Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit.
This month also marks our third anniversary, we send a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us throughout the years. We feel now more than ever that positive stories are needed to help balance all of the heartbreaking news we’ve been hearing in the wake of COVID-19. Having the internet is helping to keep us all connected, to ease the isolation and to let people know they are not alone. For now, I hope to continue sharing on the last Friday of every month. This month’s five co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas, Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, and myself Belinda Witzenhausen.
If you are interested in joining us please feel free to check us out on Facebook and Twitter
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are now all facing a life-changing crisis. Most of us will survive this, it will be difficult, challenging and many of us will have to rebuild but many of our grandparents and great grandparents endured their trials too, World wars, famine, diseases and the great depression just to mention a few…and yet here WE are. Most countries are implementing drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus, including social distancing, closing schools, public venues, bars, restaurants or even, putting the entire communities on lockdown. As a result there seems to be a shift that despite our isolation thanks to the internet we are seeing that we are not alone.
Good deeds are being spread online too…we are seeing celebrities and organizations making extraordinary donations to charities that are in desperate need. We are hearing positive stories of people stepping up to help their communities and many celebrities are going online providing encouragement to help people in isolation. Due to pleas online from frontline workers some big manufacturers are stopping production of their usual products to help provide essential medical equipment and supplies. Big or small gestures we can do our parts by social distancing (if you are able) keeping ourselves, our families and our communities healthy. Reaching out to those who might be lonely, by just checking in.
While in lockdown or self-isolation we need to try and keep engaged yet positive but unlike previous generations, we have this wonderful thing called the internet. For as much negativity we see at times it is also a wonderful way to reach out to friends, we can video chat with those we are missing, share resources, learn, pick up hobbies and console each other when we are overwhelmed. Museums and Artists have opened their doors virtually to brighten up those who are isolated. Experts are offering free online help to students who are now being educated at home. Musicians are holding free online concerts and Authors such as Deborah Harkness, V.E. Schwab to name a few are reading their favourite books online via Instagram Stories to their fans. So many things to occupy our time here of my favourite links, most free are:
Ten Museums to Visit virtually (Smithsonian) ~ Click here
Guggenheim Museum, New York ~ Click here
British Museum, London ~ Click here
Musée d’Orsay, Paris ~ Click here
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam ~ Click here
Louvre, Paris~ Click here
190 universities just launched 600 free online courses ~ Click here
NASA has made their entire collection publicly searchable and copyright-free ~ Click here
Scolastic has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones. ~ Click here
Fun activities and downloadables for kids~ Click here
Teaching kids about coronavirus ~ Click here
Download free books, e.g. Shakespear, Edgar Allen Poe, Frankenstein from Project Gutenburg ~ Click here
Listening books.org Audiobooks for people with Parkinson’s Disease, visual impairment, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, mental health difficulty or learning difficulty such as Dyslexia, which impacts the ability to read or hold a book ~ Click here
How to access local libraries virtually~ Click here
Neil Gaiman offers tons of cool stuff for free for you to kill your time with ~ Click here
Austin City Limits Online Archives and live streaming ~ Click here
Canadian band the Arkells fight COVID-19 social distancing isolation with online music classes via Instagram ~ Click here
Canadian live streams ~ Click here
“Kitchen Quarantine” With Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura offering free daily cooking lessons at 3pm EST via Instagram ~ Click here
America’s Test Kitchen posts full episodes of its cooking show, and more than 50 of the most recent episodes are free to stream. ~ Click here
Health and Well-Being
The people behind the Headspace Meditation app are offering a free collection for everyone called “Weathering the storm“. It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises ~ Click here
Yoga with Adriene my go-to YouTube Yoga instructor has classes for everyone and at every level. ~ Click here
Planet Fitness has a free daily class at 7 p.m. ET on its Facebook Live page. ~ Click Here
The YMCA has a variety of resources for FREE online including Tai Chi, Barre, Youth Sports Performance and Weightlifting. ~ Click here
Even those who aren’t spending every waking moment online but are making the best of it…families are spending more time together, books sales are increasing and even from city blocks, while on lockdown, singers and musicians performing from balconies, fitness instructors are running exercise classes from rooftops, local restaurants closed to the public delivering meals to those on the front lines. Everyone is doing their best!
My advice for what it’s worth, take this seriously, adhere to advice but maintain a cautious optimism. If in isolation take this opportunity to take up a hobby or pursue an existing one, spend time with your family, read, write and create. You can’t control what’s going on but you can control how you respond. A cute little infograph I found on Facebook via TheCounselingTeacher.com puts it in perspective…
For those brave ones on the front lines, the nurses, doctors, essential store clerks, farmers, truck drivers and all of those who are stepping up in this crisis putting themselves at risk I thank you!
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”