and stay attuned to the regional and global need for response. We will communicate regularly about the timing of our public workshops.
We promote self-care and community-care. While social distancing is recommended as the best way to stop the exponential growth of this infection and protect human lives, social isolation is also a serious public health risk. Here’s Ezra Klein’s take on the risk of a loneliness epidemic. As a home for transformational learning, we are working to develop better and more frequent ways to connect virtually through this slow-down. We’ll also stay in touch, personally and collectively, with our friends and neighbors. We advocate special care for those at increased risk of complications from COVID-19, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised, and those without an economic or social safety-net.
We support our small businesses, our community organizations, and our local economies. The significance of the economic impact of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated and the need for a strong social fabric is clear. Our organization alone has many depending upon it, including our staff, our vendors, and our program leaders and their support staff. As we “tighten our belt,” so to speak, we’re looking at how to support our team through this period and look for opportunities to source needed goods and services from local vendors affected by this regional outbreak. For businesses and workers experiencing this economic impact in Washington, here’s a list of resources.
We will make a proactive and informed response. The data shows that a bold approach to social distancing is the most effective way to flatten the curve and keep COVID-19 from overwhelming our healthcare system and taking more lives. Here’s one of many articles on the subject.
Stay connected. As a learning organization, we will support you in finding the information, the self-care, and the community-care resources you need. This may take the form of video conferences, online offerings from our program leader community, virtual community forums, and/or more frequent blog posts about our collective sensing—and it may take a form we’ve not yet named. Stay tuned for opportunities to connect!
Share your ideas and hopes. Is there something you want or need that we might be able to provide, or some question you’d like to put to our community? Write to us at institute@to let us know what you think. We’re so very grateful to be in this together.
Support the OrcaSong Institute and other nonprofits which engage you. Like many of us, the OrcaSong Farm & Institute is taking a significant financial hit as a result of this pandemic. Please consider donating, or better yet setting up a monthly donation, to help the OrcaSong Institute continue to serve our community in this critical time. Your support will help us advance our mission during a time when it is truly needed, as well as help keep our team intact, support essential operations, and position us to rebound strongly when our programs reopens for in-person learning experiences. Some program participants and program leaders have graciously chosen to convert their program refunds into tax-deductible donations to the OrcaSong Institute, and this is another great way to help.
We wish good health for each of you, and for your families, neighbors, and loved ones. We are so grateful to be in community with you as we make our individual and collective responses to this extraordinary global challenge.
With gratitude to you and care for the whole,
The OrcaSong Farm & Institute team
MARCH 8, 2020
We are being challenged as a community, a state, a nation and the world in ways we have never seen before. The pandemic of disease and the pandemic of fear is the reality of the moment for almost everyone. Never before has the need for personal and community resilience been more important as we work our way through the next few months. OrcaSong Farm & Institute is committed to supporting and making safe this place we love and the people who inhabit it as we all seek a safe, proactive and appropriately scaled response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Our thoughts go to the communities, internationally and here in Washington State, where this illness has taken lives—and to all our communities and their most vulnerable members. Keeping our program participants, program leaders, neighbors, and team members safe is our first priority.
Below, you’ll see facts about COVID-19, information about our response, guidelines on when to stay home, about our cancellation policy as well as information on how to contact us to learn more about the virus.
Like many challenges of today—climate change, mass extinction, racism, environmental destruction, resource inequity—the Coronavirus threat is both personal and collective. On the one hand, we fear for ourselves and our families. We may want to insulate, isolate, protect. On the other hand, solutions to challenges like this one come in community. This is a time to check on your elderly friend, to go to that small neighborhood gathering, to attend that program that will support your resilience and leave you more resourced, more empowered, and better connected. At OrcaSong, these are the type of programs we are committed to providing, and we intend to find the best path forward to continue. We have made the decision to step up not back during this moment and to offer more programs, faculty and resources on topics related to the challenges of this pandemic.
At OrcaSong Farm & Institute, we hope to learn together how to collectively and creatively engage with the challenges of our times. While we are charged with keeping people healthy and safe, we’re also charged with serving the cultural transformation that’s underway. We’re in conversation with other transformational learning centers about how to move forward in this moment, and like the OrcaSong Institute most are choosing to continue offering programming that brings people together around the issues that face us all. As a nurturing space we need your help to care for the health of the whole community. Most centers are also stocking up on hand sanitizer and following CDC hygiene protocols. At OrcaSong we are redirecting our thousands of gallons of lavender hydrosol to immediately make alcohol-based sanitizer and cleaning products. If you enjoy lavender, our hand sanitizers are now available to be purchased by the public and you can order yours here: www.orcasong.com
You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms.
The symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Please stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue in the trash.
The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low but changing over time.
Some people who have traveled to places where many people have gotten sick with COVID-19 may be monitored by health officials to protect their health and the health of other people in the community.
For up-to-date information, visit CDC’s coronavirus disease situation summary page.
Additional facts about COVID-19: Elders and people with existing health concerns are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. We must ensure that our collective response includes care for the most vulnerable members of our community. Here’s a resource from the National Council on Aging.
Asians and people of Asian descent have been targeted in xenophobic attacks as a result of widespread fear and misinformation about this virus, which originated in Wuhan, China but which attacks people of all races and nationalities without discrimination. A healthy response to COVID-19 must include caring for all community members and dispelling myths that perpetuate racism.
There are multiple reasons someone may cough, sneeze, or choose to wear a mask—including seasonal allergies and non-contagious health concerns.
COVID-19 has been identified in Washington State, however the facilities in question are under quarantine and there are no suspected or confirmed cases in San Juan County at this time. Things do change on a daily basis.
Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly by respiratory transmission. Good hygiene practices can help prevent transmission.
For reliable information about COVID-19, turn to a non-biased news source. Here’s the CDC’s website.
What we’re doing:
Daily sanitation of doorknobs, light switches, and other commonly-touched surfaces, and moving from green cleaners to more powerful antiviral cleaners, including alcohol and bleach, for the immediate future.
Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer at the front of the food buffet line, in our facilities and is encouraging all people to sanitize before serving food. Our alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also offered for sale to the local community and to the public online. www.orcasong.com
Posting CDC hygiene tips in all bathrooms, offering advice on hand washing and other ways to stay safe.
Each group, and each person coming to the OrcaSong Institute, is navigating unique concerns; we are working with our program leaders to make sure that if folks are at high risk or are concerned that they may be sick, they feel supported in staying home.
When to stay home:
We ask you to stay home if you know you have been exposed to others with the COVID-19 or are feeling sick at all, especially if you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
If you are traveling internationally for a program at the Institute, we invite you to look at the CDC information for travelers first. Several airlines are adjusting their flight-change fees and penalties to allow more flexibility for travelers impacted by the Coronavirus.
Our Cancellation policy:
We invite patience as our collective experience with this virus unfolds. We consider COVID-19 an exceptional emergency. While this region remains on high alert for COVID-19, any workshop registrant may cancel without penalty at any time—and with a full refund—if they are ill. If a OrcaSong Institute workshop registrant chooses to cancel due to concerns about contracting the virus while traveling or convening, the cancellation penalty will likewise be waived. In this latter case, we invite your sensitivity to the financial health of the OrcaSong Institute and the revenue we need to support our land, facilities, and team. If you wish to waive your refund and have it applied as a tax-deductible donation, we would be extremely grateful.
Please address your inquiries to:
World Health Organization Coronavirus information
King County (Seattle) Coronavirus FAQs
San Juan County COVID-19 Info
Please watch our blog for future updates on this topic and others.
With appreciation and well wishes for our collective health,
OrcaSong Farm & Institute Team
OrcaSong Farm & Institute Founder, David Dotlich
OrcaSong Institute Director, Kat Steele